Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em but if I could they'd be on season 10 by now!
Thanks to Sherry for MCAT
Ratings/Warnings: Some bad language
Thanks to Phyllis...bless you.
Thanks also to Sherry and Wendy and Jan...you guys have helped me so much with this AU...thanks
Thanks to Jo (Bountyhunter'slady) for the awesome wall.
Happy Birthday, Marian.
JD Dunne sighed as he lay in his bed. He was a lucky man. He gazed lovingly at the beautiful brunette sleeping next to him, watching her breasts softly rise and fall. He was happy...they were happy and as today was Saturday, he was looking forward to spending time with the ladies in his life.
Reaching out with one hand, he woke his beloved in a way that told her exactly how he was feeling at that very moment, and her body shuddered and arched in response.
JD cocked one eye at the baby monitor then back to his wife as she giggled.
"I swear they know." JD sighed as he pulled his naked body out of bed and pulled on his shorts, jeans and a T-shirt and headed for the twins' room.
Casey watched him leave and smiled. JD was a wonderful father, and had taken to it like a duck to water, despite the near-meltdown he'd experienced just before Lilah and Daisy were born. Buck had taken him in hand and helped JD through his panic induced insecurity of being a good dad, assuring him it would all come naturally.
Buck hadn't been wrong.
"Put on some clothes, mama...we're coming in," JD whispered into the monitor.
Casey flapped around in the bed in search of her nightie which had been flung... somewhere...in their excitement the previous night, before settling instead for her robe. She grinned widely as two wriggling toddlers came toward her tucked under their father's arms as JD deposited them in the guise of a dive-bombing airplane, causing the girls to giggle while crawling up the bed to their mother. As the young family greeted the morning, there was a knock on the open bedroom door.
"Good morning, everyone," Nettie smiled, instantly making her way toward the girls.
"Morning, Nettie," they chorused. The twins reached up for her and the older woman picked them up to kiss them.
"I had a call from an old friend yesterday," she addressed her niece and nephew-in-law. "I haven't seen her for some time and I'm visiting her home for the day. She wondered if I could bring the twins with me as she hasn't seen them yet. Would you mind if they spent the day with me? It might be quite a late return."
The couple was clearly torn to lose them for the day, but as they still had Sunday they happily agreed.
Waving Nettie and the girls goodbye an hour later, Casey returned to the bedroom to shower, gathering up a few things while she waited for JD to finish his, and hoping they might be able to take an extra nap now that the twins no longer needed them for the day.
JD jerked awake from his nap and cursed as Casey awoke because of his actions. He touched his hand to her mouth as he made a silent shush with his lips, then slid out of bed to retrieve his jeans and T- shirt. He moved a picture on the wall above their bed and in seconds he was checking his gun from the safe.
"Get dressed," he whispered as he walked softly toward the bedroom door, cursing as he realized his cell was in the kitchen. He lifted the phone in the bedroom but it was dead. Dressing quickly in a sweater and jeans, the brunette was rapidly at her husband's side.
"What is it?" she breathed.
"Someone's in the house. Get out through the window; the keys to my truck are on my nightstand. Go."
"JD..." the young woman was frightened. She knew her husband wouldn't be ordering her out unless he had good reason. Dunne kissed her and winked.
"Please, baby...go." He pulled her arm gently, "And be careful."
She nodded and kissed him hard on the lips then walked over to the nightstand to retrieve the keys, reluctant to leave JD, but realizing she needed to get away and get help. She quietly pushed up the window and climbed out, dropping softy to the ground as she headed for the truck.
Intent on causing a distraction long enough to allow Casey to escape, JD opened his bedroom door and peered cautiously out of it, seeing nothing at first, he moved down the small corridor to get a better view of the living room. A movement close to the TV caused his heart to quicken. He patted his jeans pockets one last time. God he wished he had his cell.
The sound of an engine spurred him on and he stepped out from the safety of his hiding place, pointing his gun in the direction the movement had come from.
"Stop where you are, Federal...umph..."
Something hard caught him on the side of his head and JD dropped groggily to the ground, his gun sliding from his lax fingers. It was the next sound that caused his heart to clench as someone walked in through the front door.
"Well, lookee what I found."
Casey pulled away from her captor and ran to her injured husband's side.
"How sweet, Tanner. My brother would be touched."
Trying to see through the swirling haze from his position on the floor, JD frowned.
"T...Tanner? I'm..." He decided to keep quiet for now. He didn't want to put his brother and his family in any danger.
Casey instantly picked up on his dilemma and also stayed silent, choosing to just cuddle her husband close.
"Some place you got here," the first man said, "Like fucking Fort Knox." He looked across at the second man, "But Pete here can get in anywhere."
Pete looked across. "We may not have much time, Kyle; the fence may have a breach trip."
Kyle nodded, "Best get to it, then." He raised his gun and aimed it at JD.
"No!" Casey screamed and covered her husband in a brave but futile attempt to protect him.
"Lady, you can go, too, if ya want, but I only came for Tanner."
"He's not Tanner," she cried, distraught at revealing the information, but desperate to buy them some time.
"Casey." JD admonished.
"I don't care," she sobbed, "Vin's safe for now...you're not."
Kyle approached them. "Don't fuck with me...Tanner lives here, on the same land as Larabee...that' s you, Tex."
Casey swallowed. "There are several homes on this property," she informed.
Kyle looked decidedly ill. "Then who are you?"
"This is the Dunne/Wells property," JD rasped, his vision finally clearing even as the blood from the cut to his head dripped steadily.
The two intruders moved toward each other.
"How could we get this so wrong?" Kyle hissed. Pete shrugged.
"I guess your brother didn't realize things had changed around here. He never mentioned an electric fence, either. What do we do now? Like I said, we may have already been detected. The longer we stay, the more chance we have of being discovered."
Kyle looked at the young couple on the floor as he maneuvered his gun from one hand to the other. His brother had issued explicit instructions when Kyle had last visited him in the penitentiary he wanted Tanner dead. He considered the agent fully responsible for his incarceration and wanted revenge. So now, what to do? He was reluctant to kill two innocents, though clearly the young man was a Federal Agent, he had declared himself to be. So it was a choice of tying them up and the two men leaving, waiting until the cover of darkness and hoping their arrival hadn't been noted, then leaving, or killing the pair to prevent identification... and leaving. Kyle decided on the first option for now. He turned to Pete.
"Tie them up and we'll get outta here."
Casey couldn't hold back the sob of relief. JD pulled her trembling body closer and hugged her tightly.
"It's okay, baby. I won't let them hurt you." His voice was low as he spoke into her ear to reassure her. As he kissed her head, he felt her nod, then stiffen as Pete approached with duct tape to bind them. Casey began to fret and tried to resist, aggravating her tormentor who looked about ready to slap her. JD glared at him.
"She's just frightened. I swear, you hurt her and I'll kill you, even if it's with my bare hands." With his words spoken, JD glanced toward an agitated Kyle, who was covering his partner with the gun as he bound the pair, relieved to see the armed man took no notice of his threat at that time. Pete, however, did.
With Casey's wrists and feet bound, Pete turned his attention to Dunne, pulling his wrists roughly in front of him and wrapping the tape around them several times.
"You could try, Fed, but I'd surely have the advantage, and once you were out of it or dead...I'd take your pretty wife here and fuck her 'til she dies from exhaustion. Now, shut up."
Finishing with JD's ankles, the man rose and walked back to Kyle, his threat had been an idle one but he needed to keep their captives afraid. JD shuddered. He hadn't even considered his wife might be vulnerable to rape. He turned watery eyes to the love of his life, distraught to see the fear in her own brown eyes as she looked at him. He attempted a smile.
"He wouldn't succeed, Case...I'll protect you with my life, you know that."
She smiled and nodded. "I know," she rasped, and shuffled to get closer to him and rest her head against his arm while they waited for the men to leave.
Chris and Vin looked at the gaping hole in their fence and the vehicle tracks leading onto their property, then back to Walter.
"It took a while to pinpoint the breach," the head of security apologized, "But it's clear there's been one."
Chris nodded. "Walter, you call Buck and Nathan, I'll call Josiah and Ezra and Vin, you get hold of JD. Tell everyone to consider us under attack and get to my place if they can or state their position if not."
With a nod, both men started dialing. A few minutes later, it was clear no one so far, was in any danger. Vin frowned.
"Can't get JD. His cell's ringing but he ain't answering, and his house phone's busy, too."
"Try Nettie," Chris urged. Tanner dialed Casey's aunt's cell, smiling after a brief conversation.
"She's taken the twins to meet a friend of hers."
Chris grinned at why he now thought the young couple might be ignoring their cells and had their phone off the hook.
"We still have to get hold of them. Walter, can you go over there?"
The man nodded and left.
Chris looked at Tanner, their expressions telling each other this was bad.
"Let's pick up the surveillance tapes from the gate and check out each property."
Tanner nodded and they headed for security.
By the time the two men had arrived back at Chris' home, the Wild Bunch had arrived and were waiting in the living room as instructed, considerably confused, not to mention more than a little alarmed. Chris filled them in while Vin set up the video player. Buck approached, sensing there was more.
Chris nodded. "Most definitely."
"Did you call JD? Are they heading on over here, too?"
At that, the chatter ceased as they all waited for the answer. Vin nodded to show the tape was ready to view.
"Yes, I called him," the blond assured.
"And?" Buck was feeling the first pangs of nerves. Chris pursed his lips.
"Jesus H Christ, Chris," Buck had started to pace then headed for the door. "I'm goin' over there..."
"Wait." Larabee placed a steadying hand on the brunet's arm. "Walter's already on his way. Let's see what we're up against...if anything, Dottie, Max, would you take the children into Grace and Cody's playroom, please?."
As soon as only the adults remained, they turned their attention to the tape as the screen showed a wide-angled view of the Wells ranch, including its approach road.
Vin forwarded the tape to a time just before Walter had said the alarm went off. After a little fast-forwarding, a Cherokee Jeep approached the house. They all went silent as they watched two clearly armed men step out of the vehicle, one remaining behind as the other tried the door to the house and successfully entered. Buck hissed.
"Damnit, kid...what have I told you about locking your damned doors."
They all gasped as the cameras showed Casey hastily get into JD's truck and clearly start it as white smoke belched from the exhaust, only to, within seconds, be pulled roughly from the vehicle by the man hovering outside and dragged back inside the house.
The nerve in Chris' cheek jumped as his jaw clenched in anger. Vin seethed.
"Seems likely JD at least knew these men were there. He'd sent Casey out to get away."
Buck looked around them all, finally resting on Chris.
"Yeah...but what did JD have to do to ensure she got away safely?"
As everyone considered Buck's words, the six men had now moved to stand together.
Ezra spoke. "I assume we are going to handle this ourselves?"
"Hell, yeah." Buck answered, looking to Chris who nodded.
"We need to hear from Walter first."
As if on cue, the door to Chris' home burst open and a bloodied Andrews staggered in; his upper arm bleeding profusely as he practically fell into Vin's arms.
"We...we got trouble," he gasped, then passed out.
Max had just come back into the room to collect Kelli's diaper bag when Walter stumbled in. She squeaked and ran to her husband, as did Nathan. Chris turned to face the women of the family.
"Kel, call Nettie and tell her not to come home today, try and reassure her, but insist she stay away."
Kelli nodded and dialed. The Larabee ladies watched in silence at the activity around them. Their men were professionals, and the ladies knew they were now all business. Chris crouched down next to Walter and Nathan.
The EMT looked up. "It's only a flesh wound, but he's bleedin' and in shock."
"Help him to my room and do what you can. I'll get someone from security to drive him to the hospital."
"I'll drive him," Max insisted, clearly shaken. Vin approached her and smiled kindly.
"No...you need to be with him on the drive there. He did good gettin' back here, Max, 'm sure he's gonna be fine."
Max tried to smile but instead collapsed sobbing into Tanner's strong arms and despite his surprise, he held her tightly in an attempt to comfort her. Within ten minutes, they were on their way to the hospital.
Chris turned to his anxious brothers. "Let's go get our little brother and sister outta there."
JD could feel Casey shaking as she squeezed as physically close to him as she could. He turned his head, wincing with the pain of the blow to his still bleeding wound and kissed her.
"It's gonna be okay, baby, Chris and the guys will surely know by now that there's trouble." He gazed lovingly at her. "I'm gonna get you out of this, I promise."
She leaned her forehead against his cheek.
"I love you, Dunne," she breathed.
JD closed his eyes, angry and frustrated that his wife was in danger like this and that he was powerless to help her. He wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms and protect her but their restraints prevented it.
"I love you too, baby, with all my heart."
They both jumped as first, JD's cell rang out with the theme to the Magnificent Seven, followed by Casey's playing Captain and Tennille's Love Will Keep us Together, the song from their wedding, the second tune playing as the first one stopped. Kyle and Pete exchanged glances, both knowing the couple was likely being checked up on. They continued to prepare for their departure.
Almost ready to leave, a noise outside alerted them. Pete looked out of the window.
"Shit, there's a truck comin' up the drive."
JD's heart thumped with fear for whoever was approaching. In minutes, there was a knock on the door and the handle tried, but the men inside had locked the door long ago. Walter's voice called out. Kyle pointed his gun at Casey.
"Either of you make a sound and this gun going off will be the last thing you hear."
"JD...you in there, boy?" Hearing no sound, Andrews tried again.
"JD...Casey...answer me or I'm gonna have to break in there."
Unhappy by the lack of response and the strange truck parked in the drive, Walter turned to go back to his own truck to get a set of keys. As he turned back toward the house, a shot rang out and he felt a sharp pain to his arm. Wasting no time he got into his truck, started it and spun away, his priority now to alert the family. He tried to dial his cell but his shaking hand dropped it and it landed on the floor of the truck. Knowing he was in trouble, the dazed man decided to just keep going.
Kyle was furious. "You fucking idiot, why did you do that? He's gonna go get help now."
Pete swallowed, "He was coming back to let himself in. I intended to kill him...I missed."
The first man paced, unsure of what to do next in light of the help that would now inevitably come. Should they kill them and make a run for it? Use their two captives as a bargaining chip if they took them with them? Or make a stand here and demand a chopper? He decided they would take the two with them and stepped toward Pete to inform him.
Despite every effort not to, JD was shaking now, but not for himself. He ached with fear for Casey's and his brothers' safety as he knew they would soon be here looking for them. He began to wonder if these men would actually kill them. They knew JD was a Fed, he and Casey could identify them, and they knew Kyle had a brother in prison that Vin had put away. As the two men approached, he leaned protectively in front of Casey. They were hauled to their feet and Casey gave a tiny scream as Pete threw her over his shoulder. JD was forced to hop awkwardly as Kyle dragged him to the door.
"We're going on a little trip," JD's handler announced, cutting the tape around JD's ankles, his feet still bare. It was all JD could do not to crack his taped fists down on the man's shoulders but he couldn't compromise Casey's safety. Kyle put a meaty arm around JD's waist and half-pulled, half carried him toward their Cherokee, his bare feet scraping painfully across the ground. There was nothing nice about their treatment now. These men were becoming desperate and 'playing nice' was no longer an option.
A rifle crack and a bullet to the Jeep's radiator grille, and another two to the truck's front tires halted them as the truck crunched down on deflated tires and the grille hissed and leaked fluid. Using Casey and JD as shields, Kyle called out, pulling JD's hair hard to make his point as his eyes searched for a sighting of who they were dealing with.
"Back off, or I swear I'll kill 'em both."
Vin kept a steady hand as he trained his weapon on the two men, but having no clear shot, he cursed and lowered his rifle to allow the four to return to the house.
Chris nodded, his disgust evident as he and his five enraged brothers sat atop their horses.
"Well, at least we know what we're up against now, only this is our turf, and no matter what they think, we'll be playin' by our rules."
Not a man there doubted they would have JD and Casey safely out of there soon.
The Larabee ladies gazed with pride and adoration as they had watched their men prepare to rescue one of their own. Kelli wanted to go, but knew her place was with the children and waited patiently while body armor, throat mics, weapons and ammunition were checked. Vin cradled his rifle as he walked over to kiss his wife goodbye.
"Take care, Tanner."
"Love you, baby."
Barbara approached Ezra, her throat tight with fear. "Please come back to me."
Standish smiled and kissed her. "Nothing on this earth will prevent that from happening, my love," he assured.
Mallory sighed and nuzzled against Josiah's cheek.
"Won't be long," he whispered.
Rain gazed at her husband and smiled. Their looks said it all as they embraced.
"Come back safe, dad," Kelli was hugging her father tightly. Larabee pushed her backward a little and smiled at her. "With these good men with me...how can I not."
Inez kissed Buck with all the fiery passion she could muster. She looked up at him, her hand resting on his chest. "Stay safe and bring JD and Casey home where they are loved and needed."
He nodded. "Darlin', ain't nobody gonna take my boy and his li'l girl away from us...not while I'm still breathin'."
And no one doubted that for a moment.
As the six men stepped outside, they were met by George and Angelo and six saddled horses. Nodding their thanks to the ranch hands, they mounted up, took a last look back at their ladies...and rode off to complete the family picture and protect their own. One thing these intruders clearly hadn't accounted for...this MCAT team, formerly ATF Team Seven...were a force to be reckoned with, especially when one of their own was threatened.
Pete tossed Casey from his shoulder onto the sofa, causing a little squeal. Kyle unceremoniously bundled JD back into the house, still holding onto his hair, and pushed him toward his wife. Now able to use his feet, the young agent scrambled closer to where his sobbing wife lay and soothed her with reassuring words. As fearful as he was, JD's heart soared. His brothers were there and he had no doubt he and Casey would soon be free. He watched as the men paced nervously. They couldn't possibly watch every window, not to mention the old coal cellar at the back of the property. MCAT/Team Seven were coming for them, they were right to be nervous.
Casey sat up and edged closer to her husband. "What about Nettie and the twins?" she whispered, the fear evident in her trembling voice. JD smiled.
"If the guys know we're in trouble, Nettie will know by now," he reassured, trying to ignore the knot in his stomach as to how their day would have gone if their precious babies had been in the house. Suddenly, Kyle was in front of them.
"Hey...stop with the whispering."
JD looked up at him, "I'm just trying to..."
Casey shrieked with shock as the man viciously backhanded JD across the face.
"I said shut the fuck up..." he leaned menacingly in, "...or I'll shut you up."
JD blinked up at him as his eyes regained their focus, nodding his agreement. He couldn't risk Casey being hurt now that they were this close.
He continued to watch his captors pacing and waited for some sort of sign.
The six men had cautiously made their way to the rear of the property, surprised they had so far remained undetected. They spoke in hushed voices.
"Where does this come out?" Chris pointed to the padlocked coal cellar.
"Rear of the kitchen, " Vin informed.
"We need to get this lock off..." Before Chris had finished, Ezra was in front of it.
"Allow me, gentlemen."
No one saw how he did it, but soon the wooden entrance doors were fully open and flat to the ground. Offering a little salute, Ezra disappeared inside. With pointing and nods from Chris, Josiah and Nathan worked their way around to the opposite side of the house by way of the back and Vin had climbed in through Nettie's bedroom window, leaving Chris and Buck to try entering through Casey and JD's room. Buck smiled to Chris when he noticed the window still open from when Casey had made her attempted escape earlier. In seconds they were inside and listening at the bedroom door.
JD heard the softest of sounds from what he was sure was somewhere at the rear of the property. He quickly kissed Casey and set out to join in the teamwork he had no doubt was in full gear.
"Look," he began, pushing himself unsteadily to his feet. "You've fucked up. Ya got the wrong guy and you know as well as I do there are people here on the grounds whose sole intention is to stop you from leaving here. Cut your losses and give up. No one got hurt here, the worst you did was breaking and entering."
Pete stepped forward, taking his eyes from the window. "You forgettin' somethin'? I shot that old guy that was lookin' for you."
Dunne nodded, "Yeah and he drove away. The shooter outside suggests he got back to raise a warning. He's not dead...give it up." Deep inside, JD prayed his words were true.
Kyle shook his head. "This was supposed to be so simple. Avoid the main house, break in, kill Tanner, and get out. What sort of fucking useless layout of this place was my brother working from?"
"Things have changed a lot here. He wouldn't have known. Hell, Tanner's house may not have even been built when he knew of this place." JD was wondering himself now what this incarcerated individual was remembering about this land, but for now it didn't matter as JD sensed more than knew his conversation had been enough of a distraction to help his brothers to get into position unnoticed.
Pete was suddenly drawn to the window and it instantly alerted Kyle to a possible danger. JD was alarmed to see Kyle's gaze settle angrily on a shivering Casey and knew their time was up. He lunged forward and swung his taped hands as weapons, successfully disarming the man and getting in a few good blows as Kyle crashed to the floor. Pete moved forward to intervene and Casey swung her bound feet across his knees. The man came down in a heap, landing next to his downed partner, but unlike Kyle, he was uninjured and rose to his feet to crack the butt of his gun hard on the back of JD's neck. The agent dropped painfully to his knees only to be pulled away from the thug he had successfully laid out and thrown face down on the polished wood floor by the other.
Pete kicked out repeatedly and mercilessly at the young man's ribcage and JD was almost powerless to stop him as he was still reeling from the blow to his neck.
Casey screeched in terror. "JD!...JD!.. .STOP IT...STOP IT YOU'RE HURTING HIM!!!"
Casey's fear gave JD one last burst of energy and he swiped at his assailant's feet successfully bringing him to the ground. Pete kept his grip on his gun and despite the ache from the fall, he pushed the weapon into JD's face and cocked it.
Casey screamed, terrified she was about to lose the man she loved.
"Say 'bye-bye', Fed!"
Vin was in position. Nettie's bedroom was adjacent to the kitchen and he could see Ezra toward the rear of the kitchen unable to move further in case he was detected from the living room. Vin had the advantage of a corner wall to peer around.
Josiah and Nathan went flat to the outside wall as they realized they could be seen if Pete turned around. Buck and Chris had moved from the bedroom and down the small corridor to the living area, stopping about half-way to avoid discovery. The next thing they heard made it clear their time to move in had arrived.
"JD!...JD!.. .STOP IT...STOP IT YOU'RE HURTING HIM!!!"
Chris touched his throat mic instinctively.
Tanner was instantly there and pointing his weapon at Pete.
"Federal Officer...drop it, shit head, and put your hands at the back of your neck."
Buck and Chris were right with him, Chris carefully kicking away the surrendered weapon as Buck went to help JD. Ezra appeared as if from nowhere and held a bead on a slowly reviving Kyle while Nathan and Josiah burst in and both went to aid and comfort a sobbing Casey.
Buck pulled his little brother up to his chest to rest against him, inwardly fuming at the bruising over the boy's face and blood on his head and T-shirt, but outwardly keeping it cheerful as he spoke to the dazed kid.
"Chris gives you a day off and this is what you do with it? Shit, kid, I reckon we should keep you busy seven days a week. It might just keep ya out of trouble."
JD turned his head slightly and set unfocused eyes on his older brother.
"Buck..." he rasped, "...what took you so long?"
"Ahhh, Tanner had to stop off for a burger. You know what he's like."
Vin grinned as he came back from checking on Casey and crouched down to speak to JD as Chris cuffed Pete's wrists.
Vin nodded, "He'll be fine."
As the two men, now cuffed, were pulled away from the main group by Chris and Josiah, JD reached out to Tanner, the Texan taking the offered hand and squeezing it.
"They came for you, Vin."
Everyone stopped in their tracks. Tanner paled.
Casey had been freed and checked by Nathan and now flew to her husband's side, sobbing. JD still held onto Tanner as his free hand stroked his wife's hair.
"Ssshh. It's over, baby."
Buck also added an arm for support. Casey sniffed and looked at Vin, pointing to Kyle.
"His brother's in prison, said you put him there. They came to kill you...but got the wrong house."
Tanner swallowed hard. "Geez, guys...I'm so sorry."
JD squeezed the hand gripping his. "Don't be...this is nothing to do with you, Vin...those assholes are the ones that caused all this...not you."
Chris closed in and squeezed the Texan's shoulder. He then helped Casey to her feet and hugged her tightly and she clung to him, grateful for the comfort and to have these amazing men in her life. Chris then pulled back to take a look at her as he swiped away her tears with his thumbs.
"You okay, sweetheart?"
Casey nodded then leaned in. "He'll never admit it but JD's taken some nasty blows."
The blond nodded his understanding and passed her gently over to Ezra as he saw Buck and Josiah helping JD to stand.
"Hospital." It was an order and Chris' face reflected it, along with concern for his youngest brother.
"Aw, there's no need, Chris...I'm fine."
Chris put an arm around JD's waist and started toward the door. He whispered in his ear.
"We'll let the doc be the judge of that, okay?"
Deputies from the Sheriff's office had now arrived to take away Kyle and Pete, as Buck and Chris took Casey and JD on to the hospital for a thorough check-up.
Tanner stood in the middle of the disheveled living-room and shuddered to think of the 'what ifs' here. What if the twins had been at home...what if they'd come to the right home...?
Ezra snapped him out of his reverie.
"Let it go, Vincent. It ended well."
They left the house, securing it as they did so. It was indeed over, but it had been a close call and it was clearly a security issue that needed to be addressed.
The next day Vin and Kelli arranged for a cook-out to help put the ordeal behind them. All the family waited impatiently for Casey and JD to arrive, anxious to see for themselves they were both alright. Nettie pulled up with the twins and they all surged forward to greet them. Chris eventually broke through and after kissing the girls, addressed Nettie.
"Where are they?" He had expected them all to arrive together.
Nettie looked at them all. "I've left them to talk. JD's having a difficult time today coming to terms with it all." She sighed.
"He feels he let Casey down and is dwelling on the thought of what might have happened if me and the twins had been there, too."
Buck scowled as he spoke to Nettie. "That's just crazy talk. He couldn't have done any more than he did. Casey told me he knew they had intruders almost the instant they arrived. And as for you and the babies being there..."
"Buck," Nettie halted him, "You're preachin' to the converted, son. The boy has demons and he needs to work them out."
Wilmington dialed his cell as Inez hung from his arm.
"JD? Git yer butt over here, boy...we're waitin' on you two. Vin's eatin' his hands...well alright then...see you soon."
He looked at the others and shrugged. "It's what he'd expect me to do," he answered to the looks directed at him. Chris nodded.
"Yeah...he would. Come on, he said they're on their way, let's not make it awkward for them and think they've kept us waiting."
They dispersed and started attacking the food.
Casey sat on the arm of the sofa and sighed. They had gone over and over their ordeal and she was still no nearer setting JD's mind at rest. She stood and walked over to the Lazy e boy he was sitting on and knelt, placing a hand on his arm.
"Sweetheart, your family is waiting on you. They need to see we're okay now."
JD sighed. "I can't...I feel so stupid, Casey. I let you down..."
She thumped his arm and he rubbed at it as he stared at her.
"You did not!" she yelled, "Stop wallowing in it Dunne and be realistic, you did all you could...and more. My God, JD, all I could do was shriek at them, you took them both out..." she lowered her voice, "... and almost died doing it."
He sighed but before he could answer, his cell rang.
"Hey Buck...yeah, I know," he laughed softly, "Tell him to stop it, he needs them...okay bro' we're just leaving...okay...yeah, see ya soon."
He looked at his wife. "Buck says we gotta get there before Vin has no hands left."
They both laughed. JD stood, slowly, trying not to start up the ache in his sides again. Casey put her arms around his waist and kissed him long and hard, deepening it for a while then slowly pulling back for fear of starting something she would be unable to finish.
She gazed lovingly at him. "Later, I have a little thank you of my own for you."
JD chuckled and kissed her, taking her hand in his. "Awesome. Come on, we'd best be going before Buck sends out a search party."
All eyes turned as JD and Casey pulled up and exiting their vehicle, made their way toward the Wild Bunch. After a few minutes of hugs and kisses, Casey looked across at JD, relieved to see his usual dazzling smile back in place. JD caught her look and winked.
Seeing Chris approach his youngest brother and agent, the family went about checking on the children and eating more food. Buck and Vin glanced across, waiting to see what would happen.
Chris stopped in front of JD and looked him over, touching the bruising to JD's cheek from the backslap.
"How are you both today?"
JD smiled, "We're good, Chris...really, thanks."
Larabee leaned in, "You sure?" he whispered, "I got the feelin' me and you might need ta have a little talk."
JD looked down shyly at the ground then back up at his older brother.
"Nah...it's all good now..." he smiled, "...thanks, Chris."
The other five men were around him now. He looked at all of them. "Thanks for everything, guys...for getting us out of there..." he went all shy again, "...aww...you know."
As they all grinned to see their noisiest brother lost for words, Buck stepped in.
"Aww hell, kid...we had to save you. Who else we gonna give such a hard time to? Vin's next in line...but he shoots back."
At that point, Walter joined them, his arm in a sling. He was pleased to see the brothers laughing and joking. He gave JD a hug and a pat on the back.
"Good to see you safe. boy," he smiled.
"I'm so sorry you got hurt," JD said sincerely.
"Well, I thank you for that...the feelin's mutual, son and if ya don't mind, I'd like to install some new surveillance equipment sometime soon...would kinda like your opinion on it."
JD beamed, "Sure...let me know when you're ready."
With that, they all drifted back to their families. It had been a hard lesson for them, but it had raised the issue that it was never a good idea either at work, or at home, to get complacent.
And they never would again.