by BMP



DISCLAIMER: These Characters do not belong to the author or me (but if it were our sandbox, we´d let YOU play in it…) That said, this story was written purely for self entertainment (and the possible entertainment of me, thanks BMP!) and no money is being made, has changed hands, or has been paid out for the contents therein. I want to thank MOG for the ATF AU, she came up with it, and graciously lets other play there.

~Constructive Criticism will be passed on to the author
~Flames will be used to toast marshmallows

Hey Pard,

Can´t believe it´s been a year already. A year since we spoke. A year since you up and left us the way you did…

Things sure have changed. For one thing, the boys have practically moved into the ranch. Except for Nathan, of course. He´s got a nice house—and the mortgage to prove it, as he says. Still, it´s hard to get him—or anyone else—to leave at the end of those weekend barbecues.

It´s fall again. The aspens are all golden in the south pasture. From the deck you can see the leaves rattling in the wind. I seem to spend more time there these days, drinking in the view.

J.D. still talks about you—constantly! At first, it seemed like he was afraid to mention your name. For a while I wasn´t sure if that was because it hurt him too much to talk about you or because he was afraid it would hurt me. Finally I told him that talking about you was the best way I could think of to keep you close. I tell him stories about the old days. I don´t think you´d really mind.

He and Ezra eventually received an offer to join some of J.D.´s Ivy League friends in a company that tests security systems. All youngsters in that company—well, except for Ezra. You´d be proud of the way they look to J.D. as a leader. You´d laugh at how they hang on Ezra´s every word.

Josiah´s been doin´ some heavy thinking, since you left. Says “events like these start a man to thinking about where he´s been and where he´s going.” I granted him a leave of absence about 2 months ago to “ponder in solitude” on joining a seminary and picking up where he left off all those years ago. Maybe you leaving brought him back to his God. (Wish I could say the same for me.)

I´m afraid his departure has Nathan thinking some heavy thoughts of his own. He´s made no secret that he´s considering reapplying to medical school. He sought my advice. You´d be proud of how I put aside my personal feelings and resisted the urge to pin him down until he cried “Uncle!” and promised to stay. I did say, however, that he might want to put it off a bit more while they paid off Raine´s student loans.

So really, I´ve pretty much got a whole new team to mold now. That long-haired Texan has hung in there with me. Too damn stubborn to leave, I guess. He´s my second in command now, and together we´re doing our best to mold the rookies they gave us into real agents. It´s taking longer than we expected. Even Nathan´s losing his patience.

All told, I think you´d be proud of the boys. They´re each following their own road. But you´re still here with us whenever we get together. Maybe that´s why those weekend barbecues seem to get longer and longer. Of course, the freer the beer flows, the more inflated your reputation gets. Even I´m surprised at some of the stunts you´ve pulled. But who am I to correct them? Hell, I might just be the guiltiest of the bunch.

I miss you, pard. I guess I always will. Things aren´t the same, but things are good. I think about you every day and the conversations we´d have—or rather I´d have—while you sit silent beside the sunset, a long-neck in one hand, head cocked to one side, saying nothing, but smirking at me like you´ve read my mind and already know how the story ends. And I´d tell you to wipe that grin off your face and hand me another beer…

Oh, Chris, if you were here…