Hasty Actions and Words

by Wgang16

Disclaimers: Mag7 does not belong to me. This is for fun.

Notes: This is my first attempt at a general Mag7 story. I have only written slash before, so I hope it works. Thanks to Mog for creating the ATF universe.

Warning: Language, mild violence, angst and hurt/comfort.

Characters: Vin, Buck and Chris and a little Nathan. The others are briefly mentioned.

Vin Tanner kept his head down and worked diligently on his report. The last thing he wanted was for Buck Wilmington to make some rude comment about him slacking off on the job.

The friendship between the two men had been going downhill for the last week. It had started with a sting on a gun running operation. The operation had been a success until one of the local Denver policemen had been shot and critically wounded. In the ensuing chaos a young black kid had been found hiding behind some boxes in the warehouse. Forensics showed that the kid had recently shot a gun, but the gun that shot the cop had not been found.

It was only circumstantial evidence that caused the kid to be charged with the cops shooting.

The kid, Scott Portal lived in Vin Tanners apartment building in Purgatory. Vin was positive the kid was innocent which put him in direct opposition to the opinion of the majority of the cops and federal agents including Buck Wilmington.

Vin tried to explain that the kid was the sole support of his mother and younger brother, his father having run out on them several years earlier. Vin knew that the fifteen year old was a good student and just would not do anything like shooting a cop.

When Vin first stood up for the kid, Buck blew up. The cop was an old friend of his and Chris's from their days on the police force. Buck had gotten in Vin's face and had to be restrained by Josiah.

The atmosphere around Team 7 office had been strained ever since. A couple of days after the sting Josiah, Ezra and JD had to leave for a conference in New Orleans. Before they left each man made it a point to let Vin know that he needed to be careful, the cops were pissed off at him for defending the kid that they thought shot one of their own. All three men knew that Vin had uncanny senses and had a feeling Vin was right on this issue. Josiah had talked to the kid and found him to be polite even though he could tell the boy was scared to death.

All three men also talked to Buck and told him to back off, let the investigation proceed and the facts come out. Buck just listened to them without comment. As far as he was concerned Vin was finally showing his true colors.

The young sharpshooter had been with the team for only six months yet had quickly become close to the blond team leader. Chris thought the sun rose and set on the younger man and Buck was sick of watching his old friend being manipulated.

The little voice that told Buck he was looking for a reason to hate Vin was ignored, as was the voice that told him that he was just jealous that his old friend had grabbed Vin up like a long lost friend and from the start treated him like a brother. Sure he noticed that Chris smiled more and laughed more since the young quiet spoken man had entered his life but hell it was about time that Chris came out of his three year isolation. Buck firmly told himself that it was just coincidence that Vin arrived the same time that Chris was ready to rejoin the living.

What really pissed Buck off was that Chris believed Vin when Tanner had told him that he did not think the kid shot anyone. Buck had slammed into the blond's office and argued with his old friend to no avail.

That had been four days ago.

Nathan also kept his head down and worked even while shooting little glances at his two teammates. It didn't take a brain surgeon for anyone to see that Buck was jealous of Vin. Granted Buck was upset about his friend who was in the hospital but Tanner had nothing to do with that. Nathan also knew that Buck would have to learn the hard way. The man had a tendency to let his emotions rule his actions yet in the end his big heart always won out and Nathan was sure that this time would be no different.

After all up until this incident Buck and Vin had gotten along fine. Sure they were not best friends but they kidded around and teased each other all the time.

Another reason Nathan kept glancing up was that Vin not been feeling well for several days. The cough was worse and he was worried that it might develop into bronchitis or even pneumonia. Maybe tonight at Inez's where the four men were planning on eating and drinking he could corner the younger man and convince him to see the doctor.

Nathan snorted. Yeah right like Vin Tanner would willingly go to the doctor. It hadn't taken but a couple of weeks on the job for Vin to be in the ER. It was only a bullet graze but it had bled a lot. Tanner had insisted he was fine and it had taken Chris's glares and threats to get Vin to the ER and even then the only thing that kept him there had been the blond standing next to him.

Buck listened to Tanner's cough and figured it served him right. JD had told Buck when he had left for the conference that he had told Vin that he could stay at their place while he was gone. It seemed that the apartment building where Vin lived had lost their furnace and there was no heat in the building.

Buck had not argued with his roommate but at the first opportunity he had told Tanner that he was not welcome at the condo and to find a hotel room.

Vin had too much pride to tell Chris about his troubles so the blond did not know that Vin had no heat in his building. The trouble being that he had no money to go to a hotel. Credit cards were something he just had no use for and with his last paycheck he had used a big portion of it to help old Mrs. Gardner to buy her medication for her heart trouble. The elderly lady had no idea that Vin helped her purchase her medicine. Vin had found out her money just did not stretch very far so he told her that he had arranged for her to be enrolled in a government plan and her meds would only require a co-pay. Mrs. Gardner happily paid him the thirty dollars every month to pick up her medication since it was on his way home.

Generally Vin had no trouble helping his elderly neighbor and taking care of his own needs but when the furnace went out he helped Mrs. Gardner and Mrs. Connors get rooms at a local hotel. After all he would be spending the nights at JD and Bucks so he would be fine. At least that was the plan until Buck got a bee up his butt.

Mrs. Connors vowed to pay him back and Vin knew she would even if it took her awhile. Vin knew better than to tell her to forget it, she had a lot of pride and was trying to instill that in her three kids. She had been going to tough it out in the cold apartment but with the kids she just couldn't do it.

Mrs. Gardner told Vin that while she didn't have extra money she wanted him to come for dinner a couple of times a week as payment for helping her get somewhere warm.

Vin agreed after all everyone had their pride no matter how old they might be. Needless to say the two ladies had no idea that their Robin Hood of a neighbor now had no money to stay somewhere warm and had no where to go because Vin had pride to.

Chris had already been hovering a little over him. Hell the irritating cowboy had even been checking him for a fever. The blond was worse than Nathan about wanting him to go to the doctor. At least he was spending the weekend at Larabee's ranch; he could get warm there. Chris was having him out to ride the horses and just relax. Then that Sunday the guys were coming out for beer and football.

The conference was over late Friday so the other three men would be able to be there on Sunday.

That night all four men sat around the table at Inez's enjoying the good hot food and cold beer.

Chris noticed that Vin was even more quiet than usual. Looking over at Buck he caught a glare cast at the younger man by his old friend. Buck had been making a few pointed comments about Vin's belief that the young black kid was innocent.

Chris hated to step in between the two men. It would make Vin feel that his boss did not trust him to stick up for himself. It would piss Buck off even more to have Vin defended by his old friend. So Chris remained silent satisfying himself with a lethal glare that backed Buck off just a bit.

There was not a mean bone in Buck's body, but when his dander was up Buck just rode with his emotions and this was one of those times.

Vin's head was pounding as his headache grew worse and his throat felt like he had swallowed glass. Nathan had cornered him earlier in the office and had told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to see a doctor. Vin promised to go in a couple of days if he wasn't better.

Chris had questioned him not long after they got to eating and asked how he was feeling. Vin figured it was because his cough was persistent and he was just pushing his food around on his plate not eating anything.

When he responded with his usual 'I'm fine' the blond had just rolled his eyes, while Nathan had chuckled.

Buck on the other hand found himself saying, "Damn Tanner even you being just a high school graduate should be able to figure out you're sick."

Buck cringed when he heard the words coming out of his mouth. The words and tone were nasty, stinging and aimed to hurt.

Hurt they did.

Vin paled even more if that was possible. Nathan growled Buck's name and threw the big man a dirty look.

Chris started to stand up and light into the man but Vin put his hand out and rested it on Chris's arm.

"Don't cowboy. I don't want an argument and after all I did just graduate high school and didn't get to go to college," Vin softly said his blue eyes imploring the blond to keep his cool.

"You did a hell of lot more. You joined the Army Rangers and they just don't accept just anyone. Then you became a bounty hunter and brought in some of the meanest bastards around, some of them the FBI couldn't even find. No you didn't go to college you brought yourself up the hard way and I'm damn proud of you," Chris firmly said his green eyes blazing with affection as they looked at the younger man.

Vin blushed and dropped his eyes as he felt the warmth of Chris's pride and affection surround him. It made him feel so good to have such a good friend, someone who always had his back.

Nathan piped up, "That's right, Vin and to top it off you are the best damn sharpshooter in the ATF. I for one am very glad of that because you've saved all our butts at least once."

Buck was still pissed about Tanner defending what he considered a cop shooter but he knew that his comment had been over the line…way over the line.

"Sorry, Tanner. I shouldn't have said that, it was uncalled for. I'm just pissed about…"

"Drop it, Buck. You have your opinion and Vin has his. The boy is innocent until proven guilty or did you forget that part of the law?"

Buck just clamped his mouth shut and refused to comment.

A few minutes later Vin stood up and said he was leaving. While he was not looking forward to another freezing night in his apartment he was tired of having Wilmington glare at him all the time. Besides he had caught the dirty looks from some of the local cops in his direction because of his questions and defense of Scott.

Before Vin could stand up Chris put his hand on the sharpshooters forehead to check for a temperature.

Vin jerked back before the hand could land on his forehead and frowned at his friend. He could tell he was running a temperature and didn't want Chris to worry about it.

"Not a damn kid, Chris."

"Then quit acting like one and see a damn doctor or I'll drag you there," Larabee threatened smiling to take the sting out of his words.

Vin stood up and muttered, "Damn interfering cowboy thinks he knows it all and can't leave a man alone."

"I heard that Vin and if you weren't such a scrawny assed stubborn cuss you'd have gone to the doctor days ago."

Vin gave his friend his version of the Larabee glare, which had absolutely no impact on the blond. Of course the Larabee glare had no impact on him so it was an even match.

"I'm fine. Now I am going home and I will see you tomorrow."

"Don't forget you're coming out to he ranch after work tomorrow," Chris reminded his friend deciding to drop the issue of Vin's illness for now. If they kept it up then Vin would just dig in his heels and would never see a doctor.

Vin smiled, "I remember. I'll be there."

Buck watched the exchange between the two men. It was very apparent that Chris thought Vin could do no wrong and that just made him furious.

There was no way that Tanner was the shining light that Chris thought he was. No way in hell. The guy even lived in Purgatory and why was that unless he was involved in the illegal dealings that went on down there.

Deep down Buck knew that Vin was not involved in anything illegal, but again his emotions were on a roll.

Buck waited a couple of minutes until Chris got up to use the bathroom and then made his excuses to Nathan. He wanted to have a chat with Tanner.

It would be good to nip this six month friendship in the bud now before Chris got even more attached to the sharpshooter. Tanner was liable to hurt the blond and that Buck would not allow.

As Buck headed to where he knew Tanners old beat up Jeep was he heard the sounds of a scuffle. Breaking into a run he saw two men holding Vin while a third man pounded his stomach and laid one on his jaw.

Buck yelled and the three men dropped Vin and took off running. They jumped into an extended cab Ford Truck. One that Buck recognized as belonging to a cop in the same precinct as the cop that was in the hospital. It seemed that others were royally pissed at Tanner.

Buck hurried over to the downed man and helped him to his feet. While he was mad at his teammate and didn't want the guy hanging around Chris there was such a thing as team loyalty and officers of the law should not go around beating up on each other.

Vin reached out and grabbed a hold of Buck's arm. He thought at first it was Chris or Nathan who had helped him and was surprised to see that it was Buck.

He figured the man would agree with his attackers, but he was wrong. Of course he thought Buck wouldn't want Chris to be upset about the attack and the blonds welfare was of the utmost importance to the big man.

Vin never wanted to come between the two friends and he now realized that his defense of Scott was putting a strain on the whole team and he never wanted that either.

At that moment he knew that the guys would be better off if he just left. Chris would be upset for a while but he would get over it and then the blond's friendship with Buck could heal.

Buck leaned the smaller man against the side of the jeep.

Grudgingly Buck asked, "You need to go to the ER?"

"No, I'm fine. Thanks," Vin responded.

"Just didn't want Chris upset because you got yourself beat up. Besides cops shouldn't go around beating up on each other."

Vin sighed. There it was Bucks concern for his old friend and Vin refused to interfere with that.

Vin opened the door and as he started to climb inside Buck said, "I really don't think you should spend the weekend at Chris's. If you cared about him you wouldn't want him to put himself in the line of fire with your defense of that kid. Just stay at the hotel where you are now. It's not like your freezing to death or anything."

Vin felt tears threaten. He had hoped to have this one last weekend with the man he had come to consider his family, his big brother, and the one person whose soul he knew better than his own.

Maybe it was better this way.

"Fine, Buck whatever you say. See ya," Vin said.

"Are you sure you don't want to go to the doctor? I'll take you," Buck offered feeling guilty about his order and the guy did look a little pale.

Buck frowned as he watched the jeep pull away. That was easy yet, Tanner had sounded like he was close to tears. Buck decided he was imaging things and took himself home.

The next day Chris stormed into the office. It was very apparent that he was not in a good mood.

Buck finally went into the ATF leaders office after an hour of waiting for the blond to make an appearance.

"What's up stud?" Buck asked although he had an idea. Vin had not made an appearance in the office yet. Buck had a feeling that Vin did not want Chris to see his bruised jaw. Buck had to admit to himself with a feeling of shame that Vin probable did not want to see him after his little chat last night, a chat that he was feeling bad about. A chat that had kept him awake all night until he had realized what a royal bastard he had been to a man he considered a friend. A man who had done nothing to him, Vin's only crime was his sense of fair play. Chris said a person was innocent until proven guilty and Buck had forgotten that rule.

Buck was having that feeling again. That feeling that told him he was being an ass and that he was making one hell of a mistake that was going to jump up and bite him in the ass. Sometimes his mouth and temper just got the best of him and both had been running overtime lately. It seemed that when it came to Chris he just couldn't stop worrying over the man.

Chris looked up and sighed. The green eyes were sad and worried.

"Vin called before I left home and said he had something come up and wouldn't be in today and wouldn't be able to come out to the ranch this weekend. Damn it Buck I was really looking forward to having him with me the whole weekend. I enjoy his company and it gets him out of that hellhole he lives in. Besides he sounded like shit and I'm worried about him."

Buck felt that familiar pang of jealousy and this time he firmly squashed it and decided to really listen to his friend instead of jumping to conclusions.

"There's always next weekend. I think there is more to it than what you're saying. Vin had really gotten to you hasn't he?" Buck said.

The big man sat down and looked at the blond hoping that Chris would really talk with him. He wanted to know just how close Vin was to Chris and where he stood in the blonds life.

Chris looked hard at his old friend. For the first time he noticed what Buck was feeling and felt bad for not talking to the man earlier.

"Yeah, that scrawny assed cuss got under my skin the first day I laid eyes on him, but he never took your place Buck."

When Buck's eyes grew wide with shock Chris smiled.

"I'm sorry I never noticed before how it might look to you…Vin and I. Your relationship with JD is that of a big brother, it is the same with Vin and I. He is the kid brother I never had, the brother I always wanted, someone to watch over, and someone who needs me. I guess you could say I'm his stability he knows I'll always have his back and he can trust me. By the same token he gives me a sense of purpose and is my calm port in the storm."

Buck smiled a little. Now that made sense. Chris had always been one to take care of others. The blond was always at his best when he had someone who needed him, who looked up to him.

Buck's relationship with Chris had never been based on need. The two men were too independent, in some ways very different, yet in others very much alike.

They both needed to have someone to nurture, Buck had forgotten that in his jealousy.

Buck realized that he needed to tell Chris about the attack on Vin. Buck knew that Chris was aware of his little digs and comments to the sharpshooter and while the blond wanted to chew his ass he was willing to let the two men solve it themselves.

That would have been fine except that Vin while he stuck up for everyone else and would defend his friends to the end hardly ever stuck up for himself. Vin just took the comments and while he took them to heart he seldom struck back.

Buck figured it had something to do with Vin's childhood, a childhood he never talked about but one that he was sure Chris was aware of. The sharpshooter lacked self-confidence when it came to anything other than his awesome shooting skills.

Buck started to open his mouth to tell the blond about the attack on Vin and that he had been wrong to take his anger about his friends shooting out on Vin.

Just then the phone rang and Travis needed to see Chris in his office.

Chris paused at the door and looked at his old friend.

"Something else you wanted to talk about?"

"Not really. Just want to ease your mind. I was wrong to take my feelings out on Vin and I'll apologize to him…make everything fine between us."

Chris smiled and walked back over to the big man.

"Thanks Buck. I knew you'd come to your senses. You always do eventually," Chris laughed.

Buck grabbed the blond up in a bear hug even as he mock growled, "You think you know it all. Ha!"

Chris patted the broad shoulder and the two men left the office.

"No I don't. But I know you and I know Vin."

With that last comment the blond was gone.

Nathan glanced at his teammate with his eyebrow raised in question.

"I know, Nate, I know. I just told Chris I was wrong and I plan on apologizing to Junior."

"Well that apology couldn't come at a better time."

"What do you mean?"

"I took a call at Vin's phone. It was a neighbor of his a Mrs. Gardner. She just wanted to check on her boy and wanted to tell him that her daughter was divorcing her rich abusive husband. The daughter was on her way to pick her mom up. Lady wanted to let Vin know that she was leaving town. Seems the women are leaving the area and a moving company will pack the old lady up."

"Well that's great news. I know Vin mentioned the lady and seemed to worry over her."

"Yeah, glad the younger one got out of that relationship, but that's not why I'm worried. Mrs. Gardner was under the impression that Vin was staying with friends since the apartment building has no heat and hasn't had heat for days. Now I know he's not with Josiah and Ezra since they are out of town. He hasn't been bunking with Rain and I. Chris has not mentioned Vin being with him and the way you've been acting I know he's not with you. So Buck I figure Vin's at his cold apartment."

"I told him to get a hotel room. Damn that stubborn little shit," Buck hissed as he grabbed his coat up.

"He had no money to get a room. Mrs. Gardner was a talkative little lady. Seems Vin was paying for her and a widow with three kids to stay at a hotel. He told them that he was staying with friends and would be fine."

There was no censure in Nathan voice but Buck felt guilt cover his shoulders.

"Ezra is right, Junior is like a Robin Hood. Well I can tell you this he is going to take care of himself first starting today. I am going over to his place and haul his carcass to the doctor, and then I'm taking him to Chris's. Hopefully with some fast-talking I can convince him to move in with Chris. Those two are alone way too much and besides brothers should stick together. Chris worries about him all the time and Vin needs to live somewhere safe."

Buck stormed out of the offices totally missing Nathan's look of satisfaction.

Sometimes stubborn men just needed a little shove to make things right and Nathan was more than happy to provide it.

Pulling up in front of Vin's apartment building he parked behind Vin's beat up jeep. Walking by the old jeep Buck noticed that it had a duffle bag and a beat up suitcase in the back.

Buck knew in that instant that Vin was planning on leaving. From talking with Chris Buck knew that Vin had few possessions and had not bought the furniture in his place it was left there by the previous owner.

Buck stomped inside and up the stairs. Well if Junior thought he was leaving the team…. his family…his brothers then he had another thing coming.

Buck knocked on the door probably harder than he needed to. The big man couldn't help but notice that the hallway was just as cold as it was outside with the wind whistling through the poorly built building.

The door was jerked open and when Vin saw whom it was he tried to slam it shut. Buck caught the door and pushed it open.

Vin flashed him a dirty look and started to walk away, wanting to totally ignore the man.

Buck reached out and grabbed one of the younger mans arms.

When Vin went to jerk away he started coughing causing him to get dizzy and he stumbled.

Buck hissed under his breath as he gripped Vin's arm and pulled the slender body into his arms.

Vin tensed up but the coughing made him weak, his throat was killing him and he just felt so bad he wanted to cry, besides even though he knew Buck was pissed off at him he knew the big man wouldn't physically hurt him.

Buck felt the slender body shivering and pulled Vin closer as he rubbed his friends back soothingly. Damn Vin was sicker than he thought.

Suddenly the heat hit him. Fuck, Vin was burning up yet the room was like an icebox.

Buck went to push Vin away from him so he could look the sharpshooter in the eyes, but Vin just wrapped his arms around his waist and wouldn't let go.

Vin was burning up yet he was also so cold and it felt so good to have strong safe arms wrapped around him.

Buck felt all the affection he felt towards JD and Chris rise to the surface. Here was another damaged soul who needed him and by damn if he wasn't up to the task.

Chris wasn't the only one who liked to be needed and liked to look after those who needed it and right now Vin needed it.

"Junior, you have one hell of a temperature and since you're to damn stubborn to go to the doctor I'm taking you."

When Vin tried to jerk away Buck just wrapped his arms tighter around the slender body and held on tight.

Slowly the rigid muscles relaxed until Vin was again leaning into the broad chest cradling him.

Vin sighed deeply. This was the Buck that he knew and loved not the abrasive sharp-tongued man he had been around for the last few days.

Buck knew that he needed to get going and hustle Vin to the doctor but he just had to savor the quiet moment in spite of the coldness that was seeping into his bones.

"I'm so sorry, Vin for being an ass. I hope that you can forgiv…"

Bucks apology was cut off as Vin put some space between them.

Buck winced when he saw the bruise adorning the side of the sharpshooter jaw due to the assault outside of Inez's. Chris was going to code over that.

Vin reached out and put his hand over Bucks chest.

"You're a good friend, Buck. Chris has been your best friend for a long time…a really really long time."

Buck frowned at the young man and gently cuffed him on the shoulder.

"Watch the old stuff, Junior," he growled.

Vin smiled at the lightened atmosphere, which was what he was aiming at.

"You were just looking out for him, just like you looked out for me last night. Sh…don't interrupt. You were pissed because your friend was shot and I stuck up for the supposed gunman. I can understand that, but last night when push came to shove you helped me. That is what a friend does. If it makes you feel better then I accept your apology."

Vin coughed and felt his arm taken by Buck who began leading him out of the apartment. It was obvious Buck was not going to continue the conversation until they were on their way to the doctor. Vin had given up trying to get out of going. Buck could be just as stubborn as their leader and besides he really did feel like shit.

Buck got Vin strapped into the truck, and then he tossed Vin's belongings from the jeep to his truck.

When Vin glanced at him questioning the move, Buck very firmly said, "I know Chris has been wanting you to move out of this neighborhood and to the ranch. He worries about you constantly, so today you are moving to the ranch and I don't want any arguments. You can visit your friends but you live at the ranch."

Buck's tone of voice made it clear that there would be no discussion.

Vin had to sigh. In truth as much as he liked to take care of his neighbors he wanted to live at the ranch. Chris had been at him for a long time to move and Vin figured it was time he did something for himself. He could still visit with the people and help them when he could.

On the way to the doctor who was an old friend of Buck's the phone rang.

Buck answered. Vin watched as the look on Buck's face went from happiness to shock to remorse.

Buck hung up the phone and then glanced at Vin.

"My friend is going to be just fine, going to take a couple of months to get back on his feet, but he is going to be fine."

Vin smiled, "That's great, Bucklin. I'm so glad."

Buck winced at the term of affection. Vin had not called him that for over a week since Buck had started taking potshots at the younger man.

"Stop looking like that Buck. I told you I forgave you. I want to forget the whole thing. It was just a disagreement. Friends have those you know. Hell, Chris and I disagree all the time and we haven't shot each other yet."

Buck slanted a look at the younger man, noticing that the blue eyes were bright with fever and the cheeks were bright red. Damn he had to get the boy to Doc and get some medicine in him. Chris was going to have a coronary if he saw how sick Vin was not to mention the bruises on the jaw. Hell, Vin probably had bruises elsewhere after being worked over.

"You were right Vin. They found the real shooter and have already let that kid go. I'm only going to say this once then we'll do what you want and drop it. I am sorry for doubting you and being a bastard. Friends don't have to agree on everything. The next time I start to get out of hand just hit me up the side of the head."

Vin smiled and chuckled.

"Well, hell Bucklin if I did that you'd have a concussion all the time," Vin drawled the Texas accent very pronounced.

Buck mock glared at the younger man then had to laugh.

They pulled up in front of the doctor's office.

As Buck went to get out of the truck, Vin placed his hand over his arm.

"I never wanted to come between your friendship with Chris. I am sorry if I did and that hurt you."

Vin's blue eyes shimmered with unshed tears.

Buck knew that if Vin had not felt so bad there was no way he would see these tears.

Buck placed his hand on the side of Vin's cheek.

"You never did that. I put you in the middle, but that will never happen again. I promise you Vin, that will NEVER happen again."

Vin looked his friend deep in the eyes and then smiled shyly dropping his eyes.

Buck grinned. No wonder the women fell all over themselves to get Junior's attention. That shy look, wide blue eyes and politeness killed them every time. Maybe he needed to try that some time. Naw, he was good as he was…no he was perfect the way he was.

Buck helped Vin out of the truck and they headed inside.

An hour later the two men were on their way to the ranch.

Vin kept shooting Buck dirty looks the kind that if they could kill would.

Buck thought that Vin was hanging around Chris too much. The blue-eyed glare was almost as good as their leaders green eyes glare.

In a cold hard voice Vin said with clenched teeth, "I will never let you take me to the doctor again."

Buck actually winced at the lethal tone in the younger mans voice.

"You are sick. You heard the Doc. You've got Bronchitis, a sinus infection and your throat is red as a fire," Buck patiently explained.

"The nurse gave me a shot, not in the arm but in my ass. The nurse pulled my pants down and gave me a shot in my ASS."

'Yeah, but Junior she was one good looking nurse. You got to learn to play your cards right. Those big blue eyes, those blushes hell I think she would have done anything to make you feel better. In fact…"

Here Buck's voice died off as he felt the heat of the laser sharp blue eyes boring into his head.

"Ah…you're right Vin. Just not right to yank a man's pants down and slide that needle in. Not right at all. I think in a few days I'll just go back and have a chat with her, tell her the error of her ways and see if I can't help her change her attitude for the better. Give her the Wilmington love treatment."

Vin couldn't help it he laughed so hard he started coughing hard enough that Buck had to pull off the side of the road and pat him on the back and give him a drink of water.

Vin was exhausted after his coughing attack but he smiled at his friend.

"Bucklin you are so full of shit."

"I know it Junior, but you love me anyway."

"Yes I do," Vin said quietly gazing at the big man.

Buck felt his face warm up as he blushed. Damn Texan loved to do that. Throw you off guard, but make you feel so good.

Gruffly he said, "You just lay your head back and rest. I'll wake you up when we get to the ranch."

Vin nodded his head and shut his eyes, he was feeling real tired.

A couple of hours later Vin woke up and found himself lying on the sofa in Chris's house.

Noises coming from the kitchen told him where Buck was.

Snuggling down under the afghan that was thrown over him, Vin basked in the warmth of the fire that had been started in the fireplace. However, his bladder told him he needed to get up.

Groaning at the aches and pains that made themselves known he struggled to sit up which wasn't easy due to his sore stomach and bruised ribs. The thought fleetingly crossed his mind that it was going to be difficult to keep his injuries from being known by the blond.

A hand reached out and helped him to sit up. A sense of knowing, of leashed anger and overwhelming concern washed over him and he knew that Chris already knew what had happened.

When he had caught his breath he glanced to the side and sure enough the blond was sitting right next to him, keeping a grip on his arm so he didn't fall over.

The green eyes flashed to the bruise on his jaw and the way his arm was wrapped around his ribs. Anger vied with concern in the swirling green gaze.

Jaw clenched tight Chris growled, "How are you feeling? I want the truth, Vin no hedging this time."

Vin swallowed and winced at the pain. Chris immediately popped a throat lozenge out of the packed and held it out close to Vin's mouth.

It was obvious that Chris did not trust Vin to put it in his mouth so the younger man obligingly opened his mouth.

Chris dropped it in and Vin sucked on it relaxing a bit as his throat began to feel a little better.

Looking at Chris through his long lashed Vin realized that it was time to tell the whole story, at least most of it. Vin had no intention of dragging Buck into the mess. What happened between the two of them stayed between the two of them?

Vin spent the next few minutes telling Chris about the assault, not feeling well and that Buck had taken him to the doctor and brought him out here. The sharpshooter made no mention of the times Buck had made nasty comments to him when no one had been around. There was no reason to mention it; it was in the past where it would remain.

Chris sat still assimilating everything. Unbeknownst to Vin, Buck had already told Chris everything, ending with the fact that he had apologized to Vin and everything was fine.

Chris kept his eyes on Vin, taking in the bruised pale face except for red cheeks due to fever, the wheezy shallow breathing, and the downcast eyes.

Chris knew that Vin was keeping the part about Buck to himself. Vin was never able to look him in the eyes when he was lying or trying to hide something. Chris was not about to call the young man on it this time.

It was apparent that his two friends had resolved their differences and did not need his intervention.

However, "Damn it Tanner. Why didn't you go to the doctor before you had to be dragged there?" Chris exploded.

Vin looked up startled. There was no doubt Chris knew he was hiding something but the blond had decided to let it slide this one time.

Before Vin could comment Chris went on a tangent about stubborn mule headed sharpshooters who come down with bronchitis, run a fever then get beat on and still refuses to see the doctor.

"Not a kid, Larabee so shut the hell up," Vin snarled back.

"Then quit acting like one. Next time you get sick or someone beats on you I want to know about it. Got it?" Chris snarled right back.

Vin bit back his comment, which was not very nice.

After all Chris was only worried about him and it was nice to be worried about.

"Got it. I'll tell you, okay?" Vin said not realizing that he sounded like he was pouting.

Chris bit back a smile, after all Vin had a good right cross and he sure didn't want a matching bruise on his jaw.

"Fine. I just worry about you and I am so glad your are moving out here."

Vin looked up at that sincere comment.

Smiling slightly he whispered, "I am to, be glad of some peace and quiet for once."

Just then Vin's bladder made itself known.

With Larabee's help Vin went to the restroom. When he finished Chris was waiting right outside the door.

Vin grumbled about mother hen ATF leaders who needed to mind their own damn business, but in truth he was glad for the steady hand at his elbow and the arm around his waist.

Chris tucked Vin back down on the sofa and promised to wake him when dinner was ready.

"Thanks, Chris for everything," Vin murmured as his eyes slid shut.

Chris leaned over and brushed the long hair back off the sleeping mans face not knowing that Buck was watching him from the kitchen doorway.

"You are very welcome cowboy."

Buck smiled in satisfaction as he turned around to finish with dinner.

All was well in his world. Vin was going to get well and he was on good standing with the younger man. Vin had a big brother to take care of him and Chris had someone to take care of.

Hearing Chris come into the kitchen Buck knew there was only one thing to be taken care of.

Green eyes met blue.

"Thanks Buck for taking care of him."

"You are welcome stud. Now we need to figure out how to pay back the guys who hurt him."

Chris smiled and Buck felt a shiver go down his spine. He actually felt sorry for the three men who had beat on the young man.

"Oh I have some ideas…some real good ideas."

Buck laughed and sat down at the kitchen table. It was just like old times between the two old friends except now they had two kid brothers to take care of and three friends to help out on the revenge.

The two men plotted for awhile and so it was that the three men who had dared to lay hands on Chris Larabees kid brother paid a painful price a couple of weeks later as they were paid a visit by the seven men known as the best ATF team in the country.

It would be a long time before they took the law into their own hands.

Vin settled in at the ranch like he had always lived there. Buck watched, as Chris became the Chris of old. Sure he still missed his family but Vin filled the void to a big extent and Buck was thankful that the blue-eyed Texan had come into all their lives.