Disclaimer: This story is the product of different minds coming together to have some fun. We have ownership over any new characters but the rest belongs to others (such a shame!).

Authors' Note: I'd been trying to think of a story that gave JD some attention, and this came to me on the train into work. It's taken a little while to fit it all together, but it's here now.

Connections - ATF

By Ladysmiths

JD was looking very bored and tired as he asked the clerk for a packet of ‘Black Veil’. The FBI had discovered this band of cigarette being illegally imported into the country. Although they’d secured most of the shipments, the product was now showing up on the streets. JD knew that he should be pushing the clerk, offering extra cash and dropping the name of a snitch, but it was his last store for today and this guy obviously didn’t know what he was talking about.

Why do I have to do this? Everyone else gets proper assignments and I get stuck with this. Just because I'm the youngest, and this kind of work is beneath everyone else. Next time I'm gonna demand Chris choose someone else, preferably Buck, the smart ass is the one who volunteered me for this task. Well at least this is the last place, after I've checked in with Chris I can go home and plan my revenge.

The clerk shook his head, “Sorry kid, we don't sell those here.”

JD just nodded in resignation and shuffled towards the door. He looked up and noticed a gang of kids, the eldest being only a couple of years younger than JD, staring at him. "You new around here?" asked the oldest kid.

"Ya could say that," JD mumbled as he'd never really been in this part of town before.

"What's up? Don't ya like it here?" one of the other kids piped up, noticing the expression on JD's face.

"Just sick of being bossed around," JD replied.

"Well, you can always hang out with us, we won't tell you what to do."

Startled by the invitation, JD said the first thing that came into his head, "I don't know, I'll have to check in with some people first." Realising how that must have sounded, especially after complaining about being bossed around, JD grimaced but didn’t add anything else.

The oldest boy smiled at JD’s frown, he had taken an instant liking to this stranger, he looked as if he might be fun to have around, "Well, if you change your mind we're meeting at the arcade at 8.00."

* * * * * * *

Nathan looked up from his desk as JD stepped off the elevator, "Hey JD, any luck with the stores?"

"No, nothin' ever happens just going from store to store. We should be chasing after the people bringing it into the state rather than the distributor,” JD grumbled.

"Well, it still needs to be done, if we can close down one distributor that's one step closer to closing down the whole operation," Josiah had noticed the disheartened tone in JD's voice and was trying to make boring work sound important.

JD wasn’t going to be mollified, besides he hadn’t finished complaining, "We never close down any small distributors, and I'm sick of trudging around town trying to find them."

"Come on, we all know you love it," Buck grinned. "That's why you volunteered to do the other side of town tomorrow."

Before JD could reply, Chris came out of his office, "Conference room, now."

* * * * * * *

Chris scanned the room making sure everyone was listening. "It's come to our attention that some of the street gangs are becoming quite heavily armed."

Chris looked over to Vin who nodded his head in agreement, "Yeah, the kids have been real unsettled lately, the larger gangs are getting more fire power and scaring the smaller group of kids into doing what they want. There's been a few bashings, and three kids who refused to join a gang were shot." Everyone stared at Vin, that was one of the most impassioned speeches he'd ever made, especially in front of the whole team.

Chris continued, "We need to find out who is distributing the guns to these kids, I have a file on one of the kids who has the largest gang. Maybe if we can get him on a misdemeanour, we can use our own scare tactics to get him to talk."

As Chris was speaking the file was being passed from one agent to the next. JD looked at the picture in surprise, "I met this guy today, he asked me if I wanted to hang out with them tonight."

Chris’ gaze focussed directly on JD, "Do they know that you’re an agent?"

"No, all I said was I wasn't from around there."

"It appears Mr Dunne will be taking over my role and infiltrating this group of miscreants," Ezra smiled as he realised JD was beginning to like this idea.

Once Buck figured out what Ezra was getting at he shook his head vehemently, "Hold on there, I don't want JD hanging around with a bunch of kids buying guns."

"What are you, my father?" JD was getting exasperated, "I'm around the right age, all I'll be doing is trying to get the name of the distributor, then we can use some of the scare tactics Chris was talkin' about on him instead of the kids."

Chris had been thinking about everything that was being said, "Okay, Ezra and JD are right, we've got more of a chance if we have someone inside. JD you go meet them tonight and see if you can join the gang. Once in, try and find out the name of the distributor, that's it JD no heroics, as soon as you have the name your outta there."

JD nodded enthusiastically, "Sure, no problem, as long as I get to be there when we grab the guy."

"Hang on there, Chris I still don't like this. At least make JD wear a wire at all times so we can keep tabs on him," Buck sounded worried and JD rolled his eyes.

"Agreed," Chris understood Buck’s sentiments exactly, "Nathan, Josiah, Buck and myself will take shifts monitoring JD, we'll be staying pretty close."

"Excuse me Mr Larabee, but it seems you have neglected to include two members of your team in this little operation," Ezra glanced over at Vin.

"Yeah, what about Ez and me?"

"Vin, I need you and Ezra to help the DEA in a drug bust that's about to go down just over the border," Chris was staring intently at Vin hoping his best friend would accept this assignment without comment.

“No way, I know some of those kids that are getting shot and I want to help."

The other agents started shuffling in their seats, they hated it when Vin and Chris disagreed.

"I know Vin," Chris tried to keep an authoritative tone, hoping he didn’t sound too much like Buck when talking about JD. "This DEA assignment is important, you should be flattered I'm putting two of my best agents on it."

Vin couldn’t believe Chris would just dismiss him like that, "Cut the crap. You just don't want me around because you think I'll get hurt, and now you've dragged poor Ezra into it."

"I can speak up for myself Mr Tanner, besides this assignment will be a welcome change of scene. We'll be able to assist in wrapping up a bust while staying at a five star hotel, dining in fine restaurants and having all our expenses paid. Isn't that correct Mr Larabee?" Ezra cocked an eyebrow towards their leader.

"Yeah, sure Ez whatever you want. Maybe you could teach Vin some culture." Chris was willing to give Ezra whatever he wanted as long as Vin was kept out of the way and safe.

Ezra smiled, "I'd be delighted to."

Vin glared at Ezra, since when did he start helping Chris, "I don't need culture, or a change of scene. I need to make sure no more kids get hurt in my own neighbourhood." Vin could feel himself starting to get upset, keep calm or they'll send you even further away. "Besides, I can help JD get into the gang, I've lived on those streets."

Chris sighed, "That's why I don't want you involved in this. Anyone could recognise you, which could blow JD’s cover placing him in a dangerous situation. Do you really want to put JD in that position?"

Vin glanced at JD and relented, "Fine, but promise me I'll get a chance to talk to this distributor when we get back."

Chris smiled slightly, thank God Vin had seen reason. At least with Vin gone Chris could concentrate on the assignment. If Vin had insisted on staying around Chris was sure that it wouldn't have taken him long to become a target. "Okay Buck and I will monitor JD tonight. Josiah and Nathan you're on tomorrow."

"Aww, Chris can't we get the day shift tomorrow?" Buck complained.

"No, I've got meetings tomorrow," Chris grabbed his files and headed for the door.

“Besides," JD grinned, "Buck's volunteered to do my job tomorrow, seeing as I won't be able."

Buck’s expression turned to one of confusion, then it dawned on him that he’d volunteered for JD to hit the streets and check out some more stores. "Shit."

* * * * * * *

JD had been undercover for almost a week and was finally invited to check out the old shed the gang used as a hideout. Once they arrived JD couldn’t help but stare at the amount of guns lined up against the far wall. "What are all those for?"

"Protection, our gang is growing and we're always getting more members so we need to keep a large stock.” Darren, the leader of the gang, explained while he was grinning at JD. “Go on, pick one out."

"Me," JD fingered one of the guns, "I've never really used a gun before. Where'd you get them from anyway?"

"We get 'em from a friend. Of course, you’ll have to pay us back though," Darren smiled. "Here take this one, we'll show you how to use it."

JD gingerly picked up the gun, careful not to handle it as he'd been trained.

* * * * * * *

"Where are we going?" JD asked as they walked down the street.

"Well, there's this other gang who are really startin' to bug me. They think they're better than anyone else, we've been threatin' them for a while, but they won’t come ‘round to our way of thinking. Seein' as how you've got your new gun, may as well see if you can use it."

JD really didn’t like the sound of that, but had no choice but to go along.

* * * * * * *

Nathan and Josiah glanced at each other while they listened to the conversation in their unmarked vehicle. "What do you think?" Nathan asked, "Should we tell Chris and Buck?"

"No, Brother Nathan. I think JD will be able to handle it, he wouldn't hurt anybody and knows to give us the signal if anything goes wrong."

Nathan nodded apprehensively, Buck was going to kill them for not telling him if anything actually did go wrong.

* * * * * * *

The street punks grabbed a kid off the street and hustled him into a dark alley. JD pulled his gun and aimed it nervously at the boy, making sure his hand didn't look too steady. Darren was trying to convince this kid to join them, but he wouldn't. He didn't want to be involved in a gang that carried around stolen weapons or threatened people. Darren became impatient and punched the kid in the stomach. JD was just about to stop Darren from delivering another punch when they heard the sound of a siren coming down the street. Everyone whirled around, giving the captured kid enough distraction to run back down the alley and over the fence.

JD hid a smile as he noticed Josiah’s silhouette in the unmarked police car cruising by.

"Damn, that was close," Darren said.

"Yeah and the kid got away. None of the member’s of that rival gang will join us, in fact I think they've gotten even larger," added another member of Darren’s group.

"The best way to stop a gang is to take out their leader," Darren stated.

"Maybe the guy whose sellin' you these guns will help, you'd think he'd want to get rid of a rival gang that refuses to buy guns off him," JD hoped he hadn’t pushed his luck.

"That ain't a bad idea,” Darren slapped JD on the shoulder. “Tommy you take JD and the others to see if Merv can help us. I'm takin' a little road trip."

Yes, finally a break. The guys will be impressed with this, we're gonna be led right to the guy. Merv what a crappy name. Buck’ll definitely have to stop mothering me now.

"..... got the information a while ago from that other kid."

JD was lost in thought when he realised that their leader was still talking, "What was that?"

"Just talkin' about that other gang, they were started by some guy who's now a cop or somethin'.”

JD looked surprised, they couldn't be talking about Vin could they?

"I'm heading out in the mornin', you lot can see Merv around 11.00 he don't like it if we turn up any earlier than that."

They all nodded and went their separate ways.

* * * * * * *

As JD walked into the bar Team 7 had been using as their meeting place, he expected to see smiling faces and to hear congratulations.

"Hey JD," Chris looked over at him, "Find out anything today?"

"What do you mean, weren't you guys listening?" JD indicated Josiah and Nathan.

"When we drove past with the siren on, we thought we'd better keep goin' a bit so that it wouldn't look suspicious," Nathan answered. "We were out of range and only caught you guys saying your goodbyes."

Noticing JD’s excitement Buck asked, "Why, what happened?"

"They're taking me to their distributor tomorrow around 11.00, they said his name was Merv."

"Alright, good on ya kid. I was wondering when you were gonna find something useful." Buck ducked as JD reached over to whack him.

"Shut up Buck, I did a better job than you could've and I ain't no kid."

Chris grinned, "We'll be right behind you when you go meet Merv. We'll be able to get all the gang members as well as the distributor all at the same time."

Buck wore a proud smile, "Looks like I owe you a beer."

JD shook his head, "No."

"No? What do ya mean no? Don't you want a free beer, 'cause I don't offer very often."

"No, I mean yes. Shit, Buck just go get the beer."

"What were you trying to tell us?" asked Josiah as Buck summoned a waitress.

JD was slightly disappointed, "Darren’s going on some sort of road trip, we won't be able to catch all of them."

"Well, that doesn't matter, once we have the rest of his gang finding him shouldn’t be too hard." Chris drained his glass then grinned, "Where's my free beer Buck?"

Buck scowled at Chris, then offered to buy everyone a drink.

* * * * * * *

The bust went down without a hitch. That night five members of Team 7 were celebrating at the Saloon.

"You know," Josiah said thoughtfully, "Those kids are pretty cocky for being so young. One of them said that at least the other gang weren't going to win either. Seems strange seeing how this is the only gang we arrested."

"The kid's just been busted," Buck replied "He was probably just rambling so he wouldn't look scared."

Chris smiled at JD, "You did good kid. I'll bet Vin will be real pleased as well."

"Vin?" JD looked stunned.

“Yeah,” Buck grinned, “You remember, about 5"8, medium build, long brown hair.”

“Shut up Buck,” JD glared at his friend, why did Buck always have to make some comment that distracted his train of thought. "The gang they rival is that gang Vin put together. The leader knew who Vin was, he'd gotten information out of some kid but I wasn't listenin' to the whole conversation."

"Don't worry, kid," Buck could see that JD was getting a little panicked. "No-one knows where Vin went except us."

"And that kid who stays in Vin's apartment while he's away sometimes," Josiah added knowing that his words weren’t very comforting.

"What else did he say, JD?" Chris asked growing a little concerned himself.

"I don't know, I wasn't payin' attention," JD tried to concentrate. "Shit, he said he was going on a road trip and that the best way to stop a gang was to take out the leader."

Chris grabbed his cell phone and dialled Ezra's number.

"Agent Standish."

"Ezra, where's Vin?” Chris got straight to the point.

"Mr Larabee, I presume. I don't know where Mr Tanner is at the present moment, he said he needed some air and went for a walk. Why do you ask?"

"Try to find him Ezra, he’s become a target for the leader of that gang we busted."

"Good Lord," Ezra mumbled as he disconnected the call.

* * * * * * *

What else could go wrong, Vin had been antsy all this week. He just wouldn't settle. The DEA team had threatened to kick them both off the operation if they were going to be more of a hindrance than a help. Luckily the bust went down fine, despite Vin’s distracting behaviour.

Naturally, Vin had wanted to go home right then. Ezra knew how Chris felt and suggested they take a well earned vacation at the company's expense. Vin, of course, baulked at the suggestion. Ezra had become frustrated and refused to drive Vin back, as they had taken the Jag and Vin had no other means of transport. Vin, being equally frustrated, had stormed out. Ezra now suspected that he may have tried to find another way home.

* * * * * * *

Vin couldn't believe his luck. He knew he shouldn't be hitchhiking, but Ezra had left him no choice. This kid seemed harmless enough and was heading in the right direction.

The driver never said much, and Vin kept quiet, preferring it this way anyhow. All Vin could think about was getting home to see how the operation was going, and to check on his kids. Suddenly the driver pulled over and drew a gun. Shit, what now?

"Your Vin Tanner right?"

"Maybe", Vin replied not ready to give anything away until he knew what this guy wanted.

"Your little gang has been pissing me off for some time. Do you think they'll behave once you've been taken care of?"

"Look, kid I don't know what your talking about, just put the gun away and we can sort this out," Vin sounded very calm, although that’s not exactly how he felt at the moment. "Let's get out of the car and talk about this," Vin wanted more room to move, he was afraid the kid would get jumpy and the gun would go off if he reacted to quickly in the car.

"No way, this ain't my car anyhow," the gang leader stated, pulling the trigger at the same time.

Vin slumped forward and Darren pushed him down further so that Vin wasn’t visible from the street. Darren then got out of the car and walked over to his own vehicle which was parked a little ways off.

Darren hurried back into Denver, he couldn't wait to tell his friends what he had done. Finally a chance to be number one in the neighbourhood. Everybody would respect him now. He was still daydreaming when he noticed the police block at the border. Damn, they can't be after me. He slammed on the brakes and tried to swing his car around. Chris had anticipated this and was already in his car chasing the kid down. Josiah and Nathan drove around wide to block Darren off from the other end. Darren tried to manoeuvre the vehicle in another direction to avoid hitting Josiah and Nathan, but the brakes locked and he skidded to a stop. Chris jumped out and ran towards Darren’s car. As he grabbed Darren, he noticed some blood on the kid's shirt, "Where's Vin?"

The gang leader just shrugged, "Don't know what you're talkin' about."

Josiah came up behind Chris, "We've got all your friends in lock up, including Merv. There's no-one left to help you so you'd better tell us what we want to know."

Darren’s face fell, it was over now.

Just as Chris was hauling Darren over to one of the local police, they saw Ezra's Jag come flying down the road swerving to avoid the scattered vehicles.

Buck jumped on his cell phone, "Ezra, what are you ...."

"Buck, I have Vin in the car and am taking him to the hospital, I'll meet you all there."

Buck rushed over to Chris, "Ezra has Vin and he's in a hurry to get to the hospital."

“Let’s go.”

* * * * * * *

At the hospital the rest of Team 7 found Ezra in the waiting room.

"What happened, where is he?" Chris asked, the panic evident in his voice.

"Vin is in surgery, he was shot in the chest. That's all I know." Ezra was glad he didn’t have to wait alone anymore.

Nathan sighed, "Where did you find him?"

Ezra shook his head, "No, I saw an abandoned vehicle on the side of the road coming home, something didn't feel right so I checked it out."

"How did you know he was coming back?" Josiah asked.

"I thought he may have tried to find another way home as I refused to drive him. I think he was hitchhiking.” Ezra felt completely worn out. When he’d first seen Vin slumped on the floor of the vehicle he had thought that Vin was just knocked out. But then, he’d seen all the blood. Without hesitation he had gently transferred Vin into the Jag, covering him with a blanket. As Ezra was driving, the only thought that ran through head was to get Vin to the hospital in time. Now, sitting in the waiting room his mind went over everything that led up to this, and he couldn’t stop feeling guilty, “I should have acknowledged how anxious Vin was to get back. If I’d been with him....."

"This wasn't your fault Ez,” JD stated. “It was mine, I heard Darren talking about the rival gang and I didn't put two and two together until it was too late."

"Now kid," Buck placed a comforting hand on JD's shoulder. "You did everything right, you weren't to know that gang leader was headed for Vin. And Ezra, you didn't know Vin would be so bull headed as to come back on his own, hitchhiking no less."

Everyone looked over to Chris as he sighed, "It's my fault, I knew how important this was to him and I should have kept him more informed."

Josiah walked over to one of the chairs, "Nobody’s to blame except for the gang, and the guy who sold them the guns in the first place."

Not to be left out Nathan pitched in “Josiah’s right.”

Everyone became silent as they waited for any word on Vin.

* * * * * * *

"He's out of surgery. The bullet missed any vital organs, and he's going to make a complete recovery. He will be sore for a while though." The doctor loved relaying good news to these men, he didn't ever want to think of the day when it would be bad news.

"Can we see him?"

The doctor knew that question was coming, "Just for a little while, he's in ICU."

* * * * * * *

A couple of days later Vin woke to find Chris slouched in chair next to his bed, "Hey cowboy."

Chris leaned forward when he heard Vin's raspy voice, "I only have one thing to say and then you'll have to get some more rest. Don't ever hitchhike again, or else."

"Or else, you won't send me away all expenses paid?" Vin grinned, but it turned into a grimace as the pain hit him.

Chris sighed, "It doesn’t seem to matter how far away I send you, you still manage to find trouble.”

“Well then, keep me in sight,” Vin said as he drifted back to sleep.

Chris leaned back in his chair, “Yeah right, if I did that you’d be begging me to send you away.”


Send us some vibes on what you think of the story!!!

More Ladysmiths Stories here

Divider Bar courtesy of BOON DESIGN