Disclaimer: I do not own or profit from the borrowing of the characters of the Magnificent 7. Thank you to MOG creator of the ATF and thank you to the creators of the LB universe.
Comments: I have to explain. I enjoy the LB universe, but decided to take it one step further-How are the JD and Vin characters going to become the characters we know? So The little britches have grown into young men. Vin's is 18. Thank you to MOG for betaing. Winter and Stacie it's fun getting to know you guys. To the RB-see ya soon!
Vin sat and waited. He kept touching his hair self-consciously. He wrapped his hands around the glass in front of him. Chris would be home soon. They all offered to stay with him, but Tanner decided he needed to do this on his own.
"Hey, Buck went to get some takeout. . ." Larabee entered the front door and announced dinner plans to the occupants of the house.
"JD's out and I'm in the kitchen." Vin yelled out, but didnt move.
Chris walked into the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator and took out a can of soda. "How was school today?" Larabee questioned as he popped open the can. He turned around and almost dropped the soda, juggling it at first and spilling a few drops on the floor. "What the hell happened to you?"
Vin bowed his hand and ran a hand through his rough shorn locks. "Ezra took me for a haircut. . ."
" He took you to his fancy hair designer or whatever the hell he calls her and you paid how much for that ?" Chris shook his head.
"Listen, Chris. . ." Vin paused. He had practiced it so many times with JD. "I asked Ezra to take me to get a haircut, figured I would need to get used to a crew cut." Tanner swallowed. He had drunk two glasses of water waiting for his father to return home and still his mouth was dry.
Larabee put down his soda and waited for his son to finish.
Tanner took a deep breath and returned the gaze levelly. "I joined the Army."
Chris pulled out the chair and sank down. He rubbed the back of his neck. "Why?"
"I don't have book smarts. I dont want you wasting money on sending me to college. . ."
Larabee cut off his line of thinking. "It's not a waste of money."
"It is when I know that I am good at something else. You know I can shoot, Chris-you taught me." Tanner smiled thinking of all the times at the range. "And I got my black belt in karate. . ." He was even teaching part time at the dojo for the kids' classes.
Chris wiped down the condensation on the soda can with his hand. "What about JD?"
"He knows. He thinks it's a good idea." Vin stood up to refill his glass of water. "Dont worry, he's not going to join when he turns 18."
"Great, so now I only have you to worry about." Chris drank his soda. "Ezra, and the others- they know?"
"Yeah, I talked to them first." Vin sat back down across from his father.
Chris nodded. "You should have talked to me."
"I was afraid you would talk me out of it."
"Maybe I would have." Chris crushed the can and threw it into the recycling bin. "Vin, the army, you'll be taking orders."
"I can take orders-when they are right." Tanner leaned back in the kitchen chair and crossed his arms.
"The Army don't care if they are right you still gotta follow them." Vin just shrugged his shoulders. Chris sighed. "When do you go?
"Two weeks after graduation."
Part 2 -Two years later
"Vin!! Over here!" JD was jumping up and down to get his cousin's attention as he deplaned on the tarmac.
"Give the boy a chance!" Buck said to JD before he began waving too. "He looks good, Chris. Don't you think he looks good?"
"Yeah," Larabee replied and took Vin in through his sunglasses. Chris was startled at the man a few feet way from him. All grown up, still lanky with a chiseled muscular face. All evidence of the boy was gone. Instead a soldier in green was before him.
Sergeant Tanner gave a tight smile to JD. He put up one finger and went over to an officer. They spoke for a few minutes and then Vin saluted and came towards his family.
Vin didn't even get a chance to put down his duffel bag before he was enveloped in multiple hugs.
"Josiah, Nate, Ez, Nettie and everyone else are back at the house waiting for you." Wilmington ruffled Vin's short hair.
"A welcome home party!" JD explained and picked up his cousin's duffel bag.
Vin took the baggage back and slung it over his shoulder. "You didn't have to throw a party."
"If you dont want to see them. . ." Chris put his hand on Vin's shoulder.
Buck laughed and stole the duffel bag back. "Of course he wants to see them. . ."
"It's fine. I have gifts for everyone too." He replied as they escorted him to the truck.
Vin didnt remember what he had for dinner, just that Nettie kept putting more on his plate. He sat on the couch nursing the same beer for the past hour. Josiah and Nathan were telling him about Ezra's mother's last visit.
"She told us some stories about Ezra. . ." Josiah gave a snort of a laugh and shook his head.
Nathan began to chuckle. "She promised us butt naked baby pictures next time."
"I burned those quite a long time ago." Ezra replied calmly. "Do you really believe I would leave items which could be used to blackmail me?"
"We're your friends, we wouldnt blackmail you. . ." Buck picked up a beer bottle to place in the trash. "Just hand them out all over the office."
"Anyway, it seems our guest of honor is exhausted." Standish stood up from sitting on the couch.
Vin waved his hands to deter the concern. "Just some jetlag."
"Get some rest, Vin. We'll catch up later." Josiah said as he followed the others out of the room.
Tanner drained the rest of his beer, then let his head rest in his hands for a moment.
Chris was concerned. "Vin, are you all right?"
Vin snapped his head back up. "Yeah, fine, Chris. I just need some sleep."
JD had walked Casey to her car, the young woman was a new addition to Nettie's household while Vin was away. "I rearranged our room a little, if you don't like it we can move it back."
With a groan Vin stood up and followed JD up the stairs. "So are you and Casey an item?"
JD laughed. "Vin, you're delirious!"
From the kitchen the two men heard the two younger men harrassing each other.
Larabee was loading dishes and utensils in the dishwasher while Buck was picking up the trash.
"What are you thinking, Chris?"
"Nothing, Buck," Chris closed the dishwasher and set the wash cycle. "Just-his eyes are old. . ."
"Hell, his eyes were always old. He seems to be fine. In his letters and calls he always sounds happy." Buck sat down and finished his beer. He passed one to Chris.
Larabee took the bottle. "I just dont know."
"Talk to him." Wilmington replied and then enjoyed the knowledge that both boys were safe upstairs in bed.
"Sorry, I hope I didn't make too much noise." Vin was stirring a mug of the blackest instant coffee Chris had ever seen.
"No, I always get up early." Larabee yawned, eyeing the clock, which said 5 a.m.
"Yeah," Tanner sipped his coffee then reached for the sugar, adding two heaping tablespoons.
Chris grimaced. "So, what do they have you doing in the army?"
"This and that," Vin took a gulp of coffee.
Larabee took down the coffee can and the filter to make coffee for everyone else. "So you pretty much can not confirm or deny?"
"Chris. . ."
The blond turned around to his son. "Vin, I was a Navy Seal. I know."
"Yes, sir." Tanner shifted his eyes to the floor.
"I'm not sir, I'm Chris or Dad." Larabee sighed. "Talk to me."
"Not much to say." Vin drained the coffee. He held the mug in his two hands and brought it to the sink where he rinsed it out. "I'm good at what I do and coming back to this I feel like a mess."
Chris gestured for the young man to pass him the cup. He dried it off and placed it on the rack. "I don't know where you've been, but this will always be your home."
"I know." Vin looked around the room.
Chris pushed Vin towards the door. "Why don't you go back to bed. There'll be pancakes waiting for you when you wake up."
Larabee laughed. They had stopped the Sunday tradition when Vin left. "No, Aunt Jemima."
Vin fidgeted with the guest badge clipped onto his shirt. Chris and Buck were going to take them out to lunch. Today was allegedly a slow day. When the elevator opened though there seemed to be lots of action. Chris waved from his office. "Hey, we'll just be a minute. Come on in."
Josiah and Chris were looking over a schematic. Sanchez flashed the peace sign and then refocused on the map.
"Okay, so here and here." Larabee pointed.
"I'll confirm it with Team 3." Sanchez replied. He patted Tanner on the shoulder as he exited the office.
"So where are we going to lunch?" Chris grabbed his jacket.
"Chris, it's none of my business, but are those points for snipers?" Vin changed the subject as his stomach growled with thoughts of eating at the saloon.
Larabee paused for a moment. "Yes, we have a deal going down tomorrow."
Vin circled the plans. "I don't think it looked right."
Chris nodded. "Josiah, can you come back here."
Sanchez came in and Larabee raised his hand. Josiah smiled and crossed his arms.
"Change the position to here." Vin placed his finger on a different area of the schematic.
"What do you think?" The team leader smiled at the large man.
"I'll ask Team 3, but Vin has a point."
Tanner shrugged his shoulders, glancing between the two men to gauge if they had taken him seriously. Satisfied they would consider his suggestion his stomach growled again. "How about lunch?"
Vin had climbed the tree in the backyard, looking out to the Four Corners vista. He enjoyed the cool air and the silence of the night. JD was doing his homework, and Vin just wanted time to take in the view without having to point a gun. He heard someone push open the backdoor.
"Kelly was impressed, and wanted to know who knew their shit." Chris said, knowing the young man was in the tree. It had been his favorite place as a child other than riding Peso.
"So it worked out? No one killed?" Vin replied, climbing nimbly down the tree and jumping the remaining three feet to land on the soft lawn with a thump.
"Yeah, Nate was happy-not even a paper cut." Larabee sat on the plastic lawn chair left out year round on the patio.
"Good," Tanner at next to him, looking out to the night sky, enjoying the stars.
There was silence for awhile. "Think I'll check the horses." Vin got up and stretched.
"Two more years, you think you're going to make it." Chris said leaning back in the chair, looking up to his son.
Vin didn't turn around. He shivered slightly even though the air was warm. "Gonna half to."
"Didn't have to join to begin with." It was said matter-of- factly. It was an issue they had never discussed. But, Chris wanted some answers.
Vin sat down again and sighed. "Sure I did so I could get to where I want to go."
Chris was puzzled. "To see the world?"
Vin laughed, he would be happy just in Four Corners. "To be an ATF agent, wanted to be one since I met you."
"Vin. . ." The blond man placed a hand on his son's arm.
Tanner shrugged. "I can't hack college, but figured like Ezra said, I could come in through a back door."
"I guess he would know more about back doors." Larabee said under his breath with a reminder to talk to the undercover agent.
Vin turned to his father. "You understand, I had to do it on my own, couldn't be comin' in cause I'm Larabee's kid."
Chris shook his head. He swallowed the knot, which had formed, in his throat. "No one would think that . . ."
Tanner gave a lazy grin. "Sure they would."
That being said Tanner stood up to check on the horses. He smiled when he heard the words his father said into the night air.
"Vin, I'm proud of you."