ATF Crossover with McKenna
Note: This follows the events of Double Take which establishes Vin's relationship to Brick McKenna, and Double Jeopardy.
Webmaster Note: This is the 3,000th story posted at blackraptor
Brick couldnt believe it. Vin was actually coming to visit on his own. This would be the first time Brick would have his brother to himself. Usually his six coworkers or just Chris accompanied Vin. Brick still wasnt comfortable around Chris. Vins boss had a powerful personality. He was very protective of his whole team but especially Vin. But now Brick could have Vin to himself. He had wanted to go back to Denver but Vin had refused. Not that he could blame his brother. He certainly hadnt had a good time in Denver when he went for a surprise visit.
Brick closed his eyes and sighed. Cassidy could be a pain at times but he supposed thats what sisters were for. He heard her running up the stairs and stop outside his door.
Can I get a ride into town? she asked.
You only want to come see Vin, Brick teased.
I do not! she declared. Besides it would be weird. He looks just like you and youre my brother.
Brick smiled as he followed Cass down the stairs. He followed her out the door grabbing his keys to the mustang as he went. Cass had already climbed into the passenger seat.
Brick! He turned to see Jack coming from the barn. Going to pick up Vin?
Yeah, Brick said. Taking Cass with me.
Try to stay out of trouble, Jack said smiling.
Brick just shook his head and went to his car. He started the car up and Cass turned the radio to a rock station as he pulled out of the driveway. The drive to the airport was uneventful as Brick pulled up to the curb.
Wait here. I wont be long, Brick said as he climbed out.
He walked into the small regional airport and waved to several people that he knew. Looking up at the arrival board he could see Vins plane had already landed and he walked to the gate. He didnt have to go far since there were only two. As he walked towards the gate he could see Vin heading in his direction. Brick smiled as he watched the women watching Vin. Vin wasnt dressed to impress. He was in faded jeans, black T-shirt and worn cowboy boots. Over this was a worn suede jacket. When he saw Brick he smiled.
Hey, Brick, Vin said as he walked up to his brother holding out his hand.
Hey, Brick said as he shook his brothers hand.
Vin smiled and pulled his brother into a quick hug. Brick was surprised as his brother slapped him on the back then quickly released him. Brick grabbed one of Vins bags and headed for the car. He could hear all the comments as they walked. They did make quite a pair. When they walked out, Cass was sitting on the hood of the car waiting. When she saw them coming she jumped off the hood and ran over to Vin.
Hi, Vin, she said as she hugged him.
Hello, Cass, Vin said as he stepped back.
Want some food? Brick asked as they climbed in the car.
I can always eat, Vin smiled.
Cass laughed as she climbed into the back seat. Vin got into the passenger seat and buckled up. Brick started the car and pulled out. Cass helped make small talk as they drove into town. She asked Vin all about JD. The first time she had met the young ATF officer she had thought he was a high school student. Vin answered as best he could and sorta slipped in that JD had a girlfriend. Cass either didnt care or chose not to notice.
So where do you want to go, Cass? Brick asked.
To eat with you, Cass smiled.
Oh no, you said you wanted a lift into town, Brick said.
Yeah, but Im hungry.
She can eat with us, Vin said.
Your funeral, Brick said as he pulled into the parking lot of the Bear Claw. They got out of the car and Cass grabbed Vins arm.
Brick just smiled as Cass used Vin as a means to get her friends to notice her. Vin was a good sport about it but Brick could see Vin wasnt all that comfortable. They got a table and waited for the waitress. While they waited Bricks best friend Dale walked in.
Hey, Brick! Dale said as he walked over. Hey, Vin.
Dale, Vin said as he offered Bricks friend his hand.
Brick told me you were coming in today, Dale said as he took a seat. So, Cass, what are you up to?
Nothing, she said.
Uh, huh, Dale laughed as he turned to Brick. So what do you guys have planned? Want to make sure I have my schedule clear so I can come bail you out.
Wouldnt have to go far, Vin said. You do work at the sheriffs office.
Good point, Dale smiled.
Were not going to do anything crazy, Brick said. Just some riding, fishing and other things.
The 'other things' is what scares me, Dale teased.
The waitress came and took their order and they talked. Lunch was interrupted when Dale got a call and had to leave. Casss friends showed up at the Bear Claw and she left as well. Finally, Brick was left alone with his brother.
So what do you want to do? Brick asked. This is your vacation.
What you told Dale was fine, Vin said. I like to do all that stuff.
Great, Brick said. Theres another family coming for a few days but Jack was going to take care of them. Only thing is youll have to share my room. All the cabins are needed.
Thats fine, Vin said.
When they were finished Brick headed back to the house. Vin still couldnt get over how beautiful this area was. The view from the McKenna house was breath taking. The view of the mountains was fantastic. As Brick pulled up to the door Leigh came out to meet them.
Hello, Vin, Leigh said as she hugged him.
Maam, Vin said smiling.
Im still maam, she teased.
I reckon its gonna take me awhile to get it right, Vin said smiling.
Uncle Vin! Harry said as he came running out of the house.
Uncle Vin, huh? Vin said as he crouched down to give Leighs son a hug.
Well sure, Harry said. Brick is my uncle and since youre his brother you must be my uncle, too.
Guess thats going to take some getting used to, Vin said as Harry took his hand and walked him to the house. Wheres your sister?
At a friends so its just us guys and mom, Harry said.
Brick just smiled as Harry led his brother into the house. Leigh laughed as she walked with Brick into the house. Harry led Vin into the kitchen and offered him a drink. Vin asked what they had and Harry opened the fridge.
Lets see we have Pepsi, rootbeer, umm all sorts of stuff, Harry said. Why dont you come look.
Vin, while youre here this is your house, Leigh said. Help yourself to whatever you want.
Alright, Vin said as he joined Harry in the fridge.
Brick was surprised when Vin settled on milk and cookies, which he shared with Harry. They settled in the den and watched some TV. Jack came in about an hour later and joined them.
The family settled? Leigh asked.
I showed them to the cabins, Jack said. Told them dinner would be around seven.
Thats fine, Leigh said. Were there any special requests?
No, Jack said. They said whatever you serve will be fine. So, Vin, how was your flight?
Fine, Vin said.
So, son, what do you have planned?
Nothing special, Brick said. Do some fishing, riding, whatever.
Maybe Vin wants to do something else, Jack said.
I already asked him, Brick said angrily. Why do you always do that?
You always question my plans for the customers.
Just thought Vin might want to do something else.
I could use some help with dinner, Leigh said. She wanted to stop Brick and Jack from starting a fight.
Ill give you a hand, Vin said as grabbed Brick as he went by. You can help, too.
Leigh smiled as Vin pushed Brick towards the kitchen. She turned to look at Jack and shook her head.
Never mind, Leigh said as she followed them into the kitchen.
So what are we having? Vin asked.
Fried chicken, corn on the cob, green beans and a salad, Leigh answered.
I can handle the salad part, Vin said.
Good, everything you needs in the fridge, she said. Brick, can you peel the corn?
Sure, Brick said as he grabbed an ear of corn.
Can I help? Harry asked. Brick handed Harry an ear of corn and they got to work.
So, Vin, what do you usually have for dinner? Leigh asked.
Whatever's in the kitchen, Vin said. Usually peanut butter and jelly.
Youre kidding, Leigh said.
Nope, Vin said smiling. Usually were working a case and I dont have time to buy anything. But Nettie usually comes along and feeds me.
She was my high school English teacher, Vin said. She kinda mothered me.
How come you never introduced us? Brick said.
She was out of town when you came up, Vin said. And we were kinda out of commission there for a bit.
Brick laughed but Leigh frowned. Both Vin and Brick had almost been killed when Brick went to visit his brother last year. Leigh put it out of her mind and got back to dinner. With everyone helping it went quickly. Vin seemed to eat just as many tomatoes as he put in the bowl. At least Brick had warned her that Vin was a bottomless pit. As she was putting the chicken in the deep fryer Rose came running into the house.
Hi, mom, Im home.
Hey, Rose, look whos here! Harry yelled.
Hello, Vin, Rose said quietly.
Hello, Rose, Vin said. Did you have a nice day?
Yeah, Rose said.
Kinda weird, huh? Vin asked.
Howd you know? she asked surprised.
Well, look at us, Vin said pointed to him and Brick. Kinda hard to get used to there being two of us.
I guess, Rose agreed.
Its not weird, Harry said. Its cool. Right, Uncle Vin?
You might think its cool but Rose thinks its weird, Vin said.
Hey, Rose, Brick said calling her over. His niece came and stood next to him. I know this will take some getting used to. But I think youre worried Ill forget about your dad.
Yeah, Rose admitted.
Guy was my brother, Brick said. Ill never forget him.
Are you sure? Rose asked.
Im sure, Brick said as he gave her a hug.
Do I have to call him, Uncle Vin? Rose asked.
No, Brick laughed. You can just call him Vin.
Harry, Rose, go wash up for dinner, Leigh said.
Guess Rose thought I was trying to replace Guy, Vin said.
Yeah, Brick said. Guess I missed that one.
Half hour later they were sitting down to dinner with the family that was in for the weekend. The two teenaged daughters thought Brick and Vin were adorable and kept making eyes at them. Brick loved it but Vin tried to ignore them. The youngest daughter in the family was the same age as Harry and was very quiet. Vin was sitting next to her and she kept smiling shyly at him. When dinner was over they wished the family good night then sat down to a movie. Harry decided he wanted to sit on Vins lap and Rose took Bricks. Half way through the movie Brick looked over toward his brother and saw he was sound asleep, as was Harry.
Leigh, look, Brick whispered.
Leigh looked over at Vin and smiled. She got up and went looking for the camera. It was an older camera but she was used to it. She lined up her shot and took the picture. She wasnt prepared for Vin to come instantly awake and almost knocking Harry off his lap. Jack was up in an instant and kept Harry from hitting the floor.
Im so sorry, Vin, Leigh said.
Not your fault, Vin said. You okay, Harry?
Yeah, Harry said from his grandfathers lap. What happened?
You and Vin were sleeping and your mom took a picture, Jack explained. The sound of the camera made Vin wake up.
Guess I better head to bed, Vin said. More tired than I thought.
Come on Ill show you upstairs, Brick said.
Sorry to be a problem Vin said. Im a pretty light sleeper.
Well have to remember that, Jack said.
Well, again, Im sorry, Vin said as he followed Brick.
Brick took his brother upstairs to his room. The room was small and Bricks bed was up against the wall. An air mattress was set up on the floor.
You can take the bed, Brick said. Ill sleep on the air mattress.
Thats crazy this is your room Ill take the air mattress.
Brick knew it was useless to argue and got ready for bed. When he came back from the bathroom he showed Vin where everything was. He warned Vin that if he wanted the bathroom hed better get up early or Cass would be in it for hours. Vin laughed and said he doubted Cass would be up as early as he would. When Vin came back to the room, he was wearing pajama bottoms only. Brick noticed the many scars covering Vins torso but didnt have the guts to ask about them. Vin climbed into the sleeping bag and curled up.
Night, Brick, Vin said.
Leigh woke early and headed down to the kitchen to make coffee. As she came down the stairs she could smell the distinct aroma of fresh brewed coffee. She knew none of her family would be up this early so that left only one other person. She grabbed a cup and poured herself a cup then headed out to the porch. She wasnt surprised to see Vin sitting there but she hadnt expected Walter. Walter Maddok was their handyman but he did take some getting used to.
Morning, she said as she took a seat next to Vin.
Guess I better get to work, Walter said as he set his cup down.
Dont be silly, Leigh said. Finish your coffee.
Dont mind if I do, Walter said.
Leigh got comfortable and took a sip of her coffee. She wasn't prepared for the incredible strong brew and gagged. Vin just smiled.
Vin sure knows how to make coffee that will put hair on your chest, Walter said.
And then some, Leigh scowled. I better go make a pot that a civilized person can drink.
Dont throw the pot out, Walter said. Ill take some more.
Dont worry Ill find a biohazard container to put it in, Leigh commented.
She went back into the house to make a new pot. True to her word she found a thermos and put the deadly brew inside. She just hoped it didnt corrode the bottom. When her coffee was done she took another cup and headed back out to the porch. She also brought with her a plate of cookies. She saw that Walter was gone as she placed the cookies on the table next to Vin.
Brick said you liked oatmeal cookies, Leigh said as she offered them to Vin.
Do I ever, Vin said as he grabbed and took a bite. This a great! Just they way I like them. Soft and chewy and loaded with raisins.
Leigh was glad Vin liked her cookies. She rarely got praise about her cooking from the family. The morning was bright and sunny and Leigh enjoyed the quiet. Every once in awhile she would glance at Vin to see he was content to just sit and watch. He was so unlike Brick. Her brother in law was always on the move. Never stopping to appreciate the beauty around him. She hoped some of Vin would rub off on Brick. Very quickly the solitude was broken when Harry came out to declare he was hungry.
Have a cookie, Vin offered.
Mom let you have cookies for breakfast? Harry asked shocked.
They were more like an appetizer, Vin said. Now Im ready for a real breakfast.
So do you like eggs? Leigh asked.
Eggs are okay, Vin admitted. I like pancakes better.
Pancakes, yeah! Harry exclaimed.
Pancakes it is, Leigh said and took Harry into the kitchen.
The laughter in the kitchen had Jack coming down to see what was going on. Normally he didnt get up quite this early but the laughter had woken him up. He wasnt prepared for what he saw. Leigh was at the stove with Vin and Harry. The two boys were getting a lesson in pancake flipping. Jack watched as Harry gave it a try and the pancake ended up on the floor. Jack laughed along with everyone else.
Youre supposed to keep the pancake on the griddle, Jack said as he joined them in the kitchen.
Jack reached over to get some coffee and watched as Vin helped Harry flip the pancakes. It would seem Vin and Brick had some traits in common. They both enjoyed being with younger children.
How you'd get so good with kids? Jack asked.
The apartment I live at is loaded with them, Vin said. To keep them out of the gangs I started teaching them karate. Also let them use my computer for homework and stuff.
Isnt that kind of dangerous? Leigh asked. Dont you bring work home?
Nah, Vin said. The computer has mostly games on it.
Harry asked what games he had and Leigh laughed at the long list. A few minutes later Harry brought over a plate filled with pancakes. Jack helped him put it on the table. Vin was looking in the fridge and smiled. He grabbed what he wanted then headed over to the table. Harry was about to put syrup on his pancakes when he saw Vin place whipped cream and strawberries on the table. Harry watched as Vin took some pancakes then covered them in whipped cream.
Want some? Vin offered. Harry just nodded and Vin added whipped cream to Harry's pancakes.
Next, Vin grabbed the strawberries and started cutting them up and dropping them on the whipped cream. Again he asked Harry if he wanted some and Leigh laughed as Harry just nodded. When Vin was finally done he grabbed a fork and dug in. Harry mimicked him and smiled.
Hey, mom, theyre good this way! Harry declared.
Yeah, they do look good, Jack agreed as he grabbed the whipped cream as well.
Now look what you started, Leigh cried.
Vin just shrugged and continued eating. A short time later Brick came down to join them. He didnt usually get up this early but all the noise had woken him up and he was curious. When he got to the kitchen he saw Vin over by the stove making more pancakes.
Whats going on? Brick asked.
Im on vacation, Leigh said.
Whats he making? Brick asked suspiciously.
Pancakes! Harry said. And they're good, too.
Vin came over to the table and dropped another plate of pancakes on the table. Brick dug in and Vin helped himself to another serving.
Youre having more? Leigh asked shocked. Vin just smiled and poured syrup all over his plate.
I told you he could eat, Brick warned.
Guess were going to have to go back to the store, Jack said.
When they were done Brick and Vin loaded supplies in a couple of saddlebags. Leigh made sure Vin took his idea of coffee with them. They went out to the barn and began to saddle some horses.
Going out riding? Walter asked.
Yeah, Brick said. Gonna take Vin out to my favorite spot.
Well, you have fun now, Walter said as he went back to work.
They finished saddling the horses then walked them outside. Vin walked his horse around for a few minutes then checked the girth. He smiled as he pulled it tighter. When he was finished he grabbed the saddle horn and effortlessly swung up into the saddle.
Damn, Ive never been able to figure out how to do that, Brick complained.
Aint hard, Vin said as he put his feet in the stirrups.
Easy for you to say, Brick said as he mounted.
Brick took the lead and headed out across the meadow. Once they were far enough away from the house Brick urged the horse to canter and soon they were running across the field. Brick knew Vin was a good rider so he didnt hold back. He hated taking the visitors out on trail rides because all they did was walk. After a few minutes Brick slowed his horse and Vin did the same.
So, where we off to in such a hurry? Vin asked smiling.
Wanted to take you to my favorite place, Brick explained. Its kinda a way off.
We could have just packed some camping gear and stayed out over night, Vin said.
Now you tell me, Brick laughed. Its not that far off but I did want to show you the place.
Im here for a week, Vin reminded him.
I know, Brick shrug. Just wanted to make sure you saw it all.
Well, lead on then.
Brick put the horse into a nice ground-eating trot and they continued on their way. Vin loved the scenery around the ranch. It reminded him of Colorado. The Three Sisters, the locals name for the mountain range, were the dominant features on the horizon. The mountain range was shorter than the one in Colorado so their peaks werent snow covered this time of year. But they were just as beautiful. Soon they were across the meadow and Brick went through a pine grove. Vin took a deep breath as the horse hooves crushed the pine needles. The heady scent was incredible and Vin couldnt get enough. As they came past a rather large tree Bricks horse shied slightly as a herd of deer bounded away led by a large buck.
Damn, look at the antlers on him, Vin said as they watched the male led his harem away to safety.
Thats Old Glory, Brick said. Jack makes sure he stays on the property. We dont allow hunting.
He sure is a beauty, Vin said as they continued on their way.
As they left the pine grove Vin looked back and was surprised to see the stag watching them from a ridge. The buck stood on a slight rise and Vin could get a good look at his impressive antlers. They had to be at least 15 points per rack. Vin just shook his head as the stag took one last look then bounded away. They rode for most of the morning passing some of the prettiest country Vin had ever seen. When they stopped for lunch Brick chose a pond to rest by.
Sure is hot, Brick said as he loosened the girth on his horse.
This aint so bad, Vin said as he took the bridle off his horse and looped it over the horn on the saddle.
I forgot youre from Texas, Brick said as he picketed his horse so it could eat.
Now thats hot, Vin said smiling as he did the same with his horse. I surely dont miss it.
Brick grabbed the saddlebags with their lunch and head over to the pond. As they got closer Vin could see a beaver dam. The dam stretched across a small stream causing the water to back up to make the pond. Enough water flowed over the dam so the stream could continue on its way.
We come out here every once in awhile to make sure the stream is still flowing, Brick said. The beavers have been pretty good about letting some water go by but not in the beginning.
They kept patching whatever you did, Vin smiled.
Had to come out here nearly every day for a few weeks, Brick laughed.
Guess they figured to give you a break, Vin chuckled.
Jack wanted to trap them but I wouldnt let him, Brick said. The visitors like coming out to see them. They usually put on quite a show.
As they ate their lunch the beavers came out and went about their business. They were accustomed enough to people being around that the mother even brought out the babies. Vin laughed as the babies ran along the top of the dam chasing each other. The largest one kept pushing the two smaller ones in the water.
Bully! Vin yelled laughing.
Brick laughed along with his brother as they watched the beavers. The hour was soon over and they saddled the horses. Once they were in the saddles Brick headed for a rock formation in the distance. Vin estimated it was about two hours away.
That where were headin? Vin asked.
Yeah, Brick answered.
Gonna do some rock climbing?
Youll see, Brick said smiling as he pushed his horse into a trot.
Vin followed right behind. As Vin predicted they reached the rocks about two hours later. They were surrounded by a group of large pines that stood like sentinels protecting the rocks.
Nice, Vin commented as he pulled his horse up next to Bricks.
Yeah, but thats not why I brought you, Brick said as he dismounted.
Vin followed Bricks lead as he dismounted and tied his horse to a tree branch. They loosened the girths but didnt take off the saddles. The horses could reach the grass and were content. Brick grabbed a canteen and a small backpack then motioned for his brother to follow him. Vin fell in step with Brick as they made their way along a deer path. Vin still didnt know what his brother was up to until they came to an opening amongst the rocks. It wasnt really a cave but for Vin it was close enough. The rocks leaned in towards each other like they had been pushed over by a giant. The entrance into the rocks was shadowed and Brick stopped next to it.
What I want to show you is inside, Brick said.
Vin watched as his brother disappeared into the opening. He really didnt want to follow Brick into that small space but he was also reluctant to admit it. So after taking a few breaths Vin stepped inside. It was a tight squeeze and Vin regretted his decision as he followed his brother. Finally, the opening widened into a small grotto. The large rock had been worn away by the wind and now there was a wide ledge about two feet up. The rocks over head were huge boulders that looked like they had been placed there on purpose. Vin could see the sky peaking through at certain places but he still felt closed in.
Come on, Brick said as he climbed up to the grotto. What I want to show you is inside.
Vin took one last look into the sky as he followed Brick. They had to crouch down to fit into the opening but once inside they could stand up. It was dark inside and Brick pulled out a flashlight and turned it on. He looked at his brother and noticed Vin was sweating and breathing a little fast.
You okay? Brick asked.
Fine, Vin mumbled.
It's over here, Brick said gesturing to the back wall.
When they got closer Brick turned the light on the wall and Vins fears were temporarily swept away. Along the back wall were ancient pictographs done by the Indians. The scene showed a village with teepees, horses and buffalo. The colors were still vivid since the grotto was protected by the elements.
This is incredible, Vin said.
I knew youd like it, Brick said smiling.
Howd you find it? Vin asked as he walked closer to the wall to get a better look.
Came exploring one day with Guy, Brick said. Jack never liked us going into the caves but we were young and never listened.
Im surprised it hasn't been vandalized.
Not too many people know about it, Brick said. Jack let the University know and they came out to study it but weve kept it quiet.
Thats good, Vin said, as he looked closer at the buffalo painting.
The paintings were crude but recognizable. The people were drawn almost like stick figures, which made Vin smile. The horses were painted in all sorts of colors and some had spots. Brick watched the delight on his brother's face and was glad he brought him to see the grotto. This was his special place where he came to think or to remember Guy. After a few minutes Brick heard some rumblings that sounded like thunder. He didnt pay it much attention. Even if it did rain on the way back it was warm enough out.
Come on. I want to show you something else, Brick said.
Vin followed Brick out and took a deep breath when he saw the sky. His fears had been forgotten while he admired the pictographs but now they were back. Brick headed further into the rocks and Vin reluctantly followed. They came to a spot with an opening towards the bottom of the stones.
We have to crawl in to see this one, Brick said.
Vin watched as he brother got down on his belly and started crawling inside. Soon Bricks feet disappeared and Vin was left alone.
Come on, Brick called. It's only a short crawl then you can stand up.
Vin took a few deep breaths then laid down. I can do this, Vin thought. He steeled himself then started crawling. As soon as his head and shoulders were inside Vin could feel himself start to panic. He closed his eyes and tried to stop his racing heart. When he was finally in control again he quickly continued through the opening. Brick helped him stand and could fell Vin shaking.
Are you alright? Brick asked in concern.
Fine, Vin said as he pulled away.
Come on, Brick said. If you liked the other one youll love this one.
Brick lead the way through more leaning stones. Again Vin was able to see the sky through some openings and he didnt feel quiet so closed in. Brick only went a short distance when he stopped. Vin came up beside him and just stared. The rock face in front of them was covered from floor to ceiling with horses. They were painted in all sizes and colors. The ones towards the sides that were protected by over hangs were still bright while the ones that were exposed to the elements had faded over the years. The thing that surprised Vin was the lone figure of a man standing surrounded by the horses.
This is incredible, Vin said.
Isnt it? Brick said as he sat down on a rock. Me and Guy would come out here and sit for hours. We tried to count them all but lost track at about 150.
Wonder why theres just the one man? Vin said as he sat next to his brother.
"Who knows? Brick said.
As they sat there they both heard a rumbling sound. Vin looked at Brick for and answer when the floor started to buck underneath them.
Earthquake! Brick yelled.
We have to get out! Vin yelled as he ran for the small opening.
No, Vin! Brick yelled as he went to grab his brother.
The floor lurched violently and Brick had a hard time holding onto Vin. Rocks were beginning to fall and all Vin wanted was out of the cave. He lashed out at Brick violently and connected with his jaw. Brick let go as a blinding pain exploded along his jaw. The earth shuddered again and both men were thrown to the ground as rocks and debris rained down on them. As the earthquake subsided, and only small after shocks were felt, the lone figure on the wall bore witness to Mother Nature's wrath.
JD sat at his desk typing. Today he wished he were outside on a stakeout or anything that would get him out of the office. It was a beautiful day in Denver and they were stuck in the office doing year end reports. JD envied Vin and suspected the sharpshooter had asked for this week off just so he wouldnt have to do reports.
Wonder what Vins up to? JD asked no one in particular.
Probably fishing, Buck said wistfully.
JD turned to his roommate and noticed Buck hadnt gotten very far on his assignment. When he looked closer he could see Buck had a fishing magazine tucked up under the desk. Obviously he wasnt the only one wishing he were outside.
Either that or hes riding, Josiah said. That boy sticks to a horse like glue.
Knowing Vin he could just be lying in the grass just soaking it all in, Nathan added.
It is possible that he has gone to the store to buy an expensive suit, Ezra commented. Next thing Ezra knew crumbled paper balls came flying his way.
Thats your idea of a good time, Buck laughed.
So when does Chris get back? JD asked. Im getting hungry.
Youre always hungry, Chris said as he walked into the bullpen.
No, thats Vin, JD said. Im only hungry sometimes.
Just let me go check for any messages then well go to the Saloon, Chris said as he headed for his office.
JD turned back to his desk and went surfing on the Net. He checked his emails first. He didnt have too many so he left them for later. He clicked on the news and the first thing that popped up was a report of an earthquake in Oregon. The quake was 5.6 on the Richter scale and rocked a large area including Bend. JD jumped up from his desk and ran to Chris's office.
JD, whats up? Buck asked.
Chris! JD said knocking on the door.
"What is it? Chris asked coming put.
Was checking the news and saw this, JD said as he pulled Chris over to his desk. The other came to read over Chriss shoulder.
Good Lord! Ezra exclaimed.
Leigh was cleaning one of the cabins when the quake hit. She tumbled onto the bed as the lamp crashed to the floor. She heard similar breaking sounds coming from the cabin next door. Her first thoughts were to get to Harry and Rose up at the house. As the earth rocked under her feet she stumbled out of the cabin. As quickly as the earthquake started it stopped. Leigh knew that there would be smaller after shocks to follow. She raced up to the house.
Rose! Harry! Leigh entered the house to find some things on the floor. Fragile items had been thrown and lay broken around the house.
Mom! Harry yelled as he ran to his mother.
Wheres Rose?! she demanded as she picked up her son.
She went out to the barn, Harry said crying.
Its okay, Harry, dont cry, Leigh said. Lets go find Rose.
Leigh carried her son out to the barn. As they entered the barn Leigh could see some of the tack lying on the floor.
Mom! Rose yelled as she ran for her mother.
Its ok, Leigh said as she hugged her children.
Leigh! Jack bellowed from outside the barn.
Were in here! she called.
Jack stormed into the barn to find most of his family had weathered the quake.
Wheres Brick and Vin?
They went out riding earlier, Leigh said she stood up holding both Harry and Rose.
Any idea where? Jack asked as he took Harry from Leigh.
I dont know, Leigh said as she followed Jack back to the house.
As they walked in the door they heard the phone ringing. Jack put Harry down and answered the phone.
McKennas yeah were fine No we dont need and help out here just have to do some clean up Vin and Brick went out riding so Im not sure where they are Right Ill keep you posted.
Jack hung up the phone and turned to Leigh. That was Dale. Everyone in towns fine so far. Lights are out some windows are broken out of some of the stores.
Doesnt sound too bad, Leigh said as she put Rose down.
Now if I only knew where Brick was, Jack scowled. Why cant he leave a note where hes going!
Grandpa look, Harry said pointing out the window.
Jack walked over to the window and saw two horses running back and forth in front of the barn. The horses were fully tacked and he figured they were the ones Vin and Brick had taken out. Jack went out side to try to catch them. They were skittish and it took a few tries before jack could grab their reins.
Easy, boys, easy, Jack said as he stroked their necks. Where did you leave Brick?
Do you think theyre hurt? Leigh asked as she came out.
I dont know, Jack admitted.
What do we do? Leigh asked.
Im going to call Dale and see if he can get us any help, Jack said.
While Jack called Dale, Leigh made sure the kids were all right and tried to reassure them as small tremors were felt a short time later. As Jack was talking on the phone Walter knocked on the back door.
Is everyone okay? He asked as Leigh let him in.
Yes, just a bit shook up.
Where are Brick and Vin? Walter asked.
We dont know the horses came back without them, Leigh said.
They must still be at the cave.
Cave? Leigh asked surprised. What cave?
Brick took Vin to see the Indian drawings, Walter explained.
Jack! Leigh called. I know where Brick went.
Hold on, Dale, Jack said putting his hand over the receiver. Where?
To the cave with the Indian drawings, Leigh said.
Dale, Brick and Vin are at Coopers Canyon, Jack explained. Right at the cave with the drawings. All right I understand. Bring help as soon as you can.
Jack hung up and headed for the door. Just as he was stepping out the phone rang and he waited.
McKenna, Leigh said as she picked up the phone. Hello, Chris, yes hes here I'll get him.
Chris, Jack said. Yes, we got hit good by the earthquake. Well you guessed right. Brick and Vin might be in trouble. They went out riding just before the quake and the horses came back without them. No, you dont have Ok, we'll see you then.
Whats going on? Leigh asked as Jack hung up the phone.
Vins friends will be here as soon as they can.
Dont look at me, Jack said. Im going to saddle the horses. You stay here and keep tuned to the radio.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra! Chris yelled as he left his office.
You bellowed? Ezra said as he looked up from his computer.
Get on the phone and call in every favor youve got, Chris said. I want to be in Bend before dark.
Vin and Brick? Josiah asked.
Jack said they went out riding before the quake and the horses came back without them.
Im on it, Chris, Ezra said as he grabbed the phone.
Was that all Jack had to say? Buck asked.
He was running out to go find Brick and Vin, Chris said. I let him go. Well be there to help soon.
Chris, are you going to run out to the ranch to get some clothes? JD asked.
No time, Chris said. Ill just grab the clothes I have at your places.
Come on, JD, Buck said. Well go pack everything.
Well go, too, Nathan said looking at Josiah.
Chris knew it would take the boys no time to get packed. He turned to Ezra and he knew the under cover agent had pulled it off as he gave Chris a thumbs up.
Brick slowly regained consciousness and instantly knew he had been better off out cold. The first thing he noticed was his jaw was killing him. When Vin had panicked hed really hit him hard. Brick tried moving his jaw and instantly regretted it. He could feel the bones grate against each other. Great, Brick thought. He broke my jaw. Brick tried sitting up when another wave of pain assaulted him this time from his shoulder. Thats all he needed. Brick moved slowly and was able to make it over to his brother. Vins legs were buried and Brick started clearing away the dirt. Brick was just glad it was dirt and not boulders or they would be in real trouble. Once Vins legs were clear Brick moved to check Vin over. He found a cut on Vins temple where a rock must have glanced off his brother's head. As Brick was checking Vin over he began to stir.
Ethy, Vi, Brick had to stop it hurt too much to talk.
Uh, Vin mumbled as he opened his eyes. What hit me?
A wok, Brick mumbled.
As Vin sat up a wave of dizziness swept over him and he thought he would black out again. He felt Brick squeeze his arm and he waited for the blackness to recede. When he finally opened his eyes he realized they were still inside the cave. Vin looked frantically around and saw that rocks covered their only way out.
"No!" Vin yelled. "We can't get out!"
Brick could see Vin was beginning to panic again. He grabbed his brother and held on tight.
"Issen to me," Brick said even though talking was agony. "Udder a out."
Brick could feel Vin shaking in his arms. His brother was breathing very fast and Brick was afraid he'd start to hyperventilate. Brick wasn't prepared for Vin to pull out of his arms and stand up. Brick watched as Vin looked frantically around. He was barely in time to catch Vin as he passed out again. Brick carefully laid his brother down and checked him for other injuries. The blow to his head was bleeding really bad and Brick gingerly felt around the wound. Under the cut was a really nasty bump and Brick winced in sympathy. He continued checking Vin the rest of the way and saw that his left forearm was broken. Brick could see the bone sticking up against the skin. He didn't find anything else wrong with Vin but he wouldn't be sure until his brother came to again. Brick knew everything would be all right if he could just get Vin to understand there was another way out. Brick's jaw was killing him and he knew he'd have to tie it up some way. He also needed to get the bleeding to stop from the cut on Vin's head. There wasn't much he could do with his dislocated shoulder except make a sling for it. Brick sighed as he looked around the cave. The dust had finally settled from the quake and Brick looked up through the rocks to see the sun was starting to set. He wasn't sure how long they had been unconscious but there was nothing he could do about that. Brick found the canteen and got to work ripping both of their shirts for bandages.
Dark had finally settled over the land. The activity around the cave had increased with the setting sun. Generators had been flown in for light as well as to deliver more manpower. Chris and the others arrived in one of the helicopters that had been delivering equipment to the area.
"Jeez, there sure is a lot if people down there," JD commented.
"At least it means they won't be in there for very long," Buck said.
"Knowing Vin's aversion to small spaces I'm sure it feels like an eternity to him," Ezra added.
"I just hope they're not hurt," Nathan said quietly.
"Amen to that," Josiah said.
Chris listened to his men as they tried to find comfort in the fact that their friend was being rescued. Chris knew that Vin would be having a hard time being stuck in a cave with no way out. He just hoped his friend could hold it together until they got him out.
The helicopter landed and they all grabbed some gear and brought it over to what looked like the staging area. Chris saw a familiar face and walked over.
"Leigh, how's it going?"
"Chris!" Leigh cried and ran over and gave him a hug. "It's going slow. Theyre not exactly sure where Brick and Vin are. Theres two areas of the cave they could be in."
"How can it be a cave?" JD asked giving the formation a long look. "It's not even by a mountain."
"You're right it's not," Dale said as he walked over. "It's more of a rock formation. The upper rocks lean over far enough in spots to make it almost a cave."
"So what you're saying is there are ways down from above," Ezra reasoned.
"Not really," Dale sighed. "It's very odd. You can see the sun from inside the rocks but you can't climb up to the top."
"Well, maybe you can't climb up but what about down?" Nathan asked.
"They tried." Leigh said placing her hand on Chris's arm. "It didn't lead to the area that Vin and Brick would have been in."
"And where they did come down you can't dig to them from there, either," Dale added.
"So we go in the front like they did," Chris said. "Let's go boys."
Chris grabbed a shovel and a hard hat and headed to where they were digging. The others followed his lead as Dale gave Leigh a shrug and followed.
+ + + + + + +
Brick was glad he'd packed the lantern. Normally you wouldn't need it in the cave but you never knew. He'd tied up his jaw with a piece of his shirt but it still hurt like hell. His shoulder wasn't doing much better even with his arm resting in a sling. Brick was checking what was left in the back pack when he heard a soft moan.
"Oh, my head," Vin said as he slowy sat up.
Brick quickly moved to his brothers side and helped him sit up. Brick didn't know what he was going to do if Vin panicked again.
"Eshe Vi," Brick mumbled.
"Huh?" Vin said in confusion.
Vin turned to his brother and saw he had a piece of cloth wrapped under his jaw and tied at the top of his head. He could see Bricks arm was also in a sling. Vin looked around and started to remember where they were. Vin could feel himself start to panic knowing he was trapped in a cave. He should never have come in here.
"Eshe, Vin!" Brick said as he grabbed Vin's arm. Brick watched as Vin closed his eyes and tried to calm down.
"How long?" Vin asked as he opened his eyes.
"No sur," Brick said.
"Never mind," Vin said. "Its long enough that its dark now. Gotta start digging from this side."
Vin struggled to his feet and instantly regretted it. If Brick hadn't been there to grab him he would have fallen flat on his face.
"Not the smartest idea," Vin groaned.
"Uther way ut," Brick said with a grimace.
Vin looked at Brick in confusion as his muddled brain tried to process what his brother was trying to say. Obviously Brick's jaw had been broken during the earthquake and it was making talking painful. Vin couldn't see anything else wrong with his brother except for the jaw and the sling on his arm. It was hard to tell in the dim light from the lantern if Brick was hurt more. Vin knew he had a concussion, hell, hed had enough of them to know when it was bad. His head was killing him and it was hard to focus. Right now there were two Bricks sitting and looking at him in concern. Besides his head he could feel a dull ache in his left arm. When he looked down he could see that it was crudely splinted.
"Uther way ut," Brick said again.
"Trying to tell me there's another way out?" Vin asked.
Brick nodded his head as he smiled at his brother.
"Lead on," Vin said as he tried to get up.
Brick finally grabbed his brother and helped him to his feet. The two of them were a mess and he knew it was going to take awhile for them to make it out. When he was satisfied Vin was steady he handed Vin the canteen. Vin put it over his shoulder and winced as he raised his arm above his head. Everything hurt and he'd be glad to get out of there. All he had to do was keep himself under control. He knew there were tons of rocks above him and it hurt just thinking about it. But he knew if he didn't keep control he'd be no use to Brick. Brick held the lantern in his good left hand and started walking. Vin stayed close not wanting to be far from the light.
Chris dug in the debris like a man possessed. Vin had been trapped in the cave for almost ten hours now. He wasn't sure if Brick would be able to handle Vin if he panicked in there. Vin was a lot stronger than he looked. And when he didn't want to be held he could put up quiet a fight.
"Hey, stud, why don't you let me in there for awhile?" Buck said as he tapped Chris on the shoulder.
"Yeah," Chris said as he stepped back.
"Don't worry, Chris, we'll get them out," Buck said when he was the look on Chris's face.
"I know," Chris said. "I just hope Vin can hold it together in there."
"He'll do it," Buck said. "If not for himself then for his brother."
Chris nodded before he walked away. He knew Buck was right. Vin would hold it together for Brick. It was funny how they had only known each other for a short time but the two of them were willing to give up everything for each other. Vin had proved that when Brick had come to visit a few months back. Chris knew it was just a matter of time before they got through. They just had to be patient.
+ + + + + + +
Brick led Vin through the maze of rocks that led to the other exit. Brick was dreading what was coming up ahead. He hadn't told Vin that they would have to crawl through a rather tight spot to reach the opening to outside. Brick remembered the last time he had done it he had to squeeze his shoulders through the opening and pray that his hips would fit. Vin was skinnier than he was so he knew he'd have no problem fitting. But Brick wouldn't be able to help him if he panicked.
"Gotta take a break," Vin said.
Brick stopped and raised the lantern. Vin leaned against a rock a Brick could see he wouldn't be able to go much further. Brick could see Vin was sweating and his complexion was pale. Brick moved closer and raised the lantern higher. Vin flinched away but Brick could see the pupils of Vin's eyes were different sizes. He had to get his brother out soon.
"No uch ferther," Brick mumbled.
"Sure hope not," Vin sighed as he closed his eyes. "Don't think I can go much longer."
"Com un," Brick said.
Vin swayed but was able to get his balance after a few seconds. Brick released him and moved on ahead. Vin knew if they didn't come to the exit soon he was going to pass out. His head was killing him and he just wanted to sleep. They only went a short distance when Brick stopped. Vin watched as Brick climbed up to an opening a few feet from the floor. As Brick shined the lantern towards the opening, Vin could see it was going to be a tight fit. Just thinking about it was making his heart race. He could feel his breathing increasing and he tried his hardest to get control.
"Ethy," Brick said. "Nuffin' to it."
Brick beckoned him forward and pointed to the hole. He wanted Vin to go first. He didnt want to be on the other side and have Vin decide he wasn't coming through.
"Yo fist," Brick said. "Righ hind yo."
Vin nodded and made his way to the opening. Brick was right there next to him but it still felt like he was all alone. Vin pulled the canteen over his head and gasped as he hit his broken arm. Brick grabbed him as Vin started to sink to the floor.
"Up Vi!" Brick said desperately.
Vin held onto Brick as everything began to spin. He knew if he passed out now they were doomed. Vin ground his teeth and slowly stood on his own again. When he was ready he gave Bricks arm a squeeze and moved towards the opening. As he stuck his head inside he knew he couldnt do it. Vin cried out and pulled back sliding to the floor.
"Pease, Vin," Brick pleaded. "You can do it."
"Can't," Vin cried. "Too small. I'll get stuck."
"If I go fist ill yo come?" Brick asked. "See I no go stuck."
"Yeah," Vin sighed. Maybe if I see you don't get stuck I can make it."
Brick wasn't fond of this arrangement but he couldnt just push Vin through. He was just as tired as his brother and knew he wouldn't last much longer either. Brick handed the lantern to Vin. Brick climbed up to the opening and began to squeeze through. He cried out as his broken collar bone protested the ill treatment. Once his shoulders were through he knew it would be easy to pull himself the rest of the way. Brick wiggled and squirmed and finally made it to the other side. Brick lay panting on the small shelf and waited until the throbbing in his shoulder subsided.
"Brick!?" Vin called.
"I heer," Brick said as he put his head through the opening.
He jumped back in surprised not expecting Vin to be so close. Obviously his brother didn't want to be alone on the other side.
"Han me sa lanton," Brick mumbled.
Vin passed the lantern through and Brick grabbed it. He barely put it aside when Vin started crawling through. Just as he thought, Vin was skinnier than he was and had no trouble fitting his shoulders into the opening. Vin's upper body easily made it through but as his hips got closer he suddenly stopped. Brick watched as Vin began to struggle.
"I'm stuck!" Vin cried.
Vin began to struggle harder and Brick moved up to help him. As Brick got closer he could see that Vin hadn't taken the canteen off his shoulder and was now wedged against his hip and the rock.
"Gotta get out!" Vin yelled.
"Ethy, Vin!" Brick tried to yell.
"No!" Vin cried and struggled some more.
Brick watched helpless as his brother panicked. He tried to get the canteen free of the rock but Vin wasn't making it easy. Suddenly Vin went limp and it was Bricks turn to panic. Vin's struggles and the concussion had finally made his brother pass out. Brick checked Vin and could see he was breathing very fast. There was nothing he could do about that right now so he pulled the knife from his belt and cut the strap of the canteen. Once the canteen was free Brick pulled his brother through the rest of the way. Brick turned Vin to his back and leaned against the rock.
"Now what do I do?" Brick thought
He knew it was only about a 30 minute walk to the other side of the rocks. He also knew thats where everyone would be digging trying to get them out. Brick was reluctant to leave Vin but he knew Vin wouldnt regain consciousness for some time. Once his mind was made up Brick placed the lantern close to Vin and slid down from the shelf. He just prayed Vin didn't wake up before they got back.
Chris leaned back in the chair and stretched out his tired muscles. He had been digging for over five hours when JD had noticed something. JD could swear he saw someone walking next to the rocks. The moon had been full and a shadow kept appearing away from where the rescue team had been working. JD had gone over to investigate and was taken by surprise as Brick appeared from around a rock. After the initial shock wore off JD started shouting then all hell broke lose. Brick led them back to Vin and the two of them were whisked off to the hospital in one of the helicopters.
Chris looked over to his friend lying in the hospital bed. Vin had a severe concussion but the doctors said with quiet and rest he'd be fine. He also had a broken radius in his left arm. They had set the break and Buck had assured the nurses that Vin just loved the color pink. The cast wasn't just pink it was a garish, neon pink. Chris would let Buck explain the color. Chris looked at Vin's face and was still worried about his color. The sharpshooter was pale and looked washed out.
"Yeah, he does," Chris said as he turned to the other patient in the room.
Brick had a broken jaw that they had wired shut so it could heal. Chris knew it would drive Brick crazy because he liked to talk. Brick also had a broken collar bone from where a rock had hit him. The doctors still couldnt figure out how Brick could have a broken jaw but not a concussion. If a rock had given Brick the broken collar bone then logic said a rock had done the same to his jaw.
"Vin broke your jaw didn't he?" Chris asked.
Brick turned to Chris but didn't answer his question.
"I've been on the receiving end of one of Vin's panic attacks," Chris said. "He got me in the jaw and I saw stars."
"Didn't mean it," Brick mumbled.
"No, he didn't," Chris said. "And he'll beat himself up when he remembers what he did."
"No' is fault," Brick said.
"You're right," Chris said. "It was an accident. But Vin will be upset."
"I tawk to him," Brick said.
"Yeah, as soon as you can make sense," Chris smiled.
Brick lifted his left hand and gave Chris the finger. Chris laughed.
"Nice," Chris commented and turned to look at Vin. "The two of you are trouble."
"Yeah," Brick smiled. "Double trouble."
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