Two Hundred and Forty Nine Dollars and 95 Cents

by Suzi

Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can’t keep ‘em…damnit!

Comment: Many thanks to Sue Morgan for beta reading. Thanks to Mog for ATF

It was a sunny Friday morning and Vin had just finished making his special brand of (perfectly drinkable!) coffee. From the elevators he could hear that their resident ladies’ man and computer genius had arrived. As always, joking and teasing each other.

JD greeted everybody with an enthusiastic "Hello!" before he sat down and started his computer. The morning passed uneventfully and they decided to have an early lunch in the little coffee shop nearby. Vin was looking especially forward to that because he recently won a bet against Ezra (about how long their boss would stay calm about the suggestion in the newest memo about all team leaders attending a "team building and conflict prevention" seminar) so that the undercover agent had to pay for the food. Vin planned to have a nice lunch.

Lots of coffee, tea, and pancakes later, Vin and JD finally decided that they were full.

"Already, gentlemen?" asked Ezra sarcastically. "You must be getting old."

"Now that you mention it," started Vin, "I think I have place for some m...."

"No, we really do have to get back to work! Don't you agree, Mister Larabee?"

The rest of them just laughed.

While Ezra was paying the waitress, a little slip of crumpled paper fell out of his wallet. JD picked it up, glanced at it and handed it back to Ezra.

The day continued as uneventful as it had begun, but one after the other the men realized how quiet JD had become. When it was time to go home he muttered a short, "I need to get something, I’ll take the bus home," to Buck and was nearly out of the door before Vin stopped him and lead him back to his chair.

"Guys, come on!" the youngest complained, but his voice was hoarse like he could barely keep himself from crying.

"Not before you’ve told us what is the matter," stated Chris, firmly.

"You were okay this morning, weren't you?" asked a concerned Buck. Josiah laid a supporting big hand on JD’s shoulder and Nathan kneeled next to his chair and checked his temperature.

"Are you feeling well?"

Meanwhile Ezra had gotten a cold glass of water and Vin had gotten some chocolate out of his "sacred supplies."

The youngest of the men looked helplessly from each of his friends, brothers really, to the next.

"It is so stupid," he whispered, tears finally making their way down his cheeks.

"That I doubt, son, tell us," encouraged Josiah. JD took a few breaths and Buck was already fussing, but Vin stopped him with a shake of his head. Better give the kid the time he needs.

Finally JD started.

"249 Dollars and 95 cents." He started to cry harder.

The others looked at each other, not understanding.

"JD?" asked Nathan carefully.

Barely audible their youngest continued.

"That's eight weeks worth," he had to stop again. "That's exactly the price of chemotherapy drugs for eight weeks."

Buck couldn't stop himself any longer and took him into a tight embrace.

"What brought this on now?" asked Chris, concerned but still confused. Ezra had turned pale and got his wallet out. He removed a small slip of paper from it and showed it to the others, head hanging in shame for causing the pain.

On the paper it read:

'Silk tie – green --- $249.95'

JD got out of Buck’s embrace and hugged a surprised Ezra.

"Not your fault," he sniffed.

"It's just... I had to work so hard every time to get the money together, and seeing... I’m sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel bad." He looked at the gambler with huge, teary eyes.

"JD, I can assure you that there is nothing on your part to be sorry for. I, however, deeply regret causing you pain like this. I can only assure you that had I known..." Ezra stared.

"Enough," Chris stopped them. "It’s nobody's fault. Memories like this just come up unexpectedly." And they all knew that he knew that better than anybody else.

It was quickly decided that a poker/movie night at the CDC was in order and before long JD was smiling again. The only hint of what happened was that Ezra let him win. Twice.

Next Monday, Ezra came to JD’s desk at work and showed him a check for $500 dollars that was donated to a cancer patient support group. A check that indicated that this was a regular donation every month for the last one and a half years. Ever since JD told the others about his mother.

The Bostonian smiled warmly at the Southerner.

"I was sad Ezra. But I never doubted you."

~ end