Disclaimer: They arent mine. They belong to CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., and the people from the TNT or whoever has the legal rights now. I have only used them to enjoy myself and the people who read this, hopefully. I don't get any monetary profit with this. So don't sue me I have no money and my country currency is nothing compared to the dollar.
I have used, I think, two sentences said in the movie Armageddon. I don't know if it is necessary, but they belong, I suppose, to Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, Touchstone Pictures and whoever wrote the screenplay. And I have included lyrics originally written by Archibald Lampman and its title is Snow. This song is in Loreena McKennitt's A winter garden. I suppose the rights are to the singer and Quinlan Road Limited. I'm not getting any money from them. The ATF/AU universe is Mogs creation and I hope she doesnt mind I have played in it again. This is my second attempt of a fanfic... I can commit mistakes yet...;-) Feedback is really, really appreciated.
Comments: Thank you to Gina, my beta, because she is still very patient and very diligent with my work and me. And thank you to the people who gave me feedback about my first story. If I hadn't received these nice opinions, probably I wouldn't have written any fanfic anymore.
Warnings: This is mainly a Vin/Chris story, with some of anguish, pain, injuries and some of humor too (I hope). I don't know if there is someone who has written a similar story. If there is, I'm sorry. But on the other hand, I think that every story can contribute to the future ones. If anybody wants to use some idea that could be originally mine, please, you only have to ask.
Vin changed the radio station for the fifth time. He was bored hearing the same songs all the time. Chris was getting kind of irritated with the changes of station and at how restless Vin was.
"It was snowing only half a day... I can't believe the road got so icy," Chris tried to change the subject so both of them could forget the hard trip. Traffic went slower than they desired. They wanted to arrive at Denver and their office as soon as possible.
It had been a weekend of meetings, speeches and talks with other ATF members in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was great for Chris that Judge Travis allowed him to take someone else... and he chose Vin. The rest of the Team was sure Chris would rather go with Vin. They didn't get offended by this fact. Besides, none of them wanted to spend a boring weekend there if they could prevent it. Chris knew Vin wouldn't say a word about the boring work days but at the same time he knew he would be pleased to go with him. For Chris it was great to share time with his best friend. It was an open secret that they were as close as brothers. At the beginning he felt a little uneasy about how Buck would feel about it. Chris hadn't chosen to act this way on purpose, but it was the way he felt anyway.
Vin and he had a special connection nobody in Team 7 had. It was so easy to know how Vin thought or which words were going to come out of his mouth. At the beginning, the fascinating thing for Chris was when Vin knew what he was going to say, to do, or what he was thinking. Chris had thought about this so many times, and there was only one thing that kept Chris worried. One thing he tried to maintain locked up in a lost part of his brain. He was scared to death of losing one of the members of his family and he was especially afraid of losing Vin.
If Vin had had to go to these meetings alone, probably he would have blown his head off . He loved his job but not the bureaucracy. When Chris asked him to go with him, Vin suspected Chris felt in the same way he did about this kind of work activities. So the least he could do was to go with him. He smiled mischievously to himself at the thought of telling Chris that he didn't want to go and that he had to go alone because that was one of his leader duties. Probably if he had told him that, Chris would have thought of a way to get revenge. It was a fact that he didn't care to spend two days of talking and talking with more ATF agents. Every moment he spent with Chris it was okay for Vin. He knew he shared a lot of things with his boss and friend just by looking into his eyes. Vin thought of Chris as his family and he knew Chris thought in the same way about him too. Vin would do anything for him and vice versa.
+ + + + + + +
Last night they had slept in a hotel... They heard on the TV, the weather prediction... the weather was changing...it was getting worse. What could they expect... it was November. So when they woke up in the morning they found that at any moment it was going to start snowing. When it started it wasn't too heavy. Both of them thought there wasn't a reason to delay their trip to Denver. They didn't drive too fast because of the icy road and now they were in lost in their thoughts when suddenly a huge semi truck that was in the lane at the left of Chris's car skidded on an icy patch. The driver tried to keep control of the vehicle but it was almost impossible. The trailer unit slid across the other lanes. All the cars that were in its path found the trailer in their way. All the drivers tried to reduce their speed but the trailer was so near that they hadn't enough time. Three cars crashed against the trailer, one of them was Chris's. Chris's thoughts before the crash were about the possibilities to avoid the head-on collision. There weren't any. There was no time to brake sharply. At his right there was the bar ditch and on his left there was another car. Chris tried to brake and was thinking about trying to turn the car to his side to receive the impact himself but Vin knew it and held the steering wheel to keep the car straight. The last thing Vin heard before the impact was "Vin, no!!!".
+ + + + + + +
Chris awoke with a strange sensation in his body. The crash images appeared in his mind like flashes and suddenly Chris realized what his first action had to be.
"Vin?" Chris said turning his head slightly. Everything was spinning. He sighed when he met with blue eyes that were blinking slowly and trying to focus his face.
"Cowboy?" was the almost whispered answer that Vin gave.
Chris could see the blood that covered the right part of Vin's face came from a cut in Vin's hairline. The window next to Vin had shattered over him with the crash. Vin face had several small cuts and he had burst a blood vessel in his right eye.
"How are you doing, cowboy?" Chris asked Vin trying to find out the extent of Vin's injuries only with his eyes.
"I could ask you the same. Actually I am asking you the same..." Vin added with a small grin and closing his eyes trying to concentrate his thoughts.
"But I asked first," Chris said imitating the grin on Vin's face. "If you have enough strength to tell jokes, it can't be so serious, can it?"
"Well, maybe it's because I can't think clearly... Let's see, my right arm is broken and maybe some ribs on this side, or maybe they are only cracked. My neck hurts but I can move my toes and my legs which are trapped. I don't know if they are broken or not, but hurts like hell," Vin said with his eyes closed. When he finished the sentence he opened his eyes to look Chris directly in the eye.
"Okay, I think that this is enough. Actually iy's too much." Chris said concern in his eyes.
"Your turn, cowboy"
"Okay... Some ribs broken, my neck hurts too... My left arm is broken and maybe the left collarbone".
"And a bump in your head," Vin said laughing. "Ouch!" Vin was now holding his right ribs with his left hand.
"Yeah, it's only I have just discovered that I will not be able to laugh for a while.'
"Neither will I." Suddenly he remembered he had to scold Vin. "Why did you hold the steering wheel?"
"Because I didn't want to allow you to commit suicide... and I didn't want to know you died because of me."
"You would have done the same for me."
"Yeah, I don't need to live for a real something I know for sure here," Vin added pointed to his heart "and here," then to his head.
"I didn't need you to get yourself injured to declare your support for me." Chris was getting annoyed... he hated Vin getting injured.
"Don't get angry with me. I wanted to keep both of us alive."
"I'm sorry Vin. I'm not angry, okay?"
"Chris, I'm going to pass out, I can feel it ...but before, I need you promise something to me."
"Sure Vin, but you are going to be okay..." Chris was becoming very worried about Vin
"When the paramedics arrive. If they say something about..." Vin couldn't almost say the words "... cut my legs or something...please don't let them... I would rather die. I live for what I do in life and for that I need them." Vin's eyes were full of tears and so were Chris's as he listened to what his best friend feared.
"For God's Sake, Vin... This isn't going to happen." Suddenly Chris felt everything in his insides turn and felt the need to vomit and at the same time he needed to cough. The last thing was what he did and he felt the taste of blood in his mouth.
Vin was almost out but he opened his eyes and saw the blood in Chris lips and in his hand. "Oh my God, Chris..."
"Chris keep yourself awake, please.'
"I don't know if I will be able to, Vin."
"Talk to me Chris, about whatever you want." Vin's voice was tinted with a pleading tone.
"Can you see how the people from the rest of the cars are?" Chris managed to ask, pain and concern in his eyes.
"No, my neck hurts when I move too much, but I can hear people talking." Vin was thinking of a way to keep Chris awake without getting him worried -actually, he could hear cries and screams from the other cars. But at the same time he didn't want to allow himself to fall unconscious.
Chris sat with his eyes closed trying to avoid a new wave of coughing. Vin lightly turned his head and worry began to increase inside him.
"Hey cowboy, you're with me, aren't you?"
"Yeah, Vin...but I don't know for how long." Finally the coughing fit eased and Chris's mouth was covered with his own blood again.
Jesus, Chris, don't you dare die on me, Vin thought. He didn't allow himself to say that aloud. Instead he thought he had found a way to keep Chris awake. "Hey Chris do you remember when JD got a bullet in his thigh just a few days before his birthday and was so bored at home..."
"Vin, that was about two months ago!" Chris was doing all his efforts to follow the conversation... Vin silently thanked his friend for this.
"Okay...Casey was going to a trip with some people from her university to attend to a seminar in Colorado Springs so she wasn't going to stay with him..."
"I don't know where you are going with this... I'm getting lost myself ." Chris's concentration was almost null.
"Casey was so disappointed about leaving him alone. She thought she was abandoning him.. So as she was in this university theatre group... she'd decided to prepare a show for him and to record it in video...."
"And what did she prepare?" Chris managed to ask
"Well if you don't see it you aren't going to believe it... Casey was so cute in a black plastic suit... I can't say more...but JD could tell you she was sexy... she and several girls danced a pop song... I was so surprised...well, JD eyes were staring at the TV screen like a fool."
"Casey is a girl yet."
"And what is JD for you, and for Buck...?"
"Okay... a kid..."
"You should pay more attention to them...they are almost adults... they aren't in high school."
"I know, but...Vin, I can't follow your words completely...I'm sorry... I'm so tired"
"No, no Chris...listen...I have to tell you...uh, uh...do you remember this woman who was so impressive, blonde, blue eyes, red lips, long legs... who Buck was trying to date for about a whole month without getting one date?
"Aren't they all impressive for Buck?"
"Josiah and Ezra discovered that she was a he." Vin had a grin from ear to ear, "they were making jokes about it a whole day... that day you were in a meeting with Judge Travis." Chris chuckled.
"Why are you telling me all this things? You aren't going to die so you don't have to confess with me...you know." Chris was trying to relieve Vin's concern .
"Yeah, I know...but I can't allow you to fall sleep...Do you want to hear it? Okay... you can't fall unconscious... I don't want you to die suffocated by your own blood... You hear me?" Vin added between clenched teeth. His legs were hurting very bad now.
"I'm sorry Vin." Chris coughed again this time weaker than before but there was blood in his lips again... Vin went on with his little - and at the same time needed- gossip.
"And do you remember the day that Ezra bet with Buck and you that he could arrive on time to a meeting? He is going to kill me for this...but... he put the clocks forward so he would arrive on time the following day...then when both of you where talking with Team 3 leader, he set them correctly again...
"I am going to kill him. He... he owes me 20 bucks. How did you discover it?"
"Just observing him coming and going in your office "
"Do you think the paramedics are in their way here...I don't know if I will be able to stay awake anymore, Vin."
"Chris hold on there, they 're coming...The crash just happened about ten minutes ago..."
"Yeah, cowboy, I'm sorry, I..." Vin's body tensed when a shooting pain from his legs hit him...
"Vin? Are you..." Chris was almost out. Vin knew that he must find a way to keep Chris awake. He was sure that if he told him something personal, Chris would be able to concentrate on that...
"I remember part of a poem or a song, I'm not sure, but my ma used to recite it to me when I was sick or when I had nightmares... When I opened my eyes ma's face was next to my ear and she whispered the words... It was as a tale in my ears... I would like to remember it completely I always wanted to get it. It's by Archibald Lampman, it was titled "Snow" It was...it began...
White are the far-off plains, and white
The fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height,
And denser still the snow
A gathering weight on roof and tree,
Falls down scarce audibly
The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
... I can't remember anymore, only lines..."
"Vin, that is really nice..." Chris knew how hard it was for Vin to say these words...it was a close heart matter and it was the first time he'd heard Vin reciting.
Vin felt the tears near his eyes...he hadn't ever told this to anybody, it was one of the memories he kept locked in his heart. Now he could hear the sirens of the ambulances approaching. He closed his eyes just for a moment and the next one a paramedic was working on him and another one on Chris. There were several firemen working in the twisted body of the car to free Vin's legs. He heard the paramedics talking with each other...not everything only parts of their talking... Were they going to take them to different hospitals?
"Chris," Vin mumbled
"It's okay Vin...they will call the boys... We will meet in Denver, I promise."
That was the last coherent thing Vin remembered clearly from the crash.
+ + + + + + + +
The police officers that arrived at the crash scene took care of phoning the rest of the ATF agents and the relatives of the rest of the people involved in the accident. There weren't any dead but some of them were in serious condition. Chris was taken to University Hospital and Vin in a helicopter to Four Corners Hospital, both in Denver. Both of them went directly to surgery and the rest of Team 7 decided that some of them would go to University and the rest would stay at Four Corners waiting to know something about Vin's condition. Nathan and Buck went to University and Josiah, JD and Ezra stayed in Denver.
In surgery the surgeon stopped the bleeding in Chris lung caused when the steering wheel hit Chris when his car met with the trailer.
Chris woke up trying to recollect everything had happened in the last hours, or it was days?. Took him several seconds to focus and turning his head he found Nathan sitting in a chair next to his bed.
"Where is Vin? Is he okay?"
"Please Chris, calm down. Vin is going to be okay. So are you. But please calm down, don't try to move a lot, your collarbone is going to be grateful for that... and, of course, don't try to get out of this bed," Nathan was saying everything in a very calm voice, at the same time he lightly squeezed Chris right shoulder.
Chris tried to look at himself, the only thing he could see was his left arm in a blue sling. He couldn't move his neck because his collarbone hurt like hell. He knew it was bandaged, and the same was around his chest and belly holding his broken ribs and covering his after surgery injury.
"Vin... his legs"
"Yeah, Ezra is with him. He is going to be okay. But it is going to be a little while before he walks. His legs will be all right but right now it is a little painful. One of them was broken and the other one had several cuts... the vascular surgeon did a really good job. He will be as good as new. He's got an arm broken and a cut in the head. He will have to wear an neck brace for about a week...
"His right eye was bloody..."
"It's nothing... A little piece of glass stuck in, but it is a minor injury, it will disappears. That didn't affect to his eyesight. He will be our sharpshooter for a long, long time. Don't worry." Nathan finished with a grin on his face.
In that moment Buck came into the room: "Hey Chris, how you feel?"
"Terrible, Buck, I feel like I had been hit by a big, big truck."
"Yeah, that's how I thought you'd feel." Buck's grin was giving Chris the evidence of how glad his old friend was to see him alive.
+ + + + + + +
Vin lay peacefully in his bed. His right arm was in a cast. His ribs were wrapped with a bandage. He wore a collar to protect his neck and his legs were heavily bandaged from the knees down. They were propped up with pillows. His right eye had become black and blue, the same with the area around the cut in his hairline, but both of them were covered with adhesive dressing.
He couldn't move his neck... he touched the collar with his left hand discovering what kept his neck from any movement.
"Aw hell!" Vin said almost in a whisper that Ezra could hear.
"Is something disturbing you, besides the obvious, Mr. Tanner?" Ezra said, seeing with relief that his friend finally had awoken.
"Myself in person...Before you inquire about Mr. Larabee's whereabouts... I will disclose the information clearly: Mr. Larabee is going to be okay. It's true I promise, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Wilmington are with him. They are arranging everything to bring him here to Four Corners."
"I trust you...Ez, but if you don't come closer to the bed I won't be able to see your face and discover if you are lying to me. I can't move my neck and one of my eyes is bandaged, you know..."
"Let me tell you, Mr. Tanner, that you are unusually calm..."
"Chris promised me he will be here and I trust him. He's promised that before and kept his word...and I am heavily drugged, so..." Vin eyes fluttered, but Vin tried to keep himself awake, he needed to know something "Ez, they tell you something about my legs?"
"You don't need to worry about them, Mr. Tanner, you are going to be perfectly fine. They are in their place, but you have to rest them for a while."
While Ezra was finishing his words the doctor came into the room.
"Oh, Vin, you're awake. And I see Ezra has updated you on your medical condition. Your legs are going to be okay if you allow them to heal. I know how stubborn you can be, and I ask you, well, if you want to walk properly, I beg you, please Vin, this time follow my indications, at least for a while. Ah, and you'll need physical therapy after they have healed, I suppose you know that. Now go back to sleep Vin, you need it."
"Chris?" Vin managed to say. His eyes were almost completely closed.
"Yes, I was wondering when you'd ask for him. He will be here tomorrow morning. Are you okay with that?"
"Yeah, Dr. Stuart, thank you."
In seconds Vin felt sleep.
Dr. Stuart began to walk toward the door, Ezra with him until both of them were in the corridor: "Ezra, Chris will arrive tonight but I suppose he will be exhausted and he will want to know everything about Vin's condition so I'll see you then. If Vin needs more painkillers call the nurse, okay? And keep him in bed." The doctor left and Ezra went into Vin's room again. Just a few minutes later JD and Josiah came into the room just to check that Vin was all right.
"How is he, Ezra?" JD asked concern in his eyes.
"He is wondering when our fearless leader is going to arrive, Mr. Dunne?"
"Was that his first question, brother Standish?"
"No, surprisingly it was the fourth or fifth Mr. Sanchez". The three men chose a place to wait until Vin woke up again.
+ + + + + + +
Vin slept straight through the night but the pain in his legs woke him early in the morning. During the night the nurse had allowed Ezra to place the bed in a reclined position so Vin could be sat up and in this way he could see the person beside or in front of him.
"Hey cowboy, welcome," Chris said when he saw Vin's eye was open.
The rest of the Team had managed to get Chris's bed just in front of Vin's so they could see each other without moving a lot.
Chris was glad to see the grin that was on Vin's face.
"I can tell you the same," Vin chuckled.
"You look awful, you know that?"
"Yeah, I know, but, I don't care, I'm in one piece, you are okay too, those things are more important, aren't they?"
"Yeah, Vin, you're right."
+ + + + + + +
Chris was released from the hospital three days after his arrival in Denver, Vin stayed two more days. Both of them were at Chris's ranch with Nathan who was taking care of them, and Ezra who spent almost as much time as Nathan there.
Vin was sitting on the couch - he hated terribly that damned wheelchair - his legs resting over some pillows in the coffee table. He was almost completely covered by a blanket, and his plastered right arm was over another pillow with the remote control in his other hand, his finger pushing without resting all the buttons, surfing the channels. He was bored, but he couldn't get himself standing to get out of there. He wanted to get out of the room, breath pure outdoor air, but it was so difficult without the help of one of his arms. He knew Nathan was astonished with his good behavior. He hadn't tried to get out of the bed, or go out of the room without help... All of these possibilities were in Vin's mind, he had to be sincere at least with himself, but he preferred to wait a little more before trying anything. He needed his two arms or one of his legs in completely use, he didn't want to fall at the floor and get himself more injured he was. He was stubborn but not stupid.
+ + + + + + +
Chris had gone with Ezra to the office. This was his first day after the accident. He and Vin's doctor had allowed him to go but made him promise to take it easy for a while, besides he had his left arm in a cast yet and the injuries were healing, but he was the leader and had to go to work the sooner the better.
Nathan was in the kitchen. It was Friday and the boys had decided to share a Friday night together and enliven Vin's life a little.
Chris and Ezra arrived and found Vin sleeping on the couch with the remote in his hand yet. Ezra went to the kitchen with the bags from the supermarket. Chris smiled at the vision of his best friend, he looked so innocent and so young when he was injured or sick. Nobody would know that in his mind he kept the most elaborate jokes.
He sat down beside Vin carefully, and then lightly squeezed Vin's arm...
"Vin, wake up, Vin.."
Vin's lids blinked several times and finally his eyes stayed open.
"Hey, Chris, how was everything in the office?" Vin said trying to get comfortable.
"Everything's okay, Vin...I have something for you," Chris said catching Vin's complete attention.
"Chris, thank you, but, I'm not a little boy. You don't need to buy me something because I'm sick."
"I know, but I found a thing, I'm sure you'll like it. And ... I thought it would be better than spending all your time sleeping or in front of TV," Chris answered, giving Vin his present. Vin began to unwrap the packet, Chris helping him. Finally he could see what it was, a CD.
"It's from a woman called Loreena McKennitt. I didn't know her, but... in this CD she sings the poem you told me about when we were trapped inside the car... so I supposed it would be great if you can hear it."
Vin looked at the back of the CD box and discovered the song.
"I don't know what to say... Thank you Chris, this, this is very nice of you." Vin followed Chris with his eyes. Tears were forming in them but he managed to keep them for falling.
Chris left Vin, went to his room, picked up his discman and came back to the living room where Vin was staring at the CD yet. Chris picked the CD from Vin's hands and put it in the discman. He picked up the earphones and helped Vin put them on his ears. He chose the song and pushed 'play'. Vin began to listen, after a minute or so Vin picked up one of the earphones and put it in Chris's ear. The song was so beautiful, in fact it brought memories into both of their minds, Vin's and Chris's.
"Vin, your ma had exquisite taste," Chris said looking Vin in the eye before his friend bowed his head to look at the CD box again.
"Yeah, didn't she?" Vin's mind was lost in memories
"Now you'll never forget the poem." Chris was still staring at Vin
"It's true," Vin answered smiling, looking again at Chris's face.
+ + + + + + +
While Chris and Vin were in the living room, the rest of the guys were arriving and came going into the kitchen to prepare the food for their video evening. They thought that while Vin couldn't go out they should stay with him. When everything was ready they came into the living room, put everything on the table and everybody picked a drink. Chris and Vin were sitting on the couch, the rest of them on the floor or in armchairs.
"Okay." JD had with several videotapes in his hands "what movie do you want to see?" In Chris mind appeared a really nice ideas that but at the same time he knew JD would be very embarrassed, it would be unfair. Chris's eyes met with Vin's and instantly he knew Vin knew what he was thinking. Vin leaned over and said near Chris's ear ,"You can always ask him in private," then returned to his place.
"You can choose between Blade, The 13th Warrior or Armageddon. I prefer the last one. You know I like the part 'Damage? Total sir. It's that we call a global killer, the end of mankind'. What do you think?"
"It's okay," Vin answered
"I didn't chose any of them...so whatever you desire," Ezra added
"Talking about 'damage'..." Chris added. Vin was sure what was going to go next and a big grin appeared in his face as big as the one on Chris's. Chris went on, "I know two guys...one has suffered a big damage in his pride and another one is going to suffer it."
"What are you talking about Mr. Larabee?" Ezra was totally lost
"I was talking about the last romantic disappointment Buck suffered a little while ago..."
"How do you know that?" Buck look went between Josiah and Vin. Seeing the grin Vin was trying to hide, he knew..."You!... You are safe because your still injured but you will pay, Vin..."
"No, no... the only one that has to pay something to someone is Ez."
"I have no idea what are you talking about Mr. Larabee?"
"What about 20 bucks to Buck and me because you cheated in that bet, you know the meeting, on time."
"I assure you Mr. Larabee I don't know what you are saying?... Okay, who told you?" It was enough to look at Vin who was trying to hide his face...
"Okay, I forgive you Vin, because I am going to receive 20 bucks from Ezra, and that is so unusual..." Buck was laughing aloud with the rest of the Team except Ezra and Vin who was giving him his puppy dog look.
"I'd appreciate Mr. Tanner, if you'd put a lot of effort into your recovery, because I owe you one," Ezra said picking out his wallet from his pocket and giving Buck and Chris their money.
"Okay guys," Chris managed to say laughing yet "Vin had to tell me interesting things to keep me awake when we are trapped inside the car. You should be proud you were in our conversation."
"We are, Mr. Larabee, and Vin is going to be very proud at a future date, too," and Ezra gave Vin a wide grin.
Vin picked up the remote control and pushed the play button to see the movie. He was glad to be with all his friends, his family...and though he had been a 'good boy' and had obeyed every Nathan order...he was glad to keep all of them on guard, just in case.
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