by Winter

ATF Alternate Universe


Voices he didn't recognize. Vin struggled to get away. He lashed out with his hands and they pinned him down. He was afraid one of the neighborhood gangs had caught him. He had to get away but there were too many of them. He wondered where Chris was and began to worry. He listened to the voices.

"Get that IV started."

"Where's that damned unit of blood."

"Mr. Tanner can you hear me? We need to clean your leg wound."

A searing pain lanced up his left leg. He continued to struggle and they restrained him. Where was Chris? If they got him also he was in trouble. He had to find Chris He struggled even harder.

Chris prowled the waiting room and the others stayed out of his way. The nurses had refused to let him stay with Vin. The ride to the hospital had been a nightmare. Vin had regained consciousness and began to struggle. Nathan had tried to calm him but Vin struck out with his fist. He sported a black eye from where Vin had connected. Chris finally had to hold him wrapped in his arms against his chest. When Vin realized it was Chris he relaxed. Chris wandered to the door and stared at the room they had taken Vin into. Suddenly a wail went up from the room.


He bolted for the door. He ran into the room to find Vin struggling to get away from the nurses. Dr. Allen had been knocked to the floor. Chris grabbed Vin by the shoulders and forced him down.

"VIN!" he yelled. "Listen to me everything's alright. You're safe here. They're trying to help you."

"Chris," Vin cried. "We have to get away. This is Raven territory. I told you we shouldn't have come this way."

"It's OK Vin we aren't in their territory any more," Chris soothed playing along. "I got us out, we're safe."

Chris felt him relax, but he wouldn't loosen the death grip he had on his arm. Chris saw Dr. Allen get to her feet and come back over to the bed. Vin tensed at her approach.

"Don't let them hurt me, Chris! Please!" he cried.

"It's OK she's only trying to help," he said pushing Vin's hair away from his face.

One of the nurses handed her a syringe. She leaned down and gave him the injection. Chris could feel him immediately relax. Chris watched as Vin's fever bright eyes slowly closed and he slept.

"What the hell happened?" demanded Chris.

"We tried to take care of his leg and he went berserk." Dr. Allen answered.

"Why didn't you use that stuff on him to begin with?"

"His fever is 104. I prefer not to use it when someone's temperature is so high." she answered

"Why didn't you give him anything for the pain?" Chris accused

"I did, it didn't help," she sighed. "I think we have it under control. It's better if you wait outside."

"I'll stay."

"Mr. Lara....'

"I'm staying," he said in a deadly voice.

"Alright," she relented. "Let's get him on his side."

They turned Vin so he was on his right side. Chris made himself as small as possible up by Vin's head and held onto one of his hands. One of the nurses restarted the IV, hooked him to a heart monitor and placed an oxygen mask on his face. She smiled at him in apology and took Vin's hand to start the unit of blood. Chris placed his hand on Vin's head to reassure him. They started to clean the wound and Vin cried out. He tried to roll away from the assault but Chris moved behind him and kept him in place. It broke Chris's heart to hear the younger agent begging them to stop hurting him. He watched in revulsion as they pulled the staples from the wound. Chris talked to Vin and wiped the sweat from his brow. The heart monitor beat an incredibly fast rhythm that worried Chris. Vin's breathing was becoming labored. Chris looked up at the doctor.

"Almost done," she assured him.

Ten minutes later she was finished. Chris could see she didn't look happy. Vin lay panting completely spent. She shooed Chris away from Vin's back and checked the wounds. Most of them were fine except the longest one. He had pulled a few of the stitches and she replaced them. When she was done she called over one of the nurses. She gave instructions for some medications Chris didn't recognize.

"Mr. Larabee, when did he have his last tetanus shot?"

"He gets one every year since he works with horses."

"That's good."

"How bad is he?" Chris finally asked.

"Not good I'm afraid," she replied. "He has a massive infection in the leg wound. I removed all the staples that he pulled and left the wound opened to drain. I left the others in place. He has an alarmingly high fever."

"He couldn't have been out in the corral long enough for the leg to get that bad." said Chris.

"True. I'm guessing he wasn't taking the antibiotics."


The nurse returned with three syringes and handed them to the doctor. Chris watched as she injected two of them into the IV and the last into Vin's shoulder. She saw Chris watching her and she smiled.

"The one in the arm was a booster shot for tetanus. The others were a painkiller and a broad-spectrum antibiotic. We're going to move him to ICU. With such a high fever he can go into convulsions so I want to keep an eye on him."

The orderlies came to move him. The nurses unhooked him from the heart monitor and placed the IV and the unit of blood on the moving gurney. They pulled up the safety bars on the side and pushed him out. Chris stayed right by his side. Once out the doors the rest of the team converged on the gurney. They all followed to the elevator but Dr. Allen prevented them from all getting in the elevator.

"Come up to ICU," she told them as the elevator doors closed.

"Shit!" said a frustrated Buck as he pushed the button for another elevator.

Chris watched as the nurses hooked Vin to the monitors. He smiled at the thought of his reaction when he found out the nurse had hooked him to a catheter. He turned as he heard the others approach. The head nurse for the ward stopped them before they could enter the room. Dr. Allen talked with her and said it was all right. She gave in reluctantly. They approached the room and stepped aside as the nurse came out. Chris moved the chair closer to the bed and took a seat. He took Vin's hand a rubbed his thumb along the knuckles. The IV prevented him from taking hold of his whole hand. Vin tried to pull away.

"Easy, cowboy, it's Chris," he said as he placed his other hand on Vin's head.

Vin relaxed and mumbled something in his sleep but Chris didn't hear. The others came closer. JD reached out his hand and touched Vin's arm.

"Jesus! He's hot as hell."

"How bad is he Chris?" asked Nathan.

"Fever of 104 with a massive infection in the leg wound. She thinks he wasn't taking his medication."

"He said he was," JD replied.

"Yeah kid but we never actually saw he take them. Did we?" asked Buck.

Josiah moved over to the table and poured water into a small basin. He grabbed a towel and moved over to Vin. He hooked the second chair with his foot and pulled it closer. He sat down and soaked the towel in the water. He rung it out and began to wipe Vin's face and neck. As soon as Josiah touched him Vin panicked and the heart monitor spiked sounding the alarm.

"Easy Vin," Josiah said in his deep voice. "Your safe here."

Vin pulled away from him mumbling something about ravens. The nurse rushed in at the sound of the alarm. She gave them all a warning look. She checked Vin and saw he was all right, reset the monitor and left.

"Ravens?" asked Josiah.

"A very nasty gang over by the warehouse. Vin must have tangled with them when he was a kid. He thinks they're after us."

"Mr. Sanchez why don't you let me try," said Ezra. Josiah got up and Ezra took his place.

"Mr. Tanner, its Ezra. I'm going to wipe your face and neck with some cool water."

Ezra tentatively wiped his face and Vin didn't react. He continued down along his neck and shoulders avoiding the pads for the monitor. Nathan had moved behind Vin and took the towel from Ezra. He continued to wipe Vin's back and neck. He handed the towel back to Ezra who wet it again and handed it to Chris. He carefully moved the towel along Vin's chest and along his abdomen. Vin stayed calm and they started over again. Buck and JD went and got extra chairs. They came back and settled in for the night.

Just before Dr Allen got off her shift, at 3:00 AM, she went to check on Mr. Tanner. The nurses at the station nodded as she walked by and headed for the room. She quietly entered to find the men sprawled in chairs around the room. She walked closer to Vin and jumped when Mr. Larabee opened his eyes. He was seated next to Vin holding his hand.

"I thought you were asleep." she whispered.

"I tried but he hasn't been very quiet," he indicated her patient. "He also won't keep on the oxygen mask."

"I can fix that," she said. She took off the mask and replaced it with a nasal canula.

She checked the heart monitor and it was still registering a fast beat. She listened with the stethoscope and was relieved to hear his lungs were clear. She picked up the electronic thermometer on the table and placed it in his ear. After three seconds it beeped and she read the results.

"Damn," she whispered.


"It's gone up, 105. I'll be right back."

Chris watched her leave and felt Vin's forehead. He just shook his head as he pushed back Vin's unruly brown curls. She came back in carrying another IV. Earlier the nurse had removed the unit of blood and the doctor now replaced it with a second IV. She adjusted the flow and Chris watched as the clear liquid entered the tubing. He looked at her for an answer.

"He's gong to start loosing fluids quickly. The two IV's will help him from becoming dehydrated. The second dose of antibiotics won't hurt either. Why don't you try to get some sleep I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."

Chris watched as she walked out. He turned his attention back to Vin. The lights from the monitors cast an eerie glow around Vin's face. Chris closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

+ + + + + + +

Voices again but none he recognized. He had to protect Marieta. She had been so kind to take him in when he ran away from the foster home. Granted she lived on the street but her place was better than any he had ever known. He was only fourteen and said he would watch over her. She was an old woman. He didn't want anything to happen to her. Vin loved to listen to her talk. She had a southern accent that she said could charm a squirrel away from his acorns and he believed it. But where was she? He had to find her. He heard the voice again and he listened.

"Why don't you join Josiah, Ezra and Nathan down at the cafeteria. Me and the kid will keep an eye on him."

"God, Buck, he looks terrible."

"I know kid."

Vin heard one of them approach. He couldn't let them catch him. He had to find Marieta. One of them touched him and he opened his eyes.

"Hey, Pard," smiled Buck as he took Vin's hand. Vin pulled his hand away.

"Where is she?" he asked in a pain filled voice.

"Where's who?" asked JD. Vin jumped at his voice and Buck could see the panic in his eyes.

"Easy, Vin," Buck soothed. He realized the younger man didn't recognize them.

"I have to find her!" Vin cried. "I promised I would protect her!" Then all hell broke loose as Vin tried to get up.

"JD, don't let him move that leg!" cried Buck as he grabbed Vin by the shoulders and tried to hold him down.

JD tried to be careful but Vin stilled cried out when he touched his leg. This only made him struggle more. The scream had brought one of the nurses running. That and the heart monitor's alarm had sounded. Right on her heel's was Ezra.

"Good Lord what is going on here?" he said in his southern drawl.

"Ezra!" Buck called. "Give us a hand. See if you can calm him down."

"Vin listen to me. You have to stop struggling. You'll only hurt yourself more," Ezra said with all his southern charm.

Ezra had moved into Vin's line of vision and sat down by the sharpshooter's head. Ezra was surprised to see his eyes open. He could see the young agent wasn't actually with them. His eyes had a far off look and were totally panicked.

"Vin you're not listening," scolded Ezra as he struggled in Buck's grasp. When he heard Ezra's voice he listened.

"Keep talking, fancy pants. You got his attention," said Buck.

"On either side of the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road run by
To many towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round and island there below,"
The island of Shalott."

Vin stopped struggling when Ezra started the poem. Ezra reached over and pushed the hair out of Vin's eyes and he could see he was watching him. If this is what it took to keep Vin quiet Ezra was willing to make the sacrifice and continued the poem.

"Willows Whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
Below the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls and four grey towers,
Over look a space of flowers,
And the silent isle embowers..."

"The Lady of Shalott," Vin whispered which shocked Ezra. "Marieta. She's dead isn't she?"

Ezra knew Vin wasn't in the present with them. He was remembering something from his past. Ezra could see it in his eyes. He reached out and took his hand and played a hunch.

"I'm afraid so."

"I couldn't save her," began Vin. "I tried but I didn't get there in time. I promised her I would protect her!

I failed her!!!! Just like I failed my mom."

Vin buried his face in the pillow and cried. Ezra looked up at Buck. Buck and JD had backed off when Vin had responded to Ezra. Buck came over and sat down next to Ezra. A very subdued JD sat close by. The nurse checked his IV's and his leg. When she was satisfied he hadn't done any more damage she left. Ezra continued with the poem. Just then Chris walked in. All that registered was that Vin was crying.

"What happened?" he demanded as he came closer.

"He woke up," JD tried to explain.

"But he wasn't really here," continued Buck. "He was looking for a Marieta. When he realized she wasn't here he tried to get up and we stopped him."

"Let me guess," sighed Chris. "He started to fight you?"

"Yeah," said JD. "He's still damned strong even though he's sick."

"He fought us until he heard Ezra. That damned southern drawl finally came in handy for something."

Chris turned to Ezra and he could hear him reciting the poem The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson. He also saw that Vin was staring at the wily agent listening. During his struggles Vin had knocked out the oxygen tube and Chris leaned over and replaced it under his nose. He could feel the heat radiating off the younger man. He picked up the thermometer and placed it in his ear. Vin was oblivious to everything but Ezra's voice. Chris knew the poem was a long one and was surprised Ezra had it memorized. The thermometer beeped and Chris read it. Still 105.

"Where are Josiah and Nathan?" asked JD.

"I sent them back to the office. A few more things had to be wrapped for the Tommy Hong case. I told them I would call if anything changed here."

Just then two nurses came in pushing a cart. Chris could see it was covered with bandages and other things to clean Vin's leg. JD saw the cart also and backed towards the door.

"I'll wait outside," he said and disappeared.

"Oh damn," said Buck. "Do you have to do it now?"

"I'm afraid so," apologized the nurse.

"Can't you give him something for the pain first?" asked Chris.

"We'll give him a shot of morphine first," she said. "Hopefully that helps."

Ezra had stopped reciting when the nurses walked in. Vin's eyes were still open but Chris realized he wasn't seeing them. One of the nurses gave Vin the injection. Chris watched as Vin blinked and his eyes got a deeper blue as the pupils dilated. He tapped Ezra on the shoulder and they switched places. The nurses decided to use all of them to hold Vin. She said it was still going to hurt and they might need them to restrain him. Buck got behind him and held his hips. Ezra they stationed at Vin's feet and told him to hold on to his ankles. Chris took his hands and his shoulders. He could feel Vin tensing as he was restrained. Chris knew Vin didn't like to be held. The nurses flipped back the sheets then carefully pulled away the covering on the wound. They could see it was red and slightly swollen. Buck had to look away. Ezra just shook his head. The nurses were gentle but they still had to hold tight to Vin as the pain increased and he tried to get away. Vin slipped into one of his delusions this time fighting in a street gang. The nurses moved quickly but by the time they were done Vin was unconscious.

+ + + + + + +

Chris couldn't take much more of this. He ran his fingers through his short blonde hair and sighed. It was 2:00am and he had convinced the others to go home. All of them except Ezra. He seemed to be the only other person Vin responded to. The nurses had finally taken pity on them and had a cot brought in to the room. Ezra had collapsed around 1:00am and was sound asleep. Chris sometimes wondered why he started this team. He was getting to old to have to worry about others. When he worked alone he only had to worry about himself. He had been reluctant to start the team but the upper brass had convinced him. He figured he would be able to keep his distance from the other members. At first it had been easy. Buck was his first recruit and was used to Chris's standoffish ways. The next two hired on had been Josiah and Nathan. Still he was able to keep his distance. Until that fateful day when a suspect had Nathan in his sights. Chris wasn't close enough to do anything when a shot rang out. Chris had been afraid to look. When he did Nathan was still standing and a lanky young man with long hair, and honest blue eyes walked into his life. A bond was instantly formed and Chris could no longer keep his distance. Vin had made him realize just how lonely he had been. The down side to caring about people was when they were hurt. Chris wiped the sweat from Vin's feverish brow. He had finally fallen into a fitful sleep. Every once in awhile he would mumble in his sleep but Chris could never figure out the words. It didn't help that Vin could speak Spanish as well as some of the gang languages. Chris had been surprised to learn he knew a little Japanese. He watched the younger man sleep for a little while and when he was convinced he'd stay that way he leaned his head back and dozed.

Vin was dreaming he had to be. He watched in slow motion as the bullet left the barrel and headed straight for Chris. He was paralyzed with fear as he watched Chris fall to the ground. All he could do was scream.


Chris was instantly awake. He could see Vin was caught in a dream and tried to wake him.

"Vin it's OK. You're safe," soothed Chris.

"Not this can't be happening, Chris!!!!" Vin cried.

"Mr. Tanner everything is alright," said a sleepy eyed Ezra as he came over to the bed and touched Vin's arm.

"Ezra?" said Vin as he opened his eyes.

"Yes Vin it's me."

"Oh God Ezra!!!! He's dead!"

"Who's dead?"

"Chris!" he wailed and began to cry.

"Vin it was a dream. I'm alright," said Chris as he tried to reassure the younger man but got no response.

"Mr.Tanner, Mr. Larabee is just fine," tried Ezra.

"No he's not!" insisted Vin. "The worst part is I just stood there and watched it happen. I could have stopped it but I didn't."

Ezra looked at Chris and frowned. They realized Vin was awake but still dreaming. Chris moved out of the chair and let Ezra sit down. Vin had closed his eyes but Chris could hear him repeating it was his fault over and over.

"Looks like it's my turn again Mr.Larabee," said Ezra. "Why don't you try to get some sleep."

Chris nodded and headed for the cot. He was grateful to lay stretched out on his back. He didn't realized how tense he had been until he lay down. Chris checked his watch, and it read 5:00am. He lay listening to Ezra reciting WB Yates "An Irish Airman Foresees his Death"

"I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate;
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltratan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breathe the years behind
In balanced with this life, this death."

Chris thought it was and odd poem to choose as his eyes slowly closed and he slept.