Chris sat at the conference table, staring at the papers and files before him. Hed deliberately turned the Polaroid picture face down. He couldnt bear to look at it again. He hated playing this waiting game. He was not a patient man, not willing to wait for the phone call, to negotiate, wait some more, negotiate some more. There was a reason he wasnt on the hostage negotiations team. He was suited for action. For going in, doors-busting, guns-firing and getting the bad guys. No, youre not that bad, Larabee. You can wait out the bad guy when you have to. When the rest of your team is waiting with you. But thats it. Vins with the bad guys. Vins in trouble and youre helpless to help him. He slammed his hand down onto the table, his frustration coming out.
The other agents in the room barely spared a glance his way, their own frustration at not being able to find or help a fellow agent just as evident.
JD pushed his chair back and stood up, backing away from his laptop on the table, but not taking his eyes off it.
"JD?" Buck called, slowly rolling his chair closer. "Whats the matter?"
"FBI just sent out a bulletin," he replied. "Theyve got an agent missing, possibly kidnapped."
"No shit?" Buck muttered. "Anybody we know?"
"Maybe " JD replied, turning the laptop so that it faced Buck.
"Chris, you better take a look at this."
+ + + + + + +
"So when are you going to call Larabee?" Zeke asked.
"In another hour or so," Tony replied. "Im not an unreasonable guy, you know. I know itll take a while for the arrangements to be made at the prison. That, and Ill give em a while to figure out that theyre not gonna find us. Buddy and Jake have both called. ATF and Denver PD have already been out looking for us. Think were dumb enough to stay at our old places. Stupid cops."
"Tanners gonna show up. Theyll realize that you got the wrong guy," Martin said.
"Who asked you?" Tony asked angrily. "And besides, like we said last night, whats the difference between one Fed and another? We have you and they dont."
"They arent gonna deal with some guy whos so stupid he kidnaps the wrong guy," Martin remarked, and was rewarded for it by being kicked in the side.
+ + + + + + +
Vivian watched as the FBIs Crime Scene team worked at the crash site.
"You can see here where Fitz was taken out of his vehicle and dragged into another," Danny pointed out. "The drops of blood just stop right there."
Vivian nodded in agreement with Dannys assessment.
"And it wasnt as if he was taken for medical help or anything, his luggage is missing, too," Samantha remarked. "If he had just wandered off, or had been picked up by some passerby, his stuff would still be in the rental."
"So it looks like he was run off the road, then taken into the other vehicle," Danny said.
"And whoever did it, took his luggage too, and then drove the rental away and tried to hide it," Jack finished.
The agents all nodded their heads, agreeing with what had seemed to happen to their coworker, but still not knowing why. They each walked around the site, conferring with the Denver agents and the State Police officers on the scene.
"Must be "Kidnap A Federal Agent Day" on the calendar," one trooper remarked as he came to stand next to Danny.
"Excuse me?" he asked, totally confused by his remark.
"Didnt you hear?" he replied. "An ATF agent got kidnapped yesterday, too. Hes being held hostage; the assholes are trying to trade him for his brother in prison."
"Jack?" he called to his supervisor, walking quickly around the crime scene to speak with him.
+ + + + + + +
Chris picked up the Polaroid and held it next to the computer screen.
"So if the Lesters have Fitzgerald, then wheres Vin?" JD asked.
"Still a good question, JD," Chris replied.
"Guess thats what Vin would look like with a haircut, huh?" Buck asked.
"Looks like he does in his Marshall Academy picture," JD said. "Ive seen it in his apartment. Think they could be twins separated at birth or something?" he added excitedly.
Buck was about to join in, joking about the possibility, but seeing the look on Chriss face, refrained. "Nah," he said. "This Fitzgerald guy is a couple of years older. See the DOB?"
"Get the FBI on the line, lets hook up with them on this. If the Lesters have this Fitzgerald guy instead of Vin, we might just have to alter our game plan."
"Yeah, we know how Vinll act when it comes down to the wire," Buck said. "We dont know how the Fibbiell act. If its him."
"Its him," Chris stated firmly. "I knew it wasnt Vin," he added quietly.
"But we still gotta find Vin," JD added.
+ + + + + + +
Vin stretched and yawned with huge movements, managing to shove all the blankets off the bed and onto the floor. Getting up out of bed, scratching his belly and head at the same time, he headed for the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, showered and feeling halfway alive, he opened the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of apple juice, downing it in a half-dozen gulps. Checking out the cabinets and freezer, he realized that he really didnt have anything in the way of good food to eat. Seeing just a bunch of canned soups and some frozen venison steaks, he regretted not taking the time to stop at the grocery store on the way out.
Looking at his watch, feeling refreshed, he realized that hed accomplished what hed needed here - gotten a good dozen or so hours of uninterrupted sleep - and could head home if he really wanted to. And he did need to get the Jeep working before Monday morning
Mind set, he gathered his belongings and locked up the Vinnebago.
+ + + + + + +
"Chris! Chris, the FBI guys are here!" JD called from the outer office.
Chris put down the file folder in front of him and headed out of his office to meet Agent Fitzgeralds team. Nathan and Buck were showing the two men and two women to the conference room. Chris caught Bucks eye and gave him a warning to back off when he saw the pretty blonde agent. Buck nodded his head and gave him a wink in reply. When Chris entered the conference room, he wasted no time getting started.
"Im Chris Larabee," he began. "Youve already met Buck Wilmington, Nathan Jackson and JD Dunne," he added, gesturing to his men.
"Jack Malone," Jack introduced himself, extending a hand. "These are Vivian Johnson, Danny Taylor and Samantha Spade."
Samantha looked quite relieved when no one made any remarks about her name.
"I hear you may have found our man?" Jack asked.
"Not so much as found, as know who has him," Nathan replied.
"Why dont we sit down," Chris suggested, pointing to the chairs around the conference table. Once everyone was seated, he passed the evidence file containing the Polaroid picture and letter over to Jack and continued. "We received this around nine-thirty last night. Tony and Zeke Lester believed they kidnapped our agent, Vin Tanner, and are holding him hostage, in the hopes that well get their brother Mickey out of prison for them."
"But they took Martin by mistake?" Vivian asked.
"How stupid can they be?" Danny put in, looking at the picture, wincing as the sight of his coworker.
"This is a picture of Vin," Buck said, sliding the photo across the table to Danny.
"Holy shit," Danny whispered before passing the photos over to the others.
"Not so stupid after all?" Chris asked.
After seeing the pictures and comparing them for himself, Jack asked, "So what progress have you made?"
"Weve got two agents at the prison, trying to get information from Mickey Lester about his brothers current whereabouts. Were also working with the warden there, possibly setting up a decoy plan, if necessary," Chris replied. "Denver PDs been working with us, trying to track down the Lesters known associates and checking their previous places of business and residences."
"So what about your guy?" Samantha asked.
Chriss expression clouded. "We dont know."
+ + + + + + +
Zeke watched and listened as Tony talked on the phone, waiting for him to finish, to see where they would go next. Finally, Tony put the phone down. He had a smile on his face.
"That was Cody," he said, coming to sit at the kitchen table with Zeke. "Theres action at the prison. Looks like theyre gonna spring Mickey."
"I dont know, Tony," Zeke responded. "Seems like its been too easy."
"Hey, whatever works, bro, whatever works."
"So what now?"
"Now its time to call Larabee."
+ + + + + + +
Vin drove to the rear of his apartment building and parked Joes car in a free parking space. After entering the back door of the building, he headed toward the stairs and then up. Reaching his apartment, he sensed something was wrong. He couldnt put his finger on it, but something was definitely wrong; he felt very uneasy. Reaching into his jacket, he removed his gun from its shoulder holster and brought it to bear in front of him. With his left hand, he checked the doorknob - it was locked. He took his keys and unlocked the door and swung it open, staying in the hallway. Entering quickly, he scanned the apartment, sweeping left and right with his eyes and weapon. He moved this way through each room until he knew he was alone. Then he looked around again. Someone had been in there. Someone had been in his apartment and gone through his things. He suddenly felt like one of The Three Bears.
Without even thinking about it, his cell phone was in his hand and he had hit the speed dial.
+ + + + + + +
Jack looked around at the four ATF agents. He didnt know what to say to them. There was a part of him that was very happy that in some sense, theyd found Martin. That now that they knew what was going on, there was hope of getting his agent back. But what of the ATF agent, Tanner? His team is back to square one, not even knowing what his fate was.
"So tell us about these Lester boys," he finally said, looking at Chris. "What are Fitzgeralds chances with them?"
"Agent Tanner was involved in an undercover operation about a year ago involving Mickey Lester. It ultimately led to his arrest and conviction of several drug trafficking and manufacturing charges," Nathan began. "Zeke and Tony, while not in the same league as their older brother, have histories involving drugs, larcenies and assaults. Theyve both done time at the county level."
"As you can see in the picture, it doesnt look like theyre too out of practice in the assault department," Buck added.
"What about when the time comes to negotiate. Will they?" Vivian asked.
"I honestly dont know," Chris replied.
"Wouldnt they know by now that theyve got the wrong guy?" Danny put in. "I mean, Im sure Fitzll tell them. And hell, if theyre the two-bit hoods you describe them to be, Im sure theyd have gone through his wallet already, using his cash to pay for their pizza and beer."
"It wont matter. Theyve got a Federal Agent hostage. Doesnt matter which agency he works for, hes still a commodity," Jack said.
That received nods from all the people in the room.
+ + + + + + +
Martin sighed and rolled his shoulders, trying to ease the tension in them. Looking around the bedroom, he again tried to find some way to escape. But despite the hours hed spent on the floor, counting ceiling tiles, reciting poetry from his college courses in his head, going over all the possible state, local and federal laws he could cite to arrest the Lester brothers with, not once during that time had a plausible escape plan come into being.
He wondered about Vin Tanner. Where was he? Was he involved in the search for him? Did he really look like him? Were they anything alike? He hoped he got the chance to find out.
+ + + + + + +
Chris answered the phone on the first ring. "Larabee." He nodded to Buck, who then picked up another phone and made a call.
"I want to talk to him," Chris demanded.
"I dont think so, Larabee. Im making the demands here," Tony countered. "Tonight, at eight, bring Mickey to Countryside Park. Well make us a nice little swap. And none of that hostage negotiations or SWAT crap, Larabee. Im done talking. And if I find one little red light on my chest, Ill kill him."
"You do that and youll be in prison right alongside Mickey."
"Balls in your court, Larabee. Follow the rules and you get your man back."
Before Chris could say anything more, the call was ended. He looked at Buck, who was still on his phone. After a moment, Buck smiled.
"We got em!" he exclaimed.
+ + + + + + +
Vin cursed and threw his cell phone down onto the bed, muttering, "Sure, you would pick this moment to die," before heading to the phone in the kitchen. Dialing Chriss home phone first, he was a little upset to get the answering machine. "Fine," he whispered.
He had contemplated calling Denver PD, to report the burglary into his home, when he realized something. Nothing was missing. Nothing was damaged. Everything had just been moved, or looked at. Or searched under. No, this aint no ordinary burglary, he thought. This is something for the Team. Or because of the Team.
Grabbing Joes car keys, he headed back out. Time to log onto some computers at work, see whos been busy lately.
+ + + + + + +
"Nathan, call Ezra and Josiah, get them back here ASAP," Chris ordered. "Buck, I want you and JD to start up surveillance. Get as much info about the layout as possible. But be discreet - those boys know exactly who we are."
"Danny, Sam, you go with them," Jack instructed. Looking at Chris, he defended his instruction by saying, "This is a joint investigation."
"Understood," Chris replied. "And not a problem. Theyre unknowns. They wont be recognized; maybe they can get in a little closer to the house."
"This way," Buck called, heading to the door.
+ + + + + + +
Vin pulled up to the parking garage entrance and swiped his access card. And then swiped it again. Furrowing his brows in confusion, he double-checked the cards orientation, making sure he had it turned the right way. He tried once more, muttering, "Third times the charm," and cursed when it still didnt activate the gate and allow him entry.
Shifting the gear to Reverse, he backed Joes car out of the entrance and parked down the street at one of the metered spots. After locking up the car, he walked back toward the Federal Building. As he neared the garage entrance, he saw one of the security officers for the building on his way in to work.
"Hey, Corey!" he called, hoping to catch up and follow him into the building, afraid his access card wouldnt work on the door, either. "Wait up!" he added.
Corey Scott stopped and smiled as he saw Vin running toward him. "Forget your card, Agent Tanner?" he asked, holding the door open.
"Nah, it wouldnt work at the garage entrance. Didnt want to chance it not workin here, neither," he replied. "Thanks," he added as he entered the building.
"You got a big case or something? Its the weekend," Corey asked as they walked up the stairwell.
"Dont know yet," Vin replied. "Gotta check on some stuff on the computers. Check my voicemail and e-mail."
When Corey stopped at the lobby level of the stairwell, he waved goodbye to Vin as he continued up.
+ + + + + + +
Nathan answered his phone quickly and then motioned to Chris to come over to his desk. After he finished speaking and hung up, he looked toward his leader.
"That was Smitty," he began. "Said someone just tried to use Vins access card to get into the garage. Theyre running the plate now. Wants us to go down and view the video tape."
Chris looked to Jack and Vivian.
"Go on," Jack said. "Were going to check in and update our offices. Let us know when were ready to roll."
Chris and Nathan were out the door practically before Jack finished talking.
+ + + + + + +
Martin sighed and banged his head lightly against the bedroom wall. Hed overheard Tonys conversation with the ATF guy. A swap at a park. Tony had tried to sound tough on the phone, but Martin knew it was just due to inexperience. Or lack of any better plan. He shook his head. And none of that hostage negotiations or SWAT crap. Yeah, right. These boys really havent dealt with the Feds before, have they? Theyre gonna go down. I just hope I dont go down with them!
His thoughts were interrupted by Tonys entry into the room. He squatted down in front of Martin.
"Itll all be over soon," he said.
"I heard," Martin replied, not as enthused as Tony had expected. "You guys will be better off just letting me go, you know. They arent just gonna let your brother out of prison."
"They already have," Tony replied smugly. "Mickey left with one of them ATF agents already. My buddy told me so."
Martin didnt know what to think of that, so he said nothing.
+ + + + + + +
Vin exited the stairwell and headed toward Team Sevens office. Just before getting there, he saw a man and woman exit and head for the elevator. He saw their ID tags, knew them to be FBI, and now wondered just what his team had gotten into that theyd be dealing with the FBI. He had just about passed them in the hall when he heard the womans gasp. He turned to see why.
"Oh my God," Vivian murmured, staring at him.
"Something wrong?" Vin asked, noting that the man was staring at him, too.
"Vin Tanner?" Jack asked.
"Yeeaaah," Vin drawled, not liking the fact that they knew who he was. "Whos askin?"
"Jack Malone and Vivian Johnson, FBI, New York office," Jack replied, offering Vin his hand.
Vin shook the hand, and then Vivians, too, when offered, despite being leery of them. "What brings you folk out this way?" he asked.
"One of our agents has been kidnapped," Vivian replied, having recovered her composure. "According to Agent Larabee, the Lester brothers are involved."
"I busted Mickey Lester last year," Vin said.
"Thus the joint investigation," Jack said.
Vin wondered about these two agents. Something about their demeanor didnt seem quite right. Something about the way they kept looking at him
"Why dont you give us your impression of the Lester brothers, Agent Tanner," Vivian suggested, walking away from the elevator and back toward the office. "Jack, why dont you call Agent Larabee and ask him to come back up here?" Shed seen how Chris had acted when anyone mentioned his missing agent. She was determined to keep him here until Chris could see him again.
+ + + + + + +
"The car is registered to a Joseph J. Foley, of Denver. DOB six fifteen sixty. He lives in the same apartment building as Vin," Smitty said. "Driver moved around too much to get a good visual on the video, though. White male, probably early thirties from what we could see. Security found it parked at a meter down the block. Weve got someone sitting on it, waiting for the driver to return."
"No other attempts using the card at any of the doors?" Chris asked, looking at the video again.
Smitty shook his head no.
"No other video images of this guy at any of the entrances? Maybe tailgating in with someone legit here?"
"Checking that now," Smitty replied.
"So, maybe someone local, has a grudge against Vin for some reason or another," Nathan suggested, thinking aloud. "Had a spat with one of the neighbors, this Foley guy. Or maybe Foleys got some other agenda, figured on using Vins credentials to get him access."
"I want a full history on this guy. And have someone go over Buck and JDs interviews with the neighbors. See if anyone mentions this guy," Chris ordered, running a tired hand through his hair. His cell phone rang and he answered it before the second ring. "Larabee."
Nathan and Smitty watched as Chriss eyes opened wide.
"He is?! Dont let him leave!" Chris spoke into the phone. He was halfway out the door before he called back, "Vins upstairs!"
Nathan and Smitty followed quickly.
+ + + + + + +
"I cant believe I agreed to this," Ezra muttered, picking at the jacket he was wearing.
"Youre roughly the same height and weight as Mickey," Josiah stated, not for the first time. "Zeke and Tonys informants would never believe I was Mickey."
"I understand that part, Mr. Sanchez. Its having to wear these despicable clothes that Im complaining about. The pants dont even match the jacket! And brown socks! Youve got me wearing brown socks with black shoes!" He rolled his eyes.
Josiah rolled his as well. "Remember who were doing this for, Ezra. Sometimes sacrifices must be made. Even fashion ones."
"Well, can we at least take the handcuffs off for the ride back to the office?"
+ + + + + + +
"Whats goin on, Agent Johnson?" Vin asked. "Theres more to it than just the Lesters kidnapping your agent, isnt there? And I still dont even know why. FBI wasnt even involved in that case."
"They thought they had kidnapped you," Jack replied.
Vin burst out laughing then, at the absurdity of it. "Them Lesters aint the brightest, I know, but they aint blind, neither!"
"Nearsighted, maybe," Viv put in, stopping Vins laughter with the seriousness of her tone.
She was about to open up the case file, with the picture of Martin Tony Lester sent to Chris, when Chris burst through the office doors.
"Vin!" he cried out, rushing to Vins side, grabbing him by the shoulders. "Are you alright? Where the hell have you been?"
"What the hell, Chris?" Vin asked, taken aback by Chriss reaction and questions.
"Vin! Youre alright!" Nathan exclaimed upon his entry to the office.
"Of course Im alright!" Vin retorted, shaking himself loose of Chriss grasp. "Why the hell wouldnt I be? Their agents the one that got taken."
"We couldnt find you," Chris said. "The Lesters sent the picture of you, of Agent Fitzgerald," he stammered out, practically tongue-tied, his relief at seeing Vin, healthy and whole, overwhelming him.
"Cant a guy just have a relaxing weekend on his own without having to check in? I mean, come on, Chris, if they sent a picture, then you had to know I was okay. You know what kind of week Id had, that Id need some down time when I got back." Vin just couldnt understand what was going on, why they all looked as if theyd seen a ghost.
"Maybe thisll help you understand," Vivian spoke up, opening the case file for Vin, putting Martins photos on the desk.
"Oh, fuck," was Vins whispered response.
+ + + + + + +
"You see anything, Agent Taylor?" Buck asked.
After the ATF had traced Tony Lesters call to a house in a neighborhood just south of Denver, Buck had led combined teams of ATF and FBI agents to start surveillance on it. They had agents posted in cars at the ends of the streets, in a nearby playground and walking around, as Danny and Sam were at the moment. Buck and JD were in a utility van, marked up like a plumbing contractors.
"Theres a green Buick parked out back. Looks like its got damage to the passenger side," Danny replied, speaking softly into the microphone pinned just inside his jacket cuff.
"You boys picking up anything?" Samantha asked as she walked hand in hand with Danny past the house.
JD adjusted the audio feed again, aiming the voice amplifier towards another section of the house.
"Sounds like theyre watching TV," JD replied. "Ive only heard two voices. One sounds familiar, maybe Tony Lester. The other must be Zeke."
"Which room?" Buck asked.
"Front right corner."
"Can you see them?" Buck asked Danny and Sam.
"Our view isnt any better than yours," Danny replied. "Curtains or blinds are drawn in all the windows."
"Youd think they were trying to discourage visitors or something," Buck remarked.
+ + + + + + +
Chris put the phone back into its cradle.
"Bucks got everything set up at the Lesters. Theres some activity in the house, someones home, but they havent got any visuals - the windows are all covered. Agent Taylor said that theres a car parked in the rear with damage to the passenger side," he reported to the teams in the office.
"So we can get a warrant, go in the front door," Jack began.
"Or, wait until they come out," Chris finished. "Id rather go that route, its safer."
Jack and the others nodded their heads, agreeing. He looked at his watch. "Two more hours until were supposed to meet at the park. Will we have time?"
"Countryside park is only about a five minute drive from the house which is about twenty minutes from here," Nathan replied. "Plenty of time."
"Alright, Ill tell Buck the plan," Chris said. "If they come out before we get there, his teams will take them. Otherwise, wait until we get there."
As the ATF and FBI agents began to gather their things and head towards the exit, Chris noticed that Vin was still sitting at the table. He walked over to him and put his hand on Vins shoulder.
"Vin? Whats up?"
"Why do I feel guilty?" Vin replied, looking up.
Chris smiled at the remark, but shook his head. "Dont know, pard, but you shouldnt," he said. "Well, except for turning your damn cell phone and pager off and disappearing all weekend!" he added, slapping the back of Vins head.
Vin rose from the table and replied, "Hey, if you had the kind of weeks I had, and no sleep for thirty-six hours straight, and didnt expect to have to work the weekend, youd have bugged out, too."
"I thought you told me you spent your time in Charlotte in bed?" Chris asked coyly as they walked to the door.
"Didnt say nothin about sleepin in it," Vin answered with a wink, only to get slapped on the back of his head again.
+ + + + + + +
Martin heard the footsteps come down the hall toward the bedroom. He tensed. This is it, he thought. Showtime.
The door opened and Tony and Zeke entered. Zeke went to Martins ankles and sawed through the duct tape with his knife, while Tony placed a piece of it across his mouth.
"Sorry, no time for last words," Tony told him. "Dont want you talking, though. I have a feeling youd try to spoil our fun."
Martin did his best to give Tony a defiant look. He was hauled to his feet and led through the house toward the back door.
+ + + + + + +
"Theyre heading for the back door," JD announced into his radio.
"All teams get ready," Chris responded to JDs words.
"Zekes coming out," Nathan reported. "Hes opening the car trunk. Theyll probably put Fitzgerald in there."
"Let them," Jack spoke up, speaking into his radio. "Once hes in the trunk, hell be out of the line of fire. Well get him out after the other two are secure." He got an agreeing nod from Chris.
Chris looked through his binoculars again, checking on the FBI and ATF agents placements around the house.
Less than a minute later, they watched as Tony, getting the all clear from Zeke, led Martin out the back door and toward the car. Many an agent winced as Martin was roughly shoved into the trunk.
As soon as the trunk lid clicked shut, Chris gave the order to "Go!" and Tony and Zeke found themselves surrounded by dozens of Federal Agents with guns pointed at them, shouting for them to get down onto the ground.
Zeke complied quickly, dropping down into a face down spread eagle position, happily assisted and then handcuffed by Nathan. Tony was about to resist and started to raise his gun, but found himself tackled to the ground and handcuffed by Danny. Both men were quickly searched and led from the scene to a waiting transport van. Nathan picked up the car keys hed gotten off Zeke. Vin was waiting with his hand out.
"Mind if I do the honors?" he asked.
Nathan handed the keys to Vin with an understanding smile and watched as Vin used them to open up the trunk.
Martin had heard the shouts and commotion after the lid of the trunk had shut and had already sagged in relief. The cavalry had come. He knew it would only be minutes before he was let out of the trunk, and officially freed from his captivity, but it seemed to take forever.
When the trunk lid finally opened, and his eyes adjusted to the light, he could hardly believe what he saw. God, Tony must have hit me harder than I thought.
"Agent Fitzgerald, Im Agent Vin Tanner. Nice to meet you."
Vin smiled at the confused look on Martins face and then backed away as the rest of Martins team crowded in to take care of their agent. Vivian got there first to ease the tape off of his mouth and then she and Danny helped him climb out of the trunk.
"Easy, Martin," Vivian soothed. "Youre safe now."
"Just cant stay out of trouble, can ya, Fitz?" Danny joked as he worked his pocketknife over the tape around Martins hands.
"Good to see you," Samantha spoke up.
"You all right?" Jack asked.
"Im fine," Martin got out, relief evident in his voice, just before his knees buckled.
Danny caught him easily and eased him down to sit on the ground.
"Get that ambulance crew over here!" Jack shouted.
+ + + + + + +
Team Seven had gathered around near the back door to the house and watched as the FBI team reunited with its lost sheep.
"I cant believe how much you two look alike!" JD exclaimed, looking at Vin and then at Martin and then at Vin again. "You could be twins!"
"Any long lost relatives youve always wondered about, Vin?" Josiah asked.
"I once saw a show about these triplets separated at birth," JD went on. "They wound up meeting through common friends. They had the same haircuts, smoked the same cigarettes, dated girls with the same names "
"It is pretty amazing that they both look so much alike, and both wound up in federal law enforcement," Nathan remarked.
"See, thats the stuff Im talking about!" JD exclaimed.
"We aint no long lost relatives, JD," Vin responded, shaking his head. "Its just one of those flukes of nature kind of things."
"Speaking of flukes of nature," Ezra whined, "May I please go home and change clothes now, Mr. Larabee? Before someone mistakes me for one?"
"By all means, Ezra, get goin!" Vin replied for Chris. "Dont think we can put up with your whinin too much more. And Ill agree with ya, ya dont look natural at all. Kind of a freak of nature, if you know what I mean? I mean, really, Ez, brown socks and black shoes?!"
Ezra glared at Vin, but saw his exit and took it, saying, "At least I will not have to put up with the wrath of Larabee for being incommunicado all weekend, while we were sacrificing ourselves on your behalf," as he walked to one of the cars.
"So, Vin," Buck began, putting an arm around Vins shoulder. "Speaking of sacrificing yourself this weekend, you gonna give us all the details?"
"I already told Chris about needing to get away to get some sleep out at the Vinnebago, Buck," Vin replied.
"Im talking about Charlotte "
Chris watched as Vin smiled and whispered something into Bucks ear, making him blush. He shook his head; had to be good if it made Buck blush. He made his way over to the group of FBI agents, who were now stepping back to let the ambulance crew do their job.
"He gonna be okay?" he asked Jack.
"Yeah, hes a tough kid. Looks like hes just bruised up, mostly. Hungry, tired."
"Glad hes alright."
"Glad Agent Tanners safe, too," Vivian added, looking over at the ATF agents.
"Yeah, me, too," Chris replied, glancing over at Vin as well.
As the medics began to bring the stretcher carrying Martin towards the ambulance, Jack turned to Chris and offered his hand. "Thanks for your help," he said. "Our teams worked well together."
"That we did," Chris replied, shaking the hand. "Too bad it was under these circumstances."
Jack nodded his head and left to follow his team to the hospital. Chris returned to his own team.
"Well, boys, everyones safe and sound. Good job."
"Sounds like an invitation to Inezs," Buck responded, winking.
"After the paperwork!"
+ + + + + + +
Vin walked down the hospital corridor, working out in his head what to say to Martin Fitzgerald. Do I even need to say anything? he wondered. He was still feeling some guilt - however misguided - for it was he that was supposed to have been kidnapped and held for ransom by the Lester brothers, not Fitzgerald. But that really wasnt why he was here. JD Damn that kid!
Sure enough, after the paperwork was done, the Team had headed over to Inezs Saloon for celebratory drinks. The FBI agents, minus Fitzgerald, had joined them there once they were assured of Martins health and their own paperwork was done. And of course, he was the center of attention; the topic of all conversations. Or, his and Martins identical looks were. JD kept hounding him about his family history and asked the FBI agents about Martins, so sure that they were long lost twins, or at least brothers!
After a while, he couldnt take any more of the attention and decided to bow out, saying that he needed to get Joes car back to him and get up early to get his own fixed. But morbid curiosity made him take the exit ramp toward the hospital. He had to see Martin Fitzgerald for himself. In the flesh. He knew they werent related. His mother had kept very detailed and accurate family records. His Dad still had possession of the family Bible with all the names of relatives and such going back a hundred years or so. Not once did he recall seeing the name Fitzgerald anywhere in it.
Agent Johnson had said that she had spoken to Fitzgerald in the ambulance; explained to him that he and I could pass for twins. She said that he seemed to accept that. But I saw that look on his face when I opened the trunk. Sure, it seemed funny at the time, but damn thats got to have been scary! Okay, so the guilt is coming back.
Before he knew it, Vin was outside Martins door. He showed his ATF ID to the FBI agent guarding the door.
"Whoevers there, you can come in," Martin called out, sensing a visitor.
Vin stepped into the doorway and raised his hand, waving it tentatively. "Hey."
"Come on in," Martin said, gesturing to the chair next to the bed.
Vin nodded and sat down. The two men sat there, silently staring at each other, sizing one another up and looking for the similarities and differences in their appearances.
"How you holdin up?" Vin finally asked, unable to ignore the cuts and bruises he saw on his double.
"Believe it or not, things just got a whole lot better."
Vin furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "Hows that?" he asked.
"Up until now, I thought Id been dealing with a bunch of crazy, blind people, myself included, when you opened that trunk," Martin began. "Whod have thought?"
Vin smiled and nodded. "Flukes of nature?"
"Nah, had to be on purpose," Martin replied. "After all, whats better than one good thing?" he asked mischievously.
"Two of a good thing!" Vin replied with a smile.
The two men laughed and talked together for a while longer, getting double takes from the nurses that came to check on Martin. They agreed to get together after Martin was released from the hospital, with Vin promising to show Martin some of the better, but lesser known skiing slopes around Denver.