Atlantan Legacy VI - A Change of Guard

by Squeakypeep

Disclaimer: Not Mine.. no profit.

Acknowledgements: Mog’s Universe - Thank you.

Warning: OFC

Some of the ideas in this story come from the great feedback. It really, really helps when I’m trying to see what’ll happen next. Keep it coming. Thanks to everyone who wrote.

Saturday 21st April
Before Dawn

Vin’s sleep was fitful. He’d been tossing and turning for hours, just snatching a few minutes here and there. He looked at the glowing digital clock. 3.04am.

He rolled over on his back, punching the pillow up behind his neck and stared at the shadowed ceiling. He wasn’t going to be able to sleep, may as well give up.

The problem keeping him awake was that he was not at all sure he was really ready for the responsibility of being a stand-in parent. Especially to a Standish.

He’d been ‘Uncle’ for barely a month and then yesterday he’d suddenly found himself in sole charge of three-year-old Rorie. Ezra had finally succumbed to the inevitable and gone undercover, hopefully for just a short while, and Chris had moved into the Standish household to help Vin deal with his first time responsibility.

The previous Afternoon

‘We’ll be fine Ez. You jest do yer thing an’ don’t worry about us.’

‘Vin, I don’t doubt for one moment that you will cope admirably in your position as ‘in loco parentis’ but I do regret that we have not had sufficient warning to enable us to prepare for this event. You have not yet had the opportunity practice handling her alone and we have no idea how Rorie will react when she returns from school and discovers my absence.’

‘He won’t be alone.’

The two Agents turned to Larabee questioningly.


‘I figured I’d move in with you, just for a couple of days, till you’re settled in the new dynamic. Maybe leave after the weekend. That Okay with you Ez?’

Standish nodded, smiling in appreciation.

Vin jumped in defensively. ‘If ya don’t think I’m up to mindin’ the kid mebbe you should be the one…’


Tanner broke off to look at Ezra. ‘I am trusting you to care for the most important person in my life. Don’t throw that in my face.’ He smiled at Vin who smiled back, accepting the compliment.

‘However, having said that, it would probably be best, just this once, to have Mr Larabee’s experience and support readily available. You will be filling the roles of chief disciplinarian, homework monitor and fixer of ‘Owwies’.’ He grinned. ‘It usually takes both of us to keep up with Rorie on a good day. If she is disturbed by my sudden disappearance it may be as well to have back-up until she adapts. Nobody doubts your ability. We all know how capable you are. I had you,’ he glanced around, encompassing the rest of the team in his comment, ‘all of you, when I found myself thrust unexpectedly into parenthood. Accept the assistance offered and Mr Larabee will remove to the ranch when you are comfortably established as a twosome.’

‘Besides, you have to learn to share.’ Chris grinned at Tanner who nodded and smiled back.

‘Okay. Fine.’

It was as well he had agreed since Rorie had not taken the news at all well.

‘When’s he coming back?’

‘Can’t say fer sure pumpkin, it’ll be a few days, mebbe a week, mebbe more. He’ll clear it up fast as he can though.’

‘He’s pretending to be a bad guy?’

‘Yeah, finds out what they’re gonna do an’ then we catch them doin’ it.’

‘What if they find out he’s telling on them?’

‘Darlin’ yer Daddy’s real good at what he does, the best – jest don’t tell ‘im I said that,’ Vin got a weak smile at his aside, ‘He told me ta tell ya he loves ya an’ that he’ll be real careful pumpkin.’

‘You know he’s been shot before? I saw the scars.’ Vin and Chris exchanged glances. Chris took over.

‘Shorty, every one of us has been hurt at some point. I’d like to promise you it won’t happen again but I can’t. You know that’s part of what we do, but we are careful. We have to stop the bad men getting the guns so they can’t hurt people. If Agents like your Daddy didn’t do what they do, there’d be more guns on the street and a lot more innocent people getting hurt.’

‘Like at school?’

‘Yep.’ Vin picked Rorie up and settled her on his hip. In an attempt to redirect her attention he offered, ‘how about we go to MacDonalds for supper?’ Rorie smiled but it was a poor imitation of her usual dimpled Standish grin.

‘I guess not having Daddy here could be good sometimes. Uncle Vin can I tell you a secret?’

‘Sure pumpkin.’

‘I don’t like sushi!’

Vin and Chris both laughed and said in chorus, ‘Neither do I.’

The evening had gone fairly quietly, notwithstanding the fact that Vin had had to climb up into the plastic tubes of Macdonald’s kids play area to retrieve Rorie when she wouldn’t come out. He’d had his first taste of being the bad guy when he’d told her she’d have no candy tomorrow, Saturday being the only day Ezra allowed it, as punishment. She’d pouted and pleaded but with Chris’s assistance he’d held firm. God, discipline was much harder than it looked.

Now he lay looking up at the ceiling and wondering if he’d made the right decision when he’d offered to be named primary guardian for the mini-Georgian tearaway.

Hearing a shuffle he turned his head.

Rorie was silhouetted in the doorway, with the ever present George also in evidence.

He propped himself up on his elbows and smiled at her. ‘Hello, Pumpkin. What’s the matter?’ She didn’t move so he held out his hand to her. ‘Com’ere.’ She shuffled forward. ‘Rorie?’

‘I had a’ accident, Uncle Vin.’ She hung her head and didn’t meet his eyes.

Vin looked perplexed until he realized she was naked. ‘Ohh! Never mind pumpkin, it ain’t the end o’ the world. Here,’ He reached for his discarded t-shirt and slipped it over her head, ‘you wanna come in with me?’

Rorie nodded and Vin lifted the covers and let her climb in beside him. It looked like their morning cuddle was getting earlier.

‘I’m sorry Uncle Vin.’

‘What fer?’

‘Wetting the bed.’

‘Ah Pumpkin, that’s Okay. It was an accident. Sometimes when you’re worried or upset these things happen.’

‘Does it happen to you?’

Vin choked. ‘No sweetie, not anymore. It’s usually jest children. Ya’ll grow out of it.’ They cuddled in silence for a little while and Vin could feel the little body relaxing against his chest. ‘Want ta tell me what the problem is? Is it yer Dad?’ He felt her nod.

‘What if he goes to the Angels?’

‘I can’t promise he won’t someday but havin’ you is a real good reason fer him ta try extra hard ta stay. Ya ain’t gotta worry Rorie, we’ll always be here fer ya.’ She nodded again and he waited as her breathing evened out into sleep.

Chris was making pancakes when the little girl in the enormous t-shirt arrived in the kitchen later in the morning, dragging the big bear behind her.

‘Hello there sleepyhead.’

‘Morning Uncle Chris.’ She yawned.

‘Vin still asleep?’

‘Yahuh.’ She climbed awkwardly into the chair, nearly toppling over when she got her feet caught in the extra material of Vin’s T-shirt. Only Chris’s quick reflexes stopped her from tumbling off completely.

‘Whoa there. I don’t think you’re really awake yet either are you?’ He picked up George and set him in an adjoining seat. ‘You ready for some blueberry pancakes ala Larabee?’

‘I am.’ A dishevelled Vin arrived, running his hand through long tousled hair. ‘Hey Chris. Mornin’ Pumpkin.’

Vin and Chris indulged in one of their infamous silent communications.

Bad night?


Everything Okay?

Gettin’ there.


Wet bed.


Rorie’s head was turning side to side, like a spectator at a tennis match, as she followed this, trying to work out what was going on.

‘So are you two up for going to the show today?’

That got Rorie’s attention. ‘What show?’ She spoke through a mouthful of ‘pancake ala Larabee’. Chris shook his head at her and waited while she swallowed. ‘Sorry. What Show?’

‘There’s a spring show on, near the Ranch. The farmers show their animals, there’s police dog display teams, rodeo events, stalls selling just about everything, food, ice cream…’

‘Yeah! Can we go Uncle Vin?’

Vin nodded. ‘I don’t see why not. S’long as ya obey the rules.’

The child made a face. More rules?

‘Ya done?’ He got a nod in confirmation. ‘Go wash up an’ git dressed then.’ The little figure left with alacrity, only to return for the bear.

Once she’d gone Chris cleared up the kitchen and prepared for the outing while Vin went off to change Rorie’s bedding and sort out her unruly mop of hair. If it meant keeping her mind off her missing parent they could survive a visit to the county fair.

By the time they returned to the house both men were exhausted. Rorie, having slept in the car on the way home, was full of beans. She gave up trying to get one or other of her uncles to play with her, both just wanted to put their feet up and vegetate, so she vanished up into her bedroom, taking her backpack full of spoils with her.

Sitting in front of the TV with open bottles of beer Chris broke the silence.

‘So what happened last night?’

‘She wet the bed. I figure she was worried ‘bout Ez. She ended up in with me at 3am.’ Chris laughed.

‘Having a kid around sure plays havoc with your love life, eh Cowboy?’

Vin grinned. ‘She’s easier ta talk ta than most females. Shame she has ta grow up.’

‘That’ll be an interesting spectacle. Watching Ez cope with the boyfriends.’

‘Yeah!’ They laughed and Vin flicked the channels until he found a movie they could both watch.

They’d been sitting quietly for all of ten minutes when the sharpshooter was struck by a thought. There’d been something about Rorie’s behaviour that had bothered him all day. He’d finally realized what it was. The backpack.



‘Is it jest me or was Rorie strangely attached ta that pack today?’

Chris considered the question. ‘What are you getting at Vin?’

‘Ain’t sure. It’s jest… she wouldn’t let either of us carry it an’ it must’ve been heavy.’


As one the two agents rose and crept stealthily up the stairs. They could hear the child talking and laughing to herself. They exchanged glances. Vin pushed her door open with his fingertips.

‘Aurora Standish!’ The child in question jumped at the unexpected voice. She turned guiltily. ‘Where did you get that?’ Vin pointed at the animal she was trying unsuccessfully to hide behind her back.

‘Ummm. Ah, what?’

‘Think fast kid.’ Chris approached and picked up the fluffy yellow chick.

‘Well?’ Vin stood over her.

‘The man at the chicken farm gave him to me.’


‘Cause I asked. He said it’d be all right if I checked with my parents.’

‘Why didn’t you?’


Chris spoke again. ‘Don’t speak to Uncle Vin in that tone of voice young lady!’

The little girl took on a mutinous expression, thrusting out her lower lip.

Vin sank to his knees and took hold of her shoulders, bringing her to face him. ‘Aurora ya know very well that when Ezra isn’t here I am responsible fer ya. Which means ya answer TO me when ya done wrong.’

Rorie hung her head. ‘Yes Uncle Vin.’

‘I know ya ain’t happy that he ain’t here. I’m sorry fer that. But it ain’t fair ta take it out on me is it?’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Okay then. If ya really are, I guess we’re good.’

‘Can I keep it?’

‘Not a chance.’ Rorie huffed. ‘Don’t push me, pumpkin.’

‘Chris, ya think Miss Nettie’ll take it in?’

‘I expect so. It can go in with her others. I’ll drop it off on my way home tomorrow.’

‘You aren’t going to tell Daddy about this are you?’

‘He’ll want ta know what ya’ve been doin’ but I ain’t gonna tell ‘im.’ Rorie’s look of relief was short lived. ‘You are.’

By Sunday afternoon, Chris felt that Vin and Rorie had established their balance. Rorie now understood that Uncle Vin could be just as strict as Ezra and she paid attention when he gave instructions. Vin was more confident in his role as substitute parent and although they still made mischief together, there had been a subtle shift in their relationship.

Rorie was in bed, hopefully asleep, when Vin walked Chris out to the Ram.

‘Thanks Cowboy.’

‘No problem Vin. I’ve been there remember? Call if you need anything.’ The two gripped forearms in their classic handshake.

Vin watched the car vanish down the street and turned back to the house.

He was on his own.

Tuesday 24th April

Vin happened to be out of the office when the call came in from the school. Buck answered the phone.

Having identified himself and been checked by the school official as being on the list of approved guardians, he was informed of the problem. Swearing he threw down the phone and turned to the others.

‘Chris, get out here.’ Larabee’s office door opened and he stuck his head out.

‘What did you say?’

‘Rorie’s missing.’

Chris dropped his ire in favour of anxiety as he approached Buck’s workstation. The other three also stopped what they were doing and gathered round.

‘Christ, that kid’s getting to be as much trouble as her father. What happened?’

Apparently, the class had been on a day trip to the Science Museum. Rorie had claimed that another child, a known truant, had been taken away in a car. The teacher had pooh-poohed that idea and told her to stop telling tales. Rorie had then taken off at a run, disappearing though the crowd of visitors and out into the street. They had initiated a search but no trace of either child had been found.

‘When did this happen?’

‘According to the school about forty-five minutes ago.’

‘That Museum is only two blocks from here. You boys head out and look for her, I’ll go find Vin.’

‘I’m here. What’s goin’ on?’ Tanner approached from the direction of the elevator. ‘What?’ He looked at all the worried faces and took a breath. ‘Okay is it Ez or Rorie?’

‘Rorie.’ Buck filled him in on all he’d learned from the school.



‘Okay let’s go.’ They were moving to the door when Vin’s phone rang again. This time he picked it up himself.

‘Tanner.’ He listened. ‘Yeah bring her up.’ He disconnected the call and redialled. ‘Hi, Principal Sinclair please. Vin Tanner…. Hello? Hi, Yes I know. She’s here at the office. No, I don’t know about the other one. It’s just Rorie. Okay thanks.’ He replaced the receiver as the elevator pinged, announcing a new arrival.

They all turned to watch as the missing child stepped out, followed by two uniformed security officers, who nodded at Vin and then left.

‘Uncle Vin, Uncle Vin, Charlotte’s gone.’ She dashed up to Vin who leaned down and picked her up.

‘What the HELL are ya playing at Aurora?’ Vin was alternately hugging her and yelling at her. ‘Ya scared the bejesus outta us!’ He hugged her again. ‘Talk kid, an’ make it good.’

‘A man took Charlotte. He lied and said he had puppies and that our mothers had said it would be Okay and Charlotte got in the car but I didn’t ‘cause I haven’t got one and the man got mad and I kicked him and then he took her away and I told the teacher and she said I was making it up and I wasn’t and the bad man took Charlotte and I had to do something so I found a policeman and I told him and he didn’t believe me either and then I came here. We gotta find Charlotte Uncle Vin.’

Vin looked at Chris with a very confused expression. ‘Did you get that?’

Chris nodded. He turned to the elevator again as two DPD cops stepped out.

‘Can I help you boys?’

The older cop nodded. ‘Sorry sir, We’re just checking on the kid, we followed her when she made a run through the people on the sidewalk but lost sight of her a ways back. Finally tracked her to here. Security told us she belongs to you.’ He looked towards the child. ‘Your teacher is worried about you.’ He spoke into his mic.

‘You the cops she spoke to?’ The man admitted they were. ‘A little kid tells you her friend has been abducted and you ignore it?’ Chris shook his head. ‘Things have changed since I was with the DPD.’

Larabee turned to the child. ‘Rorie do you remember anything about the car or the man?’

‘Yahuh. It was the same as Uncle Nate’s but it was black and older. Kinda bent. There was a big white scratch down the side and the front window was cracked like a spider web. I didn’t get all the number but it started with GPY 78 – something.’ Chris nodded to JD who sat down at his monitor and started to hammer at the keys.

‘What about the man?’ This came from the cop who was suddenly taking the child’s claim seriously. This kid belonged to a fellow law enforcer and seemed to know what sort of thing they needed to track down her friend.


Vin snorted. ‘Anything else?’

‘He was big, like Uncle Josiah and he had a blue jacket and jeans. Or maybe a brown jacket. I can’t remember. He smelled like it does at the gas station.’ She pulled a ‘yucky’ face.

‘Got it.’ JD spoke from his terminal as he read off the information. ‘Black explorer, registration GPY 78312, registered Denver to a Marcus Grayson Helligan, known paedophile currently on parole, address,’ he paused as the information was flashed up, ‘1675 Mason.’

Chris turned to the cops. ‘You get that?’ The older one nodded as his young colleague called it in. ‘Make sure they get an APB out on that vehicle. Are they sending units to the address?’ The younger cop nodded. ‘Yessir.’

‘You boys can go and keep the streets safe. Don’t think you’ve heard the last of this.’ He was looking at Rorie as he spoke and missed their expressions of resigned dread.

Vin had taken Rorie to his desk where he sat her on the edge as he collapsed into his chair.

‘You Okay?’ She nodded. ‘Nate? You want to check her over before I kill her?’

Nathan quickly examined the child, finding finger shaped bruises on her left forearm to be her only injury.

‘Okay so you want ta tell me how ya got here?’

‘I walked. Uncle Vin what about Charlotte?’

Her attempt at redirection had no effect whatsoever on Vin. ‘They’ll find her. You walked? By yourself?’ He considered that. ‘Ya crossed two busy streets, BY YOURSELF?’

‘I waited for the green man.’

Vin sighed. ‘Rorie ya ever heard of a phone? Ya shouldda called.’

She shrugged. ‘I didn’t think of that. I could see the building from the sidewalk so I just came. You gonna punish me again?’

‘No.’ Vin smiled grimly at her expression of satisfaction. ‘What ya did was very brave an’ very dumb.’ She frowned at him. ‘I ain’t gonna punish ya. I’m gonna let ya tell yer father an’ leave it up ta him.’

Rorie looked suitably horrified. ‘Couldn’t you just punish me and get it over with? Then we could tell him it was finished and he wouldn’t punish me again. Would he?’ She looked unsure but hopeful.

‘Don’t count on it.’ This came from Chris. ‘Whichever way you won’t have to think about it too long since the bust is set to go in the next couple of days.’

‘Oh Lord.’ She sounded so like Ezra that the rest of Team 7 had to stifle their smiles. Vin sighed a sigh of immense relief and hugged her again. He wouldn’t have to explain to Ezra how he’d lost his child the first time he’d been left in charge.

Saturday 28th April

As usual, at about 6.30am Vin had a visitor. He held the blankets up and Rorie crawled into the warm spot, putting her cold feet on his flat belly.

‘Jeez Rorie couldn’t ya find any socks?’

She grinned at him. ‘Just wanted to be sure you knew it was me.’

‘Ain’t nobody else climbs inta my bed at dawn.’

‘Uncle Buck says he’s got people climbing outta his bed at dawn.’

Vin gaped. ‘Uncle Buck talks too much.’

‘Yeah and half the time I don’t understand what he’s talking about.’

‘Just as well pumpkin.’

Vin let out an ‘oomph’ as the child crawled up onto his chest, digging surprisingly sharp elbows into his solar plexus.

‘Tell me a story Uncle Vin.’

Vin wove a tale of native Indians and a young brave proving himself a man by bringing home a buffalo until he realized it was almost 8.30.

‘Okay, off ya go while I get dressed.’ He climbed out of bed and hitched his pyjama trousers further up on his narrow hips.

‘Can I watch you shave off the stuggle?’

‘It’s ‘stubble’ an’ no, ya ain’t allowed in my bathroom remember?’

‘Just this once?’

‘No. Iff’n ya wanna watch, go watch Ez.’

The little face under the mop of reddish curls gaped at him. ‘He’s back?’

‘Yep.’ But Vin was talking to air.

Thundering feet approaching down the corridor gave the Undercover Agent the ‘heads up’ and he was ready to catch the flying bundle when it launched itself at his bed.


‘Hello honeybee.’

Ezra lay in the bed and cuddled the child in silence for a long time, both of them content just to be in each other’s presence. Eventually she wriggled and he reluctantly loosened his hold.

‘I missed you baby girl.’ He carded his fingers through the soft curls framing her face.

‘I missed you more!’

‘Mmmm. I doubt that. You had your Uncles for company. Were you a good girl for Uncle Vin?’ Ezra had already received an in-depth report when the two returned to the house the previous evening but he wanted her to tell him herself.

‘We had fun.’

Ezra twisted his lips sardonically. ‘I expect you did and you can tell me all about it over breakfast. However, that wasn’t the question I asked, Aurora.’

She knew by his use of her full name that he was already aware of her activities during his absence. Sighing, she pushed the hair out of her eyes and sat back on his stomach. They looked at each other.

‘Where do you want me to start?’

He raised his brows in true Standish style and stated ‘I’ve always considered the beginning to be an appropriate place.’

The End

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