An ATF-M7/McKenna xover
Note: The character of Brick McKenna was played by Eric Close in the series "McKenna" which aired on ABC in 1995.
Size: Approx: 80K
Webmaster Note: This is the 1,000th story posted at blackraptor
Leigh looked out the second story window over the ranch. McKenna's outfitters ran tours through the pristine wilderness of Oregon. This was the only home she'd known ever since she married Guy McKenna. She sighed as the light summer rain hit the window. Even through the rain Charity, Hope and Patience could be seen in the distance. This was the local's name for the three mountain peaks that dominated the landscape. Recently tourists' books had changed the name to the Three Sisters.
Leigh ran her fingers through her short blonde hair as she turned from the window. The small room Jack called the office was little more than a converted loft at the top of the stairs. Leigh had escaped here so she wouldn't have to listen to the fighting down stairs. When Guy died the barrier between Jack, his father, and his younger brother Brick was gone. Guy had always run interference between Jack and Brick. Jack's expectations for his sons had always been high and he felt Brick wasn't living up to his potential. Brick wanted to pursue a racing career and left the ranch. When Guy died Brick came back for the funeral but left shortly after. He was gone three years when Jack broke his arm tinkering with an old car. Brick had been home for a visit and decided to stay and help. Brick's return caused a few ripples in the household. Cassidy, Brick's sixteen year-old sister, was thrilled he was back as were Leigh's two children Harry and Rose. Jack, on the other hand, hadn't made it easy.
Today's argument started when Brick waltzed in this morning after staying out all night. Jack stated that if Brick was staying in this house there were rules to be followed. Brick said he was an adult and could do what he wanted. That was the last Leigh heard as she disappeared to the office. She had been planning to organize the files and put all the papers in order. Jack's idea of organized was having papers scattered across the desk. Since it was raining and the two grown men in the family were fighting today was a perfect day to start. Leigh sat down at the desk and picked up a stack of papers. She was flipping through them when she heard the front door slam. This signaled the end of the fight. Leigh just shook her head at the childish behavior of men.
Brick couldn't believe Jack. The man was inflexible and still treated him like he was twelve. Sometimes he wondered why he stayed. Ever since Guys death the rift between Brick and Jack was getting bigger. Brick pushed back his long hair in frustration. When was Jack going to realize he wasn't Guy? Brick cursed as he stepped in a puddle on the way to the barn. He decided to hide in the loft to get some sleep. Brick entered the barn and the horses greeted him thinking they were going to be fed. He disappointed them by heading for the shed where they kept all the equipment. Brick grabbed a sleeping bag then climbed the ladder to the hayloft. He was just settling down when he heard his name called. Brick sighed and poked his head out the trap door.
"Just came to see if you wanted to talk," Cassidy said.
Brick smiled at his younger sister. She was a typical sixteen-year-old only interested in boys and how she looked but Brick got along with her well enough.
"What's there to talk about?" Brick asked.
"Oh I don't know," Cass smiled. "What about how lame Jack is."
Brick smiled and told her to come up. Cass laughed and started to climb. She was glad Brick had come home. Guy's death was a terrible blow and she missed having a brother around. She was just afraid Jack would demand too much of Brick and he would leave. Cass climbed through the trap door then stood up to look around.
"Over here," Brick called from behind some hay bales. "So what do you really want?"
"What do you mean?" Cass protested. "Can't I just talk to you."
"OK, I'll go along with it," Brick smiled as he leaned back with a piece of straw in his mouth.
"Oh!" Cass cried and jumped on Brick.
They wrestled in the hay like they did when they were little. Guy used to have to break them up before they hurt each other. Brick cried 'uncle' and Cass smiled in triumph as she sat up.
"Brick why do you stay?" Cass asked as she picked straw from her long brown hair.
"I don't know," Brick admitted as he lay on his side leaning on his hand. "Maybe cause Guy would have wanted me too."
"Maybe," Cass said. "I miss him."
"Yeah, me too."
"Why does Jack have to act like such a jerk," Cass demanded. "Why is he so hard on us?"
" 'Cause we aren't Guy," Brick answered.
"Well I certainly can't be Guy," Cass laughed. "Sometimes I hated Guy for being Jack's favorite."
"Join the club," Brick snorted. "Nothing I did was ever good enough for him. Then when I left to race I knew it would form a bigger gap between us."
"Then why'd you go?"
"Because I needed to prove something to myself."
Cass nodded that she understood. They were silent for awhile as they listened to the rainfall on the roof. Cass needed to know something but didn't want Brick to laugh at her.
"Brick, you aren't going to leave are you?" Cass asked as she bit her lower lip.
Brick looked at his sister and could see she was afraid he would "Nah, think I'll stick around for awhile. Unless someone won't go away so I can get some sleep."
Cass hit him then gave him her best smile. "Can I ask a favor?"
"I knew it," Brick sighed.
"Can I borrow your car?"
"Why can't you take one of the others?"
"Well..." she began.
"Let me guess Jack said you couldn't." Brick smiled. "If it will make Jack crazy then sure. But I didn't know you were grounded if you get caught."
"Got it," she laughed as she took the keys from him. "Thanks."
Brick watched as Cass disappeared down the ladder. He knew he shouldn't have given her the keys but sometimes Jack's punishments were unreasonable. Brick settled back on the sleeping bag and relaxed. The sound of the rain soon put him to sleep.
+ + + + + + +
Leigh smiled in satisfaction. Almost everything was filed except the bottom draw of the desk. Jack kept important papers there in a fire proof box. He'd given her the keys to everything in the office when she started helping him with the book keeping. Leigh had always been curious what was in the box. She figured that since Jack gave her the keys she could take a look.
She pulled out the box and placed it on the desk. Leigh unlocked it and opened the lid. Inside was pretty much what she expected. Deed to the property, birth certificates for Cass and Guy. She though it odd that there wasn't one for Brick. At the bottom she found a plain manila envelope. She took it out and opened it. When she read the papers she couldn't believe it. Why hadn't Jack ever told anybody?
Jack was sitting in the den tying some flies. This always relaxed him after having a fight with Brick. He just couldn't understand why Brick couldn't be more responsible like Guy had always been. Jack knew it wasn't fair to compare the two, they had always been complete opposites. Guy was careful while Brick was reckless. He just shook his head as he continued what he was doing.
Leigh came down stairs to find Jack sitting in the den. The head of the McKenna clan was a handsome man. His gray hair and weathered features gave him a distinguished look. Leigh stared at Jack and wonder why she never noticed Brick didn't look anything like him. She'd always assumed Brick favored his mother. After Jack's wife had left him he'd gotten rid of all the pictures so Leigh had nothing to compare Brick too. She walked into the room and Jack looked up at her with his blue eyes.
"Where have you been?" he asked gruffly.
"Up in the office straightening the papers."
"Ah, Leigh, I wish you hadn't done that," Jack complained. "I knew where everything was."
"Yes but I didn't," she argued. "How am I supposed to do the book keeping if I can't find anything."
"I guess you're right," Jack conceded.
"Jack, I went through the papers in the box," Leigh admitted.
Jack looked up in surprise. He knew what papers she meant and wasn't happy. It was never his intention to keep it a secret but over the years it was just easier not to say anything.
"Why didn't you ever tell him?" Leigh demanded.
"I wanted to," Jack sighed. "But Janice made me promise I wouldn't."
"You could have told him when she left," Leigh sympathized.
"How?" Jack demanded. "We've never gotten along that well. I thought the information would push him away even further. I do love him, even if I do have a hard time showing it."
"I know you do," Leigh said as she sat next to him. "But Brick has the right to know he's adopted."
"I know," Jack sighed. "I'll tell him. I just hope he won't hate me more."
"Brick doesn't hate you," Leigh assured him. "Strong dislike maybe."
Jack smiled and put his equipment away. "Guess I better get this over with."
"Good luck," she said as he headed out the door.
+ + + + + + +
Brick jerked awake when he heard his name called. He groaned and rolled to his back as Jack called him again. Brick knew he couldn't avoid him forever and decided to give in. He walked to the ladder and climbed down.
"I'm right here," Brick said before Jack walked into the shed.
"What were you doing in the loft?"
"We need to talk," Jack said.
"Alright," Brick agreed as he followed Jack to the shed.
Brick watched as Jack wandered round the shed checking the equipment. They stored all the gear that they used for camping and other activities for the guests in here. Brick wasn't sure what Jack wanted to tell him but it probably wasn't good. The two of them had never been good at communication.
"Brick there's something I have to tell you," Jack began. "I know you'll be mad after I say my peace and I suspect you'll have a right to be."
"Why don't you just come out and say it," Brick suggested.
"Well if you could be patient I'd like to explain a few things," Jack said looking at Brick.
"Alright," Brick agreed and leaned against the wall.
"When Guy was ten his mother decided it was time to have another baby," Jack explained. "There was only one problem. No matter how much we tried it was no use."
"I take it you went to see a doctor?" Brick asked.
"He couldn't find anything wrong, but Janice still couldn't get pregnant," Jack admitted. "So there was only one other option."
Jack waited for Brick to figure it out. It didn't take Brick long and he glanced at who he thought was his father.
"Why didn't you ever tell me!" Brick yelled.
"I wanted too," Jack admitted. "Janice didn't' want you to know."
"Why not?" Brick asked confused.
"You know how insecure she was. She didn't want to have to compete for your love," Jack said. "She thought if you knew you would want to find out about your birth mother."
"Yeah and Janice sure showed her love," Brick said bitterly. "She's the one that left!"
"I know," Jack sighed.
"Why didn't you tell me after she left?"
"By that time we started drifting apart," Jack explained. "I thought if you knew you'd leave for good."
"Guy knew didn't he?" Brick accused.
"He was ten when we brought you home," Jack said. "You were a rambunctious five year old. He loved you from the moment he set eyes on you."
Brick knew that was true. Guy had always loved him. All this was so confusing. He had so many questions.
"What about Cassidy?"
"What about her?" Jack asked perplexed.
"Is she adopted too?"
"No," Jack said. "By pure chance Janice became pregnant and had Cassidy."
"Oh," Brick said as he began to pace. "What about me real mother?"
"The orphanage said she had died," Jack answered. "We never looked into it."
"Do you know anything about her?" Brick persisted. "Where she came from, what her name was anything?"
"All I know is you were born in Texas," Jack replied. "Other than that I don't know anything."
"I have to know," Brick decided.
"I'll help anyway I can," Jack said. "I never meant to keep this a secret."
Jack watched as Brick wandered away. He knew this would take awhile for Brick to understand. He just hopped it didn't build the walls higher between them. Jack took one last look at his son as he headed back to the house.
The next week Brick butted heads with officials in Texas. He was surprised Jack had agreed to help him find out about his birth parents. At first Brick was mad a Jack for not telling him he was adopted. When Jack told him his real mother was dead Brick wasn't sure why he even bothered to look for information. Jack said he needed to find a copy of his original birth certificate to find out who his father was. So for a week Brick had tried to wade through the red tape with people in Texas. Finally he decided to ask his friend Dale for help.
Dale Goodwin was Brick's best friend and a Deputy Sheriff. They had been friends ever since Dale rescued Brick from Mary Beth Romany in the fourth grade. Brick hoped Dale could pull strings since he was a sheriff to gain information. Dale was reluctant at first but he understood how important this was to Brick. Dale was shocked at first to find out his best friend was adopted. He never in his life would have guessed but in away it did explain a few things about Brick's relationship with Jack. Dale finally agreed to help and after a week of frustrations Brick was on his way to town. Dale called earlier saying he had some information for Brick.
Brick pulled his red Mustang into the Sheriff's only parking space and cut the engine. It was a beautiful summer day and a lot of tourists were wondering around town. Brick made his way into the sheriff's office. He saw Dale talking with a very irate woman. Brick leaned against a near by desk and pushed his sunglasses on top of head and watched his friend. Dale was six foot three and looked imposing in the all brown uniform of a deputy sheriff. Brick wondered how they stayed friends for so long. He used to get Dale in all sorts of trouble. Brick smiled as realized he still did. Dale glanced up and saw him leaning against the desk smiling. When the woman turned away from Dale he rolled his eyes at Brick and sighed. Twenty minutes later Dale was able to give the woman to someone else.
"Hey, Buddy," Brick said laughing. "Woman troubles?"
"Ha, ha, very funny," Dale said as he grabbed a folder off the desk and threw it at Brick.
"Is this it?" Brick asked excitedly.
"Wouldn't have thrown it to you if it wasn't," Dale smiled. "You're going to find it rather interesting."
Brick quickly opened the folder. Inside was a smaller white envelope. He opened it and pulled out a copy of a birth certificate. The name on the certificate was Brick Tanner born May 27, 1973. His mother's name was Emma Tanner. Bricks eyes widened as he read the next line.
"Twins!" Brick exclaimed.
"Thought you'd find that interesting," Dale laughed. "Saw that as it came over the fax. Mitch, my friend in Texas, is following up on that. Also said an official copy of your birth certificate is on the way. He figured you wouldn't be able to wait to find out about this."
"Does he think he'll find anything on my brother?" Brick asked and smiled as he said it.
"What makes you think it's a brother? Could be a sister. Besides Mitch can't do much from Dallas," Dale warned. "He's going to find out some contacts for you and you'll have to call."
"The orphanage should know something," Brick reasoned.
"It closed about seven years ago," Dale said. "Sorry."
"There's no list of who my father is," Brick realized as he looked at the fax. In the line for father it was marked 'unknown'.
"Yeah, I know," Dale sympathized. "Guess your mother didn't want to list anyone."
"I'm no further along than I was," Brick said in frustration.
"Yeah but now you know you have a brother or sister," Dale reasoned.
"I guess," Brick sighed. "Thanks. Dale, I appreciate it."
Dale knew Brick was disappointed in the small amount of information they found. Mitch had warned Dale that they might not be able to find any information about Brick's sibling. Dale decided he wouldn't tell Brick what Mitch said and watched as his friend walked out of the office. Dale sighed and went back to work.
+ + + + + + +
Another two weeks passed before Mitch had any more information. Dale was working late when he got the phone call. Mitch faxed over the information and Dale thanked him. As the first page came through Dale picked it up and scanned it. It was information on a Sister Maria Theresa of Our Lady of Guadeloupe Orphanage. She was the senior nun when Brick was at the orphanage. Mitch had also found out that Brick's twin was a brother and not a sister. The next few pages told a sad story of the successive foster homes Brick's brother had been placed until he disappeared at age fifteen. Mitch said all traces of Vin Tanner vanish after that time. Dale hated to bring this latest information to Brick but he had a right to know. Dale gathered the pages and headed out.
Dale drove his Bronco up the long drive leading to the McKenna ranch. As he passed the corrals he noticed Jack by the barn. Dale parked the truck and stepped out.
"Hey, Jack," Dale called. "Brick around?"
"Up at the house," Jack replied. "Have more information for him?"
"Yeah," Dale admitted. "But he isn't' going to like it."
Jack walked with Dale up to the house. Dale smiled as he heard giggling coming through the windows of the log home. As Jack opened the door they found Rose and Harry climbing all over Brick.
"Uncle Dale," Rose cried and raced to him.
"Hey, Rosie," Dale said as he picked her up.
"Hey, Dale," Leigh called from the kitchen. "You're just in time for dinner."
"That would be great," Dale smiled.
"Harry, Rose go get washed up," Leigh said. Dale put Rose down and they disappeared up stairs.
"Got something?" Brick asked as he stood up.
"Yeah, but you're not going to like it," Dale said as he sat on the couch and handed the envelope to Brick.
Brick took the envelope and pulled out a large stack of papers. He quickly scanned the first couple that explained about Sister Theresa. There was a phone number where she could be reached. He put those aside and started to read the others. He now knew his twin was a brother named Vin Tanner. Brick continued to read the papers and was stunned.
"Did you read these?" Brick asked as he looked at Dale.
"Yeah," Dale said.
"Why what's wrong?" Leigh asked as she came in from the kitchen.
"Well first off my twin is a brother named Vin Tanner," Brick started. "According to these papers he remained in the orphanage until he was eight. Then he was sent to a foster home."
"That's not unusual," Leigh said. "They put the children in a family setting instead of keeping them at an institution."
"Yeah but is says here Vin was shifted to more than fifteen different foster home in seven years," Brick said angrily. "Then at age fifteen he disappears."
"Mitch figures he ran away," Dale added. "He says it's not unusual."
"Where would a fifteen year old boy go?" Leigh asked. "How would he survive?"
"Anyway he could I suppose," Jack said.
"What I want to know is why the orphanage separated us," Brick said in disgust. "You'd think they would have left us together."
"I don't know, son," Jack replied as he placed a hand on Brick's shoulder. "If Janice and I had known you were twins we would have taken you both."
"I know," Brick sighed. "But where do I start looking now? If Vin ran away he could be anywhere."
"Where is this Dallan County?" Leigh asked as she read the papers.
"Up in the Texas panhandle," Dale said. "Small isolated towns."
"I doubt he'd stick around there," Leigh reasoned. "The police would have just sent him back."
"In other words he could be any where," Brick said in defeat.
"Maybe this Sister Theresa can help." Jack said. "At least she might be able to explain why they separated you. If she can't help locate Vin we'll hire a private investigator."
"Thanks, Jack, but we can't afford it," Brick said truly appreciating Jack's offer.
"Well let's see what happens tomorrow," Leigh suggested. "Talk to Sister Theresa and find out if she has any leads. But now it's time for dinner."
"Go get your sister," Jack told Brick.
"I hate to say chances are slim we'll find Vin," Dale said after Brick left.
"I know," Jack sighed. "But stranger things have happened."
Cassidy came running down the stairs with Brick hot on her heals. They both dashed for the kitchen and Cassidy cried in triumph as she beat him to the kitchen. Dale laughed as Brick ruffled her hair. Jack watched Cassidy and tried to imagine her living on the streets. Jack shook his head at the hand of fate that separated Brick from his twin.
It was Tuesday afternoon and JD was finished with his report. He knew better than to bug the others and decided to surf the net. Team 7's youngest wasn't looking for anything inparticular just something to pass the time. First he started checking baseball and other sport scores but was quickly bored. JD plugged in hiking and fishing into a search engine and came up with some adventure tours. JD thought these were cool and spent the next hour browsing the different sites.
Vin finally finished his report and asked Ezra to proof read it for him. The fancy talking southerner had been surprised the first time Vin asked him, now it was a common routine. Vin's writing and reading skills had greatly improved since joining the team but he was always self-conscious about reports that went to higher ups. Ezra also never belittled Vin as he pointed out errors and helped the quiet Texan fix them. They were almost done when JD called Vin.
"Hey, Vin, you ever been to Oregon?" JD asked.
"Just a dang minute, JD, I'm almost done," Vin protested.
JD didn't take offense from Vin's tone. The usually quiet and calm sharpshooter could get testy when writing reports. Vin was a man of action and hated having to write reports. JD didn't blame him since he hated it too.
"Kid, when you gonna learn not to bother Vin when he doing reports," Buck scolded as he threw a paper ball at JD.
"Sometimes I wonder how Ezra deals with him," Nathan said.
"Ezra has abundant patience, that's what makes him such a good undercover agent," Josiah replied. "Besides look what happened the last time Chris tried to help him."
"Wooeee like two bull elks butting heads," Buck laughed.
"Yeah Chris just doesn't have the patience," JD laughed.
"With the six of you making up the team I don't have any patience left to spare," Chris said as he came out of his office.
"OK, JD, I'm done," Vin smiled as he walked over. "What did you want?"
"Just wondered if you were ever in Oregon," JD said.
"Can't recollect ever bein' there," Vin said. "Why?"
"Well I was fiddling around and found this McKenna outfitter," JD said as he moved the mouse to get rid of the NASCAR screen saver. "When the page opened they had a picture of you."
Vin watched as the race car disappeared and a mountain scene took its place. JD scrolled down and sure enough it was a picture of him. Suddenly Vin had flashes of a childhood playmate. Someone who was always there.
"Vin, you okay?" Chris asked at the look on Vin's face.
"Ain't sure," Vin admitted. "Something I remember when I was little."
"What was it Vin?" Josiah asked knowing Vin rarely talked about his childhood.
"Just remember another boy always being there," Vin said with a far away look in his eyes. "Someone to play with. Thought it was a memory from the orphanage, but now I think its something else."
"Perhaps your a twin," Ezra joked.
Vin gave Ezra a shocked look. The undercover agent response made Vin remember a time at a playground with his mother and another little boy. The other boy fell and ran to his mother and she kissed the cut on his finger. Vin quickly grabbed a pen from JD's desk and wrote down the number for McKenna outfitters. They all noticed in his haste he wrote the four's and six's backwards. Vin grabbed the paper and went back to his desk. Chris followed him and watched as Vin attempted to dial the number. He kept hitting the wrong buttons. Vin's dyslexia surfed whenever he was hurt, tired or upset. Seeing the picture had upset Vin, Chris held down the receiver as Vin went to dial the phone.
"Hold on, Vin," Chris said. "What's going on?"
"I don't know, Chris," Vin said in frustration. "I think Ezra's right. I gotta call."
"What are you gonna say?" Chris reasoned. " 'Hi I was browsing the Internet and noticed this picture on your site looks like me'."
"I don't know damn it!" Vin exploded and slammed down the phone.
"Easy, Pard," Buck said as he came up behind Chris.
"What if we went there on a little vacation?" JD asked.
Vin looked at JD and smiled. "That's perfect!" Vin cried as he picked up the phone again.
"Hold on I don't think it's a good idea," Chris reasoned.
"Chris, I gotta know," Vin pleaded.
"Alright," Chris agreed reluctantly. "But I doubt Travis will let us all go. I'll go find out what he says."
Vin went back to JD's desk and looked at the screen. It was like looking in a mirror. The only difference was the other guy's hair was shorter.
"Does it say who he is?" Josiah asked.
"No, nothing," Vin answered as he scrolled further down.
Vin stared at the screen but wasn't really seeing it. Could he really be a twin? He could hardly even remember his mother let alone a brother. Was it true or was he just wishing it was? There was no denying the guy in the picture looked like him. Maybe there was another explanation. Maybe his memories were just of another boy at the orphanage. Vin sighed and continued to stare at the screen.
"Maybe you should talk to him Josiah," JD suggested.
"Vin needs to work this out himself," Josiah said looking at JD.
"I just fear Mr. Tanner will get his hopes up only to have them dashed later on," Ezra commented.
"But if he doesn't find out it will drive him crazy," Nathan said.
"I think it's true," Buck decided. "They look too much alike not to be."
"Here come Chris," JD Said.
"Travis agreed," Chris said. "But not for all of us. He'll give us a four day weekend."
"I'm going to assume Mr. Tanner would want to go this weekend," Ezra reasoned. "So I will have to decline. Mother is coming for a visit."
"So who is she trying to marry you off to this time?" JD asked.
"Some duchess I believe," Ezra smiled.
"Rain's coming in this weekend so I'm out too," Nathan said.
"I offered to help run the children's car wash down at the church," Josiah said.
"Looks like that leaves me, Chris and JD," Buck said. "I sure could us a little time off."
"Yeah me too," JD smiled.
"I'll tell Vin," Chris said
Chris walked over to Vin and saw he was no longer there. Oh he was sitting in the chair all right but his mind was somewhere else. Chris sat down and touched his shoulder.
"Travis gave us a four day weekend," Chris said.
"Thanks, Chris," Vin said gratefully. "Can you do me a favor?"
"Can you make the reservation?"
"I don't know," Vin replied shaking his head. "I just have an odd feeling."
Chris agreed and wrote down the number. He went back to his office and picked up the phone. Chris just hoped they weren't making a big mistake.
+ + + + + + +
On that same day in Bend, Oregon Brick was making a phone call to Sister Maria Theresa. He wasn't sure what he was going to say as the phone rang a few times and was finally picked up.
"Hello?" said a female voice on the other end.
"Hello is this Sister Maria Theresa?"
"Yes it is."
"Hi my names Brick McKenna but you might remember me from the orphanage as Brick Tanner," Brick explain.
"It's been a long time since I was at the orphanage," Maria Theresa said.
"You might remember a Vin Tanner also," Brick said hopefully. "We're twins."
"Oh yes, now I remember," she said and laughed. "Identical little blondes with the bluest eyes. It's so nice to hear from you."
"So you do remember us," Brick said excitedly. "Can I ask you a few questions?"
"Of course," she agreed. "It's always nice to talk with the children that left and found love in new homes."
"Well I was wondering if you can tell me why I was separated from Vin?" Brick asked.
"If I remember right you were the more out going one," Maria Theresa said. "Vin was rather shy and didn't like to meet new people. Perspective parents are more receptive to an out going child than a withdrawn one."
"That's a pretty lame reason to separate us," Brick said angrily.
"That was only one of the reasons," she said calmly. "All new children are evaluated by doctors. Vin was determined to be special needs. These children are always harder to place."
"What do you mean by special needs?" Brick asked confused.
"Not only was Vin overly quiet he also had slight curve to his back," she said. "The doctors thought he would grow out of it but you have to understand adoptive parents want 'perfect' children. So it was determined that if the perspective parents didn't want the both of you, you would be separated."
"My adoptive father said if he knew about Vin he would have taken us both," Brick said.
"But they did know, at least your mother did. She said she couldn't take both of you since she already had a little boy at home."
Brick was stunned. Janice had known about Vin and refused to take him. Brick was silent a long time and came out of his shock as the Sister kept calling his name.
"Yes I'm still here," Brick said still in shock.
"I'm very sorry," she said. "We were disappointed she wouldn't take you both but it was an opportunity to give you a good home."
"I understand," Brick said. "Do you know what happened to Vin?"
"He was placed in foster homes," she said sadly. "It didn't work out and he finally ran away."
"Do you have any idea where he went?" Brick asked hopefully.
"No, I'm sorry."
"Well thank you Sister, you've been a big help."
"God bless you my child," she said. "Good bye."
Brick hung up the phone and leaned back on the couch. He couldn't believe Janice had been the one to refuse Vin. If only Jack had known things would have been different. Brick was so angry he failed to here Jack come in.
"Brick did you call Sister Maria Theresa?" Jack asked.
"Yeah I called her," Brick said angrily.
"I take it she couldn't help?"
"She couldn't help me locate Vin but I did find out something interesting," Brick said looking at Jack. "Janice knew about him. She said she couldn't take Vin because she already had a son at home."
"What?" Jack asked shocked. "That can't be."
"The Sister said Janice knew," Brick accused. "She's the one that made me lose my brother!"
"I'm sorry, son," Jack said as he reached out to Brick.
"I'm not your son!" Brick said angrily. "Just leave me alone."
Jack watched as Brick stormed out of the house. He knew Brick was just upset about what the Sister had said and he couldn't blame him. He couldn't believe Janice had done something like that. They could have easily cared for two more boys. There was no way to ask her why she had done it and Jack just hoped Brick would understand it wasn't his fault. Jack wished Leigh had never found that folder.
Friday morning Vin drove to the federal building. It was decided they would all meet there and take one car to the airport. When Vin decided to go searching for this guy who could be his brother he thought it was a good idea. Now he wasn't so sure. What if Chris was right? That he was only asking for trouble. All Vin's doubts had plagued him all night and he got little sleep. Vin pulled into the parking garage and saw Chris was already there. He pulled into his space and cut the engine. Vin was about to get out of the jeep when Cuervo jumped in to say hi.
"Hey, Cuervo," Vin said as the cat sat in the passenger seat. "Looking for breakfast?"
Vin reached in the back and rummaged around in the junk found there. He finally located a can of cat food, popped the lid, and set it on the seat next to the cat. The big tom wasted no time digging in. Vin smiled and pet the cat as he got out. He grabbed his bag and walked over to the Ram and threw the bag in the back. Since Vin was the first one there he got to ride shotgun.
"You spoil him," Chris said as Vin climbed in.
"I ain't the only one," Vin smiled.
Chris was about to comment when Buck pulled into the garage. He didn't know how that old pick up was still running. Buck pulled in next to Vin and as soon as they stopped JD climbed out. The team's youngest was eager to go and grabbed his duffel from the back.
"Hey, Vin, Chris," JD said as he climbed in.
"Mornin', JD," Vin smiled.
"I brought breakfast," Buck announced as he pulled his door shut.
"Not hungry," Vin admitted.
"You okay? You never skip a meal," JD teased.
"Picked up something on the way over," Vin lied.
Chris knew Vin was lying but wasn't going to push him. He started the truck and pulled out. The airport wasn't far and since they didn't have any bags to check it wouldn't take long at check in. Chris pulled into the extended parking area and pulled the Ram into a space close to the attendant's area. JD was all excited and was talking up a storm.
"Hey, JD, give it a rest," Buck said as he grabbed his bag.
"Sorry, Buck," JD grinned. "But this is so cool. Vin's going to meet someone who maybe his brother. Don't ya think it's cool Vin?'
"I guess," Vin replied half-heartedly as he grabbed his Army duffel.
"What's up Cowboy?" Chris asked as they walked to the shuttle that would take them to the terminal.
"What if he don't like me," Vin blurted. "We might hate each other or we might not even be brothers."
"Is that's what's been bothering you?" Chris asked and smiled as Vin nodded. "Yeah you might hate each other but you'll never know until you meet."
"I reckon," Vin said as he yawned.
"Didn't sleep did you." Buck stated.
"You try sleepin' with a million questions runnin' around in your head all night," Vin replied.
"What are you worried about?" JD asked. "You get along with everyone."
"Kids got a point," Buck laughed. "You're the most easy goin' person I know. Besides if you can't stand him you always have us."
"Oh great," Vin said dramatically and rolled his eyes.
Buck laughed and JD just smiled. Chris could see Vin was more relaxed and not so up tight. The shuttle came and they got on. It was still early and the shuttle was pretty empty. They were let off at the airline and they got in line to check in. The four of them went through quickly but not before Buck got the phone number of the woman helping them. As they walked towards their gate Vin decided he was hungry and made a beeline for the Cinnabon counter with JD right on his heals. Chris didn't know how they could eat those incredibly sweet rolls so early in the morning. Chris waited for them and was surprised when they walked over with a box of a half dozen.
"Sure you got enough?" Chris asked.
"Hey don't encourage them," Buck said as he handed Chris a coffee. "They wanted to get a dozen."
"Well they don't feed us on the flight," JD reasoned. "We might get hungry."
"Come one, JD, I need a soda," Vin said as he headed for the large newsstand.
"Wonder if this guys eating habits are as bad as Vin's," Buck commented.
Chris said nothing as he followed the two youngest. JD and Vin loaded up with two bottles of Pepsi each and some other snacks. JD also got a motorcycle magazine. Once the purchases were made they proceeded to their gate. They took seats by the window. Vin and JD both grabbed a Cinnabon and ate their breakfast. The flight attendant made an announcement and started calling for first class passengers. This was a mid-sized commercial flight that would take them to Eugene Oregon. Then they would get a charter flight to Bend. Chris could see the plane wasn't going to be full and the attendant called for all seats. Chris was able to get the bulkhead seats. He knew Vin didn't like being hemmed in. They waited for everyone to board before they got on. Buck smiled at the stewardess as he went by.
"Howdy," Buck said and gave her a wink.
JD just rolled his eyes and dragged Buck through first class. Their seats were the five in the middle. Buck saw that there was a young lady sitting on the isle and he decided to sit next to her. JD threw his and Buck's bags into the overhead and sat next to Buck. Chris took Vin's bag and put it up with his then sat next to JD leaving the isle for Vin. The sharpshooter sat down and latched his safety belt. Chris watched as Vin took a deep breath and tried to relax. The stewardess came into the isle and began the seatbelt and emergency talk. Vin started bouncing his left knee. Chris finally grabbed Vin's knee to make him stop.
"Sorry," Vin said sheepishly.
Chris just smiled and went back to flipping through a magazine. Finally everything was ready and the plane taxed out to the runway. Within fifteen minutes they were in the air. Vin pushed his seat back to its reclining position and got comfortable. Less than twenty minutes into the flight Vin was asleep. The stewardess came by offering drinks and Chris was surprised to see Vin sleeping. Chris refused anything, as did JD.
"Wow he must really be tired," JD said. "He never sleeps on a plane."
"Not unless he's hurt," Buck added. "Like that time after our fishing trip to Corpus Christi."
The team leader went back to reading his magazine as Buck and JD relived that disastrous trip. Chris glanced at Vin and wondered for the thousandth time if they were doing the right thing.
+ + + + + + +
Cassidy couldn't believe she'd been roped into stocking the cabins. The stupid things were Brick's idea but he was never around when the cabins had to be cleaned for guests. Cassidy knew a group from Denver was due in this morning and Leigh was running around making sure everything was ready.
"Cassidy you done yet?" Leigh called from outside.
"Yeah," she answered as he walked out. "Why do I have to get the cabins ready?"
"Because you're part of this family," Leigh pointed out. "And the visitors pay for the things you buy."
Cass crossed her arms and snorted. It just wasn't fair. They both turned as they heard a vehicle come up the long drive. Rose and Harry came out of the house to greet the visitors. The black Tahoe pulled to a stop in front of the cabins. The driver stepped out and Leigh was reminded of a panther as he looked around the ranch. She heard Cassidy giggle and saw a young man that looked to be close to her age getting out of the back door. Next came a very handsome looking man with dark hair and a mustache. Leigh stared in shock as the last man walked around the truck from the passenger side.
"Oh my God," Cassidy gasped.
"Hey, Mom," Harry called. "He looks just like Uncle Brick."
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