"Little Britches" (ATF) Universe

Nettie Wells was waiting at the front door of the ranch the next day when Chris opened the door. One look told her he had not slept a wink the night before, neither had she. It was against every policy in the book, the way she had grown so close to these five men and the two boys they cared for. She couldn't help it, there was no way anyone could look at these men and not grow close to them. They were more than teammates, they were family. Taking in the two orphaned boys had only brought them all closer together and forced them to open their hearts.

"Nettie," Chris said as he motioned for her to come in and take a seat.

"How's Vin?" was the first question out her mouth. Chris leaned back in his rocking chair and replied, "Not so good. He just went to sleep a few hours ago. Buck ain't so good either, none of us are."

"Understandable," Nettie said. "And you?"

"Me," he asked.

"With everything that’s happened I thought… well, it hits close to home for you, doesn’t it?"



"I know Nettie, but as much as it hurts I know I have to be strong, for both of them."

"Don’t forget to be strong for yourself." Nettie stood to leave, "Chris, I want to speak with Vin sometime."

"'Course, Nettie. You know, you’re something else, Nettie Wells."

"So I’ve been told." Before she left, she gave Chris a hearty hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. "Make Buck call me too. It'll be all right. It has to be."

"Thanks, Nettie."

Turning around, Chris found Buck staring at him from the hallway.

"What did Nettie want?" he asked.

"She came to check up on everyone," Chris answered. "I'm heading to the office to meet with Ez. They got the sketch of the guy who assaulted them finished, we're going to see if we can find a match. Gloria's comin' over to watch Vin."

"I'm comin’ too," Buck said.

"Buck, I don't-"

"Chris," he interrupted, "I have to do this. I have to know I'm doing something."

As much as Chris wanted to shelter his friend, he knew he was right. It would be wrong to try and force Buck to stay out of this, it would drive him mad. Or worse, Chris thought knowingly.

"Okay. Gloria will be here in about an hour. Go get cleaned up and try and eat something."

Three hours, a bucket of tears and heartfelt promises to be good, a frazzled Chris and Buck entered the team's office. Both Josiah and Ezra were already there, neither one looked any better than Chris or Buck.

"Brothers," Josiah said as the men walked over to Ezra's desk.

"Hey Josiah. You boys get any sleep?" Chris asked, knowing what the answer would be.

"Not a wink. Detective Glover dropped off the sketch Ez gave this morning. We were just about to run it through."

Without a word, Chris and Buck pulled over chairs and joined their partners at the desk.

"Nathan?" Chris asked Ezra.

"Volunteering at the clinic. He'll be by before one," Josiah answered when it was evident Ezra wasn't going to answer.

The men sat in silence as they watched the computer flash images, trying to match one to the sketch. Before they knew it, a small buzzer went off indicating the system had found a match. A muscular Latino stared back at them.

"Carlos Saldana. Age 32, Brown hair, brown eyes, 6' 2". Arrested at 20 for possession with intent to sell. Wanted for… everything under the book. Looks like we got a real golden boy," Chris said as he read the man's profile. Looking to Buck, he saw the worry in his eyes. "We'll get him, Buck."

For the first time Ezra spoke up, "Seems our iniquitous assailant has several high profile associates. Daniel William Couley. Hmm?"

"Ez?" Chris asked. Ezra's fingers flew across the keyboard while he answered, "If my memory is correct, Agent Carver from Team Four mentioned a current case that… yes that's it."

"What's 'it'?" Josiah questioned.

"Currently Team Four is on assignment involving a rather large shipment of illegal arms that will soon be leaving our city for Columbia."

Chris stood up thinking. "If this Saldana works for him, then he's protected," he said.

"Indeed," Ezra said as he hit more keys. "In fact this is the first time anyone has been able to get this close to Mr. Couley. Several informants have disappeared over the years after coming forward with information that could bring Mr. Couley to proper justice."

"He's got JD," Buck finally spoke.

The three other men grew quiet before Chris placed his hands on Buck's shoulders. "Not for long," he encouraged.

"Who are they?" Josiah asked, pointing out several names at the end of Daniel Couley's profile.

"More associates," Ezra answered, randomly clicking on a name. "Jonathan Michael Green a.k.a Jack Dunne."

The tension in the room could have been cut with a knife. Buck felt his heart begin to race. After a moment Ezra continued, "Sentenced to 12 years for assault with a deadly weapon and several DUI's, served five years with outstanding behavior. Disappeared one month after his release. Only known relative is Daniel William Couley, his mother's brother. Wanted for parole violation. God."

"Mean's nothing Buck," Chris said, not sure whom it was he was trying to comfort.

"Mean's nothing? DAMMIT, CHRIS," Buck shouted, toppling his chair as he jumped up to face his friend. "This mean's everything. JD has… that man is JD's daddy."

"No he ain't. We don't know anything for sure," Chris said calmly.

Buck would have none of it. "The hell he ain't. This isn't some freak coincidence, Chris. Hell, look in them eyes and tell me you don't see JD."

Chris did just that. Staring at the photo of the man he saw what Buck was saying. There he was, staring right back with JD's hazel eyes. It was too much, Chris couldn't make himself believe this convict was JD's real father. No, he wouldn't believe it, as far as he was concerned, JD's real father was standing right next to him, wanting nothing more than his son back.

"The state would have known," Josiah said, more to himself than the others.

"No, they were looking for Dunne, not Green. 'Sides, JD's birth certificate says Jonathan Dunne, why would they think any different." Buck sounded so lost, and in a way he was. In his mind, he was losing JD all over, this time to his rightful father.

"Don't matter. We'll get JD, and then worry about the rest. See what else you can find. I'm callin' Orin."

Josiah stood to follow Chris, but stopped when he realized neither Buck nor Ezra had moved. Before he could say anything, Chris cleared his throat and gave the older man a silent command to leave both men alone.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl as each man tried to think of something to say to the other. Finally, Ezra spoke up, "Buck, I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I am."

"You're sorry? Dammit, Ez, you have nothing to be sorry about. I should be apologizing to you." Seeing Ezra was about to interrupt, Buck held up his hand to cut him off and continued, "Ez, there was no way you could have known what was going to happen, so don't go beatin' yourself up about it. I was angry and hurt and scared and I took it out on you. No matter what, that was wrong of me."

Ezra took a moment to absorb what Buck had just said, but as much as he wanted to, he couldn't accept Buck's apology. "I hate myself."


"I've lived a long time believing I needed no one and no one needed me. I was so empty. And then, we walked into the wrong damn warehouse, and I didn't feel so empty any more."

Buck lowered himself into a chair as Ezra spoke. He had never heard Ezra speak so openly about himself. There were no big words given with fancy delivery, it was just Ezra as open and honest as he would probably ever be.

"I'm losing it, Buck. This is all my fault."

For a moment Buck hesitated, but then he remembered this wasn't 'Ezra the Southern Gentleman', this was just Ezra. Placing his arms around the younger man, he offered Ezra the same comfort Chris so freely had given him.

"Don't you think I've gone over a million 'what-ifs?’ You're no guiltier than me. What's important is that we find him. He's our glue, Ez. We'll get him back from these bastards. We have to."

+ + + + + + +

Jack shielded his eyes against the morning sun as someone drew the large curtains to the patio open. Subconsciously he tightened his hold on the still sleeping JD. Sighing, he kept his eyes shut as the new arrival made their self comfortable. Jack had no reason to be alarmed, as he knew only a handful of people had access to the house.

"Wake up, Jack. It’s a bright new day," the deep voice said. Squinting, Jack confirmed that the arrival was none other than his uncle Daniel, an oversized man with silver hair and deep green eyes. Like every other time Jack had seen his uncle, the man was dressed in the finest Brooks Brothers suit money could buy.

Seeing that Jack was going to make no effort to speak to him, Daniel began, "Well, I just spent the better part of the evening moving up the delivery date to this evening, due to my partner’s increased paranoia over the government’s continued investigation into my personal life, only to be told by my favorite little Mexican that my nephew, despite my advice to the contrary, has made a felon of himself by reuniting with his young son, calling the further attention of none other than the AT-fucking-F! What the Hell were you thinking, Jacky?"

This brought Jack around quickly. He breathed a sigh of relief when JD didn’t stir. Without looking at his angry uncle, he stood up with JD’s slight weight cradled in his arms and hurried upstairs. He took his time putting his son into bed before heading back downstairs to face his uncle.

"Uncle Danny-"

Daniel abruptly stood, interrupting Jack, "Don’t, Jacky! Do you realize you have just jeopardized a 57 million dollar delivery!? Not to mention the life and freedom of every single person involved, including your own. All for that woman’s son!"

"MY SON! Don’t forget, he is my son too, Uncle Danny. Despite what you want to believe, I loved that woman and our son. We were in love and now John is all I have left."

Crossing the room, Daniel took hold of his nephew’s shoulders, intent on making his point, "No, Jacky, you were in love with being in love."


"No, listen to me, Jack. You were in love with a dream and Maddie was just a part of that dream. You and I both know that she would have never accepted you for you. She just couldn’t understand our family."

Daniel’s words were like a knife in Jack’s heart, because deep, deep down he knew his uncle was right. But he also knew that he had been willing to give it all up for her. Her love and acceptance had been worth that much. By now, the tears that had formed flowed freely down his face. "She loved me," he pleaded, although at this point he wasn’t sure who’s benefit it was for, his uncle’s or his.

"Not enough. It would never have been enough." Seeing his nephew about to break down, Daniel gathered him in a firm hug and held tight as he cried. Offering comfort to others was never his strong suit and all too soon, Daniel released his young nephew and got back to business. "No matter. What’s done is done. Tonight you will be a no-show, just to be on the safe side, by Monday you and your son will be out of the country."

"Out of the country?," Jack asked as he tried to gather himself together.

"Yes. I promised your mother I would always keep the family's best interests in mind, and right now, that means getting you two very far from this place." Seeing the distressed look on Jack’s face, he tried to explain, "The man that boy was living with is ATF, which means every agency this country has, is going to be looking for him. He can’t stay here; it’s bad for business. End of discussion. Now, Alana is going to try and buy us time, so I want you and junior to make yourselves very scarce till I say otherwise."

Before to the man could leave, Jack stopped him, "Wait. Thank you, Uncle Daniel."

Daniel didn’t betray his cool exterior, "Right. See you soon Jacky."

+ + + + + + +

Alana Patrick was the best at what she did. She never broke under pressure and always stayed one step ahead of both the law, and her various employers. Nothing deterred her from her goal. Alana Patrick was the best. But now, as fingers moved swiftly across the computer keys, she was as nervous as a kid with a hidden candy bar in their pocket. Things had not gone as planned. Carlos had opened his big mouth and Couley was mad, not to mention the delivery date had been moved to tonight and she had yet to find out who on their team was giving the ATF all their information.

A soft ping made her jump from her seat. "Rebecca. What are you doing here on a Saturday?," Orin Travis said as he stepped from the elevator.

"Mr. Travis. I was trying to finish filing Team Eight’s account report. It’s due Monday but with all the upgrades tech was doing last week, they didn’t send it 'til last night. Um, what are you doing here?," she asked, trying to remain calm.

Orin let out a sigh, "Wilmington’s boy was taken last night."

Alana let out a well-timed gasp, "The little one? I hadn’t heard."

"Media blackout. Under the circumstances I thought it best."

"Circumstances?," she asked, fishing for information. They couldn’t know already.

"Seems the persons responsible may have very powerful connections. I’m going down to eleven after I contact Team Four."

Alana was unable to respond as Orin Travis entered his office and closed the door. "Dammit," she mumbled to herself. Looking at the clock, she realized she had less than five hours to finish the job and get out.

Two hours passed before she found what she needed, but the panic she felt didn’t subside. After copying all the files relating to Daniel Couley, she entered an unmarked disk into the computer and began to upload a gift, courtesy of Mr. Couley. She watched as the file slowly loaded into the system, looking up at the clock again, she decided to take a chance. Working against the file load, she began looking through the network and printing up various pages. The last page finished printing just as the computer flashed that the file was loaded. Popping out the disk, she gathered the printed pages and left the building.

+ + + + + + +

The silence within the conference room was deafening. It was the mousy voice of Tamara Brown from Team Four that broke finally through. "Tony Scott says they're moving tonight. Couley is real panicky, as in 'leave the country' panicky."

"Then we move, and bring JD home," Chris replied.

"Not that easy, boys," Travis explained, "The higher-ups have been waiting a long time to get Couley, they will not be pleased if we put any undue pressure on him and blow it."

Chris frowned, his face turning slightly red, "JD’s life may be at stake. Screw the ‘higher-ups;' we need to move."

Calmly, Travis spoke, "JD’s safe return is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but the reality is, our hands are tied. There is no way we can move until tonight, which is why I’m bringing in Team Seven. Once we neutralize Couley, we can bring JD home. The last thing we want is for him to get spooked and jump ship with JD."

"I don’t like it."

Travis sighed, "I know, Chris, but this is the safest way to get him back."

Around the table, four heads nodded. Looking at the broken-hearted Buck, Chris said, "He’ll be home by dinner."

Forcing a fake grin, Buck agreed, "I trust you."

The shrill ring of Tamara’s cell made them all jump. Her hello was interrupted and all was quiet as she listened carefully to the voice on the other side. Snapping the phone shut, she turned to the men, "We’ve got a problem. Couley’s files are gone and there’s a worm eating through the system as we speak."

Orin quickly jumped up and made his way to the elevator. "I’m going down to Tech to see how bad it is. Brown?"

"Not a problem, sir, we’ve got enough to still push tonight. I’ll fill everyone in."

"Good," Orin said as the doors to the elevator closed.

Looking back to the men in the room, Tamara began, "Well, looks like this will be Couley 101. We have less than three hours."

+ + + + + + +

Shortly after Daniel left, JD woke up, ready to start the day, and filled with more questions. Though he and Jack never left the large house, JD was kept entertained by a movie in the in-home theater, complete with real theater seats and later, swimming, during which Jack felt a pang of guilt and jealousy when he saw that his son already knew how to swim. Through it all JD had never asked about going home and had quickly put away any questions about seeing Buck when he saw how happy his father was, the subject of seeing Vin was not so easily put to rest.

"Can Vin come over?" he asked, for what seemed like the tenth time that day.

Jack sighed, and offered every parents universal answer, "We'll see." JD always seemed to accept this answer, but sure enough, he would ask about seeing Vin.

Around four-thirty, Carlos stopped by bearing an unheartfelt gift from Daniel for JD, a brown mastiff puppy, which JD quickly named Maddie. Taking the puppy to the back, JD found himself drawn back to the house as he realized Carlos and his father were arguing.

"Shh, girl," he whispered to Maddie as he stood by the open door.

"Your loyalties should be to your family," Carlos said.

"They are. John is my family. Everything would have turned out fine if my Uncle hadn't gotten involved," Jack argued back.

Carlos’ voice lowered, "No, everything would not have! We were stupid. You, for following your heart and me, for following my friend. Your uncle was only looking out for you and so was I."

"I think you need to leave," Jack said menacingly. "Now."

Somewhere JD heard a door open and close, but it obviously wasn’t because of Carlos leaving.

"Maybe your girlfriend can talk some sense into you." With that, the door opened again and was slammed shut.

"Jack," came the soft voice of Miss Holiday.

Grabbing hold of the squirming puppy, JD walked inside and sat next to his father on the couch.

"Hi, John," Alana said.

"JD," Jack mumbled as he hugged his son. "Tell me something, Alana. Was all this a mistake?"

Looking down at father and son she wanted to offer him some form of comfort. "No. You are family," she said. Shuffling from foot to foot she let herself be calmed by the silence. "Um, Jack," she waited till he looked up at her, "I’ve only got a moment but here."

Looking at the handful of papers she held out to him, he asked, "What-?"

"Everything I could find quickly," she added. "I’m not sure what it says but, here."

Reaching up, he grabbed the papers from her, "Always knew you where a softy inside."

"Well, don’t get any ideas," she replied lightly.

Waiting for the door to click closed, Jack turned to JD. Looking down at the sleeping puppy he held, Jack asked, "You hungry, JD?"

He stood without waiting for a reply and began to scan the papers Alana had just left with him. Seeing his father’s face turn red and tears form in the corners of his eyes, JD asked quietly, "Daddy Jack, are you mad?"

Grabbing the keys that laid on the coffee in front of him, he shakingly answered, "Yes."

"At me?"

Remembering himself, Jack calmed his features as he picked both JD and the puppy up, "No. Never at you." Walking to the door he continued, "What do you say we go see Uncle Danny?"

+ + + + + + +

"This doesn’t feel right," Ezra said as slipped into his Kevlar vest.

"When does it ever brother?," Josiah replied as he stepped next to the smaller man.

Both men kept watch as their fellow team members spread out around the large warehouse. Only moments before Jonathan Green had been spotted entering the building carrying JD in his arms. Chris had to forcibly hold Buck back when the man spotted his adopted son in the arms of his kidnapper.

"Hold on, Buck. Just hold on and keep cool. Lose your head and JD will get hurt," Chris had said, trying to calm his partner and best friend down.

Over the radio came the voice of Justin Berg from Team Four. "The buyers are pulling in. Move in ten."

Buck looked down at his watch. Ten minutes and he would be holding JD again.

+ + + + + + +

Daniel Couley hung up the phone as he saw his nephew come into the warehouse. Not good. He had told Jack to stay put but obviously something had riled the young man up. Keeping his cool, Daniel called Alana into his office and continued to move forward with business. Thirty seconds flat and Jack walked upstairs into his office, red in the face. Calmly, Daniel turned to JD, who had been let down and was now standing by the door, "Hello, Jonathan. Why don’t you take your puppy and sit on the stairs. Your daddy and I need to speak."

Without a word, JD did just that. As soon as JD walked out, Jack began, "You did it."

"Did what?"

"You killed her."

"Killed who? I’m a busy man, you’ll have to be more specific, Jacky," Daniel said nonchalantly.

"Maddie, goddammit!"

"Oh," Daniel replied flatly. "Yes, well, I don’t know where your information came from," he said glancing over at Alana, "but I can assure you I killed no one."

"David Bergman. Ring any bells? She found out. It’s all right here," Jack said, throwing the papers Alana had delivered earlier, at his uncle, "She found out about all this and she was going to blow it all. So, you arranged for Bergman to be the one to take her into protection and for him to kill her. Only he screwed up and left JD, didn’t he. When everything came out about his involvement in her death, you had him killed before he spill anything."

"Well, someone did their homework."

Jack looked his uncle in the eyes, searching for any form of remorse, "How could you? I loved her."

"Business, Jacky, business. Women are bad for business, aren’t they, Alana?" Alana moved toward Jack as Daniel continued, "She was going to betray us. She didn’t understand that family sticks together. That is something I know you understand, Jacky. Now, take your son and go home. I suggest you put this behind you and move on. You have a son to raise. An heir to the business."

Jack moved forward, "You don’t get it. I LOVED her! More than this goddamn business. After tonight I’m gone. I’m through with this and I’m through with you."

"Not smart, Jacky." Before anyone could blink Daniel pulled out a handgun and fired at his nephew. The shot echoed through the warehouse causing JD to jump to his feet and run to the open doorway. His eyes watered up as he saw the kind Miss Holiday fall to the ground bleeding. She had stepped in front of the gun as Daniel had fired.

"Always knew she was soft on you," Daniel said as he brought the gun back up to his nephew.

"NO," JD screamed.

His shout brought Jack around and he lunged for the gun before his uncle could fire again. As the two fought over control of the gun, the doors to the warehouse flew open as an army of law enforcement officers flew in.

Daniel’s eyes opened wide as the gun went off once again. He watched as his nephew stumbled backwards and over the chain railing and down to the pile of boxes below, taking JD with him as he fell.

+ + + + + + +

As the clock moved closer to ‘Go’ time, Buck grew more and more restless. He was like a police dog waiting for his master to give the word for him to attack. The rest of the team fared no better.

The first shot rang out five minutes before they were to 'go'. Something was wrong and they couldn’t wait. Team Seven began to move in, ignoring orders to hold back. With a strong string of curses, Justin Berg gave the go ahead for all teams to move in.

Inside the warehouse people were caught totally off guard due to the shot fired by Daniel Couley, even Team Four member, Tony Scott, so when doors flew open exposing an army of armed men and women, most everyone gave up.

Carlos Saldana dove behind an empty barrel and fired at the intruders. He had been in jail before and he was determined never to go back. His fist shot went wide but the second caught a red-haired woman in the shoulder. Before he could fire again, Tony Scott returned the favor, right between the eyes. Running over to his fallen teammate, Scott pulled her to the side. "I’m good Tony," Tamara Brown replied and, as if proving the fact, fired her gun, hitting a man behind Scott.

A number of others decided to get brave, but were quickly put down before any real damage could be done. Above the chaos, another shot rang out. Time slowed as the whole of Team Seven looked up in time to see Jack Green take a hit from his uncle. He stumbled, bumping into the boy that stood behind him, still holding the puppy, taking both of them over the railing to plunge to the ground.

Two more shots rang out, courtesy of Josiah, immediately taking down Couley. As one, the group ran to where they had seen the boy fall. The whimpering of a puppy pulled the men up short. Guns drawn, they moved around the pile of boxes. What they saw broke their hearts.

Somehow, Jack had turned and landed before JD, allowing his body to take the boy’s weight. JD never noticed the snap of his arm as he hit the ground and his father, all the air being pushed out of him. The struggles of the puppy he still held in his good arm, had brought him around quickly. Looking next to where he lay, he gasped at the sight of the bleeding body of his father. The bullet had hit him in the chest, but despite the fall, the man was still conscious, though if not aware of his surroundings. Tears sprang to JD’s eyes as he laid across his father, his clothing soaking up the blood that flowed from the man's chest. He released his puppy when it began to whimper, but never released his father.

"Daddy Jack," he said through his sobs.

Jack didn’t seem to notice JD, even as he drew his arm over him and patted his back. "I’m so sorry, Maddie," he whispered weakly.

JD released an anguished cry as he felt Jack’s arm drop off his back, "DAAAA!"

He jumped slightly when he felt strong arms pull him away. Looking up, he saw Buck. Buck, who he had forgotten all about. Buck, who hadn’t slept since the moment JD had left the office for the ice show with Ezra and Vin. Buck. His Buck.

JD fell into the man’s arms and held tight as he cried harder than he had ever cried before.

"It’s okay, Lil’ Bit. It’s okay."


JD skipped and whistled loudly as he held on to Buck’s hand. He had woken exceptionally early that morning in anticipation of his trip. By seven, he was dressed and ready to go. By seven-thirty, Chris had threatened to lock him in a closet if he didn’t settle down.

The drive to Buena Vista had been pleasant, until Maddie had peed in Buck’s truck, earning the swear jar four dollars and Maddie a ride in a pet carrier the rest of the way. Despite JD's good mood, or maybe because of it of, Buck had felt anxious the whole day. Even as they stopped at a gas station and filled up on gas as JD picked out a cheap bouquet of wild flowers and Maddie relieved herself outside the truck, Buck couldn’t force himself to relax.

The last month had been the most trying of his life and had shaken his entire world to the core, because now he knew the truth. No matter how he tried, Buck would never truly be JD's father. His friends had tried to convince him otherwise, but he couldn’t convince himself.

Now the pain was more clear and hurtful as he walked with JD to the doors of the Buena Vista Correctional Complex. The smile he offered the woman at the visitor gate was only skin deep. He watched as JD’s cast was inspected and Maddie was given the okay to come through the gate.

The moment JD and Maddie were through the gate, the energetic boy took off for the man who now stood alone in the visitor yard. Buck’s throat constricted as he saw how joyful the man looked when JD jumped at him. Taking a deep breath, Buck walked over to the pair.

Seeing the hurt in Buck’s eyes, Jack carefully put JD on the ground and held his hand out to Buck, "Mr. Wilmington. Thank you for bringing him."

Buck hesitantly shook his hand, "I didn’t think it would be right if I refused to let him see you."

Releasing hands the two men watched as JD showed Jack all the tricks he had taught Maddie, which actually consisted of him holding her down to sit and trying to get her to let go of his pant leg. Jack was the first to speak, "I want to thank you, really, for everything."

"Yeah, well, the DA and I used to date," Buck said laughingly.

The two men took a seat on a metal picnic table and continued to watch JD. "Not just for that."

"I know."

"Do you, Mr. Wilmington?"

"Call me Buck."

Both men took deep breaths as JD tripped only to jump right up and continue his game of tag with his puppy.

"Buck, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t kill me to know I’ll never be the father you are to him."

Buck mumbled, "I’m not his real father."

"Yes, you are. Nettie Wells came to see me. She told me everything you and Mr. Larabee have gone through for my son and his friend. You are his father, his real father. I’m simply an… an idea. I’ll never be to him what you are. You are his hero."

Buck forced down the tears that threatened to betray him. "I didn’t sign the papers."

"What?," Jack asked astonished.

"I won’t do that to him. I know you love him and he deserves the chance to get to know you. In two days he fell completely in love with you. He was taken from you once, I won’t do it again."

Jack saw no need to force his tears back, he let them fall, "Thank you. Thank you so much, but... but I need to know he'll be taken care of. I know you love him and if something... should happen I want you to remain his legal guardian. I know how hard this is for you and I want you to know I trust you. There could be no better man to raise him and be his father."

"DA!," JD cried out when he realized neither man was watching him anymore. Running up, he pulled Jack to his feet and toward the play-set the prison had for inmates and their children to play. Before they got there, JD turned and looked at Buck, "Come on, Da!"

Smiling, Buck stood to join his son.

My son.

The End

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