A Daytime Nightmare
Disclaimer: Not mine and never will be.
Note: *Did my own beta reading…so you know what that means
· This answers the Oct. 2003 challenge: “Take one of the guys who you normally don’t write about and put him in the lead. (or something like that).
· Ok, she said we had to put him the lead, she didn’t say we couldn’t include the others, so I did.
· This is a “G” rated story.
· Brief mention of Heather’s story “The Wreck”. Which is a great story for laughs!
Nathan lowered himself down onto the porch swing. He gazed out over the landscape that encircled his team leader and friend’s home. He loved this time of the year with the leaves turning to golden yellows, bright oranges and blazing reds. The crisp fresh year that let you know it would soon be time to bring out the winter clothes. Something about this time of the year was very settling to ones nerve, especially if they were about shattered. As he settled himself into a gentle swinging motion he felt his tight muscles from a stressful time relax. He was bone weary tired. He couldn’t remember a time when he was more worn-out. He just wanted to forget the world existed for a while and rest.
Coping with his teammates when one of them was injured was exhausting. Dealing with his boss, by himself, was a trial of patience all its own. Depending on who and how many were injured, and the seriousness of the wound graded on how much intervention was required. Regardless, the poor soda machine took the brunt of the wrath that Chris was exclusively known for. The man was like a big kid who wanted what he wanted and he wanted it immediately. The cola company had finally resorted to putting the machine behind an iron cage. It had three open slots. One at the top for money, one down the side to push, or in Larabee’s case, punch the button for the desired drink and one at the bottom to retrieve the selected can. Ezra had immediately started a wager on how long the cage would last.
Nathan sighed as he stretched out on the bench swing. Larabee wasn’t the only one he was forced to deal with on a regular basis. There was also, Vin and Ezra. A couple of five-year-olds pretending to be agents if there ever were some. Those two could get into more trouble than any of the others put together. It didn’t matter if they were wrapped up in bubble wrap and placed in a padded cell. Of course putting the claustrophobic sharpshooter in a small room, in itself warranted for destruction. The man would tear it apart with his bare hands trying to get out and Ezra would be right beside him, teaching the man out to bypass the security code and pick the lock.
Of course, those two weren’t the only children on the team. The other pair, Buck and JD was just as bad if not worse. Those two were a ten and two-year-old. Nathan rubbed a hand over his eyes; it felt like grit was in them. He worried constantly about the youngest, he just seemed to young to be in such a dangerous profession, and it seemed to be getting more dangerous everyday. How could he ever be expected to keep them all safe and healthy?
Nathan felt his eyes slide close and the dream state begin. His last thought was of his best friend, Josiah. They had teased him once, the foolish five- and-two-year-olds. They had chided that if Chris was the father figure of their made up family, then Josiah had to be the grandfather. It had taken him several minutes to calm the big man down after that comment. The boys had immediately realized they had stepped over the line and apologized, but Josiah still felt the sting for several days.
He watched himself enter through his front door. Being home felt good, whether or not it was a dream. He set down his briefcase and went to change clothes. Although, he didn’t mind the work suit he preferred good ole’ comfy jeans and a t-shirt. He had just walked into the kitchen to make some tea when he heard his name being called, yelled was more like it. Turning around he found himself to suddenly be in the ranch kitchen. Moving towards the voice, he could have sworn it was Chris’ but younger. Going out into the living room he stopped in his tracks, stunned.
There before him was a ten-year-old version of Chris Larabee. Unable to do anything Nathan stood and stared at the smaller reproduction of his boss, standing in the middle of the living room throwing a temper tantrum. He was brought out of his reverie when the smaller version screamed at him again.
“Dang it, Nathan. I want it and I want it now!” the small blonde yelled.
“What?” Nathan asked, confused. “What do you want me to do?”
“Fix it!” Little Chris demanded, pointing off to his left.
“Fix what?” Nathan asked again, as he looked over to his right and froze again.
Out of nowhere a thin five-year-old Vin had materialized. Tears quietly streaming down his face as he held his hand close to his chest. “Don’t need Nate’on’ to look at it. Ain’t hurt,” the little boy pouted, with a scowl on his face.
“Is too,” the blond argued back.
“Isn’t,” Vin shot back.
Nathan was watching the dual much like one watched a tennis game, his head swiveling back and forth. The argument continued and Nathan, feeling the overwhelming desire to walk back to the kitchen for escape turned around only to run into another five-year-old. Ezra was standing there with his shirt sopped with blood.
“Oh, my gosh!” the medic screamed, as he went down on his knees to assist the bleeding boy.
“What happened?” Nathan demanded.
“Nothing, Mr. Jackson. I am quite fine and require no special attention from you,” the small boy stated plainly, as the once white shirt soaked up more blood. “Perhaps you should attend to Mr. Tanner, though. Mr. Larabee seems to be getting quite outraged at the injury attention being withheld from you,” Ezra said, pointing back in the direction of the two still arguing.
Nathan reached for the bleeding tyke in the same moment as the other pulled away. Ezra always did have the pension to retreat when injured, physically or emotionally. The medic had been forced to learn to go on the offence with this particular agent. Come in from the back door one might say. The only other one of the team who was as stubborn about not admitting to being hurt was still arguing with the blonde about the extent of his injury. The arguing began to reach epic proportions as Nathan watched Ezra retreat further away.
Nathan was still trying to get close enough to Ezra to help when an old voice reached his hearing. “Nathan,” the voice said shakily.
Nathan turned around to find Josiah hobbling into the room on a cane. All the medic could do was stare at the eighty-year-old man coming towards him. “Josiah! What happened to you?” Nathan called out.
Josiah cocked his head at Nathan and stared. A puzzled look came over his voice as the old man replied. “I’m old Nathan. I’m just an old man, remember,”
Turning his head to tell the two to stop arguing he would tend to Vin in a moment, he heard his name being called again. Looking up at the door he saw another ten-year-old leading a toddler in through the door. One was the exact replica of their resident ladies man and the baby was ‘the kid’.
Nathan tossed onto his side trying to escape the nightmare he now found himself to be in. It was bad enough he had to deal with them during his waking hours, but to have to struggle with them in his dreams was just too much.
“Hey, Nate! The kid here really went and did it now,” Buck called out.
“The medic looked closer and saw that JD had blood running down the side of his face from a gash in his forehead. “My gosh! How did he do that?” Nathan cried out, as he raced across the room.
As Nathan reached out towards the ‘kid’ Josiah let out a booming yell, “What the blazes happened?”
Turning towards Josiah wobbling towards the bleeding five-year-old in an apparent show of weakness. Nathan rushed to the old friend’s side to steady him. Trying to lead the shaking man to a chair Josiah instead tried to get to boy he always though of as a younger brother. Looking into the medic’s eyes he implored, “Nathan, you’ve got to take care of Ezra. He’ll die without you.”
Nathan started toward the still bleeding little boy when Buck once again called out his name, “Nathan! C’mon, you got to help JD, here.”
Spinning around to check on the toddler’s wound he passed by the angry blonde. Chris reached out and grabbed Nathan’s arm. “You’re not going anywhere until you take a look at Vin’s hand,” the ten-year-old growled out.
Nathan looked into the stormy eyes, “They’re all hurt Chris. They all need help,” the dark man said. Pleading scared eyes roamed from one injured member to another. They all needed his help.
“Then fix them all,” Chris demanded. “You’re Nathan, your suppose to be able to take care of all of us. That’s your job. That’s why I keep you around,” the blonde spoke angrily. He face morphing into something frightening.
Nathan tried to put his hands over his ears and close his eyes. Chris, Buck and Josiah each were calling his name to help an injured brother. JD crying, Vin and Ezra stating they weren’t injured while fading away. The noise level kept growing, becoming nightmarish. All that could be heard was his name being repetitiously called.
Suddenly, he found himself back on the front porch swing. Safe. It had all been a bad dream. None of them was little kids. No bleeding Ezra, no injured Vin, no angry friends mad at him. Safe. That’s where he was, in a safe, calm place. Nathan could feel himself relaxing and wished for a peaceful rest. Instead he heard Josiah and Chris’ voices calling for him. ‘Darn,’ he thought, ‘Can’t a man get a moment of silence.’ The voices remained insistent, but soft. ‘Must be time for someone’s meds’, he figured. But, for the life of him he couldn’t remember which one that would be.
Nathan slowly opened his eyes and was immediately confused. He wasn’t at the ranch, but the place was still familiar. He looked up to find six pairs of eyes staring anxiously down at him; worry was evident in each one. Blinking, Nathan licked his lips and immediately found a straw placed at the edge of them. Drawing the straw further into his mouth, he sucked at the cool replenishing liquid. All to soon he found the straw being gently removed. The whole time Nathan had tried desperately to figure out if this was real or yet another nightmare.
Someone patted his hand that was being held and the medic turned confused eyes upon his leader. “You with us, Nathan?” Chris asked, concern laced his words.
Nathan slowly nodded his head, not sure of where he was suppose to be. Seeing the still confused look the leader quietly explained, “You got shot during the bust. You’re in the hospital.”
“Got shot?” Nathan asked, still trying to digest the reality of the situation.
Josiah patted his shoulder on the other side of him, forcing Nathan to turn his head and immediately regret the action. The older man saw the unhidden wince of pain and chided himself for no thinking ahead. “Yeah, Nathan, but you’re going to be just fine.” Leaning down the profiler said in a loud whisper into his friend’s ear. “You’re just as determined as the rest of them to make an old man out of me, aren’t you?”
They quietly laughed as Nathan tried to focus on the other men around his bed. He stared at the men in blurry confusion, his vision not quite clear yet. “Well, at least this time you didn’t bother the staff?” he asked sluggishly.
“What?” Chris asked, confused himself by the question.
“I always have to deal with the staff for you when its one of the others. This time it was no problem,” Nathan stated sluggishly. The drugs flowing through his veins were leaving the normally restrained agent without a care in the world.
Chris was shocked into silence at his friend’s revelation of what Nathan thought Chris thought of him. Buck quickly took over, leaning forward with a huge smile on his face. “Heck, Nathan. You had him more scared than I ever saw him before. Not even the time those two,” nodding towards Vin and Ezra, “Got in that car wreck up on the mountain had him more scared than when you got hurt,” Buck explained.
“Chris was so worried the nurses completely disappeared from sight,” Buck continued. “Not even my animal magnetism could bring them back until we left,” the agent said. Flashing Nathan his trademark smile.
“Yeah, he was pretty worried,” JD put in. “You know that cage they put around the soda machine? Well it looks like Ezra won the time allotment on that bet. It’s no more,” the young man said excitedly, motioning his hands in referee style to signal ‘out’.
“Your head?” Nathan whispered tiredly. Noticing the white bandage under the other man’s black bangs.
“Oh this? It isn’t anything. Hit a crate when the guy I was arresting wouldn’t cooperate, but don’t you worry, it’ll be ok,” JD spoke softly, patting Nathan’s leg gently.
Turning his head slowly to get a look the other guys Nathan’s eyes landed on Ezra and sprang open in concern and fear. “You’re bleeding!” Nathan cried out as he tried to rise up, only to be pushed back down by the pain and extra hands.
Looking down at his blood soaked shirt Ezra immediately apologized, “I’m sorry to have been so thoughtless Mr. Jackson. I assure you I am unharmed. At the time of your injury it was the only thing I could think of to use as a bandage to control your bleeding wound,” Ezra said softly. “I’m truly apologize for upsetting you so,” he finished, backing up and hiding behind the others that stood around him.
“It’s ok, Ez,” Nathan said weakly, “Thanks.”
The last person for him to see was Vin. “What happened to your arm?” he asked weakly.
The sharpshooter ducked his head and red filled his cheeks. “It’s how come you got shot,” Vin said, barely speaking above a whisper. “I broke my hand and Chris was calling you over to check on me when one of the perps grabbed a gun from one of the police officers that were there assisting us. You saw it and dived in front of Chris and me,” Vin’s voice remained low.
Looking up into the healer’s eyes he said. “I appreciate it Nathan. Thanks.”
Chris cleared his throat and Nathan tiredly shifted his gaze over to the blond leader. “I do to, Nathan, but if you ever do something that crazy again I’ll shoot you myself. We need you, you understand?!” Chris’ voice underlying the concern he felt for his friend. Softening his voice the leader said, “We need our friend.” Patting the hand still in his Chris let his emotions show through his eyes.
Nathan could only nod his head once. Amazed at the sincerity and love those green eyes blazed with for him. The energy it took to keep his eyes opened was draining. Josiah spoke up and said, “Close your eyes Nate, we’ll still be here when you wake up.” Nathan could only nod before his eyes slid shut and this time was led into a restful sleep, knowing his friends were there for him.