Family and More

by Mary Ann

This was in answer to a challenge to the Vin Feedback group – the first paragraph was provided and we had to make a story from it. This story is sort of a two-parter in one. The second part answers a question that rises in the first part. Thanks to Mog for creating this universe, I just borrowed the guys for a while.

Beta Lacy

Characters: Vin & the others

‘There had been a time when he hadn't needed to consider how his actions might affect anyone but himself.  That time was gone.  He now had family.  A family that would stand with him no matter the consequences of the recent events.  He looked around at the others and wondered . . . Could he have done anything differently?’

‘Where’s everyone? ... Where’m I? ... Where are you Cowboy? ... Why’m I alone?’ ... Vin turned his head slowly, dazed eyes glanced around the white hospital room, the dream of his ties to the men he called family still rolling around in his head. Suddenly tears washed down his pale cheeks as some of his memory returned in force, fighting with his last memory, ‘His family was no more!’ He tried to raise his left hand to wipe his face, but found it was immobile and panic ran through him. With a silent cry he looked down and saw it was restrained, and thick bandages covered his shoulder, and upper arm.

‘Oh, God, what did I do? Are they alright?’ he moaned as pain flared through him, not only from his shoulder, but his heart too. He felt himself starting to give in to the panic of being tied down.

“It’s all right Mr. Tanner. You will be fine. I’ll release your arm; we didn’t want you to injure it while you were unconscious,” a gentle voice told him, and he felt his arm released, and then a cloth wiped over his face. “The doctor got the bullet out, everything is clean, and if there are no complications, you might be able to go home later today. But for now you need to get some rest, so just relax, and sleep,” the nurse told him as she adjusted the IV antibiotic drip. “Your team will be notified that you’re awake,” she said with a smile at him.

“Don’t have a team anymore,” Vin ground out turning his head away from the woman.

Janice frowned, wondering what was going on; she’d been surprised when she came on duty at 1am that Vin Tanner was alone. The black-clad blond, Chris Larabee, was always by his side. The whole time Vin was in the hospital he was never left alone. Shaking her head she patted the young man’s shoulder, “Get some rest. You need it.” Dimming the light she left, but she felt his grief-stricken eyes following her out the door. She wasn’t sure what she could do for him. She had to get a hold of Larabee. Tanner shouldn’t be alone, and it was Christmas Eve. Noting that it was two thirty in the morning, she debated about making that call. With a glance back into the room at the disconsolate looking man, she made her decision and hurried to the nurse’s station.

Vin curled up on his right side as best he could, pulling the blankets tight around him; he was cold and didn’t think he’d ever get warm again. He wished he was dead as memories started flying into his head. Tears again over-filled his eyes and rolled unheeded down his face.

Almost three weeks ago he’d been loaned to Team 1 for a big undercover bust that they were working on. A man named Graves was selling contaminated drugs and alcohol that were killing young people, and the team had been working to take him and his cohorts down for almost two months. Their sharpshooter had been injured in a bad fall, and they needed another one, one who could also go undercover if need be. The plans were complicated, and he’d had to go undercover with two other agents from the time he’d become involved. They’d been put up in a house, at the very edge of the eastern most housing area on the far side of the city. With no contact with anyone outside, other than their one contact and the dealer, he’d been cut off from his teammates and missed them terribly.

He’d been excited about the Christmas season. He’d gotten all his Christmas shopping done early and was anxiously waiting for their Christmas Eve get-together. It was the first Christmas that the team had been together and he couldn’t wait; the seven had made a tight bond between them over the last nine months. But, when this assignment came along, everything had fallen through. He’d been whisked away from his team, and found himself among people he didn’t know and several who took delight in making his life miserable for one reason or another.

The bust was set up for Christmas Eve day, and at the last minute Graves had decided he didn’t like the longhaired Vincent, so Vin was able to take the high point during the bust. It had taken place two miles from the house they’d been in. Just as they were getting set up, Chuck, one of Team 1’s agents he’d been stuck in the house with, had cornered Vin and with an evil grin told him that he’d finally been permanently assigned to their team and he’d not be going back to Team 7. Vin had been shocked, and told him in no uncertain terms there was no way he’d agree with that transfer. Chuck’s buddy, Henry, who’d been silently listening, smiled and told him it was too late, he was theirs, and Team 7 didn’t want him any longer. The transfer was done; he couldn’t get out of it. It was as they had told him all along, over the last few weeks; he was officially on their team.

With laughs they’d left him stunned, their cruel words ringing in his ears, but there was nothing he could do at that time. The bust was ready to go down. Chuck and Henry had been telling him the truth, he was suppose to stay with their team after the bust, from the first days he’d gone undercover with them, but he had shrugged it off. Now he had no time to think of what they were pressing into his head.

The huge barn afforded plenty of cover and Graves had been captured fairly easy, though a gunfight began just as the man was handcuffed. His men hadn’t been happy he had been taken. Once the ATF and Sheriff’s were able to get the upper hand, the shooting stopped, and Vin came down from his high position. He was walking towards the wide doors when, a noise from a pile of hay behind and to the side, made him pause and start to turn towards it just as someone rose out of the covering and started shooting. He was hit in the back of his shoulder before he had time to raise his gun and fire back. He managed to shoot as he was falling to the ground and killed the man. Chuck and Henry were the first ones to reach him and while Henry checked his wound they impressed upon him again, that his old team didn’t want anything to do with him, he was theirs. He was dead to them. Vin passed out with their words ringing in his ear.

Devastated, Vin pulled the blankets tighter as he glanced at the bag hanging on the IV pole, not much liquid was left in the bag. He decided to rest until it was empty then leave. If he wasn’t wanted by his family, Team 7, he’d just disappear, there was no way would he work for Team 1, no matter what they said. He dozed off, his heart aching almost as much as his shoulder.

Janice held her breath as the phone rang. “Larabee. This better be good!” She heard the grumble on the other end of the line, and almost hung up, but the sight of Tanner washed over her and she pushed on.

“Mr. Larabee, this is Janice Williams, nurse at Denver General. I needed to call you about one of your men.”

“What? Who?”

“Agent Tanner, he was wounded earlier today.”


Janice could hear movement at the other end, and continued. “He was brought in around one pm yesterday afternoon with a gunshot wound to his back, well his shoulder; it went in the back ...”

“Is he alright?”

”Physically, he can be released tomorrow, mentally, I don’t think so. I think he needs someone here with him.”

“He’s alone? I’ll kill Davis, why didn’t he let me know where Vin was? Get ready, we need to get to the hospital...” Janice heard Larabee tell someone, and she thought more of his team was there.

“Janice? Can you keep an eye on him? We’ll be there in, damn, it’s snowing ... Give me at least forty-five minutes. Don’t leave him alone, he might disappear if he’s able.”

“I’ll keep an eye on him for you. He’s in room 523, seventh floor.”

“Thanks.” The line went dead and Janice hoped that Larabee didn’t do anything crazy in order to get there faster. The roads were treacherous when they were covered with ice and snow. Replacing the receiver she made sure there wasn’t any calls and hurried back down the hall to Vin’s room. She peeked into the room and saw that he was asleep, bundled up like a mummy. Entering the room she grabbed another blanket and spread it over the sleeping sharpshooter, then quietly left again, she would make sure that she or another nurse would check him every ten minutes until Larabee got there.

Chris flew off the elevator thirty minutes later, followed by several white faced teammates. Chris barely looked at the nurses behind the nearby desk, just headed for Vin’s room. Buck paused to let the nurses know they had arrived; Janice looked at him and swung her eyes to the chestnut haired man by his side. Both men looked sick, though the shorter man looked almost green.

“Are you two all right?”

“Madam, we are in good health, if you can call a journey with a wild-man, who has no concern for his passengers, in that monstrosity he calls a truck, with these road conditions. We are fine,” Ezra told her as he wiped his handkerchief over his whitish-green, sweat covered face.

Hiding a grin, Janice pointed down the hall where Chris had disappeared. “Mr. Tanner is in 523, seven doors down. He needs you all I believe. It isn’t visiting hours, but you better go in.”

Buck and Ezra hurried down the hall to the room and quietly entered, and found Chris standing beside the only bed with someone in it. Exchanging glances they settled in two of the three chairs in the room.

Vin sensed someone beside him and slowly opened his eyes. In shock, he gazed up at the one person he thought he’d never see again. Blinking, he felt his eyes fill. Ch … Chris?

Yes Vin. What happened to you? Why didn’t anyone call me?

Vin shuddered as his right hand slid out from under the blankets. “Was told I been transferred. That you’s didn’t … want me on the … the team anymore ... That … I’s had to stay with them. Don’t want to ... I’m sorry, don’t know what I did ... I didn’t know I was out ...” Tears again slid down his cheeks and he tried to duck his head under the covers again.

Chris looked at his soul-mate in shock, his hand automatically reaching out and grasping Vin’s hand. “Vin, who told you that shit? You haven’t been transferred or anything. I’d never let you go, you should know that!” What did they do to you Vin, while you were gone?

Told me I was theirs ...

Why are you alone?

“Don’t know, got shot, that’s all I remember. Just woke up. Don’t want to stay here.”

“I told Davis to call me if something happened. No one did. I’m sorry Cowboy, if I’d of known, I’d of been here. You aren’t theirs, never!” Chris’ hand gripped Vin’s forearm tightly.

Vin gazed into Chris’ eyes and knew he was telling him the truth. Chuck and Henry had lied to him, his team hadn’t turned against him; he was still with Team 7. Then another thought crossed his mind, and he flashed a glance at Buck and Ezra before looking back at Chris. “I missed Christmas. I spoiled it all for you guys ... I ...”

Before he could go on Buck spoke up, moving to the side of the bed, “No, you didn’t miss anything Junior. We knew you’d be home sooner or later; we just put things on hold until you did. We’ll celebrate as soon as you’re home with us.”

“Never fear Mr. Tanner, we ARE waiting for your return,” Ezra added.

“You sure?” Vin’s whisper was barely heard, as the door opened again and Nathan, Josiah, and JD rushed in, concerned looks on their faces.

“Yes, Vin we want you home with us,” Chris told him sincerely gripping his forearm. “Will you come home with us? Be with us for Christmas and, always?”

“Ya’ll really want me?” Vin choked out as he looked from one man to the other.

Josiah rested his hand on Vin’s leg, “Brother, we are here for you, we want you with us ...”

“We’re family Vin. We’re all together in this,” JD said.

“One for all, all for one, just like those Mousekatters,” Buck grinned, running his fingers through his mustache.

“Musketeers, Mr. Wilmington, Musketeers,” Ezra piped in with a loud sigh.

“How do you feel Vin?” worried Nathan.

“Family Vin, we need you.” I need you Cowboy.

Vin looked around at his friends, no, his family, and knew he was going home with them. Even though they were a mis-matched group of men, he loved them all like brothers, even though one was his soul brother and they had a special unexplained connection. He smiled shyly at them and breathed a happy sigh, he was home. His eyes suddenly slid shut as sleep over came him. He trusted that his teammates would watch over him. His family was with him, the nightmare was over.


Vin Tanner woke to a raised voice nearby. Opening his eyes, his gaze traveled around the stark white room. For a moment he wondered where he was, and then realized he was in the hospital, with his friends standing protectively around his bed. Shaking his head he tried to think of what had happened to him that he was lying there. The memories suddenly hit him and he pushed himself upright. Chris and Josiah were standing a couple feet from the side of his bed, side by side, their arms almost touching; with Buck a foot from Josiah’s other shoulder. He couldn’t see beyond the men, couldn’t tell who had come into the room.

Nathan touched his shoulder, and Vin looked at the tall dark man standing on the other side of his bed. “Lay down Vin, it’s all right. Chris is taking care of everything, and your doctor will be here shortly. We’ll be going home soon.”

Vin nodded, seeing Ezra and JD side by side at the foot of his bed, but he turned to Chris again, wondering who was there. Chris, what’s going on?

Chris glanced over his shoulder at Vin, flashing him a tight lipped smile, Nothing for you to worry about Cowboy. I’ve got it under control.

Vin looked deeply into Chris’ eyes then nodded and laid back down, not taking his eyes off Chris’ back.

“Get the hell out of here Davis. I want to see you and your team first thing Monday morning. And if you’re not all in your office, I will hunt you all down,” Chris growled threateningly.

“Chris, I can explain …” Another voice said, and Vin knew who had come into his room and stilled, feeling suddenly cold.

“Save it. Get out of here, NOW.” Chris’s voice, low and deadly ground out.

Vin saw Buck and Josiah take a step forward, and then heard quick footsteps as someone hurried out of the room. The men around him visibly relaxed then turned around, smiles on their faces as they saw he was awake. “What’s going on boys?” Vin asked, pulling his blanket tighter around him.

“Nothing we couldn’t handle,” Buck assured him grinning widely.

Before Vin could say anything Doctor Harrison walked in and paused when he saw Team 7 standing protectively around his patient’s bed. “Nice to see you boys here, but I have a patient I need to check, if you will let me get to him.” He grinned as he stepped forward. Buck and Josiah quickly moved out of the way and the doctor moved to Vin’s side as Vin pushed himself upright again. A nurse hurried in carrying a tray with sterile bandages on it.

“Good morning Mr. Tanner, I see that your friends have arrived. Now let me check you and get these bandages changed. No fever, good,” Harrison said as he quickly checked over Vin’s chart then with the nurse’s assistance cut the bandages off Vin’s shoulder. Carefully checking the wound and the stitches he smiled at Vin. “Looks like I did a fine job here. There doesn’t seem to be any infection, and you’ve had no reactions to the antibiotics this time. Good.”

”I’m Vin. ’Kin I go home now?”

“Well, since it is Christmas … I don’t want you alone. Do you have a place to go?” the doctor asked as he watched the nurse wrap Vin’s shoulder.

Vin grinned. “Yep. Goin’ home with Chris and the guys. They’ll be there, I’m sure.”

Chris snickered. “We’ll be there, and won’t let him over do anything. We know the drill, if anything changes, get him back here yesterday.”

The doctor laughed. “You do know the drill. Okay, he can leave, but if anything at all goes wrong, I want him back

here immediately. Mr. … err Vin, I’ll have your release papers and a prescription for you at the nurses station in a few minutes. You can leave, and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.”

“Thanks Doc, I will. Merry Christmas to you too. Thank you ma’am,” Vin said first to the doctor then the nurse as she stepped away with the soiled bandages.

As soon as the door closed behind the nurse Vin swung his legs off the bed and looked a round for his clothes. “Aw hell. What’d they do with my clothes?”

Amid laughter, Nathan handed him a sack with several clean shirts and a pair of jeans in it. Buck opened the little closet door and found Vin’s other clothes and boots, though his shirts were gone. There was a little blood on Vin’s jeans and Buck rolled them up and stuck them in the sack the clean clothes had been in. He handed the boots to Chris. Within minutes Vin was dressed and impatient to leave just as Josiah arrived with a nurse pushing a wheelchair.

As Vin eased himself into the chair, Josiah waved the prescription in the air. “I’ll get this filled and meet you at the ranch. Who’s riding with me?”

“I am Mr. Sanchez. I will not ride with the esteemed Mr. Larabee ever again. I value my life too much.” Ezra answered instantly.

By the time they all reached the parking lot, rides had been sorted out. While Chris went for his truck, Buck and JD waited with Vin as the other’s headed for Josiah’s suburban. Nathan had it warmed up by the time Josiah arrived with Vin’s medication, and within minutes of each other they all headed out of the snowy parking lot for Chris’s ranch.

Vin was asleep by the time Chris pulled the black Ram to a stop close to the steps leading to his back door. Touching the sharpshooter’s shoulder gently he woke his friend and helped him into the warm house. Chris settled Vin on the couch with a warm quilt over him, then went back into the kitchen and turned on the stove and shoved the turkey into it. He had prepared it the day before. As the others trailed into the house some went into the kitchen to work on their part of the Christmas dinner, the others made themselves comfortable in the living room near Vin, and turned on a football game.

Vin slept for several hours while the others watched the game, quietly cheering on their team. In the late afternoon, they celebrated Christmas; opening the gifts they had for each other. Buck playfully handed them out as the others laughed at his antics. Once the wrapping paper and boxes were cleared up, dinner was ready and the men made their way to the table in the dinning room and the large meal that graced it. After dinner Chris led a tight lipped Vin to the spare room he used and helped him get ready for bed. Vin took the pain pills that Chris insisted he take, having seen the pinched look on the younger man’s face. Within minutes Vin was asleep and Chris joined the rest of the team in cleaning up the kitchen and dinning room.

The next day dawned with snow gently coming down. Having the next couple days off, the men helped with the chores and sat around the house to give Vin the support he needed after what he had gone through the previous weeks. The first full day home Vin slept most of the day with no one wanting to wake or bother him until he was ready to get up. When he was awake they kept the conversations light, not wanting to upset or bring back bad memories for their wounded teammate. The following day, later than his usual early rising, Vin wandered into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and they all gathered at the kitchen table as he sat down. A hot cup of coffee was shoved in front of him.

“Tell us what happened, Brother, while you were away from us,” Josiah said.

Vin looked at his teammates and grinned at the different looks on their faces. Someone was in trouble and he was glad it wasn’t him.

When Nathan sat a piece of toast and a bowl of sweetened oatmeal in front of him he dug in hungrily. Finishing, he sat back and with his refilled coffee cup in hand started talking.

“I was assigned to help Team 1. They needed me to cover their backs for the bust, but also found out I had to go undercover. I was stuck with two members, Chuck Lawrence and Henry Cleveland. Davis had us in a house at the edge of Denver, and we didn’t have any contact with anyone but, Graves, and our contact through the department, Jeff Rounds. Davis had us on no contact, we had to stay where we were and couldn’t contact anyone outside. Graves kept us under surveillance all the time so we had to be careful of what we did. He first accepted me; then just before the bust went down he wanted me out. Chuck and Henry kept telling me that I wouldn’t be able to come back to you, to Team 7, from the first day we went under.”

“Why?” JD asked suddenly.

“Don’t rightly know. Their sharpshooter, Ramon Garcia was hurt on their last bust, had a badly broken leg and I was only supposed to take his place this one time. But Chuck and Henry told me he wasn’t coming back, I was there to stay. I never got to talk to anyone, Rounds or Davis. And after listening to those two, after a coupla’ weeks I was starting to think it might be true. I guess I was gettin’ confused, no one to talk to but them. The night before the bust, Graves decided he didn’t trust me and didn’t want me around. As I was leaving later to get into the barn, Chuck and Henry told me I’d been transferred to their team and it was a done deal, I wasn’t coming back here,” Vin’s voice shook. “Told them it weren’t true that I wasn’t one of their team, I never signed no transfer papers or anything; I’d never leave Team 7. They insisted it was too late for any change now. I had to get into the barn and didn’t have time to think about it. When the shooting was done and I’s making my way out of the barn, was when I got shot. They came and told me I was theirs and you all didn’t want me anymore.” He stopped; his voice breaking as he quickly ducked his head so no one could see the emotion in his eyes or the embarrassed flush that suddenly crossed his face.

Chris placed his hand on Vin’s shoulder and gently rubbed it, “We’d never let you go to another team Vin. I don’t know what game they were playing, but we will get to the bottom of this Monday. Davis has a lot of explaining to do too. He was to let me know what was going on and if something happened, you were not to be left alone. We’d NEVER leave you alone or let you go.”

Vin nodded. And in a small, cracked voice said, “Was scared. They never let up on me. Should know better by now, but …” The comforting hand rubbing his good shoulder never stopped, and he felt the tension slowly leave him. Yeah he was home and with his family. He had brothers now, and no matter what happened they would be beside him.

We are here for you Vin, never doubt it.

He looked at Chris, hearing the words in his head; a small smile of acknowledgement crossed his lips.

“Vin, we will always be here for you, we’ll watch your back as much as you watch ours,” Buck said as he touched Vin’s arm. More voices added their assurance to Buck’s words and Vin smiled at the men who called him brother.

“Thanks. I’ll never doubt y’all ever again. Now what are the plans for Monday?”

“Well first, those guys will never know what happened to their computers,” JD said with conviction, and the men laughed out loud.

Buck slapped his roommate on the back almost knocking him out of his chair, laughing. “I can’t wait to see what their computers do!”

“We aren’t sure, but I’m going to talk with Davis and his team. You all will be there too,” Chris added with an evil smirk.

The men talked out several scenarios of what to do in two days, but they couldn’t come up with one they all agreed on. Chris listened as the men talked, the smirk on his face not letting them know what he was thinking. Oh, he had a plan, but he was enjoying himself listening to what his men were thinking as the plans got wilder and wilder. Blue eyes suddenly connected with his and he nodded to Vin. Vin smiled back and then announced that he was going to lie down for a while. That efficiently put an end to the conversation and the others decided it was time to head for their homes.

Within a half hour silence fell over the house. Vin slowly rose from his bed and made his way into the living room to lie on the couch for awhile. When he woke Chris had large turkey sandwiches ready for their lunch. The rest of the day passed uneventful as Chris did some paperwork and outside chores while Vin slept. After a dinner of leftovers Vin turned in for the night.

Monday dawned dark and frosty. Snow was falling and the wind was bitter cold. Chris hurried through his chores and rushed back into the house where Vin had prepared breakfast for them. A bit later he took the bandage off Vin so he could take a shower, and a short time later they were headed into Denver, early enough they were ahead of the early morning rush hour.

Entering the bullpen, they were both surprised to see JD at work on his computer, a look of concentration on his face. JD jumped in surprise when they called out a greeting to him, then smiled sheepishly. Within minutes of arriving at the office the other men trickled in, Ezra being the last one and carrying a large cup of Starbucks.

“Well Mr. Larabee, are we ready to meet the miscreants in their lair?” Ezra asked looking around at his teammates.

Chris glanced at the clock, it was barely eight am, but he was sure that Davis’s team would be in their office. Glancing at JD, he smiled as the young man grinned and rose from his chair, his project done. With a nod of his head he led the way out of the door and to the elevators.

A couple minutes later Team 7 was making their way to Team 1’s bullpen on the fourth floor. Chris and Vin walking shoulder to shoulder, flanked by Buck, Josiah, and Nathan, with Ezra and JD bringing up the rear. Pushing the glass doors open, the team walked in, their eyes taking in the 6 men standing near a conference table. Chris’s eyes narrowed when he saw that AD Travis was standing with the other team.

Travis smiled and moved to lean against a desk, out of the way, nodding his head at his best ATF team. Vin’s gaze flashed around the men standing there. There was no sign of Lawrence and Cleveland. Looking at Davis, his eyes narrowed, but he didn’t say anything. He’d let Chris do the talking.

“Davis, where’s your other two men, Lawrence and Cleveland?” Chris asked taking in the sweating man in front of him.

“Um…When I came in Friday there were transfer papers on my desk to sign. Lawrence is in Seattle, Cleveland is in Miami. They are gone. I talked to them both briefly Thursday afternoon as they cleaned out their desks. They just said they wanted out of here. I don’t know what went on, but I let them go.”

“Damn.” Vin turned around and took a step towards the door, then whirled back to face Davis. He wanted to hit something, but knew it wouldn’t help, and the men who’d caused his heartache were gone, it was done. He calmed himself and listened to what Chris was saying.

“Davis, you should have known something was going on in that house. You talked to someone daily didn’t you?” Chris let anger show as he talked to the taller agent.

“Chris, yeah, I talked to Jeff, our contact man. He never said anything was going down between the men.”

Chris’s gaze nailed Rounds, as the man straightened from his slouch beside the table. “Agent Larabee, I only talked to them once a day. Chuck never said anything to me about any trouble. Henry neither. I never talked to Tanner, he was always too busy to talk.”

“Too busy to talk?” Chris exploded. “What do you mean? Too busy? What could be so busy sitting in a house waiting for Graves to call on them and a bust to go down? What was he supposed to be doing? You’re expected to talk to each agent when they’re undercover, at least every other day, not just ignore one!”

“They told me he was, umm, watching for any activity around the house, or in the shower or… They always had an excuse like that at the time. I never thought they would prevent him from talking to me.”

Cold green eyes narrowed as the man talked. “Did you know what they were telling MY AGENT?”

Red flared in Rounds face and he ducked his head a moment. Looking back at the man in black he answered, “Chuck said something about having some fun with Tanner. He was laughing, said he’d told him he was to stay with our team.”


“Bored I guess. I don’t really know. Chuck and Henry were close to Ramon, and didn’t like having another man take his place. I told Chuck not to be fooling around, that Tanner was there to watch their backs and would be gone once the bust was over. I didn’t know any more, thought they’d dropped it. When I saw them the other day, Henry said their joke had gone overboard and they were getting out of here. I wondered what had happened.” He slanted an apologetic look at Vin who’d stiffened into a defensive posture, then looked back at Larabee. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know it had got out of hand until I found out they were transferring out.”

Chris glared at the man who turned away from his look, his face paling. Glancing at Vin Chris saw Josiah place a hand on his tightened shoulder, providing a calming effect to the younger agent. You okay? he asked, his eyes connecting with Vin’s.

Yeah. Wanta’ get outta’ here.

One more thing needs done. At the small nod from the shaggy head, Chris’s glare went to Davis. “How come Vin was in the hospital alone?” he growled.

Davis raised his hand in appeasement. “It’s another mistake; I’ll take the blame for it.”


“Lawrence rode to the hospital with Tanner. Told me he’d take care of everything. Lawrence said you had been notified, and had come. I didn’t know until I went to see Vin at the hospital that it was all a lie. I asked Lawrence about it but he just shrugged it off, said guess it was a mix-up in communications. Truth be told, I am glad those two are gone.”

“You’re lucky they are,” Chris glared at the man. “Never ask for any of my men to help you on a bust. We will back you up, but I won’t ever let you ‘borrow’ one. I don’t care who orders it.” Chris’ glance shot to Travis, then back to Davis. “Consider this a warning, keep your men out of my way too.” With a nod to Travis, he spun on his heel and led his men from the room.

Before they got out the door, Ramon Garcia, Team 1’s sharpshooter, stepped towards them, his leg encased in a cast and crutches under his arms. His hand stopped them for a minute as he looked at Vin. “I’m sorry Tanner. I didn’t know anything that went down. I appreciate you being their backup. Thank you,” he told Vin sincerely.

Vin looked at the black haired agent then stuck his hand out, “Got no problem with you Garcia. You’re a good man.” They shook hands and Vin followed Chris out the door.

Back in their office they all breathed a sigh of relief, happy that the two trouble makers were gone. With smiles they got cups of coffee and donuts that Buck had had delivered while they were gone, and relaxed a few minutes before getting to work.

A little later, Chris’s phone rang and they all held their breaths as he entered his office to answer it. Six men followed him to his door and watched his face as he listened. Frowning for a moment he listened, then smiled, “I’ll tell them sir… No sir, I have no idea what could be wrong with their computers... Maybe they need to get a technician in to check them out. Yes sir. We’ll be here if you need us.” Chris hung up and looked at the men now crowding into his office. His eyes traveled over each man as they waited for him to tell them what the call had been about. A grin spread across his face as he looked at JD.

“That was Travis. He just arrived at his office. He was happy we didn’t take anyone down. And it seems Team 1 is having some sort of problem with their computers. Each one is playing some sort of cartoon, Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse, Huckleberry Hound, Woody Woodpecker, Sponge Bob something. They can’t get them to shut down, and the computers change from one cartoon character to another every three minutes. Someone did a good job hacking into their computers. Going to take awhile to get them all straightened out. Any questions?”

“Nope,” his men answered as they left the room, laughing and slapping each other on the shoulder. Vin leaned against the wall across from Chris’ desk. Chris smiled at his partner.

You are FAMILY Pard, we will always be here for you, we will never let you go.

I’ll never doubt it again. I’m here forever and always.

Reaching out, they clasped forearms in their special handshake. Brothers by choice, soul mates by a deeper bond.