Notes: Okay, how many of you Surf & Turfers decided to take a peek at this story, wondering if the crossover could possibly be with....? Youre right, it will be just like that! <G>
Disclaimer: I dont own any of these characters except perhaps the faceless minions who get eradicated fairly early in the piece. The Mag 7 boys belong to Trilogy, CBS and associated parties and our special guest stars belong to Meridan, A&E and the estate of CS Forester (sort of). Mog transposed the Mag 7 characters into the ATF alternate universe. I suppose Im more or less responsible for the rest. But Im making no money, so litigation wouldnt really be worth anyones time or energy.
Dedication: This story is for JoanC, author of some of the finest fanfic Ive ever read in any fandom. Heres to you, Joan wishing you, Dan and all your family all the very best for this Christmas and January 2002 and beyond. I dont know if Dan and the others will enjoy this little piece but I sincerely hope that you have fun with it.
Acknowledgments: Sincere thanks to SueN another great writer in both of these fandoms who kindly took some time out from her busy Vin-torture... umm, sorry, I meant her busy writing schedule to beta this story for me. Thank you, Sue!
It was still a mystery. And he hated mysteries!
He especially hated them when he was trapped in a hospital bed and therefore couldnt get out to solve them. And his teammates had seemed too sceptical about his story for him to believe that they were giving 100% in their efforts to solve it on his behalf.
It looked like they wanted to put it all down to his imagination. Even though, as Ezra had put it, they wouldnt have credited Vin Tanners imagination with being overly active to the point of inventing fictitious acquaintances.
A simple trip to the drugstore to collect a prescription for antibiotics. How could that end up in a shoot-out and a missing witness? Pretty easily with Vin involved, Chris would have said.
Ah, hell! Vin ran through it again in his mind. Hed been standing in line at the counter waiting to have his prescription filled. The only other customer had just been served and was saying thanks before turning towards the door. Vin couldnt help noticing the English accent. And then, as he stepped up to the counter, all hell broke loose.
The cacophony of semiautomatic weapons fire split the air. Vin instinctively dived for cover but even as he did so, he felt the impact of a bullet. At first, the area of impact was partially numbed by shock. So much so that Vin wasnt entirely sure exactly where hed been hit. Somewhere in the left side of his abdomen, it seemed.
Hed already been throwing himself to the floor. Thanks to the bullet wound he hit it with considerably less control over the action than hed intended. His vision darkened momentarily but he knew that he couldnt afford to lose consciousness yet.
With considerable effort, Vin rolled onto his stomach and got his hands underneath to push himself up.
Suddenly, he found himself face to face with the stores other customer who had also taken cover close to the ground but now pushed himself up onto his hands and knees. Blond hair, clear blue eyes and a startled expression which reminded Vin of a deer caught in headlights. Well, that was very understandable under the circumstances.
You okay, mister? Vin gasped out.
The other man smiled briefly. In better health than you, I think. That looks nasty. I think you should be lying down. Again that cultured English voice, as he tried to coax Vin to lie back down to the floor but Tanner resisted.
Cant, Vin argued. Gotta do sumthin.
Again a burst of gunfire sounded and drowned any reply the Englishman might have made. Then one of the gunmen shouted. Youre not getting outa here, Kennedy. Ymight as well show yourself now.
Vin was startled. They talkin to you?
The Englishman looked equally surprised, then he shrugged and smiled briefly at Vin. Archie Kennedy, at your service, sir.
An who are these guys?
Kennedy shrugged. Im not really sure. Its my first time in this neighbourhood but it hardly seems likely that they are a welcoming committee.
Tanner smiled a little, despite the pain that was now flaring in his left side. Dunno. Maybe its jst their wayve sayin Welcome to Purgatorio.
The Englishman raised his eyebrows. How civil of them.
There was the sound of the front door opening and then another English voice spoke. It was slightly harsher than Kennedys. Less cultured, Ezra would probably say.
Well, well, well. Young Mr Kennedy.
Vin looked towards Kennedy again and saw that the mans face had lost all colour. The fear that voice seemed to inspire was startling. Kennedy was almost trembling and he was visibly making an effort to control his breathing.
Jacks missed you boy.
Kennedy flinched visibly but did not speak.
Tanner squinted at him. The blood loss was making him lightheaded but he could still clearly see that a personal vendetta was being waged. Whoever this Jack guy was, it was obvious that he and Kennedy had a long and not very pretty history.
You okay? Vin whispered, as he managed to draw his gun from its shoulder holster despite the pain the movement caused.
Kennedy didnt look at him. Even though he nodded in response to the question, he kept staring straight ahead, not seemingly focussed on anything.
The evident leader of their attackers evidently got impatient. Right, lads! Go get them!
Vin sat up and briefly glanced around the barricade of shelves protecting them, as quickly as his injury would allow. He snapped off several shots which had the group of three attackers ducking for cover. He managed to get back behind the shelves before they returned fire.
The room seemed to darken and the agony from his side seemed to spread to his chest, making it difficult to breathe.
Not good, he muttered breathlessly. His eyes closed...
And then opened again suddenly, as he felt the gun being taken from his hands. What he saw then became firmly etched in his brain. It was almost as if he saw it in slow motion.
Kennedy had taken his gun and, with a slight snarl, the Englishman stood and fired three deliberate shots.
There was no returning fire.
Vin saw Kennedy calmly lower the gun.
Then his vision faded.
When he next came to his senses, he was in a hospital bed with Chris and the others at his bedside. When hed asked them what had happened to the blond Englishman, they had all looked at him blankly.
He had been found after a passerby had heard shooting and called 911. Within the store were the bodies of the grey-haired drugstore owner and the three attackers, two with dark hair and one with red. The attackers had been shot (one bullet each) with Vins pistol which had been found in his hand. The drugstore owner had been shot by the attackers weapons. There was no evidence of anyone else having been there. Even the cash register didnt show any sale for the hour prior to the incident.
It had all been put down to an armed robbery thwarted by the presence of an ATF sharpshooter on the scene. Two of the attackers were known local gang members, the third was unidentifiable.
Vins insistence of the presence of one Archie Kennedy had the other members of his team looking at him a little strangely. Nate went so far as to check the dosage of his medication.
But they promised theyd look into it. Promised theyd investigate it thoroughly.
In fact, that was what they were all supposed to be doing now.
All except Chris who was maintaining a bedside vigil. Hed said he needed to ensure Tanner didnt escape as if Vin could in his current condition!
He was so tired he could barely move. And even his frustration couldnt keep him awake any longer. Hed just have to wait and see what the others came up with.
Those thoughts lingered in his mind, as he drifted off to sleep.
+ + + + + + +
There was a faint rustle of movement. Vin opened his eyes a fraction and caught a glimpse of a blond head bent over a book.
Chris? he whispered. That you?
He heard the book snap shut.
No. I cannot truthfully say that it is.
If Vin had been a person who was easily startled, he probably would have leapt out of his skin.
The blond-haired man sitting the chair beside his bed was definitely not the one he had expected. He surreptitiously moved his hand towards the call for assistance button.
I wouldnt bother, if I were you. Archie Kennedy spoke mildly. I took the liberty of disconnecting it, after your other friends dragged Mr Larabee out of this room, insisting that he sleep for at least an hour or two in the waiting room outside. I rather thought that you might appreciate this opportunity for a little chat. You must have some questions that you are simply dying to ask.
Where are Buck and the others? They know yer here?
Kennedys brows lifted. Not the first questions I had anticipated. Nonetheless, I think I can answer them for you. Your friends are all somewhere within this hospital, I suspect, and, no, they are not aware of my presence. I have a little influence with some of the nursing staff and they have facilitated this little private conversation between you and I, by keeping your colleagues occupied.
Ythink them nurses can keep all of them distracted long enough for you tdo what you planned?
I couldnt vouch for all your colleagues, but at the moment, Mr Larabee is asleep outside with Mr Wilmington is watching over him while the rest went to get something to eat. Jenny will be up to the task of keeping our lone sentry distracted. Kennedy grinned widely. Certain sure! Then his expression became more thoughtful. Anyway, I cannot help but wonder what you envision that I have planned. I am merely here to offer a small apology for so rudely abandoning you before the ambulance arrived.
Who the hell are you?
I told you. My name is Archie Kennedy.
Okay, what are you?
Kennedy laughed. Come now. That would seem to vaguely suggest that you suspect I am inhuman. Some sort of phantom or spectre perhaps? Maybe a ghost?
Yer real enough. I dunno how ya disappeared without a trace, but Ill find out.
You probably wont, you know. Again Kennedy spoke mildly but with complete assurance. You shouldnt look upon that as any indictment upon your capabilities. I simply have access to facilities which enable me to make an untraceable exit quite effectively.
Vins eyes narrowed. Who do you work for?
Kennedy laughed again. Oh, come now! You know that I wont tell you that!
Ya disappear without a trace, ya shoot better than I do...
Oh, I wouldnt say that! From what I hear, your marksmanship is quite exceptional.
Ya took out those guys without wastin a shot! I was strugglin just thold em back!
Well, you were wounded at the time. I doubt that I could outshoot you when you werent bleeding profusely.
Still, it was mighty fine shootin!
Thank you. Thats quite a compliment coming from you.
So, why are ya here? Ywere right when ya said I got questions. But so far, ya aint answerin em! Vins eyes narrowed. This aint about answerin questions. Ya just wanna find out how much I know.
For a moment, Kennedy looked slightly taken aback but then he grinned amiably again. Touché! I had to see if any precautions were necessary.
Precautions? Vin didnt quite keep the wariness out of his voice, which provoked another small chuckle.
Oh, nothing as drastic as you obviously imagine! It would merely involve... Kennedy abruptly stopped speaking mid-sentence and reached into his pocket to withdraw what looked like a cell phone.
Terribly sorry, he offered with a suitably apologetic smile and inserted an ear-piece connection into his left ear so that only he could hear the caller. But he seemed unconcerned that Vin could hear his half of the conversation. Presumably, he wasnt planning on saying anything too revealing. He even went so far as to give Vin a conspiratory wink.
Ah, Horatio, or I do forget myself. Kennedys smile broadened at whatever the callers response was. Well, you must be aware by now that I am not going to stop quoting it... Im almost done here. Is there a problem? There was a pause and a serious expression flickered over Kennedys face. Have you reported it to Sir Ned?... Oh, I see. As in, immediately? Very well, Ill meet you there... What?... I dont see why not. As they say, there are more things in heaven and earth... Horatio? Hello? Horatio?
Kennedy shook his head slightly, as he removed the ear-piece. That man has no sense of humour.
He looked Vin squarely in the eye. Im sorry, Mr Tanner, but that means that we must end our interview somewhat precipitantly.
The hairs on Vins neck stood up on end. What...?
A hand clamped gently but firmly over his mouth, cutting off his speech, and Kennedys other hand reached inside his jacket pocket to withdraw what was unmistakably a small syringe. Vin fought, but in his weakened state was no match for the other man.
Dont be alarmed, the Englishman spoke soothingly, even as he injected the contents of the syringe directly into Vin Tanners IV line. This is merely a narcotic sedative, similar to the ones you have been receiving, only a little more potent. But they wont be able to tell the difference, if they run any blood tests.
Vin could already feel his limbs weakening and even though his vision was dimming, he distinctly saw Archie Kennedy smile. There, you see? Better already.
The darkness descended and there was a light chuckle and one parting line from the Englishman.
If nothing else, Mr Tanner, think but this and all is mended; that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear.
Someone patted him lightly on the shoulder, then he knew no more.
+ + + + + + +
When he awoke, someone still had a hand his shoulder. This time it was a different blond-haired man. The one he had been expecting it to be last time, in fact.
Its okay, Vin. You were just dreaming.
Yeah, who else would it be?
Thought it might be Kennedy.
You know that guy, Kennedy.
He found himself facing six rather blank looks. Finally, JD tentatively ventured, As in, John F.?
No, JD. Vin couldnt help feeling a little exasperated. The missin guy from the shooting.
The blond Englishman that no one else seems to have seen? Chris raised an eyebrow.
Exactly, said Vin, with as much emphasis as he could manage. He was just here.
In the hospital?
Yeah. He was tryin tcheck up on me find out what I knew.
I see, said Ezra, drawing out the last word in that annoyingly tentative way that seemed to imply that he (and everyone else) was worried about Vins grip on reality. And did he?
What? Vin asked tersely, annoyed at being humoured in this way.
Find out what you knew?
I dunno. He got a call from some guy called Horatio.
Yeah, it was like sumthin came up and he had tgo.
Did he say anythin else?
Yeah, he muttered to this Horatio guy sumthin about there bein more things in heaven and earth.
I see, Ezra repeated, in the same tone that hed used previously. And now, he had also begun to nod his head sagely.
By this stage, Vin was getting seriously annoyed. Yeah, and then, at the end, he told me that it would all be mended if I just thought Id been slumberin while the visions appeared.
He saw Buck throw a querying glance to Josiah who said, A Midsummer Nights Dream.
Ydont believe me? Vin demanded. He tried to sit up, to better express his indignation, but fell back in the attempt.
Buck darted forward. Easy now, Vin! Of course we believe you.
Vin turned his accusing gaze of Team 7s leader. You dont.
Chris held his hands up, in protest. Were not saying youre making it up, Vin. He shrugged. It just seems unlikely that... His voice tailed off, not quite able to articulate what he meant.
Ezra stepped into the breach. Unlikely that you had a nocturnal visitation by some sort of whimsical, vaguely voyeuristic Houdini-type character with a penchant for quoting Shakespeare and seemingly to the point where he appears deluded into believin that hes actually conversin with Hamlets loyal friend.
Horatio? Vin frowned. Ythink he aint real? Like Kennedy just made him up?
Since the point at issue seemed to be whether Kennedy himself was real or merely the product of delusion, Ezra wasnt sure how to respond.
Buck tried to help. Maybe. After all, what kinda name is Horatio?
Ezra P. Standish, whose own Christian name was unlikely to make the list of 10 most popular boys names in any given year, was forced to admit. Its uncommon, Ill grant you, but not completely unheard of.
Oh yeah? You ever actually know anyone called Horatio?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact. I once had a fellow student named Horatio.
You had a classmate called Horatio? Where was this?
He wasnt exactly a classmate, rather he was several years my junior. One of the hallowed institutions that contributed to my teenage education was a school called St Augustines in England. Ezra smiled slightly. The memory was evidently not entirely unpleasant.
Nice school? asked Nathan. Exclusive?
Oh, very much so! But Horatio had earned his place there by scholarship. He was an exceptionally gifted student, particularly in mathematics, and it quickly earned him the resentment of one or two of the overprivileged Neanderthals whom he repeatedly bested academically.
So howd ya get tknow him if he wasnt in your class.
We met outside the headmasters office, actually, after we each had been summoned to appear to give our accounts of separate incidents. Horatio had been in a fight, or to more accurately report the situation, he had been attacked by one of the aforementioned Neanderthals, and he refused to reveal the identity of the party responsible.
And why were you there?
Ezra shrugged. Not a dubious fiscal enterprise, if thats what you suspect. It was merely an attempt to make a chemistry class slightly more interestin. Someone had procured a recipe for napalm and I...
Nathan shook his head. Forget I asked.
So you befriended this lad? Josiah asked.
Yes, I did. He was a rather exceptional individual. He always appeared very serious and earnest and, truth be told, slightly awkward. But he had a hidden streak of deviousness. He could calculate the odds rapidly and accurately in any given situation and once he set his mind on somethin there was no stoppin him. Ezra smiled in fond remembrance. And he was a talented cardplayer too. We used to make quite a tidy sum between us from some of our more overconfident fellow students.
He as good as you? Buck asked, intrigued.
Our strengths lay in different areas. I was more proficient at poker, he at bridge and similar games his favourite was old-fashioned whist. A little teamwork in such situations could be very, very profitable...provided that you could trust your partner, of course.
Ezra continued to muse nostalgically. I sometimes wonder what became of him. He was really quite an exceptional mathematician and he had a gamblers instincts. Hes probably makin a fortune as stockbroker or a merchant banker these days.
Unless hes teamed up with this Kennedy guy, said Buck, grinning at Vin.
Indeed. Ezra nodded, also throwing a grin Vins way.
Look, Vin said heatedly. I didnt see this Horatio guy. Thats jst what Kennedy called the guy on the phone. I dunno who he is. I just know Kennedy was here. Got some nurse called Jenny to distract Buck and snuck in.
Buck started visibly and Chris glanced at him. What is it?
I did spend a bit of time talking to Jenny outside while the rest of the guys went to get something to eat.
Whos Jenny? asked JD.
Shes a nurse on another ward. She just stopped to chat as she was passing through, on her way to check up on something...
What?! exclaimed Chris.
Suddenly, the mood of the entire room changed and Chris slipped into full ATF Team Leader mode.
Which ward did she work on? You and JD go find her, Buck. Find out who she is and what she knows. Josiah and Nathan, you two ask around on this floor. See if you cant find out if anyone else has seen... He again waved his hand a little helplessly.
This time Nathan filled in for him. A blond English guy who likes to quote Shakespeare.
Right. Ez, you and me are gonna to check out what this hospital calls Security and find out what the hell they think theyre playing at.
An me? Vin piped up.
You, Larabee pointed a warning finger in his direction. You are going to get some rest. You just leave all this to the rest of us. If you even look like youre gonna try and get out of bed, Ill get Nate to actually sit on you.
Vin lifted his hands in mock surrender. Okay!
Chris couldnt quite contain a smile. Right. He patted Vin once more on the shoulder and headed for the door. Cmon, Ez.
Ezra briefly offered Vin a little salute before he followed their boss outside.
Buck grinned at Vin. Dont you worry none. Ill get the truth out of Jenny. No woman ever got one over on Buck Wilmington.
Yeah, right! snorted JD. Dont worry, Vin. Ill make sure he keeps his mind on the job. The youngest member of the team physically pushed Wilmington towards the door, then they were gone.
The three left in the room exchanged grins.
Josiah also clapped his hand once on Vins shoulder before turning to go. We wont be all that far away and yknow well be back soon.
An you mind what Chris said, Nathan added as he headed out. You jst sit tight there or I will sit on you!
Vin grinned, nodded and waved as they too left the room.
Then he leaned further back into his pillows and sighed audibly with relief.
They believed him. He didnt really care if they didnt find any trace of Kennedy anymore. Now they were seriously looking because they truly believed that hed seen what he said he saw.
Hed actually begun to wonder if he was going nuts but now the others believed him.
And that was all he really needed to know.
+ + + + + + +
Archie Kennedy stood perfectly still with his arms folded across his chest and a rather self-satisfied smile on his face, as the navy blue car pulled up alongside him. He still hadnt moved when the tinted window on the passenger side was lowered and a slightly annoyed voice asked, Are you awaiting a formal invitation?
Archies grin widened as he then opened the door. Always so gracious, Horatio, he mocked gently. I was under the impression that this was more a summons than an invitation.
Effectively, the same thing, the dark-haired driver replied. Sir Edward requests and requires the pleasure of our company. It would hardly do to keep him waiting.
Indeed. Archie lapsed into a moments silence and then decided that he wasnt too fond of unnecessary silence. So, whats this about the Man with No Memory? I thought he was supposed to be in Europe.
Horatio shrugged. He was, yes. Word has it that hes just entered the US.
With the usual entourage?
I expect so.
Wonderful! said Archie, with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Thats all we need! Chvostek and Reilly tearing up the scenery.
That provoked an almost predatory smile of anticipation from his companion. I expect that it will be up to us to ensure that they dont.
Youre actually looking forward to this, arent you? Archie accused.
Perhaps, I am, Horatio said mildly. After all this is Korsakoff the Man with No Memory that were talking about.
And? said Archie warily.
Horatio shrugged. Hes more or less a living legend. A brief boyish grin flashed across his features. You know, Ive often wondered what sort of chance Id have going up against him one on one. Perhaps less than an even chance but still...
An even chance? Kennedy was frankly incredulous. Hed kill you. Certain sure!
Come now, Archie! Id calculate more favourable odds than that.
Odds? Archie almost spluttered. An expert in verbal sparring, there were very few people who could exasperate him like this. Unfortunately, under the right circumstances, Horatio was one of those few. Thats your trouble, my friend! Youre basically a number-cruncher at heart always think everything can be reduced down to probabilities and statistics.
Horatio shrugged. So?
So, there are lies...
...damned lies and statistics. Well, at least youre on to Disraeli now and off Shakespeare.
Disraeli? I thought it was Twain.
I think it was Twain quoting Disraeli... or maybe Disraeli quoting Twain... or something like that. Look, does it matter?
Not really. I still think youre mad.
Thanks. Ill remind you of that the next time you decide to get involved in a massacre at a chemists.
They call it a drugstore here and I didnt exactly choose to get involved in a massacre. That was all Jacks idea. And you know, as well as anyone, that I needed to pick up some more Tegretol.
Still, you were referring to the mayhem that Chvostek and Reilly tend to cause. Jacks little tussle with you was the messiest incident Ive had to clean up for a while.
Archie looked away. Tell me about it, he muttered under his breath.
Horatio had kept his eyes on the road ahead for almost the entire conversation. But now he glanced briefly at his friend. Hes gone, Archie. Thats one demon youve well and truly laid to rest.
Archie sighed and nodded. So with that out of the way, I suppose we can turn our attention to whatever disaster Korsakoff is bringing with him.
Horatio just managed to contain a smile. Do you think we have an even chance?
Archie Kennedy grinned openly.
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