Rating: T - Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes.  I'm switching over to these Fiction Ratings. This story has a bit of adult humor, bad language and violence.

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish and MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes. Cops belongs to Fox and others. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is owned by Best Brains, Inc. I don't own Wrestling at the Chase, or any of the wrestlers noted. I don't own anything at all.

AU: ATF - Thanks Mog! :)

Author's Notes: I've been working on this story for over a year. It just didn't work for me. And then one night I watched an episode of Cops that really bothered me, and I thought... hmmmm, if it bothered me... imagine if the guys were watching... and... Well, here's the story. I owe a lot to Phyllis, besides betaing the story, she put a lot into it, giving me a motorcyclist's point of view.

Protection

By: Ruby

It was Buck and JD's turn to host 'Poker Night' at their place, but there wasn't much poker going on. Someone had turned on the TV and all seven agents had gotten engrossed in the 'Cops-A-Thon' - three hours of back-to-back 'Cops' episodes. Toss in the remarks and comments from the seven lawmen and the evening was turning into a 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' version of 'Cops.'

JD was having a good time. Situated on the sectional sofa between Buck and Vin, he had scrunched himself back into the over-stuffed cushions, feet up on the coffee table, blanket drawn up to his chin. Every so often, he'd have to reach a hand out from underneath the warmth to take a drink of his soda, which Buck was nice enough to hand him and then set back down. JD was content, satisfied, a long ways away from where he'd been at the beginning of the week.

JD had taken a tumble during a bust. He'd fallen down a flight of stairs, banging his head twice, wrenching his shoulder and bruising the heck out of his knee. But he got his man in the end. JD couldn't help but smile proudly, until he'd remembered *why* he'd fallen down the stairs to begin with. He was trying to take down the culprit in a flying tackle. Only he didn't notice how close to the stairs they were. They both went down the flight of stairs, coming to rest on the landing in a jumbled heap.

Buck had relentlessly teased him that the only reason he'd *gotten* his man was because JD had knocked him out when he'd landed on top of him.

But still, JD thought, it all worked out in the end. The only down side to his week, besides feeling like crap, was that Buck was stressed out. It hadn't helped that JD had spent the night in the hospital, worrying the heck out of his roommate. But Buck, between being worried about JD and mad at his 'reckless' actions, had spent the entire past week alternating between wanting to take care of him and take his head off at the same time. Needless to say, JD was hoping this get together with the rest of the team would help calm Buck down.

JD's attention came back to the screen when he heard Buck groan beside him.

"Oh, no, kid. Don't do it," Buck said to the TV.

On the screen, the police were attempting to pull over a young man on a motorcycle. They were in a parking lot, the man stopped in front of the police car and looking back over his shoulder at them. Under the black helmet, his face was pale and young, his eyes wide. But, he turned back to face forward and gunned the motorcycle.

"Dumbass!" Vin called out, shaking his head in disgust.

"We are in pursuit of a motorcycle..." one of the cops on screen said. "He just went through that red light at a hundred and twenty miles per hour."

Suddenly there was a loud screech and something hurdling across the road, orange sparks flying in its wake.

"Oh, he's down. Repeat, he's down. Send a med unit, now!" The cop yelled into his mike, before he and his partner jumped out and ran to the downed rider.

No one in the room made a sound. 

It showed the wreckage strewn across the highway. And then it showed the rider. He was lying in the street, his body twisted in an impossible angle, on his side, his head bent down to his chest, one leg was bent back and the other must have been underneath him.

"Jesus," Nathan hissed out, hand over his mouth.

The three cops who were running up there slowed their steps, as if they didn't want to get any closer, didn't want to see.

One walked up to the young rider and bent down. He faced the camera, his look grim. He reached out, putting his fingers on the rider's neck. One moment and then two. Slowly, he shook his head, frowning deeply.

"Oh my God," Buck breathed out.

"Check that guy!" One of the cops said, pointing back down the road from where they'd come.

"Did he have a passenger?" Josiah asked, confused.

Ezra shook his head, watching as the policemen walked up to a large truck that was shoved up against a streetlight on the side of the road. "No, sir. I believe that is what caused the young man's departure from his bike."

The man in the truck looked shaken, his face white.

"Sir, are you okay?" The cop asked as he ran up to his window. The man shook his head. "Yes, fine." He looked around, dazed. "I'm not hurt."

The camera panned back to show that the left side of the front end was crumpled, the wheel almost nonexistent, the truck sitting on the metal rim.

"What happened?" The cop coaxed out of him.

The man shook his head again. "He..." he pointed out the windshield, to where six firemen and medics were gathered around the motorcyclist's innate form, working on him. "I was pulling out of the 7-11 and there were lights right there. I don't know where he came from. I didn't have time to do anything. He just hit..."

The cop nodded at him. "Okay, sir. Just hang tight. We'll have the medics check you over. Just stay where you are."

The man nodded. His voice cracked as he said, "He was just *right* there."

Nodding sadly, the policeman walked away, toward the action on the other side of the street. He walked up there, cameras trailing behind. Another officer came up to him.

"That the guy you were chasing?" He cocked his head towards the man the medics were performing CPR on.

The young officer nodded. "Yeah. Hit that truck back there at a hundred and twenty."

"Jesus," the other cop hissed. 

"Take a look at this," a policeman walked up, black helmet in hand. He showed a ragged crack in the back of the helmet, the paint scratched completely off. "He must have slid quite a ways across the pavement."

The cop who'd talked to the man in the pickup nodded. "Yeah, looks like he hit the front of that truck on his right side, that's why his leg's the way it is."

Another officer walked up to them, there were four now. He motioned back to the medics and firemen who were getting the man onto a backboard. "They've got him breathing." He shrugged, his face grim.

The young officer swallowed hard, wilting in relief. "You got his license?"

"Yeah." He pulled it out from where he'd had it on his pocket, tucked into the clip of a pen. "He's 20 years old."

"Why the hell did he run?"

"Looks like he has a past DUI."

"All this for that?" The officer motioned to the medics, who were pushing the stretcher into the back of an ambulance, equipment and trash from their efforts, spread in a haphazard circle around the bloodstained pavement.

The screen cut away to commercial.

Nathan was sitting forward, his hand over his mouth. "He won't make it," he said to himself. "They might have got him breathing," he shook his head, seemingly playing the scene again and again in his mind, "but he won't make it." He sighed.

JD was swallowing hard, shaking his head. 

Buck hissed, "That's what riding a motorcycle gets you."

Vin glared over at the taller man, but noticed that Buck was staring down at JD, so he let the comment pass for now.

"What?" JD squawked, dropping his feet onto the floor and sitting up on the couch, the blanket falling to the floor. "He shouldn't have run, Buck. *That's* what happened."

Buck shook his head. "Did you see him, kid? Twisted up like some puppet with its strings cut? Do you ever think you might end up that way?"

JD gasped, his face turning white.

"Mr. Wilmington, I hardly think-"

"Buck," Chris warned. 

"No." Buck shook his head. "Kid needs to hear this." 

JD started to stand. "No. I don't."

Buck pushed him back in his seat. "Yes," he stood, towering over JD, "you do."

JD landed almost on top of Vin. He scooted off, to sit next to him, their legs touching. Vin reached over, hooking his hand around the back of JD's neck. "Easy, kid," he soothed as he glared up at Wilmington. "Buck, watch it," Vin told him.

Buck ignored him. "How many times have I told you? How many?" he ranted at JD, his voice cracking. "That could be you, kid. That could have been you."

"Buck," Chris warned again. "Back off. Go cool down." 

"No, Chris," Buck barked. 

The men stared at him. The scene on the television screen must have bothered the big man more than they could imagine. It was the only reasoning for his behavior that they could fathom.

"I would never run from the police, Buck. Never!" JD defended.

Buck threw his hands up in the air, pacing now. "That's not what I'm talking about. What if someone pulled out in front of you? What if someone hits you from behind? What if someone doesn't see you and..." he stopped, staring down at JD, "...runs you over? *Flattens* you?"

JD barked out a harsh laugh. He leapt to his feet. "The only one's going to get flattened here, Buck, is you if you don't shut your mouth!" He started to limp away. "I'm done talking to you now," he snarled over his shoulder as he walked towards the kitchen.

Chris also stood, walking over to Buck, trying to grab onto his shoulder, but Buck escaped his grasp and stalked after JD.

"Don't walk away from me," Buck bit out.

JD turned, furious. "I don't know why we're having this conversation, Buck. I'm a careful rider. I always have been. Always will be."

"Careful?" Buck's voice squeaked. "What the hell will that matter if the other driver's an idiot, JD? People on motorcycles get killed. End of story."

Vin stood now, his blue eyes hard. He didn't say anything, just exchanged a cold look with Chris before turning his attention back to Buck.

Josiah, Nathan and Ezra all sat stock still, staring at the men.

"I've heard all of this before. All the 'crotch-rocket' arguments. What might happen. What could happen. But it won't happen to me because I'm careful!" He cocked his thumb at himself. "Because I'm a good driver."

"No, JD. It's dangerous!" Buck stepped toward him, making JD's neck arch back when he looked up at him. "Don't you see?"

JD winced, rolling his shoulder in pain, but he didn't take his eyes off his best friend. 

Nathan stood, concerned as he watched JD, but he walked over to stand beside Buck.

Everyone in the room knew the medic's viewpoint on motorcycles. It pretty much matched Buck's. 

Vin moved closer to JD.

"Looks like the forces are pickin' sides," Ezra remarked grimly.

"Yeah," Josiah sighed.

"Why, JD? You're so bright, so gifted. Why do you risk it?" Buck pleaded.

"I know the risk, but it's worth it to me. It's no more dangerous than the job we do." JD squared off with him.

"No!" Buck thundered. "On the job, you have a vest, a gun...you have us to watch your back. Riding that motorcycle, it's not worth the risk. It's not like riding in a car, there's *no* protection."

"Hmm," JD scoffed, raising an eyebrow as he sneered rudely. "I could wear a giant condom if you want."

"That's enough!" Buck yelled, backing JD up until he ran into the wall. He towered over him. "You don't get it." Lines marked his face and he looked suddenly old.

Backed against the wall, JD stared up as Buck pointed his finger in his face. "Are you listening to anything I'm saying? If you go down like that, even if you have all the protection - leathers, helmet, boots, everything. It. Won't. Matter. You'll be smeared all over the road."

"This is just stupid!" JD pushed Buck away from him.  "You're being unreasonable. I'm not going to stop riding my bike. I'm not." He tilted his chin defiantly as he glared up at his friend.

Buck snarled and hissed, "You haven't seen it, JD. You haven't had to pick up the pieces. -Scrape- up the pieces." He shook his head, fury washing off him in waves. "I've worked motorcycle accidents before. I've had to walk around the scene, literally picking up the pieces. You have no idea. You don't ever want to see something like that JD. You don't ever want to be a part of that." He panted, furious. "What will it take? Huh?" Buck cocked his head and his look turned threatening. "Do you need to see it?"

JD tried to take a step back, but Buck reached out, grasping his forearm in a bone-crushing grip. 

"Is that it? Do you need to see what's left to get some sense knocked into that goddamned brain of yours?" Buck sneered.

"No." JD squirmed. He had never seen such an evil look on his best friend's face. 

"Well, kid," he turned, pulling JD with him, almost taking the younger man off his feet. "We'll just take a little trip down to the morgue. I'm sure in a city the size of Denver they've got at least one motorcycle fatality there. We'll just go take a look."

"Buck!" Chris barked.

"I don't need to see it!" JD gasped out, his voice squeaking. He tried to pull out of Buck's grasp. When it didn't work, he punched his best friend, hard, on the arm and used the momentary distraction to his advantage. Wriggling out of Buck's grip, he backed as far away as he could, breathing hard, scared eyes staring up at this stranger before him.

"What the fuck's your problem, Buck?" Vin grabbed JD and pulled him behind his body. He stood in front of him, protecting him, his look just daring Buck to try it again.

Chris stood, one hand on Buck's shoulder and one on his arm, holding him back. 

Buck was shaking, trembling. 

Josiah and Ezra had come to stand with them sometime during the altercation and now the seven men stood in a circle. Vin next to JD, Ezra and Josiah side by side, Nathan on one side of Buck, and Chris on the other, trying to pull Buck away.

"Everyone just calm down!" Josiah roared, his voice deep, rich, meaning business. "We need to just step away from this."

The fight left Buck as quickly as it had come and he wilted in Chris' grasp. He sat down hard in one of the dining room chairs, his body almost folding beneath him. Swallowing hard, he looked down at his hand, the one that had been holding JD... hurting him.

The men stared at him.

Buck swallowed hard. He looked up at JD and then back down. "I just don't want anything to happen to you, JD," he said, his voice a whisper, his eyes downcast.

His fury deflating, JD sighed and sat down next to his friend. He glanced over at him. "It won't-" he closed his mouth when Buck turned hard eyes in his direction.

Shrugging, JD said, "I'm sorry, Buck. I am. But, that motorcycle, it's me. I like riding. Always have. And I'm careful - always. I don't think of it as any more dangerous than our job, or," he shrugged, winking up at Vin, "getting within ten feet of Peso."

Vin laughed lightly and the mood was broken. 

The other men moved around. Coming over to sit around the large dining table with JD and Buck.

Buck closed his eyes as he turned his face away from his roommate. "I'm sorry, JD," he said, defeated. He glanced over, his gaze resting on JD's arm; he could see the red impressions that his fingers had left where he'd gripped him. "Sorry about grabbing you, too."

JD shrugged, trying to hide his grimace as he rubbed his arm carefully. "No harm done." A smile curved up the corner of his mouth. He shrugged, grinning. "I mean, you know, I don't mind being manhandled a week after taking a dive down a flight of steps. No problem. No worries. I mean... I probably wrenched the other shoulder but-"

"JD." Chris tried to hide his smile as he interrupted the young agent's diatribe. 

Ducking his head, grinning, JD looked up at Buck and then back down.

The two sat in silence for a moment before Buck sighed, a long, sad sound. "I just wish you would listen to me, JD. I wish you would realize how dangerous it is. But," he swallowed hard as he ran his hand down his face. "I can't make you." He took in a shuddering breath. "Just don't want that to happen to you."

Glancing over at Buck, JD saw that he was staring at a spot on the wall, and he was sure Buck was seeing, not only the scene from the TV, but other accidents he'd worked during his years as a police officer. JD shuddered, thinking about all the things his friend must have seen, how horrific it must have been to have brought a response out of him like tonights. Wringing his hands together, JD was suddenly uncomfortable in the silence and he swallowed hard, clearing his throat, looking around helplessly at the other men, and then back at Buck.

Chris was watching his old friend with sorrow.

Buck glanced over at JD then, his bloodshot eyes bright with tears. He shrugged with an apologetic look.

JD reached out and pulled the larger man close in a quick one-armed hug around his shoulders and then let him go. "I'm glad you care, Buck."

Buck laughed lightly. "Yeah, well..." He rubbed a hand hard over his eyes. Sniffing, he reached over and hooked his arm around JD's neck, pulling his head down and giving him a Dutch-rub. "As if."

JD laughed loudly as he pulled away, punching Buck on the arm. 

Buck sighed as he looked over at JD. "Jesus, kid," he gave a trembling half shrug, "just don't want to lose you. Not like that," he shuddered, "not at all."

"I know." JD nodded as he smiled up at his friend. 

The moment was tense. 

Ezra broke it. "Um," he said snobbishly, "are we not here to play poker, gentlemen? Or did I happen across an old episode of 'Wrestling at the Chase'."

Vin barked out a laugh. "Yeah, and Josiah can be Andre the Giant."

Nathan guffawed, "Oh my god, I remember that. I want to be Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka-"

"-Off the top rope," Chris finished for him. 

The men laughed, giving JD and Buck a moment to compose themselves.

"Guess we'd better get to playing poker before Ezra brings up any other goofy references that turn our friends into raving lunatics." Buck cuffed JD on the back of his head.

JD laughed. "Yeah."

The two glanced at each other. 

JD smiled suddenly. "You know, Buck." He turned to Vin, giving him a wink and a grin before he turned back to his best friend.  "Vin rides a motorcycle, too. Why ain't you lecturing him?" He grinned. "Or, better yet, you know that Jeep of his can't be too safe. No top. No doors. Only a seat belt and roll bar for protection." He shook his head sadly, trying to hide a smile.

Buck turned a smile his way before glancing around the table, meeting each of his teammates eyes, his own eyes holding an apology. His friends nodded at him, forgiving him for his outburst. Buck looked down, the tension leaving his shoulders. After a moment, an innocent grin spread across his face. "Hmmm." He rubbed his finger and thumb down his mustache, seemingly deep in thought before winking at Vin and grinning over at JD. He widened his eyes as he bobbed his eyebrows. "Think he needs a giant condom?"

May 11, 2005

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