Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish and MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes.
AU: ATF - Thanks Mog! :)
Author's Notes: This is a sequel to Getting to the Getting There. I posted this story to the Dunne's Darlins and then forgot to put it up on a page.
Getting There is Half the Fun
Sequel to Getting to the Getting There
Chris walked out of the U-Haul office, his face dark, his jaw clenched.
Buck and JD leaned against a truck in the parking lot.
"You're not going to believe this," Chris hissed out. "They don't have any crew cab trucks. Just regular cabs." He glared at Buck, like it was all his fault.
Grinning, Buck shrugged. "So?"
Chris widened his eyes. "So? I'm not going to stuff all three of us into a truck for three days... on one seat." He shook his head, sighing deeply.
"So, try another U-Haul office," Buck told him.
Chris stared at him. "No. You don't get it. They don't *have* crew cab trucks. They only use regular cab trucks for some reason."
"Hmmm." Buck rubbed his mustache. "That just seems... goofy."
"I can... "
"No." Both men cut JD's speech off.
"Come on, Chris," Buck cajoled. "Just rent the damn truck so we can get a start today. It won't be that bad." He looked up at the sky innocently.
"Right." Chris rolled his eyes. "Fine. But when we're half way through Ohio and I kill you, don't say I didn't warn you."
Buck tried to hide his grin. "I won't."
With a huff, Chris stalked back into the office.
"Whoo wee," Buck shook his head. I sure wouldn't want to be those people working in there today." He smiled at JD.
JD was quiet, a far off look on his face.
"What'cha thinkin' about, kid?"
JD shrugged. "Just can't believe I'm leaving here. I've lived here all my life."
Buck looked down, "Yeah." He perked up. "But you'll really love Denver. The mountains are something else. And Chris' ranch is right up there in them. You'll just love it. And the horses..."
"Chris has horses?"
"Huh." JD looked thoughtful.
"You like horses?"
"I mucked out stalls at a racetrack for three years. Only got to ride a couple times. Always thought I might like to have a horse, though. I almost got my head kicked off once. Hoof caught me right here." He pointed to a white scar on his temple. Knocked me out and everything." He shrugged, grinning. "Still, I think having a horse would be pretty cool."
Buck stared at him.
Chris walked out, a set of keys dangling in his right hand and paperwork clutched in his left. "Okay, let's get this show on the road." He walked straight up to a truck and climbed inside.
Buck and JD waited outside the passenger door for Chris to unlock it.
Finally, with a huff, Chris reached over and pulled the lock up.
"Is this how the whole trips gonna be?" JD asked a smiling Buck.
Buck's smile grew. "We can only hope."
JD shook his head and then climbed inside. He glanced warily at Chris before trying to dig his seatbelt out from between the seat and the seat back. He grabbed it and started pulling, but the rest of it was behind Chris.
Chris gave him a dark look.
Blushing furiously, JD chuckled uneasily. "Sorry, Mr. Larabee, but my seat belt is stuck back there."
Sighing dramatically, Chris leaned forward and then tried to hide his smile while JD pulled the seat belt out and held it like a snake.
"Okay. Good. Thanks," JD said, relieved. He snapped the belt into place.
Buck climbed up next to him, easily fastening his belt and then glancing over at Chris. "Well, come on. What are you waiting for?"
"I might not wait until Ohio to kill you," Chris told him and then pulled out into the busy Boston traffic.
JD was going to die. He'd never ridden with such an aggressive driver. Chris Larabee was a demon on wheels.
"Come on!" Larabee hissed. "Get that shitbox out of the way. Hey, don't pull in this lane... already occupied, asshole. Didn't they put turn signals on that year?"
JD slouched down further in his seat. He glanced over to find Buck dozing, his head hanging, his chin on his chest, his body held upright by his seatbelt. "Must be nice," he huffed under his breath as he narrowed his eyes at the big man.
It hadn't taken them long to load up JD's furniture and motorcycle. And now they were officially on the road... on the way to Denver... where JD would have a new job. He shuddered.
His life had been upended in two days. JD glanced over at Chris, who looked like an all-business secret service agent behind his dark sunglasses. He and Chris had only shared a few words so far on the trip. JD wondered if he'd changed his mind and wished he'd never offered him the spot on his team.
Just then JD's stomach rumbled loud enough to startle Buck out of his light sleep.
"We have a flat tire?" Buck asked, making a pretense of looking around before he grinned down at JD's red face.
"Sounds like the kid's starving to death." Chris smirked.
JD ducked his head.
Buck looked out the windshield. "Hey, there's a sign for McDonald's."
"We're not eating at McDonald's," Chris told him. "You just want to hit on the mothers out in the play area."
"No harm in that," Buck defended.
"Is if they're married."
"How was I to know?"
"She was standing there with her husband," Chris growled, his voice high.
JD looked back and forth at them, like watching a tennis match.
"I didn't know it was her husband. Could have been a friend or her brother... or... like a distant relative or something."
"He had his arm around her, Buck, and was nibbling on her ear."
"Oh, yeah." Buck looked abashed.
JD's stomach rumbled again.
"Fine. We'll eat at McDonald's," Chris bit out, clicking his turn signal on and moving over one lane.
"The exit's coming up."
"I see it, Buck."
"There it is."
"Don't miss it."
"Good Christ almighty, Wilmington. I'm getting on the exit ramp for God's sake."
"Just wanted to make sure you didn't miss it."
Chris' lip curled up in a snarl. "I'm *so* going to kill you."
Grinning madly, Buck nudged JD with his elbow. "So, getting a Happy Meal, kid?"
"Ha Ha. Funny." JD rolled his eyes.
"They have those Kid's Meals, for older kiddies." Buck bobbed his eyebrows.
"Whatever, Buck," JD made a face at him as he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket.
"I've got it, kid," Chris told him in his no nonsense tone as he pulled into the McDonald's parking lot.
Chris glared over at him.
"Um... okay." JD swallowed hard, pushing his wallet back into his pocket. "Thanks," he whispered.
Chris pulled up behind the last car in line at the drive thru. "Hope no one has to go to the bathroom."
"No. That's fine, Chris. We'll just piss our pants, here."
"Whatever, Buck. Get out and go, then," Chris told him.
"You're in the drive thru."
"Just tell me what you want and I'll order it and you can run in. Do you have to go, JD?"
"No!" JD squeaked out.
Buck laughed. "If he didn't, he does now."
The truck was silent as all three men ate. Chris wadded his cheeseburger wrapper up and threw it in the bag between Buck's feet.
"He shoots. He scores," Buck said around a mouthful of Double Cheeseburger.
JD licked salt off his fingertips as he pulled another French fry out of the box. "Mmm."
"Think you'll live another few hours, now, JD?" Chris smirked over at him.
JD shrugged. "I might." He grinned at him.
"Good," Chris nodded once and then returned his attention to the road.
Half an hour later, JD wasn't feeling as good. His stomach churned. He swallowed hard. He glanced over to find Buck giving him a funny look.
"Okay, kid?" Buck asked him.
JD just nodded, not trusting his stomach not to rebel if he opened his mouth.
"Ah... Chris, you might want to find a rest area," Buck said urgently.
"Why?" Chris looked over at Buck and then at JD. He frowned in alarm.
JD felt hot and then cold. A sweat broke out on his face. "I need..." his voice sounded strangled and he swallowed hard.
Chris pulled the truck over to the side of the road.
JD was pushing against Buck before the older man could even get his seatbelt off and the door open. As soon as JD's feet hit the ground, he was on his hands and knees, throwing up his lunch.
"Damn, kid," Buck said grimly.
It was a few minutes before JD felt like he wasn't going to be sick again. He sat up on his knees. Suddenly, a bottle of water was in his hand. He gave a thankful look up to Buck and then took a long swig, rinsing his mouth out and then spitting the water into the grass. He drank some from the bottle then. He felt a hand on his arm, Buck helping him up. He slowly stood, swaying slightly.
Buck was frowning at him. "Damn, kid. You look like shit."
JD just nodded.
Kid looked like hell, Buck thought, as he helped him climb back in the truck.
Chris frowned over at them, concern hidden by a dark mask. "Okay, kid?" Larabee asked.
JD nodded, but didn't say anything.
Buck shut the door, put his seatbelt on and then started to put JD's belt on for him. His heart sped up when JD didn't complain or stop him. "You gonna be okay, kid?"
"Yeah," JD whispered.
Chris pulled back onto the highway.
All sorts of thoughts were buzzing around in Buck's head. The kid was sick. He had an infection. How long ago had he been shot? Two months? The wound should be healed by now, but what if... He glanced down at JD, to find the younger man slouched down, his head leaned back against the seat, all color gone from his face. Damn, he looked bad.
Buck didn't know much about sick kids. The only kid he'd been around, besides himself, was Adam. And Adam had always been healthy as a horse. Oh, he knew JD wasn't a kid. He was twenty-three, for god's sakes but he was still so young. Too young.
"Feeling better, yet?" Buck asked JD, his voice soft, concerned.
JD opened his eyes and looked up at him. He smiled slightly. "Yeah, Buck. I am."
Buck exchanged a relieved look with Chris, whose hand was white knuckled on the steering wheel.
"You want us to go ahead and find a hotel for the night?" Chris asked JD, sparing a quick glance down at him.
JD shook his head. "I'm okay. We can keep going."
Chris nodded. "Just let us know if you need to stop."
"I will," JD whispered. "Sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry about, JD." Buck smiled down at him. "If anything, we should be suing McDonald's right about now," he said, pretty sure it wasn't the food, but wanting to take JD's mind off it.
JD looked at him thankfully. "Yeah. McDonald's." He gulped. "Don't know if I'll ever be able to eat it again."
Chris shook his head sadly. "That's too bad, kid, 'cause that's what we're eating for the rest of the trip."
Swinging his head over to gape at him, JD laughed lightly when he saw Chris grinning down at him.
Buck laughed at the look on JD's face.
JD wriggled back into the seat, making himself comfortable, and then almost immediately fell asleep.
Chris and Buck glanced at each other, both concerned.
Shrugging his 'I don't know' look, Buck shook his head.
Chris sighed, glancing down at the young man and then back at the road.
"Chris, you're gonna get carpal tunnel if you flip one more person off."
Buck's aggravated voice woke JD from his sleep; he sat quietly, with his eyes closed, listening to the two men's conversation.
"I'll stop flipping them off when they learn how to drive."
"They know how to drive, Chris. They just don't know *your* way of driving." He bugged his eyes out. "'Get out of my way or I'll run right over you. Take no prisoners. Die. Die. Die.'" He smiled happily. "Sound about right?"
"Whatever, Buck." Chris glared over at him. "Who started the fight on I-10 when we were coming home from leave that year?"
Buck sat back, wilting in defeat. "Jesus, Chris. That was like... twelve years ago. How do you remember these things?"
"How can you forget a barroom brawl on the side of the highway? Like twenty cars stopped, the drivers getting into it. And then the local chapter of the Hell's Angels showed up. Traffic was backed up for hours."
"Well," Buck defended, "that guy in the Pinto made me mad."
"Helicopters circling around," Chris continued as if Buck hadn't spoken. "They called SWAT out. It was on the six o'clock news."
"The Ten O'clock news."
"All right, Chris."
"It was on Dateline."
"Time Magazine made it their Event of the Year."
"Now *that* I know isn't true. I'd have copies of it if it were," Buck barked out a laugh.
Chris smiled fondly, shaking his head. "So, JD," he said without looking down at him, "you feeling better?"
JD started. "How did you know I was awake?"
"Ex-SEALs." Buck pointed at Chris and then himself as he grinned down at JD. "Can't hide much from us."
"SEALs, huh?" JD asked. "What's that stand for?"
Puffing up, Buck answered, "Sea, Air, La-"
"That's nice," JD cut him off, a bored smile on his face. Laughing at Buck's indignant glare, JD slowly sat up in his seat, looking around. "Where are we?"
"'Bout an hour from our stop tonight," Chris answered, shaking his head, his eyes crinkling.
JD nodded, and then hid a huge yawn behind his hand.
"We thought we'd eat when we got to the hotel. That suit you, kid?" Chris asked.
"Sure," JD sighed. "Not sure I can ever eat again, though."
"Well, if you don't eat, you'll just waste away to nothing." Buck looked down at JD, but his smile faded away. He blinked a few times, silent, as he pictured the gun under JD's chin, the kid's pale hand trembling, finger on the trigger. Shuddering, Buck turned away, staring out the window.
JD looked at him, his brow furrowed. "Everything all right, Buck?"
Chris glanced over and then away.
"Sure, kid. Just..." he shrugged. "Been a long day, you know?"
JD's eyes narrowed. "Yeah. Sure." He sat still for a moment and then leaned forward, turning the radio on and then fiddling with the knob. Nickelback blared loudly through the speakers. Buck jumped.
Laughing, JD turned the radio down. "Yeah, you SEALS. Nothing scares you."
Buck leaned over, smashing JD back into his seat with the weight of his body and his elbow, while he turned the knob, going through stations and static as fast as he could. Finally, a talk radio station came on..
"Come on, Buck. I don't want to listen to this crap," JD tried to reach for the radio.
Buck slapped his hand away. "Age before..." He glanced down at him. "Not beauty, that's for sure," he scoffed. "If you was any paler, kid, you'd be a gh-" he shrugged, looking uncomfortable as he sat up.
JD stared at him. "Yeah." He sighed, looking down.
The three sat in awkward silence for a few miles.
"So," JD shrugged. "Um... what about the rest of the team? What are they like?"
Buck smiled. "Well, we've got Vin Tanner. He's our sharpshooter. One hell of a shot." Buck nodded, glancing over at Chris. "And just a real good guy, long as you don't piss him off." He raised an eyebrow.
JD perked up. "How do you piss him off?" he asked, his eyes wide.
Buck shook his head, looking at him gravely. "Just don't."
Swallowing hard, JD looked over at Chris and then back at Buck. "Um... okay."
Chris laughed. "He's bullshitting you, JD. Vin don't piss off easy."
"Yeah, but if he did, man, I bet there'd be fireworks," Buck laughed, shaking his head.
"Ezra Standish is our undercover man. He's ex-FBI out of Atlanta," Chris said.
Buck rolled his eyes.
"Josiah Sanchez is our profiler. Anything you need to talk about, he's a good one for it," Chris looked over at JD, stern. "You'll be talking to him when we get back."
JD's eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth.
Chris glared at him.
JD snapped his mouth shut.
"Nathan Jackson," Buck said. "He's our medic. I tell you, he can put anyone back together." Buck pursed his lips and stared down at JD. It seemed like everything Buck said reminded him of JD's struggle with the gun. The kid had put the gun under his chin, cocked it and put his finger on the trigger. There weren't any bullets in the gun, but JD didn't know that. Hell, he *still* didn't know that. The kid must still think that Chris had given him a loaded gun and then told him to blow his brains out. Buck's hands trembled. He knew he'd never forget that it.
JD had thrown the gun away, but not before seriously thinking about killing himself. And he hadn't killed himself that night, but Buck wondered if he still thought about it. JD had been upbeat since he'd been with them, never once mentioning that evening, and that bothered Buck to no end.
Not that Buck wanted to kid to be depressed or anything, but he did fret about the fact that JD hadn't talked about it... his want to kill himself. And the reason. Surely JD was blocking the young woman's death from his mind, worried about his new job, his trip cross country. But what about when it all came back to him? When he let himself think about it?
What would he do then? Buck couldn't imagine the guilt from killing an innocent person. Sure, he had killed before, but only in self defense, and even then, it bothered him. JD was soft hearted, Buck could tell. It must have destroyed him when it happened. When he knew that *his* bullet had hit the waitress. How horrible, Buck shuddered again, goose bumps rising on his chilled skin. Poor kid.
Buck shook himself out of his reverie and glanced over to find both men staring at him. Chris looked away, returning his attention to the road, but JD continued to gaze at him, his face scrunched up in concern.
JD swallowed hard, his eyes wide. "Buck, you sure you're okay? Now you're the one who's paler than a ghost." He laughed lightly.
"Oh, sure." Buck smiled widely. "Just thinking about something is all." He shrugged. "So, who did we miss?"
"We got them all," Chris said, and then glanced over at him. "Unless you count Judge Travis."
"Well," Buck told him. "He's not really a judge anymore. But we still call him that. He's the assistant director. Our boss, basically. And you'll have to meet him." Buck drew in a sharp breath and looked at Chris. "Did you tell Travis about JD?"
Chris shook his head. "Nah, thought we'd get JD home first, get him healthy looking," he winked at JD, "so when the judge meets him, he's not looking like death warmed over."
"I don't look that bad," JD muttered. "Is he really that bad?" he asked Chris seriously.
"Travis is going to love your record, JD. You don't have anything to worry about."
"But," JD looked over at Buck and then back at Chris. "You don't think he's going to like *me*?" His voice rose higher. "He won't like the way I look?" his tone was edged with fear.
Buck slapped him on the knee. "That's not what Chris is saying." He shook his head. "It's just... you look damn young, kid. Get you outside a bit, maybe get some color on your skin, make sure you're not drinking anymore..."
JD took a sharp breath in. "Oh," he whispered and looked down. "I see."
"And," Buck continued. "Just seems like you might need a break for a while, 'fore you go back to work. We thought you could stay out at Chris' ranch for a while. I might hang out there too. And you can just take a break. Go horseback riding. Stuff like that. We can invite the guys out, so they can all meet you..." his voice drifted off when JD didn't look back up. He exchanged a worried look with Chris.
"You have to make sure I'm not crazy, that I won't off myself. Have to make sure that I won't kill any more innocent people," JD mumbled, his head down. "Have to know if you can trust me."
"Kid, that's not it," Buck reasoned.
"Sure. I understand," he glanced up and then back down. "Don't worry about it. I don't blame you."
"Kid," Chris told him, "that's really not what's going on. We want to make sure you're okay, that's all."
JD didn't say anything, just stared at his hands clasped in his lap.
Chris sighed. "Our exit's coming up," he said, his voice hoarse. "I think we all need some sleep."
Buck nodded. "Sounds good to me."
"Yeah," JD whispered.
JD didn't remember much about the rest of the trip. It was a blur: riding cramped in the truck, stopping at greasy spoons, Buck pointing out to Chris all the sightseeing attractions they were missing and two more nights in hotels. He'd been sick during most of it. Sick enough that Buck wanted him to get checked out at a hospital. JD had told him that he was fine. The older man didn't believe him, but said they could wait until they got home and have Nathan check him out.
JD sighed, looking out the windshield at the Colorado mountains. This would be his new home. Everything and everyone that he knew was gone. He was alone now. He glanced over at Chris and then darted a look at Buck. These men had been nice to him, caring, but that didn't make them friends. Didn't make him any less alone.
"Hey kid," Buck smiled over at him and then gazed out the windshield. "Sure is a sight, isn't it?"
Swallowing hard, JD nodded once. "Yeah."
His eyes narrowing, Buck glanced over at him. "Okay, kid?"
JD nodded again. "Sure." He didn't fail to notice the glance Chris sent his way.
Cocking his head, Chris sighed deeply. "Won't be too much longer until we're home. Get you settled in, get some food in you."
JD licked his lips and then ducked his head. "Okay."
Chris frowned over at Buck, who just shrugged in confusion.
"Second thoughts?" Buck nudged JD with his elbow.
Looking up at him, JD sighed. "Don't know." He glanced over at Chris and then back. "Just... " his voice drifted off, he swallowed back the 'scared.' "It's all right. I'm fine."
Buck nodded, smiling like he didn't believe him. "If you say so, kid."
"Here we are."
Chris' voice woke JD from his light doze. He sat up, looking around. They were driving down a long winding driveway. At the end, a large ranch sprawled out in front of them. The main house, looking more like an oversized log cabin, a huge barn and a few sheds spread out sporadically. What caught JD's attention, though, was the corrals full of horses.
"You *live* here?" JD asked, his voice full of awe. He leaned forward as far as the seatbelt would let him. Mountains filled the horizon beyond the green pastures. It was a picture. "Wow," he breathed out.
Chuckling lightly, Buck shook his head. "So, does it meet with your approval?"
JD didn't answer, just bobbed his head while still taking it all in.
Chris shot a wry glance at Buck. "Well, we got him here. I think the real adventure comes next."
Buck grinned. "Oh yeah."
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