Black Widow

by Deirdre

Part 9 (cont.)


Three weeks flew by with the deadline drawing closer. Vin and J.D. put in a lot of overtime memorizing details, studying faces and collecting data. It was a rainy Friday night when Chris took Mary to the symphony and dropped her off at her apartment. His enduring kiss told her he'd be returning.

"I gotta pick up some stuff from the office. I won't be long." He promised.

"I'll be waiting." She slid out of the car and winked, giving him a hot grin.

He slid his keypass into the infrared device and made his way upstairs. He glanced at his watch and noted the approaching hour of eleven p.m. He was down the hall from the double glass doors of the Team Seven Center, and saw the lights on. He proceeded cautiously, and peeked inside. Not spotting anyone, he entered, and saw J.D. sleeping on a pile of data. He was about to wake the slumbering agent, when he heard a soft cough. He walked to the entrance to the conference room and spotted a bleary-eyed Vin Tanner.

"Vin, go home." Chris ordered, seeing the exhaustion on the younger man's face, "Why are you still here?"

"Me and J.D. just wanted to tie-up some loose ends," Vin rasped, looking up at his boss, "Man, am I beat."

"What's going on, Vin?" Chris took the chair next to the weary agent.

"I'm okay," Vin mumbled, staring ahead.

"Vin, it's just you and me." Chris said quietly.

Vin looked over at his best friend and saw only concern in the green eyes. He heard the silent message as clear as a bell. Vin could fool most anyone, on any given day. But he could never get past Chris Larabee. The blond knew him too well, seemingly always able to read him at a glance. Sometimes so accurately it scared Vin. He flicked another glance over at Chris and sat back, lost in thought.

"Vin, you can't let this get personal," Chris leaned forward, reading the bloodshot blue eyes.

Vin dropped his head, startled at the other man's uncanny statement. One look was all it took, Chris saw right through Vin down deep inside. Right to the place where Vin kept stilled pictures of all the kids in his neighborhood who ended up dead. Too many young faces silenced by the lure of coke and heroin. He felt an anger rising, feeling naked under the scrutinizing eyes.

"Damn it, Chris," He growled, "Quit doin' that. It scares the shit outta me."

"Look at me, Vin," He paused, waiting for the lost blue eyes meet his own, "I need your head on this case. You got to leave all that shit behind you. You can't go on like this, your gonna get hurt. Don't let it in here," He tapped Vin's chest, "Or you're gonna end up dead too." Chris dictated, voice sharp in anger.

Vin rose and walked to the window, eyeing the headlights illuminating the driving rain. Chris was right, of course, and that only made him madder. He stood for several minutes, regaining his balance.

"Three weeks ago, I was coming home late. I saw the flashing lights about two blocks from the center. Then I saw the meat wagon..." He paused, swallowing back the image, "I just knew it was one of the kids. She was only fourteen, Chris. Fourteen and a damn junkie...a dead junkie. Two kids last month, makes close to ten this year." He felt a hand on his shoulder, just a slight pressure, but enough combined with the gentle tone in the voice, it spoke volumes.

"You okay to drive?" Chris didn't miss the fact the blue-eyes were only half-mast. "How about some coffee?"

"No thanks," Vin shook his head, "I'm floatin' now. Maybe I'll crash at Buck's place. He's only ten minutes away. The Kid sleepin'?"


"Figured. Haven't heard him in a while. What are ya doin' here anyhow?" Vin rubbed his eyes and turned around.

"Ted said he'd fax me the report from his man in Bogota." Chris replied, "Did anything come through?"

"Yeah, a couple hours ago. It's on yer desk." Vin mumbled, back at the table, trying to get the volume of papers in front of him organized.

"Vin, I'll get them," Chris tapped his shoulder, "Okay?"

Vin knew Chris wasn't talking about the paper gathering effort. He raised his weary head and lifted his lips. He nodded, sending his silent message. Chris returned the smile and pushed the exhausted man towards the door. qqq qqq "You get J.D. on his feet and splash some cold water on your face." qqq qqq "Reckon I ain't exactly perky," Vin acknowledged.

"You and the Kid are really going above and beyond on this." Chris said seriously, "and don't think it's going unnoticed."

"Just a nine-to-five, right?" Vin mused approaching J.D. "J.D....J.D..." Vin whispered, shaking his shoulder.

"Not now Casey, I'm tired."

Vin and Chris both chuckled at the youth's mistake. "Kid, I ain't interestin' in that..." Vin snapped, tapping the dark head, "Wake up."

"Huh?" J.D.'s head came up, his face bearing the imprint of the pencils he was snoozing on. "What time is it?" He muddled, spotting Chris nearby.

"Time for y'all to get to bed." Vin suggested, helping the dazed youth stand. "Let's get cleaned up."

J.D. and Vin returned about five minutes later, looking slightly more alert. Vin's dark circles stood out against his normally tanned skin. Chris watched the two younger agents closing down their computers and gathering their data. He punched Buck's phone number and grinned when a female voice answered. Buck then got on the phone.

"Wilmington..." Buck paused, "Chris? Something wrong?"

"No. Tell Cinderella to make herself decent. J.D. and Vin are dead on their feet. I'm gonna drop J.D. off at his place. Vin's eyes look like two pissholes in the snow. His place is too far out, okay if he crashes?"

"It' Bambi," Buck corrected of the girl's name, "They're still there? Damn..." Buck amazed, reading his clock, "Can't say those boys aren't dedicated."

"Good thing somebody is," Chris tossed, spotting Vin dozing at his desk, jacket half zipped. "I don't know, Buck...Vin's pushing himself too hard."

"I left at seven and they swore they were right behind me." Buck sighed, " Vin's been a little distant, but I figured it was all the extra hours adding up. He's been putting in eighteen hours days for nearly a month. You tell Junior to let himself in."

"Thanks, Buck."

Part 10

Vin groaned as he pulled out of the parking garage. These eighteen hours days for the last several weeks were taking a toll. He'd made time to see Sierra, but not the quality time she deserved. He thought on the updated information and punched Ezra's phone number. The undercover agent had flown to New Orleans two days before, in anticipation of the upcoming contact from the Carlino's. Vin would leave a message to 'call you Aunt Cecilia'. This would alert the smooth-talking southerner to call Vin on his cell phone. He frowned at the red light, when a busy signal came on the line. He redialed, thinking maybe he misdialed the first time. But once again, there was a busy signal. He saw the approaching intersection and turned off. Ezra's place was about a fifteen minute drive. Vin got the familiar pins and needles on his skin. He had an uncanny ability to foresee trouble. Nathan joked he was a closet psychic.

He parked the car in the shadows and got his gun out of the trunk. The rain was really coming down and he got soaked. He made his way to Ezra's condo and saw a light on. Sensing trouble, he reached inside his jacket and unclipped the holster. He walked around the property and crept onto the patio. He spotted the vertical blinds opened a crack. He pressed his face against the glass and squinted.

"What the hell?" He mumbled, spotting Cambria screwing the bottom of the phone back on. She stood and got her coat on. She looked around the room carefully and then the lights went out. Vin ducked under the bushes and waited. He heard the front door shut and made his way around front. He got a sinking feeling in his gut and trotted to his car. He kept an eye on the red sports car he saw her climb into. He followed her for quite a distance, fighting to stay awake. He took in the address and scribbled down a note, slipping it into his pocket.

He sat for a minute and added up the few clues he had. Ezra's surprise a month ago at the strange interview process the Carlino's had. Cambria's 'accidental' meeting of the southern agent in the lobby. What if she'd set him up? Was that possible? He rubbed his aching eyes and his brain was too fried to put the pieces together. Ezra was due back anytime. The Texan sighed, he’d have to get into Ezra's somehow and check the phone. He'd also have to do a background check on Cambria. He drove back toward Buck's and jerked himself awake, weaving slightly.

Buck deposited Bambi at her apartment and got home just after midnight. He unlocked the door and frowned, not spotting Vin's jacket. He eyed the first floor guestroom, which was still dark.

"Vin, you here?" He called as he climbed the stairs. The other two bedrooms were empty too. "Where the hell did that boy get to?" He wondered outloud. He thought back on Chris's description and started to worry. What if Vin dozed off while driving? Grabbing his coat he jumped in his car and took the familiar path to the office.

He was several miles away when he spotted Vin's car on the side of the road. He jumped out shielding himself from the downpour and peered inside. Vin's head was back and he was sound asleep. He banged on the window, and called to the sleeping man.

"Vin! Wake the hell up...VIN!"

Vin jerked awake and blinked. "Buck?" He mumbled, groping for the door. qqq qqq "I swear you and J.D. are trying to get me into an early grave. Are you okay?" He hollered, pulling Vin's keys from his hands, and steadying him, "Come on Junior, I'm driving."

qqq Buck took Vin's coat and pushed him towards the back of the house. He took both wet coats and hung them in the laundry room. A slip of paper fell out of Vin's pocket. Buck glanced at it and put it on the shelf with the laundry detergent. He'd return it when the coat dried out. He returned to the first floor and peered inside the guestroom. The hall light reflected the worn out body. Buck frowned at the sight of the younger agent, spawled across the bed. Vin's feet were still on the floor and his arms flung out. Buck pulled the boots off and lifted the legs onto the bed. He got a blanket from the closet and covered the body. Vin turned onto his side and mumbled something about border crossings. He studied the face and saw what Chris did earlier. Vin's normally tanned complexion was pale and the dark circles and lines gave him a haggard, unhealthy look.

"Son, you're working too hard," Buck shook his head, shutting the door.

+ + + + + + +

The sun was coming up and Buck had breakfast started. The toaster was loaded with bagels, the juice was poured and a western omelet sizzled in a buttered pan. Chris wanted them in early, to go over the DEA's latest surveillance tapes. He heard the chair slide out and turned slightly, wincing when he saw Vin. He was huddled over a cup of coffee, pale and shivering slightly.

"Wait just a minute," Buck turned sliding the omelet on a plate and grabbing the bagel, "I know you...weren't you in "Office of the Living Dead?"

Vin glanced up and scowled, staring at the plate in front of him. He was trying to come up with a way to fit all he had to do within the day ahead. He wanted to get to Ezra's and work on tailing Cambria. . His eyes burned and his head hurt. Damn, he was tired. He was still staring at the plate when Buck nudged him.

"You listen up, Pard," He said in a no-nonsense tone, "You're gonna eat every bit of that and go right back to bed." Buck slid two Tylenol’s at him, "You look like shit, Vin. You can't go on like this. Ezra's coming back and this is gonna go down any time. You gotta be sharp. You're the one covering his ass with that scope."

"Don't tell me my job," Vin growled, glaring at Buck, "Have I ever let this team down?"

"No," Buck conceded, "But have you looked in the mirror? I've seen worse faces and they've been dead. It's almost like you're on some kind of mission."

"I'm fine. Mind yer own damn business." Vin sneered, stabbing the eggs.

"I got eyes, Vin." Buck said standing and returning to the stove, "Excuse the hell out of me for givin' a damn."

Vin swallowed the eggs and tossed the pills down his throat. He drained the juice in a single gulp and winced. Everybody should have a big brother like Buck. Sometimes you need somebody to kick your butt. He heard Buck walk past and leave the room. Vin finished his breakfast and put the plate in the sink. He spotted Buck ready to go out the door. Buck turned as Vin spoke.

"Next time, y'all kick the other cheek, okay?" Vin drawled, patting his hip. He saw the slow grin on Buck's face and his head nod as he exited.

+ + + + + + +

Chris looked up from his desk as Buck walked in the office. He was on the phone with Ezra. The undercover agent extraordinaire was on his way back to Denver. His plane had a stopover in Dallas. He had a midday meeting with Robert Carlino at a restaurant downtown.

"Keep in touch," Chris ended the conversation and turned to Buck Wilmington.

"Morning, Buck."

"Chris," Buck nodded, "The Kid here?"

"Yeah, Casey dropped him off, he's getting coffee," Chris replied, looking past the other agent.

"He ain't here." Buck answered the silent question. He slid onto a chair across from Chris, "Damn fool never made it to my place last night."

"What!" Chris shot sharply.

"He's alright," Buck disarmed, "I found him about twelve-thirty, sound asleep behind the wheel in his car. I got some breakfast in him and sent him back to bed. That boy's worn out Chris. He's hiding something...almost like it's personal."

"He is...was." Chris exhaled, "I think I got him squared away last night. He's seeing dead kids, Buck."

"Damn..." Buck whispered, hunching forward on his knees as J.D. entered bearing a coffee carafe and three mugs. "How you doing, Kid?"

"I'm okay, Buck." J.D. replied quietly and sat down. "Let's get started."

+ + + + + + +

It was nearly ten a.m. when Vin woke up. He took a hot shower poured a large mug of coffee. Turning on Buck's computer, he did a background check on Cambria Santanna. Other than her presence in Denver, she didn't exist. Frowning, he thought on his few clues. He was certain she either planted or removed a bug from Ezra's phone. That meant one thing, she was tied to the coke ring somehow. He tried searching the newspaper archives for articles on the Carlino's. There were far too many to check out. He didn't have the time. He forwarded the URL addy to his computer at home.

He glanced at the clock and jumped up. Flipping the computer off, he slipped his jacket on and trotted the few blocks to his car. Ezra was due in shortly and he needed to get there before the Southerner did. He hid his car in the same location as he had the night before. He was going to slip around the side onto the terrace, when he spotted the front door open slightly. Cautiously, he made his way inside.

Gia placed the new listening device in Ezra Standish's phone. The broken transmissions from the original device had left them no choice. She'd slipped in through the terrace the night before, lifting the door off the tracks. She'd left the front door open when she exited, knowing she'd be returning in the morning. Her job was completed and just in time. Ezra's flight had landed on time and he was on his way home. She passed through the kitchen and foyer nearing the door when she saw it open.

Ducking back into the dark kitchen, she slid behind the counter. She saw the denim clad legs and boots and peered up at the back of Vin Tanner's head. What was he doing here? She saw him go right to the phone and unscrew it. Damn! How did he know? She saw a small cast iron frying pan and picked it up. Vin Tanner never knew what hit him.

Ezra unlocked his door and entered the foyer. He paused, thinking he heard the sliding glass door shut. Frowning, he placed his bag on the floor and walked slowly toward the living room. He saw the vertical blinds swinging, confirming his suspicions. Someone had just exited, he reached inside the table near the television and withdrew a gun. He peered around and prepared to follow the thief. He froze in his tracks and dropped to his knees when he saw the motionless form of his partner.

"Vin?" He screeched in disbelief. He saw Vin's hand clutching the phone. He saw the frying pan and felt the back of the young man's head, which drew a soft moan. There was no blood, but a nice lump was forming. He turned Vin over and went to the kitchen and took a bag of frozen vegetables out of the freezer. He placed the icy bag under the unconscious man's head. His first instinct was to grab the phone, still in Vin's hand. But he didn't. What was Vin doing in here? He unzipped Vin's jacket and saw the gun, still holstered. If Vin had encountered an intruder, why was his gun holstered? He stared at the phone and decided to use his cellphone instead.

qqq The conference room was darkened as a dozen agents watched the films sent by the undercover DEA agent. Chris flinched when his phone rang. He, Buck and J.D. were seated in the back, so he only had to walk a few feet away.


"I shall only detain you a few moments," Ezra stared at the time running off the clock, "I'm already running late for the appointment with Mr. Carlino."

"Ezra, I'm in the middle of a meeting with Ted Dempsey," The blond hissed, "Get to the point."

"Very well, Mr. Larabee," Ezra shot back, "As we speak, I am staring a small puddle forming on my carpet from the ice bag under Mr. Tanner's unconscious, thick skull."

"What?" Chris snapped, instantly getting J.D. and Buck to his side, "How bad is he hurt? What the hell is he doing over there?"

"He is not in any danger. I have not a clue as to his presence in my abode," The southerner issued, "Someone left out the back door, as I entered the front. I can assume he encountered a thief perhaps. In any event, I cannot stay."

"Get going. Buck and J.D. can get be there in about twenty minutes. Check in later." He snapped the phone off, "Fuck!"

"That don't sound good," Buck whispered, "Ezra' okay?"

"Ezra's late for his meeting with Roberto Carlino." Chris hissed, "He came home and found Vin out cold in his living room."

"What's Vin doing over there?" J.D. inquired, face screwed up.

"Ezra heard somebody leaving as he got there. He thinks Vin surprised somebody. You two get over there and take care of it." He made his way back to the seat, catching Ted Dempsey's stern gaze at the hushed toned interruption.

Ezra tapped Vin's face and wiped an ice-cold cloth over it, hoping to stir him. Vin stirred slightly and moaned.

"Mr. Tanner, Can you hear me?"

"Ez...ra?" the croak came up at him, but the eyes remained closed.

Ezra leaned in and slapped Vin lightly again, causing a hand to come up and swat him. Ezra grabbed the wayward fist and spoke again.

"Vin, who hit you? Why are you here?"

He bent low, trying to hear Vin's mumbled response. Vin sighed and returned to the black void.

"I'm leaving Mr. Tanner, but help is on the way. Do not incur Mr. Larabee's wrath any further. Stay put!"

Ezra stood and made his way back out the front door. If Chris dispensed the two agents when he stated, they'd be here shortly. He closed the door and made his way to his rental car. He'd blame the delay on the airport traffic. He'd narrowly missed being caught behind a jackknifed tractor-trailer.

The first sensation Vin felt was ice water running down his neck. He rolled to one side and pushed off his right elbow. He winced and felt the lump on the back of his head. He glanced around the room and it took him a few seconds to realize where he was. Ezra's? What was he doing here? He didn't remember anything after Buck made him breakfast. He managed to stand and quickly fell down again. He remained on all fours, trying to blink past the stars swirling in front of him. He heard a movement and saw a flash of color.

Gia had her hand on the door when Ezra arrived home. She ducked into the small recessed area between the dining room and living room. She watched Ezra's every move and waited for him to depart. She waited several minutes, ensuring he wouldn't run into her on the street. She stopped by the phone and removed the listening device. Just as she snuck by the body of Vin Tanner, he moaned and rolled over. She fumbled at the door and heard him moving.

Vin stared at the blurry form leaving through the sliding glass doors. He pushed himself up using Ezra's glass table for leverage. He shook himself off and cleared his head. He followed the figure and recognized her. Cambria...the phone...he remembered spotting her the night before, fooling around with the phone. That must be why he was here. He slid behind the wheel and followed her.

Part 11

Buck and J.D. were almost at the turnoff for Ezra's condo, when J.D. alerted the driver. "Buck! There goes Vin!"

"What? Where?" the older man spun his head.

"There...up ahead."

"Damn." Buck swore, making a U-turn and taking pursuit of the wayward agent.

Gia wasn't close enough to Ezra and Vin to hear what transpired. The conversation had been brief and Ezra left in a hurry. His hasty departure and leaving an injured friend behind didn't set well with her. How much did Vin Tanner know? How did he find out about the bug? What if he told Ezra about Roberto? She decided to warn her lover of the impending danger. Didn't Dom say if things went south, to ice Ezra Standish? Such was in such a hurry; she failed to use her normal cautious pattern. She didn't see Vin Tanner following her.

Vin watched Cambria pull in outside Le Fleur de Passion, a small cafe. He pulled around the side and fell out the door. The alley finally stopping spinning in time to his aching head and made his way through the back door. The interior was dark, and his vision was fuzzy. He saw Ezra across the room by the alcove near the outside terrace out front. The pieces fell into place. Ezra was here for a meet. Cambria came from Ezra's directly. She had to be one of Carlino's people. He saw movement out of the corner of his eye. A hand aimed at Ezra's unprotected back. The silver glint of the chrome barrel rising like a snake. There was no time to warn Ezra and Vin reacted on instinct.

Ezra startled by the shot, dove for cover, hitting a tray of glassware. Buck and J.D. froze at the entrance near the outside terrace, shocked by the sight before them. Buck was behind J.D and shoved him towards the stunned Ezra, while he dropped to the injured woman's side. She was lying half on the terrace and half inside the entryway. J.D. did a quick check of the perimeter. He glanced in the empty kitchen and bathrooms. Finally, he crouched over the dazed southerner.

"Ezra? You okay?"

"What just happened here?" Ezra blinked, then spotted Buck pressing a cloth to Cambria's back. "Dear God no..." He pushed away J.D.'s hands and crawled over to her side. "Can you hear me Cambria?...Buck?"

"I don't know Ez..." Buck continued to apply pressure, "The EMT's will be here soon. She's alive and breathing good, pulse is strong. Ezra, where is he?" Buck whispered of Carlino.

"Huh?" Ezra blinked, not taking his eyes off Cambria's pale face, which rested in his hands. "I didn't see anyone...I was late, perhaps he left?"

"Where'd Cambria come from?" J.D. asked, after doing a short inspection of the restaurant.

"More to the point," Ezra hissed, the anger building, "Who shot her?"

"Vin did." J.D. forced in a pained voice.

"What?" Ezra's head flew around, then he spotted Vin slumped inside. "You misbegotten whelp, I'll send you straight to hell." Ezra raged.

"Hold on a minute," Buck said sternly to both agents, "J.D, are you sure? It's awful dark in there."

"I saw him Buck," J.D replied hollowly, "I checked inside, the place is deserted. The kitchen and bathrooms are empty. Vin's the only one there. I saw him shoot her, Buck"

"You go see to Vin," Buck issued to the youth. "Ezra you stay put," He warned, spotting the green beams of hatred shooting from the gambler's eyes "Right now, she needs you with her."

J.D. slid cautiously into the interior from the terrace. The darkness was a stark contrast to the brilliant sun outside. He pushed the gun around the doorframe ahead of him and stuck his head out briefly. He made his way over to the shooter. The face looked even paler than the night before and the blue eyes were dull and void.

Vin Tanner sat slumped against the outside of a booth. His gun was on the ground next to him. His eyes weren't focused. J.D. followed the cloudy blue stare to where Cambria's body was on the terrace.

"What the hell did you do that for?" J.D. angered, dropping to Vin's side.

Vin didn't blink or give any indication he heard him. J.D. shook his shoulder, but Vin remained still and quiet. J.D. saw the EMT's pulling up. Then he saw Ezra's face, staring at Vin and the gun near his hand. J.D. never recalled seeing the Southern agent quite so hostile. Pure, unbridled hatred shone from the green eyes.

Vin finally found his legs and stood, wavering. He replayed the scene in his mind. He was still rewinding the memory, when J.D.'s voice cut through the haze. He felt the hands on his arms, shaking him.

"What?" He blinked, throwing off J.D.'s hand

"Jesus, Vin, you shot Ezra's girlfriend. What were you thinking?"

"She was gonna kill him. He had his back turned. I didn't have no choice." Vin snapped, trying to remain upright on unsteady legs in the moving room.

"Kill him? Vin, you're not making any sense. You're seeing things...Ezra said you were knocked out..." J.D. theorized.

"I ain't hallucinatin'" Vin shoved J.D. hard, "She had a gun aimed at his head."

Vin was so intent on his stance with J.D., he never saw Hurricane Ezra approach from the rear. Before Buck or J.D. could stop him, the enraged conman lifted Vin off his feet and slammed him hard into a wall. Vin's head was battered on the tender spot he'd suffered earlier. The stars returned, dancing and twirling in front of his eyes. He slid downward, feeling Ezra's hands enclose around his throat.

"Ezra let go," Buck roared, pulling at Standish's steel claws, "You're gonna kill him."

"I'll be doing the taxpayer's a favor." Ezra gritted.

J.D. picked up a pitcher of ice water and hurled it at Ezra's face. That caused him to jerk sufficiently for Buck to pull him off.

"You get in the ambulance and ride with her. She'll be looking for you, Ezra. She needs you. Go on now." Buck placed his hands on Ezra's chest.

By now, two police cars were on sight and one of the responding officers led the protesting Ezra away. Buck pulled Vin to his feet and steadied him. He saw the large lump and Vin's dull eyes. He sat the younger man down at a nearby booth. The curly head was cradled in the sharpshooter's hands. Vin finally looked up.

"She had a gun, Buck. I seen it."

"There's two squads here already. If it's there, Vin, they'll find it. Can you tell me what happened?"

"I saw her foolin' with the phone last night at Ezra's." Vin gasped, blinking back the black spots," I...can't remember... much of this mornin'. I saw a plated...aimed at Ezra's head. It happened so fast...I couldn't warn 'im. Ya gotta believe me, Buck." Vin rasped, pitching forward off the chair.

"Whoa! Vin? Vin, you okay?" Buck asked, catching the smaller man. "He blacked out." Buck assessed, easing the pale form back onto the cushioned seat. He pulled out his cell phone and stared at it.

"I don't envy you that call." J.D. read the mask Buck wore, "I'll stick by the cops and see if they found anything.

"Is he the shooter?" A burly cop asked Buck, trying to get at Vin

"You in charge?" Buck blocked him, protecting his unconscious friend. qqq qqq "I'll ask the questions, Jack," His tone was condescending, "Now move aside." He ordered, kicking at Vin's dangling leg.

"The name's Buck Wilmington, I'm ATF and you back off," Buck warned, eyes flashing. "He's hurt and in no condition to be saying anything. You can get your statement later. Did you find the gun?"

"What gun?"

"He said the lady was armed. Did you even look for it?"

"I didn't see any gun. You tin-star jockey's think you can just wave them gun's around. It's not a friggin' toy. Your friend ain't lookin' so good. Maybe he had one too many...Bad shoot like this could put him away."

"Get out of my face you overweight, overpaid, donut machine," Buck seethed, "You're lucky you got a badge to hide behind. Can't see as you use it for much else. You couldn't carry his shoelaces...""

"Purcell, that's enough," a voice issued, "Did you seal off the perimeter? Did you check in here for a gun?"

"There wasn't any gun..." He started to complain, then spotted the irate look his C.O was giving him. 'Yeah, alright..." He backed down.

"What happened Buck?" Mike Ryan, the Captain of the nearby precinct inquired. He knew Team Seven well and knew Vin Tanner was as good as they got.

"I'm not sure, Mike. Vin says she had Ezra dead to right, that she was about to take his head off. Claims he had no choice. You find a gun?"

"Not yet Buck and it' doesn't look good. There's more bad news. I spoke to the EMT before they pulled out. That woman has no feeling from the waist down."

"Damn." Buck slumped in the chair and eyed Vin, who hadn't moved. "If Vin said there was a gun, then there was, Mike. It's gotta be out there."

"Where's Larabee?"

"He don't know yet."

"You draw the short straw?"

"Yeah..." Buck replied, fingering the cellphone.

"How'd Tanner get hurt?" the ginger-haired detective bent over Vin's pale face.

"He got clubbed at Ezra's place this morning and then again when Ezra threw him into the wall. Concussion probably."

"I call for another unit. I keep the dogs at bay for now, but I.A will want to talk to him."

"Yeah, Thanks Mike," Buck sighed as the other man left, "You should have stayed in bed today, Junior." Buck reasoned, dialing the familiar number.


"Chris, we got trouble."

+ + + + + + +


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