Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em but if I could they'd be on season 10 by now!
Thanks to Mog for this wonderful AU.
Ratings/Warnings: Some bad language
Thanks to Phyllis, not just for beta-ing this, but for being a true friend when I needed one.
Also to the DD posse, for their friendship, love and support. This story is for you guys...thanks.
Six of Team Seven were sat in the Saloon as they waited for their youngest member to arrive. It was almost the weekend and JD had been positively 'bouncing' all day.
Linking back to a case from a few months ago, where JD had been undercover and working with teenagers, Josiah had made a promise to himself to spend some quality time with the young man. He knew he could never make up for all the years the youth had missed out on while caring for his dying mother, but he hoped he could at least go some way to helping close the gap.
Josiah's teammates were greatly amused, and unashamedly laughing.
"Now, let me get this straight, preacher...you told the kid you'd take him out for the day?" Buck asked.
Josiah nodded while slowly sipping on his beer.
"And you said you'd do whatever he decided on...?"
Once more, Sanchez nodded and looked around the table as the men laughed again.
"Did I miss something?" The profiler asked.
"Hell yeah," Vin answered, "That kid's done got the biggest imagination I've ever known...I hope you got plenty of stamina...'coz you're gonna need it!"
Before Josiah could comment, JD joined them with a smile as wide as his face.
"Hey guys, hi Josiah...I got it."
"Hello John Dunne...got what?"
"What we'll be doing on Saturday."
"I see...and what WILL we be doing?" Josiah inquired, looking at the paperwork JD had placed in front of him on the table as he sipped again on his beer.
Stifled chuckles could be heard as Josiah sputtered on his beer as he read from the very colorful brochure in front of him.
"This?" he pointed, "We'll be doing this, JD?"
JD grinned even wider, if that was possible. "Yeah...whatcha think?"
The brochure was now being passed around the rest of the team, each man returning the youth's grin as they read it and moved it on.
"JD," Nathan commented, "I'm not sure Josiah..."
Josiah interrupted "...Could possibly say no to such an exciting day. I'll pick you up at seven am tomorrow, JD...be ready!"
"Oh I will," the young man chuckled, "I'll just go get a drink. Anyone else want one?"
Waving off the request the team watched as JD decided to use the bathroom first. When they thought him to be out of earshot, they all erupted into laughter again, causing the other patrons to turn and look momentarily.
Buck wiped his eyes and punched Larabee playfully on the arm as he saw his oldest friend do the same.
"Aaah, Josiah...I gotta hand it to you...you got balls of steel my friend."
Josiah gave a toothy grin, "Well, I always promised myself I would do as much as I could before I die..."
"Yes Mister Sanchez...but did you ever consider one of those activities may be the cause of your demise?" Ezra pointed out, causing more laughter.
"I'm sure young JD has been thorough in his choice, Ezra...so whether skydiving will be my final activity in this life, or not...will remain to be seen."
JD had been amused his roommate had gotten up to see him off the next morning.
"It's funny..." JD noted, "Buck doesn't usually surface until at least ten-thirty on a weekend...I wonder why he got up this morning."
Josiah smiled as he signaled to pull out onto the interstate.
"Buck is very fond of you, JD, as are we all. I'm sure he just wanted to wish you a good day."
"He thinks I'm gonna get hurt, doesn't he...? Ah hell...that's it isn't it? I bet he'll ring every hour just to see..."
"John Dunne, do you not like that you're self-appointed 'big brother' cares deeply for your welfare?"
JD looked a little embarrassed, "Sure...of course I like it...it's just that...sorry...I don't mean anything by it. I guess I've screwed up so much in my life...and I just had to get on with it..." Josiah smiled, "And you did a good job of taking care of yourself and your mother, JD...now allow yourself the luxury of others caring for you too. I know I do."
About two hours later, they were pulling in to the airfield. Josiah parked the SUV and the two men walked in to the office.
JD smiled at the lady sitting at the reception desk.
"Hi...Dunne and Sanchez...we're booked in for eleven am." He handed over his booking confirmation and the receptionist tapped the details into the computer. She looked at them, smiling.
"You'll be with James and Gareth. If you'll take a seat, I'll let them know you're here."
The two agents sat down. JD grinned at the older man.
"This is so cool...are you sure you don't mind doing this, Josiah...I'll understand if..."
"JD...I can hardly wait, son." Josiah grinned back.
"Are you nervous?"
"I'd be lying if I didn't admit to some nerves, yes...you?"
"Excited...yeah...really excited. It's something I've always wanted to do. I was gonna ask Vin...but when you suggested spending some time together, and that you wanted it to be special..."
"Indeed, JD...indeed. It was an excellent choice, son."
The outer door opened and two men in their forties came in. They immediately walked over to the two agents and shook hands as the two men stood.
"Hey guys, nice to meet you. I'm James and this is Gareth," the other man smiled and nodded, "Which one of you is Dunne?"
JD stepped forward, "That's me...and it's JD. This is Josiah."
"Are you guys friends, or are you related?" James asked.
Josiah grinned and put his arm across the younger man's shoulders.
"By blood, no, but we are, in every sense of the word, as brothers."
JD looked at the profiler and smiled. Something in that word, 'brother', always made JD warm and tingly.
"Well, if you could fill out these forms for us, guys...sorry...we have to ask for next of kin...don't let that worry you none...and when you're finished, hand your forms to Angela and then take a right as you come through the door. We'll meet you in the hangar. JD...you'll be with me."
In ten minutes the forms had been filled out and signed. JD hadn't hesitated to put Buck as his next of kin; Josiah had stalled at that point. After a small debate, he decided to put Chris...it seemed to make sense.
The two men handed in their forms and walked over to the hangar. Josiah eyed the plane, a little concerned.
"Not very big, is it?"
"More than big enough, Josiah..." Gareth smiled. "Peter's our pilot today, he's not here yet. We have to go over some basic training for you guys first, and when you jump we'll be attached to you. If ever you want to come back at a later date and do the full course so as you can go solo...just let us know."
The rest of Team Seven had decided to meet up at Chris' ranch for the weekend, Josiah and JD to join them when their day was over.
Having just eaten and now relaxing on the porch, Buck chuckled. Chris smirked at him.
"What's so funny?"
"Aww, nothing much...just thinking about last night. Kid hardly slept at all."
"Excitement...I assume," Ezra raised one eyebrow.
Buck nodded, "Yeah...hell, is it any wonder I forget he's twenty-one now? There isn't a day goes by he's not excited about something...well... unless he's hurt, which is a lot...I guess. Come to think of it...how the hell does he manage to keep so upbeat all the time? Damned if I've ever known anyone like him."
"Actually..." Chris answered, "He reminds me of a more extreme version of a younger you."
Buck chuckled, "If you say so, stud...if you say so."
"Well, Buck, didn't you say they were going to eat before heading back here?" Nathan reminded.
Buck nodded, "Uh, huh...they were warned about eating before the jump... I think it was in case they..."
"Yeah, yeah...we get the picture..." Tanner cut in; keen not to see his own lunch return with talk of vomiting.
They all laughed. Buck checked his watch. "I wonder if they're in the air yet."
Josiah shuddered as he looked out the side window of the plane. He had flown many times, but not like this. But he'd promised...him and JD...anything the kid had wanted to do...and this was it. He was more than a little apprehensive, but also more than a little excited. He doubted he would ever do anything like this again, and found himself suddenly very grateful he had decided to go along with it.
He looked across at a grinning junior agent and had to laugh. Only JD Dunne could persuade him to do this, of that he was sure. There was nothing he feared where his job was concerned...well, of course he was fearful...but not 'afraid', and where his teammates were concerned he would not hesitate to lay down his life for them, but not one of them could have talked him into this...except John Daniel Dunne.
JD was unsure whether his stomach was a nervous one, or an excited one, either way, he was mighty glad he hadn't had any food. He found himself wondering where vomit would go from this high up, and then berated himself for his weird train of thought.
He glanced across at Josiah and couldn't help but grin. The man looked like he felt... this wonderful man, who had given up a whole day, just to be with him...and do this! JD made a promise to himself that this selfless act would not go unrewarded...maybe he could help Josiah at one of his 'projects'.
The two instructors spoke over the com links in their helmets and told the two agents they would tap them three times for extra assurance. Acknowledging they were all ready, and knowing they would be going first, JD braced himself. When the taps and command came, he stepped forward and couldn't help himself.
Josiah felt a tap and on the third he jumped too, the plane left behind in seconds.
Their parachutes opened and the four floated slowly down to earth.
JD had never known anything like it. His body seemed cocooned in peace and tranquility as he moved gently through the air. He wished this moment could last forever.
Josiah's nerves had completely disappeared and he was unable to contain his smile as he took in the amazing sights. He made a mental note to thank his young partner when they eventually reached Terra Firma.
James and JD landed neatly, first.
"Awesome!" JD yelled, removing his helmet and ruffling his hair as he watched Josiah floating safely down. Once the profiler had landed and disengaged himself from his parachute, he and his instructor made their way over to JD and James. The two instructors went about collecting up the parachutes.
The younger man was positively beside himself.
"Wasn't that amazing, Josiah? Wasn't that just out of this world?"
Josiah gave him a squeeze, "Miraculous," he grinned gratefully, looking toward Heaven, "I'm so glad we did this, JD...thank you son, you've made an older man very happy!"
The two men walked back to their instructors and thanking them, shook their hands. Within the hour, they had collected and packed up the parachutes and jumping into a waiting vehicle, made their way back to the airfield.
From the airfield, Josiah and JD had taken a trip out to a nearby lake and eaten the sandwiches Buck had prepared. JD had been tickled about the fact that his roommate had been kind enough to prepare a lunch. The two men sat happily munching away as their feet dangled idly in the water.
"It's really pretty here, isn't it Josiah?"
"Yes indeed it is, JD, a truly beautiful spot."
"Are you taking a vacation this year?"
"Actually, I believe there was talk of all seven of us getting away together at some point."
"There was? I don't recall such a conversation."
Josiah stopped chewing for a moment and looked at the youth, "Ah...in that case, I may have inadvertently spoiled a surprise."
"A surprise?" JD's shoulders sank, "Naw...they probably thought I'd get all excited and drive 'em crazy until we finally went, so they waited to tell me." He looked up at the profiler, "They'd probably be right too! I drive myself crazy sometimes."
Sanchez shook his head, "Lord, boy...why are you always so quick to put yourself down? I'm sure they just wanted to thrash out the finer points rather than disappoint you."
"Does Ezra know?"
"Yes...and yes, so do Buck and Chris, seeing as they were the ones trying to organize it."
JD shrugged, "Just me then."
Josiah was at a loss for words. He had no argument for or against but decided he would talk to the others about excluding JD from group decisions, no matter how well meaning they were trying to be.
"I'm sorry, son. I have no doubt they meant well by it, but I can see why you'd be upset."
"Aw, I'm not upset, not really...I know they don't mean to hurt me... it's just, when you get to hear like this...it can sting a little, y'know?"
Josiah leaned over and pulled the young man toward him.
"All I can tell you is this...every member of this team brings a special quality to it...something unique and irreplaceable. You...well, before you joined us, we were pretty raw...we clearly got on well as a group when it came to work but that was it. Each night we would go home...and then back the next day. Buck and Chris were close, or seemed to be,but chris kept to himself, Vin was clearly used to working alone, Nathan was unsure of what he really wanted to do, Ezra was fresh in from Atlanta and clearly not used to mixing socially...hell, for that matter, he didn't mix much in work, either. Buck was very much the playboy...a different girl every night, but I always sensed loneliness there...and me...I was just glad to be part of a good team and get home in one piece every night.
Then you arrived, and although most of us liked you instantly, we all doubted Chris' sanity at the appointment."
JD looked about to burst but Josiah steadied him.
"Let me finish, son."
"We couldn't imagine someone so young being an asset to us, we were 'veterans' so to speak...we'd been around a while, we couldn't understand how you would fit in, hell...Buck didn't even seem to like you...and Buck likes everyone. But you did it...you hung in there and before long, Chris had softened his demeanor a little, Vin had started to get close to Chris, Nathan stopped wondering what he was going to do next, Ezra began confiding a little in us, I started looking forward to work each day, and Buck...well...Buck is like a new man. He still likes the ladies, but more often than not I hear him discussing what movie or sports game the two of you watched the night before. You filled the gap...you reminded us of how we used to be...enthusiastic, idealistic, and hungry.
You challenge Chris by reminding him it's not always black and white, and he totally thrives on it, and don't let him tell you differently. We'd never been to his home, well only Buck, but now, we're there at least once a month, if not more, and if not there, we're at your place. We've become so much more than a team...we've become...family, and if any one of us were missing...we would feel the loss, maybe even fail to function. We are ALL important."
JD blew out a breath..."Wow...so...did they say where we might be going on our vacation?" He bobbed his eyebrows.
Josiah roared out a laugh and lightly roughhoused with the youth.
"Come on, John Dunne, I think it's time we headed home, we have a three hour drive ahead of us, perhaps we should grab ourselves a meal along the way...what do you say, or can you last until we get to Chris'?"
"Naw...I'll never last that long, on the way sounds great...hey, have you seen my sneaker?"
Buck thumbed the answer button on his cell.
"Hey, kid...how's your day going? Is Josiah still with us, or..." Buck let out a deep laugh that lit up his face.
Chris turned to the others, "I guess that means they came out of it unscathed. That's the first real smile I've seen from Buck all day."
"Y'know," Vin added, "He wanted us to follow 'em so's he could check they came down alright...hell, it took a lot of persuasion to change his mind."
The men looked across as Buck snapped his phone shut.
"They're about an hour or so away...just heading in to a mall for some food. I told him to pick up some ice-cream."
"Ice-cream, Mister Wilmington?" Ezra asked.
"Oh yeah...always have ice-cream when we talk about our day."
Chris nodded his approval, "Best get some bowls and spoons ready!"
The small mall just off the interstate was bustling. People were laughing and strolling as the place buzzed with weekend shoppers. Sat in a corner of MacDonald's a very dark and brooding young man observed the people entering and exiting the establishment. His girlfriend had cheated on him and he was convinced that man was going to be there so this was the day that Raymond Fitch would exact his revenge on the cheating bastard. He wanted to make sure he would never take someone's girlfriend from them again.
Looking around the food hall, Josiah pondered. He could see JD secretly eyeing MacDonald's, and he considered it for a moment but then decided he would have some Indian food.
"Go ahead, JD, you have a Big Mac if you want, I'll get what I want and we'll meet here at the tables, yes?"
JD nodded, "Ok...see you back here."
The two friends separated and joined their respective lines. Josiah's line progressed more quickly and he was soon sat at a table and waiting on his young teammate. Suddenly, a glass partition between MacDonald's and the seating area exploded and everyone screamed and dropped to the floor or ran. At first, ducking his head on hearing the noise, Josiah stood and unholstered his service weapon, his immediate thoughts were of JD.
JD was getting a little frustrated; wasn't this supposed to be 'fast food'? He glanced idly around, watching as a man and woman walked toward the glass partition with their food. He didn't notice the man in the corner stand and point a gun toward the pair until the very last second, then there was an explosion of noise, and all hell broke loose.
As everyone ducked or ran, JD reached behind his back and unclipped his gun. The young agent moved toward the couple on the floor, vaguely aware the man was bleeding while the woman screamed in terror, and he stood protectively in front of them, pointing his gun shoulder high and straight out in front of him.
"Federal Officer...put your gun on the floor and your hands on your head."
The man just stood there, his gun-hand shaking but pointing directly at JD.
Josiah was quickly ushering people away from the area as he held a covering position for his partner. He knew security had alerted police so he kept his focus on the two men currently in a stand-off.
"Come on, fella...put your gun down, I don't want to shoot you... but I will."
"Fuck off, Fed...this is between me and him." The gunman gestured to the man on the floor.
"See, that's where you're wrong...you made it my business when you pulled out a gun and fired it in a busy shopping mall. Now, give it up...it's not too bad right now...put the gun down before it gets any worse."
Josiah desperately wanted to step in but didn't dare move for fear of unsettling the shooter.
And then it happened. JD would never work out how he knew, but instinct kicked in as he realized the man was squeezing the trigger, and JD fired even as a bullet exited the gunman's weapon.
As the evening light cast shadows across the ranch, the five men of Team Seven had settled in to watch a football game. Just as it was getting exciting, a newsflash interrupted their viewing, announcing the shooting at the mall.
Chris leaned forward, "Shit...that's only about an hour from here." The agents leaned forward and watched the report, which was short and vague, concluding the incident had ended with gunfire and that they would return with more information as they received it.
They resumed their positions as the game came back on. Chris unexpectedly muted the TV to calls of dismay, but his expression silenced the men.
"How far away did you say JD and Josiah were, Buck?"
As the ladies' man went to open his mouth, the light dawned. "Oh God!"
The two men each dialed the missing men's cell phones while Vin, Nathan and Ezra sat and waited, hardly daring to breath.
Vaguely aware of his ringing cell, JD was desperately trying to hold in the blood, he knew it was useless, but with the paramedics going to the victim first it was all he could do.
Josiah was next to him, his own cell ringing, but his focus was firmly on his young teammate.
"You're doing great JD; the other paramedics are on their way." Josiah's heart was heavy, he knew there was little hope, but he didn't have the heart to tell his friend that.
As JD pressed down hard on the wound, he looked at the man dying on the floor beneath him, tears clouding his vision, his black hair falling forward hiding his features.
"Why?" he sobbed, "You stupid Bastard...why?"
JD looked up into the eyes of the profiler and he knew instantly...the man was as good as dead, but still he pushed down. The youth looked around him for the first time...people had drifted back and were just staring...eating, and staring.
A rattle in the man's throat signaled he was gone, the paramedics arriving within seconds of the sound. As JD and Josiah stood for them to gain access, both men stained with blood, JD pretty much covered, the young agent asked, just to be sure.
"C...can you help him?"
The female attending looked up at the boy, shaking her head, "I'm afraid it doesn't look as though we can, I'm sorry. You did everything you could."
With heavy hearts, the two agents checked on the victim and were told he would survive. One of the paramedics gently but thoroughly cleaned the young agent's bloody hands, though the boy hardly seemed to notice, if at all, he seemed to be focusing elsewhere. A quick conversation with Josiah and the handing over of a card concluded the paramedic's task and he returned to assist his colleague with the victim.
Once more, JD's attention was drawn to the crowd and everything that had just happened...hit him. He turned his body toward them, gesturing wildly with his hands.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU MORONS? WHAT DO YOU THINK JUST HAPPENED HERE? YOU STAND THERE STARING... EATING YOUR FUCKING BURGERS...WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS? THE FLOOR SHOW BEFORE DESSERT? GIVE THESE PEOPLE SOME DIGNITY...FUCK OFF!!!"
Josiah grabbed the young man and pulled him tight to his body, despite a brief struggle to break free. Eventually JD relaxed and looked at Josiah with eyes pleading to get out of there. Keeping a firm grip on him, Josiah handed the officer in charge JD's gun and the number to contact Larabee. The OIC nodded and allowed them to leave on the understanding they would be calling for a statement later.
Josiah seated the blood stained agent in the car and, now able to see who had been trying to contact them, he dialed as he walked around to the driver's side. After a brief conversation, he snapped his phone shut, got in the car and drove for Chris' ranch. He would worry about informing JD of a mandatory HIV test later.
Buck closed his phone and groaned his features pale. The rest of Team Seven were watching him.
"Josiah and JD?" Chris asked, hopefully. Buck nodded and proceeded to fill them in.
By the time Josiah pulled up outside the ranch house, Chris had been contacted by the OIC and informed that JD was pretty much exonerated as there had been plenty of witnesses, and it was now all a matter of formalities. He agreed to call the next day.
Five men stood on the porch as the two agents got out of the car, and were visibly shocked by the appearance of the youngest. Both men's clothes were bloody, but JD's were caked in it. All Josiah had wanted to do was get him to people who cared about him; they'd worry about the details when they arrived.
Buck sighed, "Aaah kid..." He stepped toward his roommate and for a second they both hovered, Buck afraid to push and JD afraid to let go. As one, they both stepped forward and Buck pulled his friend into a tight bear hug.
As hard as he tried not to, JD let it all go...his body shaking from the shock and effort. Nathan came up next to them and enveloped the shaking youngster in a blanket.
"C'mon, kid...let's get you cleaned up," Buck whispered.
The roommates disappeared into the house. The remaining four men looked to Josiah for an explanation, which he gave while gratefully sipping on a whiskey Ezra had given him.
Josiah shook his head sadly, "It had been such a wonderful day..." he looked at his teammates with misty eyes, "He's such an amazing young man...so much energy...so much passion...so...sad our day had to end like this."
Nearing midnight, the air was cooler now, JD sat out on the porch, his feet up on a rail, his body wrapped in a blanket, hair still damp from his shower. He just sat there, staring into space, his mind playing the events of earlier over and over.
He turned slightly as the screen door squeaked, but didn't really look to see who it was, only looking as someone pulled up a chair next to him. The profiler now also showered and in fresh clothes, handed him a mug of hot chocolate, which JD took with a small smile.
"Don't get chilled, son...no point in making yourself sick."
JD sipped on his drink, "I won't. Thanks for this...it's... good."
"Are you ready to come in now, JD? The others are worried about you."
"Aww I'm fine, thanks...just wanted to be alone for a while." He took a few more sips. As Josiah went to leave, JD turned toward him.
The big man turned and smiled, "Yes son?"
"You know...ruining our day an' all."
Josiah turned to the boy and resuming his seat, put his hand on his shoulder.
"What happened today...was out of your control...you did everything right, and protected a lot of people doing it...you couldn't save him son...yet you kept trying...you should be proud, not remorseful. Now... come back inside so Buck can pretend not to fuss over you and so that the rest of them can be as close as they would like to be... let them be there for you."
JD nodded slowly, dropping his gaze for a moment, and then looked back up at the man next to him. "Josiah...doesn't it ever bother you?"
As the two men stood, Sanchez put his arm on the younger man's shoulder and drew him close, sighing heavily.
"More than you'll ever know, son...more than you'll ever know."