[AnneACK's
 

Appearances

by


Vin Tanner sighed happily as the bed formed itself around him and wrapped him up in its warmth. It was a perfect fall night and he had the window open, allowing him to drink in fresh air. In Purgatorio, assuming the air quality didn't kill you, the person that climbed in your open window would, so you kept the windows shut and locked. Evie Travis knew how much he loved open windows and fresh air and had left a pile of what seemed like about twenty blankets out for him so he could keep warm at night even with the window open. Contented, he snuggled deeper under the pile of blankets. He loved house and animal sitting for Evie and the judge.

He opened his eyes; something had woken him from a dead sleep. Two soft brown eyes looked at him apologetically. Yawning, he sat up, unburied himself and rose, sliding a pair of soft, well-worn jeans over his boxers. A three legged Irish Setter, going white around the muzzle and missing half its tail and most of one ear, whined at him. The judge had found her as a half grown pup caught in a steel trap and trying to get away from a barely grown mountain lion. He had brought the injured pup home and Evie had adopted it and nursed it back to relative health. Shoddy had owned them, as Evie put it, for almost fifteen years. It was beyond Vin how anyone could abandon a pet, likely that was what had happened to the dog, she had a collar on but no tags and no one had answered the ads looking for her family, especially a dog like Shoddy that wanted only to please and be loved.

"It's all right, girl, some things just can't wait," he assured the dog, tickling her ears as he grabbed a flannel shirt and put it on without buttoning it. He had been warned that the ancient dog's bladder control was going and she usually had to go out once in the middle of the night. The last pet sitter had not been willing to get up, leaving the dog locked in the kitchen and cleaning up in the morning, she had not been asked back.

The old dog led him to the front door, and waited. Vin let her out and stepped out on the porch to enjoy the night while he waited. When his eyes adjusted, he saw one of Evie's jumpers standing by the fence, dozing, it looked like. They were certainly nice looking animals; he still preferred quarter horses, himself.

A wind came and he closed eyes, enjoying the feel of it against his face and bare chest. Ezra had once referred to him as a sensualist. Josiah had laughed so hard he had fallen out of his chair and Nathan had to help him get upright, but then the profiler had agreed whole-heartedly with the southerner. Vin had had to look the word up to know if he had been insulted or not. Reading the definition, basically it meant someone who embraces all of the different sensory experiences they got from their senses; he had to agree that he was. After that comment, though, there was no way that he was going to tell Ezra that he went in for a massage at a place he knew of about once a month, or that when he got his hair trimmed every month or so he got a shampoo as well just for the scalp massage. He would never hear the end of it, and heaven help him if Buck or JD found out.

There was a loud bang behind him.

"Aw, hell!" he growled as he tried the door. It was locked. The wind had blown it shut and his keys were on the dresser along with his wallet, badge, ID, gun, and cell phone. He heard a quiet whine as a cold nose slide into his hand. Shoddy was done and wanted back into the nice warm house.

"We'll try the garage, hope I can remember the code," he said, stroking the dog's head. She whined and followed him as he went around to the three-car garage and punched numbers in the pad next to one of the large doors. The third stall door opened. Vin opened the door connecting to the house and a black and white streak shot past him and ran out into the night. Swearing, Vin let Shoddy in and closed the house door, at least one of the two dogs was contained. A loud neigh told Vin where the pup had gone; she was deviling the horses. Great, now on top of corralling the dog, he would have to try and calm the horses.

He tried not to grin at the thought of what the likely result would be if the Border Collie tried something like this with Peso, his horse, or Pony, Chris's horse. Either of the two geldings would have taught the puppy a lesson in leaving horses alone. Peso was not overly fond of dogs in HIS pasture, and Pony, while not having anything against dogs, would not tolerate one menacing him. Personally, Vin figured that Lass could benefit from a meeting with the two geldings, she would almost certainly leave any and all horses alone after that pair were done with her, and heaven help her if she decided to menace one of their mares. They might not have the equipment of stallions, but they did have the natural instinct to protect their females.

Fifteen minutes, and three wide-awake horses, later, Vin was half carrying and half dragging the grinning half grown bitch puppy with him back to the house. The horses, thankfully, had calmed down as soon as their pursuer had been caught and removed.

The federal agent stopped as a bright light hit him in the face.

"Freeze and keep your hands were I can see them," a voice from somewhere on the other side of the light instructed. Vin rolled his eyes, how could he comply without letting the dog loose to go and chase the horses again?

"Name's Vin Tanner, I'm an ATF agent, I'm house and pet sitting for the Travises. He responded, holding one arm away from his side, spreading his legs enough for them to know that he was not going to run or fight, and holding the dog away from him. They might not be able to see his hand, but they would know that he was not reaching for anything. He was complying with the spirit, if not the letter of what they wanted. The garage door must have had a silent alarm attached; he hadn't been using the garage so he had not had any reason to go through that entrance before tonight.

"Yeah, right, you're a federal agent; and I suppose you know nothing about the robberies in this area over the last few weeks," a large, overweight man in a police uniform growled at him.

"Just that they've had the judge and Ms. Evie worried; my ID, badge and gun are all on the dresser in the guest room, first door on the left upstairs. If we can go inside, I'll put the dog away and show them to you," Vin said, trying to stay reasonable. The officers were just doing their job; he understood that. He had been in law enforcement in one form or another for most of his working life. If you thought of the military as law enforcement on a grander scale, then he had been doing it all his working life.

The officer snorted derisively, "I'm not letting you into a house you just broke into."

"Okay, then I'll wait and you can go and look for yourself," Vin suggested.

"I'm not letting you out of my sight, son," the man laughed coldly.

Vin sighed, how was it he ended up in these kinds of situations?

"I'll go and look, and I can put the dog in at the same time," a woman volunteered. She came into view on the other side of him from the first officer. She was also wearing a police uniform, but was considerably younger than her partner, as well as more reasonable.

"Thank you," Vin turned to her.

The officer turned and glared at her. "Remind me again which one of us is the training officer and which is the rookie, Kelly?"

She sighed, "You're the training officer, Harrison, I just thought that it would be a fast way to find out if he's who he says he is, and would make for a safer situation with the dog out of the picture."

Vin bit his lip, he had seen this kind of thing before, men who insisted on respect from a woman partner, but did not give them the same consideration, instead first-naming them. He did not and never had liked it.

"There is no way in hell he's in law enforcement, much less a federal agent! After more than twenty years on the force I know a strung out druggie when I see one."

Vin sighed, he hated people who judged others on how they looked. "Just cause I've got long hair and ain't shaved fer' a couple a days don't make me a druggie! I've never done drugs in my life."

"Drug users don't look any one certain way, some are strung out homeless people and others are in three piece suits and running huge corporations," Kelly offered quietly.

"You may not know the signs, but I do, and this hippie boy's a druggie robbing houses to support his habit. Take the dog in the house and shut off the alarm, I'll have him cuffed and in the car when you get back. Don't be more than a five minutes!" He snapped, snatching the dog from Vin and practically throwing her at his partner.

"Since you're going into the house anyway, just look in the guest room and you'll see my badge," Vin requested.

"I'm your training, officer, follow your orders, turn off the alarm and lock up the premises," Harrison snarled, glaring at Vin.

Kelly nodded, looked apologetically at Vin, and carried the half grown puppy towards the house.

Harrison grabbed Vin's arm roughly and snapped the cuff on it, practically threw him around and grabbed the other arm pulling it behind him hard and securing it as well. Vin took a deep breath and let it out slowly, he did not handle restraints well, but if he started causing trouble, it would only further this jerks case. The officer was giving a wonderful illustration of the bad side of profiling as part of routine law enforcement, people were not always as they seemed. Admittedly, with his long hair and scruffy looks he was a bit out of place here in the wealthy and older suburb of the Travises, but that did not make him a criminal or mean that he had anything to do with the string of robberies in the area of late.

The officer dragged him over to the patrol car and, opening the back, instead of carefully lowering him in back to prevent injury, he threw him in bashing his head against the car door frame. Settling in the back seat, Vin leaned his head back and closed eyes, he now had a severe headache and was seeing spots to add to the evening, well early morning, pleasures.

When the other back door opened, he cracked one eye and looked over. Big surprise that Kelly was the one riding with him; well, at least she wasn't going to make the trip any worse for him.

"I don't think your partner's going to be letting me near a phone, could you do me a favor and call Chris Larabee ..." He began quietly.

"Shut up back there!" The senior officer roared.

Kelly gave a barely perceptible nod. Vin tried to relax, if he could get a call out to Chris, then everything would be fine. He smiled slightly, as he envisioned what would happened when the blonde came storming in to get his second in command back, and the macho chauvinist driving tried to explain this whole mess. Chris would shred him alive, and feed what was left over to the rest of the team. Then the judge would get the remains, if there were any. He could almost feel sorry for the guy; he had no idea what he had just himself in for.
 


Chris yawned and glanced at the clock, as he turned on the bedside lamp and grabbed his chirping cell phone. Three in the blessed A.M. If this was anything short of Armageddon, one of his boys was going to be used for target practice.

"Larabee, and this had better be good," he snapped.

"Vin Tanner asked me to call you, he's been arrested and is being held at the Eagle Heights Police Station. I think you might want to hurry, they put him in general population. Do you know where it is?" A woman he didn't know asked.

"Yeah, I know where it is, who is this?" He asked, wide awake and already reaching for a pair of black jeans.

All he got was a dial tone, she had hung up.

Swearing, he finished getting clothes on and ran out of the house. What were those idiots thinking, you never, ever, ever put a law enforcement officer in general population if he was arrested! Of course there had to have been a huge error somewhere to have arrested Vin in the first place. Hopefully no damage would was done and he could clear everything up by having a chat with the people responsible.

When he arrived, he had to park at a weird angle to avoid blocking the ambulance with it's light still flashing. He sent up a prayer to a God he wasn't certain he believed in anymore that they were not there for Vin Tanner. As he went up the sidewalk to enter the building, he had to leap out of the way of a pair of paramedics as they rushed a gurney to the ambulance and loaded it in.

"Who are they taking?" Chris asked, another member of the team as he passed.

"I'm sorry sir, I can't give you that information."

"Just tell me if it's a man named Vin Tanner!" Chris demanded, showing his badge. "He's one of my men."

The man swore and handed him a card. "This is the hospital we're taking him to, go to the front desk and they'll direct you from there. Do you know of any medication or other allergies that we need to be aware of?"

Chris went white. "Where's Nathan when I need him? Don't use restrains of any kind on him, they send him into fight or flight mode. Antibiotics he does okay with, anything else he seems to have bad reactions to. Vicodin and Percocet will turn him into the equivalent of a toddler for twenty four to forty eight hours. He doesn't take anesthetics well, he has a hard time going under and an even worse time coming out. It'll be easier if I'm there to help him relax."

"Brian! Move it! We're going to lose this one if we don't him there a lot sooner than later," one of the first men bellowed from the ambulance where Vin was now loaded and waiting.

The man looked at Chris and nodded, some people needed a friend close by if they were going to relax enough to go under. "There's not room for you in the ambulance, but you can follow us. All I can tell you at this point, is that it was a stabbing and it's bad. If he has family, you might want to call them."

Chris swore, sighed, looked at the police station, and got back in his truck. He had his cell phone out, it was time to call the troops. Team seven's strength was in their number and unity and Vin would need all his backup, besides the man had said to get the family and the team were each others' family. He could find out how this had happened and put the fear of God, or at least himself, in the people responsible, later. Right now he had to be with Vin. The man did not respond well to hospitals at the best of times, and could be a holy terror if one of his friends was not with him. Vin had explained to him once what it was about the places that set him off, Chris had promised not to tell and never had. He had made it a habit ever since to stay with Vin if at all possible when Vin was hospitalized, and to get him out as quickly as he could. It was an unspoken deal between with them that Chris got him out of the hospital and to the ranch for recuperation as soon as possible, and Vin followed the doctor's orders to the letter. At least he did if Chris was there; if someone else had the watch, all bets were off.
 


The blonde would have been exhausted if he wasn't so angry. Hearing the door to the surgery waiting room open he looked over but looked away as the doctor emerging signaled to another group. There was still no word on his soul brother. He closed his eyes; that sorry, scrawny assed Texan could get in more trouble than anyone Larabee had ever known. All he had been doing was house and animal sitting for two weeks while the Travis's were on vacation, and it had turned into an unholy mess.

"Breaking your teeth or your jaw won't help our brother much," Josiah informed him.

Chris grunted, but unclenched his jaw a little. He had been allowed in back while they put Vin under only because the younger man was just aware enough to fight them, and didn't relax until he saw Chris and was assured that everything was fine. Chris had stayed and held his hand until he was under, and would be called back in when he was in recovery and starting to come to. Thankfully, the doctor had had them before and knew Chris's presence would be necessary if Vin was going to go under.

"I'll talk to the nurses at the desk and see if I can get us some kind of news," Nathan volunteered, and left for the nurse's desk. If Chris didn't get an update soon, he was going to snap and that would be regrettable for everyone involved.

"Have you been able to ascertain how this unfortunate occurrence came about?" Ezra asked from his seat. He had been among the first here since he had not been at home when his cell phone rang with the news that Vin was fighting for his life in the hospital.

"He was at the Travises while they're on vacation and apparently somehow set off the silent security system. The police came out and arrested him and threw him in a general population cell. I got a call, by the time I got there he had been beaten within an inch of his life and stabbed, the paramedics were already working on him," Chris sighed. He had not known about the beating until he was in back, Vin's body was one huge bruise, not to mention some nasty cuts and gashes. Vin was going to be hurting for some time.

"And, of course, they had no idea how any of that had happened to him, right?" Buck offered, joining them. He and his roommate, the youngest team member, JD, had just arrived.

"The officer I spoke to on the phone seemed a bit confused, as did his sergeant. I left a message with the Lieutenant to call me."

JD winced; he could only imagine the kind of message that was. At the best of times Chris was impatient and could be more than a bit demanding when he wanted information. With Vin injured, Chris would have been half crazy and ready to kill.

"Agent Larabee?" A dark haired man in his forties asked.

The blonde looked over at him and stood up, nodding acknowledgement of his identity.

"I'm Lieutenant Hank Devon, Eagle Heights Precinct. How's you man, Tanner?" The newcomer hadn't put a hand out or backed down when Chris was practically in his face, but he had not become hostile or defensive. He was holding his own ground and nothing more.

"They've got him stabilized, still going to be touch and go though, most of the organs in his lower abdomen were at least nicked and peritonitis can come real easy in this kind of thing. They're almost done sewing him back up, though, and he made it through that, so half the battle's over," Nathan informed everyone. Thankfully he had gotten a nurse who knew them and understood the situation.

"Thank you, Lord," Josiah rumbled.

"Amen," brother," Buck concurred.

Ezra said nothing, but the cards he had been shuffling slowed from the frantic speed they had had earlier. Josiah had once observed that you could tell how the gambler was feeling by the presence of his cards and how fast he was shuffling.

JD also didn't say anything, but let out a deep breath, and was starting to visibly relax.

Devon nodded, "Glad to hear it. I came down in person because I wanted to know how he was doing and because the sooner we can find out what happened the sooner we can deal with the situation."

Chris looked the other man in the eye, "I'd like to know what happened, too, and I would sure as hell like to get this dealt with."

Ezra sighed, Chris at his diplomatic best. Devon at least appeared to be a decent man who honestly wanted to get to the bottom of things instead of getting wrapped up in a pissing contest with Chris.

"I've talked to the arresting officer, can you tell me what you know?" The outsider asked.

Chris took a deep breath and sat back down, Devon took a seat near him and pulled out a notebook.

Chris raised an eyebrow.

"I have a piss poor memory so I make notes on everything. Like I said, I've heard what happened according to my man, now I need to hear what you know. Between them, I would like to find the truth," Devon explained.

"You don't believe your guy?" Buck asked, staring at the man.

Devon sighed. "Right now I don't know enough to believe or not believe anything. That's why I'm talking to everyone and anyone that would know anything. If one of my people stepped over the line, then I assure you that it will be dealt with, but before I make accusations or start punishing people, I want to make certain that I've got all of the facts. Careers have been ruined by false accusations made because someone believed what fit a situation instead of looking past that and asking some questions. I don't want to see that happen here, so I'm asking questions."

Ezra gave the man a tip of an imaginary hat. If his supervisor in Atlanta had gone to the same trouble, perhaps the FBI would not, even now, be convinced that Ezra was crooked. But they had believed the circumstantial evidence instead of him, and not bothered to look past how it had appeared.

"Judge Travis and his wife were going out of town, they have pets, they asked Vin to take care of things for them and he said he would. He's been living at their place for the last three days. I got a call at oh dark hundred this morning from a woman I didn't know, that Vin had been arrested and was in general population and I should come and get him, fast. By the time I got there, they were hauling him out in an ambulance. From what I saw in back, he had been beaten half to death and someone stuck a knife in him and tried to gut him," Chris informed him.

Devon looked up from the notebook he had scribbled the data on. "Would it be in character for him to be belligerent with an officer?"

"He might, if the officer started trouble with him first, but he would really have to have been pushed," Chris answered after a moment. Vin was no pussycat, but was fairly easy going.

"What are the chances that he would not have mentioned that he was with the ATF, intentionally or unintentionally?"

The whole team gawked at the Lieutenant.

"Not Tanner, he would have done what they wanted him to and at the first opportunity told them his name and that he was a federal agent; especially if they were going to arrest him," Chris assured the man.

"So much for this being easy," Devon sighed. "Harrison claims that your man never said anything about the ATF and was giving him trouble the entire time, thus backing up his probable cause for arresting him.

"What was the probable cause?" Josiah asked. He had a hunch what it had been and prayed he was wrong.

"There's been a string of robberies in the area, and, well, let's just say that not many folks in that area go for the long haired, bearded look. Not to mention that, apparently, Harrison thought he was overly thin, like he hadn't been taking care of himself. In his opinion, that was enough to justify bringing your man in. I don't happen to agree, but I'm fairly new and the man I replaced was a huge fan of profiling and likely would have agreed with bringing in someone that didn't fit in the area."

"Course Vin wasn't lookin' too great, he's still recovering from his yearly fight with bronchitis!" Nathan snorted.

"He never shaves if he's not going into work the next day," JD added.

"He doesn't even always shave if he is going into work, courts the only thing that guarantees he'll shave," Buck added.

"I fail to see what the length of a man's hair has to do with whether he had a predilection for criminal behavior or not," Ezra offered.

"Good Lord himself had long hair," Josiah pointed out.

"You've convinced me!" Devon held his hands up in surrender.

Chris gave a half smile, his boys were nothing if not loyal.

"Sorry sir, I didn't realize you were here," a young woman said after entering the room.

"Is something wrong?" Devon turned to face her.

"No, I was just wanting to see how agent Tanner was doing," she bit her lip.

"You're the one that called me!" Chris said, looking at her.

Devon raised an eyebrow at her. "Officer Martinez, I would like an explanation."

"Agent Tanner asked me to call him and let him know what had happened, so I did. It seemed the least I could do."

"Why did you hang up so fast?" Chris asked.

"I want to know what is going on and I want to know now," Devon didn't yell, but his tone informed any and all that he was not in the mood for game playing.

"I hung up because I heard a fight breaking out in the jail, and I didn't want Harrison to know I had made a call for Tanner," she explained.

"Martinez, the full story, from the beginning, right now," Devon ordered.

Sighing she sat down, and almost immediately got up. She might not be in the captains office, but she was in his presence and had not been told she could sit down.

"I won't bite, sit down and let me know what happened," her superior rolled his eyes. You could not say she wasn't respectful of her superiors, but this was about the most nervous rookie he had ever known.

"We responded to a silent alarm at the Travises residence. We got there and the garage was open and the door from the garage to the house was unlocked. Before we were able to check the house we heard someone coming and Harrison went to meet him. I could either check the house out on my own or follow him. I opted to follow him since I had no idea if he was going to need backup or not," she began.

Devon nodded, "You made the right call, never allow your partner to face an unknown situation or person like that alone." He made a mental note to have a discussion with Harrison about proper procedure in situations involving unknown persons. If Tanner had been a stung out druggie, the officer might have been seriously hurt, not to mention leaving his partner alone in a house that might or might not have had an armed burglar in it.

"We encountered Agent Tanner on his way back to the house with a Border Collie in tow, it looked to me like the dog had gotten away from him and he'd gone after it. Harrison told him to freeze and assume the position, he complied as best he could without releasing the dog," She continued.

"Did he identify himself as a federal agent?" The Lieutenant asked.

"Yes he did, but Harrison refused to believe that someone looking like him could be anything but a drug user. Agent Tanner told us his ID, badge and gun were on the dresser in the guest room and to go check."

Devon swore under his breath. "At any point did Tanner give you trouble?"

"No, he was actually really nice and understanding about it, Harrison was giving him a lot of attitude, though," she responded immediately.

"Did either of you think to go and look on the dresser?" Chris snarled.

"I volunteered to go, but Harrison wouldn't let me, and when he sent me to secure the house, he only gave me five minutes. That was barely enough time to get the dog in the house and turn off the alarm and relock the door. One of the reasons I made the call like Tanner asked me to was because I should have checked like he wanted," she replied, looking at the floor.

"Kelly, I know about everything at the academy, and you did the right thing by calling that instructor on the carpet for his behavior, and I'm sorry that one of the results was that your time at the academy was so much more difficult. You need to understand that as long as you are working at my precinct, if you know of any officer, and I mean ANY officer, who is acting incorrectly, like Harrison was tonight, you need to speak up," Devon explained.

"I told the sergeant and was informed that it was my job to follow the directions of my training officer, and to go do that, sir."

"Great, I have both of them to deal with," Devon said softly between gritted teeth.

Chris heard him and didn't comment, from what he had seen, this was not a man that shoved problems under a rug. He also had a hunch as to why Devon had been brought into the precinct. His predecessor had apparently run a fairly loose ship.

"I'm glad that you took it to the sergeant, if you take something to a superior again and get that kind of response, I want you to being it to me; or higher if you feel that you the situation has still not been corrected."

She nodded. "After I dealt with the house and the dog, I went back to the squad car. Harrison had me ride in back with Tanner. He didn't say anything, but he was keeping his eyes closed and it looked like he had maybe hit his head on something, at least there was a red welt there that hadn't been before. While we were in back in asked me to call Chris Larabee, since he had a feeling that he was not going to be getting to a phone anytime soon."

Buck took a deep breath and tried to calm down, he did not like bullies, and this Harrison was one. He not only treated his lovely partner badly, but he man handled prisoners who were cooperating.

"That was how you got my name and number," Chris said.

"No, actually we were interrupted before he had a chance to do more than give me your name."

Chris stared at her, "Then how did you know how to get hold of me? I'm not exactly listed in the phone book."

"I knew I had heard your name as well as Vin Tanner's before, I just couldn't remember where. Then I remembered that Daddy had mentioned both of you a few times, so I called home. Daddy wasn't in, but your name was in his list of numbers from work. I explained the situation, and she agreed it was an emergency and gave it to me. Then I called you to come and get Vin."

"Who's your Daddy?" JD asked as they all looked at her.

"Rafael Martinez. He leads ATF team four."

"Fantastic Four," Josiah said with a broad smile and rumbling laugh. The two teams had worked more than one bust together, and acted as back up for each other countless times.

"I didn't know Rafe had a daughter," Buck smiled at her.

"Really, can you blame a father for failing to mention a daughter to you, Mr. Wilmington?" Ezra snorted. Buck's wandering eye for the ladies was well known.

JD smirked.

"Like I said, it was an emergency, or mom never would have given me your number. Daddy's drilled it into all of us that we do NOT give out agents phone numbers," Kelly assured him.

Chris smiled at her, "You were doing Vin a favor, I've got no problem with your having called me."

"Mr. Larabee?" A man in scrubs asked from the doorway.

Chris turned to him.

"The operation was a success and we've got Mr. Tanner in recovery. His chart says he'll come to easier if you or another of his friends are with him; if you could come with me ..."

Chris nodded and followed the doctor.

Devon turned to Kelly. "Okay, that explains how he ended up arrested, but I would still like to understand how that turned into this."

She sighed, "We brought him to the station, and just as we arrived there was that blow up at Smokey's Bar, and we needed all hands for it, so Harrison tossed him in the general holding cell while I slipped away and called Agent Larabee quick. Tem minutes later we were hearing all kinds of screaming and carrying on and we went to check and there was as brawl in the cell. Agent Tanner was cornered and trying to fight of about four people, we stepped in to separate everyone and suddenly the knife appeared and next thing it was sticking out of Tanner. Johnson, Murphy, and Silvers handled the fight and I called 911 to get an ambulance."

Devon nodded. "Go on home Martinez, enjoy your day off tomorrow, and when you get back you'll have a new training officer."

"Yes sir, you have a good weekend, too since I won't see you until Monday," She turned to go.

"You did good out there tonight, Rookie," he smiled at her.

"Thank you, sir. I'm just sorry I wasn't able to prevent all this from happening in the first place."

"You did what you could with your partner, called the contact person for Tanner, and alerted me, I would say that you did fine," the lieutenant assured her.

"Hey, if you're going, do you think you could lead me out to the Travises and let me in?" Buck asked. "Those dogs'll be wanting to go out, and the horses are probably demanding breakfast, and I'd like to secure Vin's gun and badge and stuff."

"Sure, happy to," she agreed, after getting a nod from her superior that it was okay to do so.

Buck and Kelly left, after JD assured Buck that he could get a lift anywhere he needed to go from one of the others.

Devon turned to the remaining four, "Could one of you give Larabee my card and tell him to give me a call and let me know how Tanner's doing and give him my assurance that my men will be dealt with?"

"I would be most happy to pass that along." Ezra smiled and accepted the card.

Devon nodded at the others and left. The four men settled in to wait, Chris would let them know when Vin was ready to see them or if there was any change. They had been here often enough to know the routine.
 


Chris sat by his friend's bed and waited. Vin started gasping as if suffocating and thrashing himself around as if fighting someone or something. The first time he had witnessed this it had scared the hell out of him, sadly he had been in this position often enough that he now knew what to expect and, more importantly, what to do.

"Vin, you're okay, everything's fine, just relax," He told him soothingly, while holding one of his arms.

The body calmed, but the gasping, almost choking sounds continued.

Chris kept talking in the same calm, quiet, soothing voice he had used on Adam after a nightmare. Slowly, the breathing calmed down and he found himself staring into a pair of blue eyes. Vin was awake. With Chris to help him fight his way out, it took only a about ten minutes, the time he had not been there it had taken half an hour and caused major havoc.

"Easy, Cowboy, you're safe. You landed yourself in the hospital again, seems you got beaten and then stabbed in the jail cell. Can't take you anywhere," Chris teased.

Vin grinned at him. "Saw the Faulk brothers in there and knew I was toast. Brought them in in my bounty huntin' days. Tried to keep out of the corner and prayed that Kelly had done what I asked and somehow gotten your number."

Chris laughed. "Seems her Daddy's Rafe, she recognized our names as people her dad worked with, so she called him and got my number and called me."

Vin stared at him and then made a kind of laughing snorting sound.

"Get some sleep, you're going to be here a while," Chris instructed.

Vin sighed, and laid back in the bed. "The dogs?"

"They'll be taken care of," Chris assured him.

Vin nodded and closed his eyes.

Chris settled into the chair at the side of the bed. Buck would already be on top of the animals and securing Vin's things, Chris would take the first watch while Vin slept.
 


Chris smiled as he dropped in to see Vin. The sharpshooter was in his hospital bed watching a movie on his laptop, which JD had brought in for him. Kelly was next to him on the bed, tucked under one arm, and watching the movie as well. That certainly explained why Vin hadn't been objecting to being stuck here, if she was visiting regularly.

Chris was debating wither to come back later or not when Vin saw him and grinned, nodding him in.

Kelly blushed slightly and moved off the bed.

"Kelly dropped in to let me know what happened at the station," Vin smiled.

"Nice of her to keep you updated," Chris smirked.

"So what was the end result?" Chris asked, turning to her.

"It seems Judge Travis was not too happy about his vacation being interrupted, and shared his displeasure with the chief of police. The chief shared his feels with the captain, who, thanks to your call, was able to say that the situation was being dealt with by the Lieutenant and you were satisfied."

"Didn't want to see Devon in trouble, he didn't do anything wrong," Chris told her. He had been impressed with the no nonsense man had a feeling that his precinct would a tight and well-run ship in no time.

"The judge managed to get himself a place in the disciplinary meeting. Harrison was strongly encouraged to take early retirement, which he did after twenty four years on the force," she continued.

Vin and Chris both winced, you needed twenty-five years for a full pension. But then, it was the jerk's own fault he had been railroaded into leaving.

"The Sergeant has a week of unpaid leave, a reprimand in his file, and is having to take some procedural courses, but nothing else."

Vin gave a shrug; that was fair enough. The guy hadn't been particularly nasty with him, and it sounded like a reminder about correct procedures should set him back on the straight and narrow, and knowing that he couldn't get away with sloppiness, now.

"I thought you might want to know that the real burglar has been caught," Chris told them.

"He has?" Kelly asked excitedly.

"Who was it?" Vin asked, taking her hand.

"Seems that one of the nice, well dressed, clean shaven, grandsons of an Eagle Heights family has a bit of a gambling problem, so he was stealing things to sell for money. He figured it was too hot to continue there, so he moved over to the Four Corners area," Chris started.

"Aw, hell, don't tell me he tried to rob your place?" Vin grinned. Once Chris had had someone decided that his isolated ranch house was ripe for the picking. Coming around a dark corner into the business end of Chris's gun with the blonde smiling like a starving shark, had caused the kid to lose control of his bodily functions. By the time the police arrived, he was babbling a confession to anyone that would listen. The local police were still laughing about that being their easiest arrest, the kid wanted to get in the squad car and go to jail.

"No, he went a few ranches farther up the mountain," Chris replied, trying not to laugh.

Kelly looked at him, confused, and turned to Vin. What was so funny?

Vin started to laugh, "He went after the Wells place?"

"And met Ms. Nettie and her Spencer Carbine. Casey was spending the weekend and called the police. By the time they arrived, she was giving him such a tongue lashing that he was begging them to get him out of there," Chris was laughing now.

"I can imagine," Vin chuckled. Nettie in a temper was a force to be reckoned with.

"Sounds like everything got settled," Vin yawned.

"I would say so, Chris agreed. "What were you watching?"

"Magnificent Seven with Steve McQueen and Yul Brenner. Kelly's never seen it," Vin replied.

"We were just about to start, if you want to join us?" Kelly asked.

Vin nodded to the empty chair.

"I ain't sittin' on the bed with you two," Chris informed them with a grin, pulling up the chair, while she returned to her spot and they started the movie.

"Ain;t invitin' you to," Vin grinned.

Chris smiled. Vin was going to be fine and had evidently formed an attachment of some kind with Kelly, a brainless bully of a cop was off the force, a burglar was caught, and four felons had added assaulting a federal officer to their list of offences; and in the end no permanent damage was done. Life was good.
 



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