Rating: PG-13 Language. Dark fic.

Disclaimer. I don't own the guys, Trilogy and the other big wigs do. I'm not making any money from this.

Author's Note: This is a sequel to my story Plan B. This story probably won't make much sense if you haven't read that one.
A huge thank you to Mog for letting me play with the ATF guys in her sandbox. (You know...I was thinking. We should replace the word 'sandbox' with the word...'McDonald's'...when we're thanking Mog. 'Cause *then* we could eat hamburgers *while* we're playing with the guys. Um...or not.) Thanks to Judy, Penny and Marla for betaing for me. Please let me know what you think.

 

Nightfall

By: Ruby

 

The Colorado sky was awash with bright oranges and reds as the sun slowly made its descent over the horizon. Ezra Standish and JD Dunne sat quietly in the surveillance van. The two men had already been on their shift for five hours and still had three to go.

When they had started their shift, relieving Chris and Vin, JD was quick to assure his friends that his appointment that afternoon with the psychologist had gone very well. Since then he'd made a few comments to let Ezra know that he was doing just fine. That he wasn't having any problems at all.

Ezra finally shook his head and sighed. He glanced over at his friend. "I don't know who you think you're fooling son, but it's not me."

"What are you talkin' about Ezra?"

Ezra shifted in the van's seat so he was facing the young man. "JD, do you seriously believe that I would fall for your ruse? Me?"

The young man shifted uncomfortably in his seat and turned away from him. "You don't know nothin' 'bout this."

"*I* don't know 'nothin' about this?" Ezra chuckled; a wry, sad sound. He sighed and shook his head. He stared at the steering wheel for a few minutes, trying to decide the best way to start this conversation.

"I..."

Ezra glanced over at JD. The younger man's eyes were bright; his voice soft. He was staring down at his leg; his finger and thumb absently pulling imaginary lint off his jeans. JD cleared his throat and started again.

"I see her...at night. I go to sleep and she's there." JD turned his head and looked directly at Ezra. "She has blood on her and she's got this look on her face, like she doesn't know what's going on and she just stares at me." His mouth pulled down at the corners and he pulled in a couple ragged breaths. "I can't take it anymore, Ez. I...can't."

Ezra watched JD's face grow pale. JD looked away from him, back out the window. His fists were clenched tightly, and rested in his lap. His voice was husky when he finally spoke again.

"I...," he sighed, "I don't want to see her anymore."

Ezra sat quietly, absorbing the younger man's words.

JD turned back to him. "You can't help me. Buck can't help me. That lady psychologist can't help me. None of you understand what it's like. What it feels like to know you killed an innocent person." He shook his head; running his fingers through his hair, he blew out a long breath. "You just don't know."

Ezra frowned and shook his head. JD was peering out the window again. Ezra saw the younger man's mouth move, but didn't hear any sound.

"JD. What?"

JD turned back to him. "I said...I wish it were me, not her. How can I change it? How?" JD looked away, "Sometimes I think about..." He didn't finish the sentence. He looked down at his hands, then back at him.

Ezra's eyes opened wide when he realized what he was seeing in the younger man's eyes. He felt his heart constrict. "JD, son," a soft, scared breath escaped him, "you have to know that killing yourself isn't the answer. You *have* to know that."

JD shook his head. "No. I don't know that. Why? Why isn't that the answer? I mean, it would solve all my problems. There's no way I can go on now. I'm lying to Buck. I'm lying to Chris. I'm lying to everyone. 'Hey, look at me, I'm fine. I don't go out and sit on Annie's grave and think about blowing my brains out. I'm all better now. I took the miracle cure and you don't have to worry about me no more.' I'm sick of pretending. I'm tired of this. Tired of all of this. I wish I could go back to that day. I wish I'd never pulled my gun. I'd let 'em kill me, I wouldn't even try to stop 'em. I'-"

"You'd just stand there and let them go? JD Dunne would just ignore what was happening right in front of him? He'd let them get away to perhaps kill someone else further down the block, or gun someone down while they were trying to steal a car to get away in?"

JD glared at Ezra and shook his head. "Well, I'd try to stop 'em, but I wouldn't pull my gun. I'd-"

"Freeze, ATF. I don't have a gun, but please stop so I can arrest you and put you in jail...or, well hell just go ahead and blow me away instead." Ezra smiled a humorless, grim smile. "Seriously, JD, I know what you're doing. I *know* exactly what you're doing. You rethink every second of the day. You see things that weren't clear then, but are as clear as daylight in your eyes now. *I* know."

JD twisted around in his seat so fast that Ezra didn't even see the hands that grabbed his suit jacket and shoved him farther into his seat.

"NO!" JD's voice was harsh. "No. You don't. You don't have one fuckin' clue!"

Ezra slowly pried the hands from his jacket. "Yes, son...I do."

JD's brow furrowed. He moved away from Ezra. Facing him, he scooted back so he was sitting with his back against the door. He turned his head to the side and looked at him through slitted eyelids. "Ezra?"

Ezra ran a shaking hand down his face. He sighed and looked over at the kid then back at the steering wheel. He didn't want to talk about it, didn't want to even think about it...but it was something he needed to do. He glanced out the side window for a long moment, then finally looked towards JD.

"When I turned sixteen my mother and her husband bought me a sports car for my birthday. Sleek and fast, it was my pride and joy." He swallowed and looked down, his gaze resting on the steering wheel. "It was one of the few times in my life that I had fun. I was staying with my mother at the time. It was the summer. I spent most of it driving that car around. One night I was driving home on a winding country road. I wasn't driving too fast, but I wasn't really paying attention to what I was doing. I drove around a curve, took it too wide."

Ezra took in a shuddering breath. "Suddenly lights filled my view. A car, coming around the bend, right in front of me. I swerved, but it was too late. Our cars hit. Not head on, they just barely clipped each other. But it was enough to send both vehicles flipping end over end."

Ezra bit his bottom lip. He blinked and finally let a long breath out before he continued. "My car landed on its wheels. I somehow got out of my seat belt and slowly made my way over to the other car. That car landed on its top; the wheels were still spinning; smoke was coming out of it. I," he wet his bottom lip and clasped white knuckled hands on the steering wheel, "I saw the driver. It was a young girl, around my age. She was hanging upside down in her seat belt. Her hair hung like a banner below her head. Her," he swallowed, "her eyes were open. They were open, but they weren't seeing anything. Her neck was broken. Her head was just hanging, limp, like it wasn't even connected to her body. It," a shudder ripped through his body, "it was the worse thing I've ever seen."

Ezra could feel the hot tears on his cheeks.

The van was deathly still; their breathing, the only sound.

JD shifted in his seat.

Ezra shook his head, wringing the thoughts out of his mind. Running a hand down his face, he glanced over at the younger man, then back to the steering wheel.

JD didn't make a sound.

"The police and ambulance finally showed up. They asked me what happened. I said I didn't remember. By that time everything was a blur, I couldn't even remember my name. They said that I had a concussion, whisked me away to the hospital. I woke up a few days later. My mother told me that the whole thing was ruled an accident."

He shook his head. "I told her...I kept telling her that it was my fault. That I killed her," Ezra narrowed his eyes and scoffed, "but she said that it was over, that I wasn't to think about it again. But I thought about it all the time. I thought about it every second. Her eyes. Her hair. How white her skin was. The tires, still spinning."

"What...how did you get over it?"

Ezra glanced over at JD. The younger man's face was pale; his eyes bright.

"I was sixteen. I started believing what people told me. I started to think...well, maybe it was an accident. Maybe it wasn't really my fault. Maybe I could live another day. But, at night - I saw her, and I knew that I killed her." He glanced down. "It's the same thing, JD. A bullet, a car, both accidents with the same end result."

JD shook his head vehemently. "No, Ezra. Yours *was* an accident. You didn't mean to kill her. It just happened."

Ezra slowly raised an eyebrow and brought his head up to look at JD. "And you *meant* to kill that girl?"

JD's brow furrowed; he shook his head. "No," he blinked and glanced down, "no. I...," he ran his thumb over his upper lip. Slowly he looked back up.

"I got through it, JD. Yeah, sometimes I think about her. What she would have been, had she lived. Would she have a family of her own now. I think about all sorts of things and you will too, but it will get better. You'll never forget, and by God you don't *want* to forget. But one day you'll wake up and it won't be the first thing you think about, and you'll start to live again."

JD rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and looked away.

Ezra sat, quietly, waiting.

JD stared out the window for a long time. He closed his eyes, pulled in a deep breath and slowly let it out. He nodded his head, like he was finally coming to a conclusion about something, and looked back. "Next Thursday when I meet with the psychologist, maybe I'll talk to her. I mean, really talk to her about what I'm thinking."

Ezra smiled and nodded. "That's a good start, JD." He glanced out the front windshield and ran his thumb down his chin. "And you know you can always talk to your friends." He looked back at JD. "We might not know exactly what you're going through, but we all know about making mistakes and living with the consequences."

JD smiled, "Thanks, Ez." He looked down, then glanced sideways at him. "I know it must have been hard talking about what happened to you."

Ezra cocked his head and thought about it. "Actually, it helped a bit, to talk about it with someone."

JD nodded and smiled.

Ezra shifted in his seat and coughed into his hand. He glanced around the van. "Is there anything to eat in here?"

JD grabbed something from under his seat. "Here's some Twinkies."

"I repeat...is there anything to eat in here?"

JD laughed. It was a sweet sound to hear laughter come from the young man after so much hardship.

Ezra took the creme filled sponge cake from JD and eyed it with disgust. He reached down and grabbed two bottles of water out of the cooler. Handing one to JD, he unscrewed the top off his and took a drink.

JD took the bottle with a smile. "Thanks, Ez." He looked over at Ezra and met his eyes. "Thanks."

Ezra nodded once and grinned. "Now, tell me about this new 'deathtrap' you've recently purchased."

JD smiled, "Actually, I'm thinking about trying to get my old bike back."

He glanced at his friend. JD, for the first time in a long while, had a content look on his face. Ezra nodded, "Like old times, eh?"

JD smiled, a sad smile, and glanced over at Ezra. "Well, no...but...it's a start."

 
April 2000

 

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