Master Post on my LJ
Master Post at sentinelbigbang
Federal Building, Denver, Colorado
Wednesday, early morning, June 27, 2001
One man dead. One man in the hospital lying in a coma, with no certainty he was going to be conscious ever again.
The two imbeciles in custody -- he was going to squeeze them until they sang a fucking opera about where the hell they had hidden JD.
Chris yanked open the door to headquarters and was glad there was hardly anybody there at two in the morning.
He felt that familiar cold rage icing through his veins again. He had become frozen in Hell when his sweet Sarah and Adam had died. The only thing that had thawed that ice had been the hot burn of bourban or scotch or tequila sliding down his throat. Back then a kind of detente had been arranged, a truce where his pain was numbed and his mind could dwell on something other than the agony of losing them. He'd stopped while he still controlled the alcohol, before the booze damaged him beyond recall.
He could taste the wanting in the back of his throat. The desire to feel that fiery release before the pain of losing one of his own again icicled through his heart to take him down to freezing point depression.
Wasn't there some fairy tale about a boy who got ice stuck in his heart or his eye -- some damn body part -- and he became mean and cantankerous to the one who loved him?
He didn't want to be that person, didn't want to lash out at the people he knew cared about him -- people like Mary and his team. His team… minus one. So he controlled that rage, wrestled down that urge to pour whiskey down his gullet. His team and JD needed him. And right now, Buck needed him.
One man dead. Another man who might well be dead by the afternoon. They could tell him nothing.
Chris turned down a hallway, his boots echoing on the tile floor as he moved quickly in the quiet – the middle of the night quiet where sounds traveled and lights were dimmed – to where the morons were being held that needed the fear of Team Seven put into them.
Chris was proud of his team and never more so than tonight, when Vin and Ezra’d laid their lives on the line for a teammate. They’d made the right call – to go in before backup had arrived. Buck was alive – there was no telling what his kidnappers would have done once they'd realized there were no guns at that warehouse. The thought that his old friend had been tortured for information or out of spite made his hands ball up into fists as he strode towards the interview rooms.
Back at the warehouse, he’d debriefed Vin, then Ezra, and finally Nick Evans, the FBI agent posing as the night guard, about the sequence of events. Vin had been quiet, even more than usual, as he went through the circumstances that led to him using deadly force, and Chris planned to keep a close eye on him.
Vin, Ezra, and Nick had made a quick plan on the phone to disable the drivers waiting in their U-HUAL trucks first, but before Vin and Ezra arrived at the warehouse from across the road where the surveillance trailer was located, one of the drivers had gone into the warehouse with Buck and James Carson – the tall man who’d driven up with Buck in the dark blue van.
Chris turned left when the hallway dead ended, listening to his boots beating out a rhythm to accompany the tune of find him; find him that was playing in his brain.
While he walked briskly down the hall, Chris reviewed the de-briefing told to him earlier, looking for any loose ends that the shooting incident review board might try to pick apart. The three agents had separated after the two drivers were pulled out of their truck cabs and made to lie on the ground, their trucks blocking any view of them from the warehouse. Nick’s back entrance key to the warehouse had been given to Vin. He’d run to that doorway and quietly let himself in, leaving Ezra and Nick to deal with securing driver one and driver two.
Ezra’s part of the tale had told how the two drivers had started bleating that this wasn’t their idea as soon as they’d been jerked out of their trucks. He and Nick had made the two of them shut up, and after they'd been handcuffed, Ezra had left Nick on guard, and the FBI agent started questioning the two assholes. When backup arrived Nick would direct them inside.
Ezra had followed Buck and his kidnappers into the warehouse, sliding the door open quietly and taking cover inside as he tried to locate where Buck was taking the two men. Ezra’d targeted them and came closer, moving from one section of the warehouse to another, hidden by pallets upon pallets of crates of cigarettes. When he’d gotten as close as he dared, he had trained his gun on the one nearest Buck and identified himself as ATF, and ordered them to lie down on the floor. Buck had used the diversion to jump on the curly-haired man and try to subdue him. As they grappled, exchanging kicks and blows, the tall, dark-haired man pulled his gun and began shooting towards Ezra’s position, using the crates as cover just as Ezra was doing.
Vin had shot both kidnappers. The board wouldn’t fault him Chris had re-assured him, when Vin explained his actions. The curly-haired man, Greg Morgan, according to the information in his wallet, had overpowered Buck, who’d crashed to the ground unconscious after his opponent had pulled his own gun out, and used the butt end on Buck’s head before joining the gun battle. Buck was in danger of being shot or used again as a hostage when the two kidnappers tried to make their escape.
Vin had climbed up into a loft area when he’d entered the warehouse by the back door; he’d explained to Chris he did that so he would have the advantage of height. The ex-ranger sniper had used those hard-earned skills and ended the shooting. Morgan had been seriously wounded. The dark-haired man, James Carson, had died before first aid could be rendered.
Ezra had said that Buck had come to, dazed-like and looked at his kidnapper’s bodies without comprehension at first. As Ezra had checked him for other injuries, Buck had realized what happened and told them that JD had been moved from where they both had been taken, and hidden to insure that Buck would give up the illegal guns willingly that these men had thought he’d had. He didn’t know where he and JD had been held. He was frantic to talk to the two other men in custody.
Chris had arrived at that point and taken control. Ezra’d been trying to calm Buck down. Vin kept giving first aid to Morgan until the ambulances arrived. Josiah and Nathan were a welcome sight, Chris having called and ordered them to end the surveillance of James Carson’s residence. Like Chris, they’d arrived after the events of the night had gone down. Chris had interviewed all four men involved with the shooting separately, and the recounting of the events of what happened outside and inside the warehouse matched. They’d follow procedure and notify the Office of Investigation at ATF headquarters, but it had been a righteous shoot.
Nick went with the unconscious man to the hospital, but not before Chris had shaken the FBI agent’s hand, a grip that conveyed his thanks for helping his team. The FBI backup had arrived also, and Chris had turned over the nuts and bolts of the now ruined investigation to them, so he could concentrate on his men.
Chris passed a row of interior office windows and caught sight of his reflection as he hurried by – he looked like shit, but then none of them had slept much since Monday.
One man killed at the warehouse. Another so seriously injured he might well be dead by noon. They couldn’t reveal JD’s whereabouts.
Two men in custody.
Two men who Buck had tried to attack after Chris had gotten from him the quick and dirty version of the kidnapping. Buck had been wild to get at them – hatred in his eyes and punishment promised in the way he balled his fists – but Vin and Ezra had kept him from assaulting their perps. Chris didn’t fool himself that they’d protected those criminals – they’d been protecting Buck from being brought up on assault charges for battering prisoners in custody.
Josiah, Ezra, Vin, and a FBI volunteer had taken the two prisoners down to ATF headquarters for questioning. He’d had to stay behind, talking to the coroner’s office and waiting for the arrival of a CSI team to process the blue van and James Carson’s body.
Nathan insisted it was necessary to take Buck to the hospital, since Buck had been knocked out in the fight, plus Chris and Nathan weren’t taking Buck’s word for it that he was okay. Buck had told them that he'd had been given a head injury when taken, and JD and he both had been tazered a number of times. Nathan wanted him checked out for any irregularities with his heart. Buck didn't want to go in an ambulance, and Nathan agreed to drive him to the hospital.
Buck had gripped Chris’ arm before Nathan had herded him toward his vehicle. In a low voice, he demanded that Chris remove JD’s movie camera from the dark blue van and take it with him.
“Don’t watch it,” Buck had told him, and there was misery in his voice and pleading in his eyes. Chris agreed, but he did place the camera in an evidence bag and logged it in with the CSI crew before he left the warehouse. He locked it in his truck, hidden under a jacket. He’d find out from Buck what the hell was on that tape before he turned it into the evidence locker.
Chris stopped and took a deep breath before entering the observation room where Josiah was watching the prisoners through the one-way windows, each perp in a room that adjoined this room. It was almost show time. The perps had been separated upon being arrested; he’d talk to one and Josiah would interview the other. It was his decision to make about allowing Vin and Ezra to remain on the case after the weapons fire, but he’d walked that line before and thought he could keep them active. And he needed them. JD was still missing.
Josiah and Chris held a quick strategy session before separating to interview the two men, whose wallets had held Colorado drivers' licenses identifying them as Michael Parks and Jonathan Parks, ages thirty-five and thirty-seven years old. They agreed there was no reason to keep Buck’s cover now. When these two went to court, Buck would have to testify and his identity as an ATF agent would be on record. If these two clowns knew that they’d kidnapped two federal agents, then maybe they’d crack a little faster. Time – they didn’t have time to dick around with these assholes.
Josiah laid a comforting hand on Chris shoulder, then turned and went to interview Michael Parks. Chris took a deep breath and pasted on his meanest look, the one that said “cross me and you die.” Or so Buck had told him many a time when they’d worked Homicide together, back in the day.
Chris shoved open the door and let it crash against the wall. He stalked over to the table where Jonathan Parks was waiting for him, sitting in a chair and handcuffed to the table.
He leaned over the table and violated every rule of personal space by breathing hard on the shit-head waiting for him. The guy was going to play it tough because he didn’t shift backwards, although Chris saw him blink reflexively at the intrusion. Chris stood straight and turned on the tape recorder, stating the relevant information, including reading Parks his rights again and affirming that he waivered having a lawyer. Then he began bargaining for JD’s life.
“Parks, this is how it’s going to go down. You are going to tell us where JD was taken -- and pronto, amigo -- and we don’t book you for attempted murder.”
The short blond man started talking fast while holding stubbornly to his space in the chair.
“Look here, lawman, it wasn’t my idea to do anything with that kid. I was just hired to be a driver and I didn’t ask any questions as to what was gonna be in my truck. You can’t charge me with anything – it wasn’t me that touched him and it wasn’t my cousin either. I don’t know where Jimmy C took him. I was just there to drive a truck. I don’t know anything about what Jimmy C wanted at that warehouse. I was just there to drive a truck. I didn’t do anything but drive a truck.”
Chris watched Parks lick his lips and swallow. He didn’t say anything, knowing the power of silence.
“But I can give you some information about Buck Wilson – this is what I overheard Jimmy C talking to Morgan about and I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I think I do. This Buck Wilson, tall man, mustache – he’s a gun dealer and he was partners with Jimmy C. and Morgan. Yeah, they were all in it together. He’s kind of crazy, too; he tried to kill me back at that warehouse.
“That JD kid, Buck fucked him, not us. We didn’t touch the kid. You should be talking to Buck Wilson; he was partners with Jimmy C and Morgan. Jimmy’s dead and Morgan’s hurt real bad. You want some answers about the kid; you should talk to Buck Wilson. The word is that the man would sell his own mother to turn a gun deal. If you sweat him, he’ll tell you ‘bout other gun deals he was working. Buck knows where that kid is; he was sweet on him, probably got him stashed somewheres real nice.”
Chris took in every word this low-life-son-of-a-bitch was saying, and he comprehended that something sexual had happened to JD while he was this man’s prisoner. But he kept his face impassive and promised himself that he’d fantasize about shooting him later – slowly -- first an arm, then a leg… And the S.O.B. just kept running his mouth.
“Buck pretended to be kidnapped is all, he were in on the deal from the beginning. He’s a gunrunner, a crook. And it was his idea to fuck the kid. We didn’t do anything; it were Buck’s idea and he sure enjoyed himself. That kid, JD, he didn’t mind one bit. Buck’s his man and fucks him all the time. I can always tell a homo when I see one, and JD, he’s a cocksucker. Probably natural like for him, so nobody made him do anything he didn’t want to do.”
Chris glared at Parks, who started right back up on his line of bullshit.
“I was just hired to drive a truck. Man didn’t say what he wanted when we drove to that warehouse, just told me and my cousin to stay in the truck till he was ready to load up his purchases. Buck is the one that could give you real information. He’s a gunrunner; I’m a truck driver. He fucked that kid; me and Michael didn’t touch him. You find him and there won’t be any of our spunk in him. It was Buck that done it, but the kid wanted him to do it. We didn’t rape him; Buck didn’t either, the kid wanted Buck to do him. JD loved sucking Buck’s dick--”
“Shut up! Buck Wilson is an ATF agent – think I’m gonna take your word over his about what happened? JD belongs to the ATF, too. We don’t find him in time, and cowboy, you are looking at murder one of a federal treasury agent!”
Parks slumped in the straight-back chair and let out a soft moan. “I’m fucked.”
Chris answered him in a pseudo-concerned tone of voice, wishing instead he could lay his hands on this pile of crap and just beat the answer out of him.
“Make it right, Parks. Just tell us where Jimmy C took JD.”
But Parks was shaking his head frantically and spilling words out of his mouth in his haste to confess. “I don’t know, we don’t know. Jimmy C told Morgan, but they didn’t tell me and Michael. Shit, shit, shit. I can tell you how to get to Morgan’s granny’s cabin, which was where Buck and JD and us all waited till Jimmy C got back from setting up the gun deal. Jimmy C, he was secretive like, and told us this mission was on a need-to-know basis, and that Michael and me didn’t need to know anything except how to drive a truck. Morgan, he was in charge when Jimmy C was gone. Anything happened to Wilson and JD, it was his doing, not mine or Michael’s.”
Chris looked at him, evaluating his body language and his words. He was afraid the asshole was telling the truth about not knowing where JD had been taken, but he was lying about not being involved with whatever sexual acts had been performed on JD. Chris knew now why Buck had been so adamant about Chris taking the movie camera, but not watching it. What ever had happened to JD and Buck, it had been filmed. Christ, they had filmed JD being assaulted with the kid’s own camera, the new, bells-and-whistles, digital camera that he was so thrilled about owning. If they got JD back, the kid probably wouldn’t even want to touch it.
No, he corrected himself. When they got him back.
Chris glared at Parks, but he wouldn’t push him to reveal more about what they’d coerced JD and Buck into doing. Or what the four kidnappers had done to his men. Not now. They’d sweat the pair of them later for a confession to the charges of kidnapping, and assault.
They needed to focus on JD being found. Buck had said that JD had been taken from him around two to three o’clock in the afternoon. That was twelve hours ago. Jimmy C had told Buck that if he didn’t cooperate with him, he’d never see JD again and the kid would die a cold, hungry death. Jimmy C had drugged JD before he left with him. Buck said when JD was unconscious Jimmy C and Morgan had carried JD out of the cabin. The kid was going to wake up somewhere, and not know where he was or what was happening to him.
Buck’s account had Jimmy C returning around eight o’clock the same evening he took JD away. Seven hours later, and he had no clue where his youngest team member had been locked away.
Jimmy C dead. Greg Morgan in critical condition and unconscious. They could tell him nothing, but he was going to tear their lives apart, trying to find some clue as to where they had decided to hide JD.
Chris pointed a finger at Parks. “You start thinking of everything you ever heard those two bastards say, and everything you ever heard anyone else say about them. If your information leads us to JD, we’ll drop the attempted murder charges.” Then Chris walked out of the room. He opened the other interview room door and motioned for Josiah to join him. They went into the observing area where Vin and Ezra were seated at a table, monitoring the interrogation. By the sick look on their faces, they’d realized they had nothing, except the knowledge that JD had been raped, in some fashion or other. Josiah cleared his throat.
Chris nodded his head for Josiah to give his report.
“Michael Parks is unholy proud of being an amateur film-maker. He was more than willing to talk about how he directed his actors – Buck and JD – to have various forms of sex together.” Josiah took a deep breath. “Jimmy C left the three of them, Greg Morgan, and Michael and Jonathan Parks, up there for days with no TV, no radio, nothing to do except watch the prisoners. They were bored and found JD’s camera in his backpack. Michael, who has always wanted to break into the porn industry, decided to make a film. JD and Buck refused to take part and to 'motivate' Buck, who he pegged as the dominant partner – he is convinced that Buck and JD had been homosexual lovers already – they tazered JD, over and over, until Buck agreed to his terms.” Josiah looked frustrated and shook his head. “But Michael says he doesn’t know where Jimmy C took JD. Greg Morgan knew, but he and his cousin were left out of the loop. No 'need to know,' he was told.”
Josiah ran a hand through his hair, and looked bleakly at Chris. “It doesn’t seem to make any difference to him that JD and Buck are ATF agents, but in order to reduce the charges, he’s agreeable to telling us whatever he knows about Morgan and Jimmy C. Did you get the same information from Jonathan Parks, Chris?”
“Basically.” Chris kept his anger simmering behind his facade of normality, but his team knew him too well. Josiah gave him his “I’m here if you want to talk,” look; Vin's eyes sent his usual message of support.
Ezra’s eyes widened and he said, “Gentleman. We need to find that camera. We can’t allow them be exposed like that.” Chris held his hand up.
“I’ve got it. Buck didn’t want me to watch it, but I’m going to have to, just in case one of these assholes said something that might be a clue. I’ll let him know first, though.”
Chris loosened up the hold he held on his anger, and felt that adrenaline edge filling him, sustaining his tired body.
His team looked at him, waiting for their orders.
“Vin, Ezra… You two head up to that cabin, see if you can find any clues. I’m going to send the CSI team from the warehouse up there with you. ” He looked at his watch. “It’s going to be daybreak in a couple of hours. Rouse the neighbors, see what you can find out about Morgan, the land the cabin’s on and any likely isolated spots that a van could drive to with abandoned buildings, or hell, JD could be in a vehicle somewhere, locked in the trunk. JD’s small, but even so, packing him around couldn’t have been very easy. Jimmy must have picked a spot that he could drive right up to, one that wouldn’t draw any attention.”
Vin and Ezra stood up, standing shoulder to shoulder.
“Relay your information to Josiah. And by noon I’ll need your SIR report on the shooting at the warehouse for the OI to start the investigation. You both followed procedure, so I don’t expect the Office of Investigation to find any fault.”
Ezra replied, “We shall endeavor to do our best, Mr. Larabee, sir.” He nodded to Chris and Josiah, and walked out the door.
Vin didn’t say anything but relaxed slightly when Chris reached out and clasped his arm, drawing him close. Vin had shot those men because it needed doing, but he didn’t enjoy killing.
“You okay?” he asked in a low, private voice.
Vin nodded and Chris felt him droop a little against his side before pushing himself away from Chris’ embrace. “I’m thinkin’ Buck’s going to be hating himself about now. You tell him – we got his back. JD ain't going to hold Buck at fault, but I think it’ll take some convincin’ for Buck to see that.”
Josiah said, “John Dunne is a good man; he’ll make Buck see reason. So let’s find him so the healing between them can begin.”
Vin gave a half-wave and walked out the door, his quick steps echoing in the silence. Josiah raised his eyebrows and remarked to Chris, “Do you want me to keep on with these two sinners? And go over what we have on Jimmy C and Morgan – to see if there’s any pattern to their behaviors, any places they’ve holed up before, where they might have taken our boy?”
Chris said, “Yep. I’ll call the CSI guys and have them forward their findings to you. I’m hoping that the treads of the van or Jimmy C’s shoes might show traces of where he’d last been. Also – figure a time line and distance boundaries for where Jimmy C took JD.”
Josiah nodded and Chris clapped him on the arm. Josiah's help was going to be invaluable, since so much of an investigation relied on nitpicking details.
Chris said, “I’ve got to do my report about the shooting and send it off to the OI. Nathan knows to call me when the tests are done on Buck. I have to watch that film, and talk to him about it. There’s just no way to keep this totally quiet. These two assholes are going to keep blabbing about it.” Chris caught Josiah’s eye. “I’d like to destroy that film – and you didn’t hear me say that – but until I’m certain it doesn’t contain information we need, I can’t.”
“Are we going to charge the Parks cousins with forcing JD and Buck to have sex?”
Chris didn't answer.
The desire to hit something, the wall, or the two assholes sitting in the interrogation rooms, was so overwhelming right then. Josiah gripped Chris’ shoulder.
“If we don’t find JD in time... Buck's gonna be in bad shape.” He thought to himself that if he was Buck, he'd be tempted to eat his gun if JD died.
He answered Josiah's question, wanting to get the image of Buck so desperate out of his head. “I don't know about the charges – depends what the film shows.”
Josiah gave Chris a little shake. “I’d spout off a proverb from an Eastern religion, but I’m afraid you’d want to shoot me then.” Chris smiled despite himself. Josiah continued, “We’re going to find him, and JD and Buck will work their troubles out between them. What happened to them might test their friendship, but I have faith in them both.”
He squeezed Chris' shoulder again. “Now, I’m going to go back in and convince these sinners that confession is good for the soul.” Josiah let go of Chris’ shoulder and turned to open the interview room door.
“Josiah…” Josiah turned back to meet his eyes. “Thanks.”
Josiah acknowledged his words by a bow of his head, then disappeared inside the interview room.
Chris went to his office, to complete the report on the shooting and to wait for Nathan’s call, the tension in his body coiled into his muscles, ready, waiting for the time to spring into action.
Buck was in Hell.
He figured he deserved to be here. Lord, but he’d done so many things wrong in his life.
But JD shouldn’t be keeping him company. The kid belonged on the other side of the fence, up with the angels. He tried to tell JD that, that he should be a cherub and sit at the hand of God, but JD just made a face.
“I ain’t no naked baby angel, Buck.”
“Well, you’re too damn short to be one of the archangels or seraphim. You’d be real cute as one of the cherubim, why don’t you give it a try?”
“Buck, I’d rather be in Hell with you.”
No, that wasn’t right; JD was too good to stay down here in the fiery depths with an old reprobate like him. He’d have to trick him into going to Heaven. Trouble was, his head hurt and it was keeping him from coming up with a clever plan. Well, he’d send JD up to the pearly gates tomorrow. For tonight, JD could snuggle up with him. Buck kissed him on the forehead and told him to go to sleep and not mind the devils making all that racket down on one of the lower levels of Hell. He sighed and felt guilty that JD was in his arms. It felt nice, but it was wrong. Shit, no wonder he’d ended up in Hell. He always did do the wrong thing, if it felt good enough.
“Buck, we’re here. Wake up.”
Something was pulling at him, separating him from JD. He felt himself moving upward, swimming up through dense layers, and he didn’t want to leave JD behind. He tried to go back for him, but he was stuck, he couldn’t go back down through those layers.
“Buck, wake up now. We’re at the Federal Building, and Chris is waiting for us.”
Buck opened his eyes and blearily mumbled, “Shit, I left JD by himself. He’s still in Hell.”
Nathan said, “Hush now, you did no such thing. It wasn’t your fault you two were kidnapped.”
“I tried to get him to go to Heaven, but the dern fool didn’t want to be an angel.”
“Buck. Wake up. You’re still half asleep here, talking about angels and Hell.” Nathan jiggled his shoulder.
Buck roused himself, the dream about JD and Hell already fading from his mind. He looked at Nathan and scrubbed his hands over his face.
“I’m awake now. Let’s go.”
They walked into their office, Buck’s eyes sliding past his and JD’s desks, which, as always, were tucked up together. He and JD’d had a lot of fun in their little space of the office, tossing whiteout back and forth, him swiping JD’s pens and JD stealing them back.
Chris was waiting for them at the door to his office.
“Buck, have a seat.” As Buck pushed past him, Chris gave him a pat on his upper arm. He took a seat and waited for Chris to question him, but Chris was still talking to Nathan.
“Anything more to tell me?”
“Just what I told you on the phone. He needs to get some rest, he can have Tylenol for his head in--” Nathan paused,“two and a half hours.”
“Get some sleep. When people are up and stirring, I want you to go with Buck and back track from the campground. Jimmy C spotted Buck somewhere between his condo and Estes Park. Let’s see if anybody recognizes his mug shot.”
“All right. You going to look out for Buck?”
“Yeah. I’m going to take him home with me to get some sleep for a few hours. I’ll call you when he’s awake.”
Chris closed his door and pulled up a chair next to Buck. Buck appreciated that gesture -- Chris sitting across the desk from him would feel too much like an interrogation. This was going to be hard enough as it was, to have to tell his old friend the things that had been done to him and the things he’d done to JD. He knew he had to tell him. He’d come to that conclusion while waiting to be treated at the hospital. Probably Blondie and Shorty, as JD had named them, had said something stupid, instead of keeping their mouths shut. The two of them together had only shared half a brain. Too bad the one idea Blondie’d had, to keep themselves amused while the long hours had crawled by, had been to play with JD’s new camera and decide it would be fun to shoot a porn flick.
Chris hadn’t been made a Supervisory Special Agent because he was good-looking, in his own scrawny way. The man did have a brain, and Buck knew Chris would know that whatever was in that camera had to do with the kidnapping.
“Chris, turn on the tape recorder and let’s get this done. I did some bad things while they held us; I feel like you should be arresting me, not taking me home with you to bunk for the rest of the night.”
“Look, I know more than you realize, and nobody’s holding you responsible. When we find JD, he’s gonna tell you the same thing.”
“He already did. Before I… fucked him, during fucking him and afterwards. I still feel like… like a pervert. Like I committed incest. And I’ve never wanted to kill anybody so much as I wanted to kill those three… I can’t even think of somethin' bad enough to call them. They thought it was so damn funny. And they got it in their God-damned heads that JD and I were already a couple, so they seemed to think that gave them the right to force me to have sex with him. They made JD do stuff to me, too. Blow-jobs, and kissing. And touching. And my treacherous body liked that a lot, didn’t it. JD’s mouth on my dick got me good and hard real fast. Even with an audience, and if that doesn’t prove I'm a pervert, then I don’t know what does. I deserve to go to Hell.
Chris gripped Buck’s bicep. “Cut it out. Once JD's back home, if you still ain't right about all this, I’m gonna tote you to a shrink.”
Buck gave a watery laugh, and then said seriously, “Chris, let’s just do it, okay.”
Chris nodded and poised his finger over the record button on the tape recorder. “I have to watch the film, you know that, don’t you? But you don’t have to watch it with me. Your choice, Buck.”
Buck shook his head emphatically no. “I trust you, Chris. If there’s some part you need me to explain, I will, but I’d rather not watch me forcing JD. And if we can keep from having to use the film as evidence, then I want to burn it. Me and JD, we can burn it together.” If he’s not dead by the time we find him. Oh, Sweet Jesus, please let him live through this.
Chris pushed the tape player button. “This is Supervisory Special Agent Chris Larabee, interviewing Special Agent Buck Wilmington. The date is June 27, 2001. The time is…
Dunne and Wilmington apartment, Denver, Colorado
Friday, late evening, June 29, 2001
Buck hit his pillow a couple more times, scrunched it up, and tried again to go to sleep. Chris had offered to put him up again at the ranch, where he’d stayed for a few hours after being released from the hospital and last night, but he wanted to come back home to try to sleep.
He was dead tired, but then they all were. Every line of investigation had been checked out, from Jimmy C's and Greg Morgan’s pictures being shown around every place Buck and JD had stopped at on their way to the campground, to interviewing their family members and neighbors and friends, trying to find out if anybody knew a place the two men might have used to hide JD.
He rolled over to his side and wiggled around on the bed. He couldn’t get comfortable and his mind was like a hamster in a wheel. He just kept thinking about how they’d failed to find JD.
Forensics had helped a little; the tread on Morgan’s van had held traces of gravel and dirt common to the Rocky Mountain area. Jimmy C’s shoes and clothes had the same traces as the tread, with one difference -- traces of straw had been found. So they were concentrating on rural areas in the mountains where straw might be located. Farms, kennels, and horse ranches in a three and a half hour radius from the cabin where he and JD had been kept were being targeted. The areas closest to the old cabin, Morgan’s home, and Jimmy C’s cabin had been the most heavily searched, but they’d found nothing.
Morgan – the son-of-a bitch – had died this morning without ever regaining consciousness. Buck had been praying the man would wake up and spill the beans about where JD was, but God wasn’t listening to him. Buck tightened his hands into fists as he thought about the men who’d hurt JD, then relaxed them again. He needed to sleep, so he could focus on finding JD. He’d been absolutely no help at all this evening and Chris had ordered him to go to bed.
Chris had brought in Robert Greer and sweated him, but while the man had co-operated, he’d only told them the things they’d already figured out – and nothing that would incriminate himself. He claimed that Jimmy C had worked for him for a while at a warehouse but had been let go. He admitted to meeting with Buck ‘Wilson’ because he was hoping the gun dealer could help him locate rare antique firearms, such as Smith and Wesson revolvers and Kentucky Long Rifles, for his collection.
Josiah had worked up a profile on both Jimmy C and Morgan, and he figured they’d picked an isolated place in the mountains. Both men had a lot in common with survivalists, and Josiah had talked to informants with knowledge of the local survivalists communities, but nobody recognized either man.
Morgan had brought in the Parks cousins; they'd been at the same high school. They’d kept up a loose association over the years, sometimes going hunting together or drinking together.
Where Morgan and Jimmy C had crossed paths had probably been in prison, as they’d both served a term at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in 1999.
Buck took his pillow and pounded it again, then tried again to shut off his mind. He decided he’d try to count presidents. A degree in history ought to be good for some damn thing.
After he’d gotten up to the current president, Bush the second, he’d given it up. He rolled onto his back and his mind slipped back to the last time he’d seen JD.
JD had been handcuffed to Buck, and they were lying on a foam pad that had been dragged out of the bedroom. They’d had sex again late that morning, Blondie directing them in the poses he wanted to see. This time he’d wanted JD to blow Buck for a while, then Buck had to fuck JD, his legs over Buck’s shoulders. For lube they used an ancient can of Crisco, which their kidnappers had found in a cupboard days ago, after Buck had said he’d do it – he’d have sex with his friend. He couldn’t stand to see JD shocked any more; people could die from tazer misuse and while JD was young and strong, Buck was afraid the shocks were going to damage his heart.
So they were just lying in each other’s arms, face to face, after the exhibition they’d had to do for their kidnappers, a blanket for warmth covering their nakedness, when Jimmy C had returned, elated that a buyer had been found for the guns he thought Buck had hidden away.
The guy in charge, Jimmy C, hadn’t cared that Blondie had branched out into making porn flicks. He'd unlocked the cuffs, a stun gun pressed against JD’s skin to buy compliance. JD was given his pants back to put on, but no shoes or shirt. Then Jimmy C produced a syringe and shot the kid up with some kind of fast acting sedative. As JD had become sleepy and started to sway, Buck had demanded that they let him hold the kid. Shorty had laughed, and told him, “Sure, hold onto your baby.” JD had whispered to him to take care of himself. Then he’d passed out with his head on Buck’s chest. Buck supported his friend’s limp, dead weight, hugging him, until Morgan and Jimmy C took the kid from him and carried him out the door.
The last time he’d seen JD the kid had been helpless, not even conscious. He prayed Morgan and Jimmy C were frying in Hell and he hoped they were saving a place for the Parks cousins.
He couldn’t stand lying in his bed any longer and he got up and went down the stairs. He went over to the big picture windows for a while, staring mindlessly out at the Denver skyline, then detoured into the bathroom. When he came out he intended to climb back up the stairs, but instead he found himself opening JD’s bedroom door. He stepped inside, and took a deep breath. The room smelled faintly like JD did, and he supposed that meant the room needed a good cleaning. Still, he found himself relaxing a little, here in JD’s space. He slowly headed for JD’s bed and without really thinking about it – because he didn’t want to think about what thinking about it would mean -- he climbed into JD’s bed and pulled up the covers. He laid his head down on JD’s pillow and closed his eyes. He felt close to JD here, like this, and he thought he could finally sleep. ‘Thanks, buddy,’ and he felt himself sliding into welcome slumber.
Buck found himself wandering down a well-marked trail, trees in their full fall glory of colors everywhere. There were lots of paths here; he could see them off to the side and sometimes they would cross the trail he was on. Signs for mountain biking showed various directions a biker could take. But he was alone here. There were no bikers, or campers, or fisherman sitting in boats on the distant lake. The only sign of life was a hawk circling above him.
A part of him knew he was dreaming, but why was this tame landscape turning up in his subconscious? The trees were wrong for Colorado; it was early summer, not fall, but here the trees were a glorious mix of yellows, oranges, and reds. Well, he’d wake up before too long. He might as well keep exploring. He debated which path to take now, but when he felt a pull towards the one on the left, he shrugged and turned his steps that way, the hawk crying out overhead.
That pull was stronger now, and he hurried along with a sense of expectation. There was something here that he needed to see. Something he needed to find. Something that was lost.
He was hiking along at a great pace now, curiosity and anticipation lengthening his strides, the hawk flying ahead of him to land on branches until he had almost reached it, then flying ahead of him again. He thought he must be closer to whatever was drawing him because the feeling steadily got stronger the more he traveled on this path.
He heard the hawk scream as he came around a bend in the path and broke into a run. There -- on top of a… a bunker? What the hell was a bunker doing in the middle of this park? But what was the shape on top of it? He came closer to the odd building, which was mostly underground from the look of it. He gave an enormous sigh of relief, and then felt an onslaught of guilt and shame. The figure sitting cross-legged on the bunker was JD.
Devils Gulch Rd, Larimer County, Colorado
Saturday, early morning, June 30th, 2001
“Nathan, I’m telling you I don’t understand one little bit of it, but I have a strong hunch that we should head east from here.” Buck felt weird even saying this out loud, but Nathan wanted to continue the search for JD in a more methodical fashion, thoroughly covering the area they’d been assigned – not shooting off in some direction without apparently any rhyme or reason.
“Look, you know we could miss him unless we do this search in a grid fashion.” Nathan tried for a conciliatory tone of voice, but Buck just knew the medic was wondering if those head injuries he’d gotten was responsible for some other effect on his danged mind.
Well, if he had to, he’d split off from Nathan, go back and get Lady and head east. But that would get Chris on his back about returning to the hospital to get checked out, and it would delay the search. He sighed, knowing he didn’t really have anything to lose by telling Nathan what had happened in his dream. Maybe Nathan could explain it – or at least humor him.
“Pull over, okay? What I’m going to tell you makes me sound crazy as a loon – I know it does – but it’s like I’m being compelled to find JD this way.” Buck swallowed hard as Nathan shot him a concerned look and pulled the Ford Explorer over to the side of the road.
“Just hear me out, pard, I promise I’m harmless. Last night I dreamed I found JD. He was in some park that had old bunkers in it and it was fall, judging from the trees. It wasn’t anyplace around here. JD, he said he’d pulled me to him, said that he was somewhere under ground – sort of like that bunker he was sitting on top of – but smaller. He’s getting weak, Nathan. He’s run out of water and food and he’s trapped in that underground place.”
Nathan eyes were full of sympathy. He said, “Buck, you’ve been under tremendous stress. It’s no wonder you dreamed you found JD, but it was just a dream. We can’t let your dream keep us from searching for him the right way. We’ll find him, Buck, but not if we just let you meander wherever you think he might be.” He reached over and patted Buck on the arm.
“JD said that’s what the rest of our team would say. He said to tell everyone that where he and I were talking – it wasn’t really a dream. It was more like a place where our souls went walking to meet each other. JD said that park with the bunker was someplace he’d go to when he was a kid. He was tired, Nathan. He said he didn’t remember the name of the park, but it was close to his old home.”
Buck snuck a peek at Nathan, to see if he was twirling his fingers at his temples in the crazy sign, and was encouraged to see that Nathan was listening intently.
“He told me that being in that dark place under the earth… well, it was changing him. He could hear sounds that were far away. Cars, Nathan. He couldn’t hear them when he first woke up, but he can now. Birds, cows. And his sense of smell has gotten out of hand. It’s driving him wild, because of the smells both inside that underground prison of his and outside. He can hold his hand over his arm and he can feel it. And his eyes have adjusted to the dark. He said now he can see plain as daylight inside that hole of a place he's stuck in. He couldn’t see a thing after he’d worked the blindfold off his face, but he can see now. Where he’s at is made out of concrete blocks and there’s old broken down shelves in there. He’s chained to the wall.”
Buck looked earnestly at his teammate, knowing he sounded like he was coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. “JD was on top of that bunker, in the park-dream place. I tried to climb up to him, but I couldn’t get there. I don’t know why and I tried and tried. JD wanted me to help him. I… I failed to keep him safe when we were snatched. Hell, if he hadn’t been with me, he never would have been grabbed. JD, he finally told me to stop trying to save him in that dream world; he said we were connected – he could feel it and he was going to give me some help so that I could find him in the real world. Nathan, he touched his heart and drew out from it a golden kind of rope. He threw it to me and said for me to hold on tight to it and follow it back to him. I tied it around myself. He had to lay down then. Giving me that pretty rope to bind us together – it wore him plumb out. He said he’d be waiting for me. And then I woke up.” Buck grabbed Nathan’s arm. “I’m telling you I can tug on that cord and know which direction he’s at. He’s east of here. I know it sounds like I’m a lunatic, but Nathan… I know I can find him. But we’ve got to hurry. Don’t make me waste time by having to go off on my own.”
“Why didn’t you tell me – hell, or tell Chris -- about your dream this morning?” Nathan was looking thoughtful. Buck looked confused, and then shrugged.
“I didn’t remember it till a little while ago. When you wanted to turn north, I just remembered.”
Nathan was quiet for a moment, and a car passed them by, reminding Buck that they needed to go now because JD… He closed his eyes for a moment, and felt that cord, now invisible instead of golden, become just a bit thinner. JD was so weak. Buck opened his eyes and looked at Nathan when the man began to talk, more to himself than to Buck.
“His senses are becoming hyperactive after a period of isolation. You described meeting him in the spirit plane – soul walking – and you two are bound by a gold cord between your bodies. You had sex together. Sex can be one of the ways the two become synchronized with each other. You’ve always been close – as if you were drawn together from the first time you met. I remember when you met JD. It was like… two magnets being attracted to each other.”
Nathan started the Explorer back up. Buck was prepared to beg, plead, pitch a fit, whatever it took for Nathan to head towards JD, but Nathan pulled out and headed east.
“Just tell me which way to turn, okay? I’m calling Josiah to report what we’re doing and to ask him to do some research. I want him to look for parks or forests with some kind of old underground structures. JD said he went there as a kid, right? I know he and his mom didn’t have much money, so they probably stayed close to Boston.”
“You don’t think I’m crazy? Like some old coot looking for the Lost Dutchman mine?” Buck was grateful but also a little stunned. Why did Nathan believe him? It didn’t make any sense.
“If I’m right… I’m pretty sure I’m right… the more I think about it… Yeah. I’m right.” Nathan pushed the gas pedal down and flipped his lights on for silent running.
“What? What are you right about? What the hell did you figure out, Nathan?”
But Nathan had speed dialed Josiah and with a look at Buck he said, “Josiah. Have you got anything new? Okay. Well, we’ve had a breakthrough. Buck and I think we can locate JD. Can you do some more research? Maybe it will help.” He told Josiah to look for a park near Boston that had bunkers in it.
Nathan listened to Josiah and then said, “I don’t have time to go into the details, but…” and he looked at Buck with a combination of curiosity and amazement, “Buck’s evidently a guide. And JD is his sentinel. They’ve bonded and we’re following the pull of the bond right now. The universe works in mysterious ways, indeed, my friend.”
Larimer County, Colorado
Saturday, late morning, June 30th, 2001
JD pulled again on the chain that was keeping him in this hellhole. He didn’t want to die here, didn’t want his body to be found adding to the stink of his waste. Gah, smelling his own shit and piss just added to the misery of being abandoned underground. He picked up a broken bit of concrete block and tried to summon up the energy to keep hitting the chain, trying to break it. What the hell else did he have to do? It kept his mind off his troubles and the way that he was hallucinating, hearing sounds. Surprisingly, he could see in the dark now. That was real. He was pretty sure that was real.
The gun deal must have happened and something had gone wrong, but Buck was okay. He knew that. He didn’t exactly know how he knew it, but he did. He’d dreamed about Buck. Buck had found him at that state park he’d gone to sometimes when he was a kid, where he'd raced his bike over the rough terrain. Those bunkers -- homeless people would live there sometimes and his mother told him they were off-limits, but he and his buddies would go explore them sometimes. Probably that was why he dreamed about them – he was underground and they were mostly underground.
It had been so good to see Buck again. He’d thrown a rope – it was weird how he’d just pulled it from his heart – to Buck, so his partner wouldn’t let him get lost. It was a guide rope, and in his dream he’d told Buck to use it to find him. He and Buck – tied together. Tied the knot together. The other guys on Team Seven had teased them sometimes about acting like an old married couple, most likely because of the way they could argue without really arguing. He and Buck had laughed about it. Now they’d done everything expected of a married couple. They’d had sex. Terrible, forced, sex, but it was with his best friend and that part had made it bearable.
For him, anyway. Maybe not for Buck, though. He’d wanted to beat those idiots who'd fancied themselves pornographers black and blue for what they’d made Buck do, but he hadn’t freaked out because of having sex with Buck. He was more of a two, or maybe even a three, on the Kinsey scale. Although he hadn’t had any encounters with men since he’d been eighteen, and those experiences hadn’t been the kind of sex he and Buck had been made to perform for their demented audience. Back then he'd done mutual masturbation or just touching each other’s dicks and, with Michael, there’d been kissing. He’d thought of it as kid stuff. Just kids experimenting with how their bodies worked. Ever since he’d lost his virginity to Pamela Brian, though, he’d focused on girls.
He guessed Buck hadn’t ever had sex with a guy before, not even kissing or touching dicks together, but he’d known what to do. Buck sometimes talked about how his mother’s lifestyle had educated him to be knowledgeable about a lot of things that had been covered in the class JD had taken on social deviance.
He put down his makeshift hammer, and overcome with dizziness again, laid down on the packed earth floor. He heard a bug on the other side of the room walking on the wall. He could hear cars if he focused. He was hallucinating those sounds. Funny, he didn’t feel like he was going crazy, but then, would a person know when they started diverting from reality?
He didn’t know. He wished he could see Buck again, and the rest of his team. They were his family. His band of brothers. And Casey. He’d thought maybe they would move on from the casual sporadic dating they’d done to something more. He’d miss her, too. He was so tired, and he was going to die soon. Maybe he’d just pass in his sleep. That seemed like a good way to go. It was cold under the ground, and he only had on a pair of jeans. He felt like he was always close to hypothermia. Before he got so weak, he’d moved around as much as the chain would let him, to generate some heat. But now, if the temperature dropped he’d succumb for sure. He was thirsty, he’d long ago finished the water his kidnapper had left for him. There was moisture on the walls and he kept licking it wherever it gathered. It wasn’t enough to keep him alive for long.
The stale ham sandwich and candy bar that had been tossed on the ground for him was also history. Maybe he could catch that bug, if it came closer to him.
He thought again about Buck. It was irrational, but he just kept sending out a mental S.O.S. to his partner. 'Find me, Buck Wilmington. I need to tell you again that what happened to us wasn’t your fault.' He wanted to scream it, but his vocal cords were so abused from all the shouting he’d done when he’d first woken up in the dark, that all he could do now was croak out the words.
He closed his eyes, but he didn’t sleep. He visualized that golden cord that was attached to his heart and he pictured himself winding it in, a heavy weight on the other side. Sometimes the weight veered off and JD had to tug on it extra hard to get the weight of Buck – yeah, Buck was on the end of the cord – to come along in the right direction.
“You are losing your mind, John Dunne,” he whispered to himself. He didn’t care. He’d play this game of “Buck-find–me” until it was time to cross. Maybe his mom would be there; he’d love to see her again. “Guess I’ll find out soon enough what happens when people die.”
Maybe he did sleep for a while. Or fainted or passed out. He was still on this earth when he came to, though, and the hallucinations were getting worse. He thought he could hear Buck and Nathan calling his name. Maybe it was angels, coming to take him to his mother. He grinned a little. Buck would have snorted at the thought that his voice could be mistaken for an angel’s beautiful tones.
The angels were getting closer. Angel-Buck was demanding that JD answer him, right now, God-damn-it! JD tsked over an angel taking the Lord’s name in vain. If the angel kept that up, he’d be sent down to the other place. JD didn’t want to be responsible for a fallen angel landing in Hell, so he made an enormous effort and yelled as loud as he could. His throat hurt so bad. He hoped the angels heard him and that they would come and make him feel better.
He could hear the angels yelling his name again. He shook his head at the way these angels seemed to be lost. Why didn’t they just appear inside his underground prison?
He yelled again, just Buck’s name, though. That was all could do. He listened as the angels pounded on the door and yelled his name over and over. He was too tired to answer them, though.
Then he heard a gunshot. He was wondering why angels had guns – that didn’t seem right – when the door of his own personal hell opened and the angels rushed in.
Funny, this angel even looked like Buck. And the other one looked like Nathan.
He tried to tell Buck-angel to quit his crying, that he was glad to see him and Nathan-angel, and if it was time to go, well then, he was ready.
But all he managed to whisper was, “Am I g-going to heaven, Buck?” before everything grayed out into darkness again.
Continued in In Our Time of Need -- Part Three