by Winter

ATF Alternate Universe


Buck and JD were up the next morning at 6:30am. They had to be to the office by 7:30am. Buck wondered why anyone would schedule a meeting that early. They quietly moved around the loft so they wouldn't wake Vin. The two agents were finally ready but before they left Buck went to check on Vin. He entered the room and could see he was still sleeping. He was on his stomach with his face towards Buck. During the night he had pushed all the covers off and Buck pulled them back up. Buck couldn't get over how young he looked when he was sleeping. Sometimes they forgot Vin wasn't that much older than JD. He walked out of the room and met JD at the front door.

"He still asleep?" asked JD.

"Yup. Let's go or we'll be late," Buck grabbed his keys and they headed out the door locking it behind them.

Thirty minutes later they were pulling into the garage at the federal building. They got out of the pick up and Buck leaned in the back and grabbed a can of cat food. He opened the can and left it in the bed of the truck. Once they were in the elevator Cuervo stalked from under Ezra's Jaguar and jumped into the truck to eat his breakfast. Buck and JD exited the elevator and headed for the office. The floor was one large room and their offices were towards the back behind a glass partition. As the walked passed other ATF members Buck flirted with the secretaries and the female agents. JD looked at his watch and it read 7:25am. He grabbed Buck's arm to drag him away from one of the secretaries. Buck walked backwards and still flirted until JD pulled him into their area. Josiah just laughed. He had been watching the scene from his desk. Buck was about to sit at his desk when Chris's door opened and out walked Judge Travis.

"Gentlemen. Good day," he said as he passed.

"What did he want?" asked Buck.

"Nothing," answered Chris. Buck couldn't read the expression on his face. "Let's go or we'll be late."

They followed Chris down the hall to the large conference room. They meet Team 2 at the door and they exchanged greetings before going in.

"How's Tanner?" asked Winder

"Better," said Chris. "Hurts like hell though."

"I bet," agreed Winder.

"He's also meaner than hell when he's hurt," said Buck.

"I believe that too," smiled Winder. "Well shall we go in?"

"After you," Buck offered as he opened the door.

"It's about time you gentlemen showed up," was the greeting they received from agent Michaels.

"Why you little punk," said Buck as he advanced into the room and was stopped by Chris.

"Let it be Buck," Chris warned.

"Aren't you going to do anything?" asked Buck angrily.

"I said let it be."

Buck pulled out of Chris's grasp and headed for the furthest seat away from Michaels. The others silently followed. Chris gave the punk kid an icy stare as he followed his team. The other ATF agents followed The Magnificent Seven's lead and isolated Michaels in his own corner. The chief investigator for the DA's office didn't like this turn of events. Something must have happened during the raid. He supposed he would find out.

"Gentleman, shall we get started?" he asked.

"Certainly," said Michaels. "I will begin."

The investigator noticed the temperature in the room drop. He looked at Larabee's team and shuddered. This is going to be a long day he thought.

+ + + + + + +

Vin woke around 9:00am. He just lay in bed and enjoyed the quiet morning. A half-hour later he sat up and carefully swung his left leg over the edge of the bed. He grabbed the crutches by the nightstand and stood up. And immediately sat back down as a wave of dizziness hit him. He waited for it to pass and wondered why it was so hot in the loft. A few minutes later he tried again. He made it to his feet and headed for the bathroom. He grabbed the gray running pants with the zippers down the outside of the leg. He got them on with a little difficulty then washed his face and pulled his hair into a ponytail. He came out and put on a shirt and started to throw things into a bag. Once that was done he went into the living room. He picked up the phone to call Netties neighbor. He couldn't drive out there himself. He picked up the phone and dialed.

"Hi Cora, it's Vin.....Yeah it's good to hear from you too.......Yup it is a nice day. Cora could you do me a favor........You don't even know what it is yet. I need a ride out to Netties'. She wanted me to watch the horses and my jeep broke down.....I know I should get a new one.......your right it is kind of old but I'm rather attached.......You can? Great!.......10:30? I'll be ready."

He hung up the phone and headed for the kitchen to get some breakfast. When he was done he cleaned the dishes and straightened what he could. He couldn't figure out how those two could live like this. He looked at his watch and was surprised to see it read 10:15. He grabbed a piece of paper and wrote Chris a note. He placed it in the middle of the coffee table so he would see it. He grabbed his bag and limped to the door. He grabbed the spare loft key hanging by the door and went out. When he did a gust of wind blew his note off the table and under the couch. His letter to Chris explaining he went to Netties joined forgotten magazines and newspaper under the couch.

Cora dropped him off at the door and he waved as she pulled away. It had taken some fast-talking to convince her he was fine. She had noticed he looked a little 'green around the gills' as she put it. He assured her that he was all right. He limped towards the house and stopped by the front door. He pushed one of the hedges out of the way and started counting the bricks on the house. Two down from the doorknob and four over he stopped and pulled out the brick. He reached in and got the spare key. He replaced the brick and opened the door. He entered the ranch house and headed for the kitchen. He dropped his bag on the sofa as he went by. Once inside the kitchen he got a glass, filled it with water and took a long drink. Damn it was hot he thought and wiped the sweat from his forehead. He filled another glass and went out to the porch.

Vin sat in one of the reclining lawn chairs and got comfortable. He knew Chris would be mad when he found the note but he just had to get away. He felt bad that he had broken his word. Well sort of, he had agreed to stay put. He just never said where. The sun was slowly baking away his aches and pains and he fell asleep.

Vin woke with a start when something brushed his hand. He looked down to see one of the barn cats rubbing his hand. He looked at his watch and it read 3:00pm. He scratched the cat behind the ears and sat up. Vin felt queasy and put his head down on his raised right knee. When the feeling passed he grabbed his left leg and swung it off the chair and slowly stood up. Vin limped into the house, on the crutches and headed for the bathroom. He grabbed a towel from under the sink and turned on the cold water. He stuck his head under the cool stream and stayed there for a few minutes. The cold water felt good. He shouldn't have slept out in the sun because now he was hot, but the cold water helped. He let the water run a few more minutes then turned it off. He squeezed the extra water from his hair then toweled it dry. After that he headed to the kitchen for something to eat. Nettie hadn't stocked up since she was going out of town. Vin settled for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Vin looked out the kitchen window towards the barn. He could see a few of the horses in the corrals. There was another corral to the right of the barn that Vin glanced towards. He could see a black stallion munching on the grass. He finished the sandwich and headed for the barn. As he got closer to the corral a few of the horses trotted over and whinnied. Vin stopped to pet them all for a little while then continued into the barn. He went into the tackroom and grabbed the grooming bucket. He walked out the back of the barn and over to the corral with the stallion. Vin whistle and the stallion can over to the fence.

"Hey Diablo, how ya doing?" asked Vin as he pet the horse's nose.

Vin walked to the gate and entered the corral. He took Diablo's halter and walked him over to the lean to. He tied the horse with a lead rope and started to give him a rub down. Diablo enjoyed this as much as Vin. Vin was brushing his tail when Diablo started to get nervous. He couldn't see what was bothering the horse.

"Easy boy," soothed Vin. "There's nothing there."

Vin failed to notice the wasp flying around the horse's head. Diablo started pulling on the rope. Suddenly the stallion went berserk and broke the rope. He slammed into Vin sending him flying into the wall. Vin screamed as his left leg made contact and he could feel the staples pop. He slowly slid to the ground and he lay there gasping. His vision was starting to blur and all he could think was Chris is going to kill me as the darkness claimed him.

+ + + + + + +

"So do we have enough to put Tommy Hong away this time?" asked Chris.

"Yes agent Larabee we do," said the investigator. "With the tape and your teams excellent work gathering hard evidence he'll be gone for a long time."

"No thanks to, Michaels," muttered Buck under his breath.

"Well, I should be going," the investigator said nervously. "Good day gentlemen."

He wanted to get as far away from the confrontation as possible. After hearing what had happened that night he didn't blame the more experienced agents. The damned kid almost blew the whole operation when he moved in early. Chris watched as the DA's investigator left in a hurry. All of the agents were furious the way Michaels had taken over this meeting. They were surprised that Chris let him do it. Chris was just bidding his time. He knew the kid would brag about his new position soon and Chris just had to wait. He watched Michaels gather his papers. He then called for everyone attention.

"I just want to tell you gentlemen it's been a pleasure working with you. I have been given a promotion and a new position."

"WHAT!" bellowed Buck.

"Yes I have been given a supervisory position with the border patrol. I'm the new area coordinator for Los Almos, Mexico."

"Kid, I knew you wouldn't disappoint me," laughed Chris.

"Chris have you lost your mind?" asked Buck. "What the hell is so funny? He almost gets Vin killed and they promote him."

"Yup," smiled Chris. "To a bogus position the Judge had commissioned."

"I don't get it?" asked a confused JD.

"His 'new' position is as an office clerk in a small office in a pissant little town in Mexico," explained Chris. "Nothing goes on in this town. He won't be doing any investigations or law enforcement. Hell he won't even have a gun. I guess you didn't read the fine print."

"What are you talking about?" asked Michaels.

"You have to give up your commission," smiled Chris.

"The hell I will! I'll refuse the position."

"You can't," said Chris with satisfaction. "Your name has been black listed. You won't ever be working law enforcement again."

"I'll get my Fa......"

"Your father can do nothing. I doubt he'll even be senator after this term."

"I warned you kid," laughed Winder. "You crossed the wrong agent."

"You don't scare me. I won't stand for this!!!"

"It would appear that you have no choice, my young friend," replied Ezra. "Here let me escort you to the door. Oh and one other thing. There's something I owe you."

Ezra hauled off and hit the kid with a right cross. He fell to the floor holding his bleeding nose.

"Ru hig mi," mumbled Michaels as he held his nose.

"Oh contre, you walked into the door." corrected Ezra. "I was merely helping you up."

"Better get out while you can kid," smiled Buck. He followed this advice and left.

"Gosh Ezra where'd you learn to fight?" asked JD.

"I was a pugilist in college."


"A boxer," said Nathan surprised.

"Yes Mr. Jackson, a sport that boast many famous people." said Ezra.

"Well it's time for everyone to go," said Winder as he got up. " Oh one more thing before we leave. Remind me never to cross you Larabee. I don't want to be stationed in Guam."

The other agents agreed and followed Winder out of the conference room. Buck gave Chris a dirty look.

"You knew!" he accused.

"The Judge told me this morning. I just waited for Michaels to brag about it so I could knock him down."

"You enjoyed that didn't you?" asked Josiah.

"Oh yeah," answered Chris as he gathered his papers.

"Jeez, look what time it is," said JD. "It's almost five o'clock."

"What are you complaining about. We got an hour lunch," said Nathan.

"Yes and I thought for sure Chris would check up on Vin," said Buck surprised.

"He gave me his word. It's good enough for me."

"So what's for dinner tonight?" asked JD as they left.

"Why don't we just get heroes," suggested Josiah.

"Sounds good," said Nathan.

They headed for the parking lot and climbed into their cars and left. An hour later found them all pulling up in front of the loft. They parked the cars and headed for the door. They each carried a bag of food. Buck unlocked the door of the loft and they entered.

"Hey Vin!" called Chris. "Dinner."

When there was no answer Chris handed his bag to JD and headed for his room. A few minutes later Chris came storming out.

"I'm going to kill him!" he yelled. As he headed for the door.

"Whoa. Hold on pard what's up?" asked Buck.

"Vin's gone!" growled Chris. "His clothes are gone and he left these."

He waved the medication in Buck's face and was about to storm out when Buck grabbed his arm.

"Hold on there Chris." Said Buck. "Why don't you let me go. You're way too mad and might do something you'll regret."

"I'm not mad. I'm furious! He gave me his word he'd stay put."

"This is Mr. Tanner were talking about," said Ezra. "He didn't break his word. You just never specified where you wanted him to 'stay put'"

"Ezra's right," agreed Nathan. "Vin would never break his word. Just bend it a little."

"Still doesn't change the fact that I'm going to kill him!" snarled Chris.

"Please Chris, let me and Buck go talk to him?" begged JD. He had never seen Chris so mad before. He didn't want anything to happen to Vin.

Chris reined in his anger when he heard the tone of JD's voice. The kid really thought he would hurt Vin. He was angry, there was no denying that, but he would never hurt Vin.

"Alright kid. You and Buck can come with me," said Chris.

"We could all go." suggested JD.

"Oh right," laughed Buck. "A group our size walking in to Purgatorio and pounding on Vin's door. We'll be lucky to get out alive."

"It's not that bad Buck," said Josiah.

"But Mr. Wilmington does have a point," argued Ezra. "His neighbors might not take to kindly to six men barging into the apartment house. Mr. Tanner has become their savior and they might try to protect him."

"We'll all go, but just me, Buck and JD will go inside," said Chris. "We'll take my Dodge and Bucks truck. Lets go."

Fifteen minutes later they were pulling up in front of Vin's apartment house. Across the street was an abandoned lot and JD noticed a bunch of kids sporting gang colors hanging out. Chris parked the Dodge and Buck pulled in behind him. Josiah had ridden with them and he remained in the truck as they got out. They were watched as they made thier way to the entrance of the apartment house. Chris opened the door and they went in. In the hallway were some children playing. JD was shocked to see that the girl watching them couldn't be more then seven years old. She held a baby in her arms as she watched the men head for the elevator.

"Jesus," whispered JD. "She couldn't be more then seven. How can they leave her to watch those little kids."

"I know kid its tough to watch but there isn't much we can do," said Buck. "We're here to get Vin."

The little girl watched the men head for the elevator. When she heard them mention Senor Vin's name she called over one of the boys and whispered in his ear. The boy ran out of the building. Chris pushed the button for the elevator and waited. When it opened they entered and he hit the button for the seventh floor. The elevator was old and slow and when the doors opened a welcoming committee met them outside Vin's door.

"What do you want here Gringo's" asked a young Hispanic kid wearing colors for the Los Lobos gang.

"We came to see Vin," said Chris. "He's a friend of ours."

"You look like cops," stated a young black kid.

"No not cops but we do work with Vin," smiled Buck. "Have you seen him?"

"And why would we tell you?" asked a tough looking girl dressed in ragged jeans and T-shirt. Tied around her thigh was a red bandana marking her as another Los Lobos.

"Look Chris lets just go to his apartment. They ain't going to tell us anything," suggested Buck.

At the mention of Chris' name they kids all started talking in Spanish. The Hispanic boy seemed to be the leader and he listened to the others. He gestured towards them and spoke some more.

"You getting any of that?" asked Buck.

"No they're talking a gang language. Part Spanish part street slang," said Chris.

The kids talked some more when Chris understood his name.

"Vin's told you about me hasn't he?" asked Chris.

"How do we know you're the right Chris?" asked the girl.

"I know Vin has helped everyone in this building. That he's warned off the other gangs and that they listened. I also know that Los Lobos gang was started by Vin to keep you all out of trouble. Except you aren't a normal gang. You're more like a neighborhood watch. You don't get into street rumbles or sell drugs. Vin has even been teaching you martial arts."

"He's the right Chris," smiled the girl. "We haven't seen Vin in almost five days. Is he alright?"

"Yeah he's fine darlin' we're just looking for him," answered Buck. "You've got some look out system. I take it the young lady down stairs marked us?"

"Catalina heard you mention Vin's name and she had one of the children tell us," answered the Hispanic teen.

"You mean they been watching us this whole time?" asked JD.

"Since you pulled up," said the black kid proudly. Chris just shook his head.

"Damn!" cursed Chris, "If he didn't come here then where is he?"

"How could he have gotten there?" mumbled JD to himself.

"What was that kid?" asked Buck. "Speak up."

"I was just thinking out loud," said JD. "There's no way he could have gotten out there?"

"Out where JD?" asked Chris as he walked back to the elevator.

"To Nettie's." answered JD as he followed Buck and Chris.

"Now why would he go there?" asked Buck as the elevator doors closed and they went down.

"Well, you know she stopped by yesterday. She mentioned that she was going out of town to see her sister and wanted Vin to watch the horses."

"Now I'm really going to kill him!" exclaimed Chris as the elevator doors opened.

"But how could he get out there?" asked JD as he and Buck climbed back in the truck.

"Get out where?" asked Josiah.

"Chris thinks Vin might be at Nettie's," answered Buck as he pulled into traffic behind Chris.

"But how.......

"I don't know kid!!!!" said an annoyed Buck.

"Vin is very resourceful," said Josiah. "He could easily have gotten out there."

"Well for his sake I hope he ain't," remarked Buck. "Chris is madder than a momma bear protecting her cubs. I'm glad my name ain't Vin Tanner."

"Amen, brother. Amen," agreed Josiah.

Around 7:30pm Chris pulled into Nettie's driveway. He pulled up next to the house and they got out. The others followed as he headed for the door. Just as he was about to turned the doorknob someone opened the door.

"Hi," said a young man. "Nettie's not here. Can I help you?"

"Were looking for a friend," said Chris.

"Well I just got here," he said. "Nettie asked me to feed the horses. I did notice a bag on the couch."

They entered the house and Chris headed for the couch. He recognized the bag immediately. He looked at the contents and his suspicions were confirmed. Inside were they clothes he had bought.

"That's strange," said the young man.

"What?" asked Buck.

"Diablo's acting funny," he answered.

Chris looked out the window to see a black stallion running back and forth along the fence. He would stop put down his head and nudge something, then run away whinnying. Chris cursed and ran for the back door. The others followed him totally confused. Chris ran to the corral. As he got closer he could see the stallion standing protectively over something. He vaulted the fence and Chris could see a familiar form sprawled on the ground. Chris tried to move towards him but the stallion was having no part of it. The others arrived to see what was going on.

"Easy boy," Chris soothed. "I don't want to hurt him. I want to help. You want me to help him don't you?"

Chris kept talking in a soothing tone to the horse. Slowly the animal calmed and Josiah climbed the fence and helped Chris. Josiah's deep soothing voice finally convinced the animal and he was able to take his halter and lead him away. Chris and Nathan immediately ran for Vin. As they got closer they heard him repeating something over and over.

"He's gonna kill me, he's gonna kill me," Vin kept mumbling.

"Shit!" Chris yelled as they turned him over and saw his leg.

The gray sweat pants were covered in blood. Vin cried out when Nathan touched it and violently pulled away. Vin started trashing around trying to get away. Chris held on to him and could feel he was burning up.

"VIN!" Chris called. "It's OK it's me. VIN!"

He stopped struggling when he recognized Chris voice and started to cry over and over.

"I'msorryI'msorryI'msorry." and clung to Chris.

"Chris!" cried Nathan. "We have to get him to the house." Nathan moved in to help carry him and Vin screamed when he touched him.

"I'll get him Nathan," said Chris "It's all right Vin I'm going to take you to the house."

Chris picked him up and carried him to the house. Vin clung to his neck and kept mumbling he was sorry. Chris could feel the heat radiating off the sharpshooter and he was afraid. He got him to the house and laid him on the couch. Nathan started giving everyone orders and they all jumped to their tasks. Nathan came over to the couch and knelt next to Vin.

"Vin, Vin can you hear me?" asked Nathan. Vin was tossing his head back and forth and Nathan grabbed it and forced him to look at him. "Vin it's me Nathan."

"Doc?" he said as the voice finally registered.

"Yeah Vin. I'm going to have to take a look at your leg."

"NO!" Vin cried and started to struggle. "Can't let Chris see!"

"VIN! VIN!!" yelled Chris as he pulled the struggling agent into this lap. "Listen to me. I'm not mad. It's alright. Let Nathan take care of your leg."

"I'm sorry Chris!" cried Vin as he buried his face in Chris's chest.

"It's alright, everything's going to be alright." Chris soothed as he stroked Vin's hair.

Nathan unzipped the pants and started to remove the bandages. He knew what he would find but he still wasn't prepared for the horrible wound he found. The staples had been ripped out on about half of Vin's leg from the hip down to his knee. Nathan looked up to see Chris starring at the mangled leg. Just then JD returned with towels.

"Oh God!" he said dropping the towels and running for the bathroom.

"Holy shit!" said a stunned Buck when he returned with the warm water.

"You better go check on JD," suggested Nathan.

"Right," Buck was glad for any excuse to get away.

"He certainly did a number on it this time," said Ezra as he returned from raiding Nettie's liquor cabinet. "Wouldn't it be better to get him to a hospital?"

"It will take the paramedics half an hour to get here. We can do it faster ourselves. Can you give me a hand?" said Nathan.

"At your service," replied Ezra. Josiah came back with blankets.

"This is going to hurt," said Nathan. "And I need you all to hold him."

Chris grabbed Vin and held him around the chest. He grabbed Vin's hands so they were crisscrossed in front and held on tight. Josiah grabbed him by the hips and Ezra sat on his good leg and held on to his injured one.

"Ready?" asked Nathan.

Nathan had placed towels under Vin's leg and poured the whiskey on the wound. Vin screamed and howled like an injured animal. He threw his head back and cracked against Chris's lip causing it to bleed. He almost threw Ezra off before he lost consciousness. Nathan soaked a towel in water and sponged out the wound trying not to hook any of the staples that were still hanging from Vin's flesh. Nathan didn't like the look of the wound and shook his head.

"What's wrong?" asked a worried Chris as he held Vin in his arms.

"The wound looks infected."

"How's that possible?" asked Chris. "He was on antibiotics."

"Don't know," answered Nathan. "Could be because he was laying out in that corral in the hot sun for who knows how long."

Nathan finished what he was doing then packed clean towels around the open wound. He then wrapped a clean white sheet around the whole leg. Buck came back leading a rather green looking JD. JD couldn't look at the others. Josiah placed a hand on the kid's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. Ezra helped wrap Vin in blankets and Chris picked him up and carried him out to the Dodge. They put the seats down in the back. Nathan climbed in back and helped Chris into the back with Vin. Ezra climbed into the driver's seat and Josiah rode shotgun.

"Josiah in the glove compartment is a ball and light, "said Chris. "Use it."

Josiah pulled it out and placed it on the dash. He could see Buck had done the same thing. Once they were settled Ezra pulled out of the driveway then gunned the Dodge towards the hospital.