Luck of the Draw
by Sue M
Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em but if I could they'd be on season 10 by now!
Summary: A Halloween stake-out, why is it never that simple?
Thanks to Phyllis for her betaing and additiions, you make my stories fly, girl.
Thanks to Mog for the delicious ATF AU
The abandoned paper mill stood in a long-deserted business park on the outskirts of the city. Businesses had relocated to more fashionable areas several years prior and all that remained was the detritus that had accumulated from years of neglect.
The electrical company had re-connected the power to several buildings in the area on the false premise of work being undertaken, when in fact it was a surveillance operation by the ATF, namely one Team Seven. The team was working in pairs, and this being Halloween, and each of the agents wanting to attend the party at the Saloon, names had been entered into a waste bin and lots drawn.
"I don't believe we pulled this tonight," JD grumped.
Ezra peered through his binoculars. "Halloween is not a holiday, Mister Dunne, and criminals still break the law, even tonight. For us, it was just literally the luck of the draw."
He scanned the building under surveillance several times for signs of life, aware of his partner for the night shuffling around him.
He jumped back in shock as JD's features appeared just in front of his glasses.
"But Ez. . .a stake-out. . .."
Tapping his chest to ensure he still had a heartbeat, Ezra glared at the younger man, but before Standish could admonish his partner, a noise from outside the room they were using drew their attention and, after looking at each other for a moment, they crept toward the door.
Guns drawn, they peered into the corridor to see a young woman dressed in dark clothing, beckoning to them. Frowning, then glancing at each other, they followed her along a dimly-lit corridor and into a darkened room.
JD tried flipping the light switch. . .no light.
Staying close together and keeping their guns lowered but ready, they scanned the darkened room for the woman Suddenly a blast of cold air swirled around them as a female voice whispered. . .
"You will. . .both die on this All Hallows Eve."
Grabbing at each other, they scrambled back out into the hallway, both men pale and breathing fast, shallow breaths.
"What the hell was that?" JD panted as he bent over and placed his hands on his knees in an effort to regulate his breathing and heart rate. Ezra, equally shaken, was about to comment when all the lights in the building failed.
"Oh, dear Lord!" Standish uttered, unable to help himself. Reaching out, he caught the arm of his young friend.
"JD, take my arm and stay close."
Ezra couldn't see the nod, but he knew there had been one.
In the darkness, the woman once more appeared before them, this time seemingly glowing blue. Just about the same time, the building started to shake, vivid light piercing the blackness from outside the building itself.
The floorboards below Ezra and JD's feet creaked and started to split.
"What the hell's happening?" Dunne croaked, not really expecting an answer.
"JD. . ." the southerner called out, just as an ear-splitting cracking came from below and a rumbling all around them.
Without warning, the boards gave way, sending both men crashing down into darkness and into the unknown.
+ + + + + + +
Despite all their efforts, and the obvious celebrations going on around them, the remaining five members of Team Seven were struggling to enjoy their evening.
Wilmington had gone almost silent, and the others weren't doing much better.
Chris shook his head and looked across at Tanner, who was nursing his beer, swirling the contents around in the bottle, absent- mindedly. Sensing the look, Vin glanced up to meet the sharp green eyes of his friend and leader. Instinctively, he nodded to him.
"Guys," Larabee announced, "What say we blow this party and go check on how JD and Ezra are doing?"
Buck sat up, brightening instantly, "Hell, yeah. . .I could do with some fresh air."
"And it has nothing to do with wanting to check on JD, huh Buck?" Nathan queried, a slight smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"Well, Nathan, you know that boy'd get into trouble in the middle of an empty field if you left him there long enough, couldn't hurt to call in on them, you know?"
Josiah chuckled, "Yes, we know, and despite both JD's and Ezra's unquestionable capabilities, I too, agree a check-in might be prudent."
Vin's eyes sparkled as he suppressed a grin. "So. . .we goin' then, cowboy?"
Chris rattled his keys. "I guess we are."
+ + + + + + +
The air was thick with dust and blackness enveloped them. Ezra coughed and carefully tested each extremity, relieved as all but one arm moved freely. His head ached some, but didn't seem to be bleeding. Something tugged at his mind as he looked up at where he imagined the hole he had fallen through to be, darkness preventing him from seeing it.
He had fallen through...Oh God. . .
He strained his ears for a sound, a breath. . .nothing.
"JD. . .ANSWER ME," he commanded, more with fear than authority.
The southerner turned his head slightly to pick up a direction.
Standish released the breath he had been holding, "Thank God, Mister Dunne. . .are you hurt?"
"Dunno. . .are you?" JD tried to shift a little.
Ezra bit back a groan, "I fear my left arm may be broken, but other than that, I believe I am in one piece."
"Good, that's good Ez." The youth was still trying to figure out why he was having a conversation in the pitch black while lying on a bed of rocks.
Standish's senses, however, despite his pain were intact, and had picked something up in his partner's speech.
'Damn. . .the boy's slurring. . .head injury.'
"Can you move?" Standish asked.
Dunne grunted a little as he tested his body. "Yeah, I think so. . ."
Noises of rubble shifting sounded from Ezra's left and he instinctively turned, holding out his right hand.
"JD, reach out. . .search for my hand." A few moments went by then a fumbled grasp locked the two agents' hands together. Ezra sighed and heard JD do the same, followed by a groan.
Unwilling to risk causing his friend further injury, Ezra made a decision based on his own body's capabilities.
"Well done, son, stay put now, I will come to you."
Ignoring a fierce pain from his injured arm, Ezra shuffled slowly over until he met a soft barrier.
A few moments later, the two friends were side by side, their hands still clasped.
"Erm. . .something' s sticking out of the top of my leg."
"Are you bleeding?"
"I see." Ezra was trying desperately to ignore the overwhelming agony from his arm, "Try not to move too much."
"Your arm. . .I felt something sticking in it or from it."
"I see. . .is it bleeding?"
"Then it may be prudent for us both to remain still as from now."
After a few minutes of silence and recovery from the movements, Ezra admonished himself. . .'damn. . . head injury.'
"JD. . .Mister Dunne!"
Standish closed his eyes with relief. 'Thank God. . .now, how to keep him talking?'
"Tell me my young friend, when was the last time you ate?"
There was no reply.
"Huh? Oh. . .sorry, 'bout four, I think. . .couple of hours before we met here, why?"
"That would explain the thunderous noise your stomach is making."
"Hah. . .sorry."
"Mine too, I fear."
The younger man laughed softly. He coughed to clear the dust from his throat.
"Ezra. . .we're screwed, aren't we?"
JD sighed tiredly, "No one's gonna miss us for hours. I bet the guys are likely drunk by now."
"Quite possibly, though my guess is not. They. . .we. . .do have work in the morning. Help will come eventually, JD. . .we just need to be patient."
"Yeah, I guess. . ." Dunne was struggling to remain alert now.
Sensing his young colleague was about to slip away again, Ezra bit back the nausea and pain and continued talking, plucking a subject out randomly.
"Tell me, Mister Dunne, I am curious to know what it is like to share accommodation with Mister Wilmington."
JD frowned to himself. "Really. . .why?"
"As I said, just curious. . .humor me."
The youth couldn't help but smile.
"Ha. . .ok. . .well, he's messy. . .but then so am I. He dates a lot. . .although, not so much these days. He snores like a chainsaw. . .he says I snore too."
Ezra chuckled to himself and urged JD to continue.
"He's a great cook, especially when I'm laid up. . .he always seems to know when something's bothering me. . ."
"So not entirely a chore, then?"
"Oh, no. . .he's pretty cool, actually. Ezra?"
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Apart from the one you just asked, do you mean?"
"Ha. . .yeah."
"By all means, go ahead."
"Do you ever miss your mom, I mean. . .you never say, but. . .you must miss her, right?"
"I am tempted to say, 'like a hole in the head', but that would not be entirely true, so my answer is. . .'never. . .and always. . .'"
"That's a contradiction, Ezra," JD smiled to himself.
"Indeed, and describes my mother perfectly. Now, is it my imagination, or is it lighter in here?"
JD nodded, then regretted the action, "Mmm. . .not daylight, though."
"I agree. . .almost. . .orange. "
"Oh, God. . .do you think the building's on fire?"
"I sincerely hope not, though a little reassurance would be good right about now."
+ + + + + + +
Larabee frowned and slowed as he approached the police roadblock. He rolled down his side window and leaned out, flashing his ID to the officer at the perimeter.
"What's the problem here?"
"Explosion sir, one of the empty buildings went up about twenty minutes ago. The fire crews are just arriving, now."
Chris didn't need to look around him to gauge the tension from his teammates.
"Power Company said they reconnected a few of the buildings but there must have been a gas leak, or a short or something. . .anyway, one blew."
"I need to go in there," the blond insisted.
"Sir. . ."
"I have men in there." His voice had lowered.
"Shit. . .err. . .ok, pull in just there and see the guy in the safety jacket," the officer instructed, pointing the way.
Two minutes later Team Seven was looking at the devastated building as it burned.
"God, Chris. . .I thought. . ." Buck stuttered.
"I know," Chris said softly, and then asserted himself. "Their building looks like it took some of the blast, but it's still standing." He turned to the officer. "Has anyone been over there yet?"
"No sir. . .there's been some falling debris and no one's sure whether there'll be any more explosions."
Chris sighed and turned to the others, "We'll just have to be patient. . .just. . .hang in there for now. . .ok?"
Buck was agitated and looked fit to burst as he looked from the building, to Chris, then back to the building.
The big man's shoulders dropped.
Larabee cringed at the need in all his friends' eyes. . .a need to be there for their friends, to help, or at least know they were ok, but Chris wasn't about to risk anyone else, so for now. . .they would just wait.
+ + + + + + +
'Was that a siren?'
JD's head was aching so much he was starting to lose his grip on what was real and what was not. He was sure Ezra had been talking to him. . .hadn't he? He knew he shouldn't, but he touched the object protruding from he top of his leg. . .well. . .it didn't feel like bone. . .oh God. . .bad move, JD. . .don't think about bones. . .you can't be sick here. . .
Where had Ezra gone? The young agent desperately wanted to speak, but couldn't seem to make himself heard. Gah! Move your mouth you idiot. . .make a sound. . .
A slight moan.
"JD? Oh thank God. . .I thought I had lost you there for a moment. . .stay with me, son."
"Sssoorry. . .tired. "
"I know, but help is at hand. . .I heard the distinct sound of a fire truck, possibly even an ambulance."
"Don't know. . .we're here, Ez."
"They will eventually. . .and my car is just around the corner, they are sure to run a license plate check on the cars in the area. . .come on, son. . .you know the drill."
Dunne was focusing on an entirely different line of thinking, now.
"Ezraaa. . .she said we'd both die tonight."
Standish swallowed, his throat parched from the dust and lack of water, his arm seemingly on fire. He was well aware of what JD was referring to.
"A mere trick of the light, JD. . .an. . .illusion, if you will. We were both focusing on the date. . .we allowed ourselves to get swept along. . .a cold building, poor lighting, fatigue, a desire to be elsewhere. . .a need to be with our friends."
"Sssuure seemed real. . ."
"Yes, I confess it did, but it was not. . .we're still here, just keep that in your mind. . .we're still here, and help is on its way. . .JD. . .JD!"
Too much. . .staying awake was too much, JD's leg felt numb now, but his head was aching so badly he felt the nice quiet darkness calling to him.
He wasn't sure if he'd said that out loud, but it felt so good to just let go. . .
The southerner squeezed at the hand he'd been holding on to since they first found each other. He was ready to let go, too. . .
A sound from above them.
"Hello. . .anyone there? Hello?"
Ezra smiled to himself and squeezed JD's hand one more time.
"Yes. . .we hear you. . .we're here."
+ + + + + + +
Buck's hand had stopped mid-way through pushing his hair back when the first gurney appeared. The team moved toward the paramedics as they approached the waiting ambulance.
Green eyes peeked out through hooded lids as the men of Team Seven stood alongside the gurney.
"Gentlemen. . .Why are you not. . .how would JD put it. . .? Partying hard this fine Halloween evening?"
They all took in the blood spattered and battered features of their rather dusty undercover agent, stopping at the bone protruding from his lower left arm.
Chris squeezed the man's good shoulder. "We heard there was an altogether bigger party on this side of town. . .kinda selfish of you and JD to keep it to yourselves."
"Indeed. . .although, I fear we may suffer the consequences of this one for more than a day."
"Ezra. . .JD?" Buck's voice was thick with emotion.
Ezra half-smiled at his friend as he rested his hand on the man's arm.
"He is injured and unconscious, Buck, but I heard a paramedic confirm his vitals were stable before I relinquished his care to the professionals and returned to civilization. "
Buck released a shaky breath.
The paramedics cut in. "Guys, we have to get going."
"Vin, Nathan, go with Ezra," He tossed his keys to Josiah. "Josiah, drive my truck to the hospital. Buck and me are gonna wait and see the kid up and out of there; we'll meet you at the hospital."
The men nodded their agreement and set about their allotted assignments. With a single whoop of its siren, the ambulance was away, closely followed by Josiah in the Ram.
Another agonizing twenty minutes went by before the second gurney finally approached.
Buck carefully stroked at the black hair, noting the bloody dressing on the boy's head and the similarly stained dressings packed around what looked like a stick poking out from the top of JD's right leg.
"How bad?" Chris asked.
One of the paramedics looked at the blond.
"His vitals are good, but he's lost some blood and we understand he's been unconscious for about a half-hour or so. Looks like a piece of floorboard punctured his leg, but surgery should sort that out. Are you guys coming with us?" he asked.
Both men nodded and were soon on their way to Denver General.
+ + + + + + +
Three days later found both men relaxed and reasonably comfortable and enjoying the company of good friends.
JD's leg was elevated and Ezra's arm strapped for support.
Ezra winked to the other men sat around the room.
"Well, Mister Wilmington speaks the truth, I'm afraid, Mister Dunne."
"What about?" JD frowned.
Ezra flashed a smile that exposed his gold tooth.
"You do indeed snore."
Buck chuckled, which prompted the others to join in too, although they weren't entirely sure as to why. . .it just felt good to be together and laughing again.
JD's jaw dropped. He snapped it shut and with a glint in his eye, leaned toward a grinning Standish.
"I hate to burst your bubble, but so do you. . .and you fart in your sleep!"
The men howled with laughter, Ezra looked mortified.
"I most certainly do NOT! Take that back this instant."
JD held his bruised ribs as he tried not to chuckle too hard. Buck punched his arm playfully, enjoying watching Ezra sputtering.
After a minute or so, they all settled down again.
"Amazing, don't you think?" Josiah interjected.
"What is?" JD and Ezra asked almost simultaneously.
"That if the two of you had been in the actual surveillance room at the time of the blast, you might have been more seriously injured. . .or. . . worse."
The room fell silent as the two injured agents looked across at each other, a range of emotions crossing their faces. Suddenly, both their expressions turned to shocked enlightenment as they both squawked out. . .