Rating: PG-13 - Language
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 story was inspired by the song 'The Impossible' by Joe Nichols. The words really struck me and I immediately thought of JD and Chris. The words for the entire song follow the story, but it was the first part that really hit me and made me want to write the story. It's not betaed, I apologize.
Feedback is always greatly appreciated and wanted and needed. Please let me know what you think. Thank you, Ruby :) [email protected]
For Lou and Joe
The Impossible ATF/AU
Pulling the heavy door shut, JD settled himself into the seat. He had his seatbelt fastened before his boss even opened the driver's door. He watched his team leader fold his long frame into the big truck's front seat.
Reaching over and pulling the seat belt from its resting-place, Larabee snapped it into its holder. With a flick of his wrist, he turned the large engine over and with a quick look over his left shoulder, pulled away from the courthouse into the busy Denver traffic.
Neither man spoke. JD darted glances over at his team leader, gauging his mood. Swallowing hard, he sighed, finally relaxing back into his seat and staring out the side window. The truck slowed and he looked up to see that they were stopped at a red light. He glanced over at Mr. Larabee to find the older man watching the light, his face hard. JD shook his head, turning back and gazing out his window again.
JD gasped slightly, his breath catching in his throat. He stared at the two people on the sidewalk, clearly oblivious to everyone and everything but themselves.
The tall, bearded man hefted the small boy up onto his shoulders, holding onto one leg as he smiled brightly. The red haired child beamed, clapping his hands and looking around in amazement. A father and son, JD immediately knew - the love was obvious, the caring easy to recognize.
What would that be like, he wondered. He gulped hard, suddenly emotional, his throat tight and his face tingling. He knew the feeling, he was about to cry. There was no way that he was going to let some little thing like seeing a father and son on a Denver street send him into an emotional tailspin, but it seemed like it was about to happen. He quickly looked over at Mr. Larabee to see if he'd noticed anything. The light turned green and Larabee was speeding away from the intersection, his mind seemingly on other things.
JD cleared his throat slightly as he turned back to look out his window, glad that his boss hasn't seen his childishness.
The truck slowed for another red light and JD was careful not to look out the window this time. Instead, he stared at the Ram's dashboard and folded his hands into his lap, feeling low.
He could feel Chris's eyes on him and he looked up quickly to find his Team Leader watching him with an odd light in his eyes.
Had Mr. Larabee noticed his reaction to the scene back there? And if he had, what was he thinking now? JD looked away, his heart hammering in his chest. Would his new boss think he was immature? A child? He reached up, loosening his tie enough that he could unbutton his shirt's top button. It was suddenly too hot in the truck and way too hard to breathe. The truck was moving again. His leader's voice made him jump and he looked over at him, embarrassed that he'd been startled.
"You did real good back there, kid." Chris kept his eyes on the road, but his voice was soft, warm. "You handled yourself like a real pro up there on that stand."
JD's eyes lit up. His mouth opened, but no sound came out.
Chris glanced over at him, smiling sadly. "Ain't our fault that the bastard got off on a technicality. It was the Courthouse's typo." He narrowed his eyes, pursing his lips as he rested his gaze back on the road. "We'll get 'im next time."
JD gulped, nodding his head, still not trusting himself to speak. His face split wide with a huge grin. He felt like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. With just a few words, Larabee had made him feel like he was a king. He cleared his throat, glancing sideways at his boss and grinning. "Thanks, Mr. Larabee."
Chris smiled over at him and then winked. "Don't need to thank me for telling the truth, son."
It was so casual, the way he'd said 'son.' Someone who didn't know Chris Larabee might not realize that it was probably one of the hardest words for the ATF Team Leader to say. Son. He'd lost his son, had felt responsible for years, had tried to drown himself in a bottle only to be pulled out time and again by Buck Wilmington. But here he was, sitting next to JD Dunne, trying to make him feel better about a rotten turn of events.
JD sucked on his top lip, willing his tears to stay at bay. He looked down, sniffing quietly. "Thanks," his voice cracked, "Mr. Larabee." He looked over at his boss and then back down. Chris was watching the road, a sad smile on his face. What was he thinking, JD wondered. Was he wondering what his son would be like today? Missing the chance to watch Adam Larabee grow into a man?
JD darted a speculative glance over at his boss, wondering what his own dad was like, who he was, why he was never around. His mom never mentioned him. When JD was in grade school, he'd heard the word 'bastard' for the first time and when he got home that afternoon, he'd asked his mom what the word meant. His mom had cried, and JD'd never mentioned it again. He found out on his own what the word implied, and from that day forward he put his dad out of his mind. He didn't ask questions, stopped thinking about it. He was just glad that his mom was so wonderful, and he decided that he didn't need a dad. His mom made up for the lack of a father by being the best mother in the world.
He hadn't even really thought again about the lack of a father in his life until he joined Team Seven. Until he met Buck Wilmington and Chris Larabee. Then he started thinking, wondering, what it would be like to have a man like that for his father. Of course he never talked about it, or, god forbid, told the two men what he was thinking. But he'd lie in bed at night, wondering.
And then when he found out that Chris had lost his own son, JD had even more to think about.
Chris Larabee had been a dad. Still was, really, JD knew. He'd watch Mr. Larabee sometimes, wondering what kind of a dad he was. He was a great one, he figured. He would picture in his mind sometimes Chris and Adam together, Chris holding his son up high, smiling proudly.
JD would never have that. Never. He'd never have a father. He swallowed the uncomfortable lump in his throat. Looking over at his boss, he watched the older man's profile as he guided the overly large truck through the congested Denver traffic. Chris would make a great dad. A dad JD would be proud to call his own. He frowned, knowing that he was just being childish. He was a man, in his early twenties, he didn't need a dad anymore. The time for needing a father in his life was gone. Erased. Now, it was just him. Alone. But... He looked again over at his boss. Mr. Larabee glanced at him, smiling.
"Say, kid, it's almost lunch time. Want to grab a bite to eat?"
JD nodded, smiling. "Sure, Mr. Larabee. That would be great."
Chris nodded once as he turned his blinker on. "We'll head on over to the Saloon."
"Okay," JD agreed.
Chris pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, tossing it into JD's lap. "Here, call Buck. Tell him we're having a boy's lunch hour out." He grinned, chucking lightly.
JD nodded as he hit speed dial for the office. He took one more long look at his Team leader and then smiled when Buck answered the phone.
"Lou's Bar and Grill, Lou speaking."
JD laughed. "Better not let Judge Travis hear you answer the phone like that."
Chris laughed while he listened to the one-sided conversation. Buck was putting JD through a wringer for not inviting the rest of the guys. JD looked over at him.
"You want to meet the guys there?"
Chris glanced over at him and cocked his head. "Nah, JD. Tell him it's just gonna be me and you."
JD's eyebrows rose, his eyes widening as he spoke into the phone. "Um...Buck, Chris said it's just gonna be us."
Larabee smiled when he heard JD say "Okay" and then end the phone call. He knew what his oldest friend was thinking, and maybe he was right. Maybe having JD around was good for him. The kid brought a little of the old Chris back, isn't that what Buck had told him?
"Here ya go, Mr. Larabee."
Chris reached over and grabbed the proffered phone, slipping it back in his pocket. "Thanks, kid."
He hadn't missed JD's reaction to the father and son on the sidewalk earlier. Truth be known, the scene had made Chris's throat catch and his chest hurt. The two men hurt the same, but for different reasons. Chris for the son he'd lost, and JD for the father he'd never known. Chris could still remember the conversation he'd had with Buck the night Buck had learned that JD had never known his father. Buck had been 'interrogating' his young roommate about his life. He'd already known about his mother and her death, but JD had never once mentioned his father, and Buck couldn't help but be curious. Finally, after too many questions, JD'd blurted out that he didn't have a father, didn't need a father, and if Buck didn't leave it alone, he'd bust him one good. Buck had left it alone, didn't mention it to JD again. But, he'd told Chris about it, needing to talk to someone.
Chris smiled, remembering what his oldest friend had told him that night.
'Chris, me an' that kid are more alike than I knew. Neither of us've got dad's and both of us are scrappers about it.' Buck had smiled proudly.
He and Buck had talked for hours that night, like old times, and Chris remembered the conversation fondly. It was the first night in a long time that the two of them were almost back to normal, like before... before Sarah and Adam had died. Before he'd lost his wife and little boy.
Damn but life threw some curveballs sometimes. Now, JD and he were tossed together. Chris could push the young man away, not wanting to be reminded of what he'd lost. Or he could embrace JD Dunne even though he knew he'd be reminded of what his little boy might have grown into had he lived.
He glanced over, catching the kid watching him, an odd almost wanting look on his face. Wanting what?
But deep in his heart, Chris knew. A father. The kid wanted a father, and more importantly, the kid wanted him as a father. It made Chris's heart beat faster, his palms sweat just thinking about the responsibility of the kid looking up to him that way, the kid wanting a man like him for a father. But would he do it? Could he do it?
Looking back over, he saw that JD was now looking down at his hands, his face drawn, sad. Chris smiled slightly. Hell yeah, he'd do it.
In the four months that Dunne had been with the team he'd shown a lot of promise. The kid was one hell of a man and with the other six agent's help and advice he'd be the best the ATF had seen in years.
"JD?" Chris slowed for the red light and looked over at the youngest member of his team.
"Yeah, Mr. Larabee?" JD raised his eyebrows as he looked over at him.
"You like horses?"
JD's face brightened. "Oh, yeah, Mr. Larabee. I like them a lot. I mucked out stalls and worked in the stable at the estate back East where my mom worked, and sometimes I'd get to ride when I wasn't work-" his voice drifted off and he looked down, his face reddening.
Chris had no idea what the kid might be embarrassed about. He knew that he'd worked to pay medical bills and took care of his mom as long as he could. There was nothing embarrassing about that. Except that it was different from what the other kids his age had been doing at the time. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Stepping on the gas, Chris left the light behind. "Well, I've got a new horse out at the ranch. Real pretty thing, bay, good solid animal with a big heart. I was wanting someone to take care of her for me. Maybe ride her, exercise her. Think you'd be up for that?"
JD swallowed hard, his eyes doubling in size. "Heck yeah, Mr. Larabee. I'd love to. I really would."
Chris nodded once. He couldn't look over at the kid, at the bright look on his face, at his shining eyes. Instead, he focused his gaze out the windshield. Clearing his throat, he coughed and then said, "Well, I can't really pay ya." He glanced over at his young agent and winked. "You know, on the pay we get and all." He smiled when the kid grinned. He glanced at the street in front of him and then back over at the kid. "But if you're willing to do some work for me at the ranch plus take care of the horse, she's yours. I've even got a saddle out there ain't been used for a while."
JD took in a deep breath and then slowly let it out. His voice was unsteady as he answered. "I'd like that a lot, Mr. Larabee."
"It's Chris, son."
"Huh?" JD's brow furrowed.
"The name's Chris, JD. You don't have to call me 'Mr. Larabee.' "
"Oh." JD smiled. "Okay, Mr...I mean...Chris."
Chris nodded once, grinning slightly. He pulled into an empty parking spot in front of the Saloon and put the truck in park. "Then it's settled." He looked over at JD. "You can come out tomorrow night, look the horse over, see if you're interested." He looked down at the steering wheel. " Since it's Friday, you can stay over if you want, do some work on Saturday morning, then maybe we can go for a ride in the afternoon." He reached up, putting his hand on the steering wheel and then looked intently at his knuckles. "Vin's coming out. He keeps his horse, Peso, out there. He can come along." He glanced over at the kid as he pursed his lips, narrowing his eyes in thought. He cocked his head as if coming to a decision and then looked back out the windshield. "If you want to make a weekend out of it, Sunday maybe we'll see if the rest of the team wants to come out. I've got enough horses, we could all go for a ride. Have a cookout..."
JD nodded quickly. "That sounds great, Mr. L- Chris." His grin almost reached his ears and his eyes shined happily.
Chris smiled. "It's a deal, then." Reaching out, he grasped the kid's hand and then covered it with his other. JD squeezed his hand and held on. Chris wondered if the kid realized what he was doing when he offered to have the others out, what he was putting forth. Chris didn't spend much time with the team off-hours. The saloon for drinks after work, Vin out at the ranch when he came for a visit or to see his horse, but Chris tried to keep it 'work' and not let the other men into his heart. Now, he was making an honest effort to bring them all together, to make the team friends, and who knows, maybe later, a family. He could see the knowledge shining in the young ATF agent's eyes. Chris smiled warmly as JD pulled his hand away but still sat watching him. Silence descended over the truck cab, but it wasn't an uneasy silence as much as it was the quiet stillness of two men thinking about their past and their future.
Chris reached over, hitting JD's chest with the back of his hand. "Well, what are we waiting for, kid? Let's eat."
JD jumped out of the truck, slamming the door excitedly.
Chris mock-cringed at the slammed door. He shook his head, smiling. "Kids." He looked heavenward, a sad but content smile on his face. Opening the door, he climbed out to meet JD. Laying his arm across the younger man's shoulders, they walked together into the saloon.
the end (August 2002)
Please let me know what you think. ~ Ruby :)
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