Dead Man Walking

by Winter

Size: Approx. 100K

Chapter 1

"Come on, Vin, you can do it!" Buck yelled.

Vin ignored the boisterous ladies man as he walked to the designated area. He drowned out the name calling and everything as he swung his weapon of choice. Vin stepped into the batter's box and stared at the pitcher. The pitcher licked his lips nervously as he scanned the bases. It was bottom of the ninth with two outs and bases loaded. Nathan was leading off first, Chris waited calmly at second and JD looked like he was ready to bust on third. The score was tied and all Vin had to do was bring JD home. The pitcher turned back to Vin and gulped. Vin's direct gaze was un-nerving. Vin just waited. Finally the pitcher made his move. Vin watched the ball as it sailed over the plate.

"Ball one!"

More cheering drowned out the advice from his teammates. When Chris had volunteered them for this charity baseball game Vin had been skeptical. Baseball wasn't his game. Basketball was always the game of choice in Purgatorio. There was no open space for a game of baseball, unless you counted stickball as the equivalent of the All-American game. Ezra made it clear that there was no way he was playing. That was before Chris threatened him. It was only to be one game, ATF versus Denver PD. It was for a good cause and Chris had already agreed. JD thought it would be great fun and Buck figured he could get a few phone numbers from the women spectators. The game started off great. Both teams got down to a friendly rivalry and Ezra started taking bets. Chris turned a blind eye to the gambling, as did the captain of the Denver PD. Ezra surprised everyone by being a pretty good hitter. JD was a little powerhouse sending a line drive straight for the short stop. Nathan and Josiah were steady players. Buck was wild but he sure could hit. Chris played in high school and college but was a better pitcher than a hitter. Vin had been a mystery until he hit that first ball over the outfield fence for the first home run of the game. The pitcher tried to calm himself under Vin's watchful eye. The crowd was going crazy. The pitch was made and again Vin let it go by.

"Strike one!"

"What!" Buck bellowed coming out of the dugout. "You need glasses? That ball wasn't even over the plate."

Vin smiled as Buck continued his tirade. The pitcher gained some confidence and got ready for his next throw. Vin watched and waited. The ball left the pitchers hand and Vin watched it. As it came close Vin waited then swung the bat with all his might. The bat made a satisfying crack as the ball easy sailed over the outfield fence. Vin didn't even bother to run the bases and stepped back as JD jogged for home.

"Great hit, Junior," Buck yelled lifting Vin in a bear hug from behind.

Vin felt Buck jerk as the first shot rang out. The gunfire was coming from a high powered rifle. JD was there in time to help Vin drag Buck into the dugout. Everyone was screaming and running for cover. Vin watched as two of Denver's finest went down. Chris and Nathan made it to safety. He left Buck in Nathan's capable hands and scanned the buildings across the way.

"He's only shooting at the law enforcement personal," Ezra observed.

Ezra was right. The shooter wasn't even bothering with the fleeing spectators. They all ducked as shots were fired on the dugout. Chris cursed as he searched for his cell phone.

"Already taken care of," Ezra said holding up his phone. "Help is on the way."

"Always knew you were quick, brother," Josiah said as he kept watch.

"Good," Chris said as he moved over to Buck. "How is he Nate?"

"Bullet passed through his right shoulder," Nathan said as he placed as dressing from the first aid kit against the wounds.

"Nathan," Buck said gritting his teeth. "Check Vin."

"Shit," Nathan cursed and turned away from Buck.

Chris and Nathan turned in time to see Vin slump against Ezra. Chris wasn't sure who looked more surprised, his undercover agent or the sharpshooter. Nathan moved quickly to their side and checked Vin. The bullet had entered Vin's upper back on the right side.

"No exit wound," Nathan said as he checked Vin's chest.

"I didn't even know," Vin said quietly as Ezra held him.

"Not surprised," Nathan said as he cut away Vin's shirt. When the fabric was gone Nathan could see blood bubbling ever time Vin breathed. "Shit! I need a piece of plastic."

Chris and Josiah went scrambling looking for something to use. JD told them in his backpack was a zip lock bag full of Oreo's. Chris grabbed JD's backpack and rummaged through it looking for the cookies. Once he found them he dumped out the Oreo's and moved back to Nathan.

"Nathan," Vin gasped. "Hard.... to breathe."

"I know, just hold on," Nathan said as he cut the bag with the scissors from the first aid kit.

Nathan laid the plastic over the bullet hole and tape down the edges. He left a small opening in one corner. Nathan watched in satisfaction as Vin breathed in and the plastic was sucked down to cover the hole. As he breathed out the small opening let the air escape. Vin relaxed against Ezra, as his breathing became easier.

"I believe our shooter has stopped," Ezra said.

"And here comes our help," Josiah said pointing.

Police and emergency vehicles pulled up all around the park. Chris watched as officers got out of their cars and hid behind the doors looking around the area. When the arrival of more police didn't illicit more gunfire the all clear signal was give. Medics rushed out of their vehicles and over to the dugouts. Police checked on the civilians that were cowering under the bleachers. Chris left the team to find out about the causalities from the other team. Ezra sat holding Vin as the paramedics checked him over. Vin started to become agitated.

"Easy, Vin," Ezra soothed.

"Chris," Vin called pushing off the oxygen mask.

"You have to leave this on," the female paramedic insisted as she put the mask back.

" to Chris," Vin insisted fighting.

"It can wait," Ezra said taking the mask and putting it back on Vin.

"We don't have enough ambulances," another paramedic said.

"We can put the one with the shoulder wound in with the sucking chest wound," the female said.

Vin was loaded on a gurney. They positioned him on his left side and braced him with pillows. Josiah and Nathan helped Buck to the ambulance with JD following close behind. Vin had stopped struggling and was quiet as they loaded him into the ambulance. Buck was helped in next and strapped into the seat.

"We'll see you at the hospital," Chris said.

"We'll be there," Buck smiled weakly.

As the doors closed Vin's sluggish brain realized that was Chris and tried to sit up. He was strapped securely to the gurney and began to struggle.

"You have to calm down," the female paramedic said as she made the straps tighter.

"Chris!" Vin called getting his arm free and pulling the mask off.

"Vin you gotta calm down," Buck said undoing his seat belt and falling next to Vin.

"Damn, mister, I have enough trouble with him," she said as she tried to get him back to his seat.

"I can calm him down just give me a minute," Buck said and she nodded. Buck grabbed Vin's hand. "What is it Vin?"

"Shooter," Vin gasped. "Up...high."

"We know, Vin," Buck said trying to calm him.

"No!" Vin argued breathing quickly. "Up...on building. I saw...something."

"You're sure?" Buck asked and Vin nodded. "Okay, I'll tell Chris. Now you calm down and do what the lady says"

Vin calmed down and the paramedic was able to get the mask back on him. She got Buck back in his seat and secured. By the time they reached the hospital Vin was unconscious. Buck watched anxiously as the wheeled Vin inside.

"Don't worry they'll take good care of him," the paramedic said.

"I know," Buck said as they wheeled a Gurney over for him. "We've been here before."

The others pulled up to the hospital and parked. After giving their statements Chris made excuses and headed for the hospital. Vin and Buck weren't the only ones shot. Three of Denver's finest were hit but none were fatal. One was hit in the shoulder, one in the arm and the other in the thigh. As they were leaving no evidence had been found yet. This was to be a joint investigation since ATF and Denver PD personal were injured. They walked inside and over to the reception desk.

"We're here for Vin Tanner and Buck Wilmington," Josiah said.

"Mr. Wilmington is in exam four," she said and paused. "Mr. Tanner was taken up to x-ray."

"I need to talk to Buck Wilmington," Chris said showing his badge.

"The doctor will be out shortly to..."

"No, I need to see him now," Chris insisted.

"Chris come this way," another nurse said.

"Nancy," Chris said relieved to see a familiar face. "How are they?"

"Don't know about Vin," she said. "But Buck will be okay. He wants to talk to you."

"We shall await you here," Ezra said.

Chris followed Nancy down the hall. When they got to a room marked four she pushed the door open. Buck was lying back with his eyes closed. They had started an IV to replace the fluids lost. Buck's eyes were closed as they walked over to the bed.

"Buck," Nancy called.

"Huh?" Buck said groggily.

"Hey Stud," Chris smiled at Buck.

"Hey, Pard," Buck sighed.

"Feeling good?"

"Oh yeah," Buck smiled and sat up straighter. "Have a message from Vin. He thought he saw something on that eight story blue building at the end of the parking lot."

"I'll let them know" Chris said. "How was Vin?"

"He was unconscious by the time we got here," Buck yawned.

"You gonna be okay?" Chris asked concerned.

"Yeah," Buck sighed. "How many did he get."

"Including you and Vin, five," Chris said. "None fatal."

"Is good," Buck slurred as his eyes closed.

"Come on, Chris," Nancy said. "He's okay they gave him something for the pain. The doctor was waiting for it to take effect before stitching him up."

Nancy walked back to the waiting area with him. As they got closer to the others they saw a doctor talking to them. As they got closer he stopped.

"Are you Agent Larabee?" the doctor asked.


"I'm Dr. Griffin," he said. "We're taking one of your agents up to surgery now."

"How bad?" Chris asked.

"Not too bad," he said. "Agents Jackson quick thinking help. It will be a couple of hours if you want to go home and wash up."

"We'll stay," JD declared.

"Suit yourself," he said and went to step away.

"Doc we need the bullet," Chris said.

"I figured as much," he said and walked away.

"They should be moving Buck up to a room in a little while," Nancy said. "You can wait here and when they move him I'll let you know."

"Thanks Nancy," Chris said as he watched the small dark haired nurse walk away.

"Is Buck okay?" JD asked anxiously.

"Buck's fine," Chris smiled. "He's very happy."

"I don't doubt it," Nathan said. "What did he want?"

"Vin told him he saw something on one of the buildings," Chris answered.

"I'm not surprised," Ezra commented. "Mr. Tanner's eyes sight is uncanny."

"I'm gonna call Hank," Chris said. "Let him know."

Chris walked outside to get reception on his cellphone. He let the ATF team leader that was handling the case know what Vin saw. He told Hank to let him know if Vin had been right. When he was finished he walked back inside to wait with the others. Chris hated waiting.

Chapter 2

Chris sat flipping through a magazine while he waited on word about Vin. Buck had been brought to a room two hours ago. The others decided to wait with Buck and keep him company. Chris glanced at his watch and stood up. It was almost three hours since they took Vin to surgery. He should have heard something by now. Chris went in looking for a nurse when he saw one walking towards him.

"Agent Larabee?" she asked.

"Yes," Chris said as he walked over to her.

"They just brought Mr. Tanner to recovery," she said. "The doctor said you could sit with him since he has a history of coming out of the anesthesia disoriented."

She brought Chris to recovery and showed him inside. Vin was the only patient in the room. Chris walked over and saw they had Vin positioned on his left side lying across a body length pillow. Behind his back was a foam wedge so he couldn't roll to his back. An IV and pulseox monitor was attached to his right hand. A chest tube snaked across Vin's abdomen and disappeared over the side of the bed. The heart monitor beat a steady rhythm as Chris settled in a chair next to the bed. The nurse checked the various pieces of equipment as Chris watched Vin.

"Everything alright?" Chris asked when she was finished.

"He's fine," she assured him. "The surgery went well."

"Took longer than I expected," Chris commented.

"The bullet nicked an artery and they couldn't find it," she explained. "I'll leave you now. Any problems I'm right outside."

Chris settled in the chair and waited. It wasn't long before Vin started to stir. Chris looked around the room for a basin and some towels. He noticed the nurse had put some out on the counter and went to retrieve them. Chris placed everything in the chair and gripped Vin's arm as he fought to regain consciousness.

"Easy, Vin," Chris said softly. "Don't fight it. Just take your time."

Vin's movements became more animated and his heart rate began to rise. The nurse came in to make sure everything was okay. She waited by the side of the bed to see if she could help. Vin opened his eyes and blinked owlishly.

"Welcome back, Cowboy," Chris said.

Vin blinked at Chris and tried to focus. His body was waking up more and he felt ill. Chris saw the look on Vin's face and grabbed the basin. The nurse held Vin's hair away from his face as he wretched. When he was done Vin lay back shaking. The nurse took the basin from Chris and put it on the counter. She opened a cabinet and got another one just in case. Chris wiped Vin's face and pulled the blankets higher.

"Sorry," Vin mumbled.

"Hey, what are friends for." Chris smiled.

Vin didn't have a chance to answer as Chris grabbed the basin and held it out for him.

+ + + + + + +

"It's been almost three hours," JD said from his position next to Buck's bed.

"That's not too long, JD," Nathan assured him. "It's going to take some time to repair the damage to his lung."

"If you say so," JD sighed.

JD looked over at Buck. The mustached agent was sound asleep. A white bandage was wrapped around his right shoulder and his arm rested in a sling. JD thought Buck looked pale but he figured he had a right to. JD glanced at Ezra and saw he was still playing solitaire. He knew Ezra could look perfectly calm on the outside but knew Ezra was worried also. JD was about to suggest that one of them go ask about Vin when the door opened. Chris stepped in guiding a gurney. Josiah jumped up and held open the door.

"We were getting worried," Josiah said as he glanced down at Vin.

"Well you know how he is afterwards," Chris said as he helped wheel the gurney to the extra bed.

They transferred Vin to the bed and the sharpshooter groaned as his shoulder was jarred. Chris and Nathan helped the nurse position Vin in the bed. Again he was on his left side with the foam wedge behind his back. The nurse straightened the chest tube and positioned the portable suction next to the bed. By the time they were finished Vin was breathing fast and clutching the pillow. The nurse positioned a nasal cannula under Vin's nose then left. Chris pushed Vin's unruly hair out of his eyes.

"Relax, Vin," Chris said. "We're done."

"How is he?" Buck asked quietly.

"Buck," Vin said weakly.

"Right here, Junior," Buck said. Chris stepped out of Vin's way so he could see Buck.

"You look like shit," Vin smiled.

"Look in a mirror lately, handsome?" Buck chuckled.

"Tired," Vin sighed.

They watched, as Vin's breathing became slow and steady. A short time later he was asleep. Chris pulled up the blankets and took a seat.

"He okay?" Buck asked.

"Yeah," Chris said. "They gave him some Compozine for the nausea."

"It makes you sleepy," Nathan added.

"What took so long?" JD finally blurted.

"Worried?" Chris teased.

"Nah," JD lied. "But they were." JD gestured to the other and Chris smiled.

"Bullet nicked an artery and they couldn't find it," Chris said. "The doctor said the damage was actually light compared to the size of the bullet. If the bullet hadn't gone through Buck first the damage would have been worse."

"Glad I could help," Buck laughed the cringed as the stitches pulled.

"How you doing?" Chris asked worried for his oldest friend.

"Fell like I've been hit by a truck," Buck admitted. "But I'll be okay."

"Any word from Agent Tolliver?" Ezra asked as he put his cards in his pocket.

"He called while Vin was in surgery," Chris said. "Vin was right. They found shell casings on the roof."

"Why would he leave them?" JD asked. "He had time to pick them up."

"Good question," Chris said. "They found no other evidence. No finger prints, boot marks, nothing."

"It's like he wanted us to find them," Nathan said.

"Unless the weapon is unusual it won't really help," Josiah pointed out.

"That's true," Ezra agreed. "But I'm sure our intrepid sharpshooter will be able to identify the make and model."

"I don't think Vin's gonna identify anything for awhile," JD said. They glanced at Vin and could hear him snoring softly, dead to the world.

"Why don't you boys head out," Buck suggested. "I'll keep and eye on Junior."

"Who's gonna keep an eye on you?" Nathan asked.

"Don't worry, Nathan, Buck's not going anywhere," JD smiled. "He's got his eye on the red head."

"The red head?" Ezra said surprised. "I thought for sure it was the blonde."

"Well which ever one Buck's after it will keep him occupied," Chris said. "Let's go get something to eat. I'm buying."

"Figures," Buck lamented. "Chris offers to buy and I'm laid up in the hospital."

"Why do you think I offered," Chris smiled as he walked out followed by the others.

Buck watched as they left and tried to get comfortable. His shoulder was killing him and he couldn't find a position where it didn't hurt. With nothing else to do Buck turned on the TV searching for something to watch. He found a baseball game and left it on. About a half-hour later a nurse walked in carrying a tray.

"Dinner," she said as she placed the tray on a table and swung it over Buck's bed. "Also have some pain meds for you."

"Thanks darlin' shoulder was starting to hurt something fierce," Buck said trying to get some sympathy.

"I bet it was," she said walking over and handing him a small cup.

Buck popped the pills in his mouth and downed them with some of the juice on his tray. The nurse, whose name was Wendy, said she'd be back in a little while to get the tray. Buck sighed when he took the lid off the food. He could never figure out why hospital food was so horrible. He ate what he could of the meal then pushed the table away. The pain pills were making him sleepy and he succumbed to the inevitable.

Buck was dreaming of white sands and blue water. The leggy brunette that was walking with him on the beach kept saying his name. Buck didn't like the way she was saying it, almost in a desperate matter. His foggy brain finally woke up and he opened his eyes. The room was now dark and Buck didn't remember falling asleep. He started to drift off again when his named was called.


He turned to the sound of the voice and he realized it was Vin. There was enough light coming through the bottom of the door for Buck to see Vin was still asleep. Vin was becoming restless and Buck didn't want him to hurt himself.

"Vin!" Buck called. "Wake up."

"Buck, No!" Vin cried.

"Damn!" Buck cursed as he picked up the call button.

"What's wrong, Mr. Wilmington?" the red head Kathy asked.

"My friend's having a night mare," he said. "Thought you better try to wake him before he hurts himself. Just be careful."

Kathy walked over to the other bed and saw Vin thrashing lightly in his sleep. Vin called out again and she placed a hand on his arm.

"It's okay, Mr. Tanner, wake up," she said gently.

"Look out!" Vin yelled and swung his arm. The pain pulled woke him instantly. "Shit!"

"Easy, Mr. Tanner, you were dreaming," Kathy said as Vin gripped her hand trying to ride out the pain. "You're okay."

"Just call him Vin," Buck smiled. "Makes things easier."

"You all right now?" she asked.

"Yeah," Vin forced out.

"Just try to relax," she said. "You're not due for another pain shot for a few hours. But if you really need it I can get you one."

"I'm okay," Vin said.

"Try to get back to sleep," she suggested as she walked out.

"That's easy for her to say," Vin grumbled. "She ain't got tubes where there shouldn't be any."

"Glad I was spared that," Buck laughed then glanced at Vin. "You sure you're okay?"

"Yeah," Vin said with a sigh as he got comfortable. "Hate that stuff."

"We know," Buck smiled.

"What time is it?" Vin asked.

"Don't know," Buck said. "Want to watch some TV?"

"Sure maybe it will help me fall back to sleep," Vin said.

Buck turned on the set and flipped through the channels. They realized it must be late as they found most of the stations showing infomercials. They found old reruns of Three Stooges and settled for that. Kathy came back in to check on them and found them both asleep with the TV on. She took the remote from Buck and turned off the set. As she walked out she smiled and turned off the light.

Chapter 3

The next day Chris sat in his office going over the report from Hank Tolliver. It listed the items found at the crime scene and the depositions from the witnesses. He knew Denver PD was still getting statements from some people. Chris sighed and pinched the bridge his nose. There wasn't much to go on. He had JD running a check on felons released from jail in the past year that a grudge against cobs. It was a long shot but what else could they do. Chris went back to sifting through the report when there was a knock at his door. He knew it wasn't anyone from his team because they never knocked.

"Come in."

Chris looked up as the door opened and Hank Tolliver walked in. The crime scene forensic expert was average height and well built. He had a thick mane of black hair and dark eyes. Hank's face was open and friendly making him liked by all.

"Morning, Chris," he said as he walked in.

"Hank," Chris said gesturing to a seat. "What brings you here?"

"Was hoping you could show this to Vin," Hank said as he pulled out an evidence bag with some shell casings in it. "I think I've narrow it down to two possible guns but I'd like his opinion."

"I'll take it to him," Chris said as he accepted the bag. "Don't know if he'll be much help. They had him pretty doped up last night."

"I don't doubt it," Hank laughed. "Whatever he can give me. Noticed Standish and Dunne are hard at work."

"Got JD running a check on released felons with a grudge," Chris said. "I know it's a long shot but it can't hurt. Ezra is checking with his contacts to see if there was a hit on any of the men shot."

"Sure hope the later isn't' true," Hank said. "Where's Josiah and Nathan?"

"Running down their snitches to see what the word is on the street."

"Well I'll let you get back to work," Hank said standing. "Tell Vin to behave and tell Buck to leave the nurses alone."

"You're asking a lot," Chris smiled. "Can these come out of the bag?"

"Yeah they've been dusted and we found nothing," Hank said.

Chris watched as Hank left. He really didn't want to go through the report again but he had another hour before he could go to the hospital. Chris just hoped Buck and Vin weren't giving the nurses a hard time.

+ + + + + + +

Buck was wakened from a peaceful sleep to here arguing from the next bed. Vin was awake and not happy. They all knew how much the sharpshooter hated being fussed over. Buck, on the other hand, loved it, as long as the nurses were cute and friendly. He opened his eyes to see Vin trying to sit up.

"Mr. Tanner," the nurses scolded. "The doctor will be here in a minute to check you out. If he says you can sit up we'll move you."

"Damn, Vin, I was having a nice dream," Buck complained.

"Glad someone was," Vin growled. He moved his right arm and hissed in pain.

"Serves you right," the nurse said as she positioned the pillow under his arm.

"He giving you a hard time, Cora?" Dr. Griffin asked as he walked in.

"He wants to sit up," she explained. "I told him to wait until you checked on him."

"Damn it!" Vin cursed. "My left arms asleep and my hip is numb."

"Let me take a look at your shoulder," Dr. Griffin said.

The nurse helped remove the bandage. The doctor pulled on a pair of gloves and gently poked around the incision. Buck could see it was hurting more that Vin was letting on. He watched as Vin gritted his teeth. The doctor was satisfied with the wound and had the nurse put another bandage on it while he checked Vin's lungs. Dr. Griffin put the stethoscope in his ear and had Vin take a deep breath. Vin did as he was told and winced in pain. Dr. Griffin had him do it two more times then told him to breathe normally. The right lung still wasn't inflated but that was to be expected. Buck started to get worried as the doctor listened for a few minutes.

"Everything okay?" Buck asked.

"Everything sounds fine," he said. "I'm going to schedule you for an x-ray to be sure."

"Can I turn on my back?" Vin asked hopefully.

"It's up to you," the doctor said. "But I don't want you using your right arm."

"Then you better strap it down," Buck warned.

"Buck!" Vin said indignantly.

"I figured as much," Dr. Griffin laughed.

He helped the nurse roll Vin on his back then slowly raised the bed. Vin groaned as his shoulder shifted and the stitches pulled. The doctor went and got a sling but when they put it on Vin the strap cut across the incision. They resorted to a triangle bandage that went just around Vin's neck. When they were done with Vin, Dr. Griffin checked Buck. The mustached agent flinched as the doctor worked.

"Hurts?" Cora asked in sympathy.

"Nothing that your smile can't fix, darlin'."

"Oh brother," Vin groaned.

"Continue with the antibiotics for both of them," Dr, Griffin smiled. "When the IV on Mr. Tanner is finished that will be the end. They can both have their pain meds early."

"Don't need it," Vin protested.

"Like hell you don't," Buck snorted. "My shoulder is killing me. I don't even want to think what yours is like."

"Just 'cause you're old and can't hack it any more."

"Why you.."

"Have they been like this all morning," Dr. Griffin asked as he followed Cora out.

"Yes," she sighed. "They aren't so bad when one is a sleep."

"They giving you a hard time?" Chris asked as he walked up followed by the others.

"I think you know," Cora accused.

"So how long do they have to stay?" Josiah asked.

"I'm going to release Mr. Wilmington tomorrow if there's no change in his status," Dr. Griffin answered. "Mr. Tanner, I want to keep for a few days. I don't want him over doing it. The repairs to his lungs are still fragile."

"Vin ain't gonna like that," JD predicted.

"He'll stay," Chris vowed.

"I bet he will," the doctor laughed. "If you'll excuse me I have others patients to check."

"Well I have to get those two some pain meds," Cora said. "You can go in. They're awake and arguing."

Chris led the team into the room and was surprised to see Vin sitting up.

"Hey Buck," JD said as he walked in. "I brought you some Jimmy Buffet CD's and your Walkman."

"Thanks kid," Buck said as JD handed him the items.

"Got something for you too, Vin," JD said pulling the gameboy out his pocket.

"Thanks, JD," Vin smiled.

"How're the two of you feeling?" Nathan asked.

"Alright." "Fine."

"Both of you are terrible at bluffing," Ezra observed. "That's why you always lose at poker."

The two invalids were about to protest when Cora came back with their pain meds. Buck was more than willing to take his but Vin took a little more convincing. He had to be threatened by Chris before he would take it. Once the nurse was gone Chris pulled something out of his pocket and showed it to Vin.

"Vin, Hank thinks he has it narrowed down to two guns," Chris said. "Can you give him a hand?"

"Sure," Vin said holding out his left hand.

Chris opened the bag and dumped the shell casings in Vin's hand. Vin dropped them on the blanket and picked one up. He looked at it closely while the others talked with Buck. Vin noticed something etched on one side. The first one he looked at he couldn't make out what it was. He put it down and picked up another one. As he rolled the brass casing in his fingers the dragon etched at the base was clear to see.

"Shit!" Vin cursed and dropped the piece of brass like it burned him.

"What is it?" Chris asked moving to his side.

"Nothing," Vin lied. "Just moved wrong and the stitches pulled."

"Any idea what rifle?" JD asked.

"Well to be honest these .30 caliber fit into a number of sniper rifles," Vin said as he gathered the pieces of brass. "What I can tell you is I don't think the gun is unique if that's what you were hoping for."

"Figured as much," Chris said as he took the casings from Vin and put them in the bag. "So what can I tell Hank."

"It might be a Walther or a Dakota Longbow," Vin said. "But that's just a guess."

"Both American?" Josiah asked.

"Nah," Vin yawned. "The Walther is German."

"Looks like the pain meds are kicking in," Nathan observed.

"Buck's already out," JD laughed.

They looked over at Buck's bed to see his head back and his mouth opened. Josiah reached over and closed Buck's mouth then took the earpieces from the Walkman off his head. He placed the Walkman on the table next to the bed.

"When are we getting out of here?" Vin asked before they could leave.

"Buck's getting out tomorrow," Chris replied.

"Good," Vin said.

"I didn't say you were," Chris added.

"Buck goes I go," Vin stated.

"Vin you just had major surgery," Nathan argued. "Besides you can't leave with a chest tube in."

"I'll be out tomorrow," Vin said stubbornly.

"And if the doctor says no," Chris said angrily. Vin refused to answer and glared at Chris.

"Might I suggest we leave them to rest," Ezra said. "Before you both say something you'll regret."

"Good idea, brother," Josiah said. "Come on, Chris. Lets go."

Vin watched as they filed out the door. Chris was the last to leave and Vin could see he wasn't happy. Vin didn't care he had to get out of the hospital. Vin felt around on the bed looking for something. When he found it he looked over at Buck to make sure he was really asleep. Buck snored loudly and Vin was satisfied. He took out the brass casing and looked at it. Vin hoped Chris hadn't counted how many were in the bag. He rolled it in his finger until the he could see the dragon. Vin had hoped he'd been wrong but he wasn't. Vin gripped the casing in his hand and leaned his head back. Now what was he going to do?


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