Too Good To Be True

by Tiffiny

ATF Alternate Universe

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is being made.

Comments: This is just me speculating on what kinds of secrets the boys might have. Feedback is always appreciated.

Vin Tanner opened the door of his apartment with trembling fingers and staggered inside. Once there, he stood frozen, as if the mere act of gaining entry had drained him of any further resolve.

With visible effort, the young man gathered himself together and began moving slowly and deliberately in the direction of the table located at the far end of the room. Pulling off his suede jacket, he threw it on the table along with his gun. Then he grabbed a bottle off the sideboard and took a long drink of the fiery liquid before sinking down into one of the chairs next to the table.

Oh God. It was true. You couldn't escape the sins of the past. He'd tried makin' up for his. Had spent the last three years attemptin' to use his talent for death to protect society. Protect it from men like him. Men who thought they were above the law. Only he wasn't that kind of man anymore. Didn't take the law into his own hands anymore. Now he was the law. Life was just full of irony sometimes.

Walkin' into that warehouse three years ago had been like comin' out the other side of Hell and findin' yourself in Paradise. He'd been given a second chance. A chance to do things the right way. With people he cared about. People who cared about him. And now he stood to lose it all. He wouldn't get another chance. Not once Chris and the others found out about all the men he'd killed while bounty huntin'. Sometimes for money. He'd liked to think of it as upholdin' justice. Doin' what the law couldn't or wouldn't. But he'd only been foolin' himself. He'd been a murderer. Plain and simple.

Chris Larabee might forgive a lot of things, but cold blooded killin' wasn't one of 'em. Their leader didn't believe in shootin' a man in the back. And Vin had done that more than once. The man who'd been standin' there in ATF headquarters when Vin walked in, less than an hour ago, could attest to that. Acting on instinct, the former bounty hunter had turned and run out of the office. He knew the man hadn't seen him. He wasn't even certain his fellow agents had been aware of his presence. But they'd soon be aware of his absence. It was only a matter of time.

The man in Chris' office. His last target. The one job he'd never finished. The sharpshooter hadn't been convinced, deep down, that the man was guilty of the crime he'd been accused of. Vin had found out later that he'd been right. The man was innocent. The tracker's shot had gone a little wide, probably due to those niggling feelings of doubt that had made him hesitate before pullin' the trigger. So he'd gone over to where the man lay, intending to finish the job, when the man had opened his eyes for a brief second. The pain in those eyes had ripped bleeding wounds in the bounty hunter's soul. He'd caused that pain. Shame had flooded through him at the thought. Vin was no better than the criminals he'd been huntin'.

Makin' a sudden decision, Vin had called for an ambulance and disappeared into the night. Then he'd started runnin'. Tossed his gun into the river and never looked back. It had been two months before he was able to pick up another gun. But it had been the only thing he knew. The only thing he was good at. So he went back to bounty huntin'. But not killin'. He'd never accepted another contract. And then, a few months later he'd tracked a bounty into an abandoned warehouse and his whole life had changed.

And now Vin's act of mercy was comin' back to haunt him. If he'd only finished the job...Yeah. If he'd finished the job then he would've had to face Chris knowin' he had the blood of an innocent man on his hands. That wasn't really the point anyway. Whether the man was able to identify him or not didn't matter. Vin was a fraud. He deserved to be found out. Lettin' his friends think he was worthy of their respect...Worthy of their carin'. He should've known it was too good to be true. Havin' friends and respect and a purpose. Those were things for other men. Not him. Not anymore.

Somehow he couldn't see tryin' to explain that "Yes, he'd killed people. But only the ones who deserved it. And it was never about the money. Really."

"Yeah?" They would ask. "And who appointed Vin Tanner as judge, jury and executioner all wrapped up into one neat little package?" And they'd be right. They would turn away from him in disgust. He didn't have the right to ask for their forgiveness or for their understanding. But he didn't know how he'd survive the loss of their friendship. How he'd be able to go back to his lonely existence. But he couldn't tell them anything that would make it all better. There were no magic words for him. No happy endin'.

As if on cue, the telephone rang. Once, twice, three times.

"You've reached the residence of Vin Tanner. Leave a message and I'll get back to ya."

"Vin? Are you home? It's Chris. What happened to you this morning? I'm on my way over. You can explain it to me then." Click.

Vin Tanner stifled something that sounded suspiciously like a sob. Explain? If only he could.

The End

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