Out of the Shadows

by Deirdre

ATF Universe

Disclaimer: The following is a work of fanfiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters. I don't own the characters. This story is strictly for entertainment. No monetary gain will be made from anything contained in this story.

Note: Thanks to every creative individual who's talented M7 stories are inspiring and to MOG for creating the A/U. Thanks to all of the wonderful M7 fans whose kind expressions after each story are very much appreciated.

A big thanks to Nancy, who's tireless efforts and hard work have made this M7 site a second home.

It was a chilly day and the wind left her mark on his face. He wove his way through the morning traffic heading into downtown Denver. The aviator glasses hid the intensity in the blue eyes that scoured the traffic in front of him. He eyed the approaching warehouse district and swore again. He was aware of all that was going on around him, yet his gaze remained fixed on the white corvette in front of him. He made his move as the sportscar pulled in beside an alleyway. He pulled his bike up next to the car and tapped the window with his gun.

"Nice day..." He grinned and waved the felon out of the vehicle.

"Who the hell are you?" The thirty-year old suspect spat as he eased the door open.

"The dog catcher...now get outta there."

"Not today hotshot..." The armed robber cried as he slammed the door against the other man's gun arm and headed up the alley.

"Aw, Hell." the lean man groaned as he jumped off his motorcycle, tossed off his helmet and retrieved his gun. "Granby...get back here. That's a dead end..." He hollered to the fleeing suspect. "Shit..." he pulled his weapon and took off on foot in pursuit.

+ + + + + + +

"Donnelly, wait for my signal..." the blond team leader dictated, eyeing the loft above them. He glared annoyed at the lack of response. "Donnelly!"

"Yeah...I heard you already." The disgruntled reply came, causing Chris Larabee, the team's leader to scowl. He didn't like the arrogant sharpshooter, whose three months on the team had caused nothing but grief and too many accidents. He didn't like taking orders, which ruffled the leader's feathers but good. He glanced around to where the other members of his team, as well as the F.B.I. backup, were stationed. "Buck...you and Nate keep your eyes open."

"Copy that, Chris," Wilmington replied, glancing at the large open area of the warehouse. One end opened up revealing a large landing bay. Several forklifts obscured his view. "I wish Ezra would move inside. I can't see shit from here." He complained from his cramped position.

"J.D., How's it look?" Larabee inquired of the youngest, the electronics wizard.

"Ezra never looked prettier," J.D. replied. "He's coming in loud and clear. It looks like they're moving inside to inspect the guns." The dark-haired youth noted. "Yeah...you should be able to see 'em now Buck."

"I got 'em Kid." The mustached agent replied.

"Uh..oh..." J.D. mumbled, spotting over a dozen thugs heavily armed and headed right for the warehouse. He watched the leader of the long-haired gang motion to the rest, who spread out.

"Shit...Chris we got trouble. There's a large gang coming right for you. They're loaded to the teeth; semi's, pistols and bats.

"What?" Chris's head ducked from behind the crate and watched the scenio unfolding. He heard Jim Garrison, his F.B.I counterpart come through on the comm-link clipped to his shoulder.

"Your call, Larabee," the veteran said, "But I think we gotta move. Standish is gonna get caught in the crossfire."

"Yeah, I hear you, Jim." Chris breathed, "Let's do it."

+ + + + + + +

Vin's heart sank when he followed the felon around the corner and watched him run for the door of a large warehouse. His well trained eye noted the government tags on several vehicles and the surveillance van parked outside. He saw Granby duck inside and skirt the perimeter, disappearing behind several large crates. Before either could move any further, all hell broke loose.

The warning call was following by a heavy exchange of gunfire. He kept his head down and tried to make out the players on the teams. He recognized several members of one of the local gangs and frowned. He eyed the corpse that landed several feet away, a foreigner with an expensive suit. Looks like the Fed's weren't the only ones after imported weapons. He kept his back to the wall and kept trailing his prey.

Chris ducked as a bullet shattered the window behind him, showering him with glass. He carefully moved out of harms way, his green eyes drinking in the terrain. There was a lull in the gunfire, long enough for him to pop his head around the corner. Ezra had the Latin arms dealer in check. He saw Buck and Nathan firing, they were okay. Josiah was at the far end of the warehouse, handcuffing some of the party raiders. He glanced upwards and saw Donnelly aiming at the buyer. "What the hell are you doing?" He called into the comm-link, then noticed it was broken. "Shit...That fuckin' Hot Dog is gonna get Ezra killed."

Buck saw how upset Chris was and made several hand motions. Chris pointed to the ceiling and drew a line across his throat and pointed to Ezra. Buck understood and pushed his comm-link.

"Donnelly, stand down...you're gonna get Ezra killed."

"Who died and left you boss?" came the arrogant reply.

"Stand down you egotistical Son-of-a-Bitch or I'll shoot you myself." Buck vented, anger coursing through him.

"Fuck!" Chris swore as Donnelly's shot caused Ezra to lose his bead on the dealer. The Latin male was hit, but managed to produce a knife and slash the Southern undercover agent. Chris broke cover, grabbing Standish and pushing him to the ground. He managed to finish off the dealer.

"I'm fine...Mr. Larabee...there..." He pointed to a group of the long haired, denim clad gang who were taking advantage of the confusion and making off with several crates of weapons.

"Nathan!" Chris waved the EMT over, tying off the arm wound with a scarf from Ezra's neck.

"Buck, you're with me..."

+ + + + + +

"Don't even breathe ya Maggot." Vin warned, clicking the hammer at Granby's head. He frisked him, tucked the piece he found on the inside of his coat and shoved him forward. "All the warehouses down here and I end in the middle of a fuckin' raid." He smacked the felon's shoulder.

"Ouch..." Granby cried, "Take it easy, I think one of them bullets nicked my arm."

"I'm bleedin' for ya." Vin replied sarcastically shoving the lout several feet ahead of him.

They rounded the corner and suddenly Vin was snatched by the scruff of the neck and thrown hard against the concrete floor. He tasted blood as tooth split lip. He felt a brief pain over his eye and the warm, stickiness as a gash opened.

"What the hell?" He squirmed, "Let me go...he's gettin' away. I ain't one them dogs y'all was chasin'."

"Yeah, and I'm Mary Poppins." Buck replied as Chris shoved the kid's head hard and took his gun.

"I got I.D. in my backpocket." Vin teethed, then felt the pressure give.

"He's legit..." Chris tossed the wallet by the prone man's head. "Sorry..." He managed, pulling the irate younger man upwards and returning his weapon.

"Yer sorry!" Vin screamed, gripping the black-clothed shirt of his aggressor and shoving him hard against the wall. His blue eyes bulged with fury and his face was flushed in anger. "I been chasin' that dirtball for two months. He's wanted in three states for armed robbery and murder. Y'all want to see sorry, ya fuckin' jackass! I'll show ya sorry."

"Back off." Chris shouted, as Buck grabbed the kid from behind, locking his arms. "It was a mistake. How the hell were we supposed to know you weren't one of them long-haired freaks. You look just like them."

"Let me go." The feral response came, as Buck tried to control the thrashing man. "I'm not gonna warn you again, you fuckin' Nanny," He threw at Buck, giving Chris a slight grin.

"You ain't in any position to me makin' threats, Son." Buck replied. "What the hell..." He moaned, looking up at Chris from the floor. In three short moves the black-belt laid him out and nearly busted his nose.

Vin glared hostily at the smug blond, who stood in his way. "Move outta m'way or I'll rip ya off that high horse yer tight ass is perched on."

Chris's eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms across his chest. He offered the invite silently, and watched the younger man pick up the gauntlet.

"Fine, we'll do it the hard way. Thanks to yer second-rate outfit, I'm out three thousand dollars. Reckon I'll take my losses out on yer sorry hide."

With every step he took, the blond matched him. They made a slow circle and the blond paused, tossing his gun to the bleeding man on the floor.

"You want a piece of me, Kid?" He offered to the long-haired stranger. Chris saw the other man's face break into a broad smile and a dangerous glint appeared in his eye. He watched the younger man swipe the blood away as a sultry, low laugh ensued. His lean opponent placed his weapons on a nearby crate and spit a wad of blood from his mouth. By this time, the rest of the group had arrived. Nathan sat Ezra on a crate and kept an eye on the door to the rear, listening for the ambulance siren.

"Buck, you okay?" Nathan squatted beside the bloody face.

"A spendid display, Mr. Wilmington." Ezra offered, having witnessed Buck's spectacular fall.

"Shut up, Ezra..." Buck moaned, "Damn kid got's some moves."

"I'll say..." Nathan replied, appraising Buck's injury.

"Shouldn't we stop them?" J.D. asked, trotting up. "I mean that other guy's bleeding pretty good."

"Go ahead J.D.," Nathan waved his hand. "I'll be right behind you."

J.D. took a hesitant step, only to have Buck grab his arm. The tall agent was now sitting beside Ezra on a large crate.

"Don't you dare." He warned the dark-haired youth, "I've been waiting years for this."

"I concur in full, Buck," Ezra agreed, assessing the bleeding man at a glance. "It would appear our fearless team leader has met his match. It should be quite a show." He moved his uninjured hand palm up. "Any takers?"

"I got five on the kid." Buck said, Nathan echoed him. J.D took up for Chris. Josiah passed.

In the background, the F.B.I were cleaning up the mess. "Jim got everything under control?" Buck asked Josiah, watching the F.B.I. leader nod at the gray haired team member.

"Yeah...He's knows the score." the ex-minister noted, waving to the F.B.I man.

"Come on, Kid," Chris motioned with his hand at the bloody face, "You got anything left or was that your only move?"

Vin laughed and swiped the blood running over his eye. He dodged Chris's kick and recognized the other man had martial arts training as well. He unleashed a quick flick of his right leg and connected with the blond's ribcage.

"Ouch!" J.D. winced.

They watched Chris retaliate with a hard right, snapping Vin's head back. It staggered the other man, and he went to his knees. Chris moved in and Vin shot upwards with a left uppercut to the stunned man's eye and a right to his already sore ribs. Both warriors continued to exchange harsh blows. Chris's left eye was swollen shut and blood ran freely from his nose. Vin's whole face was marred by blood and he was favoring his ribs. Vin managed to unleash a final stunning kick, sending Chris sprawling. The momentum knocked the smaller man backwards, sending him between two large crates.

"No...that's it..." Nathan smacked his hand across Chris's chest as the blond sat up and attempted to stand. "Never thought I'd see the day...Hard to believe God saw fit to put two of y'all hard-headed fools in the same place."

"Looks like it's a draw." J.D. announced.

"Not anymore." Buck whooped, watching the shaggy head lead the worn body upright. "Come to Mama..." He smacked his hand as J.D. turned over the cash.

"Ow!" Chris pushed the healer's probing hands from his aching chest. He spit out a mouthful of blood, which landed on Ezra's imported Italian leather shoes.

"Thank You, Mr. Larabee."

"Shut up Ezra..." He frowned watching the money being exchanged. "You bet against me?" His voice rose indignation. He glared openly at Buck. "What kind of friend are you?"

"The smart kind..." Buck grinned, waving his money. "Come on Pard, you can ride with Ezra in the ambulance." He pulled the injured man upright. Chris waved him off and warned Nathan as well.

"Dammit, Nathan, I'm fine..." He held a handkerchief against his eye. "See to the kid..."

"He's gone." J.D. said from the group of boxes.

"What?" Chris staggered over, trying to keep the floor under his feet. "How?" He eyed the walls and only exit. J.D. just shrugged.

"Ambulance is here." Josiah announced, steadying a weaving Chris. "You ride shotgun with Ezra. Nate and me will scout the neighborhood. He was in worse shape that you. He couldn't have gone very far."

Four hours later, five p.m. Community General E.R.

"They done yet?" a muffled voice asked from a plastic chair in the waiting room.

"Nathan's getting an update." Buck announced of Ezra and turned to the face obscured by a large icepack. "How you feeling?" He asked his oldest friend with great sympathy. The ice pack moved and Buck took a good look at the scarlett-streaked swollen eye, sporting a pretty row of stiches. The lip was swollen and his bruised ribs throbbed.

"I'm getting too old for this shit." Chris moaned, sipping the soda Buck offered.

"I don't know," Buck gripped his shoulder, "You still got some moves, Old Timer." He chuckled as Chris's feeble laugh turned into a moan.

"Don't make me laugh Buck, okay?"

"Damn shame about that mashed up mouth of yours." Buck raised an eyebrow at Chris's closed eyes. "I was in the mood to buy pizza at Paisano's"

"I can eat..." Chris lisped, wary of the healing cuts on his lips.

+ + + + + +

"How much longer are we going to have to wait?" The injured felon asked, gripping his arm. "I got my rights, you know."

"Ya keep that lip zipped or y'all will have a matched set." Vin warned, adjusting the handcuffs. He cuffed the suspect to the plastic chair and stood. Every muscle screamed and he ached down to his bones. He caught sight of his face in the glass door and winced. He made his way over to the water fountain and frowned at how low it sat on the wall. He bent over to take a drink and immediately regretted his move. "Shit..." He swore painfully as he straightened up and grabbed for leverage. He felt the fire inside his chest flare up.

"Like damn bookends..." Nathan muttered, grabbing the battered man's buckskinned jacket. "Your name ain't Larabee by any chance?"

"Tanner..." Vin gasped, glad for the support. "Damn that smarts..." He hissed as Nathan sat him on a chair in a vacant examination cubicle. He eyed the labored breathing and the white knuckles that gripped the arm of the chair. He filled a paper cup with water and Vin took it with a grateful nod.

"It should..." Nathan said sternly. "If you're not careful, one of them ribs is gonna pop your lung, then you'll be sorry. Are they broken?"

"Hell if I know..." Vin shrugged. "I'm only here to have that scuzz bucket sewn up."

"I'm glad you caught him. But you had no business running around with them ribs. You need to get X-rays and get them taped up."

"I need to get going." Vin deflected, rising slowly.

Nathan followed him out into the waiting room, still presenting his case.

"Damn yer worse than a pack of fire ants." Vin scowled, pushing off Nathan's hands. "Leave me alone or I'll stack y'all up like that other loser."

"Uh-oh..." Buck grinned, watching Chris's head spin at the sound of the voice. The mustached agent watched the slow smile appear on Chris's face. "Small world..." He offered as Nathan slid into a chair next to them.

"He okay?" Chris asked, watching the bruised form shuffle painfully across the floor.

"No...damn fool's got busted ribs, I'd bank on it. But he won't let me look at 'im. He's totin' the perp."

"He caught him?" Buck admired, "It's a wonder he's still on his feet. Hey, wait a minute...I've seen that guy."

"Yeah...I've seen him too." Nathan squinted at the man cuffed to the chair who's mouth continued to shoot slurs at the bounty hunter, until he up and popped him on the side of the head.

"That kid's got a short fuse..." Buck chuckled, watching the long-haired man's face screw up.

"Granby...yeah, that's his name." Nathan nodded. "He's been shooting up banks clear back to Utah."

"That's where I saw him." Buck nodded, "On that Most Wanted show." He whistled, "Guess that kid's pretty good."

"Robertson said he's the best tracker he's ever seen." Chris replied. "He's caught some pretty big fish. His name's Tanner, but his nickname over there is Spook. Apparently he can make himself disappear at will, like he did today."

"You checked on him?" Buck asked.

"Wouldn't you?" Chris snapped, "Look what he did to my face."

"Wish J.D. had taped it...sure was some fight." Buck shook his head. "Can't recall ever seeing you get your ass whupped like that."

"Thanks Buck." Chris slapped his leg. "Anyhow, I called over to the U.S. Marshal's Office and got lucky. Alex filled me in a little. He's from Texas, but he's been just about anywhere in the West. Lately, Colorado and New Mexico." He spoke of the background Alex Robertson, a senior Marshal, had given. "When's Ezra gonna be ready?"

"I was on my way to pick him up, when I spotted Tanner." Nathan rose, "Couldn't even bend down to get a drink." He shook his head in disgust. "I'll be right back."

Vin rubbed his eyes and waited for Granby's name to be called. He eyed the black ATF agent walk by and thought on his words. After he got Granby downtown, he'd head back and get an X-ray. He didn't want to puncture a lung. Sitting was becoming difficult. He hated to be penned in, and this waiting didn't set well with him. That and the fact his chest was killing him. He stood and Granby stuck his foot out, nearly sending the tracker to the ground. He spun around and gripped the felon in a choke hold, pressing his hand hard on the man's wound.

"Yer gonna pay for that, Slimeball." Vin teethed, "It'll be dark 'afore we git outta here and no tellin' what kind of 'fall' ya might take near a set of stairs."

"Granby will be lucky if he gets to the U.S. Marshal's office in one piece," Buck shook his head, watching Tanner grind his hand into the loud mouth's arm.

Vin walked off his tension, making his way back to the water fountain. "Aw, hell..." He paused, waving his hand in disgust. He turned back, glancing down the narrow corridor and feeling his skin prick. He looked behind the curtain of the nearest cubicle and saw four of the gang from the warehouse surrounding Nathan. The leader, wearing a blue bandanna, held a knife to Nathan's throat and urged him forward. Vin backtracked, gun drawn and ducked behind a large rubber tree plant.

"What the hell..." Chris said, feeling his skin tingle. He saw the bounty hunter's stance and his green eyes shifted to follow the deep blue ones. "Get everybody outta here, Buck. I smell trouble."

A dozen years at the tough blond's side told the dark-haired agent all he had to know about the leader's instincts. He stood and flashed his badge. He put a finger to his lips and motioned for the few inhabitants to move away. Just as he did, the gang appeared dragging a struggling Nathan. Vin stood in front of them, refusing to let them pass.

"Reckon, y'all will be a lot healthier, iffen ya let 'im go and back off." Vin said in a lethel tone.

"Get him..." The leader tossed to his crew, cutting a small piece of of Nathan's skin, leaving a streak of blood on the underside of his jaw. "Fuckin' cowboy can't count." He nodded and the large, hulking figure to his left flipped a gun at Vin's face. Vin didn't even blink.

"Did y'all call me a cowboy?" He asked slowly, narrowing his eyes.

"I believe that's what that prick said." Chris relayed, standing next to the bounty hunter.

Vin's lips turned up a bit and he glanced over at his support. He eyed the matching set of bruises and returned the twin grin, recalling the match. Green eyes locked onto blue and Vin felt an electrical current jump inside him. He saw the blond flinch and nod, having felt the same thing.

"Move out of my way, cowboy, or I'll slit him open right here."

"Not likely." Vin replied.

"You don't let him go..." Chris began.

"in five seconds..." Vin continued.

"your brains will be..." Chris gritted.

"decoratin' that wall behind y'all." Vin finished.

"How'd they do that?" J.D. whispered eyes wide, tugging on Buck's sleeve at the exchange between his boss and the bounty hunter. The two were behind a bank of chairs, guns drawn.

"Damned if I know Kid." Buck shook his head, also amazed at how the tracker and his oldest friend were able to start and finish the same thought.

"One...two..." Vin started, and began to grin.

"Three...Four..." Chris continued, baring his teeth. Nathan caught his eye and nodded slightly.

"Five" the two said in unison and peeled off to the left and right. Nathan dropped as the shots rang out.

"Everybody okay?" Buck hollered, standing and jogging across the room. J.D. kept the two uninjured gang members on the ground and waited for the police to arrive. Several medical personel reappeared, checking the wounded. "Chris..." He asked, eyes scanning for leaks on the body struggling to rise.

"I'm okay, Buck." Chris doubled over, coughing and gripping his aching ribs. "God will this day never end?"

"Nathan?" Buck fretted, spotting blood on the dark skin.

"It's just a scratch." He replied, glaring at Chris and hitting his arm, "What the hell was that? The two of you nearly got me killed." "Your welcome, Jackson." Chris scowled, tipping the healer's chin. "You sure you don't need stitches?" "No, it's fine." Nathan returned. "I'm lucky I ain't shot to pieces. Next time, you two play Batman with somebody else."

"Reckon it wouldn't hurt to throw some catgut across that ungrateful mouth of yers." a pained voice came from beneath a large plant.

"Tanner?" Chris frowned, spotting only jeans and boots not moving.

"You okay, Son?" Buck chuckled, pulling the plant up. Vin managed to get into a sitting position cradling his ribs and gasping.

"You're gonna get X-rays, if I have to take you at gunpoint," Nathan hollered, pushing Buck aside and smacking away the tracker's feeble protesting hands.

"Dammit to hell," Vin snarled, pushing Nathan's hands away. He glanced across the room and saw that Granby was gone. "He got away again." Vin staggered forward only to have Chris block him, laying a hand on the buckskinned shoulder. "You're not in any shape to be chasing him. Hell, he can't get far, he's lugging a chair with him."

"Move or I'll move ya." Vin gritted, tossing off the hand. His hot eyes were only inches from the blond's "That's twice in one day y'all cost me big. I ain't aimin' on losing my catch to yer sorry-assed Police Force." "Hey there's another one." J.D. pointed down the hall where another gang member had been hiding. Buck and Chris immediately took off after the fleeing youth.

"Nathan, a little help here." A nurse called, trying to stem the blood flowing out of one of the gang's multiple wounds.

"Where'd he go?" Chris demanded upon his return. He tossed the cuffed, kicking gang member to the waiting policeman.

"Who?" J.D. looked up from the floor where he was helping Nathan.

"Santa Claus." Chris glared at the youngest, "Tanner..." he clued in.

"He's right..." J.D. looked around "Well he was here a minute ago."

"Shit..." Chris swore, hands on his hips, "Come on, Buck. We got us a Tanner to find."

"Why do I think this will be an exercise in futility?" Buck lamented, following Chris out the door.


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