by Lyn

Disclaimer: Don’t own them. Wish I did. But I don’t. Not making any money off them either. But I really appreciate the creators, writers, actors and anyone else involved in bringing these magnificent characters to us.

Chris Larabee, team leader for Denver’s top ATF unit, arched an eyebrow as he watched Agent Vin Tanner walk down the loading ramp. Chris had volunteered to pick the sharpshooter up after the man had been forced to take a working vacation in Hawaii, attending a seminar followed by three days of free time. But the first glance Chris had of the man made him wonder just how much of a vacation Vin had gotten.

Vin looked horrible. He walked with an obvious limp, had a bruise on his right jaw, a scrape under his left eye, two black eyes and what looked to be a broken nose and a cut above his left eye. To top it all off, his jean jacket had one sleeve empty, the left arm resting in a sling and wrapped in blue fiberglass. A backpack dangled from his right hand, where a metal splint covered one finger.

"Don’t ask," he mumbled over a split and swollen lip, handing the pack out to Chris as he continued to limp toward the baggage claim.

"Ooookay," Chris said, falling into place beside his friend and teammate. They stood in silence at the baggage carousel, Chris stepping past Vin when the injured man moved to grab his duffel as it rolled past them on the conveyor. Within minutes they had exited the airport and climbed in to Chris’s truck, Vin grimacing as he did so and holding his good arm across his ribs.

"Just want ta go home," Vin said as Chris opened his mouth to ask what had happened.

"Okay," Chris replied, starting up the truck and pulling out of the parking garage.

Vin was asleep before they even got off airport property, so Chris turned the truck towards his ranch, pulling out his cell phone as he did so.

"Buck, round up the guys and head out to my place. I’ve picked up Vin and I think he’s got one hell of a story to tell."


Vin slept the entire trip, not even waking when Chris turned onto the road leading up to his ranch. His eyes opened slowly when the truck engine shut off.

"This don’t look like my place," he mumbled.

"That’s because it isn’t," Chris replied. "I didn’t figure you could handle the stairs just yet."

"Prob’ly right," Vin said then groaned as he noticed the other cars and the rest of the team standing on the porch waiting. "Ya had ta call the rest of em huh?" he muttered as he struggled with the door handle then slid carefully to the ground. Chris grabbed Vin’s bags and followed as the injured man limped up the walk and on to the porch. Buck had used his key and the house was already unlocked, so Vin walked right on in.

"I’m usin’ yer spare bed, Larabee," he said as he let his jacket slide over his shoulder and down one arm, dropping it on the floor of the living room in a heap, beyond caring. "Doctor’s papers are in the pocket, Nathan." And with that the man walked down the hall and into the guest bedroom, where he carefully sat on the bed, toed off his boots and lay down, falling asleep instantly.

Back in the living room, Nathan was pulling out a sheaf of papers from an inside pocket of Vin’s jacket, along with several prescription bottles. Shuffling through the papers he began to read, "Simple fracture of the radius, left arm; fractured thumb, left hand; fractured pinky finger, right hand; three cracked ribs, left side; dislocated right kneecap; broken nose and seven stitches above the left eye. An antibiotic and two pain pills prescribed, one with codeine." Nathan looked up at Chris. "What happened?"

"He wouldn’t tell me, but I think it’s time to find out." Chris lead the way down the hall and the six men filtered into the bedroom, surrounding the bed. Vin sensed their presence and struggled to open his eyes.

"I ain’t slept since night before last. Jest let me be," he muttered, closing his eyes once more. Nathan stepped over and propped his left arm up on a pillow to elevate it.

"Not before we get an explanation, Pard," Chris said with a grin. Judging by the look of the sharpshooter, this was going to be a good story. "Must have been some vacation. What happened?"

"Maggie happened," he muttered and closed his eyes again, shifting to find a comfortable position, as if that explained it all.

"And who might Maggie be?" Ezra asked, a smile on his face. This was going to be interesting.

"Shelley’s kid," Vin murmured. All he wanted was sleep.

"I knew a woman was involved!" Buck exclaimed.

"Who is Shelley?" Chris asked, feeling like he was pulling teeth.

"Had the room next ta mine. She’s from Colorado Springs."

"Vin," Chris growled out, his patience running thin.

"Was in the lobby late last night. Shelley had taken Maggie out fer the evenin’. When they come back the kid was bouncin’ off the walls." He stopped talking, like that explained everything and closed his eyes again.

"And…" Josiah prompted.

"I tried ta catch her fer Shelley."

"And…"Josiah tried again.

"Kid kicked me in the nose. Thought she was a ninja er somethin’."

"That explains the nose and black eyes," Nathan said. "Now how about the rest. How’d you break the arm?"

"Landed on it wrong when I fell."

"When you fell…"


"Okay, what about the knee?" Nathan tried again.

"Tripped over some luggage."

"The ribs?"


"The cut?"

"Hit the edge of a table."

"And the finger?"

"Not sure. Think it got caught in somethin’."

"That bruise on your chin?"

"Got stepped on."

"Okay Vin," Chris said tersely. "From the top. What happened?"

Vin sighed and struggled to sit up. "Ya ain’t gonna let me sleep till I tell ya, huh?"


"Okay." Vin carefully ran his fingers through his hair as he tried to gather his thoughts. "Like I said, Shelley had taken Maggie out and when she come back the kid was wired. Since Shelly is pregnant I tried ta catch her. She climbed up on the sofa in the lobby and kicked at me, catchin’ me in the nose. I fell over backward and broke my arm when I fell and cracked my head against a coffee table."

Vin paused to take the pain pills Nathan handed him, downing them with a glass of water, then continued. "I managed ta get myself up and headed off after her, but she dodged real fast and I tripped up some stairs that lead up ta the hallway, hittin’ my chest against some a the steps. I turned back after her and when she twisted again I stepped back. Didn’t realize someone had put their luggage down and I fell over it. Kid ran back toward me and ran right on top a me. Caught me in the face again." His hand reached up and touched the bruise on his jaw, the perfect imprint of a shoe heel. "Spent the night in the ER. Got out in time ta catch the shuttle ta the airport."

"You know Vin," Chris replied, "if you didn’t want to tell us you could have just said so." Silently he turned and left.

"Really Mr. Tanner," Ezra said as he followed Chris.

One by one all but Nathan left the room.

"I’m bettin’ it was an angry husband."

"More like he was someplace he shouldn’t have been."

"Geeze Vin, that’s some story you made up."

"You could have told us the truth," Nathan said as he helped Vin get comfortable. Then he left the room, flipping off the light.

Two weeks later:

Vin sat at his desk, solemnly sorting through paper work. The men had not asked him again what had happened to him while in Hawaii, each apparently drawing their own conclusions. He had spent two days at Chris’ ranch before returning to his apartment, and had returned to work just a week before, riding the desk due to the cast on his arm.

He didn’t even look up when he heard the elevator bell ding, but his coworkers did so when Josiah spoke.

"Vin, I found someone downstairs looking for you. Thought it’d be okay to bring them on up," the man said with a big grin on his face.

"Vin!!!!!" a childish voice screamed out.

Each man watched Vin as the man turned visibly paler and began to sweat, then spring to his feet, knocking over his chair in the process. He turned around, shaking his head and muttering ‘no’ before he took off in the opposite direction of his guests, mumbling something about a report being due and he’d be back…later.

Standing in the doorway was a woman and a very small four-year-old girl clothed in a frilly dress and Mary Jane shoes.

"Why, you must be Maggie!" Ezra said as the other men all burst out laughing.