ATF Alternate Universe
Chris and Buck entered the room quietly, not wanting to wake Vin if he was sleeping. They took seats on either side of the bed, each taking in the sight of their injured friend. Vin was lying flat, with straps across his body to keep him from moving around. They still had the cervical collar around his neck as well. At least the hospital staff had managed to clean him up a bit, Chris thought, wincing inwardly, remembering the dirt, blood and vomit that had covered Vin when he found him.
"Y'all can talk to me, ya know," Vin croaked out.
"Thought you were asleep," Chris replied quietly.
"And we know how much you need your beauty sleep," Buck put in. "'Specially with that brand new bruise on your head and all," he joked, waiting for Vin's standard 'Fuck you, Buck' response.
But the response didn't come. Chris decided to break the silence again.
"Doc says you may be fine, up and walking in a couple of days," he began.
Vin heard the unease in his friend's voice, knew he wasn't comfortable with the conversation.
"I know, he told me," he responded. "Ain't gonna get my hopes up, though," he added, wincing as he tried to turn his head away.
Chris wanted to retort to Vin's reply. Wanted to get the younger man to think more positively. But how could he, when he wasn't exactly positive himself? Buck saved him the trouble.
"Now don't start thinkin' like that, pard," the mustached agent put in. "You gotta think positive in situations like this."
"Yeah, sure, Buck," Vin responded, not even looking at Buck.
Chris and Buck exchanged looks and shrugs, not knowing what else to say to the young man in the bed.
+ + + + + + +
It wasn't long before Vin had fallen asleep, and Chris and Buck made their way back down to the waiting room. The others were still there.
"How is he?" Josiah asked.
"Sleeping, now," Chris replied with a half-smile.
They did not miss the worry in their leader's voice, or his eyes, however.
"Anybody call Miss Nettie?" he asked.
"Yeah. I did," JD replied. "She'll be here in the morning."
"Good," Buck said. "Staff's gonna need someone to help keep 'im in line. Last time he was here they practically had to tie 'im to the…." He quietly trailed off the end of his remark and sighed running his hand through his hair before whispering, "Guess they won't have that problem this time."
"Alright," Chris began, getting the group's attention back and off their shoes. "Let's get the hell outta here, before they kick us out."
"We'll see you here in the morning, Mr. Larabee," Ezra returned, knowing that Chris wasn't about to follow his own advice and leave.
Chris acknowledged the southerner with a slight nod before heading back to the elevators.
+ + + + + + +
Vin woke to familiar sounds and smells and groaned when he realized that he was still in the hospital. He opened his eyes and blinked several times, bringing the ceiling tiles into focus.
"Good morning," Nettie greeted him, standing up and leaning over the bed rail to kiss the young man's forehead.
"Mornin', Miss Nettie," Vin returned, tiredly, not willing to say it was a good morning.
"How do you feel?" she asked, gently smoothing his hair back with her hand, avoiding the bandage on his temple and the wound underneath.
"I can't, or haven't ya heard?" he replied, his eyes looking away from the woman.
"I heard," Nettie responded, taking his left hand into her own, mindful of the IV attached to it. "But that's not what I'm talking about and you know it."
Vin shifted his gaze back to hers.
"I ain't feelin' too good, Nettie," he told her. "I'm scared."
"I know," she began, squeezing the hand she held. "We are too."
"We?" he asked.
"Your friends," Nettie replied. "They've all been worried sick about you since you left the courthouse yesterday. They wanted to be there for you then. They're going to be here for you now."
She leaned over the rail again until she was practically nose to nose with the young ATF agent.
"You just better have enough sense in that thick head of yours to let them help you," she told him.
"Or what?" Vin retorted, closing his eyes, not wanting to think about the others, much less ask for their help.
"Or she'll kick your ass."
Chris came to the side of the bed so that he was in Vin's line of vision.
"You been here all night?" Vin asked, motioning to Chris's clothing, the now disheveled suit he'd worn to court the day before.
"Yeah," he replied with a smile. "You don't remember?"
Vin looked confused, blinking and said, "Nope."
"Don't worry about it," Chris said quickly.
He truly didn't want Vin to worry about it. In fact, he was actually glad the young agent didn't remember. Vin was in and out of consciousness throughout the night, calling out for him and Charlie, the timing usually coinciding with the pain meds wearing off.
"But now," Nettie cut in, "it's time for him to go," she said, giving the ATF leader a look that told him she meant business.
"Don't mess with her, Chris," Vin warned with a quiet chuckle. "Or she'll kick your ass."
+ + + + + + +
Chris returned late that afternoon, finding Nettie sitting alone in Vin's room.
"Where's Vin?" he asked.
"They brought him down to radiology for some more tests. A CAT scan, I think," she replied. "You get enough rest?" she asked, eyeing the man carefully.
"Yes, ma'am," he replied, nodding his head.
He looked around the room and saw several items that weren't there when he'd left that morning. Magazines, chocolates and flowers took up the space on the small table.
"The other boys stopped by and brought them for Vin," Nettie said, answering Chris's unspoken question.
He nodded his head and looked at the vase of yellow roses.
"They just came a few minutes ago," the old woman offered.
He was about to sneak a peek at the card when Nettie spoke up.
"The card is signed, 'From your secret admirer,'" she said, a sly smile on her face.
Chris was even more curious about the flower arrangement now, wondering who Vin's secret admirer could be. He was about to ask Nettie if she had any ideas when the door opened up and two orderlies rolled Vin's bed back into the room. He noticed that Vin seemed to be asleep as they rolled the bed past him and put it back in place.
"He'll probably be out for a couple of hours," the nurse who had followed them said. "With all the moving around and stuff for the pictures, we gave him some heavy-duty meds to keep him calm and reduce the pain," she explained.
Chris and Nettie nodded their heads, understanding, and resumed their seats on either side of their young friend.
"How's he been?" he asked, looking over the bed toward Nettie.
"Usual Vin," she replied.
"Putting up the brave front for the boys?" Chris asked.
"Trying," Nettie answered. "But this time it's different. They know he's scared."
+ + + + + + +
"I'm tellin' ya, the boy's got a girlfriend!" Buck argued, trying to keep his voice down.
"Then how come we never met her?" JD retorted. "Or how come Vin never mentioned her?"
"Vin's a very private person," Nathan put in. "He's the type who keeps his private life private."
"I agree," Ezra added. "And he knows better than to mention a woman near Mr. Wilmington. He'd never survive the post-first date inquisition!"
"Y'all mind? I'm tryin' to get some sleep, here, ya know," the raspy voice complained.
"Hey, Vin! Good to see ya!" Buck greeted the sharpshooter with a pat on his shoulder.
"Good evening, Mr. Tanner," the southerner greeted.
"So, ask him!" JD urged, nudging Buck.
"What are y'all talkin' about?" the injured agent asked, tiredly and impatiently.
"They're wondering who sent you the flowers," Nathan explained. "Who your secret admirer is."
"What flowers?" Vin asked, trying to look around.
"These here yellow roses," Buck replied, bringing the vase closer to the bed.
Vin had already been confused when they mentioned he'd gotten flowers. He could only think of a few people that would send him a bouquet, but when he saw the size of the arrangement, two dozen roses, he knew that the ones on his list were now off. They wouldn't be able to afford it.
"Ain't there a card?" he asked, eyebrows furrowing.
"Of course, Buck already read it," JD replied, getting a dirty look from the mustached agent. "It said 'From your secret admirer,'" he added, raising his eyebrows, showing the small card to Vin.
Ezra had been watching Vin, looking for signs of recognition, signs that the sharpshooter of the team did actually know who had sent the yellow roses. But all he saw was confusion.
"Sorry, boys, but I haven't got a clue," he told them.
Vin had tried to keep up with the men, put up with their attempts to cheer him up, take his mind off his injury, but in the end, all it did was cause him more pain. When Chris and Josiah had returned from dinner with Nettie, the senior agent immediately saw through the front Vin was presenting and shooed the agents out. He called in one of the nurses and basically stared Vin down until he accepted the sedative the nurse offered.
+ + + + + + +
A few hours later, Chris and Josiah sat inside Vin's room. The senior agent looked down at the magazine in his hand. He chuckled to himself as he realized that he was still on the same page he was on an hour ago. He got up and stretched as he walked over to the window.
"Why don't you head on home, Chris," Josiah said softly, not wanting to wake Vin. "I'll stay tonight."
"Thanks, Josiah," he responded, turning, "but I'd rather stay."
The big man nodded, not wanting to push.
"You want me to all A.D. Travis for you? Let him know you'll be off for a few days?" he asked.
"Already called him," Chris said. "You'll be in charge until I get back. I think Travis wants some preliminaries on the Joey Cragston case."
"Not a problem," Josiah replied. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Chris sat back down next to the bed and looked at that same page again. The next thing he knew, someone was calling his name. He opened his eyes and looked over to see Vin looking at him.
"'Bout time you woke up, Cowboy," Vin drawled.
"Could say the same for you," Chris returned, scooting the chair closer to the bed to lean on the bed rail.
"I don't know what I'm gonna do, Chris. Don't think there's anything I can do that don't involve havin' two workin' legs," the younger man spoke.
"Vin, it's too soon to start talking like that," Chris scolded. "The doctors said this…"
"I know what the doctors said, Chris. And I know we been over this, too," Vin interrupted, almost angrily. "But I gotta think about the what ifs. Can't help but thinkin' about the what ifs."
Chris saw the tears welled up in Vin's eyes. They matched his own.
"Bein' outdoors, in the woods, bein' a Marshal and now an ATF agent," he continued. "That's all I know. It's all I'm good at."
"Vin, that's not true," Chris argued.
But Vin was no longer looking at his best friend. He'd turned his gaze to the opposite wall, basically shutting him out. He was about to try talking to him again, when the door opened. The doctor on Vin's case entered.
"Good evening, Mr. Tanner, Mr. Larabee," he greeted them. "Thought I'd stop in before heading home for the night."
"Hey, Doc," the two replied simultaneously.
Chris watched the doctor intently as he went over Vin's chart.
"Those tests he had earlier…," he began.
"I'm afraid they didn't show any change from the ones done in the ER," he said. "But that's nothing to get concerned about. It's only been a short time. We'll schedule another series in a couple of days."
With that said, and looks of understanding gotten from both Vin and Chris, the doctor conducted a brief examination of the ATF sharpshooter, checking his reflexes and asking a few questions. Satisfied for the evening, the doctor left.
When Chris settled back into his chair, Vin let out a loud sigh.
"You don't need to be babysittin' me, Chris," he said. "I ain't a little kid on his first visit to the hospital. And it ain't like I'm dyin' or nothin'."
"I know, Vin," Chris said. "Just thought you'd like the company."
"I appreciate it," he responded. "Really. But I've had nothin' but company since I been here. Go home. Get some rest. You look like shit."
"Okay," the blond agent relented, smiling at Vin's last comment. "But I'll be back first thing."
Vin closed his eyes and waited for the door to close. When he knew he was finally alone in the room, he let himself cry.
+ + + + + + +
Morning found Buck and Chris in the room with Vin. Buck had just given up trying to get Vin to eat his breakfast when there was a knock on the door.
A deliveryman entered, carrying a vase of roses. They were pink ones, this time.
"I'll take those," Chris said, standing up.
"A little wilted, don't you think?" Buck told the man. "How long they been sittin' in your truck?" he asked angrily.
"Down, Buck," Vin warned.
The deliveryman cautiously gave the ATF leader the vase of roses and started to back away.
"I'm sorry, the truck broke down this morning," the man replied nervously before Chris waved him off, dismissing him.
Buck reached over and grabbed the card from the bouquet.
"Uh, excuse me?" Vin interrupted. "Don't you think that since they're MY flowers, I should be the one readin' the card first?"
"Oops, sorry, Vin," Chris said, motioning Buck to hand the card over
Vin eventually got the card. Chris noticed the curious look on his face as he put it down next to him.
"Who are they from, Vin?" he asked.
"Don't know. That secret admirer person again," he replied.
Chris picked up the card and read it. Sure enough, the message was the same as the first one, 'From your secret admirer.'
"Want us to check into this? Find out who's sending you the flowers?" Buck asked.
"Nah," Vin answered. "Ain't important."
"Well I guess I better get headin' over to the office," the big agent announced. "Wouldn't want to get on Josiah's bad side on his first day as boss," he explained with a grin.
"Wouldn't want that," Chris agreed.
"You take care now, Vin," he told the younger man. "And try to save some pretty nurses for ol' Buck here," he added with a wink as he headed out the door.
"Why don't you head out, too, Chris," Vin said. "Don't gotta stay around here."
"Why do you keep trying to get rid of me, Vin?" the blond man asked, hooking a foot around one of the chairs and bringing it next to the bed. "First last night, now this morning."
"Just don't like all this attention," he said quietly. "You got better things to do than entertain a cripple."
"I thought we went through this, Vin," Chris retorted angrily. "Why can't you see the possibility that this will only be temporary? Why the hell you gotta be so negative?"
"How long am I supposed to believe I'm gonna walk again, Chris?!" he shouted back. "Another day?! A week?! Gee, maybe next year?"
"Vin…," the older man cut in.
"NO, CHRIS!" Vin continued. "I've lived my life day by day since I was six years old. Since my Ma died. I wasn't able to think about no more tomorrows. I never knew what the next day was gonna bring. Every time I tried to think about the future, something would come up and crush it. Every time something starts going good in my life…."
He paused then, squeezed his eyes shut. Chris looked away as Vin reached up to wipe away the tears that escaped his lids.
"Every time something starts going good in my life," Vin continued, his emotions in turmoil, "something or someone comes and fucks it up. Charlie died. Banks and Nealson framed me. Parker got off. Now this."
Chris was fighting his own emotions. He couldn't decide whether to be furious with Vin or feel sorry for him. Deep down, he understood the sharpshooter's frustrations. After Sarah and Adam died, he felt as if his life were over, too. He had been crippled emotionally just as much as Vin was physically.
"Vin," he finally said, sighing. "All I'm asking is that you keep an open mind. Yeah, you might be looking at long term paralysis, here. But you know what? The Vin Tanner I know wouldn't let that stand in his way. He may not be happy about it, expectedly so, but he be damned if he let it get in his way."
When Vin's response was to just look away and close his eyes, Chris sighed again and sank into the chair. He'd let the young agent think on those words. He'd give him time. Hell, they had all the time in the world. He smiled suddenly as he glanced at his watch. It was almost ten a.m. Nettie would be here soon. If anyone could talk that boy into something, that old woman could.
+ + + + + + +
"I don't know what else to do, Chris," Nettie lamented, throwing up her arms. "I tried talkin' to him. Even threatened him - told him I wouldn't make him any more peach cobblers! He just won't talk."
"Damn," Chris whispered, running his hand through his hair as he looked in at Vin's still form from the hospital room's doorway.
"I've never seen him like this," she went on. "Even after Banks started that blackball thing rolling at the Marshal's office…" she trailed.
"I know, Miss Nettie," he responded, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. "He'll come around. We're not done with him yet," he said.
"And maybe we'll have some good news, soon, Lord help him," Nettie added.
+ + + + + + +
Vin lay still in the hospital bed, half-listening to the voices around him. He'd shut out Chris already and now, just as succinctly, shut out Miss Nettie. The two people in the world who understood him. The two people he could always talk to. And he just shut them out.
There was that small part of him that knew what they had told him was right, that he shouldn't give up hope so soon. But the other part of him - the part of him that kept trying to feel his toes. The part of him that kept trying to move his legs and feel the skin on his shin stretch tight over the scar tissue there. The part of him that held his fears in tight - that part of him wouldn't let him believe in hope. It wouldn't let him believe in anything but a life in a wheelchair, dependent on people that helped him out of pity.
He clenched his fists as he held back the tears. He refused to let them fall while Nettie and Chris were still nearby. He wished they'd go away.
+ + + + + + +
The next two days were similar. Vin refused to speak to anyone. Even Buck was ready to give up. He'd tried teasing the young agent, trying to get him interested in the roses that kept arriving from his "secret admirer," only to be told to go away. Vin even tried to tell the deliveryman to stop bringing the bouquets. He had no interest in them or their mystery sender.
He only ate because the doctors and nurses threatened to use a feeding tube. The hospital's staff psychologist had been to visit him several times and didn't get too far either. Chris and the others were becoming more and more worried about their young colleague. They were worried that not so much that he would he not regain the use of his legs, but that because of that fate, he would cease to live, figuratively and literally.
Once again Chris sat in the quiet room of the hospital. Once again pondering the fate of his best friend. Once again hoarse from the one-sided conversation he'd been having.
"Shit, Vin," he sighed, rubbing his hands down his face. "I don't know what else to tell you. I've been repeating myself so much, you could probably tell me better what I said," he tried to joke. "What do I have to do? What do I have to say? What is gonna make you realize that you've got a life worth living, with or without working legs?"
He sighed again as he reached over and grabbed the pudding cup from Vin's dinner tray.
"Hell, you ain't gonna eat it," he muttered, peeling off the lid.
He was just about to take a spoonful when he heard some shouting out in the hallway.
"You can't just barge in here like this! Don't you know I don't want anything to do with you?!" a woman screamed.
Chris thought the woman sounded like Jeannie, one of the floor nurses. He walked to the doorway to investigate, reaching into his coat pocket for his badge and ID. But before he could react, shots were fired and he found himself on the floor, looking at the kickplate on the door to Vin's room.
+ + + + + + +
Vin heard the same shouting Chris had. He looked toward the doorway, following Chris's movements, just as curious about the commotion. He flinched painfully as the shots rang out.
"CHRIS!!!" he shouted, seeing his best friend thrown violently up against the door and then slide down, out of sight. "CHRIS!!"
Trying to control his rapid breathing, Vin listened carefully to what was going on out in the hallway. He'd heard people screaming and shouting and then he heard the threat.
"Nobody move! I swear, I'll kill some more of you!" the man shouted.
"John, please!" the woman, Jeannie Blake, who was indeed one of the floor nurses, plead. "Let us help these people and then you and I can go somewhere private, just the two of us, to talk this out," she added.
"No! It's too late for that!" he returned.
Vin listened some more and heard a low moan coming from the doorway.
"Oh, God! Chris!" he cried to himself, squeezing his eyes shut.
After hearing Chris’s moan and the nurses' cries, Vin couldn't take anymore. He had to do something. He pulled out the IV that was still embedded in his hand. Then he reached down and unfastened the straps that held him flat and straight on the bed. Biting back the pain in his spine, he reached up for the bed rails and using what little strength he had, pulled himself to a sitting position. Feeling lightheaded and dizzy, he stopped for a few moments to get his bearings. He looked toward the doorway and felt his heart contract as he saw Chris lying on the floor, blood beginning to pool beneath him.
The sharpshooter rolled to his side and lowered one of the bed rails. He tried to stop the momentum, but before he knew it, he was falling.
+ + + + + + +
Chris felt the burning sensation as it traveled through his chest and out his back and then forward through his chest again. Each breath he took brought the painful feeling. He tried to listen to the commotion still going on out at the nurses' station. He knew he needed to keep trying to help. But he was so weak, he could barely think straight, let alone offer any real assistance. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a crash nearby. He turned his head to see Vin lying on the floor next to his bed, his body rolling back and forth.
"Vin?" he called weakly, coughing with the effort.
If Vin heard him, he didn't reply. The young ATF agent was busy trying to turn himself around. If he'd thought he was in pain before, now it was a hundred times worse. But that was not important. What was important to him was Chris. He had to get to Chris. Had to get to Chris's gun. So he used his arms and pulled himself along on his elbows, dragging his aching legs behind him. He stopped when he realized what he was feeling. His aching legs. Pins and needles were starting to shoot up and down them. He wanted to shout for joy. He couldn’t wait to tell Chris. Then he looked up and saw his best friend still lying in the doorway. He continued his mission, now with more determination. When he got to the open doorway he stopped. Putting his head down to rest and catch his breath, he heard Chris's call.
"Vin, what are you doing?" the senior agent rasped.
"Savin' your sorry ass, Larabee. What does it look like I'm doin'?" he retorted, biting back a groan.
He peeked out the doorway to try to assess the situation. He saw Jeannie first, her face filled with fear as her estranged husband held her and waved his gun around the nurses' station.
"Give me your gun," Vin whispered to Chris, as he inched his way closer.
Chris looked at the younger man wearily, not agreeing with what Vin wanted to do.
“Vin…,” he began to protest.
“Don’t argue with me, Chris,” he whispered back. “I ain’t gonna let some drunken bastard with marital problems keep us from walkin’ outta here.”
Suddenly the Vin Tanner he knew was back. Slowly, so as not to grab the gunman's attention and because he couldn't do otherwise, Chris pulled his weapon from its shoulder holster and slid it over to Vin. Once the young agent had the weapon in hand, felt its familiarity, he took a deep breath. He pulled himself closer to the doorjamb and with shaky hands, got John Blake into his sights. After waiting for what seemed forever, the man finally moved in such a way that Vin had a clear shot, one in which no one else was endangered. He pulled the trigger. He held himself up as long as he could, making sure that Blake was indeed the only one to go down and that everyone else was safe. When he heard the nurses, doctors and hospital security begin to take charge, he let himself collapse back to the floor.
"Chris?" he called.
But he got no answer. He looked behind him to see a doctor's back as he worked on Chris. He tried to get closer, to see if Chris was alright, but found all his strength gone.
"Chris?" he called again.
"Mr. Tanner? Are you alright?" one of the nurses asked, coming into his line of sight.
Vin looked up at the man and asked, "Is he alright?"
"We're going to take good care of him," the man responded. "Now let's work on getting you back to bed."
"I gotta know if he's gonna be okay!" Vin demanded, batting the nurse's hand away from him.
He tried again to turn himself around and was stopped by the sharp pains in his back. He fell back against the floor and watched wearily as the doctor and nurses lifted Chris onto a gurney and rushed him out of the room.
+ + + + + + +
Chris opened his eyes and squinted at the brightness of the room.
"Hey there, pard," Buck whispered. "Good to see ya."
"Buck?" he croaked, throat dry.
"That's me," the big man smiled. "How ya feelin'?"
"Like shit, how'd ya think?" Chris returned sarcastically.
He closed his eyes to go back to sleep when the memories of what happened returned.
"Vin?" he asked, urgency in his voice.
"He's fine," Buck assured his old friend. "From what I understand, the boy's still gonna be our number one sharpshooter. One shot straight between the bad guy's eyes," he went on with a wink.
"I want to see him," Chris said.
"Well, you're just gonna have to wait," he replied. "Number one, you're in no condition to go anywhere. And number two, Vin's got himself a busy schedule today."
Chris looked confused and asked about the mentioned busy schedule.
"Oh yeah!" Buck exclaimed with a big grin. "Forgot to tell you! Vin's got some feeling back in his legs!"
"What?!" Chris shot back. "When did that happen?"
"Right after he fell outta bed, I guess," the mustached agent answered. "While the nurses were putting Vin onto a backboard to get him back into bed and all, he was complainin’ about his legs hurtin'. I guess it was like all them pins and needles you get when your hand or foot falls asleep," he went on. "The doctor wanted to give him some pain meds but our stubborn little boy there refused, sayin' that he was enjoyin' it. So’s anyway, he’ll be startin’ some physical therapy. And oh, man you should see that therapist. Six feet tall, long blond hair, …," he went on.
But Chris was no longer listening. He relaxed back onto the pillow and smiled, vaguely remembering Vin say, ‘I ain’t gonna let some drunken bastard with marital problems keep us from walkin’ outta here.’ Yes, the Vin Tanner he knew was back.
+ + + + + + +
Several days later, the members of the ATF team were all together in a hospital room. Somehow they’d arranged to have Chris and Vin together, despite the fact that their injuries and care would normally have them in different wards. Chris remembered Miss Nettie’s voice as she hounded the hospital administrator into complying with the request.
“You should have been there, Chris,” JD went on, pausing to take a bite of the peach cobbler Nettie had brought. “Whenever we need to requisition more supplies from Miss Lacinski Josiah’s your man. He got everything on the list!”
“Must be some of my charm lessons finally paid off,” Buck tried to explain.
“More likely the fact that he was towering over the poor woman the entire time,” Ezra put in.
More guesses were cut off when there was a knock on the door. The group looked over to see the flower deliveryman at the door, carrying a dozen red roses.
“Looks like your secret admirer is still at it, Vin,” Nathan said with a grin.
“Um, I’m looking for a Buck Wilmington?” the man said, unsure if he was in the right place as he read the address on the card.
“I’m him,” Buck said, standing and approaching the man with a confused expression.
Chris watched the big man as he opened the envelope to retrieve the card inside. Everyone’s attention was on Buck. Everyone’s except Vin’s he noticed. He looked over at the sharpshooter and raised his eyebrow. Vin had already been looking back with a devilish grin.
“From your secret admirer,” Buck read aloud.
He looked immediately at Vin.
“Fuck you, Buck,” he said with a smile.
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