An ATF-M7/McKenna xover
"I can't believe this," Leigh said excitedly as she walked towards Vin. "How did you know we were looking for you?"
Vin was at a loss for words and Chris came to his rescue. "I'm afraid we don't know what you're talking about."
"You mean you didn't come looking for Brick?" Cass asked confused.
"Brick must be the guy in the picture," JD exclaimed.
"Picture? What picture?" Leigh asked just as confused.
"I think we better start from the beginning," Buck laughed. "But first can we put away our gear?"
"Of course," Leigh blushed then smiled. "I'm so sorry, right this way."
Leigh led them to the two cabins closest to the house. Chris and Vin took one and threw their bags on the beds. Cassidy showed Buck and JD to the one next door. She smiled at JD the whole time she showed them around. Buck kept nudging JD and he finally punched his larger partner.
"Can I offer you some coffee?" Leigh asked when they gathered outside.
"That would be nice, ma'am," Vin said. "Got a few things to explain."
Leigh smiled at Brick's spitting image. The young man had to be Vin. They hadn't introduced themselves but he had to be.
"First we better introduce ourselves," Chris said and Leigh could swear he read her mind. "I'm Chris Larabee. The smiling fool with the mustache is Buck Wilmington. The little guy standing next to him is JD Dunne and that skinny one is..."
"Vin Tanner," Leigh announced.
"How'd you know?" Vin asked surprised.
"I guess we all have some explaining to do," Leigh answered. "But first, I'm Leigh and those are my two children Rose and Harry. And that's my sister-in- law Cassidy."
Once the introductions were finished they followed Leigh to the house. Cassidy walked with JD while Rose and Harry raced ahead. Leigh led them into the kitchen and had them sit at the table. She then told Cass to go get the papers from Brick's room. Leigh went into the kitchen and started the coffee.
"Are you Uncle Brick's brother?" Harry asked innocently.
"Don't know," Vin answered honestly.
"Well you sure look like him" Harry continued. "Except your hair is longer. My mom won't let me grow it long. She said people wold think I was a hippie or a weirdo."
"Harry!" Leigh scolded.
"It's alright, ma'am, he meant no harm," Vin laughed.
Cassidy came back and handed Leigh the papers. Leigh told Cass to finish getting the coffee and sat down next to Vin and began to explain.
"By accident I found adoption papers for Brick when I was cleaning out a desk," Leigh began and handed them to Vin. "Brick decided he want to find out about his birth parents and did some digging. The first thing he got was a birth certificate saying he was a twin. With a little more digging he found out the name of his twin, Vin tanner."
Leigh let Vin look through the papers as she poured the coffee. Vin shifted through them fairly quickly until he came to the birth certificate with his mother's name on it. Chris quietly took the papers from Vin as he stared at the certificate.
"Wow, Vin, it's true!" JD exclaimed as he and Buck read over Chris's shoulder.
"How did you know Brick was looking for you?" Cass asked.
"I didn't," Vin replied.
"I can explain that," JD said and sat down. "I was surfing the net and found your webpages. There was a picture of I guess Brick and I sowed it to Vin."
"That's so cool," Cass smiled. "And Jack said the WebPages was a waste of time."
"Jack?" Buck asked.
"Our dad," Cass explained. "Everybody calls him Jack."
"Is Brick here?" Vin asked looking up at Leigh.
"Brick and Jack went into town to pick up some supplies," Leigh answered. "He's going to be so happy. When we read in the papers that you ran away we had no idea where to look."
"Why did you run away?" Rose asked.
"Didn't like where I was living," Vin answered. "Decided to live on my own."
"What about your mom and dad?" Harry asked.
"He didn't have any," Rose said. "That's what orphan means."
"Rose, Harry, why don't you go play," Leigh said and watched as they left. "I'm sorry."
"Why," Vin said without emotion. "It's true."
"When do expect Brick back?" Chris asked to distract Leigh from Vin.
"About an hour," Leigh said feeling bad for Vin.
"Maybe we can just relax and try to absorb all this," Chris suggested.
"Are you kidding, Chris, I want to see the rest of this place," Vin said excitedly coming out back from his past.
"I can show you around," Cass offered. "You going to come JD?"
"Yeah, sure," JD sighed knowing Cass liked him but not knowing how to get rid of her.
"Sounds like a great idea," Buck added.
Cass led them outside and over to the barn. Leigh smiled at Vin as he excused himself and thanked her for the coffee. She watched him join his friends as they followed Cass to the barn. Leigh could see subtle differences from Brick. The obvious one was that Vin's hair was longer. Another was how skinny Vin was. She'd always thought Brick was slim but Vin made him look fat. Leigh couldn't wait to see Brick's face when he got back.
+ + + + + + +
Jack pulled up next to the black Tahoe. He figured it must belong to the group from Denver. Brick was sitting in the passenger seat shaking his head.
"Damn, they just keep making those SUV's bigger and bigger," Brick said as he opened the door.
"Yeah pretty soon you won't be able to fit on the highway," Jack agreed. "Let's get the truck unloaded before lunch."
They walked to the back and Jack let down the tailgate. The truck was loaded with lumber to fix one of the corrals. Brick was about to grab one of the boards when Leigh ran out of the house.
"Brick!" Leigh yelled. "I have to show you something."
"Can't it wait?" Jack asked gruffly as Leigh dragged Brick towards the barn.
"No it can't."
Brick smiled and willing let his sister-in-law drag him away since it got him out of unloading the truck. Jack sighed and went with them. As they got closer they heard several voices coming from the barn.
"Leigh is it's only the people in for the weekend why do we have to see them?" Jack demanded. "I need to get the truck unloaded."
"You'll see," she laughed and continued inside.
They entered the barn to find Harry perched on the shoulders of a tall man with dark hair and a mustache. Rose was standing next to an older man with blonde hair. A young dark haired man was sitting on a stool next to their milk cow as Cassidy tried to show him how to milk her. On the other side of the blonde was someone else but he was hidden in shadows. The blonde stepped back suddenly as milk came flying towards him. Everyone started to laugh but what caught Brick's attention was his mirror image standing just passed the blonde.
"I don't believe it," Brick said shocked.
"How?" Jack asked just as surprised.
Vin suddenly looked their way and stared. The blonde at his side noticed Vin's expression and turned. Rose turned also to see what they were looking at.
"Uncle Brick, look," she yelled and grabbed Vin's hand and dragged him towards her uncle. "Look who came."
Brick didn't know what to say. He'd practice all sorts of things in his head for the first time they met but none of them came to mind. Vin seemed at a loss for words also and just stood there staring. Brick went to say something then closed his mouth.
"They look like two deer caught in the headlights," Buck laughed.
"Brick looks like a fish out of water the way he's gulping," Jack added.
"How?" Brick finally asked.
"Ain't exactly sure," Vin smiled.
Brick could no longer contain himself and pulled Vin into a hug. Chris could see Vin wasn't expecting that and watched as Vin tentatively returned the hug. He knew the sharpshooter wasn't always comfortable with physical contact.
"God I can't believe this," Brick said excitedly as he held Vin at arms length.
"It's just so weird."
"Why don't we go up to the house for lunch," Leigh suggested.
They all agreed and walked towards the house. Chris moved beside Vin to give him moral support. Vin appreciated the gesture as Brick started bombarding him with all sorts of questions.
"So what do you do? Where do you live? How did you find me?"
"Damn now we know which one got the genes for talking," Buck laughed.
Everyone laughed and Vin just smiled. Jack noticed right away that Vin was more reserved and quiet than Brick. Brick was also more animated in his actions where as Vin's movements were minimal and precise. Brick continued talking all the way back to the house. Leigh told them to sit at the table while she got lunch. They arraigned themselves around the table and Jack noticed Vin's friends surround him. The impassive blonde sat on Vin's right and the young man Cass kept making eyes at sat to Vin's left. The tall mustached man sat across from the blonde and next to Leigh. Rose, Harry, Cass and Brick took the remaining seats.
"I suppose we should introduce ourselves," Jack said with a smile.
"Yeah that might help," Chris agreed. "I'm Chris Larabee their boss,"
"I'm Jack McKenna," Jack said shaking hands with Chris.
"On the end there is Buck Wilmington," Chris continued. "And across from him is JD Dunne. I think you've guessed that's Vin next to JD."
"All we knew was a name," Brick said. "And nothing after you were fifteen. What happened?"
"Why don't you wait on the questions until everyone gets their food," Leigh suggested as she placed fried chicken and various salads on the table.
Everyone noisily dug into the food placed on the table. Jack noticed Vin was very quiet and guarded, as if he didn't want to do the wrong thing.
"So you said that you're their boss," Jack said picking a safe topic. "What do you do?"
"We're agents for the ATF," Chris answered.
"Wow, like Agent Mulder?" Rose asked.
"Close," Buck laughed. "We just don't go after aliens."
"Then what do you look for?" Harry asked.
"Bad people who sell drugs and guns," Buck answered.
"How can JD be an agent?" Cass asked. "He's too young."
"How old do you think I am?" JD asked surprised.
"I don't know nineteen or twenty," Cass answered.
"I'm twenty three!" JD said exasperated as his friends laughed.
"Face it kid everyone will always think you're a baby," Buck teased.
"Yeah, JD, might help if you could grow a beard," Vin teased as he rubbed JD's cheek.
"Look who's talking peach fuzzy," JD cried slapping Vin's hand away.
Everyone smiled and continued with lunch. Jack could tell Brick wanted to ask a million questions. Vin looked over at Brick and smiled.
"Guess you better ask 'fore you bust," Vin finally said.
"What happened after you ran away?" Brick asked. "Where'd you live? What did you do?"
"Ain't much to tell, I reckon," Vin began. "Didn't really have any place to go so I headed west. Money finally ran out in Denver so I settled there."
"Where did you live?" Cass asked.
"Around," Vin answered vaguely. "When I finished High School I joined the Army."
"What unit?" Jack asked.
"Rangers, 1st battalion, sir," Vin answered directly. Cass and Brick chuckled and Vin glanced at them.
"That's a good team," Jack said ignoring his children. "What did you do in the Rangers?"
"I was the sniper."
"Whoa, did you kill anybody?" Cass asked.
"Cass!" Jack scolded as he saw Vin quickly look down at his plate.
"I was just asking," Cass said rolling her eyes.
"How long were you in the Army?" Brick asked ignoring his sister, even though he was curious to know the answer also.
"Served my four year term then got out," Vin said.
"Then you joined the ATF?" Leigh asked.
"No, ma'am," Vin replied.
"Ma'am," Cass and Brick mumbled to each other and snickered.
Jack was not happy with the way Brick and Cass were acting. He could also see Chris was getting angry. Jack knew the four men were protective of each other. He could also see Vin was becoming uncomfortable.
"Leigh," JD said. "Could you pass the chicken?"
"Sure," she said glad someone was breaking the ice.
"Thank you, ma'am," JD said emphasizing the word as he took the plate.
"Hey, I'm sorry," Brick said when he realized what was going on. "I didn't mean anything by it. We're just not used to anyone calling Leigh, ma'am."
"It's called manners," Jack said gruffly. "Which you and Cass seem to be lacking."
Brick's eyes flashed angrily at Jack for reprimanding him in front of these men. He hadn't meant any harm. Brick glanced at Vin and understood why Jack was scowling at him, not to mention Chris. He could see his twin staring at his plate playing with his food and looking liked he wanted to be somewhere else. This wasn't how Brick thought their first encounter would be like. He figured they would hit it off right away but now he knew better. Brick was trying to figure out a way to make up for what he did when Harry called to his mother.
"Mom can I have more soda?"
"Sure, Harry," she said and poured him a glass.
"Thank you. Ma'am," Harry said.
Buck was the first to start laughing. Once the barrier was broken they all joined in. Jack noticed Chris wasn't laughing but was no longer angry. Vin also wasn't laughing but had a smile on his face.
"I'm sorry, Vin," Brick said. "Like Jack's always telling me I should think before I talk."
"It's alright," Vin smiled. "Some habits are hard to break. At the orphanage, and in the Army, we had to call everyone sir or ma'am."
"Well don't every stop," Leigh said. "I think it's sweet."
"Vin do you think we could go riding?" Brick asked eagerly. He was hoping away from his friends Vin would open up.
"I reckon," Vin agreed.
"Great!" Brick declared. "Maybe we can talk."
"Good luck," Buck laughed. "It's like pulling teeth to get Vin to talk."
Vin stuck his tongue out at Buck as he followed Brick out the door. Jack wasn't thrilled the way things turned out but also knew things would be awkward until they got to know each other. He just hoped Brick didn't do or say anything he'd regret.
Vin followed Brick down to the barn. He wasn't sure this was such a good idea. Vin didn't know what to say to his brother. Brick got out two of the horses and Vin helped get them tacked. When everything was ready they led the horses outside and mounted. Brick took the lead and they rode awhile in silence.
"This really is beautiful," Vin said. "How much do you own?"
"Jack bought fifty acres," Brick answered. "But the property backs up to the National Forest."
Brick turned to Vin and could see he was uncomfortable. He had to admit it was a little awkward but he really wanted to get to know Vin.
"So what's it like working for the ATF?" Brick asked trying to stick to a neutral topic.
"It's great," Vin said excitedly. "Always wanted to be in law enforcement."
"Did you have to go to college to get in?"
"Usually," Vin admitted. "But Chris's team is a little unusual."
"I tried college," Brick said. "But I was never big on school. I liked High School but not the class work. I was on the football team."
"Didn't have time for sports," Vin said. "Wasn't very good as the class work either."
"Well that's good to know," Brick smiled. "My brother Guy always got good grades. I always thought I was stupid."
"Are you and Guy close?"
"We were," Brick said sadly. "He died."
"I'm sorry," Vin said as he rode next to Brick.
"Thanks," Brick replied bitterly. "It was a stupid accident. He fell leading a tour."
Brick spurred his horse forward and Vin followed. Vin didn't mean to bring up and bad memories but he figured it was gonna happen the more they talked. He wasn't sure how much to tell his twin. Vin rode in silence as he watched the scenery go by.
Brick glanced at his brother and sighed. He hadn't meant to sound so bitter about Guy. He didn't want Vin to think he was trying to replace Vin for Guy. This really wasn't going very good. They rode to a small pond Brick like to sit by and think. When they got closer Brick stopped the horses and dismounted. Vin followed his actions and waited.
"This isn't turning out the way I thought it would," Brick sighed.
"How'd ya think it would turn out?" Vin asked curious.
"Thought since we we're twins we'd hit it off," Brick admitted. "Kinda stupid huh?"
"Not really I reckon," Vin said.
Brick tied his horse to a tree and walked over to a rock out cropping by the pond and sat down. Vin stood holding the reins wondering what to do. He wasn't comfortable around strangers but he was trying to convince himself that Brick wasn't. The only problem was he didn't remember his brother at all, just a few flashbacks with the two of them and their mother. Vin tied the horse to the tree and walked over to Brick.
"Do you remember her?" Brick asked quietly.
"Not really," Vin said and sat down. "Not enough even to tell you what she looked like."
"What happened after you ran away?"
"Nothing excitin'," Vin said staring at the pond. "Went to the bus station handed the ticket seller my money and asked for a ticket as far as the money would take me."
"That's how you ended up in Denver?" Brick asked and Vin nodded. "What then?"
"Well," Vin hesitated not knowing what to say.
"You don't have to tell me everything," Brick said. "I kinda figured you were probably homeless."
"Ain't ashamed about what I had to do," Vin said defensively.
"I didn't mean anything," Brick said looking into Vin's angry eyes. "Damn! This really isn't working."
"Guess it ain't," Vin agreed and stood up.
"Look, Vin, I'm sorry," Brick said standing also. "I know you got the raw end of the deal but my life with Jack hasn't been easy. He's always telling me what to do. Expecting too much."
"Oh I bet," Vin said sarcastically. "He just provided you with a house and a roof over you head. Doubt you ever went hungry or wondered where you were gonna sleep each night. I also doubt if you went without sleep in the winter because you had to keep moving or freeze to death. Yeah your life was really tough here with a father that scolded you! Would have given anything for that."
Brick watched stunned as Vin moved to the horses. Vin swung up on his horse and rode away. Brick cursed and followed him. He really messed up this time. Brick knew Vin was right. He just hoped he hadn't ruined everything.
+ + + + + + +
Chris didn't think Brick and Vin going off alone was such a good idea. Brick seemed like a spoiled kid that was used to getting his way. Chris didn't think they would have anything in common since their lives were so different. Buck and JD wanted him to go fishing but Chris refused. Buck told him to quit worrying since Vin was a big boy and could take care of himself. Chris told them to go have fun. Buck just shook his head and went with JD. Chris was sitting on the porch to the cabins looking at the mountains when Jack walked over.
"You're worried too," he stated.
"Vin doesn't talk about himself much," Chris said. "I don't think it will go very well."
"Neither do I," Jack agreed. "Brick can be a little forceful and puts his foot in his mouth a lot."
"Like he did at lunch," Chris said angrily.
"Yeah," Jack sighed. "Every since Guy died Brick has been rebelling and drawing away more and more."
"Guy was his older brother?" Chris asked.
"They were really close," Jack said. "Guy was also the mediator between the two of us."
"I just hope Brick doesn't think Vin can instantly replace Guy," Chris warned. "Vin doesn't trust easily."
"I'm not surprised," Jack replied. "I know Vin must have spent some time on the streets after he ran away. I can't imagine a fifteen year old surviving."
"That's one thing Vin's good at," Chris said. "He never let his time on the streets become a handicap. Vin was able to make something of his life."
"If I was Vin's father I would be proud of what he accomplished," Jack admitted.
"Why didn't you adopt both of them?" Chris asked curious.
"I didn't know about Vin," Jack said. "I would have taken both."
Jack was hoping Chris didn't ask too many questions. Granted what he said was the truth but he didn't want them finding out about Janice. Jack was about to ask Chris something else when Vin came cantering up to the barn without Brick. At first Jack thought something might have happened to Brick. His worries were unfounded when Brick came riding into the yard. They watched as Vin avoided Brick as he walked his horse into the barn. Brick sighed and decided to give Vin some space.
"I have a feeling things didn't go well," Jack said.
"Definitely," Chris said. "I better go talk with Vin before he wrecks your barn."
Jack watched as Chris headed for the barn. Once he disappeared inside Jack walked over to Brick.
"What happened?" Jack asked.
"Nothing," Brick said defensively. "He's just a little resentful that I got adopted."
"That can't be all," Jack pushed.
"Just leave it alone, Jack," Brick said angrily. "It's between me and Vin."
Jack watched as Brick stormed off leaving him the horse to untack. He just shook his head and took care of the animal.
+ + + + + + +
Chris found Vin removing the saddle from the horse. He could see Vin was mad as he vigorously started to brush the horse.
"You might want to go easy on that horse," Chris suggested. "Don't want to peel off his hide."
"I reckon you're right," Vin smiled.
"He was complaining about how hard it was living with Jack," Vin snorted. "He doesn't even call him dad. How hard could it have been? So he got grounded a few time for being out passed curfew. At least he had someone to worry about him."
"Don't you think you might be being a bit hard on Brick?"
"I don't think so!" Vin stormed. "Damn, Chris, he's spoiled."
"I know someone else who was just like him," Chris said.
"Oh yeah, who?"
"Me," Chris laughed. "I was a spoiled kid just like Brick."
"Were you captain of the football team," Vin teased.
"Yeah I was," Chris laughed again.
"Figures," Vin grunted. "Maybe you're Brick's brother."
"We're similar," Chris agreed. "I used to fight with my dad all the time. I found his rules to be restrictive. When I broke them he used to ground me also. To a seventeen year old that's hard."
"I reckon I over reacted," Vin admitted. "Guess I didn't see his side. But Jeez, Chris, how can he complain when he lived here. You know where I lived."
"Lived?" Chris said raising his eyebrows. "You still live there."
"Yeah but now it's my choice," Vin smiled. "Then it wasn't."
"I know," Chris said gripping his arm. "But you knew this wasn't going to be easy."
"Yeah," Vin said still brushing the horse. "Suppose it's partly my fault. It's hard for me to open up to people."
"No!" Chris said in mock surprise.
"Go to hell, Larabee," Vin cursed.
"Figured we'd go together," Chris smiled.
"Reckon we will," Vin agreed smiling at Chris. "Ain't apologizing to him."
"No one said you had to. I just think the both of you got off on the wrong foot," Chris said. "You were both expecting too much."
"I reckon you're right," Vin agreed. "Thanks Chris."
"Anytime, cowboy," Chris said. "Now lets go help JD and Buck catch some fish."
Vin put the horse in his stall and followed Chris. Jack showed Chris where the fishing equipment was earlier and they went and got some poles. Buck and JD were surprised to see them. Buck asked how it went and Vin just rolled his eyes. Buck laughed and continued fishing. JD caught a huge trout and they helped him real it in. Once they got a good look at it JD let it go. Buck knew Vin really wanted to get to know Brick but he didn't think they'd be able to do it on their own. Buck told them he was going up to the house to get some drinks from Leigh. When he got to the house he found Brick mending a tent on the porch.
"Howdy," Buck said.
"Hi," Brick mumbled.
"Hear you and Vin had a little trouble," Buck stated as he joined Brick.
"It's nobodies business," Brick said defensively.
"That's where you're wrong," Buck said. "Vin's a friend and I don't like to see him beating himself up over something."
"Didn't say you did anything wrong," Buck said holding up his hand. "Just wanted to clear a few things up about Vin."
"Maybe you better not," Brick said. "He might not like it."
"Junior won't mind," Buck smiled. "Besides he knows I would have done it because I care about him."
"I guess my complaining about how restrictive Jack was is kind of stupid," Brick smiled.
"That what got Vin all relied?" Buck asked and Brick nodded. "Well you gotta realize where Vin comes from. He would have given anything to have someone worry over him. Now mind you he'd never admit this but we know he likes to feel wanted."
"Was it really bad for him?"
"Some of the foster homes he was in weren't a day on the beach," Buck said. "When he ran away life on the streets was even crueler but Vin's a fighter. He just dug in his heals and said he wasn't gonna quit. It ain't easy for him to trust or to let anyone close. The only one he really let get close is Chris."
"I kinda noticed that," Brick smiled. "Thought he was gonna kill me at lunch."
"Chris's glare is legendary," Buck laughed. "But you deserved it."
"I know," Brick admitted. "Its just Vin's way of talking is so..."
"Unusual," Buck smiled. "Well if you ever get down to Texas they all talk like that. Vin also learned early to respect his elders or get punished for it."
"How did Chris and Vin get so close?" Brick asked.
"Don't rightly know," Buck admitted. "Asked him once and he said that Chris was like his missing half. The day they met he knew they would get along."
"You think it would be me," Brick said. "I'm his twin."
"Just cause you're twins doesn't mean you gotta like each other," Buck pointed out.
"That's true," Brick sighed. "Guy wasn't my blood brother and I was really close to him."
"You just have to give Vin some time," Buck suggested. "Better yet let Vin come to you."
"What if he doesn't?"
"He will," Buck smiled. "Might not be this trip but now that he's met you I know he'll want to get to know you."
"Thanks Buck," Brick said. "I'll give Vin some space, even if it kills me."
"Well I better get some drinks and head on back to fishing," Buck said.
"Think I can come along?" Brick asked.
"Don't see why not," Buck said walking into the house.
They got drinks for everyone and walked down to the river. Brick set up down river away from Vin and next to Buck. The sound of the river was peaceful and Brick thought about what Buck said. Every once in awhile he would glance at Vin and notice him quickly look away. Buck smiled at Brick and winked. Brick realized Buck was right. He just had to go slow. Brick smiled as he concentrated on his fishing.
The next morning Vin was up with the sun. As soon as it peaked over the mountains he jumped in the shower. Chris rolled over and pulled the pillow over his head. They were supposed to be on vacation and he planned to sleep in. Vin finished his shower and quietly went out of the cabin. Vin could see he was the only one awake. He liked this early time of the morning. He slung his camera over his shoulder and walked away from the house. His wanderings took him down to the river and Vin sat behind some trees and waited to see what would come along. He didn't wait long when a small herd of deer walked to the water's edge to get a drink. Vin brought his camera up and took a few shots. The deer had no idea he was there and contentedly ate the sweet grass next to the stream. Something scared the buck that was with them and Vin watched as they jumped into the forest. Vin was surprised when a black bear walked to the stream. The bear sat down next to some bushes and started to eat. Vin brought up his camera and could see the bear was happily eating wild raspberries. Vin took a few pictures then waited. Once the bear finished the berries it wandered away in search of more food. Vin stayed concealed and was rewarded with smaller animals coming to the stream to drink. Vin's biggest surprise was when an Eagle dropped out of the sky and snagged a rabbit drinking at the waters edge. Vin got some great pictures when the Eagle perched across the stream eating its meal. After the Eagle left Vin decided to head back to the cabin and see if anyone was awake. As he got to the barn a man with brown hair wearing a flannel shirt and jeans walked out of the barn.
"Mornin' Brick," he said as he walked by. The man stopped and turned to Vin in surprise. "Wait a minute. You're not Brick. You must be that twin fella he's been goin' on about."
"My name's Vin."
"Well it's right nice to meet you. My names Walter Maddock and I'm the handy man," he said staring at Vin. "You're all Brick's talked about for the past two weeks."
"Really?" Vin said surprised.
"Yup," Walter said as he turned his head and spit tobacco juice. "He's been all fired up to try and find you but it looks like you found him. Have you talked to him yet?"
"Sorta," Vin said. "We didn't quite hit it off."
"That's a surprise," Walter said. "Brick gets along with everybody. Heck he's the only real friend I have. He got me the job here."
"Yup," Walter said. "Brick's a real friend. He might seem pushy at first but that's just his way. He's quick and feisty and knows what he wants. That's why he wanted to be a race car driver."
"Brick raced cars?" Vin asked surprised.
"Well he wanted too," Walter said. "But they would only let him change tires on the line. Brick would still be on the race circuit if Jack hadn't broke his arm a few months back. Brick stayed to help out."
"I see," Vin said. "Well it was nice to meet you Walter."
"Same here," Walter smiled. "Boy you sure do look alike."
Vin watched as Walter disappeared into the barn. Maybe Chris was right. Maybe he had been too hard on Brick. Vin walked back to the cabin to find JD and Buck getting into wet suits.
"Where ya been?" JD asked when he saw Vin. "We were waiting for you to go shoot some rapids."
"Yeah, Vin, let's get moving," Chris said coming out of the cabin.
Vin smiled and raced inside. He quickly changed into a bathing suit and pulled on the wet suit lying on the bed. When he was finished he came out to see Brick standing by the truck also in a wet suit.
"Well, brother you ready for me to show you a good time?" Brick asked.
"You bet!" Vin yelled as they piled into the truck.
It was a short ride to the drop off point for the raft. They all helped un load it and walk it to the water's edge. Brick handed out life vests and helmets. They pushed the boat into the water and climbed in. Vin took the back with Brick. Chris and Buck took the sides and JD rode in front of Buck. The first part of the river was calm and they floated in solitude occasionally paddling to keep the raft moving.
"Do you get to do this every day?" Vin asked envious.
"Not every day," Brick admitted. "Some of the guests aren't into wild adventures. Some just come to relax. Usually I give them to Jack. I like to take out the wild ones."
"Don't blame you," Buck said. "This is great."
"You haven't seen anything yet," Brick laughed.
"How long you been leading tours?" Chris asked.
"Not sure exactly," Brick admitted. "Always went with Jack when I was little. I guess I led my first tour when I was twelve."
"Why do you call your father Jack?" Vin asked.
"I don't know," Brick said with a shrug. "Everyone else did it so Guy tried it one day. Jack just smiled at him and that's when it started. I've called him Jack ever since."
"Looks like we're headed for some rough spots," JD called from the front.
Chris was impressed as Brick expertly guided them through the small rapids. He'd been out white water rafting before and a good guide was essential. Brick was confident but not cocky.
"Vin where'd you learn to ride a horse?" Brick asked. He'd decided this might be a better way to get Vin to open up. Being out with his friends.
"One of the foster homes I stayed at was a small cattle ranch in Texas," Vin answered. "I learned real quick how to help out. At first they just wanted me as another body to help with the chores. I didn't mind. I loved riding the horses and my foster dad said I was a natural."
"Why did you leave?" Brick asked.
"I stayed there about two years," Vin explained. "Second year there was a terrible storm. Half the herd was wiped out. They lost a lot of money and couldn't afford to keep me. I was sorry to leave."
Brick didn't ask any more questions for awhile. He figured he'd let Vin decide how much to tell him today. The next set of rapids they hit was a little rougher and they had a wild ride. JD was whooping and hollering in the front. When they hit the smooth areas Vin told Brick about where he lived. Brick was surprised to learn Vin lived in a bad part of Denver. Buck hit Vin with his paddle and explained to Brick that Vin stayed there to keep the children safe and out of the gangs. At least the kids in his apartment complex. Somehow this didn't surprised Brick at all. They'd been on the river for about two hours and Brick had learned more today than he'd know yesterday. He learned that Vin was a man of principle and integrity. But that he could also kick some ass as Buck told a few stories of his fighting skills. Chris glanced at Vin and could see he was happy. This had been a good idea that Jack had.
"Alright we're coming to the bad ass part of the river," Brick said. "Just around this bend are the wildest rapids on the river. We just have to keep it to the center channel and we'll have no problem."
As they rounded the bend they could see the churning water as it rushed passed submerged rocks. JD looked at Buck and gulped. Chris wasn't so sure about this either but it was too late as they entered the maelstrom. Both Vin and Brick yelled in pure delight as the raft plunged into the rapids. The others held on for dear life as the raft quickly picked up speed. Chris was now even more impressed with Brick's skills as he guided the raft. It was just bad luck as the came up from a swell and hit another boat that was caught on the rock. Their boat was flipped to the side and they were all plunged into the water. Chris came above water and frantically looked around as he tried to steer clear of the rocks. He could see another yellow helmet further down stream and when he looked harder he could see it was JD. Chris maneuvered over to him and grabbed his life vest. JD struggled but Chris held on.
"JD! It's Chris!" he yelled over the thundering water.
"Shit! Chris have you seen the others?" JD asked as he pushed away from a rock.
"No!" Chris said and just went with the ride.
After a few hairy minutes the water started to calm and they found themselves in a quiet part of the river. Chris and JD swam for the shore and were surprised to see a bunch of people there. One was a policeman and he helped them out of the water.
"Easy I got ya," he said.
"Have you seen the others?" Chris asked.
"Yeah they're coming," he laughed.
Chris turned to the water and saw the raft coming out of the rapids. Clinging to the sides were Vin, Brick and Buck. Once they were in the calm water they started swimming for shore. They beached the rafted and started laughing.
"Wooooooo!" Vin yelled and grabbed Brick lifting him off his feet. "What a rush!"
"You said it!" Brick agreed.
"I'm glad you two enjoyed it," Buck said. "That was the worst ride I've ever been on. I think I want my money back."
"Damn, Buck, you gonna take the money back from my brother?" Vin accused.
"If he was nice kin he'd give it back on his own," Buck complained and they laughed.
"You always have to put on a show don't ya?" the officer asked.
"Dale!" Brick said in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"Got a call a boat was hung up in the rapids," Dale answered. "Tried to stop others from going out but you must have been right behind them."
"Yeah they put in right before us," Vin said taking off his helmet and shaking out his hair.
"Holy shit!" Dale cursed when he saw Vin.
"I know ain't it crazy?" Brick asked.
"How?" he asked in shock.
"Vin came looking for me," Brick said. "Vin I want you to meet my best friend. Dale Goodwin I want you to meet my brother."
"Pleased to meet ya," Vin said holding out his hand.
"Same here," Dale said then noticed the blood in Vin's hair. "Hold you you're cut."
"I am?" Vin said as he reached his hand up.
"Just leave it a minute," Dale said as he pulled out his handkerchief and pressed it to the cut. "It doesn't look too bad."
"Doesn't even hurt," Vin admitted.
"Hell, Vin, you could be missing and arm and you'd say it doesn't hurt," Buck complained.
"Dale these are Vin's co-workers. Buck Wilmington, Chris Larabee and JD Dunne. They're in your line of work."
"Oh yeah," Dale smiled. "Good to meet other law enforcement people."
"Well me better get back to the ranch before Jack wonders what happened to us," Brick said.
"I'll give you a ride back to the truck," Dale said.
They watched as Brick climbed into the patrol car and he waved as Dale pulled away. The others got comfortable on the grass and watched the river. Chris sat next to Vin and checked the cut himself.
"Would you leave it," Vin batted his hand away.
"He's right it's not that bad," Chris smiled.
"You feeling better now?" Buck asked.
"Yeah," Vin smiled. "Still don't really know him but I guess that'll take time."
A few minutes later Brick returned with the truck and trailer. They loaded the raft on the trailer and secured it down. They took off the helmets and the life vests and threw them in the back of the truck. The got in a Brick headed back to the ranch. It was about three o'clock when they pulled up to the house. Leigh came out to meet them.
"Chris," she called. "A Judge Travis called while you were gone. He said it was urgent."
"Thanks," Chris said as he went into the cabin to get his cellphone.
The others went up to the house and got comfortable in the sun on the porch. Leigh could see Vin was more relaxed and that Brick wasn't bugging him with questions. She brought them out some iced tea when Chris walked up to the house.
"Got some bad news, boys," Chris said. "Travis needs us back ASAP."
"Damn!" JD cursed.
"He's booked us on a 5pm flight so we have to hustle," Chris said.
Brick watched as they all headed for their cabins. He couldn't believe it. He still didn't know anything about Vin and now he was leaving. Brick just sat back down and sulked. Leigh knew there was nothing she could say and left Brick alone. A half-hour later Buck came up to the house and sat next to Brick.
"I know you didn't get much time with Vin," Buck said.
"I sure didn't," Brick mumbled.
"Tell you what," Buck said. "Why don't you come down to Denver when you can. You can bunk with me and JD and spend sometime with Vin."
"You mean it?" Brick asked sitting up.
"Sure," Buck smiled and handed him a piece of paper with his phone number. "Vin might open up more on his own turf."
"Thanks, Buck," Brick said smiling.
The others came out of the cabins and over to the house. Leigh came out and hugged everyone but saved Vin for last.
"It was good to meet you," she said giving him a hug and a kiss.
"Same here, ma'am," Vin said flustered.
Vin and Brick stood awkwardly in front of each other not sure what to do. The others moved away to give them some privacy.
"I'm glad you came," Brick said.
"Hope we can get together again."
"I'd like that," Vin said handing Brick a piece of paper. "This is my number. Call me if you want."
"I will," Brick said and pulled Vin into a hug. "Bye."
"Bye," Vin said hugging him back.
They pulled apart and Vin walked over to the Tahoe. Chris smiled as he went towards the passenger side. Before Vin climbed in the truck he looked over at Brick and smiled. Brick waved back and Vin climbed into the truck. Buck turned to him and winked. Leigh and Brick watched as they drove away. Leigh went back into the house and Brick stayed on the porch looking down at the two pieces of paper. He smiled and knew he'd see his brother again.
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