You Only Hurt the One You Love
by Judy Freudenthal
ATF Universe
(2001)

Vin looked down at the paper in his hands. "Do we have them all?"

JD looked at the list, "I think so." He passed off to Buck, who read it and then passed it to Chris, who then passed it to Ezra.

They all agreed that the list was complete, at least as far as they knew.

Chris walked into a room papers in hand. "Okay which one of you had me beaten, starved, burned?" He asked the dozen or so women, each secured to a somewhat comfortable chair.

The room was quiet until the Larabee glare was used. Sue cracked. "It was Kathleen."

"Kathleen, why?" He asked genuinely wanting to know why this seemingly normal looking female did these horrible things to him. He looked quite hurt.

"I, I, I don't know why. The ideas just come to me and I have to write them to get them out of my mind. If you'd stop giving me ideas…maybe then I wouldn't have to write all these stories."

"I do NOT give you ideas," he sternly said. "Why would I want to do that to myself?"

Kathleen wisely took the fifth on that one, even though she could think of plenty of reasons, the loss of his wife and son right on top of the list.

Vin walked in with another stack of papers. "Nancy, how could you do this to me?"

"Do what?"

"Break my limbs and blind me. I thought you liked me."

"I do. You're my favorite," she said a little embarrassed. "You know that old saying…" she stammered. At his confused look she continued. "You always hurt the one you love."

"That's NOT how it was meant!" Vin said a bit grumpy. "Do you have any idea how much that stuff hurts?! Where do you come up with some of that stuff?"

Chris grumbled that he'd seen serial killers that weren't as violent with their victims. All the ladies glared at him, almost matching the famed Larabee glare, startling him. And unnerving the rest of the boys a bit.

"How could you leave me down there with that corpse. That's too nasty to believe someone as nice as you seemed to be to do. Especially to someone you claim to like."

"If I didn't like you, you'd still be down there, and you would've been hurt worse, maybe even died there."

"Remind me not to get on your bad side," JD mumbled.

JD blushed as Nancy said something about him being too cute. "But apparently I'm not to cute to nearly kill in that plane crash. How was I supposed to take care of myself with two broken arms?"

"You weren't. That was Buck's job. I thought you'd like to have a little pampering."

"You know, with this many injuries we're going to feel like we're ninety years old before we hit fifty, if we live that long. Not to mention, being lucky we can still work. Along with not being addicted to painkillers."

"Hey! Don't blame me for injuries that I didn't inflict," Nancy said, hurt by the accusations.

"How come you never go after Nathan?" Buck asked.

"Someone has to heal you all."

The boys grumbled among themselves that they had to find a way to get Nathan hurt, and hurt badly.

"We only hurt the really cute ones of you," Wendy said.

"Great," the guys grumbled, for once hating being the 'cute' ones.

"Buck, they do have to run out of ideas soon, don't they?" JD asked, a little fearful. "I mean how much more can they do to us?" He saw the wicked gleam in the writers eyes and grew scared.

"Yes, there are only so many ways to hurt a person and I think they've done just about everything possible.

"Vin, I guess you and I are the cutest of the bunch," JD said knowing he and Vin seemed to be hurt the most often.

"Great," Vin grumbled.

The guys all huddled a moment before Ezra spoke. "We have decided that we would like the next major injury we receive to be somewhere nice and relaxing. So we can recuperate on the beach, or somewhere equally peaceful. And if you would please, improve the food we're fed in the hospital."

"You all look like such nice ladies. Who would've believed such brutality could come from you," Buck said with a small shudder.

Buck was handed a page which he quickly scanned. "Mady, how could you break my jaw and my ribs? What did I ever do to you?"

"You didn't do anything. As Nancy said, we hurt those we love. And as Kathleen said, if you'd stop giving us ideas…"

"At least a wagon didn't run you over," Ezra complained. He looked at Joy who seemed only a little sorry for it. "And I suppose you'll claim the same excuses as your fellow scribes here?"

Joy nodded. "It's the truth."

The boys knew the ladies were curious why they had been gathered up here and restrained.

"Well… we're still debating what to do with you all. We could charge you with multiple crimes, but we'd spend from now until the end of the century explaining it, and that's if they didn't think we were crazy and fire us, or lock us up. We could give you a taste of your own medicine."

They loved the look of fear the authors tried to keep off their faces at the thought of being locked up or given a taste of their own medicine.

"I can't believe you hurt me enough to need a tracheotomy tube, Mady." Vin looked hurt and it tore at Mady's heart.

She was torn between apologizing and standing firm. She knew that no writer should apologize to the characters for something they've written. It sets a bad precedent.

"At least Nancy hasn't made you paraplegic," JD complained.

"No, but Mady did," Buck said.

"I still have the scar in my thigh from where Kathleen left a bullet in there. Not to mention being blinded, not once but twice," Chris said.

"It's a good thing the government takes care of our insurance and pays the hospital bills," Buck said.

"I think they've blinded us all at least once," JD said.

All the authors looked down at the ground then back up with grins on their faces.

"At least you weren't the victim of electrical shock," Vin said. "Wendy did that to me."

"I want to know where they're getting the excellent medical advice, for which we should be thankful," Chris said.

"I don't even want to think about what would happen to us if they didn't ask all the questions they do," JD said with a shudder.

No one volunteered who the medical advisors were. Chris knew the only way to get answers was to use that glare again. He focused it on the woman and again Sue was the one to break first.

"There are two main ones. Ronnie's one of them."

"Ronnie, thank you for making sure we got the proper treatment. Couldn't you have suggested lesser injuries? Convinced them that what they were doing, in some of the more severe cases, would end our careers, or at least leave us on permanent desk duty?," Vin said.

"It's the least I could do. I hate stories where the authors write things that would seriously injure or kill the patient. It's just a quirk of mine," Ronnie said. "I can't influence them. Sorry."

"Chris, what are we going to do with them?" Buck asked.

"I think we'll just let them sit here a while and…" Chris sighed audibly. "And probably think up new things to do. Or congratulate each other on their creativeness."

"You mean there's nothing we can do?" JD asked upset. They hadn't done all this to let the women off scott free.

"JD, there is ALWAYS something we can do," Buck said with that wicked grin on his face, the one that signaled big trouble. He motioned for his friends to gather round.

The five of them huddled together and spent quite a while whispering.

The authors looked at each other wondering what they were contemplating.

"They're ATF agents, they can't legally hurt us," Nancy said.

The others looked at her, not sure whether or not to believe her.

"Even after all the pain we've inflicted?" Joy asked.

"We've given them comfort for all the pain we've given," Sue said.

"Actually, they can hurt us, but as private citizens. And they know we wouldn't press charges against them. Especially after some here admitted their feelings for them," Joy said.

END

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