Waiting For A
Jonathan Carelli was in jail on charges of gun smuggling and attempted murder of a federal agent. Chris Larabee should have been happy. Carelli was in jail. Team 7 had done a great job on the case. After several weeks of hard work, the case had been resolved without a hitch Tuesday night. No one on the team was injured and the evidence was airtight. This would be the proverbial 'slam dunk'. Chris wasn't exactly certain what had him unsettled, but he had a twinge in his stomach that said something bad was coming.
The team had been restless all week. They had celebrated the completion of the case and then settled in for a couple days of much despised paper work. They all were suffering from let down. The Carelli case required intense preparation, and now that the action was over, the adrenaline rush long past, and the paperwork all but done, they were bored. There were no cases pending for Team 7. Next on the docket was a vacation week for the team.
Chris watched as Buck fired another wad of paper, bouncing it off JD's head. The younger man was furiously working on his report hoping that they could leave early. Larabee chuckled. Buck had finished his report before lunch. He knew the tall ladies man hated paperwork. If left to his own devices he'd probably write, 'Good guys. Bad Guys. We won.'
"Buck!" protested the team's youngest agent as he brushed his long dark hair out of his eyes with his hand. "Knock it off. I've gotta finish this report."
Buck sat back down, entertaining himself by spinning his chair in circles. "Well, hurry up, kid. It ain't a novel, you know." The chair squawked annoyingly as he twirled.
"Buck! Do you mind?" JD took the wads of paper he had collected and pelted the tall dark haired man with return fire.
Chris's attention drifted to Josiah and Nathan. They were deep in discussion, which most assuredly had nothing to do with the ATF or their reports as they flipped through one of Nathan's magazines.
A constant tapping noise distracted Chris. Glancing across the room, his eyes found the source of the sound. Vin sat at his desk staring absently at his computer monitor, his crooked finger beating out a constant staccato on the edge of the keyboard. The tapping stopped suddenly as the longhaired sharpshooter finally sorted out his wording and began to haltingly type using the index finger on each hand.
"Dammit!" The uncharacteristic curse drew all eyes to the southerner. He had spent long hours on his highly detailed report only to see it disappear before his very eyes. After smacking his computer monitor a few times, the normally suave, sophisticated undercover agent whined pathetically, "JD!"
"Aw hell," muttered JD, "I'll never get this damn report done." He saved his file, then walked over to Ezra's desk. Ezra vacated his chair to allow the computer whiz to find his lost report.
Chris looked at the clock and saw that it was only 2:30 p.m. Two and a half hours to go. He sighed. Maybe the gnawing in his stomach was because he was as bored as the rest of the team. Turning his gaze to his computer monitor, he forced himself to return to his own report.
There it was. Chris heard Josiah's Suburban pull up outside the ranch house. He flicked off the light switch, stepped out onto the porch and locked the door. He picked up his backpack and sleeping bag and headed toward the vehicle. Vin met him half way and grabbed his gear, hustling to the rear of the Suburban. Chris laughed at the younger man's urgency. "There's no hurry, Vin."
The Texan nodded toward the side of the vehicle, "Don't tell Ezra that, " Vin said as he piled the gear into the back with the rest of the team's outfits.
Chris looked at the side window and grinned. It was just now 6:30 a.m. and Ezra would never be a morning person. Team 7's normally well-groomed undercover agent lay with the side of his face pressed against the glass, sleeping. His hair stuck up wildly in clumps. Chris chuckled. Josiah probably picked up the southerner first just for fun.
"You want 'shotgun', Chris?" asked Nathan getting out of the front passenger seat.
"Nah. You're already there. I'll sit back here," said Chris climbing into the large vehicle taking the empty seat next to Ezra.
"Morning Chris!" greeted Buck loudly, leaning over the seat right above the southerner's ear. They all laughed as Ezra brushed at his ear with a weary hand as if flicking away a bug.
"What time did you get him up, Josiah?" asked Chris.
Josiah looked in the rearview mirror as he started the Suburban. An evil grin spread across his face. "I picked him up at 5:00 a.m. I don't think he even went to bed. He was waiting outside the apartment when I arrived." Josiah hit a pothole in the driveway and Ezra bounced, smacking his face against the window.
"Must you find every bump in the road, Mr. Sanchez?" complained the southerner as he rubbed his cheek. He looked around groggily and found his pillow had slipped down to the floor. He picked it up and placed it back against the wall of the vehicle.
"Mornin' Ezra," said Chris.
The undercover agent slowly eyed his team leader. He did not remember stopping at Larabee's house. In fact, he didn't remember stopping for anyone but Nathan. "Why do we always start at such an ungodly hour?" Ezra mumbled grumpily before returning his head to rest against his pillow and the window. Chuckles permeated the van again as they settled in for the long drive.
Six hours later Josiah stopped the Suburban at the end of the gravel road and everyone piled out of the vehicle.
"Where is our domicile?" asked Ezra, "All I see are rocks and trees."
"I reckon it's about two miles that-a-way," said Vin pointing north.
Ezra's eyes widened, "No one said anything about hiking."
Chris grinned. "Didn't you bring your gear?"
"Yes, but I was not informed I would have to traverse rugged terrain for two miles just to reach the safe house."
"Quit complaining, Ezra. At least we have a week off." Chris grinned at Assistant Director Travis's plan. Team 7 was on 'assignment' checking out this location for potential use as a safe house. If the bad guys had any of Ezra's dislike for the outdoors, this was a good location.
"Yes, but I would rather have..." Ezra glanced at Larabee's piercing glare. "Never mind. I shall enjoy myself," he muttered.
Chris moved to the back of the vehicle to help unload. Vin was sorting out each man's backpack and miscellaneous gear. "Jeez, Nate, what did you pack in this thing?" Tanner complained as he lifted the heavy pack.
Nathan grinned. "Extra first aid supplies. I figured I'd need them spending a week with y'all."
"What the hell is this?" stormed Chris pulling out what appeared to be a snowboard with wheels. Now he knew why Vin was so anxious to pack his gear into the Suburban for him. If he had seen it then, Chris would have thrown it out.
JD snatched the board and rapidly fired, "It's a Mountain Board Sports Blade 126 with a Laminated Aspen core wrapped in a triaxial glass fiber composite deck to soften the bumps and minimize energy loss, 16" quadshock channel trucks, with 9" spider tread wheels. This board is built for freestyle, downhill or kiteboarding." He paused for a breath as he caressed the board in admiration. "This is really slick, Vin, where'd you get it?"
Only Vin had any clue what the kid had just said and he just grinned and said, "I brought one for you too, JD."
Buck snatched the board from JD. "It looks like something you'd get if you threw a skateboard, snowboard and mountain bike into a cooking pot and stirred."
"Hey!" protested JD, grabbing the board back, "I'll have you know this is one of the finest mountain boards out there."
"Why the hell did you bring these things? Are you looking for another way to kill yourself?" groused Chris. "You guys are an accident waiting for a place to happen without going out of your way to invite trouble." His eyes connected with Vin's. One look was all he needed to know the younger man's thoughts. It's my life Larabee. I can do whatever the hell I want to do with it! Chris hesitated. "Don't expect me to carry one of those things."
"No one asked you to," said Vin quietly.
"Don't expect me to pick up the pieces, either." He muttered. Great Larabee. Tick him off. This is not the way you wanted to start this vacation.
Vin eyed Chris again at that last comment. He knew the team leader didn't mean it. Chris would be there if he were hurt. But, I'm not going to get hurt, Larabee. He tied the board onto the frame of his backpack and slipped it on.
As they began the hike to the cabin, Josiah imparted a bit of wisdom. "You know, Nathan, Hans Steiner, a professor of adolescent psychology at Stanford University, studies 'these extreme athlete kind of guys.' He says that the extreme athlete is half showoff and half cold-blooded killer, and has no business walking around with us normal members of the general public."
Nathan snorted, "You mean they're are like Rambo or Genghis Khan--just a bit more socialized."
Vin ignored the jabs allowing the beauty of the scenery around him to restore his inner calm. He loved being a part of Team 7, but sometimes city life drained him. He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly relishing the pine scent in the fresh air.
Larabee grinned as he watched his sharpshooter. He could tell Vin was losing himself in his surroundings and he was glad for the younger man. Vin needed the wide-open spaces to balance himself. He shook his head, knowing that when Tanner got this way, nothing you said to him mattered. He had a way of isolating himself to refuel even in the midst of a group.
It really wasn't a cabin. It was a sprawling ranch-style four-bedroom house with large living room and two baths. It was decked out with plush furniture and all the amenities. After bounding from room to room, Buck and JD selected the room where they would bunk together. Josiah and Nathan took one of the rooms with twin beds. Ezra took the small room with the single twin bed. Vin claimed the hearth in front of the fireplace although Chris had insisted the king size bed in the master bedroom was more than large enough to share.
Vin needed space right now, that was obvious from the young man's reactions to Chris's comments when they were unloading the Suburban. Something had Vin on edge. It was just a little after two in the afternoon when the longhaired young man grabbed up his mountain board and headed for the door.
"Hey Vin, wait for me!" called JD.
Chris saw the flicker of disappointment cross the sharpshooter's face. He wanted to be alone. However, he watched with pride as his young friend called out, "Well, hurry it up Kid. We got a hill to find."
JD grabbed his board and gear. "C'mon, Buck. It's fun."
Buck shook his head, but followed the pair anyway.
The three men didn't have to go far. There was a nice sized hill rising right behind the house. As they climbed to the top, Vin checked out a potential trail for hazards. Upon reaching the top, Buck watched with fascination as Vin methodically checked out the gear. He checked and tightened loose hardware, and checked the board's bindings. Then he did the same for JD's board. Vin then sat down and put on hip pads, knee pads, elbow and wrist pads. He donned his helmet before pulling on leather gloves. JD followed suit.
"You guys know what you're doing?"
Vin grinned. "Bucklin, just be glad you don't know all we do in our off time." He hooked his front foot into the toehold and pushed off with the rear foot, placing it into the binding.
"Rip it Vin!" yelled JD as Vin let out a banshee yell as he gathered speed slaloming down the hillside.
Buck felt his heart lurch as Vin launched off a rock and grabbed the front side of the back of his board.
"Way cool Indy grab, Vin!" shouted JD. Buck shook his head realizing JD was speaking a language totally foreign to him.
Launching off another rock Vin pulled off a 540 - a twist and a half in mid-air. After a few more tricks, he went into a powerslide dragging his gloved hands on the ground and stopped at the bottom of the hill hollering, "Woo-hoo! C'mon JD!"
After several runs, they got Buck to give it a try. "C'mon, Bucklin. Anyone with a little guts, a little balance and a whole lot of padding can learn the sport. It's only as extreme as you make it."
"Yeah," added JD, "It's just like snowboarding in the summertime. In fact," he said, "it's much easier to learn than snowboarding."
"Of course, you're wrecking on dirt and grass, not snow," grinned Vin, "but that's what the padding is for!"
"Oh, you're real encouraging there, Junior."
As they sat around after dinner, Buck regaled them with the tale of his experience.
"JD's getting ready to do something fun. I'm standing next to him, ready to do something stupid. Junior tells me to keep straight, not get fancy and watch out for the speed-wobbles. And, I'm thinkin', 'What the hell are speed wobbles?' I tell you them big wheels and fat, knobby tires roll over pebbles, rocks, small animals and anything else that gets in the way. There's no brakes, no steering wheel and no reason to be underneath the feet of anybody who pretends to be sane."
"Hey!" protested JD.
"Don't interrupt, Kid. I'm talking," said Buck, slapping the back of JD's head playfully. "Where was I? Oh, yeah. I'm rolling, picking up speed, I follow Junior's instructions: I stay straight and avoid the fancy-pants stuff. Ha! I couldn't do nothin' else. I was so scared I was froze in place like a bad hood ornament." Buck laughed at the mental picture he painted.
"Then them speed-wobbles Junior warned me about start shaking my ride. I look down at the board hopin' that it goes away. The shakes don't go away. I do. I go this way," he said, bringing his left hand across to his right, "and the board goes this way." He threw his right hand across to his left forming an 'X' with his forearms. "And I do a impersonation of the Tasmanian Devil and Ricky Henderson sliding into third base."
Everyone laughed at Buck's description of the ride from hell.
"Then, I jump up. Hell, I'm thrilled to be alive and whacked out from adrenaline pumping through my veins. My helmet's below my eyes and I've got gobs of grass up my nose, and I run around like an idiot for a few seconds. Vin and JD are yelling, 'That's what it's all about, man!'"
Buck joined the laughter of his friends, laughing at himself. After a moment, he composed himself. He looked up at their team leader and said straight faced, "It was fun, Chris. You ought to try it!"
Everyone howled at the look on Larabee's face.
"No, I mean it. C'mon. Let me show you."
Curious, the six men followed Buck out onto the porch. Ezra sat on the far end of the porch with JD close by. The undercover agent didn't really care about mountain boarding, he was simply content to be with his friends. In a moment that he was soon to regret, he was not looking when Buck began his ride.
"See Chris, ya put this foot here. And you push off with this one."
"Uh, Bucklin..." Vin tried to warn, but the taller man moved too quickly.
As Buck pushed off, the board moved a lot more quickly than he expected on the smooth deck. He lost his balance, crashing into JD while the board impacted with the southerner and they all went sprawling over the rail of the deck onto the hard packed soil.
"Aw hell," muttered Chris. "Here we go again."
"How do you feel, Ez?" asked the ladies man with remorse. Ezra was lying on the couch with his leg propped on pillows. An ice bag draped his ankle.
"I don't know, Mr. Wilmington. How would you feel after being hit by a... a...a skateboard on steroids!" grumped Ezra.
"I'm sorry, Ez. It was an accident. Is it broken, Nate?"
Nathan picked up the ice bag, checked the ankle and readjusted the ice. "Hard to tell." He turned his attention to Ezra. "You want something for the pain?"
The southerner didn't want the others to think him soft, but the pain stabbing his ankle was fierce. He gave a slight nod.
Nathan fished the Extra Strength Tylenol from his medical kit. He knew packing the extra supplies would come in handy, but he wished he had something stronger for the southerner's pain. He smiled grimly as he noted that it was only Saturday. The paramedic needed a break as much as the other men did. He hoped Team 7 would not live up to their accident-prone reputation this week. He would keep a close eye on Ezra, and take him to the nearest town in the morning.
"Stupid boards are dangerous," muttered Buck as he walked over to check JD's eye which had collided with his elbow during the crash.
"Mountain boards are fun, Buck," teased JD. "It's the riders who are dangerous."
"JD, put that ice pack back on that eye," ordered Nathan.
"Yes, sir!" JD barked with a salute. A throw pillow hit him in the back of the head, tousling his long hair.
"Hey!" He turned around to see his boss grinning at him. Chris winked and Vin gave him a thumbs up.
Larabee shook his head as he unbuttoned his shirt. He was sure when JD and Vin took off to go mountain boarding yesterday that one of them would break his neck. Riding those skateboards on mountain terrain, now that was an intelligent sport. However, JD and Vin had returned unscathed chattering excitedly about some 'big air' they'd had. What the hell is a 'big air' anyway?
Chris sighed. Separately JD and Vin were manageable, but when you put the two together something got broken or someone got hurt. But, not this time. This time it was Wilmington. He slipped his shirt off and used it to towel the sweat off his face before flinging it on the old woodpile. He grinned over at the sharpshooter who was sitting on the porch leaning comfortably against a post. He seemed to have settled his edginess, or perhaps just buried his problem. "You gonna give me a hand here?"
"Nope. Looks like you've got it under control," said Vin lazily. He tugged the brim of his slouch hat a little lower to shade the late afternoon sun from his eyes.
Chris snorted and picked up the ax. He set a chunk of wood on the block and began to chop. He loved the feel of the smooth ax handle in his hands. He raised the ax over his head and brought it down in an easy motion. The blade hit the wood with a satisfying thunk and the log split into two parts. He picked up one half and put it on the block, again bringing the sharp blade down and splitting the wood. He settled into a rhythm, allowing the hard physical labor to clear his mind.
Vin settled back against the post of the porch rail watching his best friend work. The Texan enjoyed beautiful things and Chris Larabee was just that - beautiful. True, the blonde man was physically handsome, and he certainly was fit, but it was the intricacies of the finely tuned muscles as they rippled beneath his smooth skin with each swing of the ax that captured Vin's attention. The sharpshooter marveled at the way muscles combined to make the ax raise above Chris's head and then cooperated to bring the blade crushing into the hard wood. He followed the line of a trail of sweat running down Larabee's chest, but stopped at the scar, a harsh reminder of sacrifices made due to his line of work.
He was brought out of his contemplation by a chunk of wood flying at him, landing at his feet. Looking up at Larabee, Vin saw Chris grin mischievously trying to cover the fact that he had tossed the wood at his friend.
"Where'd you go, Cowboy?" asked Chris.
"Just observing the wonders of God's creation."
"Well, how about one wonder helping another wonder collect up this wood and carry it in?"
Vin grinned, moving to help Chris. As he began to pick up pieces of wood and stack them, the sharpshooter began to chuckle at an apparently private joke.
Chris shook his head. The quiet Texan was always a bit of a puzzle to him. He had such a unique view on the world. He saw beauty in simple things where others would not even think to look. He was taciturn, rarely offering his opinion, but when he did speak, you listened. You knew he had something worth saying. What had just tickled the younger man's fancy Chris didn't know, but he enjoyed hearing the purity of Vin's rare laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"The look on Bucklin's face when he figured out what he caught fishin'. Or rather, who he caught."
Chris grinned. They had been fly-fishing early that morning. Buck had certainly caught the big one. "Well, Josiah's face was pretty priceless too!"
"Yeah, Ol' Bucklin's going to be doing penance for awhile."
"And Josiah's going to be sitting a bit gingerly."
"Good thing Nathan brought along that big first aid kit."
"Well, you guys are accidents..."
"I know, I know, waiting for a place to happen," said Vin slightly defensive. "But it weren't me, JD or Ezra causing it this time!"
The tension had returned. "I know, Cowboy," responded Chris with a gentling tone. He knew the youngest members of Team 7 didn't intentionally set out to get in to trouble, it just seemed to shadow them. Chris reached over to the woodpile and picked up his shirt. He slipped it on. As he adjusted the shirt, the collar rubbed on the back of his head and he felt a bite. He slapped at the nuisance. "Damn mosquitoes!"
Vin snorted and grinned. "Serves ya right, Cowboy." Instantly regret crossed the younger man's face as he turned away from Chris.
Chris didn't miss Vin's grimace. Whatever was bothering his friend was back in full force. Chris sighed. He would not push Vin. He respected the Texan's privacy. If Vin wanted to talk, he would.
Angry with himself, Tanner turned his attention to the magnificent display of colors before them. In just a few more minutes, the sun would drift behind the mountains and darkness would blanket the day. He sighed. Forget it, Tanner. He doesn't know it bugs you. Just let it go. The sharpshooter forced himself to relax, and soon he lost himself in the sunset.
Vin's silent appreciation of the sun's artwork drew Chris in with him. The two sat down on the edge of the porch letting the beauty of the sky wash over them and calm their frustrations.
"You think they'll be back tonight?" asked Vin.
"I doubt it. Buck's got some major kissing up to do. I figure he'll probably take 'em to dinner."
Buck had taken Josiah and Ezra to Crawfordsville, a little town two hours south, to have them checked out. Nathan wanted Josiah to have a tetanus update, and Ezra's ankle needed to be x-rayed. Nathan would have gone with them, but Buck had insisted that it was his responsibility and Nate needed a vacation. Chris grinned at the picture in his mind of Buck carrying Ezra piggyback as they hiked the two miles back to the Suburban. Buck insisted it would be better than stumbling around and causing further damage to Ezra's injured ankle. The southerner had made sure that everyone had known that he was entirely unhappy with the situation.
After the sun disappeared from view Chris stood and headed to the woodpile. He shivered slightly. "Cooling off fast."
Vin looked at the clouds to the north. "Yeah. Looks like we're gonna have some weather. Might get nasty."
"Well, then we'd better get some wood inside." Chris reached over to the woodpile and began to pick up some logs for the fireplace. He tossed a few logs to Tanner and they carried them inside. Depositing his load of wood beside the fireplace, Chris let Vin tend to the fire. He was tired. He sat wearily on the couch and massaged the back of his neck which was beginning to ache. Must be getting old, Larabee. He leaned back and let his mind fade into oblivion as he stared into the flames dancing in the fireplace
Spending four hours in a clinic waiting room was not their idea of fun. Ezra's ankle was throbbing mercilessly and Josiah was wriggling in his chair trying to find a comfortable position. Buck was none too comfortable either as the guilt gnawed at him. He had caused these injuries to three of his closest friends and he really felt badly about it.
The nurse at the reception desk was a pretty little thing, but Buck didn't feel like flirting. "Excuse me, Miss?"
"Mr. Wilmington, Mr. Standish will be next to be seen." The blonde knew his question before he asked it. He had asked the same question repeatedly over the past four hours.
Buck patted his hand on the counter nervously. "Thank you."
She smiled at the handsome man. "I'm sorry you have had to wait so long. We had an emergency."
"I understand, Miss. It's just that Ezra's hurtin' quite a bit."
"It will be just a few more minutes."
As she spoke, another nurse entered the waiting area. "Ezra Standish?"
Buck moved to assist his friend to the exam room.
Vin chuckled as he glanced up at Larabee. Chris was sitting in the same spot he had deposited himself fifteen minutes ago after carrying in the wood, except now his chin was dropped forward on his chest and he was snoring softly.
Nathan, seated next to Vin on the floor in front of the fire, glanced up to see what was amusing the sharpshooter. Seeing Chris in his awkward position, Nathan commented, "He's gonna get a stiff neck."
"Well, I don't wanna wake him, and I sure ain't gonna carry him to bed. Maybe we can just make him a little more comfortable," said Vin rising to his feet. He moved over to the couch, positioned the pillows, and gently pushed Chris over on his side. It crossed his mind that Chris felt a little warm, but he shrugged it off attributing it to the roaring fire. He lifted Chris's legs up onto the couch and grinned as Nathan produced a blanket to cover their team leader. Chris snorted a couple of times and snuggled into the pillow, but otherwise didn't protest the movement.
"Night, sleeping beauty," said Vin.
Nathan grinned. "Good thing he ain't awake!"
Nathan's cell phone rang. "Jackson."
"Hey, Nate. It's Buck. Umm... we're not going to make it back tonight. The clinic took longer than we expected, and they want Ezra back at 10:00 a.m. to put on a cast."
"So it is broken?"
"Yeah. Got him splinted up and on pain meds. I'm taking both of them for dinner and then we'll stay at the motor inn here."
Nathan's phone started beeping. "Damn. My battery's running down."
"Okay, I'll make it quick. We'll probably stay long enough to eat lunch, so I wouldn't expect us back until around 3:00 or so."
"All right, Buck. See ya then. Oh, and bring me a charged cell phone. Don't want to have to hike back to the car the next time you hurt someone." Nathan teased.
"I... Aw hell, Nathan. Never mind. See ya tomorrow."
There was only one place in Crawfordsville to eat. It also served as the only tavern and the only game room. Ezra frowned. This didn't look promising for a decent meal. It didn't matter. He didn't really feel like eating anyway.
Buck held the door open for Josiah and Ezra. He had already promised them he was buying. He owed them. The sound of kids enjoying a game of air hockey wafted out the door. Too bad JD wasn't here. He could challenge him to a match. The kid loved the stupid game - air blowing through a table to 'float' a 3 1/4-inch round plastic puck, your opponent using his striker to try to drive the puck into your goal. Buck shrugged to himself. He loved the game too. As he stepped through the door, he heard the familiar ca-chink of plastic on plastic as one of the players went for a slap shot.
Buck couldn't move fast enough to avoid the fluorescent yellow hard plastic disc that sailed off the air table, connecting painfully with his forehead. He stumbled backward from the impact, catching his balance on the doorframe.
"Wow, mister. Are you okay?" asked the teenage girl.
"Shannon, you cut his head!" accused her opponent. "We're really sorry, mister!"
Buck touched his fingers gingerly to his forehead. Pulling his hand away, he examined the blood staining his fingers. Yep. It was cut. He glanced over at Ezra and Josiah who were shaking their heads at his misfortune, trying not to laugh. Buck handed over two twenties. "Enjoy dinner boys. I'm going back to the clinic."
Chris woke to a painful headache. He blinked and rubbed his eyes. Where the hell am I?
"Hey Cowboy. You okay?"
Vin. The trip. He was in the safe house.
"You don't look fine."
"I'm just tired." Chris rubbed his stiff neck muscles. Dang, my neck hurts. He sat up and rubbed his neck some more.
"Neck botherin' ya?"
"Just a little stiff."
"Did ya over do, Old Man?" grinned Vin.
"I can out do you any time," Chris snapped.
"Yeah, right," scoffed the sharpshooter. Seeing Larabee grimace, Vin climbed out of his sleeping bag. "Need some magic fingers?" he offered raising his hands and wiggling his fingers.
Larabee smiled. "Wouldn't mind." Vin Tanner did have magic hands. His long, slender fingers had massaged the tension right out of Chris a number of times.
Vin moved behind him and laid his hands on the tense muscles. "Wow. You're really tight."
Chris sighed as thumbs pressed into tense muscles and fingers began to knead gently. The thumbs moved in gentle circular motions, gradually pressing harder. Chris relaxed back into the touch feeling the stiffness ease.
After a few minutes, Vin patted him on the shoulders. "How's that, pard?"
Chris sighed. That was answer enough for Vin. "I'm going to grab a beer. You want one?"
As Vin made his way to the kitchen, Chris frowned. His neck was tensing up again. Much tighter this time. His shoulders cramped painfully. What the hell? The team leader clutched at his chest and fell forward onto the hardwood floor as severe pain tore through him.
"Chris!" Two beer cans hit the floor when Vin saw his friend curled on the floor writhing in pain. He ran to him and knelt beside him. "Chris what's wrong?" he asked anxiously.
"Hurts," gasped Larabee, barely squeezing out the word.
Vin's first yell had awakened the paramedic, but the panic in the second call drove him from the bed. He stumbled sleepily to the front room followed by JD, who had also awaked to the call. "What the hell?" he raced to Chris's side, dropping to his knees.
Chris groaned and rocked back and forth trying to ease the pain.
"Chris, where does it hurt?"
"Chest..." he moaned.
"JD, get the first aid supplies. The blue backpack in my room. Vin, help me roll him on his back." They rolled Chris, but he instinctively tried to curl up again.
"Easy Chris. Are you feeling any pain in your left arm?"
"Damn," muttered Nathan under his breath as a twinge of fear shot up his spine. He checked Chris's pulse and found it racing.
"Here Nathan!" JD set the pack down beside Nate.
"Get me some aspirin."
JD dove into the bag and came up with Motrin. "Here."
"No, JD. Damn it, I said Aspirin!" Nathan snapped revealing his apprehension.
"Sorry," whispered JD meekly. Suddenly more fearful, he dug quickly through the pack, finding the aspirin. "Got it."
"Give him one," ordered the paramedic.
"I don't know, JD." Nathan wasn't about to tell the young man what he really thought was happening. But JD was an intelligent man. It didn't take much for him to put together chest pain, pain in the left arm, and aspirin.
"He's having a heart attack?" he asked in shock.
Chris's eyes shot open and he tensed in fear.
"Easy, Cowboy," assured Vin patting Chris's shoulder, but trying to stay out of Nathan's way.
Damn it, JD, I didn't want to scare him, thought Nathan. "Take it easy Chris. I don't know what is happening yet." Nathan put the aspirin in the team leader's mouth. "Swallow."
Chris practically choked on the aspirin as muscles in his chest spasmed. He grunted and wrapped his arms across his chest again.
"JD, get on your phone. Call for help."
"I I didn't bring my phone, Nathan." JD dropped his chin. His shoulders sagged in defeat. Chris might be dying and he hadn't brought his stupid phone. "I'm sorry, Chris," he whispered. He had failed them.
"Vin?" asked Nathan.
Vin shook his head. He had left his phone at home as well. His lips tightened into a thin line. He tightened his grip on Chris's shoulder.
"Damn it!" This time Nathan didn't bother to try to hide his displeasure. Chris was likely having a heart attack, and he had no way to get him to the hospital.
Comments to: JK