Political Suicide

by Lyn

Chapter 6

Vin slept restlessly, drifting in and out as the last of the drugs Nathan had given him wore off. He felt hot, yet cold at the same time and a little voice in the back of his brain told him he had a slight fever. Or maybe that was Nathan's voice he was hearing.

The other men had determined driving shifts, dividing the duty into pairs with Josiah and Ezra receiving the first shift. Buck and JD had crawled in to the big double bed above the cab and quickly fallen asleep. The two remaining bunks remained un-used at the moment as both Chris and Nathan stayed at Vin's side. Chris had acquiesced enough to crawl onto the double bed next to Vin, leaning up against the wall/headboard. He dozed a bit while still keeping track of his sleeping friend.

Nathan had taken a seat in a chair bolted to the floor of what was considered the master suite of the luxury RV. Periodically he stood to check Vin's temperature and blood pressure, or to make sure the swelling in his knee wasn't increasing and that the brace wasn't on so tight that it restricted blood flow. He knew when the meds were wearing off by the slight tossing Vin did as pain began to register in the still foggy brain of the sleeping man.

And he had bottled water and pain pills ready when the man jerked awake, a gasp of pain passing his lips before he could keep it inside. Chris was immediately awake, whispering words of comfort and support as the disoriented sharpshooter regained control and the happenings of the past 24 hours sank in once more.

"Easy there Pard. Let us help you," Chris told the man as Vin tried to sit up on his own. The tender ribs and slight movement of his injured knee had caused him to go white as a sheet and squeeze his eyes closed. Nathan helped Vin sit forward as Chris piled pillows behind him in addition to the wedge already there. Nathan slipped two pain pills and an antibiotic between Vin's lips and helped him with the water bottle until the pills were down. Then Vin collapsed back into the pillows, exhausted just by that little effort.

"Where are we?" he asked once he had himself under control.

"About 200 miles west of Denver by now I'd guess. Ezra's friend had an RV which we borrowed." Chris answered.

"The official word is we absconded with it," the southern drawl came from the doorway. "We heard activity back here. Good morning Mr. Tanner. How are you feeling?"

"Been better," Vin's voice cracked a bit, his throat dry. The bottle was quickly back.

"Mr. Sanchez says there's a town about five miles down the road. Should we stop somewhere for a morning meal?"

"That would be a good idea. Try to make it somewhere with take out. I really don't want all seven of us being seen together yet."

Ezra nodded then turned to return to the cab area and relay the message to Josiah.

Thirty minutes later the men sat down around the small booth-like table in the RV to hot biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage and hot coffee. The smell of food had roused JD and Buck who had moved down to join the rest of the team. Chris sat on the edge of the bed trying to get some eggs down Vin but the food wasn't sitting well. Chris finally gave up and the sharpshooter managed to choke down a half a piece of toast before closing his eyes once more. While he didn't fall immediately to sleep, closing his eyes did seem to help him fight the nausea even that little bit of food had caused.

Nathan was troubled by Vin's not eating, but knew the young man was still in shock and a lot of pain. Hopefully by lunchtime he would feel more up to eating. In the mean time Nathan disturbed him long enough for him to drink some milk he had insisted the others buy, hoping that it would help settle Vin's stomach.

They continued on their journey, going nowhere in particular. In fact they would head one direction just to turn around and head another. Chris' thoughts were to keep a confusing trail going until they decided on a game plan. He had discarded numerous ones, always finding fault with the idea. He knew the others were thinking also.

By lunchtime they had stopped at a small deli, picking up bread and meats as well as some soup and driven to a nearby park. Vin was awake once more, unable to sleep for long, so all of the men grouped into the back sleeping area, sandwiches and drinks in hand to formulate a plan of action.

"The problem is, who do we trust?" Nathan pointed out as they debated who to tell Vin's information to.

"The press?" Buck asked.

"Eventually, but I think we need to aim higher," Chris replied.

"Don't know how far this goes though, Chris. He's got Secret Service in on it, who's ta say who else might be." Vin's voice sounded stronger than it had, but everyone could hear the edge in it. This was more stress than any of them had ever felt before and it was having a greater effect on the injured witness. "I should never have told ya'll. Shouldn't a got ya in ta this."

"And just how, Mr. Tanner, did you expect to keep us out of it?"

"Shouldn't a told ya…"

"And Secret Service would have thought you had told us anyway. At least this way we know what we are up against and can fight it," Chris interrupted.

Josiah had been quiet, standing in the doorway, while the others talked. But now he spoke up.

"What if we took the matter to Congress?"

"What?!" came a chorus of voices.

"We take this to Congress. Reveal Vin's information on the floor of the Senate. There is always press there so the information would be covered in the media. There would be hundreds of important witnesses. Might just be what's needed to keep Vin, and us, safe."

"How would we get in there?" JD asked. "It's not like we can just walk in and parade onto the floor of Congress!"

"Jerome," Chris said quietly.


"The judge's friend, Senator Henry Jerome. I'd be willing to bet he would get us in there."

"This just might work." Ezra answered after a few moments of quiet.

"And if'n they think we're just plain crazy?" Vin asked.

"Well, Pard, you will just have to be convincing. Let's start moving gentlemen. Congress will not reconvene until after the funeral service, but we will be taking the long way to Washington. I suggest we get moving. It's gonna be a long trip."

Chapter 7

They stopped after dark that night at a campground. They all needed some rest and a shower. Buck and JD had taken over driving after lunch so Ezra and Josiah could get some rest, but both men had only dozed. They had stopped once more to pick up groceries before heading to the campgrounds and now the men had set about preparing supper and checking out the RV more thoroughly, filling water, verifying propane levels.

Vin had been awake most of the afternoon, dozing for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. He still had a low grade fever and felt cold most of the time, despite the blankets Chris and Nathan had mounded over him. But he felt better, not nearly as nauseous as he had been that morning, and the meds were taking the edge off the pain in his knee.

He had been up a few times, answering the call of nature in the small cubicle that served as a bathroom, using crutches that Dr. Shapiro had provided. But he didn't plan on doing that any more than necessary. The movement sent pain through his knee, tugged at the stitches in his side and caused his ribs to grate. However, he also didn't want one of the others carrying him around like they had been.

He was sorely tempted to venture outside after they parked and soak up the night air while Josiah grilled chicken and steaks and baked potatoes in the charcoal grill located in the camp sight. But the effort was too painful and he stopped at a couch like bench next to the dining table in the RV. The door stood open and he could at least hear the sounds of the night and smell the fresh air. Nathan covered him once more in blankets as his leg was propped up.

He wasn't settled long before the others came bustling inside, carrying plates mounded with food. The RV they had "borrowed" was top of the line, complete with a TV/VCR unit mounted in one corner. As everyone got settled into seats, JD turned the TV on, searching for a station with decent reception. He settled on one of the weekly news programs that covered anything from late breaking news to human-interest stories. Not surprisingly, coverage tonight was of the bombing in Denver that had taken the lives of the US President and members of the peace delegation.

JD, Buck, Ezra and Nathan took seats at the table, Josiah sat down on the bunk opposite the couch and Chris sat on the couch at Vin's feet in case the younger man needed help. Vin soon found a plate with a boneless chicken breast, baked potato, and two biscuits with honey shoved into his hands with instructions to eat. Everyone dug into their meal with eyes or ears tuned in to the coverage on TV.

Vin did his best to eat. He ended up picking up the chicken breast with his hand and taking bites, having to use his bruised hand to balance the plate against his chest. He was about halfway through the baked potato and chicken when his heart sank to his stomach, the anchorwoman's words making him ill to his stomach.

"The FBI has reported that a local ATF agent was spotted near the scene and has since disappeared. Following up on several leads, the man was traced to Denver Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released. The man, while not a suspect at this time is, however, wanted for questioning in regards to the bombing."

The men all sat stunned as Vin's picture appeared on the television screen.

"Agent Vincent Tanner is 5' 11" tall, 165 pounds, with long, light brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone seeing Agent Tanner is encouraged to notify their local law enforcement agency. He may be traveling alone or with other members of the elite ATF team he was a part of. We'll be right back with more coverage of this national tragedy."

No one spoke as the station began commercials. Finally Nathan broke the silence.

"At least they didn't show the rest of our pictures. We may still be able to make it to Washington."

They all waited anxiously as coverage resumed, but no further mention of Vin was made. Silently the team began to gather up and dispose of half eaten meals. No one felt like eating anymore.


Chris sat stretched out as far as he could in the chair near Vin's bed, drifting in and out of sleep. It had been hard getting Vin settled and asleep and eventually it had involved two sleeping pills that Nathan claimed were antibiotics. The young agent was more distressed by the situation than he had been willing to let on, but his friends could read it in his face. His eyes had taken on a haunted look that was not normally there. They knew that he worried about them more than he worried about himself.

And they were determined to erase that worry and get him through the next few days.

Nathan had taken the lower of the bunks nearby, Josiah the bunk over the cab and Buck the top bunk over Nathan. JD slept curled up on the couch while Ezra stood watch outside and away from the RV, a two-way radio in hand. The other radio sat by Chris' side, waiting, should Ezra give them any sort of warning. Buck would be taking the next watch, followed by JD. JD would awaken Josiah before first light, help detach the electrical connections they had set up and crawl into the top bunk as Josiah began the days driving.

Still, Chris did not feel safe. He stretched and stood, moving over to one of the small windows and, leaning against the wall, stared out the blinds. Under different circumstances it would have been a beautiful night.

"Hey Cowboy, ya don't have ta baby sit me…" the groggy voice was low, not much more than a whisper so as not to wake any others.

'Damn that Tanner!' Chris cursed to himself even as he moved closer to the bed once more. The two pills should have knocked Vin out till well after sun up.

"You should be sleeping, Pard," Chris whispered as he sat carefully on the edge of the bed.

"So should…" Vin was interrupted by a yawn. "…you."

"Can I get you anything?"


"Sure." Chris stood and moved to the small refrigerator in the so-called kitchen area and pulled a cold bottle of water from it. He opened it on his way back and resumed his seat once more on the bedside. He handed Vin the bottle then rummaged through the bottles of medicines in the bedside drawer. "Think you can swallow these for me?"

"Not more sleepin' pills are they?" The sneaky sharpshooter had known!

"Nope. A real antibiotic and a pain pill."

Vin took the meds from Chris and swallowed them dry, then took another long drink of water. With an almost silent sigh he settled back into the pillows.

Within moments he was sleeping again.

Chapter 8

Vin woke with a start. The dream had replayed the events in that storage area. He had watched as Stevens talked to Borega, felt the cold steel of the gun pressed to his temple. Stood there helpless as Stevens stepped over and leaned against the railing of the mezzanine then ordered the death of Borega and his man and Vin as well.

Leaned against the railing. 'Think Vin…did the man have gloves on? Secret Service did, but did Stevens?' he thought as Chris moved to his side.

"I'm okay," Vin said before he could be asked. "Just had a bad dream."

"Okay," Chris replied, accepting Vin's explanation. "You hungry?"


"We ate already. I was beginning to think you'd sleep clear through to lunch." Chris moved through the RV as Nathan switched places with him and checked Vin's vitals and testing the brace to make sure it wasn't cutting off circulation. Once satisfied he returned to his seat nearby as Chris carried back a plate he had heated in the RV's microwave and a fresh bottle of water. The two men helped Vin sit up further and Chris handed Vin the plate of warmed up scrambled eggs and bacon.

"Sorry, Pard. Probably doesn't taste as good as it did earlier."

"It's all right. Sure I've ate worse." He maneuvered a forkful of eggs into his mouth and chewed. "Chris? Do ya know if they took prints in that storage area?"

Chris glanced at Nathan then back at Vin. "Most likely. Why?"

"Stevens. He walked over ta the railing and sort of leaned on it. I don't remember him wearing gloves. There'd be prints there then..."

"…which would give us proof that he was there." Chris finished Vin's thought even as he flipped open the cell phone Travis had given him.


The seven men continued on their zigzagging journey. Chris had been cryptic in his message to Orrin Travis concerning the finger print results, but he knew from Travis' replies that the man understood his needs and exactly where to send them. Vin's picture still appeared now and again in the coverage of the President's death and funeral, keeping the sharpshooter confined to the RV whenever they stopped for food or supplies.

For the most part they drove 24 hours a day, taking shifts, and stopping at the occasional campground for a night to use the showers and to replenish water supplies. During the dark of night, Vin ventured out of the RV, relishing the night air and momentary freedom. Maneuvering was painful and slow but he insisted on moving under his own steam even though the activity often left him short of breath.


"Vin?" Josiah asked, more than a little surprised at the appearance of the sharpshooter. "Shouldn't you be in bed son?"

"Couldn't sleep."

"Here, you should at least be sitting," Ezra's voice was low so as not to disturb any of the others. He slid from the passenger seat and carefully moved behind Vin, making sure the unsteady man could negotiate into the seat. Then Ezra moved quietly to the back, looking for something to prop Vin's leg up on. He settled on an empty metal trashcan he found under a cabinet. Grabbing a pillow from the lounge he moved back up front. Deciding the can was still not tall enough, he upended it and sat on it, placing the pillow across his lap and Vin's leg across it. Then he casually rested his arms along the back of the captain's seats to hold himself in place.

"Didn't mean ta make ya give up yer seat Ez…"

"Quite all right Mr. Tanner. Personally, I would be crawling the walls by now stuck in that bed."

"Pretty much how I'm feelin'."

"Now, if the mattress were filled with feathas, it might be a different matta."

"We'd never get you out of the bed then Ezra." Josiah's low chuckle was joined by Vin's.

"Well I have always preferred the finer comforts of life."

The three men sat in companionable silence as the miles passed behind them. An hour or so before daybreak Vin made his way back to his bed. Chris closed his eyes, confident that Vin had made it back safely without falling, and fell asleep.


Eleven days after the death of the President, and Vin's injury, seven road weary men pulled into Washington DC. They had spent the last half of the trip going over their plan time and again, bringing up potential problems and working through all possible scenarios. They were as ready as they could be.

Several stops were made. A ball cap was purchased to hide Vin's face and hair. A wheelchair was procured, against Vin's wishes, and a car was rented. He and Chris would arrive separate. At yet another rental office, Ezra took possession of a sports car. Finally Buck and JD were dropped off at a bus stop, and Nathan and Josiah remained with the RV. All weapons had gone with Chris and Vin, who would be depending on Judge Travis' friend Senator Henry Jerome, to get them in with the weapons undetected. The others would be entering as tourists.

Chris and Vin met up with Jerome at a small coffee house. Both men were instantly on edge when Jerome entered with a second man.

"Gentlemen," Jerome said as he took a seat. "This is Matthew Becket. He heads up security for my state offices. I've enlisted his assistance. Now before you say anything," Jerome raised his hand to stop the words forming on Chris' lips. "I trust Matthew with my life on practically a daily basis. He has a far better chance of getting you through security than I would alone. They're used to me bringing my own security in. It seems I make the wrong people angry." Jerome smiled. Jerome was known for his fight against illegal drugs, targeting the sources whenever possible.

"All right," Chris said reluctantly. Both he and Vin knew they had to put their trust in someone in order for their plan to work. But it didn't mean they would be dropping their guard. "So how do we get in?"

"The simplest story would be for Agent Tanner to be one of Senator Jerome's constituents," Becket supplied. "He already laid some ground work over the last few days, saying that he had the son of a good friend coming to visit. Agent Larabee, you'll be his assistant or driver."

"How we gettin' our weapons in?" Vin, who had been quiet to this point, asked.

"I'll be able to get a few in. I have a few others inside already."

"We have our own men entering."

"I know. I'm sure you already have plans to get their weapons to them." Chris nodded. "Then gentlemen, let's get this rolling."

Chapter 9

The two ATF agents were amazed at how easy it was for them to get inside. Senator Jerome had no problem with his own personal security agent carrying in extra weaponry. Once safely in Jerome's offices, both Vin and Chris were slipped their weapons as well as five others, which they quickly secured on their bodies somewhere until they could pass them off to their friends. The weaponry was handled as discretely as possible since security cameras were everywhere.

Chris and Vin excused themselves and momentarily left the offices, pretending they were using the time to look around and make a visit to the restrooms. They spotted Ezra across the lobby as Chris wheeled Vin over to a water fountain. Ezra moved over, leaning in to take a drink from the adjoining fountain. Chris blocked any possible view as Ezra reached over, retrieving his derringer from Vin, then moved off to look at some of the displays before he would be allowed to enter the gallery of the Senate.

Then Chris and Vin entered the nearest Men's room in time to see JD enter a stall next to the handicapped stall. Vin wheeled himself inside the extra wide stall and slipped a handgun under the stall wall. Chris was waiting near the doorway when Buck entered, accidentally bumping up against the blond agent and receiving a handgun in exchange.

Once Chris and Vin left the restroom they spent some time looking at the pictures and displays lining the lobby. At one point they moved up next to Nathan, who pretended to discuss the photo with them as Chris slid a gun to him. As they headed back to Jerome's office a newspaper on Vin's lap slid off and fell to the floor. Josiah, who was walking by, bent down and retrieved the paper, laying the paper back on Vin's lap and pulling out the gun that lay next to his injured leg, slipping it inside his jacket before standing and moving on.

By the time they reached Jerome's office it was time to leave for the Senate session. Jerome was smiling as a report rolled off the fax machine, which he tucked without comment into a file folder then stood and lead the group towards the Senate floor.

Because of Vin's "handicapped" status and Jerome's standing in the Senate, he and Chris had been given special permission to watch the proceedings from just inside the doorway on the Senate floor. Becket stood with them in his usual position as personal security to Jerome. Unfortunately from that position Chris could not see the rest of his team taking their places but he knew instinctively they were there.

The Senate session began when formerly Vice President, soon to be President, Stevens took his place on the floor. Vin immediately tensed at the sight and Chris momentarily dropped his hand to his friend's shoulder. Then they waited for the proper time to drop their own personal little bomb on Stevens.


As the session progressed Becket slipped out the door, Chris following him closely, leaving Vin alone in the shadows under the gallery. It was not uncommon for Becket to take patrols around the halls of the Senate and no one questioned the fact that Chris was with him. The two men paused at a doorway opposite the normal entrances. This was the entrance that the Vice President used. Becket engaged the single Secret Service agent posted there in conversation as Chris casually moved into position. One swift move and the Secret Service Agent went out like a light. A handkerchief was quickly stuffed into his mouth and handcuffs attached to his wrists behind his back. Then Chris cracked open the door slightly, listening for the beginning of the end for Stevens.

Chapter 10

Vin was more nervous than he had ever been in his life. It wasn't the danger to his own life that bothered him. It was the fact that he had six good friends whose lives and careers were also on the line that did. But they believed in him and he was not about to let them down. Stevens deserved to be brought to justice for the murder of the President. And Vin would gladly be the one to do it, no matter what the risk to himself. He just wished he could have kept his friends out of it.

He waited until he knew Chris was in position. Then he waited awhile longer, needing a slight break in the discussion on the floor before he could jump in and be heard above the discussions and bantering among the Senators. He didn't have to wait too long. As Stevens called for new business he began moving his wheel chair laboriously forward causing a slight murmur to follow in his wake.

"I have some new business Stevens," he called out when he knew he could be seen from above. Chris took the disruption to cover his silent entrance into the room. Vin took note of his friend then continued. "I think we should discuss yer part in the death of the President."

Stevens looked at Vin, recognition crossing his face before his face went blank once more. "Security! Remove this man! How did he get in here anyway?" But the sound of six guns cocking stopped the four Secret Service agents in their tracks. Behind Vin, Ezra and Buck lithely dropped to the floor from the gallery above, while Josiah, Nathan and JD remained to guard the others from above.

"I don't know what you're up to, but you will not get away with this. These proceedings are being broadcast. Your faces are all over the nation." Stevens said as calmly as possible.

"We're countin' on that," Vin replied as he started his movement forward. "We feel that the nation deserves ta know how ya plotted the bombin' with Jose Borega so ya could take over as President. How ya then had yer Secret Service agents shoot Borega'n his men so's there wouldn't be any witnesses. But ya left one behind Stevens. Yer men didn't get me. They run outta time before the ATF come runnin' in."

"This man is insane! He's having delusions. Surely you men don't believe him? Put down your guns and we'll get him some help."

"I for one, would like to hear more of what he has to say," one of the Senators in the front row said. Other voices murmured accent.

"My name's Vin Tanner. I'm an ATF agent in Colorado," and Vin launched into his story. He knew he had to be convincing or they would all be dead before they went to trial. Stevens would make sure of it. "I was workin' undercover and followed Jose Borega ta the basement of a store across from the Colorado Arms Hotel. I heard Stevens talkin' ta Borega about the bomb moments before it went off. One a his Secret Service agents found me so I got me a real close look at him. Didn't I Stevens? Even had me a little conversation with ya before Borega demanded his payment. Paid him real good too, by havin' him and his men shot. Yer men musta thought I was dead too, after I fell off the mezzanine. Sloppy work on their part Stevens."

"This is crazy. I was on my way to the airport when the bombing occurred. Now lets get this man out of here and get on with business." Stevens was sweating. Even Vin could see it as he continued wheeling forward, closer and closer to the man that had thrown a country into turmoil. His Secret Service men made motions like they were going to move, but a renewed show of force from his friends stopped them.

"I believe that I have proof to the contrary," Jerome stood up, the manila file with its precious fax inside in his hand.

"Senator Jerome, why am I not surprised that you are involved in this?" Stevens had stood and stepped forward so that he was perhaps ten feet in front of Vin. Chris knew the move was to free up his path to the door that Chris now guarded. The door that Stevens had not yet looked at. "Just what do you have?"

"Your fingerprints Stevens. Found in that department store basement. On the mezzanine where two men were found dead and from which Agent Tanner fell. Proof that you were there Stevens."

Stevens started to laugh before suddenly darting towards the door. Vin had stopped his chair between Stevens and the door and Stevens knocked him over in his haste. But he was unprepared for Chris stepping into his path. Secret Service also started to react, intending to follow and protect, but a sudden swarm of FBI agents into the room stopped them in their tracks. The FBI began to disarm and handcuff the agents and Stevens as Chris quickly made his way to the fallen Vin.

Chris could hear Buck and Ezra trying to make their way to the front as well as Nathan above them, only to be stopped by the FBI until Jerome intervened. Chris moved the hated wheelchair away as the others made their way down to their fallen friend.

Vin had of course fallen against the injured leg and lay there clutching at the knee and grimacing, trying hard to keep the pain at bay and failing miserably. Chris gathered Vin against him as Nathan supported the knee and tried to make him comfortable. In the background they could hear an FBI agent radioing for an ambulance.

"You did a good job Vin," Chris said as Vin grabbed hold of his arm.

"They got him right? Got ever'thin out on TV?"

"Yep, I'd say that in the next hour the whole nation will have seen your ugly mug flash across their TV set once more," Buck said from his position over Nathan's shoulder.

"I'd say your undercover days are done for awhile my friend," Ezra added. Ezra himself had added a ball cap to his abnormally casual attire in an attempt to hide his features.

"Good." A hiss escaped Vin's lips. "Chris?"

"Yeah Pard?"

"I think I'd like ta go ta a hospital now, if ya'll don't mind."

The six men around him exchanged looks and grins. "I think that might be a good idea Pard," Chris answered.


Vin's eyes slowly opened. Anesthesia induced nausea caused him to close his eyes once more and a cup of ginger ale was pressed against his lips. He took a few sips, then cracked one eye open. Six pairs of eyes were watching him. He groaned.

"Thought mebbe this whole thing had been a bad dream…"

"Sorry Vin, it's all been true." Vin groaned again.

"He's in jail, right? The charges will stick?"

"Yep. He's sitting in jail right now and the FBI is cleaning up Secret Service. So far they have nine men in custody."

"Good." Vin crunched his eyes closed once more.

"You in pain Vin?" Nathan asked.

"Nah, I'll be okay. When kin I go home?" Vin's comment was met by laughter.

"Some things never change, do they Mr. Tanner?" Ezra replied.

"Reckon not. But when kin I go home?"

"Doctor's say they'll let you out in about a week." Chris supplied.

"A week?" Both of Vin's eyes popped open.

"Unfortunately the damage was harder to repair because so much time had passed. They want ta keep your leg in traction for a few days. And you're gonna be a in a wheelchair for awhile before you can use crutches."

"No! No wheelchair! Ain't some invalid..."

Chris stood back, listening to his men banter back and forth. In a week they would have Vin checked out of the hospital and loaded aboard a private plane on his way home, courtesy of the US Government. The next few months would not be easy on him, but he would have six men backing him up, through his recovery and through the trial and media frenzy that was to come.

Together they would get him through all to come. And together they would become all the stronger for it.

The End