May 15, 2000
Disclaimer Nope, I don't own any of the characters in this story. A bunch of rich guys in Hollywood do. Mog created the ATF universe.
"You're kidding, right?" Nathan asked.
"Sorry, Nate, but I'm not," Chris replied. "Ferguson moved up his timeline. That shipment of Calicos comes in on Friday."
"Come on, Chris. I've had this set up for months now," the dark man pled. "I even switched surveillance duties with Buck and JD, paid for a month's car washes for Ezra's Jag and let Josiah drive the Explorer to Tucson just so I could get this weekend off." He tried to give his boss the best sorry sonofabitch puppy dog look he could muster.
But Chris Larabee didn't fall for it. "Sorry, Nate, but it looks like you'll have to miss the conference."
"Shit. One more Colorado State EMS Conference down the tubes," Nathan muttered.
+ + + + + + +
"Nathan, what's wrong?" Vin asked, checking the straps of his vest again. "You don't seem to be with it tonight."
"You see that conference center two blocks away?" he asked, pointing out the van's windows.
"Yeah," the sharpshooter replied warily.
"I'm supposed to be in there, right now, eating a wonderfully catered dinner, listening to keynote speakers nationally known members of the EMS community learning the latest techniques necessary to save your sorry asses," Nathan sighed. "But no. Even after I switched days, lent out my car and washed Ezra's, one phone call about some gunrunner took it all away. How the hell am I supposed to learn anything or meet people when I'm stuck here in this van?" He looked up at Vin and immediately apologized. "I'm sorry, Vin. Just that they had some really good speakers this year, the year when I thought I'd finally be able to go."
"Sorry, bout that, Nate," the sharpshooter replied truthfully. "But with a little luck, this bust'll go through and we'll have those guns off the streets and all those EMT's and paramedics in there might just have an easier job for a while."
Nathan nodded his head, realizing that Vin was right. The fewer guns on the streets, the fewer gunshot wounds there would be. The fewer innocent victims of street violence.
+ + + + + + +
About three hours later, the ATF found themselves in the midst of a gun battle. Someone on Ferguson's payroll had managed to recognize the signs of the set up and things had gone downhill quickly.
Bullets ricocheted off the walls of the parking garage basement where the weapons deal was to have gone down. Chris and Ezra were the first to return fire, diving for cover behind some parked cars as they did. Vin, from his vantage point on the next level up, began taking out Ferguson's men whenever they broke cover.
Reinforcements were there within minutes, and Chris thought that they'd gotten Ferguson cornered. But a shout from Buck told him that some had gotten away anyway. Vin called over their comm. system that he would be following one man up the north stairwell and to have someone go up to the street level. Nathan replied that he'd take that job and headed up. Buck and Josiah were going after another up the south ramp.
When Vin reached the street level, he stopped before heading out the door. The bad guy would surely be waiting to take him out once he hit the street even if he did have a chance to blend in with whatever crowd might be there. Bad guys were stupid. That's why they didn't have normal jobs, like regular people, he thought.
So the sharpshooter kicked the door open, but remained inside the stairwell. And sure enough, the bullets hit the open door, right where his head would have been if he'd stepped outside. After a few minutes, Vin crouched down and dared a peek out, his handgun leading the way.
"Vin!" Nathan shouted, seeing Vin exit the stairwell. "He went down toward Third Street!" he added, pointing to the alley behind Vin.
Vin nodded and the two ATF agents cautiously made their way down the alley toward Third Street. It was then that the bad guy began taking pot shots at them. Vin quickly saw that they were in a bad position. Seeing Nathan being lined up as the next target, he began firing at the gunrunner and pushed his fellow agent to the side.
The gunrunner fell, hit in the chest by two of Vin's bullets. But he was not the only one. Nathan sat up and crawled to Vin's fallen form. There was blood staining the sharpshooter's jeans, above his right knee.
"Agent down! Third Street alley, near Main!" he shouted into his radio mike. "Get an ambulance here, now!" he added and began applying direct pressure to the wound. "Vin? Vin you with me?" he called, getting a head nod for a response. "Help's on the way, Vin," he added.
"Go check out the bad guy," Vin got out, teeth clenched. "Make sure he's down for the count." When Nathan hesitated to leave him, Vin added, "Go on, I don't want that bastard to get away."
Nathan nodded and reluctantly went down the alley. Seeing him out of sight, Vin finally gave into the pain and let out a loud groan and a string of curses as he grabbed his leg and rolled onto his side. He heard some voices and footsteps approach. Expecting Chris or an ambulance crew, he was surprised to see two men in suits and ties running toward him, carrying what looked like medical equipment.
"You alright?" the first, asked, kneeling down next to Vin and opening up the trauma bag he'd brought.
"Got a bullet, probably a forty, in my leg," Vin responded. "Who the hell are you guys?" he asked, confused by their appearance.
"We're paramedics," the second responded. "Attending the EMS Conference down the street," he added, beginning to take Vin's vital signs.
Vin nodded his head and leaned back while the two paramedics began treating him. He let out a hiss or two when the dark haired paramedic cut open his jeans to get to the bullet wound.
"No exit wound, looks like it nicked an artery," he told his partner, grabbing some heavy trauma dressings from his bag.
"I'll get an IV started," the other, older and light haired, responded.
Vin was starting to feel lightheaded. He heard the ambulance siren in the distance and wondered where Nathan was.
"Nate?" he called loudly.
"I'm coming!" Nathan called as he started making his way back to his fallen comrade. He began to say, "I'm right here," but stopped mid-sentence, confused and awestruck as he took in the sight before him.
"I'm gonna have to use the pressure point," the dark haired paramedic told his partner.
"I can do that," Nathan offered, coming back to the situation, realizing that Vin's injury was more serious than he thought. "I'm an EMT," he told the paramedics.
"We've got it. Why don't you set up the oxygen," the light haired one told him.
Nathan nodded and set to the task of setting up the oxygen to assist Vin's breathing and help prevent shock. For the next few minutes, the three medics worked as a team on Vin, keeping the sharpshooter's condition stable.
Chris and Buck had shown up by then and were hovering, eager to check on Vin's condition. While treating Vin, Nathan let them know how the sharpshooter was and told them about the dead shooter at the other end of the alley.
The ambulance showed up a few minutes later and the three medics helped the ambulance crew get Vin onto the stretcher. They relayed Vin's vitals to the crew and turned over care to them.
Nathan watched as the ambulance pulled away and turned to help the two paramedics with their gear. Again he was confused. The two men were gone.
+ + + + + + +
Several hours later, Nathan arrived outside the ICU at Denver Hospital. Vin had come out of surgery just moments before and the nursing staff was settling him into a bed.
"How is he?" he asked Chris, who had finally stopped pacing and taken a seat.
"Doctor says he'll be fine," the blonde replied. "He'll be out of action for a while and on crutches for a few weeks, though. Said that it would have been worse if he hadn't gotten such good pre-hospital care."
Nathan laughed and shook his head as he took a seat next to Chris.
"What's so funny?" Chris asked, confused by Nathan's actions.
"Vin didn't just get good pre-hospital care, Chris," he began. "He got the best pre-hospital care." Waiting for Chris's questioning look and getting it, he explained. "Those two guys that were helping me? Not only are they paramedics, they are THE paramedics. Those two guys were Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto."
"And they are ?" Chris asked, still confused.
"They are the Gods of EMS," Nathan replied reverently. "They were two of the first paramedics in the nation, part of the Los Angeles Fire Department. They set the stage for professional and volunteer EMS programs across the country." Seeing Chris's new understanding, he then added, "And those two are the best there are."
"We're only doing our jobs," Johnny replied, standing at the doorway to the waiting room.
He and Roy both laughed at the embarrassed face Nathan made.
Nathan hastily stood and greeted the two paramedics. "Thanks for helping out," he told them. "By the way, I'm Nathan Jackson," he said, holding out his hand, hating that it was shaking.
"Nice to meet you, Nathan," the dark haired one replied, shaking the offered hand. "I'm John Gage and this is my partner, Roy DeSoto."
"We're in town for the EMS Conference," Roy added, also shaking Nathan's hand.
"Obviously, I already knew who you were," Nathan said, a smile on his face. "You two guys are the reason I wanted to go to the conference. But my boss had other plans for me," he added looking at Chris. "This is Chris Larabee, my ATF supervisor," he introduced.
Chris shook Johnny and Roy's offered hands, saying, "Thanks for helping out. Me and my men are grateful for what you did."
"How is he?" Johnny asked, nodding toward the ICU door.
"Docs say he'll be just fine," Nathan replied.
"Glad to hear it," Roy said with a smile.
A nurse interrupted then, and told Chris that he could see Vin.
"Well, we just wanted to check up on him," Johnny said. "Nathan, Chris, good to meet you."
"You too," the dark agent agreed.
The two LA paramedics left the ICU, leaving an awestruck Nathan to collapse back onto the couch.