Thwart and Amend

by Kris

ATF Virtual Season Episode

Disclaimer: These boys are not mine, I just send them on dangerous missions, those that own them keep them to themselves, I share. Thanks to Mog for a great Universe.

Chris Larabee pulled into the gas station figuring that it would be cheaper to get here before going up to the lake. He was looking forward to meeting Vin Tanner, fellow ATF agent and best friend, for a three day fishing trip. He used his ATM card and got the pump started, then walked inside to get a drink. Picking up a coke for himself and Dr. Pepper for Vin, he headed for the register when he saw a man run out of the backroom followed by an identical twin. The first man yelled, "Help me."

Chris called out, "Hey?" As he turned to give aid he felt a sharp pain at the back of his head and that was the last thing he was aware of.

+ + + + + + +

Doctor Cummings filled the syringe and rolled over the patient. He placed the needle at the base of the back of the neck and emptied it. He spoke over his shoulder as he waited for the drug to take effect. "He saw the Dr. Ganter and our man. When our double takes his place, I don't want anybody to remember anything out of the ordinary about the man. We can't afford to lose that two million dollar research grant, and we would if the real Ganter spoke."

The nurse nodded, then asked, "What did you give him?"

"Curare, it paralyzes the body, simulates a stroke perfectly. Tomorrow he will have a fatal one." The doctor smiled, pleased that his plans won't have to be altered.

The nurse went to the window and gave a thumbs up to the mechanic below. They did this twice a day. She sat back down and picked up her book.

Dr. Cummings said as he prepared to leave, "Please stay with him the entire time." Dora nodded.

+ + + + + + +

Vin Tanner waited at the bait shack he was to meet Chris at. He was worried about him, he was never two hours late. He backtracked the route Chris would of used, thinking maybe he had car trouble. When he pulled into the little town of Skylar, he checked the gas station and saw Chris' truck sitting in an auto repair bay. He parked his jeep and asked the mechanic, "where's the owner of that truck?"

The mechanic turned slowly and said, "Oh, you'd better talk with the Doc."

"Doc? Is he hurt?" Vin exclaimed sharply.

"It's the house at the end of the street." He pointed at the old Tudor house.

Vin jumped in his jeep and drove quickly down the street.

The mechanic picked up the phone as Vin left.

Vin raced into the house, calling out, "Doc?"

A just past middle aged man, the size of Ezra, entered the front room. "Can I help you young man?"

The garage mechanic said my friend was here," Vin explained.

"Oh, Mr. Larabee?"

"Yes, that's him. Is he okay?"

"Well, I sorry young fella, but it's very serious, he had a stroke," the Doctor informed him.

Vin blanched, Chris dying? He asked his fear, "Is he gonna die?"

"Very strong possibility."

"Can I see him?" Vin's voice quivered.

"Yes, follow me." The older man led him down the hall to a back room.

Vin couldn't believe what he saw, Chris lying so still, eyes open, but so unmoving. Vin put his hand on Chris' chest and said to him, "Chris, I'm here, it's Vin." Vin received no response from the still figure on the bed, not even an eye blink.

From right behind him, Vin heard, "Doesn't seem to be making any improvement."

Vin looked crestfallen, and asked in a sad voice, "Okay if I sit with him?"

"Yes, certainly young fella."

Vin spent several hours at Chris' side as a nurse sat reading in the room. Vin had been staring for so long, remembering his life with Chris, when he thought he saw a finger twitch. He stood and looked down at Chris, watching for some sign that it wasn't his imagination at play. Vin smiled at Chris and saw eye movement.

Folks have often talked of the 'Larabee Stare', a certain look Chris would use to subdue those around him and Vin was sure he just caught a glimpse of it here. Why would Chris give him the warn him...... hummmm..... why...... Vin stared at Chris intently. Again a slight eye movement and with their silent communication bond, Vin understood more.

Something wasn't right, best not say anything to the nurse about what he saw. He did turn and ask, "When will his family be arriving?"

The nurse looked up from the book she was reading, flustered, "His family?"

"Hell, you haven't notified them yet? Oh my gawd. May I use the phone?"

The Doctor walked in and Dora, the nurse spoke quietly to him. "Mr. Larabee's friend asked if his family has been notified yet?"

"I'm sorry, we neglected that. We had several emergencies at once and it completely slipped my mind. Here use that phone over there." Pointing to the table next to the nurse.

Vin pulled out Ezra's cellphone number from his wallet. Figured Ez would catch on quickly, hopefully. He heard the click and spoke before Ezra could say his automatic 'Standish'.

"Ezra Larabee, please. It's an emergency."

Ezra recognized Tanner's voice, and the worry in it was tangible and he had asked for Ezra Larabee.

"This is Ezra Larabee. Who am I speaking with?" Ezra said aloud.

"This is Vin Tanner, and I am your brother's fishing guide. He has had a stroke and the Doc says he could die." Vin's voice cracked on the last word. He had heard Ezra's in drawn breath at his words. "I think you and his son, JD should get up here as soon as possible. You really don't have much time."

Ezra knew there was a whole lot more going on, but assumed that it wasn't safe to talk. "Thank you Mr. Tanner, I know you and my brother are good friends. I will contact our father also, where are you?"

Vin looked to the Doctor, he had stayed for the entire conversation. "Skylar." He then gave the directions that Vin passed on to Ezra.

"We should be there by early evening. Thank you for calling us." Ezra broke the connection.

The Doctor patted Vin on the shoulder, then left the room. He went to the kitchen, picked up the phone and pressed two numbers. "Bradley?" He asked.

"Everything sounded just as it should," Bradley replied.

"Okay, we must be careful."

+ + + + + + +

Ezra closed his cellphone thoughtfully. He flipped it back open and called Buck.


"Trouble. JD there?" Ezra said without preamble.


"Call Nathan, I'll call Josiah. We meet at your place, thirty minutes." Ezra disconnected, then pushed in a new set of numbers. "Josiah, trouble."

Twenty eight minutes later Ezra pulled up in front of the Cesspool, the not so affectionate name of the apartment that Buck and JD shared. He walked in quickly to be greeted by three worried men and he knew that Josiah would be there soon. The thought no sooner left his mind when Josiah's SUV pulled up and he parked in the red.

Ezra announced before they were even seated, "Chris is in trouble. Vin called and addressed me as Ezra Larabee, Chris brother. He asked for JD, his son, and I to come up as Chris wasn't expected to live due to his stroke....... no, I don't what is real. He called himself a fishing guide. That's all I know, except that we need to get there quick to rescue our friends."

They tossed about ideas and Ezra asked, "Say, Buck, can you drive a big-rig?"

"You betcha."


Nathan smiled and told Ezra and JD, "I think you guys need a chauffeur due to the extreme worry and all." His smile indicated that he was on the same wavelength as Ezra. A way to get them all into Skylar.

Four hours later, a big-rig truck with 'We Love Chaquita Bananas' painted on the side, drove through downtown Skylar. As the rig hit the edge of town, two blocks later, a big pop sounded, indicating a flat tire and the driver swerved pulling off to the side of the road. The mustached driver got out cussing up a storm. "Hells, bells, a flat."

The garage mechanic trotted over to the truck driver. "Need any help, mister?"

Buck looked up and said, "no thanks, jes a flat. It's a bitch, but I can do it." Buck flashed him a quick smile, then turned back to the lug nuts.

The mechanic nodded his head and went back to his shop.

Forty minutes later a limo pulled up in front of the Doctor's place. The Doc watched as a black chauffeur jumped out of the car and quickly opened the back door behind him, then hurried around to the other side. An older, gray haired man got out of the limo and beckoned for a younger man to follow.

A well dressed man exited from the first door opened. He pointed to the house and the three men headed to the front door. The chauffeur waited by the car.

The Doctor opened the door as Ezra was about to knock, "You must be Mr. Larabee's family. Please come in. I'm Dr. Cummings." He ushered them in to the front room. "I'm sorry, but the prognosis is not good, we can only hope he goes peacefully. I need to examine him again before you can see him. You won't have to wait long." The Doctor walked to the back of the house.

Vin exited the room shortly after the Dr. Cummings went back in. Vin put a finger to his mouth, requesting they be careful what they say. He said aloud, "Nice to see you again Mr. Larabee, Chris isn't looking to good. I'm sure he'll be happy to see you all." Vin shrugged to let them know that he really didn't know a lot.

+ + + + + + +

Outside, Buck was working on the flat tire as the lug wrench came down wrong and gashed his arm. The wound started bleeding profusely, and he cussed up a storm.

The mechanic having kept an eye on the trucker was aware right away of the injury and rushed over to offer his help, but the black chauffeur got to the injured man first. "You need to see the Doc." The mechanic looked as if he intended to take the injured person himself, but the driver indicated that he already had hold of him. He guided Buck over to the doctor's house and rang the doorbell.

Dr. Cummings opened the door and indicated with his hand for the injured man to come in. The mechanic headed back out to the street. As the doctor turned around from the closed door, Josiah came from behind and used a choke hold to subdue him, finally bringing him to unconsciousness. Josiah deposited the body on the couch as Ezra tied his hands then his feet and gagged him.

Ezra, JD and Vin quickly entered the room that Chris was in. Before the nurse realized what was happening, Vin and JD had subdued her. They gagged her and tied her hands and feet to the chair.

Nathan came in and went directly over to Chris. Vin stood next to him, checking out his eyes. "He looks more out of it right now. Before he could move his eyes." Vin was worried, maybe something was really wrong.

"I think he's been recently drugged. We'll just have to wait a bit and see." He wrapped Buck's arm with a false bandage, for when he had to go back outside.

Ezra looked over to Josiah, "Hey, Josiah give me your phone," Josiah handed it over to Ezra and he just passed it along to Nathan. "Mr. Jackson, plug my laptop into one and I call with some name to look up. Don't believe that the phone lines here are secure."

"Don't ya think it would be a good idea if we knock these two out?" Vin asked of Nathan.

Nathan nodded, "Show me his meds." Nathan picked something that would keep the two out for eight hours.

To avoid suspicion, Nathan left the house and headed straight for the limo. The mechanic stopped him, "Seems like the Doc is having problems with that truck driver." Feeling out what the chauffeur might know.

"Eew, there was blood everywhere. The doctor called it a bleeder. Was wrapping it up as I was leaving."

Mechanic mumbled, "okay then..." and headed back to his place.

+ + + + + + +

"Well, gentlemen, we need a plan. The real Mr. Larabee will be unable to help for several hours. We need to figure out a way for us to get him out of here." Ezra wanted to just grab Chris and leave.

Vin volunteered, "Doc was sure he was gonna die tomorrow. Told two folks over the phone. So why don't we have an undertaker drive him out."

"That would still mean we would have to hang here 'till tomorrow." Josiah turned and looked at Ezra, running his eyes up and down his person. "Ezra, you're about the same size as the doc, and you brought your stuff. Masquerade as him. Did you get enough of his voice to mimic?"

Ezra walked over to the unconscious form and viewed him carefully. Then in a perfect imitation, "You must be Mr. Larabee's family. I'm Dr. Cummings." Ezra smiled as he knew he hit it perfect.

JD shook his head, "Gee, Ez, if I didn't see that fellow out on the couch there, I'd swear that it was him that done the talking."

Ezra walked out the front door and signaled the chauffeur that he wanted his briefcase. Nathan opened the back door of the limo and retrieved a large briefcase. He was walking up the driveway when the mechanic intercepted him. "I'll run that in for you."

Nathan looked back at the man seriously, "Mr. Larabee wouldn't want anyone else to be touching his work papers." Nathan had noticed that mechanic had been real involved with Buck before he went into the house. The mechanic nodded and back off, but stood there watching. Nathan went inside and the door closed behind him.

They all headed for the room that Chris was in, Vin stood at the side closest to Chris, looking for the same signs he'd noticed before. "Hey, watch Chris closely, he can blink now, he couldn't before."

The others gathered about Chris, staring at him. Bucked asked, "How'd ya know something was wrong Vin?"

Vin actually cracked a smile, "He gave me the Larabee stare." He looked at their perplexed faces, "Chris never looks at me that way, so I jus knew somethin' was wrong."

"We must be grateful, gentlemen that it was not I, I am recipient of that stare so often, I wouldn't know anything was amiss." Ezra remarked ruefully. He garnered a few chuckles.

Josiah watched Chris' eye movement thoughtfully, "Say Buck, does Chris know Morse code?"

"Hell, yes. So do I." Buck turned and looked at Chris, could almost see him relax, "Good idea Josiah. "Let's ask some questions. You with us ol' pard. Blink once for yes, twice for no."

Everyone watched Chris intently, slowly the eyelids went down and up once and stayed open.

"Hey, that means yes!" JD exclaimed excitedly.

Buck slapped him on the back, "It sure did, kid."

Ezra turned to Josiah and Buck, "Find out what's going on around here. I'll change my appearance so I can fool enough from further away."

Vin looked out the window, "That mechanic fellow sure seems interested in the going-ons of this place."

Nathan said, "Yeah, I noticed that too."

"Then you'd probably better go back to the car and kinda keep an eye on him." Vin suggested. Nathan agreed and headed back out.

Ezra looked at JD, knew he needed something to do, "JD, take some fingerprints from the doctor and nurse and run them through the database. Nathan connected the laptop to the cellphone in the limo." JD nodded and went straight to work. "Vin, can you help me with the doctor's clothes?"

Vin smiled as he nodded, "Can we roll 'im?" Ezra just shook his head as they headed for the front room.

+ + + + + + +

The mechanic beelined straight for Nathan as he descended the porch steps. "How's the trucker doing?" Concerned at the length of time he had been in the house.

"He was flat out on the floor, seems he fainted at the sight of his blood on the floor." Nathan shrugged as if to say, wuss.

The mechanic nodded and headed for the street. He stood in the middle of the street, right in front of the window to the room where Chris was at.

+ + + + + + +

JD had just finished printing the nurse when he noticed the guy in the middle of the street. "Hey Vin, why is this guy just standing there, looking up at this window?"

Vin rushed back to Chris' room. "Hell, that nurse would give him at thumb's up when he was out there like that. Here, help me get her to the window." Vin bent over the unconscious women and dragged her over to the window. Vin got her standing and leaned her near the window. JD held up her hand and extended the thumb so it was visible to the man below. He waved back and walked back to his shop.

Buck looked over to JD, "Sharp eyes there, kid. You saved us." JD puffed up under the praise.

An hour later Ezra walked into Chris' room and said in the doctor's voice, "Well what do we have here?"

Josiah and Buck turned and gasped, worried, then saw Vin standing at the door smirking.

Josiah smiled, "Good job, Ezra, sure had me fooled." Buck nodded.

Vin looked over at Chris and could notice more facial movement. Relief spilled into his veins, Chris was going to be okay. "So, what did Chris tell you?" He asked, his voice still a little rough.

Josiah looked at Chris and marveled at his silent communication skills. "A Dr. Ganter has been kidnapped and a double has replaced him. He can evidently give evidence against the good doctor and cost him a two million dollar grant. Chris witnessed the double and was knocked out. He's been given Curare. We should get Nathan in here." Josiah looked over at the pad Buck had used to see if he missed anything. Looking at the Kid, "JD, act pouty and go to the car. You can plug this in the laptop and send Nathan up here."

JD smiled, then changed his expression to look petulant and slammed out of the house. He all but ran down the stairs and slammed himself into the limo. Nathan then emerged and headed for the house.

The mechanic rushed up to Nathan, "What's going on with the youngin?"

"Upset that his dad is real close to death with little hope." Nathan replied to the nosy man.

"Where you going now?" The nosy man asked.

"The son said his uncle asked for me." Just answering so he wouldn't follow him.

Buck exited the house and the mechanic rushed over to him. Nathan used the opportunity to get into the house quick.

"Hear you had a tough time seeing your own blood?" the mechanic asked.

Buck didn't have a clue what he was talking about but answered in case Nathan had said something. "Yeah, wasn't a purty sight. Arm hurts too. Could you give me a hand now. I jus wanna get out of town." The mechanic nodded and headed over to the truck with Buck.

Inside the house they brought Nathan up to speed with the new information. Nathan looked surprised, "I've read about Dr. Ganter. He's been working on some cloning experiments. Considered top in his field. We have to get the real one outta here."

Ezra looked over and said, "we'll need an additional plan."

The phone rang and everyone froze in their tracks, Ezra cleared his throat and answered it in the doctor's voice. "Yup."

"Bradley here, the real Ganter needs a booster."

"Have a full house here, you'll just have to bring him here," In a lower voice, "use a back room and entrance. Can't leave all these folks here."

"Gotcha, Doc." Bradley hung up the phone.

Ezra looked delighted, "New plan includes them bringing the Doctor here to us."

"Act your parts. And when Buck calls saying he has the hearse, let him know it needs to hold two." Josiah instructed.

Nathan headed back out to the limo and JD. While the others acted as grieving relatives, the `doctor' waited for his next patient.

Nathan could just see out of the rear view mirror when Bradley headed for the doctor's back door, he turned to JD, "Stand outside and make a fuss. Let loose and be a brat." Nathan smiled at JD.

JD decided he was going for an Emmy. He got out of the car, cussing up a storm. Kicking the ground, and pounding the fence. He added a scream here and there for good measure.

At the back of the house the Doctor was noticeably upset. To Bradley and Jerry he said, "Go shut up that young fellow. Don't want the whole town in on this." The two men rushed out to the screeching boy.

Vin stepped around the corner and helped Ezra drag the Doctor into the front room. "We need to know when he's recovered enough to talk." Vin nodded to Ezra. They both went to the window to see what JD was doing.

Bradley, the mechanic went up to the screaming boy, "What's yer problem, sonny?"

JD looked at the man like he was nuts, "What's wrong? My dad's in there dying and my stupid Uncle is worried who'd gonna get the money. Now you want to ask me what's wrong again?" JD was going to deserve his Emmy.

"Well, son, you have to quiet down now. You don't want to start no trouble now. Maybe you should go back inside and say goodbye."

JD just stamped the ground and then stomped away. He went back to the house.

Buck called an hour later, and let them know it could easily carry two with oxygen out of there.

Josiah and Vin went in to talk with the real Dr. Ganter. He was dubious at first, but as Vin explained what had transpired, he looked relieved. He could barely move his lips, but words formed just the same. "Cummings is ruthless......." He broke off when Ezra walked into the room.

Josiah understood his fear and explained. "That's our man, Ezra, speak in your natural voice."

In rich southern tones, "Ezra Standish, pleased to meet you, Dr. Ganter." Ganter shook his head in wonderment. The fluke of the ATF agent being in the gas station at the same time as his escape attempt, really seemed to be his salvation.

Ezra asked, "What is your double's name?"

"Scott Banner, but the doc calls him, Band-man."

"Would it be unusual to have him visit over here?" Ezra asked another question that the others weren't sure where it would lead.

"Not if there was a poker game." The real Dr. Ganter replied.

"Well, first we have to have Chris pass away and the mortuary called. Josiah, I think you should make the outside visit." Ezra was working on a plan as he spoke.

Josiah hung his head and headed outside. The mechanic rushed over to him, "Bad news?"

"Yes, my son has passed." Josiah pushed passed him and went to the car. To the chauffeur, "We will be leaving shortly. We'll follow the hearse to the funeral home." Josiah said it loud enough for the mechanic to hear. He turned around and went back inside, a picture of dejection.

Within the half hour a big, black hearse pulled up. Nathan walked over to help bring the casket into the house.

Inside, they placed Dr. Ganter in the bottom with an oxygen canister and nasal canula. They fixed the false bottom over him and laid Chris on top. He also had oxygen for his trip. He had enough face movement to make a small grin. They closed the top and four men carried it outside. Buck had on a disguise. Nathan, along with Josiah and Vin carried it to the hearse.

Vin bid them goodbye and headed for the gas station where he left his jeep. He paid the mechanic for the gas and turned on the engine.

The mechanic said, "Sorry for your loss." Vin nodded and pulled out of the station.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra was just finishing the removal of his disguise as Josiah returned. His last act as Dr. Cummimgs was a phone call. "Band-man, big poker game tonight. Eleven o'clock." As he hung up the phone he said to Josiah, "We can have the state police arrive at just that time."

Josiah stepped out first and went up to the mechanic and asked, "You have the keys to my son's vehicle?" Josiah made sure to block the mechanic's view. So Ezra was able to use a piece of string tied to the front door to make it look like the door was closed after the men were on the stairs.

Ezra said loudly, "Thank you Doctor." He pulled all the string to him and headed for the car, flanked by JD and Nathan. They entered the car and started to pull out, only waiting on Josiah.

Josiah looked to the mechanic, he walked to the office and gave Josiah the keys. He waved off the limo and headed for the Dodge Ram. He turned on the road and followed the funeral procession.

+ + + + + + +

Seven men were still awake at eleven thirty that evening. Ezra put down the phone. "Nine men were apprehended and one unconscious women."

The men were pleased, knowing that Dr. Ganter was safe along with their friend.

Chris looked to Vin as JD was getting another round of beer. "Thanks friend. You saved my life." Chris gave Vin a meaningful glance, to convey the strength behind his words.

Vin nodded to the look, then added, "Gotta keep my family intact. You're head of the family."

But the look they shared said what the men couldn't say aloud. Chris Larabee knew he was a lucky man. He held up his drink and said with a tad of emotion in his voice, "To friends, my family."


Author's note: Many thanks to Bruce Geller and Mission: Impossible.

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