Blood Brothers by KT and SueM

Disclaimer: Not ours, never were, never will be - more's the pity.

Thanks to Mog for ATF Thanks to Blackraptor for giving our story a home

(Sue) thanks to whoever invented JD's knee jiggle

Buck rolled his shoulders, unable to get rid of the tension. He glanced up at where the broken camera was situated and cursed it. It looked fine, to all outward appearances, it was fine, yet try as he might JD couldn't get a feed from it, and that meant changing the plan. One of the things that made Team Seven the best was their meticulous, almost obsessive planning. They tried to anticipate every possible scenario and prepare for it. That one of the cameras they were relying on might fail was part of that planning, but that didn't help his feeling of unease.

Ezra and Chris would go in through the front door and make the `buy', Vin on the roof of the building opposite, had a clear view of the front of the target building and right into Ritter's office. Josiah and Nathan were covering the rear loading dock. JD was in the van, parked around the corner, the team's eyes and ears and monitoring the fire exit to the side of the building. That left Buck at the front as Chris and Ezra's back up. But with the camera that covered that side door unavailable, Buck had been forced to move to the narrow passage between the buildings to cover it. The passageway was wider than would be found if the buildings had been older and was shared with the unit next to it. The boundary between the properties was marked with a clipped hedge no more than three feet high and a foot wide.

Buck positioned himself behind the hedge, slightly to the side of the door, where he could see the moment it was opened. From there he could pin down anyone who came though it and prevent anyone else from exiting.

As he crouched there, he quickly checked, just one more time, that he had everything. When they were on a bust, he rarely wore his customary blue jeans; they weren't as tight as Vin's and nowhere near as tight as Larabee's - which looked like they had been painted on most days - but he wouldn't go jogging in them. Instead he wore loose fitting, black combat trousers, with numerous secure pockets. He wore a tight fitting tee-shirt under his Kevlar vest, for some reason the damn vest always chafed his shoulders, even with the tee-shirt, he just didn't seem to fit them, so under the shirt he had covered his shoulders in some stretchy white dressing tape that Nathan had given him. Over the vest, he wore a dark plaid shirt and on his feet were his good running shoes; his customary Timberland boots didn't let him move at full speed if it was called for. He stretched a hand down and checked the duct tape that covered the laces, there to ensure they couldn't possibly come loose or get snagged on anything.


Shifting his weight he checked his pockets. Front left pocket, cell phone on vibrate, check. Cuffs clipped to the back of his belt, check. Spare cuffs and plastic tag cuffs in right back pocket, check. Back up radio, in one thigh pocket, check. Flashlight in the other thigh pocket, check, spare batteries in same pocket, check. Compass and pocket knife in the left back pocket, check. Field dressing, gloves and evidence bags in the lower left pocket, check. Tool kit, enough to disarm a simple bomb, in the right lower pocket. Spare clips for the Sig in the holder under the opposite shoulder to the gun, check. Snub nose revolver in the ankle holster, check. Second revolver wheel, fully loaded in the right front pocket, check. ID badge clipped to the front of his belt, check. He was as ready as he could be.

"Heads up guys, radio and position check," JD called over the radio.

"I'm behind a wall, to the left of the loading dock," Nathan called in.

"Got you," JD confirmed.

"Other side of the loading dock, behind the dumpster - I lost," Josiah explained.

"Paper, rock, scissors?" Vin asked.


"I told you Nathan always wins that."

"But how? It's not like I always choose the same thing."

"Don't ask me, but he always wins."

"No chatter!" Chris cut in. "Give JD what he needs."

"Okay, okay, Vin, on the roof, good view."

"Me and Ezra are in position, about to go in," Chris confirmed.

Buck lifted his cuff and spoke into it. "And I'm in the damn alley, behind a hedge, fat lot of good I can do here," he complained.

"Thanks guys, Chris I'm all set, waiting for your go." JD took a last look at all the cameras and switched on all his recording equipment.

"Okay it's a go now!" Chris announced as he and Ezra got out of their anonymous looking car and walked toward the front door.

<><><><><><> <>

At that one word `go' Buck's gut tightened, he could almost taste the adrenalin as it rushed though him. It was the same every time; it was what kept him - kept all of them - sharp and alive. Of course they were all adrenalin junkies as well, you had to be to do the job at this level, if you didn't love the rush, it would probably drive you crazy.

"They're both inside," JD commented quietly in his ear piece.

Everyone waited.


JD sat in his electronic world, his adrenaline rush no less than his team mates, despite his isolation. The one thing he feared above all was not being there, on the outside, to back up his surrogate brothers if a problem occurred. So he tracked every movement...every sound, to do his part to keep them safe.


Ritter buzzed Chris and Ezra in, just as they had expected. Inside the front door was a simple hallway, just bare concrete block walls and staircase, with a steel hand rail. Ezra was just ahead of Chris, when a man, not Ritter, appeared at the top of the stairs, it took only a split second for Ezra to register the gun and shout a warning. In an instant both men were vaulting over the rail out of the line of fire. As the man was spraying the hallway with bullets, Chris was shouting into the radio.

"TRAP! It's a trap!"


Even as he was shouting Buck registered a sudden crack of a rifle that wasn't Vin's. His gun in his hand, he jumped up looking around, trying to locate the shooter. He knew it wasn't coming from the door he was watching, so it had to be the front or the back, but which way, who needed help? The second shot kicked up dirt right beside him.

"Shit!" he shouted out, just as everyone else was shouting about gunfire.

Acting on pure instinct he looked up, only to see a muzzle flash high on the roof the building behind him.

"Gun on the side roof!" he shouted as he dived over the hedge.

"Crap!" Vin bellowed as a shot was aimed right at him.

"I've got a gunman on the roof and one in the building!" JD called over the radio, anyone else see any more?"

"No, but they're enough!" Another shot whizzed past Vin.

"We got one out back!" Nathan shouted. "Upper window!"

"Pull back, they've got you in a cross fire!" Vin shouted.

"No shit!" Josiah commented.

"BUCK!" JD shouted over the radio.

"I'm okay, he can't see me!"

"Sure he can Bucklin," Vin warned, even as he was crawling into a better position.

"I'm under the hedge, so long as I don't move he can't see me."

"The hedge won't stop a bullet," Ezra warned.

"No, but while I'm pinned down here I can't get a shot off so I'm no threat, just get the bastard!"

Buck had faith, they'd get these guys, he just hoped it would be fast. He knew the dampness accumulating under him had nothing to do with the ground. He had tried to reach the field dressing, but he couldn't get it without giving his position away, besides, reaching down that far sent a fire of pain into his side. He hadn't been shot as such, there was no hole or even holes, just a long gash just above his hip, just under the damn Kevlar - he always knew it was no use, it was just there to make him uncomfortable.

As he lay there he could hear everyone talking in his ear all at once.


"Everyone shut up, let JD do the talking," Chris instructed.

With that the only sound was the gun battle and JD, giving what amounted to a running commentary, directing their fire. The man at the top of the stairs was brought down first, despite his superior position and his fully automatic gun; he wasted his advantage and discharged a whole clip in seconds. He had the second clip in his hand, almost in the gun, when Chris' shot hit him just above the knee and the man went down, screaming like a stuck pig as he rolled down the stairs. While Ezra read him his rights, cuffed him to the stair rail and grudgingly applied a field dressing to his leg, Chris headed up stairs, two at a time, following the sound of gunfire.


The man firing at the back went down next, caught in a cross fire between Chris coming up behind him and Nathan and Josiah firing from the ground. He was hit and then fell from the window to land in a very hard heap on the asphalt.

Vin finally made it to a position where he had the last gunman in his sights, even so, he was finding it hard to get an angle on the man who had Buck pinned down. Finally, with Chris, Nathan and Josiah firing from the other building he was forced to move and stepped into Vin's sights for a second or two, but as a second was more than Vin needed, he fell as if pole axed, a neat hole between his eyes.

"Josiah, get inside and help Ezra bring that bastard out, Nate get up on the roof and see if that guy is still alive, Vin keep him covered," Chris barked. "I'll check on the other one - he'd dead right?"

"As a door nail," Nathan confirmed.

"Buck you still okay?"

"Oh just peachy," Buck responded, eyeing the blood dripping off his fingers as they explored the wound.

So much for planning.


"How much longer, kid?"

Looking down momentarily at the man holding the stepladder for him, JD huffed. "Will you shut the hell up? We're on shaky ground as it is. If Ritter figures out there's no cooling duct in this area we're fucked." He continued setting up the tiny surveillance camera.

Buck pulled a face, then grinned at the tongue poking out of the corner of JD's mouth as he concentrated. "That's why I'm worried. And that hat...why d'ya have to wear that stupid hat?"

"It keeps my hair out of my eyes...shut up about my hat, too."

"Perhaps if you had your hair cut once in a while..."

"I had it cut last week!"

Buck snorted. "Which one, the third one from the left? You should ask for your money back, kid."

"Hey, this style is very fashionable right now."

"That's fashionable? Hell just blindfold me and hand me a scissors... even I could do better than that."


JD jumped down from the ladder and Buck folded it, grinning at the youth. He looked up at the almost invisible camera.

"Nice work."

JD returned the grin. "So far so good. Let's see if I can get a feed off it and patch into the security cameras, before we congratulate ourselves."

Buck nudged him and winked as they exited the building. "No sweat."

JD returned the push, his grin widening. He loved how Buck always showed faith in him, it was part of the reason why JD was thriving under his guidance, well his and five other men's, but Buck...he always knew the right thing to say, but the best part...JD knew he meant it.

Once they had gone, a figure stepped out of the shadows, smiling to himself as he eyed the almost invisible camera. 'You may get a feed from it today, Fed...but you won't be seeing live footage on the day of the bust'.


As the team headed out of the bullpen for the bust, that morning, Chris Larabee had that feeling...the feeling that he rarely ignored and had often saved their asses on more than one occasion. As he watched his men prepare, his mind constantly went over their strategy. Every contingency plan was in place. Each man knew where he was supposed to be and when. He and Ezra were more than prepared for their task and JD was more than happy with the surveillance set-up. So...why wouldn't this feeling go away?

On the way to Ritter's place, Chris and Ezra said very little, both men concentrating on the job in hand. On this occasion, Chris was happy to let Ezra take the lead, but was more than prepared to step in if needed.

Josiah, Nathan and Vin travelled together. Again, very little was said. Josiah nudged Vin's foot with his own.

"Something on your mind, Vin?" Before the Texan could answer, Josiah continued. "I'm guessing you picked up on Chris' mood too, huh?"

Tanner nodded. "I was wonderin' why he didn't go with his gut feelin', he usually does."

Josiah agreed. "Chris is a very cautious man, a fact that has saved our collective asses many times over. He clearly has reservations, but on reflection, has decided to go ahead. Are you uncomfortable with that, Vin?"

"'s all good...just couldn't help wonderin' is all."

Listening in, Nathan was glad he had his big medical bag with him. You could never be too prepared at times like this.


Buck glanced across at JD as he drove the surveillance van to its destination. JD's customary 'knee jiggling' was ever present...a way he allowed his adrenaline to build without it overwhelming him.

"Did Chris seem okay, to you?"

Buck knew exactly why JD had asked that question, hell, Buck had asked himself the same question several times that morning already.

"Sure. I reckon so; we're doing this so he must be pretty okay with it. How are you doing?"

"Oh, I'm fine," JD assured. "You?"

Buck chuckled softly. "Yeah...all good from this end. How about we go over it one more time?"

JD nodded. "Sure." There could never be too many 'run-throughs' .

<><><><><><> <>

"What do you mean, 'we've lost a camera?'"

And it was back...Chris ignored the return of 'the feeling' while he waited for JD to explain.

JD scowled. He thought his words were clear. He spoke into his comm again, the sharpness of his tone due more to his frustration than having to repeat himself. "The security camera on the other building, the one covering the fire door, I can't get a picture, just snow... damnit!"

"JD..." Buck hissed. Kid had a death wish or something...

Chris decided to act not react, his own tone coming through loud and clear. "Shit. "But your cameras are all working - right?"


Chris paused for a moment. "Right, Buck I need to pull you off your area. Cover that door instead, okay?"

"But that'll leave you wide open at the front, it's just a small door..."


"Got it, side door...will do. Moving in now." He took one last look at JD before moving out.

"Be careful, li'l brother."

JD grinned nervously back. "You too, big brother." With a wink, Buck was gone.


They believed the bust had gone well, so the sheer panic in JD's voice when he called out for Nathan had them all running, all except Ezra who was forced to stay with his injured prisoner. Without releasing the pressure he was applying to the wound, JD tore his eyes away from the too pale face and blue lips of his best friend, as four men converged on him from every direction, the young tech mortified that he had happily ambled along from the security van to Buck's position, oblivious to the man's injury and loss of blood, due to the euphoria of the team's apparent success.

Nathan didn't even break stride as he dropped to his knees and slid to a stop beside Buck.

"Tell me," he commanded.

JD tried to keep his voice calm as he recounted what had happened since he'd found Buck. Even as he was speaking he was aware of Vin and Josiah running in the opposite direction and Chris speaking on his cell phone.

"JD, you just keep doing what you're doing a little longer - okay?" Nathan instructed.

"Sure, okay." The fear in is voice was there for all to hear.

Until Vin and Josiah got back with all his medical gear there was little Nathan could do other than try and work out what he was dealing with and how bad it was. Pulling Buck's own field dressing from the pocket in his trousers, he opened it and got it ready.

"Okay, JD when I say, I want you to lift your hands just a few inches. Ready?"

JD nodded, glancing momentarily at his blood-soaked hands, then back at Nathan.

"Two ambulances on their way, Denver PD en rout to secure the scene," Chris reported, pacing slightly. "What do you need?"

"Nothing that isn't coming." Nathan nodded his head over his shoulder, Josiah and Vin were already on their way back. "Okay JD - now."

Though it went against his instincts, JD did as instructed and lifted his hands. Never before had he been so glad that Nathan was as good as he was and always there when they needed him. In only seconds he'd cut the fabric away from the wound, assessed it, put the field dressing on it and pulled JD's hands back down.

"Press hard," he instructed, though he knew JD had been doing that and would continue to do so.

"Well?" Chris asked.

"Looks like a bullet scraped him, deep enough to cut or at least knick an artery."


Vin and Josiah finally reached them, with Nathan's big medical bag and a portable oxygen tank. Nathan set to work instantly and with quite breathtaking efficiency and speed he applied a pressure dressing, put in a drip and had Buck on oxygen.

"Josiah, I need you to take JD's place," he instructed.

"I can do it," JD assured.

"I know, but Josiah is stronger and he has bigger hands, besides I need you for something else." He glance up at all of them. "Buck won't make it to the hospital without bleeding out, just moving him right now could be fatal, I mean I'm not a doctor, but that's what it looks like to me."

"Nathan we'll do what ever you think is best," Chris assured, trying not to give away the fear he was feeling, in his voice.

"We need to transfuse, him here and now, and since type specific is best, that means you." Nathan looked pointedly at JD.

Nathan not only knew all of their blood types, but also made sure they all knew them as well. Nathan was B positive, while Buck and JD were both A positive, which caused them joke about being blood brothers. Chris and Ezra were both O positive, while Josiah was O negative, making him a universal donor, which was lucky, especially for Vin, who thanks to his native American blood had a particularly rare blood grouping.

"You can really do that?" Chris asked.

Nathan looked at a selection of equipment in his hands, then nodded. "Yes, I can," it sounded more as if he was convincing himself than answering Chris. He looked down at Buck, so pale and still. "I have to."

He arranged JD so that he was sitting up, his back supported by Chris, his left arm beside Buck's right. Examining an array of needles, Nathan chose an 18 gauge. JD didn't look when the needle went in; he just concentrated on what needed to be done, reassured when Chris squeezed his free arm in support. Securing the needle and attached IV cannula with clear tape, Nathan put something in JD's hand and asked him to squeeze it in a steady rhythm when he said so. Securing an entry port and IV cannula to Buck's arm, Nathan connected catheters to a cylindrical drip chamber and attached them to both men's IV ports. With a steadying breath, Nathan tweaked a roller with his thumb to achieve a regular drip rate, relieved as the process began. He nodded to JD. "Now, kid."

Even as JD began to gently pump, he could hear the approaching sirens.


JD's heart was thumping so hard he felt sure Chris could feel it. His eyes were firmly transfixed on Buck's waxen features and it terrified him to see his gregarious 'big brother' so still. He closed his eyes for a moment, this was the stuff of nightmares and he had no doubt this would haunt him and the others for some time. He must have made a little noise, because Chris tightened his hold on him and breathed into his ear.

"You're doing great, son."

Nodding slightly against Chris's chest, JD reopened his eyes to see Vin emptying the pockets of Buck's pants. JD's mind flicked back to that morning before they left.

>>"Could you put any more in those pants, Buck?"

The big man grinned. "No such thing as too much in this job, kid. Do you have everything?"

JD rolled his eyes.

"And you can just roll those eyes back into the forward position, you have everything?"

"Yes...NO! I haven't got my ankle piece." He glanced at Buck sheepishly, relieved his partner didn't make good on his oversight, recovering with a tease, "...'sides wouldn't want to end up walking like John Wayne..." Chuckling, JD deftly caught the incoming cushion before it hit him.<<


"That's everything."

Vin's voice brought JD back from his trance with a bump, realizing now that Nathan was holding the device while talking with two paramedics, the three men looking intensely and nodding. He could feel his heart thumping wildly again as they turned to him, unaware the tears forming in his eyes were actually escaping, now. Nathan adjusted his squatting position to check JD's IV port while speaking softly to him.

"We need to keep you higher than Buck. When I say, we're gonna get you up on your feet while we lift Buck onto the gurney..."

JD nodded his understanding.

"...then we need you to straddle over him on the gurney until you get to the hospital. Do you understand?"

Nodding again, JD straightened his body a little. "Let's do it." He glanced at his team-mates, recognizing the fear in their eyes while totally missing their admiration for him.

Josiah stood behind Chris while Nathan and Vin flanked JD, all looking up as Ezra finally joined them.

"Oh, Good Lord."

Focusing on the job in hand, they all watched the paramedics, waiting for the signal as the pair took Buck's unconscious form in hand. With a nod from them, Josiah grabbed Chris under his arms as Vin and Nathan took JD's, Ezra jumping in to ensure the paraphernalia attached to both men remained secure. On three, they all rose and lifted together, keeping JD close to Buck and his arm high as Buck was settled on the wheeled cot. Lifting JD clean off his feet, the men got him up onto the gurney and the boy, facing Buck, straddled his best friend's legs.

"All set, kid?"

JD looked at the paramedic, his head screaming no. "Yeah, sure."

"Good. Duck down as you go in through the doors; you'll have more headroom inside, okay?"

JD nodded and in seconds he was rolling, to be lifted in through the ambulance doors. His eyes never left Buck's face, the bizarreness of the moment causing him to fleetingly wonder what his big brother would think if he woke up now. Just after a paramedic told the others they could follow, JD startled as the doors slammed closed, leaving him and Buck in the hands of a total stranger. He wished Nathan was there.

The man checked all the connections were in place and attached blood pressure cuffs to the pair. After taking and recording JD's BP, his cuff was removed. The man smiled then banged twice on the dividing panel. With the sirens wailing, they pulled off.


As they sped through familiar streets and while fighting the mounting light-headedness, JD was embarrassed that he was failing to control his emotions. The paramedic squeezed his shoulder.

"Don't fight it. You've had a shock and your body's being tested to the limit right now. We'll be there, soon."

"Please...don't let him die," JD said, wearily.

"We'll do everything we can...and your efforts will go a long way to keeping him with us."

Those words eased JD's mind a little, rapidly recognizing they were at the hospital.

<><><><><><> <>

  As they sped through familiar streets and while fighting the mounting light-headedness, JD was embarrassed that he was failing to control his emotions. The paramedic squeezed his shoulder.

"Don't fight it. You've had a shock and your body's being tested to the limit right now. We'll be there, soon."

"Please...don't let him die," JD said, wearily.

"We'll do everything we can...and your efforts will go a long way to keeping him with us."

Those words eased JD's mind a little, rapidly recognizing they were at the hospital.

<><><><><><> <>

Their arrival at the hospital was frenetic, even before he was really aware what was happening, JD found himself on a hospital exam bed next to Buck, still connected.

A doctor was speaking to one of the paramedics. "We were told 'A' positive, can you confirm that?"

"Their medic told me they were both 'A' positive, guy sure knew his stuff, so there's no reason to doubt him."

"He do this?" The doctor pointed to the link between JD and Buck.


"Good enough." He turned back to his team. "That's a go on the 'A' positive in the rapid infuser."

A nurse came to JD's side, he was a huge man who looked as if he'd be more at home playing line backer for the Broncos.

"Time to disconnect you from your friend," he explained. "Won't take a moment."

JD felt a slight sting and something being stuck down on his arm.

"There, all done. You just lie there and we'll move you as soon as we can."

JD lay still, watching them work on Buck, while trying to remember the words he heard, knowing he'd be quizzed as soon as the others arrived. He heard words like exsanguinate, ligated, tachycardic, lactic acidosis and renal failure. He tried to stay focused on what was happening, but between sheer terror and exhaustion sweeping over him, the youth was struggling.

Suddenly the team around Buck was moving, as they wheeled him out, heading for the OR. JD was already sitting up, intending to follow, when the big nurse came back with a wheel chair.

"Where do you think you're going?" He asked, pushing JD back onto the bed.

"To the OR waiting room. Isn't that where they took my friend?"

"They did, but you're not going there. We don't know how much blood you gave, so we need you lying down and get you some fluids."

"I'm fine," JD stated as again, he slid off the bed and tried to stand, only for his head to swim and his knees to buckle.

"Sure you are!" The big man grabbed JD under the arms and moved him to the wheel chair. Wiping a shaky hand over his clammy face, JD relaxed while he was wheeled to a bed and set up with an IV, chocolate and regular Pepsi. He didn't feel like eating, but knew it needed to be done so he forced down the candy and drained the can. His mind full of concern for Buck, JD cursed at the weakness in his body as he slowly drifted off to sleep.


When the others arrived in the ER, they found no sign of Buck, but they did locate JD. He was in a quiet side room, fast asleep, with a drip in one arm, an empty can of coke and a half eaten candy bar in front of him.

"Is he okay?" Vin asked as he watched Nathan touch the back of his hand to JD's head.

"A little clammy..." he picked up the chart hanging from the bottom of the bed, "...his BP's a little low, but climbing...looks good."

Relief was evident on the faces of the five men. Ezra elected to stay with JD while the others went in search of news of Buck.


Chris charged through the hospital at a speed and single mindedness that was wholly inappropriate, even dangerous in such a place, not that any of the others, not even Nathan was going to say anything; they just followed in his wake.

They arrived in the surgery waiting and reception area like a hurricane.

"Buck Wilmington!" Chris stated as he came to a stop in front of the desk.

"Pardon?" the nurse behind the desk asked.

"Wilmington, he was brought up here from the ER."

The nurse looked at her computer screen, then back at Chris. "Are you family?"

"Yes," Josiah said quickly, before Chris could say anything else, it was just simpler this way.

She looked at Chris and the others, at the blood still staining both Chris and Nathan's shirts.

"He's still in surgery, that's all the information I have."

There was a moment of total stillness while Chris just stood there, hands on the counter, staring at the woman, as if by the sheer force of his personality alone he could make the operation over and Buck be alright.

"Cowboy?" Vin kept his voice natural. "Let's sit down and wait."

Very slowly Chris turned his head just enough to look into Vin's eyes. Vin touched his arm.

"Come on, there's nothing else we can do."

For a while nothing happened and then very slowly, Chris straightened up and took his hands off the counter. He then gave the slightest of nods and turned toward the distant window.

"Thank you Ma'am," Vin told the nurse before he and the others turned to follow Chris.

While Chris just stood and stared out of the window the others sat. They didn't lounge or relax, they sat, ridged and tense, eyes locked on the distant doors from where any news would come. No one approached Chris. The waiting area was spacious, allowing the various people, some single, some in groups, to keep separate. No one wanted to make small talk, while waiting for what could be the worst or best news in the world. After more than half an hour, they were all getting worried and fidgety. Twenty minutes later and Josiah was genuinely worried that Chris was on the verge of an explosion. The doors opened again and a doctor emerged. She spoke to the nurse, they had watched this happen a few times before, each time the nurse directed the doctor to another group of people, but this time she pointed to them. As the doctor crossed to them they all stood.

"Chris," Vin said softly. It was all he had to do to get Chris' attention.

Nathan noted that the surgeon, a very short, plump woman in her forties, had already removed her scrubs, no doubt they were covered in blood.

"You're Mr Wilmington's family?" she asked.

"And colleagues," Nathan added.

"Of course." She looked at all of them, but instantly recognised Chris as the leader and addressed her comments to him. "We have been able to stop the bleeding and close the wound."

"So he'll be okay now," Chris stated, trying to convince himself as much as anything.

"Chris," Nathan warned. "Let her finish."

"As you know, despite your heroic efforts, he did loose a huge amount of blood. As a result, some of his organs began to shut down. He's in recovery now, as soon as he's stable, we'll move him to ICU and you can see him there."

Chris stepped into the woman's personal space, looming over her. "I'll stay with him in recovery."

"No you won't, you'll wait until we have him settled in ICU."

"I know what to expect, I've done it before."

The doctor stood firm. "I know and I don't care. He is my patient and I make the rules, and if you don't back down I'll have you removed from this hospital - and before you go all caveman and tell me you are the law, this is not a federal building and you have no authority here, so back off!"

"Look lady!"

"No you look, if you care for your friend as much as you claim to, you'll keep out of our way and let us work. He's still unconscious so he won't even know you're there, he can't even hear you yet. You don't need to be there for him, just now, so I'm guessing you want to be there for you. Well sorry, I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist. "

Chris moved to take a step forward, but was restrained by Josiah's hand on his shoulder.

"She's right," Nathan told him quietly.

The doctor looked at Nathan. "You did the field transfusion? "

"Yes ma'am."

"Congratulations, he never would have made it here alive if you hadn't done what you did. Now let us make sure it wasn't in vain. Recovery may take longer than normal, so don't expect him in ICU for at least two hours - okay?"

"Thank you, we'll be there," Nathan confirmed.

The doctor turned and walked away before anything else could be said.

"Nathan, you and Vin go find something to eat, maybe go check on JD and Ezra, me an' Chris are gonna have a private conversation, " Josiah announced.

With a nod, the men left.

<><><><><><> <>

Nathan had hustled a reluctant Vin out of the waiting area as fast as possible, leaving Josiah and Chris standing there, facing each other.

"You got something to say to me - Preacher?" Chris growled.

"Oh you know I do, but not here."

"Here suits me just fine, `cause I have no intention of listening to one of your sermons."

Chris turned to go, but was stopped by a large hand landing on his shoulder. Josiah leaned in and spoke softly in his ear. "Here or someplace else, I don't mind, but I don't think these good people need to see me pin you to the ground - do they? And you know I can do it, don't you Christopher? "

Chris' eyes blazed with rage, but he said nothing.

"So here or come with me, your choice."

"Where did you have in mind?"

"Follow me."

Josiah turned and strode through the big double doors and into the corridor, after one last lingering look at the doors, behind which Buck lay, Chris followed him. Josiah led him to a staircase and up it to the helipad on the roof, which was home to a number of birds, but otherwise deserted.

"Well?" Chris asked, not moving from the door.

"It's not your fault," Josiah stated.

"What's that meant to mean?"

"After all this time, and you still think we can't see it, maybe you can't see it in yourself." Josiah shook his head sadly.

"See what."

"When ever you get scared or angry with yourself, you take it out on others - usually Buck, frankly how he's put up with you all these years I don't know." Josiah took a step closer to Chris. "You're scared he's not going to make it, and angry because you blame yourself. We get that, we do, but you need to back off and stop taking it out on the hospital staff."

"Back off? I don't need your paperback psychology!"

Josiah tilted his head. "I'll let the paperback thing go this time, my professional ego can take it, but it doesn't change the fact that you need to pull back. I'm not asking you to get professional help, the Lord knows there's no chance of that, but you do need to acknowledge it to yourself. You need to be angry at someone? Fine, take it out on me, or the bastard that shot him, not innocent civilians and not yourself."

"Why not me, it's my fault - isn't it?"


Chris raised his eyebrows. "No? I'm in charge, I'm the boss, I say go or abort - right?"

Josiah had to concede that this was true.

Chris pushed fingers through his hair. "We are as good as we are because we don't leave anything to chance - until I decided to ignore my own rules and dismiss a broken camera that was working yesterday and then go and send the best friend I ever had, to stand where no one can see him or back him up! What part of that is not my fault!?" He advanced on Josiah, but the ridged tension in his shoulders had gone, replaced by the slump of defeat.

"Well? Tell me, because I'd like to hear it. I nearly got him killed, maybe I have got him killed."

"Don't you dare think that way, you - of all people - know what a stubborn cuss he is, Buck's not done living just yet - believe me! You made a judgment call, that's what they pay you the big money for, that's why none of us want your job. That we've come this far, doing what we do and all of us are still here, is testament to you and your leadership - don't doubt it."

"I do doubt it."

Josiah shook his head. "Consider this, Ritter fooled Ezra, took him hook line and sinker and Ezra is the best. We were up against dedicated professionals, maybe the best we've ever faced - whoever they were, they went to a lot of expense and trouble to trap us, this was well planned. And they had the drop on us, took us by surprise, totally unprepared, but we still took them down - we did good, as well we could have, better than anyone else and you know it. So stop feeling sorry for yourself and start doing your job as a friend and a leader - what's done is done."


The two of them stood there, face to face, alpha male to alpha male. Finally Chris gave the slightest of nods and stepped back a fraction. Josiah reached out and placed a huge hand on his shoulder.

"We'll get through this together, as a team, as a family - it's the only thing we have, right?"

Chris sighed and nodded. "Right."


They found Vin and Nathan outside the ICU; they had coffee for both men.

"Any news?" Chris asked.

"JD's doin' great," Vin said, handing Chris a coffee. "'course, he's worried sick an' wants to get up here - Ezra's bringin' him up any minute now."

Chris eyed the Texan. "But...?"

Nathan took over. "Ezra's feeling guilty about not seeing what was happening. JD's wound up because he took his time getting to Buck, not realising how serious things know, all the usual guilt- trips we experience at times like this."

Josiah and Chris exchanged glances as they sipped their coffees. Yeah... they knew...only too well. Nathan continued with the update.

"They brought Buck down a little while ago, one of us can go in as soon as he's settled," Nathan explained. "The doctor I spoke to said he's had some breathing problems, after the anesthetic, but they've stabilised that now."

"Did they say why?" Josiah asked. "I mean Buck's never had a problem before, he's not Vin. No offence."

Vin shrugged. "None taken."

Nathan nodded. "Just that he's still so weak."


Twenty minutes later Chris was allowed in.

Buck lay still and ashen, surrounded by machines and tubes. He was pale, so very pale it was as if his skin was actually translucent. This wasn't Buck, not the Buck he knew, a man so full of life, Chris didn't think the big loon would ever grow up. Convinced Buck would still be playing practical jokes and bedding women in his dotage, he'd no doubt die in bed, with a grin on his face and a woman in his arms.

"Oh Jesus Big Dog, what have I done to you," Chris whispered as he approached, letting his hand trail along what little part of Buck's arm that wasn't covered in tubes or tape.

It was easy to say it wasn't his fault up on the roof with Josiah, so much harder to say it and believe it when faced with this, with so much damage, with this ghost of Buck.

"I owe you, I owe you big time, so you better hurry up and come back to us, so you can collect, the longer you take, the less you get." He took a seat and sat in silent vigil.


A little later, a noise in the waiting room alerted Chris and he stood, leaning in to Buck. "I'll be right back." Exiting the room, he saw Ezra and JD with the others, the latter sitting in a wheelchair and now wearing scrubs instead of his blood-soaked clothes. JD looked pale, dark shadows under his eyes.

"You okay?" Chris asked, the semblance of a smile crossing his lips.

JD nodded, his eyes wide with fear. "Sure...I'm fine. How's Buck? Can I see him?"

Chris nodded, glancing at Vin. As the Texan started to push the chair, JD's feet hit the floor.

"No Vin...I can walk, now." Shakily he stood, unsure if it was the blood loss or sheer terror that was causing his knees to shake...or both. He gave a tight smile as Vin took his elbow. "Thanks." As they disappeared into the room, Chris looked at Ezra.

"And how are you doing?"

"I am perfectly fine, thank you Chris."

"Ezra, don't bullshit," Nathan admonished, "You're carrying a whole load of misplaced guilt."

Standish glanced at his teammate. "I do not consider my guilt to be misplaced."

Chris touched his shoulder. "Been there already, Ezra...let it go. We're one of the top teams on the force, and these guys duped us all. If I can let it go..." he glanced at Josiah, "...then you can too."

"That remains to be seen," Ezra answered, "but I thank you for the vote of confidence."

Vin rejoined them. "Bucklin looks like shit." He thumbed back toward the room. "I left the kid in there for some alone time...he's pretty cut up."

Chris acknowledged the information. He'd give JD a little time, then go in to check on him.


JD trembled as he stood at Buck's bedside, one shaky hand resting on the cold bare arm lying on the covers. He decided to sit before he fell over.

"Oh God, Buck..." He backhanded a tear, cursing himself for showing weakness, but unable to stop the overwhelming emotion and fear from overtaking his weary body. He shuddered out a breath.

"I didn't sounded fine on the air, I didn't realise you were hurting." He sniffed. "Why didn't you tell us?" he whispered.

"'d come..."

JD stared in shock on seeing the slit eyes showing a trace of dark blue peeking at him. There was a hint of a smile on the wan face of the big brother lying in the bed, before it was gone and the man was sleeping once more.

"Buck? Buck...please...stay with me." Realising that was not going to happen, JD rested his head on Buck's arm and closed his eyes. "Don't leave...I need you...we all need you."

Five minutes later, that's where Chris found JD, fast asleep. Deciding not to disturb him, Chris took up residence in the chair opposite and settled in for the duration.


During the next twenty-four hours, the others had visited with Buck, gone back to the office to complete paperwork, to return to keep vigil. JD and Chris remained unmoving; neither wanting to miss the moment Buck came back to them.

The doctors were pleased with Buck's progress, encouraged by the big man's albeit brief moment of lucidity, but anxious to have him fully awake and responsive. JD began to wonder if he had dreamt Buck had spoken to him, but was comforted by Chris's assurance that he could see there was a small improvement.

It was during an animated debate between Chris and JD over taking breaks that Buck's mind began to gain clarity, struggling to push his thoughts to the surface while his mouth refused to co operate. Feeling movement under his hand, JD's eyes widened and he stopped mid -debate to look at Chris, then at Buck.

Larabee leaned in and watched his oldest friend climb to consciousness, his smile widening as he watched fluttering eyelashes opening. He grinned at JD, whose tears were back, but this time, were pure joy as the man he loved as family looked at him.

JD leaned in. "Hey."

Feebly, Buck clasped the hand holding his. " tired..."

JD grinned. "Yeah...'cause you look fresh as a daisy."

"Damn near 'mpossible to look should...know that."

Chuckling softly, JD stroked back Buck's stray hair, looking up at Chris through misty eyes. Chris moved over his friend.

"You fit to work, tomorrow?" he teased.

Buck huffed out a soft laugh. "You bet, stud. Just need...a li'l nap... first."

JD pressed the buzzer as Buck drifted into a healing sleep. He glanced at Chris. "He's gonna be okay now, right?"

Moving back for the doctor who had answered the buzzer to check Buck over, Chris guided JD out to the waiting room and to their team- mates.

"Yeah..." he offered a small sigh of relief, "the tough ol' bastard's gonna be fine."


His first night home, one week later, and Buck woke up. Relieved to be back in his own bed, something had disturbed him and it took him a few seconds to get his bearings before he recognized it was JD's voice, calling out. He cursed as he realized he couldn't get to him, so he dialled his cell.


JD was looking intently down at Buck's motionless body on the gurney, lifeless blue eyes staring back at him. His own hands were covered with blood as he tried to stop his best friend from bleeding to death. "Buck...BUCK! GODDAMNIT...they said I was helping..."

He found it surreal that an ambulance would have the theme tune to the film 'The Magnificent Seven' playing, until the fog lifted and he opened his eyes to find himself soaked with sweat and lying in his own bed, his cell ringing and vibrating furiously on the nightstand. Rubbing his eyes, JD leaned over and peered at the screen as he answered it. "Buck?"

"Y'alright down there, kid? I heard you yelling."

JD relaxed back against his pillow, running a shaky hand over his damp face. "Naw...I'm good. Do you need something?"

"No, no...just checking on you. You're sure, now? Shall I call one of the guys...?"

"NO! No...really...just dreaming, is all...thanks." JD clicked off his cell and pulled himself wearily out of bed to use the bathroom. He then headed for the kitchen and warmed enough milk for two mugs, taking them both up to Buck's room. He stopped outside the door and called softly. "Buck?"

"Come on in, kid."

Clicking on a lamp, Buck was relieved to see JD come through the bedroom door. He smiled at the offered milk as he watched JD sit on the bed and sip his own.

"Bad dream, huh?"

JD glanced at him. "Yeah. Sorry I disturbed you."

"No sweat, I was just a mite concerned." He took a drink. "Wanna talk about it?"

JD shook his head. "Not just now...sorry."

"Soon then?" Buck ducked his head to keep eye contact.


"I need to talk too, son."

JD nodded. "I know...soon." He squeezed Buck's knee as he rose to leave, warmed by the clasp of Buck's hand to his own.


JD had lost track of the number of times he'd climbed the stairs to Buck's room over the next few days, so he was mighty glad to see the brunet come down and take up his recliner for a while. Putting a pillow behind him and covering Buck with a throw, JD smiled.

"Need a drink?"

"Water's good, thanks, kid."

Have you taken your meds?"

"That's what the water's for."

"Good, good. Any..."





Buck insisted. "Sit."

"Water first."

As he trotted off, Buck smiled, answering his ringing cell. "Hey stud. 7:00? Yeah, that's great; it'll hopefully give JD something else to think about." Buck laughed. "Let's just say he takes the trophy for Mother henning this week. Okay? Yeah, later dude."

"Is that what I'm doing?" JD pouted, re-entering the living room and handing over the water. "Shit...I'm turning into you."

Buck laughed, then sobered. " I have some of your blood in me...will I start acting like you?"

"Oh har de har har.'re cracking jokes, so...who knows?" JD sat down on the sofa and looked back at him. "Are you really doing okay?"

Buck nodded. "Thanks to you and Nathan I am, yes." He grinned. "Hey, squirt... we're really blood brothers, now." Frowning as his words caused JD to pale, Buck leaned closer to him.

"Hey...look at me...hey...come on now...I'm fine, see?"

JD nodded slowly. "Yeah...fine now. I'll go get your meds."

Buck rattled a bottle. "Got 'em right here." He went serious for a moment. "JD...I don't think I thanked you...for the blood...for what you did for me."

The youth looked into Buck's eyes. "Yeah, you did." He smiled. "No sweat, like I'd ever say no, anyway, you big lug."

'That's more like it' Buck thought, '...insults'. He popped his pills. "Chris and the guys'll be here at 7:00. Shall we order pizza?"

"Sure thing." JD got up to leave, unexpectedly returning and dropping to his knees as he embraced the big guy. Buck hugged back, patting his arm.

"Please don't do that again." JD pleaded.

Buck pushed him back and hazel and deep blue eyes locked. "I promise... if you look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn't have done the same."

JD whispered. "You know I would. I'd die for you."

Buck smiled, pride shining in his eyes. "And I'd die for you, li'l brother, and I know we feel no differently about any of the others, too."

JD nodded, sighing softly as he looked at him. "I was so scared, Buck... I thought we'd lost you."

"What, with 'superdonor' ready to jump in and save the day? No chance."

"Don't joke, it wasn't..."

Buck raised his hand to squeeze the back of JD's neck, "I don't mean to make light of it, son. When Chris told me what you'd done for me..." Buck's eyes filled, "...I...I have no words to tell you what it meant to me."

JD swallowed the lump in his throat, then smiled. "I think this is the bit in the movies where the violins come in."

Buck roared and pushed the youth playfully. "Get going and order the pizza."

"Yes, boss."

Buck grinned as he watched JD dial to order the food, his thoughts drifting toward his team-mates.

Seven who knew no boundaries when it came to each other's lives and wellbeing. And now, as odd as it sounded to say, he actually shared the blood of someone he cared for deeply.

Life couldn't be more wonderfully crazy.

The End