As the clock chimed midnight, the dance ended and well dressed men and women made their way out of the double doors of the Denver Hilton. The fundraiser party had been a great success. For security, undercover agents from Team Five and Seven were in attendance.
There had been several threats going around the city for the last week about the event evening, and AD Travis took it seriously. There were too many high profile people in attendance, including the governor of the state. Travis didn't want anything happening this night, not if he could prevent it. The threats listed were from a planted bomb, to gunfire, to robbery. The police were evident on the street and around the building.
All the agents were dressed in well fitted dark suits, so no one knew they were carrying guns. They were able to talk to each other through mini microphones that were almost invisible in their ears. Agent's Allan Mitchell and Vin Tanner were on the high ground, walking the balcony above the dance floor where they could see everyone below them. Vin's sharp blue eyes watched everything. He and Allan would pause and talk for a moment while their eyes scanned below.
Vin easily picked out his teammates and admired them. They moved easily through the crowd, fitting in effortlessly. Some carried fluted stemware filled with the Ginger Ale or apple cider that they were drinking. With the midnight hour and everyone moving to the doors he and Allan closely watched a couple of people they thought would cause a problem. But everyone exited and nothing happened. Giving Allan a high five the two made their way downstairs and followed the last of the attendees from the room.
By the time Vin and Allan walked outside most of the expensive cars had picked up their well dressed owners. They spotted their teammates, spread out around the vicinity observing everyone as the attendees dwindled to nothing. Shortly it was just the teams and Travis with his wife there. When the Travis car pulled up he escorted Evie to it, once she was settled inside he turned to his men.
"Thank you boys. I am relieved nothing happened tonight, but better to be safe than sorry," he said as he shook the hands of his senior agents in charge. "Go home and …"
A muffled blast sounded from inside the building and the fifteen men turned as one, guns appearing in their hands as they raced back inside. Vin and Allan were the first ones into the hall with the others on their heels.
"Damn," Vin muttered seeing the area where a bar had been set up. It was destroyed. Wood, broken bottles, liquid, smoke and a small amount of flames were all that was left of the carved wooden bar. Chris halted next to Vin as the others came through the door.
"Check out the service entrance. Orin, where was the money taken to?" Chris asked as the agents scattered throughout the room.
For a moment Travis hesitated, his gaze taking in the destruction. "The vault behind the main registration desk, in the head office," he said.
Looking quickly around, Chris called to the closest of his men, "Vin, Buck, Ezra with me, let's go."
The three turned and ran after Chris. Reaching the main reception area, the four men slowed their run as their gazes moved all around large reception area. "Act naturally," Chris growled as he put his gun under his jacket, not wanting to scare the receptionist manning the desk, though she was pale and already looking scared.
When the agents got closer she backed away and said, "I've called the police, they will be here in minutes."
"It's alright Miss, we're ATF agents. We were here for the fundraiser and dance," Buck told her in a soothing voice.
"My father and brothers are cops, it's a family tradition, I'm use to odd things happening. I … I … I'm sorry I'm rattling. I heard what sounded like a blast and called it in," she said laughing nervously and wringing her hands together.
"Is there something you're not telling us?" Buck gently asked the jumpy woman and watched her eyes dart over her shoulder, to the doorway several yards to her left.
Chris and Ezra instantly picked up on her look. Chris motioned for Vin to cover them, and watched as he stepped back to where he could see the office door. Chris and Ezra moved to each side of the office door as Buck poised in front of it.
On a count of three Buck kicked the door open and jumped to the side as several gunshots rang out.
From Vin's vantage point he could see into the office and motioned to Chris, holding up 2 fingers. He aimed inside the room and when one man stepped into the open, he fired. As soon as Vin fired the man went down and Chris and Ezra moved in, one high the other low as they entered the room. Buck was right behind them.
When the crash of the door and then gunshots sounded, the second man turned from the vault that he had been working to open. His AK-47 was firing as he turned towards the door and the men entering.
Chris dived to the floor as did Ezra. Buck jumped back, dodging behind the door frame out of the flying bullet's way. 'Damn, that jerk thinks it's killing time' Buck thought as he crashed to the floor. From his position Buck saw the rest of his team running towards them with others following behind. He opened his mouth to tell them to stay back when a gunshot rang out from somewhere slightly behind him. He ducked, not sure what was going on. The AK-47 fell silent, and he heard a thump from behind.
Buck whirled and spotted Vin sitting on the floor ten feet away, his right hand pressed to his left shoulder. "Chris," he yelled, then "Nathan," as he rose and rushed to Vin's side.
Moments later Chris was beside them. Nathan slid on the marble floor and ended on his knees, sliding the last two feet to Vin's side. He moved Vin's hand from the wound so he could see what kind of damage the bullet had caused.
"It's nothing, just surprised me. Went clear through." Vin rasped as Nathan pulled his jacket off and opened his shirt. He tried to push Nathan's hand away as Nathan continued to work his shirt off.
"Easy Cowboy, let Nathan look. Trip to the hospital for you," Chris said.
"Aw hell," Vin said leaning his head back. "I don't want to go there."
"Sorry Vin, this needs a doctor to check it out and close the holes before you bleed too much," Nathan told the sharpshooter as he pressed the handkerchiefs several agents handed to him, to the holes in Vin's shoulder, the entrance and the back exit wound.
"You'll be back in the saddle again in no time, these look clean," Nathan added, hearing running footsteps.
The men from Team Seven looked around and spotted two paramedics running through the hotel's doors and through the few people from the hotel that gathered at the noise of gunfire.
Within minutes the EMT's had sterile pressure pads over the wounds and were leading Vin out of the hotel's lobby. Vin refused to lay on the gurney and Chris and Nathan walked beside him through the door and to the waiting ambulance.
The other agents, after making sure the fundraiser money was safe, helped clean up the mess the robbers had made. The police and agents worked together to find out who the two dead men were who shot Vin and tried to rob the event. It was almost 3AM before everyone finally left the hotel and headed for home. Team Seven headed to the hospital to check on Vin. Travis decided to wait until morning to visit Vin. His patient wife was waiting on him, having been sent home after he went with his agents when the bomb went off.
Buck, Ezra, Josiah and JD hurried into the hospital ER area at 3:45AM, and caught sight of Nathan and Chris standing by the doorway to the ER cubicles. Chris had a handful of paperwork and a small bag holding Vin's prescriptions in his hand, they were both looking down the hall.
"Hey Brothers, what's going on?" Josiah called as they moved across the waiting area.
Chris and Nathan turned towards their friends. "They're releasing Vin, we're waiting for him to come out," Nathan shook his head grinning widely.
"What'd he do, give them hell?" Buck grinned then seriously asked, "How is Junior?"
Nathan laughed. "Hell, it was, 'til Chris hollered at him to shut up. He'll be fine, the bullet didn't do any major damage. Well it passed through the fleshy part of his shoulder, didn't hit anything vital. They cleaned it, stitched it up and were bandaging him when we left. He was getting antibiotics and a pain shot. The doctor threatened to tape his mouth closed if he didn't be quiet."
About that time a male nurse came out of a cubicle with their sharpshooter walking slowly and carefully beside him. Vin's blue eyes were focused on the floor, the nurse's hand was wrapped around his good arm to steady him.
"Mr. Larabee, here is your brother. Doctor Jefferies said he needs to see him in four days. If his fever doesn't go down or his wounds turn bad, get him in here right away," he told the gathered men. Ezra hid his smile, it had been his idea some time ago to list Chris and Vin as half brothers, it worked smoothly to get one or the other into staying with the injured 'brother.'
"What's wrong with him?" JD asked as Vin lifted his head and smile happily at them.
"Oh, he was given a shot for pain, seems it made him, um happy, I guess you'd say. He is ready to go home now." The nurse moved Vin closer to Chris and with a nod of his head quickly left.
"Hey guys! What'cha all doin'? Is it lunchtime yet? I'm kinda hungry. Hey Ez, nice jacket. Hey ya'll look like you's goin' to a shindig. Can I go too? Hey Chris, I don't feel too good. Kin I go home now?" Vin asked as a puppy dog look crossed his face, finally out of breath for a moment.
Chris took Vin's arm and looked at the rest of his team. "Go home. Since its Saturday night, come out later today for a BBQ. I've got steaks, so bring the rest. We'll see you later. Come on Cowboy, let's get you home."
The men followed Chris out of the hospital entrance. Nathan helped Chris get Vin into his truck, then with a wave jumped in Josiah's car and they followed the others out of the parking lot. Chris buckled Vin in then started the Ram.
"Chirssss, 'm cold…" Vin slurred, shivering.
Chris reached over the seat, grabbed the back seat blanket and covered Vin with it, then turned on the heater and tuned the radio to an old country western station.
"Thanksss… 'risss," Vin pulled the blanket up to his chin. He then started to hum off key to the Eagles song 'Desperado' playing on the radio.
Chris shook his head as he drove through the mostly quiet city, happy that there wasn't much traffic to get through. He turned off the highway and onto the country roads towards his ranch, that Vin was now part of.
To the tune of El Paso, Chris turned off the truck and woke his sleeping partner. Within a short time he had a humming Vin inside and into his bedroom. He shook his head over the off key song Vin was trying to hum, he did know how to assassinate a song. He helped the now almost asleep younger man out of his clothes, then made sure when he laid down he wasn't on his bad shoulder He pulled the blankets up around Vin's shoulders, turned and went to the door. With a last glance at his partner he saw that Vin had snuggled down under the blankets to where he could only see the top of his head. With a smile he switched off the light and with a quiet, "Good night Pard," headed to his own bedroom.
It would be day light in a couple of hours, and the others would be coming. They had dodged the bullet one more time this night. They were still all together, and Chris felt lucky to call his teammates, his brothers. They were misfits, but they become a close knit family, closer than blood.
Chris grinned into the darkness, family. He pulled up his blanket and went to sleep
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