On His Own

by Winter

ATF Universe

It was a warm summer day and Vin rode his Harley to work. This early in the morning there was no traffic and he made it to the Federal building quickly. He drove the Harley up to the security gate and inserted his key card. The gate began to rise and when it was high enough Vin ducked inside and drove to his parking space. The sharpshooter didn't expect anyone to be in this early. He had a report to finish that was due on Chris's desk by ten o'clock. It still took Vin awhile to get his reports finished even with Ezra's help, but he was getting better at it. He pulled into his spot threw down the kickstand and cut the engine. The sound of the Harley echoed for a few seconds than all was quiet. Vin pulled off his helmet and placed it on the gas tank of the motorcycle. He pulled the backpack from his shoulders and rummaged inside looking for the can of cat food. Vin found the can and pulled off the top. He was surprised that Cuervo didn't come running.

"Wonder where he is?" Vin asked out loud.

He question was answered with a loud howl further inside the garage. Vin left his stuff on the motorcycle and went to investigate. He found Cuervo fighting with a large feral cat. The cats once white fur was now black and a little mangy. Vin could see the cat had been in many fights. He was missing an ear and one eye As Vin watched deciding what to do the feral cat attacked Cuervo. Vin didn't think and reached to break up the fight. He was taken by surprise at the strength of the cat as it clawed his chest and arms. The wild cat dug it's back claws deep into Vin's forearm.

"God damn!" Vin yelled in pain and dropped the cat.

The cat ran out of the garage and into the alley. Vin wasn't sorry to see it go. His left forearm was covered in scratches, some of them deep. The cat also racked his chest easily ripping through Vin's white T-shirt. Vin sighed and looked towards Cuervo. The orange tabby was a few feet away licking his wounds.

"That was one mean hombre," Vin said as he walked over to Cuervo. "How ya doing?"

Cuervo wouldn't let Vin get too close but he could see the cat wasn't seriously hurt. Vin stood up and began to walk back to his Harley. Cuervo followed and Vin could see he was limping slightly. Vin decided he'd come down later and check on him. Cuervo contentedly ate the food Vin gave him before he headed up to the office. Vin wanted to get cleaned up before the others got there. He didn't want Nathan making a fuss over a few scratches.

Vin got off the elevator on the eleventh floor and headed for the locker room. He opened his locker and pulled out the extra long sleeved shirt he kept there. The next thing he went looking for was the first aid kit. A half-hour later Vin had the scratches cleaned, bandaged and hidden under his shirt. He was typing diligently at his computer when Chris came in.

"Hey Vin," Chris said in greeting.

Vin absently waved to him but didn't say anything. Chris smiled as he watched the younger man chew on his lower lip as he concentrated. Chris knew Vin worried about his reports and decided to let him be. He'd seen an improvement in the reports and wasn't worried that he wouldn't get it done. Chris entered his office and tackled the pile of mail he left last night. At eight o'clock the other members of Team 7 started to arrive. Chris could see they left Vin alone and that the dynamic duo kept their banter down to a dull roar. Chris continued going through the mail. At 9:15AM Chris watched as Vin nervously watched the elevator doors. He saw the sharpshooter relax when Ezra stepped off the elevator. Obviously Vin wanted him to proof read his report. Vin didn't say anything to the flamboyant undercover agent all he did was look at him. Ezra smiled at Vin and pulled his chair around to sit next to him.

"Relax Brother Vin," Josiah said as he placed his hands on Vin's shoulder. "You're wound tighter than a spring."

"Don't know why I'm so up tight about this one," Vin said as he relaxed under Josiah's kneading fingers.

"First time in charge of a bust is always nerve racking," Buck said. "Except for you. You were as cool as a cucumber until the upper brass said you had to a file a lengthy repot. Then you fell to pieces."

"Reckon I did," Vin smiled and waited for Ezra's opinion.

"This is excellent Mr. Tanner," Ezra said as he leaned back. "Just a few minor grammatical errors. Also words that are spelled right when you did spell check but are wrong in context. Shall we get to work rectifying them?"

"Yeah," Vin said with his lopsided grin. "Thanks Ez."

An hour later found Vin standing at the door to Chris's office holding his report. Chris was on the phone and he gestured Vin into the office. Vin came over and sat in the chair in front of Chris's desk. Chris finished his call and hung up the phone.

"All finished?" Chris asked as he held out his hand.

"I reckon," Vin said as he handed the report to Chris.

"It'll be fine Vin," Chris said with a smile. "What do you have planned for the rest of the day?"

"The scope is a little off on my rifle," Vin said. " Was goin' over to the range to check it out. Want it just right for the raid tomorrow."

"Take JD with you," Chris suggested. "He seems to be tacking an interest in the high powered guns."

"I was goin' over after lunch," Vin said. "Should we go now?"

"Yeah," Chris said checking the time. "We have that meeting at two o'clock with the other teams in the raid tomorrow."

"OK," Vin said standing. "We'll grab lunch on the way back."

"Just be back before two," Chris yelled to Vin as he went out the door.

"Let's go Kid," Vin called as he came out of Chris's office.

"Where we goin'?" JD asked eagerly as he shut down hi computer.

"Out to the range," Vin said. "Want to check the sight on my Remington 700. Chris wants me to show you the ropes."

"Alright!" JD exclaimed.

"Good lord, has Mr. Larabee lost his mind," Ezra said. "Showing Mr. Dunne how to use a high powered rifle frightens me."

"Ha, Ha very funny Ezra," JD said as Ezra smiled at him.

"Hey Buck, can we take the pickup?" Vin asked. "Don't want to drive around with my rifle on the motorcycle."

"Sure, Junior, catch," Buck said as he threw the keys to Vin.

The sharpshooter easily caught the keys as the headed out of the office. Vin stopped at the equipment locker and retrieved his rifle and some other things he would need. As they walked over to Buck's pickup he noticed Cuervo had finished the food but was no where in sight. They climbed in and drove over to the range. Vin pulled into the lot and parked. JD grabbed Vin's duffel while Vin took the rifle case. They walked up to the desk to sign in.

"Howdy Vin," Sergeant McBride called. "I see you have that long range monster with you today."

"Yeah I have to check the sight," Vin said. "I think it's a little off."

"Well you know how to get there," the range chief said. "Golf carts all charged."

"Thanks," Vin said and they headed for the door.

Vin and JD went out back and climbed into the golf cart. The sniper ranger was a short distance away but too far to walk with all the equipment. Vin stopped the cart at the 1200-meter range and got out.

'You're goinna shoot from here?" JD asked surprised.

"It's less than what I usually shoot at," Vin admitted.

"I've never seen anyone shoot from this far out," JD said as he followed Vin.

Vin took the black duffel from JD and opened it. He pulled out a rubber pad and spread it out on the grass and sat down. JD sat across from Vin and waited. Next Vin took out a pair of high-powered binoculars and handed them to JD. The bullets for the riffle were the next item out of the bag. The ammunition for the rifle was about four inches long. Vin put the duffel off to the side and opened the case for the rifle. This was Vin's personal weapon and it made JD smile the way he touched it, like it was a living thing. JD watched as Vin attached the spotting scope to the top. Vin handed JD the rifle while he pulled his hair back and secured it in a ponytail. When Vin was ready he stretched out on the pad and propped the barrel of the gun on the small tripod legs. JD handed Vin a bullet and he inserted it into the gun. JD watched through the binoculars as Vin took his first shot. The bullet hit the wooden target slightly off center 1200 meters away.

"It's off to the left by about an inch," JD reported as he took the binoculars from his eyes.

He watched in fascination, as Vin made some minor adjustments then was ready to shoot again. Vin shot and JD could see that the bullet enter to the right of the first one but still off center. For the next two hours Vin played with the scope until he hit the target dead center three times. Vin was lying on his stomach and the scratches on his chest were starting to bother him. It was also hot out in the sun and the deep scratches on his forearm were beginning to hurt as well.

"Hey Vin, want some water?" JD asked.

"Thanks," Vin said taking the squeeze bottle from JD and rolling on his back as he drank.

"Why don't you roll up your sleeves?" JD suggested when he saw the sweat beading on Vin's forehead.

"You want to try this?" Vin asked gesturing to the gun and changing the subject.

"Yeah!" JD said enthusiastically.

Vin moved away from the rifle and sat up slowly as a wave of dizziness hit. JD didn't notice as he took Vin's place and put his eye to the scope. Vin talked JD through the procedure for using the high powered rifle. JD's first shot went wide and it hit the protective metal barrier behind it.

"Damn," JD cursed.

"You pulled too hard on the trigger," Vin said. "That made the gun move. Everything about this gun is very sensitive. Just squeeze the trigger don't pull and relax your grip."

"JD tried again and just nicked the edge of the target. Vin explained that he had to factor in the distance and the wind conditions to decide where to line up the cross hairs in the scope. JD tried again and missed. JD cursed again and Vin laughed.

"It's gonna take awhile to get the hang of it," Vin said. "Next time we'll try at 500 meters."

They packed up the equipment and Vin had JD drive the cart back to the range building. He was still feeling a little dizzy and didn't want to take the chance he might hit something. McBride saw them come in and asked how they did. JD told him and he clapped JD on the back in congratulations since most shooters didn't come anywhere near the target shooting the first time.

"You didn't drink enough water out there did you?" McBride criticized when he saw Vin's sweat soaked hair. "How many times I gotta tell ya?"

"Why ya pickin' on me?" Vin asked. "JD's sweating too."

"Because I know you," McBride said. "You get out there with that gun of yours and forget everything."

"Don't worry Sarge," JD said, "I made him drink."

"Come one we gotta head back," Vin said and headed for the door.

Vin let JD drive back. They stopped to pick up burgers and JD noticed Vin only ate half of his. He just figured Vin wasn't hungry since half the time he hardly ate anything, unless it was junk food. They got back to the federal building in enough time to change out of their sweaty clothes. Vin stalled until JD changed and said he'd meet him back at the office. When Vin was sure JD was gone he changed into a long sleeved Henley. He really wanted to run his forearm under some cold water but there wasn't time. Vin secured his rifle in the gun locker and made his way to the conference room. Team 7 and Team 2 were just back up on this raid. Team 5 had uncovered a huge smuggling ring. They were smuggling cigarettes and other contraband to Asia. The warehouse was huge and it was decided two snipers would be posted around the building. Vin was shown his position on the diagram. He was going to be at the top of a water tower 1,000 yards away on the west. The warehouse was the only one in the area and Vin would have a clear view. Except to the east where the other sniper would be.

"Hey Vin's nest is taller than mine," Mikhail, Team two's sniper complained teasingly.

"When you learn to shoot as far as Vin yours can be that high also," Agent Conklin, the leader of the raid, said.

Everyone laughed and the meeting continued. Chris noticed Vin was being quieter than usual. He glanced over at the sharpshooter and saw him looking at the pictures and the map of the warehouse. Nothing looked out of the ordinary but Vin was sometimes hard to read. The meeting ended at four o'clock and Chris suggested they unwind at the Saloon. They all agreed and went back to the office to close up. Vin went to the lockers and grabbed his gear for tomorrow. He took home the black combat outfits they would wear during the raid. They got to the Saloon and took their usual seat towards the back. Inez came over and took their orders. Vin just ordered and iced tea and some fries.

"Is that all you're getting?" Nathan asked in concern.

"Had a big lunch," Vin lied.

JD looked at Vin but didn't say anything. He figured Vin knew what he was doing. Chris saw JD look at Vin and wondered if something happened over at the range they weren't telling him about. He knew he wouldn't get anything out of either of them and let it slide. They left the Saloon early since Chris didn't want them getting drunk before a raid. Not that they ever would but Chris wanted to make sure everyone got a good nights sleep. They all said their good byes in the parking lot and they all headed home.

Vin was more than happy to leave early. He just wanted to get home and sleep. Once inside the apartment he headed straight for the bathroom. He removed his shirt then the bandages covering the scratches. The deep ones on his forearm were red and swollen. Vin turned on the cold water and stuck his arm under the water. He sighed in relief when the cold water touched his skin. The scratches on his chest didn't look as bad. He finished cleaning and bandaging the wounds and went into the bedroom. Vin pulled off his jeans and threw them in a corner. He pulled the covers back from the bed and collapse into the bed and never remembered falling asleep.


Vin woke the next morning with a groan. He was lying on his stomach and opened one eye to look at the clock. Vin jerked his head up and stared at the clock. No matter how long he looked it would still say the same thing.

"Aw hell!" Vin cursed and rolled off the bed.

He was late. They were supposed to meet for the final briefing at 9 o'clock. Vin grabbed the duffel bag and pulled out the black combat uniform. He didn't have time for a shower and quickly got dressed. Vin hit his left forearm on the door to the closet when he went to get his combat boots. The pain was incredible and Vin sat on the floor trying to catch his breath. When the pain subsided Vin got shakily to his feet grabbing his boots. He went over to the bed and sat down to put on his boots. When he was dressed he looked at the clock and it said 8:15. Vin ignored the lightheadedness he felt as he grabbed his keys and left.


Chris kept glancing at his watch wondering where Vin was. The sharpshooter was rarely late and Chris was beginning to worry. He was just glad the briefing was pushed back to 9:30. He looked at his watch again and it said 8:30. Chris was about to call Vin when his phone rang.

"Agent Larabee."

"Hey Chris I'm running a little late. I over slept."

"It's alright Vin," Chris said relieved to hear his voice. "Briefings been pushed back half an hour so don't kill yourself getting here."

"Alright it'll give me a chance to stop for breakfast. I'll get donuts and coffee for everyone."

"That's fine Vin."

"See ya in a few."

Chris hung up the phone and stood up. It was unusual for Vin to oversleep but he figured it could happen to anyone. Chris tried to dismiss the bad feeling he was getting. He wandered out to the outer offices to find everyone busy at work including Ezra.

"So where's our usual early bird?" Buck asked.

"He's on his way," Chris said. "He over slept."

"Vin over slept?" Nathan asked incredulous. "Now Ezra I could believe."

"I take exception to that remark," Ezra said indignantly.

"I suppose Vin's entitled to come late at least once," Josiah remark. "Considering he's usually here so early."

"Well he's bringing donuts and coffee to make up for it," Chris announced.

"Hey Ezra," JD called. "How come you never bring us breakfast when you're late?"

"Because if he did he'd be broke," Buck said laughing and the others joined in as Ezra gave them a dirty look.


Vin pulled into his parking space and turned off the jeep. The cool morning wind from the topless jeep had revived him and he felt much better. He climbed out and Cuervo immediately twined around his legs purring.

"Well howdy," Vin said leaning down to pet the cat.

Vin noticed he wasn't limping and that the scratches were clean. He gave the cat on final scratch before heading to the office. When he came out of the elevator he was greeted by the teasing of his teammates. Vin handed out the goodies then sat down at his desk. He took a bite of his glazed donut and sipped his coffee. After he finished the donut he didn't feel so good. Vin put the coffee on the desk unfinished.

Chris gathered them all together and they went down to the briefing. The meeting was mostly to make sure everyone knew their assignment. Chris noticed that Vin was again being quieter than usual. He glanced over at Vin and shook his head. Dressed in the black fatigues Vin looked like a kid playing at being a cop. The meeting ended and they all headed to the locker room to change. Vin followed to keep them company. Chris knew it would be a struggle to get Ezra into the combat fatigues.

"Mr. Larabee I must protest," Ezra said holding up the black shirt. "Black just isn't my color."

"Not to mention the yellow ATF letters on the back," Vin pointed out with a smile.

"See Mr. Tanner understands," Ezra lamented.

"Just get changed Ezra," Chris ordered. "Vin I want you in a harness and a line."

"Oh come on Chris!" Vin protested.

"Don't argue with me," Chris snapped. "You're too damned high up on the water tower. I want you on a tether."

"Come on Junior let's not ruffle Ol' Chris's feathers," Buck said. "Get the harness and I'll hook you up."

Vin went to the equipment locker and pulled out a climbing harness and 2,000 feet of rope. He came back to find Ezra grumbling about having to wear the body armor. Chris watched as Buck helped Vin adjust the harness. Vin steeped into it and they adjusted the buckles until it was snug. When they were all ready they started to head for the door.

"Forget something Vin?" Chris asked holding up the body armor.

"You've got to be kidding," Vin said. "I'm gonna be 500 yards away."

Chris didn't say anything as he held out the vest and glared. Vin sighed and took the body armor from Chris. He really didn't want to put it on because he was already hot. Chris walked out as Vin put on the vest. He winced as the vest rubbed the scratches on his chest. Vin met the others at the gun locker as they gathered their weapons and met the other teams in the basement. They loaded into the trucks and pulled out. Vin put his head back and tried to get his queasy stomach to settle down. It wasn't helping that it was hot in the back of the trucks.

"Damn it to hell!" Buck cursed. "It's like an oven back here."

"We aren't goin' that far," JD said. "I think you can handle it."

JD was right in no time they were at the warehouse and the truck stopped. The back door opened and Conklin was standing there.

"OK Vin off you go," he said.

"Yes sir," Vin said as he gathered his gear.

"You have twenty minutes to get set up," Conklin said.

Vin nodded and looked at the rest of his team. Buck gave him a thumbs up and he waved as Conklin shut the door and went around to the front of the truck. The truck pulled away and Vin looked up at the water tower. He had to climb 1,000 feet to the top. He shouldered his rifle and black duffel and headed for the ladder. Vin began climbing and half way up a wave of dizziness hit forcing him to cling to the ladder until it passed. Sweat ran down Vin's temples from under the ball cap he wore. When the dizziness pasted he continued the climb. He made it to the top and lay on his back panting. His earpiece chirped and Chris's voice could be heard in his ear.

"Larabee to sniper one," Chris called.

Vin took a deep breath and pulled the small mike down in front of his mouth.

"This is sniper one."

"Vin you in position?"

"Almost, just setting up now."

"Good Larabee out."

Vin rolled over and crawled to the edge closest to the warehouse. He opened the duffel and pulled out his rubber mate to spread out on the top of the tower. The white tower reflected the sun mercilessly back at Vin as he pulled out the rope and secured the line. Once he was secured to the line Vin arranged everything he needed within easy reach and stretched out on the mat. He clipped a line to his rifle then secured it to his body armor in case he dropped it the rifle wouldn't fall to the ground. He took a long pull from his water bottle turned his ball cap around so the bill was to the back and looked through the scope of the rifle. He had a clear shot to the area in front of the warehouse.

"This is sniper one. Position secure."

"Roger Sniper one."

Vin checked his watch and it said 9:45. He'd have to wait up in the sun for another fifteen minutes. Vin wiped the sweat from his face and rested his head on his arms. It wasn't long before he heard Conklin's voice in his ear.

"All teams get ready to move in on my signal."

Vin leaned up on his elbows and looked through the scope blinking. His vision was cloudy and he couldn't see clearly. Vin could hear Conklin tell the teams to move in but it sounded like it was from far away. The sharpshooter was confused and tried to sit up. Vin started to black out never realizing he was sliding off the side of the water tower.


Mikhail watched from his sniper position on the other side of the building. The snipers weren't there to kill anybody just to watch out for any smugglers who got out of the building and discouraged them from running. Mikhail looked through his scope as he heard the orders to move in. He knew the guys inside would secure the site and he doubted he'd see any action. He swung his scope over to Vin's position to see what he was doing. He watched in horror as the sharpshooter from Team 7 fell off the water tower and dropped two hundred feet before the tether stopped him. Vin's body slammed up against the tower and was still.

"Holy shit!" Mikhail cursed then keyed his mike. "This is sniper two. Sniper one is down. I repeat sniper one is down!"

When Chris heard the call from Mikhail he couldn't believe it. He looked towards Buck and saw the surprised look on his face as well. They were the only two available to go see what was up.

"Josiah cover this door," Chris ordered. "Me and Buck are going to see what's up."

Josiah moved back to their position and they left to check on Vin. As soon as they left the building they could see Vin dangling from his safety line.

"Shit!" Chris cursed and ran towards the tower.

Buck was close behind. When they got to the tower Chris moved towards the ladder. Buck grabbed is arm and stopped him.

"Hold on Chris,' Buck said. "I'll climb up and lower him down. There's no sense in dragging him to the top of the tower just to figure out how we're going to get him down."

"Alright," Chris agreed.

Buck took his body armor off and handed his guns to Chris. He went up the ladder as fast as he could. Chris moved to stand under Vin. Chris was trying to figure out what happened when he heard the all clear over the radio. Chris looked towards Buck and saw he was half way up. Chris looked up anxiously at Vin and tried to wait patiently. A short time later the rest of the team was standing around Chris.

"Chris I'm at the top," Buck called over the head set. "Get ready."

"Roger, Buck, go ahead and lower him."

"They couldn't have shot him?" JD asked worried. "Could they?"

"I don't think so JD," Nathan said just as worried.

Vin's body started to lower and they all moved into position to grab him. Josiah and Nathan were the first to be able to touch him since they were the tallest. They guided him down to the hands of the others as they lowered him to the ground.

"Easy now," Nathan said. "There's no telling what injuries he has."

"Alright, Buck, he's down," JD said over the radio.

"Good lord!" Ezra exclaimed as he began to remove the rope and harness. "He's burning up."

"Help me get his armor off," Nathan said.

Chris and Ezra helped Nathan remove the armor as Josiah held a bandage to a cut over Vin's left eye. As they removed the vest Nathan could see Vin's left shoulder was dislocated.

"How is he?" Buck asked breathlessly as he dropped Vin's duffel at his feet.

"Ain't sure yet," Nathan said.

Once the armor was off Nathan could check for other injuries. Chris unhooked Vin's rifle and handed it to JD as he took Josiah's place. JD carefully unloaded the rifle just as Vin showed him and placed it in its bag. He threw it over his shoulder as he watched Nathan unbutton Vin's shirt to reveal bandages.

"What the hell?" Nathan said.

Nathan removed the bandages to reveal the scratches. They were slightly inflamed but nothing serious. As Nathan continued his assessment the ambulance pulled up. They took over from Nathan as he told them Vin's injuries and what happened. They took Vin's temperature and it was 104. They started and IV in his right arm and placed an oxygen mask over his face. They strapped his left arm against his body and loaded him on a gurney. They all helped load it into the ambulance.

"What the hell happened!" Chris demanded as the ambulance pulled away.


The ambulance pulled into the emergency area of the hospital and parked. The paramedics unloaded Vin and wheeled the gurney through the double doors.

"What do we have?" Wendy, the ER nurse, asked.

"Male approximately 25," the paramedic began. "Fell about two hundred feet off a water tower before his safety line arrested his fall. Possible internal injuries from the impact with the tower. Temperature is 104, pulse is rapid and respirations are 70. Possible dislocated left shoulder and concussion. IV started on scene to replace fluids."

"Right," Wendy said. "We'll take it from here."

The ER staff began to cut away Vin's shirt when they discovered the bandages on his left fore arm. Wendy unwound them and shook her head when she saw the scratches. They were infected and red lines streaked up Vin's arm towards his elbow. She grabbed everything she would need to clean them while she waited for the doctor.

Two hours later Wendy led Dr. Tompkins out to talk with the leader of the ATF team. She'd only met him once and he could still intimidate her. Chris Larabee noticed them and stood up. The others got up and stood around him.

"How is he?" Chris demanded.

"He's lucky he was secured to the safety line," Dr. Tompkins said. "He has a dislocated left shoulder and a concussion."

"Do you have any idea what made him black out?" Nathan asked.

"Yeah and what about the fever?" JD added.

"That's easy enough," he said. "The scratches on his arm were infected."

"What scratches?" Chris asked confused.

"I'm guessing, Mr. Tanner was scratched by a cat," he said. "Some of them were pretty deep. Cat's claws can be incredibly dirty and even if he cleaned the scratches well there's no guarantee they're actually clean."

"So that's what caused the fever making him black out?" Chris asked.

"That and the fact that he was in that black outfit laying in the sun," Dr. Tompkins said. "I'm surprised you let him go up the tower when he was so sick."

"We didn't know," Chris growled.

"Vin's very good at hiding the fact that he's sick," Nathan said.

"Can we see him?" Buck asked.

"Of course," he said. "Wendy will show you to his room."

"Thank you doctor," Josiah said.

They followed Wendy and she led them down the hall and held the door opened as they entered.

"He'll probably sleep for the rest of the day," Wendy said.

"Thank you," Nathan said and she left them.

Vin lay in the bed with an IV in his right hand. His left arm was in a sling to lessen the strain on his shoulder. Chris walked over to the bed and saw the sweat beading on Vin's forehead. He wet a cloth and wiped Vin's face.

"We're going to have a long talk when you wake up," Chris warned.

"If Mr. Tanner knows what's good for him he will remain asleep," Ezra replied.

"Amen Brother," Josiah said and they all laughed.


The next two days Vin's remained in the hospital as they tried to bring his fever down. At the end of the second day Chris was sitting in the room when Vin began to stir. Chris put down the paper and waited. Vin opened his eyes and blinked. He turned his head and saw Chris sitting in the chair.

"Aw hell," Vin sighed closing his eyes. "What happened?"

"Where'd you get the scratches?" Chris asked.

"What?" Vin asked confused. "Oh those, Cuervo was fighting with a stray and I sort of got stuck in the middle."

"That's what made you so sick," Chris explained. "It's something called Cat Scratch Fever but yours was more severe since they became infected. Why didn't you say you weren't feeling well that morning?"

"I didn't feel that bad," Vin said. "Not until I got to the top of that tower. Then it felt like I crashed into a wall."

"You were damned lucky I insisted you wear that safety line," Chris said.

"Yeah thanks," Vin said smiling.

"I hope you've learned something from this," Chris scolded.

"Yeah," Vin said. "Next time Cuervo gets in a fight he's on his own."


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