FURTHERANCE

By Sarah (winks7985)

 

Part 2

 

Chris paced around the area of his make-shift command center. 

 

“You’re gonna walk a hole to China at that pace,” Vin commented from where he was studying the maps of the property with JD.  He didn’t look up as he spoke.

“I hate not knowing exactly where everyone is.”

 

Vin looked up from the maps and shrugged.  “Not much you can do about it now, is there?”

 

“That’s helpful,” growled Chris.

 

Vin strode over to Chris, leaving JD to study the maps.  JD had been beating himself up over the comm issue, trying everything he could think of to improve the signal strength, but the thick foliage and the lousy satellite positions left them more or less incommunicado.

 

“Hey,” Vin said quietly when he reached Chris’s side.  “JD is beatin’ himself up pretty bad over this.  He had no idea that the woods were gonna cause this much interference.”

 

“I’m not blaming him.”

 

“He’s not gonna see it that way.  He knows he’s the one we go to with these questions, and when he can’t work miracles he feels like a failure.”

 

Chris looked over to where JD was looking intently at the maps of the area. 

 

“Stop wearin’ a hole in the earth with your pacin’.  Ain’t nothin’ you can do about it right now.  ‘Sides, I’m thinkin’ Tripp fucked off.  There ain’t nothin’ keeping him here if we’re here.  He’s gone.”  Vin slapped him lightly on the shoulder as he went back to the maps.

 

Hope so, Chris thought.

 

As Vin approached, JD was drawing another square on the map. 

 

“Damn Vin,” he said quietly.  “We got 37 outbuildings so far, five plus acres, and two still sites with the possibility of a third.”  He looked up at the tracker’s face.  “This guy’s got a fucking compound.”  He threw the marker he was using down disgustedly.

 

“Ain’t your fault JD.  None of us knew.”

 

JD looked at Vin disbelievingly.  “Yeah, but I’m supposed to know.  That’s what I do.  I do all this techie shit,” he waved his hands at the maps, “satellite images and whatevah.”

 

Vin chuckled slightly.  JD’s accent would slip when he was really disturbed about something.  Or angry.  Kind of like Ezra, he mused.

 

“Vin’s right, JD,” Chris said as he came up to the pair. 

 

“So fah, I’ve fucked up satellite and comms.  Battin’ a thousand right now.”

 

“We’re getting spotty transmissions off the comms though.  That’s something,” Chris said, placating.

 

JD sighed.  “I boosted the signal as much as possible.  Bottom line is, if we’re in close proximity to each other, the comms should work.  Or if we’re in an open area, transmissions should go through like they’re supposed to.”

 

“So we’ll keep trying,” said Vin.  Chris nodded his head once in agreement.

 

JD’s brow furrowed for a second, then his eyes lit up with an idea.  “You know guys, the same is true for the sat phones.”

 

“What?” asked Chris.

 

JD moved to get something out of a nearby bag.  “Satellite phones.  Josiah and Buck carry them.”

 

“Why just them?” asked the blond.

 

“They’re bigger, and a little bulky.  Ezra thought they were ‘cumbersome’ and Nathan says he ‘carries too much shit already’.”  He pulled the phone out of the bag and showed it to the other two.  “Plus, we’re all usually paired off with someone who is carrying them.  And they’re crazy expensive.  I could only get three for the team.”

 

“Who has the third?” Chris asked.

 

“Me,” said Vin.

 

“So whose is that?” Chris asked as he pointed to the phone JD had out and was dialing.

 

“Mine,” Vin said.  At Chris’s questioning look, he elaborated.  “It’s big and bulky and I carry too much shit already,” he said with a grin. 

 

“You’re all a bunch of smartasses,” he grumbled.

 

“Josiah, you hear me?” JD talked into the phone.  His face lit up when he got some answer.  “Where are you?” he asked as he looked at one of the maps.  “Can you make your way back to base?  Twenty minutes?” he looked at his watch.  “All right.”  And he hung up the phone.

 

“On their way back?” Chris asked unnecessarily.

 

“Yeah.  Said they were fine.  They’re near one of the ponds on the property, so the signal was strong.  Said everything was fine.”  There was relief in JD’s voice, obviously feeling like he actually did something useful in his area of expertise.

 

“Good work,” Chris said to him.  He turned away and resumed his pacing.

 

Vin nodded at JD, then watched Chris’s retreating back.

 

“I do something wrong?” JD asked, already dialing Buck’s sat phone.

 

“Nah, kid.  He won’t return to his usual charming self till we’re all here for him to glare at.”

 

JD nodded, seeming to accept that answer.  He then took the phone away from his ear.  “Won’t go through,” he said apologetically.  “I’ll keep trying.”

 

“We’ll keep trying the comms.” 

 

7777777

 

Shannon walked between the two men she didn’t know.  She held fast to the taller one’s hand and did her best to keep up to their stride.

 

Ezra tried his comm again.  “Chris?  You hear me?”

 

Static answered him again.  He blew out a frustrating breath, shaking his head at Buck.

 

Shannon tripped over an exposed root, almost stumbling to the ground.  Buck’s grip tightened on her small hand and he kept her from falling.  He stopped and squatted down to face her as she started to sniffle.  “Hey, hey, now don’t cry.”  He put his hand under her chin and brought her face up to meet his.  “Ol’ Buck and Ez here will take care of you,” he soothed.

 

Ezra looked down on the child, then scanned the area around them.  He rested his hand on her soft curls, offering what comfort he could to the child.  It had been tricky, convincing the girl to leave her mother’s body.  Ezra had been instrumental in proving to the girl that they were the good guys.  And Shannon had taken a liking to Buck and his gentle ways.  In the end, there had been tears shed when Buck picked the girl up and carried her from the cabin after Ezra had covered Jenna with a ratty blanket he found in the closet.

 

Shannon looked into Buck’s gentle eyes as he kept his hand on her chin, nodded and tried to stop crying.  Buck took her into a hug and rubbed circles on her back.  Ezra continued to scan the area, not liking the feeling he was getting in the pit of his stomach.  He tried to shake it off, attributing it to the adrenaline of the past few hours.  Blowing out a breath to try to settle his nerves, he almost physically jumped when his earpiece crackled and he heard the static-laced voice of Chris Larabee. 

“Chris?” he tried into his own comm.  Buck looked up at him as he spoke, still holding the little girl.

 

Ez…a?  T…y sat… pho…”

 

“Chris?” he tried again.

 

“What did he say?” asked Buck, getting to his feet.

 

Ezra stood, brow furrowed, trying to decipher what he had heard.  Then it came to him.  “Buck, you have your satellite phone?”

 

Buck reached into his vest and pulled out the sat phone, dialing Vin’s sat phone immediately, knowing the two were together.  “Chris?  You there?”  Buck looked at Ezra, his eyes conveying that someone was there, but that it was hard to hear.  “Hold on Chris, let me see if I can get a stronger signal.”  Buck started walking around in a random pattern, trying to get the spotty signal to come in for even a brief moment.

 

Ezra squatted down and made eye contact with Shannon.  “Don’t worry little one.  We’ll be out of here soon.”  He smiled at her, hoping to alleviate her fears.  When she smiled slightly at him, he gently touched her nose with his thumb, and her small smile grew less tentative.  Looking over to his partner, Ezra realized Buck was going to have to continue moving around to get the signal to come in.  “Let’s keep Mr. Wilmington close by, shall we?” he asked the little girl.  She nodded at him.

Standing, Ezra took the little girl’s hand and they walked over towards where Buck was standing.

 

“Ok Chris, we’re working our way back to you now.  Should be about a half hour, I think,” Buck said into the phone.  He looked at Ezra as he approached with Shannon, her hand tightly enclosed in the Southerner’s. 

 

Ezra couldn’t help it, he felt like they were being watched.  He continued to scan the area, his left hand full of little fingers, and his right hand resting on his holstered sidearm.  Something wasn’t right.  He found himself drawing his gun slowly from its holster, the hair on the back of his neck prickling and his heart starting to speed up. 

 

“Buck,” he said, garnering the ladies’ man’s attention.  Buck looked at him, still with the sat phone to his ear.  He quirked his head slightly once, asking what was up.

“Something’s wrong,” Ezra said.

 

“Just hold on a sec Chris,” Buck said into the phone.  “What do you mean?” he asked Ezra. 

 

“Just…”  He let go of Shannon’s hand and turned around completely, bringing his gun up to bear, looking for a target.  Fuck!  “No birds,” he hissed urgently.  There was no sound around them.  Nothing.  As though a predator was in the area, and it wasn’t them.  He spun back to face Buck.  “Bu-“

 

Ezra lurched forward, falling to the ground as a bullet slammed into his vest from behind him.  Reaching up, he pushed Shannon towards Buck, “Get her!” he yelled.

 

“Ezra!” Buck caught the girl being shoved towards him, pulling her safely behind him.  The sat phone flew from his hands and hit the ground; the sound of squawking coming from the earpiece.

 

“The girl!” Ezra yelled at Buck as he got to his knees in a three point crouch, turning slowly to try and locate the threat.  Buck shuffled backwards, protecting the girl with his stance as he hurried her towards a larger tree nearby. 

 

Ezra stayed in a three point crouch and he fired indiscriminately in the direction he thought the shot had come from.  Hell, he hadn’t even heard it!  Another bullet slammed into his chest, knocking him back down. 

 

“Ezra!” Buck moved to break cover to get to the downed agent. 

 

“It’s in the vest!” he shouted as he rolled to his stomach and attempted to make his way to cover.  “The vest!”

 

Shielding the crying girl form with his mass, Buck sandwiched her between himself and the tree.  He looked over to see Ezra, now  trying to find cover in the small clearing behind a too-small rotting log.  That would never do.

 

Ezra tried to catch his breath as he crawled in the long grass towards the log.  Shit, he had been standing right next to it when this all started, why did it seem so far away now?  Getting his shoulders against the decaying wood, he tried to take a deep breath, but was rewarded with searing agony in his chest.  Dammit!  He’d been shot, and now he lay in a very vulnerable position.  He chanced a look over the log and was rewarded with a bullet slamming into the wood so close to him that it sent splinters into his face.  Shaking off the debris, he raised his hand to his chest where he had been shot.  Well, at least he hadn’t been lying when he told Buck the vest got it.  Thank God for Kevlar.  But good lord it hurt.  He coughed once, groaned loudly and resumed breathing shallowly.

 

 “EZRA! Ezra answer me!” Buck yelled.

 

He hadn’t heard Buck calling his name frantically nearby.

 

“Buck!” he replied as loud as he could manage with his damaged torso. 

 

Ezra could almost hear the sigh of relief in Buck’s voice.  “Ezra, get your ass over here!  I’ll cover you!”

 

Good idea, he thought.  Too bad I can’t even see straight right now.

 

“Buck!  Go!  Get her away!” could the pain in his chest was starting to flare, making it difficult to shout.

 

He was rewarded with two cracking gunshots that reverberated throughout the clearing.  The two bullets embedded themselves in the tree Buck was using as cover.  The tall agent pulled in behind the large pine tree and covered the now wailing girl. 

 

Ezra reacted without thinking, coming up and breaking cover to return fire.  He was immediately rewarded with a bullet to the thigh and another to the vest.  He fell backwards with a yell of pain.

 

“Ezra!”  Buck fired indiscriminately at their unknown attacker. 

 

Laying flat on his back and looking up at the sky, Ezra couldn’t help but think what a nice day it was.  The sky was blue and the clouds were fluffy and bright white.  How did the day go to hell so fast?  He rolled his head and looked towards Buck.  He was less than ten feet away from him.  It might as well have been a mile.  He tried to move, and pain raced through his chest and fire erupted from his leg.  Jesus, I’m gonna die here

 

“Ezra!  Get up and get your ass behind that tree!” Buck screamed at him. 

 

Ezra rolled his head the other way, and saw the tree that was now only a matter of feet to his left.  Slowly, his muddled mind relented and in an act of self-preservation, he made himself move towards the tree.  It was slow and painful, and his progress was highlighted with covering gunfire from Buck and answering shots from their assailants.  With Buck drawing most of the fire, Ezra managed to get himself behind the wide pine trunk and into a semi-sitting position.  He tried to take cleansing breaths to clear his mind, to understand what was going on and what had to be done. 

 

“Ezra!” Buck hollered. 

 

Ezra looked down at his bleeding thigh, and absentmindedly thought someone should do something about that, followed by the realization that: Fuck!  I’m bleeding! Breathing shallowly, he placed his gun on the ground and undid his leather belt.  Working it through his belt loops gingerly, he clenched his jaw as his chest was wracked with lancing pain.  Once the leather was free of his pants, he gingerly worked it around his thigh above the wound and pulled it as tight as he could.  He was relieved when he looked at the wound and saw that it wasn’t bleeding profusely, hopefully meaning that he hadn’t hit an artery.  After he finished securing the belt, Ezra picked up his gun; his hands slick with sweat and blood. 

 

He cradled the gun in his lap and leaned his head back against the tree.  “Buck?” he shouted across the small clearing.

 

“Ezra!  You ok?”

 

The southerner chuckled to himself.  No, definitely not ok.  “Buck, you need to go!”

 

“What?” Buck shouted. 

 

Aw hell.  This is really going to hurt.  Ezra took a deep breath, swallowing back the groan as he readied himself to yell.  Then he had a thought.  Cueing his comm, he signaled for Buck.

 

Ez,” Buck’s voice came through his earpiece, along with the static they had been encountering all afternoon. 

 

Figures the fucking things would work now.  “Buck,” Ezra said into his comm, “you need to go.”

 

“I’m not leaving you here!”

 

Ezra smiled across the clearing.  “I’m not asking you to.  But you need to take that young lady and bring help.”

 

Buck looked to the small child he was sheltering, then back across the clearing at the Southerner.  “Ezra, I…”

 

“Throw me your extra clip.  I’ll be fine.  You won’t be gone long.”  I hope

 

Buck looked torn.

 

“Buck, I’m bleeding and will slow you down.  Now is not the time for arguments.” As if to punctuate Ezra's command, a bullet from their attackers slammed in to the tree near Buck's head.

 

This seemed to work, as Buck reached into his vest, palming one of his extra clips of ammo and lofting it across to the southerner.  It landed right next to his wounded thigh.

 

Ezra grabbed it and held it up to his friend, showing he had it.  “Now please,” he said.  “Go.” Ezra switched out the clip on his gun, chambered the first round, and took as deep a breath as his battered body would allow.

 

Buck held his friend’s gaze for a moment before squatting down to come eye to eye with the little girl.  “Hey gorgeous, I’m gonna pick you up, and there’s gonna be some more noise, but we’re gonna get out of here.  Ok?”  He smiled at her, hoping to keep her calm.  The little girl looked at him with wide, terrified eyes.  She had placed her hands over her ears when the shooting had started.  She looked into Buck’s eyes and reached out, latching on to his neck.  Buck picked her up, kissing her temple, and saying a silent prayer.  He looked across the clearing at his partner. 

 

Ezra nodded, licking his dry lips and sending up a prayer of his own. 

 

On a silent count of three, Ezra rolled to his left, coming free of the cover and started shooting in a spraying pattern from left to right as Buck took off running deeper into the trees, the little girl’s arms and legs wrapped around him in terror. 

 

Ezra’s first clip emptied, and he reached to reload.  He slammed the clip home and brought his weapon up to fire in another sweeping pattern.  An explosion in the bark near his face blinded him momentarily.

 

Rolling behind the cover of the tree, he reached up and cleared the debris from his eyes.  By the time his hand was clear of his face, he heard the tell tale click of a revolver too close to him.  He looked up into the barrel of a gun, then past the sights to the crazy eyes of none other than Jerry Tripp.

 

Tripp reached down and took the gun from Ezra’s hands and grabbed the agent by the collar of his vest, leaning him up against the tree he had been using for cover just moments ago. 

 

Ezra clenched his eyes shut and ground his teeth together to suppress the moan of pain he wanted to let fly.

 

Panting heavily, Ezra opened his eyes and met Tripp’s.  Tripp panted as well, and held his left arm to his chest.  At least they had gotten him once.

 

A sickening grin came to Tripp’s face as he sneered down at the agent.  “Where’s my niece?”

 

Ezra looked at the crazed man, his own anger burning in that emerald gaze.

 

“What, you want another one?” he said, shaking his gun in Ezra’s face.  “You tell me where she is you son of a bitch,” Jerry calmly added.

 

Ezra breathed slowly and deliberately through his nose several times.  “No,” he said defiantly.

 

“Suit yourself,” Tripp said as he squeezed the trigger.

 

A single gunshot rent the air.

 

7777777

 

Buck ran like he was being chased by the hounds of hell.  He expected to get a bullet to the back at any minute, but it never came.

 

After running for a few minutes, he pulled to an abrupt halt.  Was that a gunshot

 

“Oh god… Ezra…” Buck panted quietly as he walked in a circle, torn as to what to do.   He looked at the weeping child in his arms, back to the woods he had come from, and then towards where he was running.  He panted as his overtaxed lungs tried to equilibrate. 

 

“Oh god, oh god, oh god… what…” he strangled the a sob in his throat.  He put Shannon down for a moment, trying to get his bearings.  He felt lightheaded. 

He ran his hands through his hair repeatedly.  He can’t be… he can’t be dead.  Oh god, what have I done?  I shouldn’t have left him.  What was I thinking?  Tears escaped his eyes and rolled unchecked down his cheeks. 

 

Soft sniffling brought his attention back to his situation at hand.  He looked at the little girl, now crying in earnest.  Buck sank to his knees and faced the crying child.  “Hey, hey, it’s ok.  Remember, Buck’s here.  I’ll take care of you sweetheart.”

 

“But you’re sad,” she said through her sniffles.

 

“No honey, I’m not… I’m just worried,” he placated as he stroked her hair away from her face.

 

“About the other man?”

 

Buck sighed.  “Yeah baby.  About him.  He was hurt when we left.”

 

“I think Uncle Jerry is mad at him.”

 

“Uncle Jerry?” Buck asked.  Oh Jesus, Jerry Tripp is her uncle?

 

“He got mad and hurt… mommy,” she said and started crying again in earnest.

 

Buck pulled her close to him in a hug.  He picked her up and let her keep crying.  He started off towards where he hoped the rest of the team was, trying not to think about Ezra, but praying he was alive.

 

He found himself fighting tears of his own while Shannon cried for her mother.  Rolling his eyes skyward, he sent up a hearty prayer and cued his comm.  “Chris?  Please be there buddy…”

 

Static answered him.

 

“Chris?  Vin?  JD?  Boys, anybody?  Please.”

 

“-uck?” came a static-filled response.

 

Buck almost wept with relief.  “JD, is that you boy?”

 

Damn Buck, where you guys been?”

 

“JD, quit yammerin’.  Where’s Chris?”

 

Here Buck,” came Chris’ voice.  “Where are you?”

 

“God… Chris, I think they killed him.”

 

Silence, then, “What?  What are you talking about Buck?”

 

“We were ambushed Chris,” he started.  “Where are you?”

 

By the small pond on the property.  Where are you?  You all right Buck?”

 

“I think I’m near there.”  He could hear voices up ahead.   

 

 

 

 

PART 1 / PART 3 / PART 4 / PART 5 / PART 6

 

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