by Winter

ATF Alternate Universe


Chris headed for the parking garage. He had talked to the judge and he told Chris he would look into it. He wasn't too happy with that response and he told that to the judge. DA Travis knew Chris was upset about Vin so he listened patiently while Chris told him exactly what happened the night of the raid. He knew Chris was right about the kid getting someone killed. He told him that it was a delicate situation and he told Chris he would have to walk lightly. Travis told him not to do anything stupid. That he would handle it. Chris said he'd wait. He walked towards his jeep and heard a meow from under the SUV.

"Hey Cuervo," said Chris as the cat came out and rubbed on his leg. "Sorry no ones been around to feed you. We've been busy."

The cat meowed and moved off to Vin's jeep and jumped in back. Chris smiled and climbed in the Dodge. An hour latter he parked out in front of Buck's building. He grabbed the bag on the seat and got out of the SUV. He looked at his watch and it said seven o'clock. He opened the door to the apartment and found his agents watching a football game. He dropped the bag on the table.

"Hey Chris," said JD. "What did the Judge say?"

"That he'd look into it."

"That's it?" said an astonished Buck.

"For now," said Chris. "How's Vin?"

"He's out for the count," answered Nathan.

"So what are we ordering for dinner?" asked JD. "I'm starved."

"How about Chinese," said Josiah. They all agreed and gave JD their order.

"Hey why do I have to order?"

"Because, my young friend, you are the one who voiced the fact that you were hungry first," said Ezra.

"Order something for Vin," said Chris as he went to check him.

Vin was sound asleep. He had rolled onto his stomach and Chris could see blood on the bandage covering the largest cut. Chris went into the bathroom and washed his hands. When he came out he grabbed the bag with all the bandages and sat down next to Vin. He pulled stuff out and noticed the doctor had put in surgical gloves. He was pulling a pair on when Josiah walked in.

"Need some help?" he asked.


Josiah sat down on the other side of Vin and took the bandages from Chris. Chris was surprised they hadn't woken him up yet. He gently pulled the tape off Vin's back. Vin flinched away and tried to roll over. Josiah grabbed his shoulders to keep him in place. It was the wrong thing to do because he started to struggle harder.

"Vin!" Chris called. "Wake up." Vin kept struggling until he moved his left leg and cried out.

"Easy Vin," soothed Josiah. "It's alright."

Vin lay panting on his stomach trying to get his breathing under control. Chris pushed Vin's unruly hair off his face and he could see tears on his eyelashes.

"Sorry Vin, it's my fault," said Chris. "I thought it would be better to change these while you were sleeping."

"We'll now we know not to do that," laughed Josiah.

"It's alright," sighed Vin.

"Are you OK for us to continue?" asked Josiah.

"I reckon."

Chris shook his head as he felt Vin tense up. He decided to pull off all the bandages at once, then clean the wounds. Josiah took Vin's hand and talked to him in his soothing voice. Once the bandages were off Chris cleaned the wounds. The larger one had bled a little but he could see none of the stitches were pulled. When that was done Chris let them dry to give Vin a break. He lay quietly listening to Josiah talk. His hair was again covering his face. Chris reached over and pulled it back.

"You need a hair cut," he said. This had been a running joke from the day he started.

"Not on your life, cowboy." Vin smiled. "It just needs to be washed. Ya think I can take a shower tomorrow?"

"Not for a couple of days."

"Come on Chris," Vin pleaded. "I haven't had one in two days."

"We'll see," he said. Just then JD poked his head in the door.

"Dinners here."

"OK, we'll be out in a few minutes."

Chris spread the antibiotic over the cuts. The smaller ones weren't bothering Vin but when he moved to the larger ones Vin kept flinching. After a few minutes of torture Chris was finished. Josiah threw back the covers and gently grabbed Vin's left leg and they helped him sit up on the side of the bed. Chris grabbed Vin's shirt and helped him put it on. Once that was done they each took an arm and helped him to his feet. Vin swayed a little until he got his balance Chris handed him the crutches and they headed for the living room. Chris steered him towards the couch and sat him down then propped his leg on the table. Vin cautiously leaned back and got comfortable. JD handed him a container of Chinese food with chopsticks stuck in it.

"I don't think I'm up to chopsticks tonight," he said. "I need a fork."

"Heathen," teased Ezra as he went to the kitchen to get one.

Vin smiled his thanks as Ezra handed him the fork. When he opened the box the savory scent of beef lo mein escaped. He was hungry then he thought and dug in. For the next few hours the agents spent a relaxing night in each other's company. Chris glanced over at Vin and noticed him dozing off. He wanted to change the bandage on his leg before he fell asleep. Chris got up and walked over to Vin.

"Hey cowboy. Let's get you back to the room so I can change the bandages on your leg."

"I'll do it myself," said Vin.

"Jeez Vin it's only Chris," laughed Buck.

"Fuck you, Buck!" Vin said angrily.

The outburst surprised everyone. Usually Vin just ignored the teasing from everyone. Vin punched the couch in frustration. He hated being hurt. Most of all he hated having to be dependent on others. He knew the team was shocked at his treatment of Buck.

"I'm sorry, Buck," he said softly.

"Hey it's alright," Buck said in his jovially manner. "I was impressed. I don't think I ever heard you use that before."

"Crude, but very effective," smiled Ezra.

"I should warn all of you it will only get worse," Vin predicted. "The more you fuss the meaner I get."

"OK we'll just leave you alone until you fall on your face," said JD. "Then we'll just step over you."

"Works for me," said Vin.

"Come on lets get this over with," said Chris as he helped Vin to his feet.

"I'll give ya a hand Chris," offered Nathan.

"Alright," he said. "Grab that bag over there."

Nathan picked up the bag and followed Chris and Vin. Once inside Chris untied his pants and let them fall to the floor. He then had Vin sit on the side of the bed as he pulled them off the rest of the way. Nathan had been removing his shirt at the same time. They got him positioned on his left side and Nathan put a pillow under his leg. Once he was covered with the sheet Chris could see him relax and he smiled. He went to get a glass of water. When he came back he got Vin's pills and made him take them. After that was done they set to work. By the time they were finished Vin had fallen asleep. Chris covered his leg then threw another blanket over him. When they came back to the living room they could see Ezra and Josiah getting ready to leave.

"Well gentlemen as always it's been entertaining," said Ezra. "Josiah, Nathan, I shall wait for you outside."

"See everyone in the morning," said Josiah.

"JD, Buck, good luck," smiled Nathan as he and Josiah left.

"You going to be able to handle him?" asked Chris.

"Oh sure Chris," said Buck. "That boy ain't got a mean bone in him."

"Well at least I have his guns," smiled Chris. "So you should be safe."

"And with his leg all busted up he can't kick us," added JD.

"See, piece of cake," laughed Buck.

+ + + + + + +


JD jerked awake and looked around. He couldn't figure out where he was then remembered he fell asleep on the couch. He thought the shout had come from the TV, but when he looked it was off. Then his sleepy brain registered the fact that Buck was barreling down the stairs and for his room.

"Oh damn!" he cried "Vin."

He was right on Bucks heals. They entered the room to find the bed empty and the light on in the bathroom. Buck walked over to the door and knocked.

"Vin, you OK?"

"I'm fine," answered Vin as he opened the door.

JD wasn't so sure about that. Vin had a white towel wrapped around his waist. The towel was the same color as his face. He wasn't too steady on his feet and Buck took his arm. They lead him back to the bed and he gratefully sat down.

"What happened?" asked JD.

"Just a dream," answered Vin. He lay back down and Buck pulled the covers over him.

"Your sure you're alright?" asked Buck.

"Yeah, I'm fine," he lied. He wasn't about to tell them he had just thrown up his dinner in the toilet. He was pretty sure it was from the antibiotics and decided he wasn't taking any more.

"Alright then, kid, show's over," said Buck as he ushered JD out of the room.

"Damn Buck, he looked terrible."

"I know. Well just see how he is in the morning."

+ + + + + + +

"JD!!!! WHERE THE HELL ARE MY BOOTS!" shouted Buck and the early morning quiet was shattered.

"How the hell do I know, they're not my boots."

Buck stomped down the stairs and headed for the closet.

"No! Wait!" cried JD but too late as everything tumbled out and landed in a heap around Buck.

Vin walked out of the room to find Buck chasing JD into the kitchen. He had found a bag next to the bed when he was awakened and opened it. Inside were shorts and sweat pants that had zippers or snaps running along the outside of the leg. Vin had pulled on a pair of baggy shorts. He just shook his head as he watched Buck hit JD with a pillow.

"Hey, Laurel and Hardy, you mind keeping it down," said Vin. "It's 7:30 in the morning."

JD and Buck stopped when they heard Vin's voice. Buck tousled JD's hair and walked over to Vin.

"Well you look better than you did last night," said Buck as he helped Vin to the couch. "How you feeling?"

"Hungry," said Vin.

"I'll go grab us some breakfast," offered JD as he headed out the door.

"Put on a helmet," cried Vin and Buck together.

"It's only around the corner!" Protested JD.

"Take it!" warned Buck.

"Alright," grumbled JD as he took the helmet and walked out the door.

"Well I have to get to work," said Buck. "JD will be back in a minute. Will you be OK?"

"Yes dad."

"Did you take your pills?" he asked.

"Yeah," lied Vin. He had flushed it down the toilet.

"OK, I'm off. You kids behave."

Vin just rolled his eyes as he picked up the remote. He flipped through the channels but there was nothing on. He finally settled for a rerun of "The Magnificent Seven" on TNT. When he realized it was the episode "Wagon Train" he turned it off. A short time later JD returned with breakfast. He handed Vin a banana nut muffin and a large black coffee.

"Anything on?' he asked.

"Nah, that's why I turned it off."

"Hey we got this really cool game for Play Station. Want to check it out?"

"Sure," Vin laughed. He wasn't sure who was the bigger kid, Buck or JD. Buck had bought the toy a few months ago for JD's birthday.

"This one's really wild," said JD. "Its called Metal Gear. You're this special agent Solid Snake and you have to get back this secret weapon, Metal Gear."

JD started up the game and they played for a few hours. JD noticed Vin had stretched out on the couch and fallen asleep. He threw a blanket over him and went back to the game. Around noon Vin woke up and shook his head when he realized JD was still playing the game.

"Still haven't won?" he asked.

"Nah. I played something else for awhile. Can I get you something?"

"I'm OK," Vin lay there watching when there was a knock at the door.

"Expecting anyone?" asked JD.

"No. I don't live here remember." smiled Vin. JD went to answers the door.

"Nettie. Casey. What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I called the office looking for Vin," said Nettie in her gravelly voice. "Buck said he had been hurt and that you were watching him today."

"Yeah, I watch him until two. Then its Ezra's turn. He's on the couch."

Nettie walked over to the couch while JD took Casey over by the pool table. When she saw him she just put her hands on her hips and shook her head.

"Don't you know you aren't supposed to throw things through windows."

"Especially myself," he smiled.

"Exactly," she said as she bent down to feel his forehead. "You feel OK? Your a little warm."

"I'm fine. What did you want me for."

"Well I'm going to visit my sister and wanted you to take care of the horses. I'll find someone else" she explained as she pushed the hair out of his eyes. "Your hair needs a washing."

"They won't let me take a shower," he sighed.

"We'll fix that," she said. "JD get me the biggest pot you have."

"What for?" he asked.

"I'm going to wash Vin's hair."

"I would be eternally grateful," said Vin, "It's driving me crazy."

"This good enough?" he asked as he walked into the living room with a large silver tub. Casey carried some towels and the shampoo.

"Good Lord, where did you get that?" she asked

"Last Halloween we dunked for apples with kids in the neighborhood."

"Him and Buck are pack rats they never throw anything out," Vin explained. "Howdy Casey."

"Hi," she said as she looked at all the bandages. "Does it hurt?"


Nettie quickly organized everything. She sent Casey and JD to get the water. She helped Vin roll on his stomach. He grunted in pain when she hit his leg by accident. After a few minutes they returned carrying the water. Vin hung his head over the side of the couch and they put the tub under him. Nettie poured the warm water on his hair. Soaped it up then rinsed. Casey handed her a towel and Nettie wrapped his long hair to dry. Vin lay with his head on his arms content with the world. Nettie helped the kids dumped the water.

"Son!" Nettie called as she walked back to Vin. "When was the last time his bandages were changed?"

"Last night," they both answered.

"JD go get me the bandages," she instructed.

"Ma'am you don't have to do that," said Vin as he moved to roll over.

"Son, you just stay put," Nettie scolded. Vin never argued with her and did as he was told.

"JD, why don't you take Casey to the park." suggested Vin when he came back.

"I can't do this by myself."

"It ain't pretty," Vin explained. "No need for her to see it."

"I can help," Casey said bravely.

"That's my girl," Nettie said patting her hand.

"Um, Ms. Wells. There's more room if he's on the bed." suggested JD. "Besides it hurts a lot. He takes a painkiller after and falls asleep."

"Thanks JD," snarled Vin. "Make me sound like a wimp."

They got Vin on his feet and JD handed him the crutches. He hobbled to the bedroom. JD noticed he was moving a little easier compared to yesterday. Vin crawled into the bed and lay on his right side. JD propped his leg up with a pillow. Nettie made them wash their hands before they got started. She started with the smaller ones on his back and worked her way up to the bigger ones. When she got to the ten inche laceration Casey gasped.

"How many are in there?" she wondered as she looked at the tiny stitches.

"40 something," answered Vin.

"Does it hurt?" she asked innocently.

"Yeah," he answered.

Nettie tried to be gentle but this one was tender. He flinched every time she touched it. JD could see he had the sheets grasped in his fist. She finished with his back and moved on to his leg. She rolled the loose shorts up towards the waistband and tucked it in. Vin had to remember to thank Chris for these. Nettie slowly pulled the bandage off. When the whole laceration was exposed Casey cried out and ran out of the room. Nettie noticed JD looked decidedly green and sent him after Casey.

"I told you so."

"Don't sass me son," Nettie smiled as she cleaned the wound.

+ + + + + + +

Casey felt so stupid running out like that. She should have stayed to help but she couldn't. She had never seen someone cut so badly before. She didn't know how Vin could stand the pain.

"Casey!" called JD. He saw her standing by the window.

"How can he endure that?" she cried when he came closer.

"I don't know," answered JD as he hugged her.

"The pain must be awful," she said. "He's so brave."

"It must be but Vin can take it."

"But he shouldn't have to!" she exclaimed. "If he was in a different job this wouldn't have happened."

"You mean a safe job."

"I worry about you JD. Every time you go out on a bust I wonder if you'll come back. Can't you do something else?

"It's what I love. I wouldn't be me if I didn't do this job."

"You don't care about the way I feel," she cried as she pulled away from him and ran for the door.

"Casey!" he called and went after her.

Just as Casey reached the door Ezra walked in and she ran right into him. He steadied her against him until she regained her balance. When she did she struggled out of his arms and ran out the door. Ezra could see tears running down her cheeks.

"What just happened here?" he asked as JD ran by. "JD!"

"No need to holler Mr. Standish," said Nettie as she came out of JD's room.

"What happened?" he asked bewildered.

"Casey was helping me with Vin's leg and she ran out of the room."

"I can see why. It's not a pretty sight."

"No Mr. Standish its not. I don't want my niece growing up thinking everything is fine and dandy. She needs to be able to deal with situations like this one if she plans on dating a Law man."

"Ah I see," said Ezra. "I will assume she just had the dreaded 'Why can't you have a safer job' talk with Mr. Dunne."

"I reckon."

"How's Mr. Tanner?"

"Asleep. So your shift should be easy," she smiled.

"I do appreciate it."

"Well I better go get Casey. We have to be on our way. This little trip will give her a chance to calm down."

"It was a pleasure as always Ms. Wells," flattered Ezra.

In no time JD came walking back into the loft scowling.

"I just don't under stand women!"

"Welcome to the club Mr. Dunne," said Ezra. "Chris wants you to come in for awhile to investigate some leads on our next case."

"OK we'll see you later."

JD grabbed his helmet by the door and left. Ezra went to check on Vin. He stepped into the room and could see he was sleeping peacefully. He walked over and pick up the bag he had left by the front door when he helped Casey. He took the bag over by the stereo and placed it on the table. He opened it and pulled out a bottle of Merlot, a crystal goblet, CD of classical music and the play King Lear. He put in the CD and placed the headphones on. He pulled out a cork screw opened the wine and poured a glass. Then settled in for the afternoon with King Lear.

Vin woke up and couldn't figure out what was wrong. He checked the clock and it said 5:00pm. He slowly got up and went into the bathroom. He took out the antibiotic pill and dropped in the toilet. He hated deceiving the others but they were making him sick He wandered back out into the bedroom and suddenly realized what was wrong. It was too quiet. His curiosity got the best of him and he headed for the living room. He grabbed the crutches by the door and walked out of the bedroom. He didn't see JD anywhere. Then he remembered the kid was done at two and Ezra was supposed to be his babysitter. He saw Ezra sitting over by the stereo with the headphones on. He limped over and found Ezra with his eyes closed and pretending he was conducting. Vin smiled and reached for the volume controls and turned them up. Ezra jumped up and threw off the headphones.

"Howdy Ezra," drawled Vin.

"You Mr. Tanner are Lucifer himself."

"Well I certainly ain't no angel," he smiled.

"Well you look 100% better than you did."

"I feel fine. I'm just bored. Can I interest you in a game."

"You know I abhor gambling. What did you have in mind?"

"Oh I don't know, " he said as he got the poker chips and cards from the shelf and headed for the couch. "How about five card stud. One eyed jacks are wild."

"And the stakes?"

"I don't know we'll think of something."

"You're on Mr.Tanner."

At 7:30pm the rest of the team walked in to find Ezra and Vin engrossed in a poker game. Vin was on the couch with his leg propped up and Ezra was sitting next to him. Between them was a tray doubling as the poker table. When Chris saw he just smirked and walked over.

"OK Mr. Tanner. I see your 'Changing the office water bottle' and raise you 'three hours of looking through mug shots.' "

"Alright. I see your 'mug shots' and raise you 'Having to tell Chris we lost the suspect'."

"Call. Full house, Jacks over tens." Ezra said with a smile.

"Damn I only have two pair."

"Better luck next time Mr. Tanner," consoled Ezra as he picked up the bets.

"Hold on there pard. I have one pair of lovely ladies and another pair of even prettier one's" Vin smirked as he lay down the four queens.

"Aw hell!" cried Ezra as he handed Vin the hand written notes.

"Boy howdy Ezra. He got you good," laughed Buck. "Having to tell Chris we lost the suspect. I don't envy you."

"Don't remind me," he scowled.

"How'd he beat you Ezra?" asked JD, "Vin doesn't play that good."

"Thanks kid," growled Vin.

"I guess it was just Vin's time to win," supplied Josiah.

"Either that or Ezra had too much wine," said Nathan as he held up the empty bottle.

"Did you take your pill?" Chris asked. He thought Vin looked a little flushed.

"Yes mother," Vin said rolling his eyes.

"Well damn Chris I didn't realize we were married." snickered Buck. "This morning he called me dad."

"So what's for dinner?" asked Vin. "I'm in the mood for pasta."

They all agreed pasta was good. This time Josiah and Nathan volunteered to get it. They would also pick up some movies on the way back. Chris kept watching Vin. Something was different but he couldn't place it. Just then Vin ran his fingers through his hair and Chris had it.

" I thought I told you no shower," accused Chris.

"I didn't. Ms Nettie washed my hair. She also changed the bandages so don't ask."

Thirty minutes latter the guys on the food run returned. The food and drinks were passed around. Nathan bumped into the table and Vin yelped. He apologized and everyone settled in to enjoy dinner.

"What movies did ya get?" asked JD around a mouth full of garlic bread.

"Tombstone and The Rock," answered Josiah.

"Cool. Let's watch The Rock first." JD grabbed the tape and moved over to the VCR.

"Hold on a minute JD," called Chris. "I almost forgot. Vin, tomorrow the six of us have to go in for the debriefing for the Stanton/Hong raid. So you'll be on your own. I have your word you'll stay put?"

"Yeah sure!!!" cried Vin.

"Alright JD put in the movie," said Chris.

It never failed when they watched a movie they would pick apart the technique of the law enforcement officials. The one that bugged Vin the most in the movie was the portrayal of the National Park Ranger. He had met a few on his many travels and none were ever that stupid. The other thing was the uniform in the movie. It was totally wrong. Chris liked to pick on the leader of the SEAL team. By the end of the movie it was decided that Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage were the only good characters in the movie. Before they started the next movie JD went in the kitchen and made popcorn. When it was done he brought it out along with beer for everyone and a coke for Vin. Tombstone was another favorite of the team. They were all analyzing the fight scenes but Chris didn't hear Vin speak up when Buck said Doc Holiday should never have beaten Ringo. Chris looked over and saw he was asleep. When the movie was over Ezra helped JD gather up the garbage from dinner and the beer bottles. Chris woke up Vin.

"Come on cowboy. Time for me to torture you again."

"You're enjoying this way too much, " accused Vin.

He got off the couch with only a little help from Josiah and they headed for the bedroom. Chris noticed that he was moving easier. Vin climbed in bed and Chris grabbed the bandages. He changed tactics and started with his leg. Then did his back. Vin only hissed a few times as Chris spread the ointment on his leg. He was a little concerned that Vin felt hot. He went to look for a thermometer but couldn't find one.

"Vin are you sure you're OK?" Chris asked as he placed his palm on Vin's forehead. "You feel warm."

"I feel fine," Vin assured him.

"Need a painkiller tonight?" asked Chris.

"Nah, I'm alright. Besides it gives me terrible nightmares."

"So Buck told me," smiled Chris. "JD and Buck will be out early. I warned them not to wake you. We'll see you probably late in the afternoon. Call if you need anything."

"I'll be fine, quit worrying!"

"Goodnight," said Chris as pushed back that damned hair.

"Night cowboy."