ATF Alternate Universe
The weekend rolled around and they found themselves again at the Faire. Saturday went the same as many of the other days with everything going fine. On Sunday Philip was in a good mood and greeted them with a wave. Chris just smiled thinking it was going to be fun taking him down. They all got dressed and waited to see what Ezra would wear. They saw Molly first and she was dressed in a silk gown the color of pale wheat and trimmed in brown. Vin bet Ezra would be in brown to match the trim on Molly's dressed. Buck said there was no way Ezra would dress in brown. It just wasn't showy enough. They didn't have to wait long and Vin was right. Ezra's silk doublet was a rich sable color that brought out the chestnut color in his hair. His leggings and cloak were the same color as Molly's dress. The huge amber broach holding his cloak in place glowed in the sun. This doublet didn't have the puffed and slit sleeves they were used to seeing him in. This one was a close fitting one that showed of the southerner's physique. Thigh high boots finished the outfit, as did the sword buckled at his waist. Ezra received appreciative catcalls from a number of the women. Vin held out his hand and Buck handed him twenty dollars. Ezra noticed the exchange as he came closer.
"Really Vin, if you are going to wager with Buck please inform me ahead of time," Ezra said hurt. "I like to bet on sure things."
"Ha, ha very funny," Buck said glaring at him.
"Morning boys," Molly said as she walked over.
"Boy, Molly, that color looks great on you," JD said.
"Why thank you JD,' she smiled.
"Yup it sure does," Buck agreed. "Makes that pretty brown hair of yours really stand out."
"You boys better stop before I'm forced to take you home with me," she laughed. "Your good for my ego."
"You can take me home anytime darlin' " Buck said giving her a wolfish grin. "I don't eat much."
"Yeah right," she said as she walked away.
The first joust at eleven was a scorcher. The temperature was 95 degrees and Nathan was a nervous wreck. Since it was so hot Vin and Chris had white surcoats thrown over their armor. The joust was a success and the crowd cheered as loud as ever. Micah made an announcement the because of the temperature the knights wouldn't be able to stay after the joust. There were a few boo's but everyone understood. Nathan followed them to the corrals and hovered as Chris and Vin dismounted. JD unbuckled Vin's helmet and helped him pull it off. His hair was plastered to his head. The heat had curled his hair and one curl was stuck to his cheek. Chris wasn't much better but at least his hair was short. Philip and Taylor were just as sweaty.
"Here drink this," Nathan said handing them all bottles of water.
They drink it greedily, as their armor was unbuckled. Once the armor was off JD helped Vin out of the chain mail. The only way out of the snug mail was to bend over at the waist with your hands above you head. JD grabbed the chain mail at shoulders as Vin squirmed out of it. Once that was off he pulled the padded gambison over his head and was left with a lightweight tunic. JD threw the fifty-pound chain mail over the fence and went to help Chris.
"Damn it's hot today," Vin said as he dunked his head in the water trough.
"Yeah," Taylor agreed. "The joust this afternoon shouldn't be as bad."
"I hope so," Chris said. "At least the arena will be in shade this afternoon."
"How do you feel?" Nathan asked in concern. "Are any of you dizzy or feeling sick?"
"No I'm alright," Taylor said. "I'm used to it."
"Me too," Phillip said.
"I'm alright Nathan," Chris said as he turned to Vin.
"I'm fine!" Vin growled. "Actually I'm hungry. I'm going to get a quick shower and something to eat."
"Yeah me too," JD said. "Well not the shower but definitely something to eat."
"Didn't those two just finish breakfast?" Taylor asked.
"Doesn't matter," Chris said as he watched them walk away. "Nathan do you think he should be eating?"
"Yeah his blood sugar is probably down," Nathan said. "If he wasn't feeling alright he wouldn't want to eat. That would have had me more worried. Now the rest of you."
"Drink plenty of water!" they cried in unison.
Nathan grumbled about them being ungrateful and sweeping away from them with his robe billowing out behind him.
After they got something to eat Chris, JD and Vin dressed in their black leather outfits and wandered around the Faire. Since this would be their last weekend they were going to have some fun. Philip went back to his cabin and was surprised to find LeBroc sitting at the small table.
"Jean-Pierre what are you doing here?" he asked.
"I wanted to get a look at Mr. Simpson's before we did business," LeBroc said.
"Ya think that's wise?"
"Why shouldn't it be? Simpson never seen me before," LeBroc answered. "Besides even if he did he'd never recognize me in this."
LeBroc was dressed as a leper. He was in a ragged, dirty tunic and a hood covered his head. Philip smiled as he followed LeBroc to the main area of the faire. Jean-Pierre rang his bell and called out leper as he walked and people moved out of his way. Philip saw Ezra up ahead and grabbed LeBroc and pretended to drag him away.
"There he is," Philip said pointing Ezra out.
"Which one?" he asked.
"The one in the brown silk doublet."
LeBroc watched as Ezra talked to a knight dressed in black. The knight turned and LeBroc thought he recognized him. He walked a little closer to get a better look and cursed.
"Shit! That's Chris Larabee."
"Who?" Philip asked confused.
"That blond knight dressed in black is a damned ATF agent," LeBroc growled as he walked away.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah I'm sure," LeBroc said as he kept walking. "This whole thing must be a set up. I hate being double crossed."
"What should we do?"
"I want to make them pay for trying to take me down," LeBroc sneered.
"I have an idea," Philip smiled.
Philip outlined his plan to Jean-Pierre who agreed. When all the details were worked out LeBroc left and Philip got to work.
Chris, Vin and JD made their way to the corrals to get ready for the afternoon joust. They found Anthony saddling the horses and Vin gave him a hand. When they were finished JD helped Vin into his armor. Taylor and Philip showed up and Anthony went to help them.
The crowd started gathering for the joust at 5:30 pm. Maggie the fishmonger was teaching her side of the arena how to cheer for the black nights. Every once in a while you could hear the crowd yell "Blood and gore we want more" or "Taylor, Taylor he's our man if he can't impale them no one can". They could tell when the King arrived by the loud shouting of "Huzzah"!
"There's our cue," Taylor said.
They mounted and moved towards the gate. They waited for the King to announce them and Taylor cantered out followed by Philip.
"I'm gonna miss this," Vin said as he lowered his visor.
"Yeah me too," JD agreed.
"Look at it this way," Chris said. "We got to have fun for awhile and we get to take down a scumbag."
"That's true," JD laughed.
"Come on lets kick their butts!" Vin declared.
They pushed open the gates and charged out. Half the crowd cheered while the other booed. The Black Knights did their usual taunts and JD fought with Anthony. Chris and Philip jousted against each other and Chris won. Philip knew he couldn't stick around for what was going to happen next.
"Anthony I think my horse is limping," Philip said. "I'm going to take him in back."
"Alright I can handle everything here," he assured him
Philip led his horse in the back while Vin and Taylor got ready to joust. Nathan waited on the side with Chris and helped him out of his armor. They watched as Vin taunted Taylor by circling him as he received his blessing form the King. Taylor's side of the crowd booed when Vin pushed his horse against Taylor's. The Master of the List was forced to separate them. They went to different ends of the arena and the squires handed them each a lance. When the signal was given Vin's horse reared and let out a loud whinny. When his feet hit the ground the horse charged forward. This always made the crowd go wild and Nathan held his breath when both lanced hit the mark and broke with loud cracks. They were both awarded a point and returned to their sides. They were each handed another lance and waited. The signal was given and they charged Taylor hit Vin directly on the shoulder piece and everyone watched in horror, as the lance didn't break like it was supposed to. There were screams from the crowd as Vin was violently thrown from his horse to land on his back and lay still.
"Shit!" Chris cursed as he raced towards Vin.
JD reached him first but didn't know what to do. Vin was encased in armor and it was impossible to tell what was wrong. The only thin JD could see was blood dripping from Vin's nose. Chris was soon there along with Nathan.
"We have to get his helmet off first," Nathan said. "This way I can stabilize his head while we get the rest of the armor off."
Chris vaguely registered the fact that Micah and the other performers were clearing the crowd from the arena. Nathan grabbed the helmet on either side of Vin's head and held it steady while JD tried to unbuckle it. Once it was unbuckled Nathan had Chris hold it just as he did. Nathan moved to Vin's side and tried to get his hands inside the helmet so he could hold Vin's head as Chris pulled it off.
"OK Chris, I got him," Nathan said. "Now gently ease it off."
While they were doing this paramedics arrived. Micah always kept an ambulance at the faire in case of an emergency. When they saw Nathan was trying to get off the helmet they pulled out a C-collar and backboard from the unit. Josiah, Buck and Ezra were talking with Taylor. Micah was standing by Vin. Chris finally slipped the helmet off to reveal Vin's bloody face. The paramedics moved in to place the C-collar around his neck.
"Let's get this breast plate off," Nathan said.
"We're going to need wire cutters for the chain mail," Chris said.
"I'll get some," Anthony said as he raced away.
The female paramedic checked Vin's breathing and his reaction to light. She jotted the information on a chart and went to check his pulse.
"I checked already," said her partner. "It's 105 and thready."
She wrote that down as they eased the breastplate off just as Anthony returned with the cutters.
"Here........ya..........go," he said breathlessly.
Chris was given the job of holding Vin's head steady while the female paramedic cleaned the blood from around Vin's nose before applying the oxygen mask. Buck walked over to Chris and knelt down.
"Taylor said his lance was replaced with one of the kind that doesn't break on impact," Buck told him. "He's not sure how it happened they're usually tagged and kept separate."
"Where's Philip?" Chris asked looking at Buck.
"Damn, you think he did this?"
"You know he had a grudge against Vin."
"Come on Kid let's go find him."
JD reluctantly went with Buck. They finally cut Vin out of the chain mail and the gambeson underneath. The paramedics checked him over and found his right collarbone was broken as well as the first three ribs on his right side. They strapped Vin to a backboard and started an IV. When the paramedics had him packaged they loaded him into the ambulance.
"You go with Vin," Nathan said. "We'll meet you there."
Chris climbed into the ambulance and Ezra helped Josiah close the doors. They watched as the ambulance sped away.
When they reached the hospital Chris helped them get Vin out of the ambulance and wheeled inside. They pushed Vin into the ER and Chris stopped at the doors. He watched as the doctors began to check Vin. Chris wandered over to the nurses station to get the get the paper work to fill out. The occupants of the waiting room gave Chris a strange look. He couldn't blame them he was still dressed in the chain mail. Nathan, Josiah and Ezra found him sitting in the waiting room filling out the paper work.
"Any word?" Nathan asked.
"Nothing yet," Chris said. "Vin was coughing up blood just before we got to the hospital."
"I'm not surprised," Nathan said. "He was hit pretty hard. Probably bruised his lung."
"Buck and JD find Philip?" Chris asked.
"No,' Josiah said. "He was gone by the time they got there. Micah gave them his home address."
"However we did apprehend Corey." Ezra stated as he looked around the waiting room. "These people act as if they've never seen a Duke before."
Chris smiled. He knew what Ezra was trying to do. They did make an odd group and Chris didn't blame people for staring. It wasn't every day you saw a knight, a Saracen, a fancy dressed noble and Little John in a hospital waiting room.
"So what did Corey have to say?" Chris asked as he finished the forms.
"Nothing substantial I'm afraid," Ezra said. "Philip was the main contact with LeBroc. Corey was just a gopher."
"But to save his own skin he confessed that Philip threatened to hurt Vin," Nathan added.
"All because Vin was getting the attention," Josiah said shaking his head.
"I don't think it was only that," Chris disagreed.
"Well unless Buck and JD catch Philip we'll never know," Nathan said.
"Did they take back up?" Chris asked concerned.
"Yeah, they called it in, "Josiah assured him. "Team Two was going with them."
"Chris," Maria called. She was the duty nurse and she was familiar with the team. "Finished with those papers?"
"Yeah," Chris said handing them to her. "You'd think the hospital would have enough copies the amount of times Vin's been here."
"Can I help it if the hospital thrives on paper work?" she asked with a smile as she walked away.
They remained in the waiting room for word on Vin. They each tried to keep busy but it was no use. Chris looked up at the clock on the wall. They had been at the hospital for an hour and Chris was starting to get worried about Buck and JD. He knew Buck could take care of himself but he hated not knowing what was going on. Chris stood up and began to pace.
"What's taking them so long?" Chris demanded.
"Patience brother," Josiah said. "Vin's in good hands."
Chris was about to storm the nurse's station when he saw a doctor walking towards them.
"Mr. Larabee?" he asked.
"I'm Dr. Ladd sorry I didn't come out sooner," he apologized. "I had to wait for the orthopedic resident to examine Mr. Tanner."
"And?" Ezra asked impatiently.
"Mr. Tanner has a broken right collar bone," he began. "And the first three ribs on the right side as well. The impact bruised his right lung and he was extremely lucky one of the ribs didn't puncture it. This is what caused him to cough up the blood. He'll have to be on oxygen treatments and pain meds for the next few days."
"But?" Nathan asked sensing something more.
"What has me most worried is the concussion," he continued. "We're going to run a CAT Scan and a few other tests. They're going to take a few hours if you want to come back."
"No we'll wait, "Chris said.
"Alright," Dr. Ladd said. "I'll let you know what's going on as soon as I can."
Chris and the others got comfortable as they began their vigil.
At 11:00 pm Buck and JD quietly entered Vin's room. They found Josiah asleep in his chair. Micah had come by earlier and brought them their clothes. Chris was sitting next to Vin when they walked in. The sharpshooter was in a reclining position and his upper body was wrapped in bandages. His right arm was securely strapped to his chest. Covering his mouth and nose was an oxygen mask. Buck could see both of Vin's eyes were black. JD looked at Chris in concern when he saw Vin was having a little trouble breathing. The beeping of the EKG monitor was the only noise in the room.
"How's he doing?" Buck asked.
"Couple of broken rib, busted collar bone and a concussion," Chris answered. "Doc said he was lucky the broken ribs didn't puncture his lung. He also said Vin has a really hard head but he's going to be out for a few days."
"Hell I could have told them Vin has a hard head," Buck smiled.
As they were talking Vin started coughing. Chris quickly moved to his side and removed the oxygen mask. JD became alarmed when he saw the blood as Chris wiped Vin's mouth. The nurse came in to see if everything was all right. The EKG had registered a fast heartbeat and she came to check. When the coughing fit was over Chris put the oxygen mask back on Vin. The nurse checked him over and saw everything was all right and left the room.
"You sure he's OK Chris?" JD asked in concern.
"Brother Vin's lungs got knocked around JD," Josiah said. "The Doc said he'd be fine in a couple of days with quiet and bed rest."
"Well the concussion will help keep him quiet," Buck laughed.
"Where's Nathan and Ezra?" JD asked.
"Went to get something to eat," Chris replied. "What happened with Philip?"
"We got him," Buck said. "He was at his house packing his bags."
"Did he say anything?" Chris demanded.
"At first he wouldn't talk," JD smiled. "But then Buck played bad cop and he spilled his guts."
"Yup he started singing like a canary," Buck grinned. "He gave us LeBroc's whole operation."
"That's great Buck," Chris said. "LeBroc's probably moved everything but we still have to check it out."
"Don't worry Chris," Josiah said. "Me and the boys will get the ball rolling, you just stay with Vin."
"Yeah, Junior should have someone here," Buck agreed.
"Alright but I'll be going on the bust," Chris said.
"Figured as much," Buck smiled. "We'll grab Ezra and Nathan on our way out and get started."
"It's almost midnight," Chris pointed out. "Go home and get some sleep."
They didn't bother suggesting he do the same. Josiah told him to at least try to get some sleep. After they were gone Chris checked Vin and saw he was the same. He took a seat and tried to get comfortable, which was impossible in these chairs. He leaned his head back with a sigh thinking it was going to be a long night.
Three days later Chris walked into the hospital and up to Vin's room. The duty nurse saw him go by and stopped him.
"Mr. Larabee," she called. "Good news. Mr. Tanner finally woke up. The doctor is checked him over now."
"Thanks," Chris said as he continued down the hall.
He entered to see Dr. Ladd listening to Vin's lungs with the stethoscope. Vin still looked like hell but at least his eyes were open. He moved closer to the bed and Vin realized he was there. He gave Chris his patented lopsided grin.
"Hey Chris," he said weakly.
"Good morning Mr. Larabee," Dr. Ladd said.
"Doc," Chris said in greeting. "How's he doing."
"He's doing fine," he smiled. "His lungs are clearing up and as you can see he decided to wake up. I'm going to run some tests just to make sure." "Thanks," Chris said.
"I'll go order those test," Dr. Ladd said as he walked out.
"So how ya feeling?" Chris asked.
Vin smiled but didn't give his usual answer. "Everything hurts," he said. "Especially when I breathe. What happened?"
"LeBroc came to check out Ezra," Chris explained. "He recognized me."
"How?" Vin asked. He tried to move into a more comfortable position and cried out as his ribs pinched.
"Can't you be still?" Chris scolded. "I don't know how LeBroc recognized me, but he wanted to pay us back for trying to catch him. Philip decided to go after you."
"That was mighty nice of him," Vin smiled. "What about LeBroc?"
"Well we caught Philip and he spilled his guts about everything," Chris answered. "We busted into LeBroc's warehouse but it was empty,"
"Damn, he got away," Vin sighed. "Maybe next time."
"Yeah next time," Chris agreed.