Disclaimer: A small piece of fan fiction, written for pleasure. Though I don;t own these guys dreams are nice. This story is not intended to infringe upon the copyrights of MGM, The Mirsch Group, Trilogy, CBS, or anyone else with claims. I neither seek nor receive any profit from writing this story.
Author's Notes: Whilst I do not generally place warnings on my stories, I will on this one. As hard as I try, I cannot envisage my use of the characters not saying anything crass or for the want of a better term 'a colourful display of the English language as we have come to know it'. For this reason I will place a 'PG' rating on it. This is the first story of my series for Mag7 Alternate Universe. A lot of authors have the team working for ATF but as I am not familiar with what ATF does exactly I have them working for another organisation simply known as 'The Firm'. Here I get to be the employer and make up my own job descriptions for them .. lol
Please do not read if you are offended by the undesirable usage of language. I won't be upset if you elect not to read my story.
|It's kinda like a lost and found in a border town
Askin' bout a diamond ring
They just look at you like you've lost your mind
Say they haven't seen a thing
|"Lost and Found" by Brooks & Dunn
"Damn ya... y'all is a stubborn jackassed sonuvabitch Bickham 'n when I find ya, you's gonna be a sorry excuse fer a carcass." The bounty hunter ranted, angry with himself for letting Ethan Bickham slip through his hands for the second time in two days. "If'n ya wanna 'nother bullet in yer hide that's your problem. Ain't make much diff'rence t'me, a bounty's a bounty."
The storm that had been present for the better part of the day had hindered the tracker's progress. It had struck with a vengeance. Torrents of blinding rain marched on the now sodden ground while the wind whipped angrily at anything that dared to defy its wrath including the tracker and his elusive prey.
"That crazy sonuvabitch," Chris Larabee groused when he saw the familiar form of the young bounty hunter run past the window through the rain-laced darkness
"Who?" chorused three voices.
"Vin Tanner." Larabee grated and shoved his plate away from him. "The stupid bastard's going to get himself killed." No sooner had Chris uttered his prediction that the bounty hunter was going to meet his doom than the sound of a window erupting filled the alley. "Ahh shit!" Larabee cursed putting his beer glass onto the table and going in search of his friend.
Glass shattered from behind the saloon owned by Inez Rocillos, followed by flavoursome curses, which were punctuated by a quick retort of gunfire.
"The next one's gonna go in yer arse if'n ya don't quit runnin'." To clarify his point, Tanner fired just to the right of Bickham's retreating form shattering the plate glass window.
Bickham stopped running long enough to heed Tanner's words. He feigned surrender when he heard another voice call out.
Momentarily distracted, Vin turned his head to see Chris Larabee quickly approaching. "Whaddya want?" Vin cursed and lowered his gun arm.
That was all Bickham needed to make his bid for freedom once again. He picked up a two by four and swung it with force into his pursuer's back. He gave a satisfied grunt as he watched Tanner fall to the ground like a felled tree.
The cloth on Tanner's face was wet and cool. A lazy weakness flowed through his body, saline, warm, reassuring. He knew he had been unconscious and then he remembered what had happened. He'd heard Larabee call out to him and turned to answer him when he felt his body being knocked for a home run by the improvised bat that Bickham had wielded before collapsing in the broken glass.
His eyes snapped open and he looked up into eyes of green jade. " 'Bout time ya woke up. Figured you were set for the night."
"Aw hell, if'n I'd a known it was your ugly face I was gonna see first when I woke up I would a stayed asleep." Vin moved slightly and let his sluggish brain put things into focus. One black-clad Larabee he could handle but not two. "What happened to Bickham?"
" 'fraid he got away." An unfamiliar voice replied.
Vin cautiously opened his eyes and waited for the spots to stop moving long enough to make out who was addressing him. Unable to clear the spots he shook his head and winced at the pain the movement caused.
"Better lie still for a little while," said Chris softly, "until Nathan has a look at ya."
Tanner turned over and pushed himself up onto his hands. There was a dull throbbing in his right knee, but now that he was able to take deep breaths he felt better. "Don't need ya nurse maidin' me, Larabee, ain'tcha got better things t'do with yer time?" The tiny shards of glass from the broken window glittered brilliantly on the rain soaked asphalt pricked at the skin on his palms while larger pieces ripped into the heavy denim. "Ahhh shit! Now look what y'all made me do."
"How'd ya reckon it was my fault? You're the sorry assed excuse for a drowned rat that decided to play in the rain. You should...."
"Yeah I shoulda known better than to chase some bail-jumper down an alley when yer 'round. Second bounty ya caused me t' loose." Vin forestalled. He proceeded to brush the glass from his jeans but winced when his hands made contact with the material. "Jes' get outta my way," he continued his tirade as he finally made it to his feet, albeit unsteady.
Larabee fixed Tanner with a baleful glare. "You lost your goddamn mind?" His right hand quickly snaked out to support the weary bounty hunter.
Tanner glared at the blonde agent, trying to conjure up a properly scathing barrage of profanity. He shook free from Larabee's grasp and accepted his gun back from the young man standing next to Chris. "Thanks, JD."
"You know me?" JD Dunne asked in surprise.
"Yeah, know all of ya. Well not personal like but damn near. Larabee shoots his mouth off about y'all every chance he gets, tellin' me he's got himself some fancy team."
Five pairs of eyes turned their gaze from Vin to their boss.
"So I might have mentioned it in passing." Larabee glared at Tanner.
Vin pulled back the clip on his gun ejecting the wasted shells and studied the alley for possible hiding places. "Yeah, well while y'all is tryin' t'dig yerself outta your hole I've got me a bounty t'find."
"No you ain't. You're hurt. What you are going to do is let Nathan check you over."
Vin scuffed at the dirt with the pointed toe of his boot and cocked his head to one side as if searching for a suitable retort to Larabee's order. "Ain'tcha got enough people to boss about 'cowboy'?" Truth was Vin was feeling ill and wanted nothing more than to lay down somewhere. It irked him to lose a bounty and he wasn't prepared to let Bickham slip thorugh his fingers.
"Hey stud, did he just call you a cowboy?" Buck asked of Chris and jerked his thumb in Vin's direction.
"Insolent sonuvabitch ain't he." Larabee said, the corners of his mouth turning up into a wry smile.
"As I recall, the last person that labelled you a cowboy ingested his dietary requirements through a straw for the proceeding six weeks after encountering a certain affliction." A southern voice drawled.
Vin rubbed his eyes and sighed. "Without a doubt you gotta be Ezra, so y'all mind translatin' what ya said."
"He said that the last person that called Chris a cowboy received a broken jaw for his troubles." Josiah's baritone voice rumbled.
"Well the cowboy can try but I got me a bounty t'find." Vin spun on his heel and slowly ambled down the alley.
"You're not going to find squat down there." Larabee called after the reticent bounty hunter. "He'll be long gone by now."
Vin ignored Chris's protests and continued his search.
"Wait up," Nathan called and moved off to catch up with Vin. "I don't want him moving around too much in his condition." He offered in explanation to Larabee.
"And where are you going?" Chris asked the rest of his team.
"Someone's gotta keep an eye on Nathan." Josiah grinned.
"And I'm going to keep Josiah company."
"Well you ain't goin' anywhere without me." Buck called after JD. "You attract trouble like ants to a honey-pot."
"Well?" Chris asked when Ezra followed behind Buck.
"Civic duty?" Ezra returned and shrugged his shoulders.
The black clad man shook his head, withdrew his weapon form his holster and followed his team. "Damn sorry arsed tracker now you've got my whole team following you." He lamented.
Nathan Jackson thought he'd heard a noise off to his left and turned to investigate. Convinced that it was Vin's bounty he pushed a crate aside and stopped abruptly when he came face to face with the cold steel barrel of Bickham's gun. "That's close enough," he heard a voice snarl. "Drop your gun." Nathan swallowed and dropped his gun drawing the attention of Vin Tanner.
Vin used the darkened areas to his advantage and moved with catlike grace across the alley. "I wouldn't if'n I was you." Tanner said and stepped into the light his gun drawn and centred at Bickham's forehead. "Bounty said dead or alive." He added for effect.
Cold inside with apprehension Bickham shifted his gaze to Tanner and then back to Nathan, cocking the hammer of his gun. "If I go down, he goes down with me. One more murder rap ain't gonna make a gnat's tit worth of difference anyhow. Say bye-bye to your friend Tanner."
Vin saw the sweat bead on Nathan's top lip as the sight piece of the gun was ground into the Paramedic's head. He shut out all the sounds around him and concentrated on finding his mark. In the split second it had taken for Bickham to pull the trigger to end Nathan's life Vin had pushed the healer from the line of fire and shot Bickham in the centre of his skull.
Nathan had started a quick descent to the ground when he saw Vin's intentions
and gulped when he heard the sudden retort of gunfire. He watched with heart-felt thanks as Bickham's life was ended and his own saved. Still shaken from his near death experience he hadn't seen Vin crumple to the ground.
He could hear his own voice with a peculiar detachment. A voice warped out of its normal pitch. "I'm fine." Vin said. He was cold and yet he was sweating.
The storm that had been present during day seemed to be dispersing, grumbling off to the north-east. The wind had quietened and except for an occasional spattering flurry the rain had all but stopped. Vin was tormented by the rain's raw chill.
As his consciousness ebbed and flowed he thought about what had happened. He saw again in his mind the replay of events. Bickham preparing to take yet another life. A life that meant nothing to Bickham. But in the few short moments had come to mean a great deal to Tanner. Nathan had put his own life on the line to help Tanner take down his bounty. They all had. Definitely not something that Vin was used to. He watched again as Bickham pulled the trigger. It was odd. He had come down the alley thinking it would be himself against Bickham. Now he stood with a man who had been nothing more than a stranger to him, on the same side, both slated for sure death.
He wondered vaguely if Nathan had gotten away as the pain in his shoulder now subsided to a dull, continuous ache. The shadow of a thought, a nebulous ghost-whisper, scraped the rim of his mind as he watched the activity around him.
"Take it easy Vin." Larabee said. "The ambulance is on its way."
It was no longer a shadow, a ghost-whisper. It was a voice of certainty. Safety. There was a roaring blackness all around him. And then there was a light, a blinding brilliance that carried him upward with an ever-increasing velocity ... upwards into an all-consuming oblivion then nothing, neither pain nor consciousness.
"Was wondering when you were going to wake up." A familiar voice wafted through the drug-induced fog that had enveloped his mind. "Shhhh. Just be quiet or you'll get us all thrown out of here."
"Hey cowboy." Vin's voice rasped. "Ain't y'all gotta home of yer own to go to?"
"Well that's gratitude for ya. We stay up here half the night with you and you tell us to go home." Chris grinned and eased the straw into Vin's mouth for him to drink.
Vin motioned that he'd had enough water but Chris didn't seem to listen. After what felt like a great effort Vin finally got free of the straw. "I ain't no damn fish, Larabee."
"Sorry, did you say something?"
"And I didn't say you had t'go home. Just was askin' y'all if'n ya had one or not."
Vin moved to get into a more comfortable position and felt the older man's hands push him back down. "Turn off the glare Larabee. That shit don't scare me none."
"Boy's got guts." Commented Buck, pulling JD out of harms way.
Unfazed by Vin's comment Chris grinned. "Thought I might take the boys on out to your place."
"So long as y'all feed the horses I don't care what ya do." Vin yawned.
Nathan stepped forward and placed his hand on Vin's right forearm, avoiding the IV that was inserted near his wrist. "There aren't any words to say what I want to. You risked your life for me."
"It was worth it." Vin forestalled. He watched Nathan bob his head as if searching for the right words to say. "You're welcome." He added effectively ending Nathan's embarrassment over the lack of right words to say. His eyes were getting heavy and he blinked owlishly trying to stay awake.
"C'mon we better let Sleeping Beauty get some sleep. There'll be plenty of time to catch up later on." Chris ushered his team out the doorway, pausing to look back at Vin. "See you in the morning cowboy."
"Watch yer back." Answered a drawled voice.
~ Three weeks later ~
"Sure is a nice spot you've got here Vin." JD Dunne commented taking in the vista from the wrap-around verandah of Vin's home.
Vin sat next to the young agent and pulled the tear tab back on his can of coke. "Yeah, I like it. Been meanin' to get some more work down on the barn but haven't had much time lately."
"Larabee's had me studyin' those manuals. Says I gotta know how 'The Firm' operates if'n I wanna take him up on his job offer."
JD's face lit up like a child at Christmas caught by the awe and magic of the season. "You mean it? You're going to come and work with us?"
Five expectant faces joined JD, waiting for Tanner's answer.
"Reckon I might. Once the 'Doc' gives me the okay to go back to work." Vin answered casting a glance at Nathan.
"You give that shoulder of yours 'nother week to heal and we'll talk." Grinned Nathan.
"'Nother week huh?" Vin asked gently rotating his left shoulder. "I'll think on it some."
Larabee pulled Vin into a gentle embrace and patted his back. "Welcome to the team, cowboy. Feel like you've found where you belong now?"
During Vin's recovery following the shooting, Chris had offered the former bounty hunter a position on his team. They'd spoken at length about where Vin's life was heading and how he felt lost and couldn't find the right direction to take. Now he had a future. A future filled with promise and six friends that in time would become a family for him.
"Yeah, cowboy... ain't lost no more." Vin smiled and drank in the warmth and kinship his new family offered.
It's kinda like a lost and found in a border town
Askin' bout a diamond ring
They just look at you like you've lost your mind
Say they haven't seen a thing
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