by Ronneem

Notes and a Warning: This story was taken from the events on Sept.11,2001. Now I hope this is taken as intended... in grieving, mourning, shocked reverence for all those who were there and are still there. And with a prayer for the people who are working around the clock to find answers, to excavate the ruins, to rescue the wounded, the heal those touched by the disaster that has happened to us. And most of all I dedicate this to the fire department and police chaplains like my uncle George who have been out there counseling survivors, doctors, rescuers, families, witnesses and the rest of our nation... God bless.

By the way... I don't write Vin, so if I got him wrong... I'm sorry to all the Vixens)

"Morning," the guard at the entrance of the ATF parking garage grinned at Vin Tanner as he waved the agent in. He was used to seeing the sharpshooter early in the mornings and today, beautiful as it promised to be, was no exception.

Vin parked his battered jeep in his normal place, grinning as he watched an oversized black Dodge Ram pull up beside him. “Morning, Cowboy,” he greeted his boss as he climbed out of the truck. “Vin.” The head of Team Seven fought a grin as he stepped over to the jeep.

Vin saw Chris’ half-hidden laughter and shrugged. He could not move because of the orange tabby cat that occupied his lap. Instead, he gave in to the inevitable, sipped his coffee and scratched the ginger neck ruff. There was no way he was going to attempt forcibly removing a ten-pound, sharp-clawed feline from the proximity of … well, something that darn delicate. Cuervo had chosen Vin as one of his favorite humans and was normally very well behaved, but that did not mean he could not seriously wound someone with a well-aimed swipe. Besides, even though he would never admit it, Vin liked the ginger tomcat.

“Ready for the race?” the blond asked quietly, reaching out automatically to pet Cuervo as the cat climbed into the back of the topless Jeep.

“Yep.” Today was the first set of the unofficial office competitions. Each team and their support staff were to compete in a series of races. Today’s race was the chair race – an ATF agent had to maneuver one of the secretarial chairs around an obstacle course without damaging the course, the secretary, or the chair. “Figure I can get Martha around that course pretty quick.”

“Countin’ on it.” Chris replied as they walked into the ATF building. The two men nodded to the guards as they went past, slowing as they saw their stunned faces.

“Holy SHIT!!” Both agents froze at the exclamation and turned as the head of the detail raced over to the television set in the lobby. Vin shot a frown at Chris, who shrugged. At Vin’s curious look, they moved to see what had made him act so oddly. They entered the lobby in time to see a picture take over the screen.

They saw the New York City skyline. Centered in the picture were the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. The taller of the two was belching heavy black smoke. In the upper left corner of the screen, the word ‘LIVE’ blinked in red as a voice commented on the nature of the incident. But neither of those things caught Vin’s attention. With sickening comprehension, he watched an airplane bank and slam into the second tower.

Even as the commentator wondered aloud how two planes could accidentally hit the towers, he knew the truth. It was no accident. Mechanically, his horrified eyes glued to the screen as the fireball that engulfed the second tower, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number memorized years earlier. The moment it was answered, he began speaking. His voice sounded distant to his own ears as he recited his name, rank, serial number, and current location to the officer answering the phone. Beside him, he vaguely heard Chris doing the same thing. During the whole call, he stared at he television screen, his whole being recoiling in shock.

“Chris? Vin?” Josiah’s voice made him look up and he saw the gentle profiler glance at the TV. Josiah’s eyes widened and he came to an abrupt stop, his face going pale with horror. “Oh, my God!” Vin grabbed the big man’s arm half afraid he would collapse. He glanced at Chris and flinched. The blond’s face was a rigid mask of fury as he stared at the unfolding events on the screen. As he watched, the team leader was mechanically punching numbers into his cell phone. A moment later, Vin’s pager went off and he glanced at it. Chris had activated the entire team’s pager link, sending a message Vin had hoped to see – the one that would bring everyone in as fast as they could drive, no questions asked. Tom,” Chris’ voice was rough as he glanced at the security guard, “you might want to take the building’s security to a higher level.”

The uniformed man nodded, already on the phone with his superiors. God have mercy on Our Nation,” Josiah whispered. “Please, Lord, keep us from lashing out indiscriminately.”

As the security bars began rolling down over the windows of the lobby, it hit Vin. Nothing would ever be the same. He tightened his grip on Josiah’s arm as he felt the normally calm man begin to smolder as he prayed aloud.

“And give us the men who did this! Just for a little while.”

Vin shook off his shock as he began to calculate the repercussions of the double airstrike. As the sheer number of casualties occurred to him, he found himself seconding Josiah’s plea for vengeance with a quiet, “Amen.”


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