four corners pd

By: Cin and Heidi


Day two: Friday

Part Thirteen 

After midnight

Ezra dropped off his use of force reports and supplements for the liquor store incident and walked out to his truck.  After checking on his napping partner, he saw a familiar patrol car on the side of the police garage.  Smiling to himself, he strolled over.  “Greetings, dear lady.”

A head popped up from the other side of the car.  “Felicitations, kind sir,” she replied with a smile.  It broadened as she mischievously added, “Or should I say blind sir?”

He inclined his head in acknowledgement of her wit.  “I believe I have sight well enough to cause me to ask you what are you doing?”

“Tire’s a little low.”  Nina replaced the air hose and locked that compartment shut.

“All better now?”  He propped one elbow on the roof of her car knowing she hated that.  She nodded and stared at him.  Sure enough, she reacted to the elbow with an ineffectual glare at the offending appendage followed by a raised water hose, the nozzle pointed right at him.  Having no desire to get drenched, he removed the elbow saying, “A bath too?”

“No.  Getting some dust off the wheels so I could check the rims, see if there’s a slow leak.”

“You shouldn’t allow your vehicle to attract and accumulate dust and dirt.”  His smirk tormented her; she kept her vehicle one of the cleanest; almost as clean as his normally stayed.

“Bite me, blind boy.”

Green eyes twinkled.  “Where exactly would you like me to or shall I feel my way around?”

Before she could answer, another unit pulled up to the gas pumps containing the only squad members that did not fill up at the beginning of shift.  They clearly heard Buck’s voice through the closed window.  “You are going in there and apologizing!”

“Like hell,” his rookie replied.

“I see someone has not learned a lesson yet,” Nina commented with a soft voice and a wry smile.  She came around to stop beside Ezra and watch them.  Knowing Buck, he probably figured half a tank would get him through the shift but he did not count on his rookie pissing off Casey and making them run all night.

Buck bellowed, “KID!”

“Apparently not,” drawled Ezra in an equally soft voice.

JD retorted, “My name is not Kid, Buck.  It’s JD.  Two simple letters.  Is it that so hard to say?”  The rookie climbed out to lean against the car as Buck voice nearly raised to a yell.

“No, JD, it’s not that hard to say, JD, just as easy for you, JD, to say ‘I’m sorry’ to Casey!”  Buck’s face appeared on the other side of the car.  “I’ll pump, you apologize.”

“I’ll think about it.”  The rookie replied over his shoulder he used his key card to enter the back of the building.

Nina’s laughter finally caught the fuming Wilmington’s attention.  “What?”  He bellowed at her, not really in the mood to be teased.

“You giving advice on apologizing?  How priceless.”  She elbowed Ezra while laughing.

Standish smirked.  Sometimes watching the two of them bickering amused him to no end.  The added advantage was that he was able to learn more about both in the process.

“I can say it,” huffed Buck.

“When you’re backed into a corner.”

“You hush,” he grumbled as he started filling the gas tank.

“Tried your half tank move again, didn’t you?”

He glared at her.  “Nina.”

She smiled insincerely.  “Didn’t work.  Make sure you top off.”

“Don’t you stir the pot!”  One finger pointed viciously in her direction.

“Sucks, doesn’t it?”  Her tone conveyed her amusement.

Buck sighed and asked anyway.  “What?”

“Being the other half that pays right along with the big mouth.”

The rogue grew defensive.  “I was never that bad.”  He thought the comment was aimed at him about their personal relationship.

The grin turned devilish.  “I wasn’t talking about you, but now that you mention it…”

“NINA!” roared the aggravated Wilmington.

She explained to Ezra in a sotto voice, “I was referring to my previous stint with Rafe and the Dispatcher Slam.  How he thought I was talking about him is beyond me.”

Buck flushed bright red, his face caught in the headlights of Larabee’s unmarked.  One finger shook again in her direction but as he opened his mouth, Ezra cut him off.

“Mr. Wilmington, did you ever learn that that it is rude to point?”

Chris got out of his car.

“Everyone look!  It’s Mr. Happy!” cried Nina, cutting Buck off again.

Chris immediately smiled and visualized her neck between his fingers.  The smile changed to a smirk and he nodded a greeting.  “Why are we all here?” he asked, still savoring the visual.

“Low tire,” Nina replied.  “Got any hot air to fill it?”

In his mind, her face turned purple.  “Ask Buck.  He’s the expert on inflatables.”

Buck snarled, “Bite me.”

“Is that what she says on the pull string right before you pop her?” queried the southerner.

“No,” corrected Chris, “that’s Blow Me!”

“Shiver me timbers and blow me down!”  A surprised Nina exclaimed of the joking Larabee in a very bad pirate accent.  “Speaking of blowing, Chris, how’s the temper?”

“Just fine.”  He smirked again.  “Standish, why are you here?”

“Dropping off my reports unless you’d prefer I should be tardy in the completion of my duties?”

Nina asked, “You can see your watch?”

Ezra’s expression showed his distaste for the bad joke.

Buck jumped in, “No, ol’ Ace reads it for him.”

“Does he bark on the hour?”

“No, but I find conversation with my canine partner more intellectually stimulating than speaking with my co-workers.”

“Oh-ho!” laughed Nina.  “Points to Ezra!”

“Buck?  Where’s JD?”  Chris realized the group lacked one member of the squad that should be there, hoping his friend did not drop JD off on the side of the road as a bad joke.

“Inside, PR.  He’d better be apologizing too.”

“Aw, poor Bucky-Wucky has to workie-workie tonight while Chrissy-Wissy has to be nicie-wicie.”  The evil grin on Nina’s face showed her enjoyment.

Chris thought of an appropriate payback.  “Buck.”


“She hasn’t been tagged or marked in a long time.”

“NO!  We’re on duty!”  Nina backed up two steps from the loose circle of men when she saw the argument was not going to help her.

“You’re right, pard.”  Matching, smug, chilling grins covered their faces.  Their eyes gleamed with anticipation. 

“NO!” cried Nina, ducking behind Ezra.  “You have to help me!”

“I’m sorry, my dear, but I’m afraid I cannot see you and my seeing eye dog is resting,” he replied, curious to see what ‘tagged and marked’ meant.  More importantly, to see what made her seek immediate help and actually back off, something she rarely did if she had a choice in the matter.

“You’re no help!” Several more steps away later, she thought she just might make it to her patrol car.

“She’s gonna run.”

“Yup,” said the blonde.

“I LIKE IT when she runs.”

“Oh, yeah.”


“Now.”  In unison, they took a step toward her and she ran.

Quick as a wink, the two men caught up, Buck on the left and Chris on her right.  Strong hands grabbed her waist and legs, flipping her so she landed like a sack of grain on Buck’s shoulder.  The rogue balanced her while Chris held her upper body.

“TAG!” they yelled in a triumphant chorus.

“Put me down!”

“You want the honors, Stud?”

“Nah, you go, Stud.”

“Kinda got my hands full.”  Both looked at each other then said, “Ezra!”

Enjoying this unusual spectacle, he replied, “What?”

“Don’t you dare!” came from the area of Buck’s stomach followed by an OOF!  Her foot connected in his back.  A hand reached back and adjusted the pin on her legs.

Chris shook his head while keeping her arms pinned.  “Nah; he wouldn’t.”

Buck nodded, “Yeah, too proper.”

“I would not do what?” the southerner asked, having come over out of curiosity.

“He’s scared of her, too.”

“No balls.”

“I’m gonna use a fork, not a dull butter knife!”

Ezra gamely said, “Even with that threat, I believe Ms. Caswell does not frighten me.”

“It should.  Besides, Ezra’s not like you delinquents; he would not participate in something so juvenile.”

“He might mess up his hair.”  Buck goaded him, trying to ‘encourage’ Ezra into participating.

The hair comment reminded Ezra of a recent conversation with a certain narcotics detective.  “Tell me what you want me to do.”  He walked over to them, stopping beside Chris.

“I’ll make all of you pay!”  The voice continued to sound muffled from the area of Wilmington’s abdomen.

“Idle threats!” Chris threw back at her.  “Ezra, what you have to do is this…” He whispered the rest in the handler’s ear.

Green eyes widened in a mixture of shock and surprise.  “Surely you jest!”

Buck shook his head and continued to hold his wriggling burden, ignoring the curses turning the air blue.  “Told ya, pard, he won’t do it.”

“Yeah, guess you’re right.  It offends his sensibilities and again, no balls.  I’ll do it.”

Ezra stopped Chris with a raised hand.  “I will.  Someone recently accused me of not letting my hair down and I do believe this will be entertaining.  Juvenile, I’ll admit, but entertaining.”

“Whoo-hoo!”  Buck found himself struggling to hold her as she renewed her bid for freedom.

“Let me go!”

“I’ll hold her.”  Chris helped pin her as still as possible while Ezra did the deed.  She tried struggling but could not move.  They chuckled at her feeble efforts to free herself.  Once the southerner finished, they dropped her on her feet and ran, hauling Ezra between them and laughing.  Safely behind Buck’s patrol car, they watched from a distance as she shook her head, waved her hands, and stomped her feet.

“Nice aim, pard,” Buck praised, knowing exactly the reason for the heebie-jeebies she just went through.

“Dreadful.  I was aiming for dead center.”

Without looking at them, Nina returned to the side of her car, chills still rolling through her nervous system.  She rubbed the back of her neck where it throbbed.  A hickey.  The jerks convinced Ezra to give her a hickey and from the feel of it, a nice dark one.  She hated hickeys given like that, especially when she could not participate.  They knew it, doing it to her and Sarah all the time.  Sarah hated hickeys and the pair often paid for it through spiced food and other assorted pranks making the ‘boys’ uncomfortable.  And that was exactly what they acted like at times, juvenile boys.  At least, she sighed to herself, it was nice to see this side of Chris again.

Something at her feet caught her attention and she hid her grin.  She came up and stared at them over the hood of her car.  Reaching inside, Nina started the vehicle and her radio blared, breaking the stillness of the night. 

Some day you'll see things my way
Cause you never know
Where, you never know
Where you're gonna go

Seeing she was planning to leave, they made their way around Buck’s patrol car to lean against it, keeping a watchful eye on her and staying ready to run if the need arose.  “You know, I may be tagged and marked but at least I’m not hosed!”  Nina opened fire with the powerful nozzle on the water hose, catching all three in a cluster and the clueless JD who just joined them.

When she finished, she dropped the hose and dove into her car, taking off fast and leaving twin lines of burned rubber in her wake.  Along with four wet police officers.

Chris glanced at Buck and realized she went on an angle with the hose.  She hit Buck where it counted and he looked like he wet himself.  Ezra’s chest was drenched and his face was dripping.  Poor JD bought it all over on the second pass and he was not even involved.  He wiped water off his face.  The usually stoic man started chuckling.

JD punched Buck hard in the stomach, some force going through the vest.  “Don’t ever bitch at me again about apologizing.”  He wheeled around and went back inside, planning to change into the spare uniform he brought that night for emergencies.

The three men stared after the rookie then at each other, dissolving into laughter, leaning against the car and the nearest body.  Their radios keyed up to the lyrics of, “This time I'm 'a let it all come out, this time I'm 'a stand up and shout, I'm 'a do things my way, It's my way, My way, or the highway!” 

“FC, unit calling?”

This sent them even further into sidesplitting, gut-busting hilarity, knowing Nina accidentally keyed up on the main channel and not the talkaround.

“Damn, I’ve missed her,” Buck declared.

“Yup,” Chris echoed, reminded again of the fun-loving person he knew in Nevada, the current Nina a shadow of that flamboyant personality.

“I take it Ms. Caswell was frequently like this?” asked Ezra, using a towel to wipe off his chest. He rarely, if ever, saw her act this way.  In fact, as he thought about it, this might be the second time during the entire time they knew each other.  

Buck said, “Ezra, think of the most hyper animal you can imagine and put it on speed – that was Nina on a bad day.”

“Then I should rejoice we are seeing the true persona?”

“Yeah,” Chris sighed, brushing away the tears of laughter.  “It’s been way too long.”

Wilmington eyed the usually stoic sergeant closely.  “For a lot of us,” he observed quietly.

Part Fourteen


Saloon – Friday Night, At Closing

Buck and JD charged into the saloon.

“Senor, what took you so long?” Inez angrily asked as Buck broke apart two of the four combatants in the melee.  Her hands landed on her hips, her tray grasped to wallop the next person who got too close.   

“The Kid’s driving,” Buck dryly replied as he tossed both fighters to the floor.  This response to the disturbance call was very different from the previous call.  JD was driving this time, and he drove extremely cautious, even while responding code, setting his training officer’s teeth on edge with his desire to get there yesterday. 

The cautious response by the rookie fell well within regulations, but was very different from Wilmington’s normal code responses like earlier.  Having learned lunatic driving growing up in Las Vegas, Buck’s lights-and-sirens arriving resembled a pell-mell-get-the-hell-out-of-my-way style, creating a fear-inspired educated public.  When the good citizens saw an FCPD patrol car responding code, they promptly found a curb and stopped.

Already consigned to the Dispatcher Slam, a rookie and cautious driving, it was all Buck could do not to trounce JD’s foot on the accelerator.  Especially considering the location of the incident, for the second time tonight.

Buck hated the thought of Inez in danger.  He knew she could handle herself; she'd proved that.  But he also knew she only called when it went outside her ability to control the situation.  The car had not stopped completely, and Buck was already out and on his way inside before the vehicle locked behind the rookie. 

Meanwhile, JD never heard the trainer’s wisecrack because he dove immediately into the second group of fighters.  He subdued the third brawler by tossing him face-first into the saloon wall where the combatant slid dazed to the floor.  Turning, the rookie managed to twist enough that the fourth combatant hit only his vest with the fist that was aimed his way.  That action earned the man his own takedown to the floor and a charge for assaulting an officer.  Just as Dunne bent over to finish snapping on the handcuffs, he heard something behind him.

From in front of him, he felt arms shoving him down.  Buck dove over him and tackled the forgotten fighter just before a switchblade sunk into JD’s back. 

The corporal quickly and painfully disarmed the man then cuffed him while the rookie kept a close, tense watch on the other three. 

Dunne’s heart was in his throat and it was pounding loudly.  He swallowed once and his only thought was ‘Oh, shit!’

The other patrons found their way quietly to the exit or remained seated and out of the way of the police.  Empty hands splayed visibly on the flat table surfaces.  The regulars recognized that look on Wilmington’s face and that look meant he was well and truly pissed off.  Long in reaching his flash point, Buck rarely unleashed his own frightening temper but when he did - look out.  A pissed off Wilmington usually resulted in massive damage to something or someone.  And many knew, usually only the squad’s sergeant or the female corporal (neither of whom were present at this time) could calm him down.  If asked, the regulars would say that the female corporal could incite that temper just as easily as she put it out. 

Inez saw Buck’s furious countenance and knew she needed to do something before blood was spilled.  She detested cleaning up blood.  “Senor Buck,” she spoke in a soft, low voice, coming up beside him as he finished a rough pat down of the idiot formerly holding the knife.  She never touched him because his body posture screamed ‘fight’. Inez knew police well enough to know it was not wise to crowd them in this scenario.

“Yeah?”  He snapped.  He looked up when he realized who spoke to him, straightening after giving one final glare to the moaning pile of bones at his feet.  He pulled himself together with a deep breath, reminding himself to control his temper because Inez, the heavenly angel, did not deserve his ire.

“I want to thank you, Senor, for helping clean up the trash,” she said.  Inez smiled sweetly at him and included JD in her gratitude with a nod.

It probably killed her to say that in public and aloud, causing more of his anger to bleed away with her thanks.  With her track record of insulting him, being grateful and publicly showing gratitude hurt.  “Anytime, darlin’, anytime,” he replied with a smile.  His mood improved when her smile turned genuine.  They exchanged a smoldering look before he returned to patting down the rest.  This time, at least, he was not as rough as he was with the first man.  Inez heaved a sigh of relief, then realized she had calmed Buck down.  The implications of that sent her retreating back behind the bar with new, unsettling thoughts spinning through her head.

Nathan walked into the saloon and followed the pointing fingers to the action at the base of the bar.  What he saw pleased him; JD was keeping a close watch on all four prisoners while Buck shook them down.  “Y’all okay?”

Buck briefly looked up, “Yeah, Nate.  Anyone else coming?”

“Just Chris.  Y’all know he can’t miss a bar fight.” 

“Good.  I want this one transported alone and away from the others,” the corporal replied.  He nudged his least favorite on the end with his boot, eliciting a groan.  “You got a set of gloves on you?”

“Yeah.”  Nathan passed them over.

“Evidence bag?”

Rolling his eyes, Jackson reached into his front pocket and passed one to Buck.  “Don’t you carry your own?”

Buck ignored him as he snapped on the gloves and reached over to pick up the switchblade and bagged it for evidence.  “This piece of…work…tried backstabbing JD with his pigsticker.  You mind taking him now before I really get mad?”  At the sound of the delicate ‘ahem’ behind the bar, he cut a quick glance to Inez shaking her head in disapproval, then amended his statement, “Again.”  Was he flushing?  If he was, he hoped the dim lighting covered it.

It was then, Nathan noticed, Buck’s scarcely concealed agitation and raised color, then got angry himself at the prisoner.  Didn’t folks understand that the police were there to help them?  That they got no joy out of arresting people, marking them with a criminal record for the rest of their life?  It was not why he signed on to be a police officer; he truly wanted to help people.  “Sure, come on.”  None too gently, Nathan dragged the prisoner out and met Chris arriving on the parking lot.

“11-01’s on location.”

“10-4, 11-01.  11-02, Units Ocean King?”  The requisite two minutes and thirty seconds passed so Casey checked their status.

“That’s correct; four in custody.”  Buck’s sour disposition showed in his voice.

Chris started to groan then stopped himself at Buck’s tone.  He pasted a smile on his face because of that stupid bet as he heard Nathan commanding the prisoner, “Get in there and quit arguing.”  He watched the rear car door slam and Nathan finally faced him, motioning his sergeant a few paces away.  Noticing the fake smile, but smile nonetheless, Jackson buried his own amusement and calmly reported, “Buck’s in a mood.”

“What happened?”

Nathan jerked a thumb back toward the prisoner.  “Went for JD’s back with a switchblade.”

Worry filled Larabee at the thought of one of his people getting attacked.  He frowned  “JD okay?”

Nathan let Chris slide on that frown; given the severity of the situation the reaction was understandable and completely in character for the sergeant.  Anything less and the paramedic might check for a fever.  Even if the stoic blond tried not to let it show, the whole squad knew how much he really cared about them.  He was not only a natural leader, he was a protector.  A smile appeared on the paramedic’s face.  “He won’t be after Buck’s through with him.”

If Nathan was smiling, the rookie was all right.  Chris felt the relief flow through his system.  He also knew Buck probably wanted to throttle the rookie for leaving his back open.  “Guess I’ll have to let Buck have his say before he explodes.”  The sergeant smirked and left his friend, heading inside the saloon.  He heard Jackson call out his transport just as he reached the pair guarding the remaining prisoners.  Chris noted the tense shoulders and suppressed emotions in his friend, knowing Buck needed to let it out.  “Buck.”

“Chris.”  Volumes of information exchanged in that greeting, giving Chris an idea what happened. 

“Let’s get them out of here.”  Larabee tossed one prisoner at JD who immediately led him outside.  The older officers followed and by the time they reached the parking lot, Nathan returned for his next transport.  One went to Jackson while the two friends were stuffed in Buck’s patrol car, Chris following them the short distance to the Detention Center.

The deputies helped unload and once the prisoners disappeared to Booking, Chris and Nathan took their leave.  Just before Chris drove off, he turned to Buck, “Make sure he understands.”  He chalked it up to a rookie mistake and thought hopefully, it was one the last one of this nature.

The mustached man nodded vigorously.  “He will.”  Once Larabee left, Buck returned to the small room set aside for the officers to type their statement of charges.  He closed the door and they filled out their paperwork in silence.  Buck finished first, standing and blocking the door.  He watched the dark head bent over his paperwork, the dark bangs slipping to fall into his eyes occasionally, and the rookie continually pushing them back in frustration.  He felt a pang in his heart, missing another dark haired youth that tended to keep his hair too long.  He hoped the lesson he was about to impart would keep this one around for a while longer.  JD finally stood and stretched.

The punch came out of nowhere, driving hard into the vest and forcing air from JD’s lungs.  He backed up and stared in shock at his training officer.  “What was that for?  That hurt.”

“A whole lot less than getting stuck between the ribs with a switchblade,” Buck berated.  “You never, ever turn your back on anyone because if you do, you can get yourself or someone else killed.”  His finger poked JD in the center of the chest with each heated word and practically backed him into the wall.

JD defended himself, “I thought he was down.”  He did not understand the reason for this abuse…yet.

Buck rolled his eyes and slapped one palm against JD’s cheek with enough force to get his attention, but not enough to mark or hurt.  “He got up pretty quick, didn’t he?”  Poke.  “This is what ‘Watch Your Back’ means.”  Poke.  “Too many officers get killed when someone they,” his fingers made quotation marks, “thought”, poke, “was down, gets up, and attacks.”  One last poke and he stepped back.  “Kid, I don’t know you well enough for the eulogy other than to say ‘he was stupid’ and I HATE wearing the dress uniform.”

“Nice to know you care,” JD cracked with a sneer.

The corporal closed his eyes and counted to five.  “I do care.  That’s why I’m telling you and that’s why I’m so mad.”  His voiced raised to a near shout.  “You’re too smart to act this dumb more than once.  Now, I’ve been doing this a lot of years and if you don’t respect that, fine, but if you don’t learn from this you might get someone killed.  How would you feel if Inez got hurt defending you?  Because she would.”

JD was incensed and his voice rose in return, “Like crap.  It’s not her job to defend me.”

“Exactly.  It’s YOUR job and YOU’RE supposed to know what to do.  Like not taking your eyes off a suspect unless you know for damn sure the suspect’s not going to be a threat.  Any spectator can become a threat.  So you watch your back.  Do you get that, Kid, or do I have to beat it into you?”

The point hit home earlier but Buck’s bleak perspective brought chills.  What would he feel like if some innocent paid for his mistakes?  Could he live with it?  Eyes seeing things in a new light met the midnight blue of his carefully watchful training officer.

Buck’s voice softened.  “Now you understand, Kid.  Sorry I had to rough you up but you have to know not to leave your back unprotected.  We watch each other’s, but there are times when we can’t.  You see what I’m saying?”

“Yeah,” JD admitted swallowing hard.  He reviewed the incident again, seeing his mistake clearly with the training officer’s perspective and with the benefit of hindsight.  “I screwed up, Buck.”

“You’re a rookie.  We expect it out of you.  The trick’s learning.”  He clapped JD on the back, satisfied now that the kid understood and would be more prepared next time.  He knew the kid was smart.  Buck was already pleased with the initiative and gumption shown by the rookie in his first two days.

“Oh, I’ll learn, all right.  Faster than you think.”  Dunne unloaded a solid hit in the center of Buck’s vest, knocking the bigger man back a step.  He gave Wilmington a cocky grin and returned, “You’re supposed to watch your front, too.”

Buck laughed, coughed, wheezed once, and then laughed again.  The kid packed a good wallop; he was going to fit right in, Wilmington thought to himself.  Aloud he said, “Yup.  You got me that time.”

 JD yelped as the large fist grabbed the back of his head and pulled him close to the broad chest.  The other hand’s knuckle rubbed quickly and painfully across the top of his skull while his arms waved for balance.  Just as suddenly as he was grabbed he was released, quickly stepping back and eyeing the grinning training instructor warily.

“You learn quick, Kid,” Buck agreed trying to keep his scowl from turning into an all out grin.  “Now don’t do it again.”

Seeing the hint of a smile, JD was relieved he had not blown everything he worked so hard for.  He could also see and feel the smallest touch of acceptance from this man and he allowed himself to relax just a little, giving his trainer a brief nod of agreement.  Anything more and his head would hurt from the monster noogie.

Buck clapped him on the back. “Let’s get back to work.”

Smiling finally, the rookie followed his trainer back out to the parking lot to their unit.  Once outside and clear of the radio dampening building, Wilmington reached up to his mike and called them clear.  “11-02, 10-8, Code Adam times four, Code Robert.”  This meant four arrests and a report.

The radio cackled to life in answer as he moved to the passenger side of the vehicle.  JD once again took the driver’s seat.

“10-4, 11-02.  11-02, 11-07, copy Suspicious Person call in Central.”

Resting one arm on his open car door and the other on the hood of the patrol unit, Wilmington glared at the rookie across the hood.  “JD. . .”

The kid looked wide-eyed at the growl, “What?”

Buck’s face contorted with each word.  “I don’t care what you have to do to make it right with Casey but you will do it, you hear??  I don’t EVER want ANOTHER night like this.”

JD started to voice another protest but the menacing glare and that frightening sound he swore was an angry bear stopped him.  “Yes, sir.”  He threw a snappy salute and slid into the car.

Buck sighed and looked heavenward, “Rookies!”  Blowing out his breath, he said, “11-02, FC.  Go ahead.”  This time Casey heard the exasperation in his voice and laughed, knowing this was her last call to dispatch before she and Ladonna switched, her partner taking the radio for the early morning hours. 

“1814 South Main, 1-8-1-4 South Main, area of Haney House, suspicious white male, red shirt, blue jeans, loitering by the rigs.  Check and advise.”

“10-4,” he replied as he dropped into the passenger seat.  “You get that, Kid? If you didn’t, you will ask her again.”

“Yeah, I got it.”

“11-08’s enroute as backup.”

“10-4, 11-08,” answered Ladonna. 

“Whew!” Buck exclaimed as the car moved toward the diner.  “We have a chance now, JD.”

“A chance at what?”

“To breathe, Kid.  Casey’s off the radio for now.”

“I still say I did nothing wrong.”

Buck snorted.  “Bullshit.  You apologize to her.  She knows more than you do.”

The radio interrupted JD’s snappy retort.  “11-08, 11-01.”


“Ocean King to complete that detail?”


“Direct – thanks.”

“What was that about?”

“Our dinner for tomorrow if I’m right; Nettie’s probably made a platter for Nina and she’s going to take it home to have it ready.”  He thought he could almost taste his pie.  He knew he definitely earned it tonight.

They met up at Haney House, finding Nina already talking to the suspicious person.  Buck came up on her right side, careful to announce himself as he walked over.  “Hey, there.  Everything okay?”

JD stayed on his trainer’s right, half a pace behind.

“Just fine.  This is Randy, and he’s had a little too much to drink.”

“Sorry, ma’am.”

“It’s okay, Randy.  Let’s just run a quick check, then we’ll get you out of here.”  She called in his information off his identification card, receiving a no wants or warrants response.  Next, Nina asked dispatch to contact a cab, and the three waited until they could stuff Randy in the backseat. 

Once he was on his way, the three officers went inside, greeting Nettie.  She handed off a platter for Nina to take for tomorrow, sliding in the promised pie without telling Buck.  After a five-minute visit, the three met on the parking lot.

“So, Buck, how’s the Slam?”  Nina laughed as she finished settling the box of food on her front seat.

“Just fine, darlin’.  No complaints.”  He grinned at her.

“To quote you, bullshit!”

“Looks like she’s got your number, Buck.”

“I should, JD.  Just like I let him think he’s got mine.”

“I do, darlin’.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Who do you think told Ezra where to…”

Her hand landed over his mouth.  “Shove it, Wilmington.  I know where you live.”

He grabbed her hand, pulling it away and kissing the back of it.  “You won’t do anything to ol’ Buck.”

“Are you so sure of that?”  Her eyes narrowed, a smile hovering over her lips.  “Ol’ Buck, huh?  Does this mean that I get to call you old man like I do Chris?”

JD just watched, learning more about them from their interaction.  He didn’t appreciate the earlier bath, but he could see the strong feelings still evident between them. 

“Like hell.  You’re not that much younger.”

“I’m closer to JD’s age than you are.”

“You want another tag and mark?”

“You want to get another bath?”

JD jumped in at this point, “Why don’t you apologize to her, Buck?  She deserves it for putting up with your crap.”

“Thank you, JD.”

“Shut up, Kid.”  Buck whacked him in the arm.

“Don’t hit your trainees, Buck.  You remember what happened to that arm the last time you tried giving me a little tap like that.”

“Shut up, Nina.”

“Make me.”  The words came out reflexively, but both could tell they were not meant the way they would have a few years ago.  Then, he would have kissed her.

Now, he answered with, “You want me to?  I can, but I’m not sure that’s what you want.  Besides, there’s a youngun present.”

“I’ll just take it out on you during the poker game tomorrow.”

The answer served as another reminder of the growing distance between them.  They stared at each other for a minute before Buck quietly answered her. “You can try.”

JD shook his head in confusion, wondering what was going on.  These two alternated between hot and cold so much he needed a scorecard.  A question brought him from his musings. 

“JD, you apologize yet?”  The corporal faced him, smiling while waiting for his answer. 

“No, and I’m not.”

“Buck, you need to train him better.”

“He’s stubborn, just like someone else I know.”  The rogue gave her a pointed look.


“Look in a mirror lately?”

“Nah.  I avoid that if possible; I tend not to like what I see.”  She returned the subject to JD’s apology.  “Listen to me, JD.  Just bite the bullet, apologize, and get it over with.  You both will be happier.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Buck hit him with his hat.  “I tell you to apologize, and you tell me no.  Nina says something, you’ll think about it.”

“She’s talking to me, not hitting me,” JD replied, giving Buck a matching hit.

“Well, on this note, I’m going to stop by the Saloon then home.  See ya later!”  With a wave, Nina disappeared, leaving the two men staring after her.


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