ATF Crossover with McKenna

Note: This follows the events of Double Take which establishes Vin's relationship to Brick McKenna.

Size: Approx: 200K

Webmaster Note: This is the 2,000th story posted at blackraptor

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1 - 5
Page 2
6 - 9
Page 3
10 - 12
Page 4
13 - 15
Page 5
16 - 18

Chapter 1
The plane made its descent into Denver’s airport on a beautiful fall afternoon. Brick watched the buildings from his window and wondered which one was Vin's. He'd only met his twin, Vin Tanner, face to face a few months earlier but had talked to him on the phone since then. Things were still shaky. They were both trying to make sense of their new relationship. Brick sighed knowing it would take Vin longer to accept him. It took a lot for Vin Tanner to trust people and it wouldn't be automatic just because Brick was his twin. He wasn't even sure this was a good idea. Vin didn't know he was coming. Brick had kept in contact with Vin's co-worker Buck Wilmington. Buck was the one who invited him to Denver. Brick had been leery saying Vin didn't seem to be the type to like surprises. Buck told him to quit worrying that everything would be fine. As the plane touched down on the runway Brick knew it was too late to turn back now.

Brick waited patiently for his baggage at the turnstile. Buck had told him to take a cab to the federal building. This way Vin couldn't make a scene. Brick spotted his duffel and grabbed it as it went by. He slung it over his shoulder and headed for the taxi stand out front. Brick took the next one in line and threw his bag on the back seat and climbed in.

"Where to?

"Denver Federal Building."

The taxi pulled into the traffic around the terminal as it headed for the highway. A half-hour later Brick was standing on the sidewalk in front of the building leaning in the window of the cab to pay the driver. Brick put his wallet back as he glanced up at the modern building. Taking a deep breath he shouldered his duffel bag and walked inside. He saw a security check point and took his ID out of his wallet. As he got closer he handed the ID to security.

"Afternoon, Vin," the guard said as he took the ID. He took a closer look at the ID and smiled. "Brick McKenna? This must be one of your undercover names."

"No, it's..."

"Don’t worry about it agent Tanner," the guard said. "But if you could put your bag up here so we can look through it."

Brick didn't argue and placed his bag on the table. The guard went through the bag and put everything back. When he was done the guard had Brick walk through the medal detector. Brick went through without it going off. The guard handed him the duffel and Brick swung it on his shoulders as he headed for the elevators.

"Hey Vin! I like the haircut. Not sure if the ladies will."

Brick smiled as he got onto the elevator and hit the button for the 11th floor. Buck had told him where the office was in case he ever came for a visit. Brick never imagined he'd be going up there on his own. He felt a little guilty about getting past the guard under false pretenses. The guilt lasted a short time when he thought about the look on his brother's face.

+ + + + + + +

Vin pulled up to the gate at the federal buildings parking garage and ran his security card to gain access. The gate slowly rumbled into its slot over head as Vin ducked under with his Harley. Once on the other side Vin hit the numeric code to keep the gate up while the others drove through. Chris maneuvered his big pickup through the gate followed by Josiah in his suburban. Once the old girl was through the gate Vin hit the code again and the gate came back down. The Harley roared to life as Vin followed the others to their assigned parking area. Vin quickly pulled into his space and both Chris and Josiah slowly backed their oversized vehicles into their space.

"Ya know iffin you would get smaller cars you could park faster," Vin said as he leaned on his bike waiting for the others.

"Yeah sure," JD smiled. "I can just see Josiah folding himself out of a Volkswagen bug."

"I used to own one of those," Josiah said fondly as they walked to the elevator. "It was my first car."

"You had a beetle?" Buck asked in surprise.

"And why not?" Ezra asked. "Mr. Sanchez grew up in the era of love beads and Woodstock. Of course he would have a Volkswagen beetle."

"Hey Vin, what was your first car?" JD asked.

"The bus," Vin smiled. "It was all I could afford."

"Oh," JD said self-consciously.

"Don't worry about it, JD," Vin laughed. "Not everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth."

"And why are you looking at me, prey tell."

"If the shoe fits Ezra," Nathan smiled.

They walked off the elevator and headed down the hall towards their offices. Their fellow agents greeted them as they passed by the water cooler and the copier. As they were passing the break room for Team 3 one of the agents popped his head out.

"Hey Tanner what's up with the hair?"

"Huh?" Vin asked in confusion.

"I was just talking with some of the secretaries and they were bemoaning the fact that you cut your hair," Tom said. "Looks the same to me."

"Don’t know what they’re talking about," Vin shrugged.

"Hey Marina," Tom said getting the attention of the young woman as she walked down the hall. "Vin didn't cut his hair."

"What are you talking about?" she asked. "I just saw him sitting at his desk. His hair is at his shoulders."

"Then who's that?" Tom asked pointing to Vin.

Marina turned and looked at Vin. "But that's not possible. You were just sitting at your desk."

"Brick!" Vin exclaimed and hurried down the hall.

"What the hell does brick mean?" Tom asked.

"Come on you'll see," Buck said.

The rest of the team continued down the hall followed by Tom and Marina. When they got to the Team 7 bullpen Vin was hugging his double.

"Dream do come true," Marina said with a smile.

"So the secretaries wish for more than one Vin?" Josiah asked with a chuckle.

"Of course," Marina smiled. "Should have known Vin would never cut his hair. It's a good thing he didn't. The others will be so pleased."

"So Vin's long hair is his appeal?" Buck asked as he ran his finger through his short hair.

"Don't do it, Buck," Marina said patting his cheek. "You're mustache is what I like."

Buck smiled as Marina walked away. "She likes me."

"No, she said she liked your mustache," JD teased. "She didn't say anything about the rest of you."

Buck grabbed JD around the neck and dragged him into the office. They joined the others by Vin's desk.

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming?" Vin said.

"I wanted it to be a surprise," Brick answered.

"Don't know where you'll stay," Vin frowned.

"Figured I'd stay with you."

"Not in Purgatory."

"Don't worry Junior he can stay with us," Buck piped in.

"Why can't I stay with you?" Brick asked looking at Vin.

"I don't even let JD stay at my apartment."

"It's true," JD said quickly. "It's a pretty rough neighborhood.

Brick realized this was something Vin wasn’t going to budge on and let it drop. He couldn't understand why his brother would stay in a place like that. Maybe he could get the information out of Buck.

"You're lucky we just finished a case," Vin said. "Other wise we wouldn't be around much."

"Vin why don't you show Brick around," Chris suggested.

Vin nodded and led Brick down the hall. Chris watched them leave then turned to Buck. "What's he doing here Buck?"

"How should I know!"

"You didn't invite him?"

"You heard him," Buck said. "He came as a surprise."

"Why is there something wrong with Mr. McKenna being here?" Ezra asked.

"Suppose not," Chris conceded. "Just got a bad feeling."

Chapter 2

After work they all headed over to the Saloon for drinks. Brick smiled as he walked in and was transported back to the old west. The bar was decorated in old spurs with wagon wheels on the walls. He followed the team as they headed for what looked to be their own special table. The bar was obviously a place where a lot of the federal workers came to relax since Buck seemed to know all the women there. As they took their seats a pretty Hispanic waitress walked over to the table.

"Madre dios!" she exclaimed. "There’s two."

"Yeah ain’t it something?" Buck asked.

"Inez this is Vin’s brother Brick McKenna," Josiah said.

Inez put her hands on her hips and stared at the double image before her. "So that means double trouble. You both better behave or I’ll throw you all out."

"We’re always the perfect gentlemen," Ezra said gravely.

"Gentlemen my ass," she scolded. "The last time you got into a fight it cost me $500!"

"But we paid for it," JD said.

"If you hadn’t started the fight you wouldn’t have had to pay!"

"If I remember right we didn’t start it," Nathan said in their defense.

"But we sure finished it," Vin smiled remembering.

"Oh!" Inez said throwing up her hands. "I don’t know why I let you in here."

"Because you can’t go without seeing my handsome face," Buck smiled.

"So shall I bring the usual?" Inez ignored Buck as she looked at the others.

"Brick do you like nachos with the works and beer?" Vin asked.

"Hell yeah," Brick smiled.

"Then the usual will do ma’am," Vin said.

Inez put her hands on her hips again and stared at the carbon copies before her. "El placer doble." Vin ducked his head and blushed at her comment.

"What did she say?" Brick asked.

"Nothing!" Vin answered quickly and gave Ezra a hard stare.

"That little comment is safe with me, Mr. Tanner," Ezra smiled evilly. "For now."

"Aw hell."

They spent the night playing cards and drinking at the bar until it was time to close up. Tomorrow was Saturday so they didn't have to worry about going to work. Brick had a great time. This was more fun than the single bar in his town back in Oregon. He tried to out drink his brother with tequila but the hard liquor didn’t seem to have any effect on his twin. On the other hand Brick knew he was drunk. Not falling down stupid drunk but drunk none the less. If he went home to Jack like this he’d never hear the end of it.

"Do you gentlemen plan on leaving anytime soon," Inez demanded. "Or do I have to kick you out?"

"We’re going," Chris said as he stood up.

"As always Miss Rosillos it’s been a pleasure," Ezra said as he stood also.

"Are you forgetting something?" she asked and held out her hand. Ezra grumbled as he handed her some money

"Ezra gives Inez 10% of his gambling winnings," Josiah explained when he saw Brick’s expression. "Since she doesn’t have a gambling license."

"Oh," Brick said as he stood up.

"Whoa!" Vin said as he grabbed Brick before he could fall.

"Damn," Brick said holding his head. "Why isn’t the tequila hitting you?"

"Because Vin was weaned on the stuff, its like mother’s milk to him," Buck teased as he slung an unconscious JD over his shoulder.

"The youth of today just can’t hold their liquor," Josiah tisked as he dropped JD’s newsboy cap on Buck’s head.

"It’s tragic," Nathan said as he helped Vin with Brick.

"You boys be careful!" Inez called as she followed them to the door.

"Good evening Inez," Chris said.

"Buenos noches," Inez said as she closed the door.

Chris waited until he heard the lock engage before following the others to the cars. Inez lived in an apartment over the bar and Chris wanted to make sure everything was secure before they left.

"Y’all remember there’s the youth baseball game tomorrow afternoon," Vin informed them.

"Is that tomorrow?" Buck asked as he opened the truck door and dropped JD on the seat. "Hell I don’t think your short stops going to able to play."

"He’ll be fine," Vin smiled. "And if he’s not we can always use Brick."

"Hell I don’t know if I’ll be fine," Brick said miserably. "You sure you don’t feel anything?"

Vin just smiled and shook his head no. "The secret is not to mix tequila with beer. If you had stuck just to tequila you wouldn’t feel so bad."

"Now you tell me," Brick said as he climbed into Buck’s truck.

"Vin maybe you better follow Buck home," Chris suggested. "He’s gonna need help getting them into the apartment."

"You’re probably right, cowboy," Vin smiled. "Good thing Jack ain’t here. He’d skin me alive."

"Well gentlemen, I bid you good evening," Ezra said as he headed for the Jag.

"The game starts at two," Vin called.

"Mr. Tanner I would never sully my hands playing a vulgar game of baseball."

"Bullshit, Ezra," Buck said. "You like it and you know it."

"Can we go?" Chris asked. "I’d like to get to the ranch before 2am."

"Why don’t you just stay with us," Buck said. "We can blow up the air mattress and put the two that can’t hold their liquor on those. You can take JD's room and Vin can have the couch. You have some clothes at the CDC from when your washer went on the fritz."

"I have a better idea," Chris said. "I’ll take your room and we have deal."

"Find by me," Buck smiled as he headed around to the driver’s side.

"You’ll come tomorrow, right Josiah?" Vin asked.

"You know I will. I love helping the kids."

"I’ll be there too," Nathan said. "Rain wanted to come as well when she heard it would help the community center."

"Great! See ya then."

Vin headed for his Harley while Chris walked over to his pick up. Buck pulled out of the lot and Vin followed while Chris brought up the rear. The CDC was only a few blocks from the Saloon and since there was no traffic they made it in no time. Buck parked along the curb and cut the engine. He glanced over at his co-pilots. JD was half on have off the bench seat while Brick had his head back snoring. Buck looked up to see Vin standing by the passenger door. Buck reached over the two sleeping men and unlocked the door.

"This should be fun," Vin said as he grabbed Brick.

"Buck throw me your keys," Chris said.

"What you’re not going to help?" The keys sailed over the truck and Chris easily caught them.

"Yeah right," Chris said as he headed for the apartment to open the door.

"Nice guy."

"Yeah," Vin said and grunted as he settled his brother’s weight on his shoulder. "Hell he may look like me but he sure ain’t built like me. He’s heavy."

"Well, Junior, he does have a little more meat on him than you do," Buck laughed as he grabbed JD.

They headed for the apartment and Chris held the door for them. Vin suggested just putting both JD and Brick on the sofa bed since he was too damned tired to inflate the air mattress. Buck laughed saying things should be interesting when they woke up in the morning. Chris pulled open the bed and they deposited the sleeping beauties to their rest.

"Where’s the sleeping bags?" Vin asked.

"In the closet," Buck said.

Vin walked over to the closet from hell. He cautiously opened it expecting all sorts of stuff to tumble down on his head. He was surprised to see it was fairly neat. He grabbed a couple of the sleeping bags and spread them on the floor.

"Why don’t you do the mattress?" Chris asked.

"I don’t need it," Vin said. "I’m so tired I could sleep on a bed of nails and I wouldn’t notice."

"Suit yourself," Chris said.

"Well I’ll see ya in the morning," Buck said as he threw two blankets over Brick and JD and headed for JD’s room.

"Night Chris," Vin said as he pulled off his boots and jeans.


Vin crawled into the sleeping bag and got comfortable. In no time he was asleep.

Chapter 3

The next morning Chris came down the stairs to find JD and Brick still dead to the world. During the night JD had rolled closer to Brick and was no sleeping with his arm thrown over Brick’s chest. Chris shook his head as he walked down the stairs thinking they were lucky Ezra wasn't here to take pictures. The door to JD's room was still closed so he figured Buck was still asleep. He could smell coffee coming from the kitchen and knew Vin was up getting breakfast. Chris walked into the kitchen and laughed when he saw the Polaroid pictures on the table.

"Your own brother?" Chris asked. He picked up a picture of Brick and JD cuddling together.

"Ezra's always telling me to take advantage of opportunities," Vin smiled.

"How long were you watching them to get this many poses?"

"Long enough," Vin laughed. "Do you want eggs?"

"Sure but first I need coffee."

"The weak stuff you like is in the larger pot."

Chris poured himself a cup and took a seat at the table. He gathered the pictures and put them to the side. After a few minutes Vin put a plate in front of him. Vin made one mean Spanish omelet and Chris dug in with pleasure. Vin sat down with a cup of coffee and some cookies.

"Is that what your eating?"

"Already had some eggs but I'm still hungry."

"Why am I not surprised."

Chris finished his eggs and put the plate in the sink. Buck walked in laughing a few minutes later.

"Those two look down right cozy. I need to find my camera."

"Already taken care of," Vin said as he pushed the pictures over to Buck. "Want some eggs?"

"Sure," Buck replied as he looked at the pictures. "You've been hanging around Ezra too much. His scheming ways are rubbing off on you."

In the living room JD stretched lazily and threw his arm across the bed. When he did his arm encountered someone else in the bed with him. JD quickly sat up and regretted it. He should have known better than to try to out drink Vin with tequila. When his head stopped pounding he cautiously opened his eyes to see who was sharing the bed with him. Brick lay sprawled across the sofa bed oblivious to the world.

"Aw hell!" JD growled.

"Not so loud, JD," Brick complained.

"You don’t understand!" JD protested. "The guys would have taken every advantage while we were in the same bed.

"You mean like this?" Vin asked from the door to the kitchen.

JD looked up to see Vin waving some Polaroid’s. "Damn it all!" JD threw back the covers and was about to get out of the bed when Brick grabbed him.

"Hey Vin get ready!" Brick called as he kissed JD on the cheek.

Vin snapped a picture as JD struggled to get away. "Now I know you are brothers!"

"What’s eating him?" Brick laughed as he watched JD storm off into his bedroom.

"Beats me," Vin said as he fanned the picture to make it develop faster.

"You know that doesn’t help," Brick said pointing to what he was doing.

"I know," Vin smiled.

"What ya got now?" Buck asked as he took the picture from Vin. The picture appeared on the paper and Buck smiled. "You two are cut from the same mold."

"Gee ya think?" Brick asked. "We do kinda look alike. So what are you going to do with these pictures?" Brick looked at the earlier pictures Vin took and smiled.

"Nothing," Vin relied. "I can’t really put them up cause everyone would think they was me. Just like to have JD squirm a bit thinking what I will do with them."

"Well maybe we aren’t so much alike," Brick laughed. "You’re more devious. Hey can I keep this picture for Cass?"

Vin looked over Brick’s shoulder to see a picture of JD a sleep on the pillow. "Yeah sure."

"Thanks she’ll love it."

"You have a death wish or something Tanner?" Chris asked coming out of the kitchen. "If JD finds out you gave that picture to Brick he’ll kill you."

"Nah, JD won’t," Vin argued. "Casey would kill me if she found out."

"Yup she sure would," Buck laughed.

"Who’s Casey?" Brick asked as he helped Vin put the sofa back together.

"JD’s girlfriend."

"Cassidy will be crushed," Brick laughed. "So where can I take a shower?"

"Might as well use my bathroom," Buck answered. "JD’s gonna be awhile."

"Yeah he likes to primp," Vin added.

Buck hit Vin with a pillow before placing it on the couch. "Bathroom’s in my room at the top of the stairs. Ignore the mess."

"Can’t be any worse than when Cass gets done in the bathroom," Brick said as he grabbed his gear and headed up stairs.

The other three went back into the kitchen to finish breakfast. Twenty minutes later Brick joined them. Vin threw on some eggs for him while Brick grabbed some coffee.

"Man I’m not used to getting up this early after drinking," Brick complained as he sipped his coffee. "Hell I’m not used to getting up this early period."

"It’s almost eleven," Vin said.

"Damn I’m usually still asleep."

"Well at least we know you don’t have Vin’s habit of waking at the crack of dawn," Buck laughed.

"Dawn? What’s that?" Brick asked baffled.

"You‘ll fit in fine at the CDC," Chris said.

"The what?"

"Center for disease control," Vin answered. "Seeing as how this place always looks like a disaster."

"Looks good to me," Brick said shrugged.

"Always knew I liked you," Buck said putting his arm around Brick shoulder. "The others just can’t appreciate the clutter."

"Clutter!" Vin said. "I don’t want to know how long the dishes I washed this morning were sitting in the sink."

"There was dishes in the sink?" Buck asked innocently.

Chris just rolled his eyes as Vin punched Buck. They sat getting caught up on what Brick had been doing for the past few months while they waited for JD. Brick was telling them about a family that had no idea about the outdoors when JD finally entered the kitchen. JD looked terrible even after his shower. He grabbed coffee and joined the others at the table.

"Why aren’t you hung over," JD accused Brick.

"Oh I am but not as bad as you," Brick smiled. "Never knew my brother could drink tequila like it was water."

"Should have gotten him started on beer," JD grumbled. "He can’t handle that."

"Now why would I drink something that would make me look like you do?" Vin asked. "You gonna be able to play?"

"Yeah," JD sighed. "Just let me get some coffee into me."

"So what is this game for?" Brick asked.

"It’s for charity," Chris said. "It raises money for the youth center in Purgatorio."


"Rough area of town," Buck said. "You know low income families in crowded apartment buildings."

"Don’t forget the gangs," JD added.

"Ain’t its real name," Vin said. "Sorta got stuck with that one since purgatory in the bible is a place that’s hard to get out of."

"So what do you do for this?"

"Well first it’s a fun time for the local kids," Vin began. "We play ball with them for fun. Then after it gets down to some serious games."

"They’re not supposed to be serious but things just always work that way," Chris said. "The adult teams are sponsored by different corporations."

"Sorta like a league championship?" Brick asked as he sipped his coffee.

"Sorta," Buck agreed.

"So how do you raise the money?"

"Well all spectators pay an entrance fee to the game," Vin explained. "Then the corporations usually either give the same amount or double it. Depending on the company."

"But if it’s a low income area how do the people in the neighborhood afford it?"

"It’s for a good cause and most of them don’t mind paying," Buck said. "It brings even more money to the community."

"Well we better quit jawing," Vin said placing his cup in the sink. "I still have to pick up mine and Chris’s gear at the apartment."

"We can all go together and swing by your place on the way over," Chris said.

"Sounds like a plan," JD said.

"Let’s go."

JD and Buck grabbed their gear and followed the others out. Vin wasn’t so sure he wanted Brick to see where he lived but he figured he would eventually. He just hoped his brother didn’t look down on the people he lived with.

Chapter 4

Brick glanced out the window and noticed as the posh buildings and fancy restaurants finally gave way to abandoned lots and boarded up buildings. He’d seen places like this on TV but never in person. Living in a small community had its advantages sometimes. Occasionally a house would sit vacant for a short time but never for very long. They drove along a street jammed with cars. Some of them were missing tires and were jacked up on cinder blocks. Chris maneuvered the pick up through the streets heading for a complex of apartment building. Brick wondered if Vin lived in one of them. His suspicions were confirmed as Chris pulled into a spot in front of one of them.

"Just be a minute," Vin said self-consciously as he escaped the truck and ran inside.

Brick climbed out of the truck and looked around. Next to the apartment was and abandoned lot. Except it didn’t look like the ones you always see on TV. Over grown with trash and junkies selling their wares. This one was cleaned up with two basketball courts and some playground equipment. On the side of the building was a mural of coyotes howling at the moon and cactus. He looked across the street and saw a typical abandoned lot complete with burned out cars and old tires scattered amongst the weeds.

"Como este, Vin?"

Brick looked up to see a teenaged girl walking towards him with her friends. Buck, Chris and JD had exited the truck earlier and were leaning against it.

"I’m not…"


"Usted es tan demasiado bueno hablar español con sus amigos alrededor" she accused. *You’re too good to speak Spanish when your friends are around*

"No you don’t understand," Brick tried again.

"Usted es demasiado bueno para nosotros cuando este Gringos está aquí" * You’re too good for us when these Gringo’s are here*

"Como este, Linda?" Vin called as he exited the apartment building.

"Mierda santa!" Linda exclaimed. "Dos!"

"Si, dos," Vin laughed. "Linda this is my brother Brick."

"Pleased to meet you," Brick said holding out his hand.

"I knew it wasn’t you," Linda said ignoring Brick’s hand and looking at Vin. "His hairs shorter."

"Yeah right," Vin smiled. "You coming to the game?"

"Nah, I got better things to do," she said angrily.

"Well here, if you change your mind," Vin said digging in his pocket and pulling out a twenty. Enough to cover her and her three friends.

"Yeah whatever," Linda said as she took the money.

"See yea there," Vin said as he threw the gear in the back of the pick up.

"Friend of yours?" Brick asked as he climbed in the truck.

"Sorta," Vin replied.

"Ain’t she one of yours?" Buck asked.

"Yeah she’s a Lobo," Vin said.

"With an attitude," JD added.

"That’s Linda all right," Vin laughed. "All attitude."

"So you just give her a twenty and expect her to come to the game?" Brick asked. "How do you know she won’t just go off with it?"

"She won’t," Vin smiled. "Her boyfriend Steve is playing."

"Oh I see," Brick said. "You figured she didn’t have the money to come so you spot her."

"It’s for a good cause," Vin answered.

Chapter 5

Chris pulled the truck into the already packed parking area. He was able to find a space for the pick up a distance from the playing fields. JD, Vin and Brick grabbed the duffels with the gear while Buck and Chris grabbed the cooler. Vin's name was called in greeting by a number of people as they walked by. Chris smiled at the shocked expressions when the callers realized there were two. They made it to the playing area where there were four baseball fields. Their team was scheduled to play at field two and they cut across to the other side. As they walked over they saw Josiah, Ezra and Nathan already there. Rain was standing with Nathan and Vin introduced her to Brick. Nathan had already told her all about Vin’s twin and she was happy to meet him. Vin dropped the duffel he was carrying and signaled Brick to follow him. Brick placed his bag with the others and went with Vin towards a group of women sitting under the shade of a tree. In the middle of all the women was an older woman and she smiled as she saw Vin walking towards her.

"Madre dios," Carmen said when she saw Vin's double.

"Hello, Carmen," Vin said and kissed her on the cheek.

"What is going on," she demanded. "Who is this?"

"Carmen, this is my twin, Brick McKenna," Vin said.

"Pleased to meet you," Brick said as he shook Carmen's hand.

"Your brother, I don't believe it." Carmen hadn't released Brick's hand and pulled him into a hug. "Where did he come from?"

"It’s a long story," Vin said.

"Good you will tell it over breakfast. You will come tomorrow."

"Well you see Brick isn't staying at my place," Vin said self-consciously.

"Nonsense," Carmen scolded. "It maybe a little small but there's plenty of room. Unless you think Brick won't approve."

"No its not that," Vin said. "It’s just..."

"Querido," Carmen said patting Vin's hand. "I can see Brick has had things better than you but he's family and will understand."

"How can you tell?" Brick asked.

"Lots of things," one of the other women said.

"Like what?" Vin asked curiously.

"His clothes for one," another woman said. "They look expensive."

"They're just Levi’s."

"But they aren't hand me downs, also you eat well," Carmen smiled turning to Vin. "He's fatter than you."

"I'm not fat," Brick protested which made the women laugh.

"Your face is rounder, more filled out."

"Baby fat," another added.

"Baby fat!" Brick said getting more annoyed.

"Don't even try arguing with them," Vin said. "You can't win. Not when they're all together."

"So I will see you and Brick for breakfast tomorrow," Carmen said.

"Yes ma'am," Vin said and backed away.

"And don't get hurt!"

Brick followed Vin as he made his escape from the women. "Look I can still stay at Buck's if you want. I'll grab a cab over to your place."

"You'll have a hard time find one to take ya," Vin said with a sigh. "I just felt uncomfortable about you staying with me in Purgatorio."

"You grew up there didn’t you?"

"Learned to fend for myself pretty quickly," Vin answered. "It's a rough part of town."

"You're not ashamed of it or you wouldn't still live there."

"The people are good but the area just has a bad rep," Vin replied. "I just didn't think you would be safe there."

"I can take care of myself."

"Uh huh," Vin smiled. "We'll see."

Brick resented that Vin didn’t think he could handle himself in a big town. He was about to say something when Vin walked away. He followed Vin and began to smile. He realized he liked that his brother was trying to protect him. It felt good. As they walked towards the others Josiah noticed the smile on Brick’s face.

"What has you so happy this morning?"

"Just realized my brother would do anything for me."

"Yes he would," Josiah agreed. "Vin would risk everything for you."

"I know," Brick agreed. "I would too, but you know something."


"It’s a little frightening knowing you would go that far to protect someone and damn the consequences."

"Amen," Josiah said solemnly. "Let’s just hope neither of you have to prove you would."


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