They don't belong to me. Wish they did. Paid only in warm fuzzies which have no redeemable value.
Author's note// indicates thoughts projected or read by another/ italic writing indicates personal thoughts.
Thursday Afternoon 3:00 p.m.
May 7th, 1998
Vin was laying in wait. The bounty, Jacob Warner was one ugly character. He was wanted for 3 murders. Albert Mercer, the bondsman was offering the full bond on this character. Warner had paid a visit on Mercer's wife and 8 year old daughter after he was released on the bond Albert had posted. The family would never be the same. Albert had begged Vin to get Warner off the streets.
Ruby was sure that Warner had him a deal going. I've got that damn tingle back. Something's not right. Vin carefully studied the warehouse from his place in the shadows. He froze in position as he heard voices approach. Patiently he watched a deal being made between Warner and a tall black man.
Guns and explosives! I best call Capt'n Miller and feed him this info. Where is he? I kin smell another one close. There's a couple behind them boxes over yonder. Shit! Tanner yer sittin' in the middle a' trouble. Thisn's wearing radio headgear. It just gets better 'n better. Reckin I don't need ta call tha Capt'n. Looks like I'm in the middle of a bust. Yep, ATF on tha yella haired fella's jacket. I best sit still and wait it out. They's a couple of tha bad guys there along tha south wall now.
Vin settled back and watched the bust unfold. Watching the agents Vin studied the large ATF agents. Mustache must be near on ta 6'5" or so. That black fella might be a touch taller. Bearded one here ain't quite sa tall but they must use him fer a tank when they need one. Yella hair's the least of 'em and he'll go 6'1". Don't these folks believe in normal size people? Vin mused as Josiah faded slowly away from his position.
Shit. Them two comin' in ain't no ATF agents. Vin concentrated trying to figure out someway to get the Agents' attention without getting shot for his trouble. Studying the ATF agents he saw the familiar spirit cougar stalk impatiently beside the blond man.
Ah, Hell! Vin felt the old familiar falling sensation. An almost overwhelming grief, excitement, concern, a deep down rage flooded his mind as he forged a link with the stranger. Vin shuddered as he touched the coldness of the other's thoughts.
Chris Larabee froze. A warm golden touch seemed to embrace him. What the hell is that!
/Kin do it all alone. Ain't tha' just like a damn cowboy./
Chris snarled at the glow.
/Call ya a cowboy iffen I want. Ya gonna do anythin' 'bout them fellas on tha north wall/ The glow prodded him.
Chris' head came up as he was flooded with a mental picture. "Two shooters on the north wall," Chris announced over the radio. JD's voice over the headgear announced the two men's presence just then. Chris unintentionally latched on to the glow and held on.
Well looks like I'm in. It don't matter none now. I gotta keep Chris alive. Sure hope the good guys ain't trigger happy.
"ATF! You're under arrest," voices yelled suddenly. Warner broke away and took cover behind some boxes. The agents hit the deck as they came under fire from the gun dealers.
Vin assessed the situation quickly. The black agent was laying behind a box shaking his head.
He musta hit his head a good one when he dove fer cover. Warner appeared from behind some boxes. None of the ATF agents were in position to see him. Warner smiled as he slid next to the downed officer. He raised his Glock aiming at the agent's head. The smile disappeared from his face as a 9mm took him through the ear.
Kiss yer ass goodbye Tanner. These boys look a might pissed.
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Vin quickly spotted other gun dealers in custody. Fast moving officers entered the building.
Standing slowly he left his Sig laying on top of the crate. He took a step back. Turning his back to the weapon he extended his hands straight out from his sides and going to his knees he crossed his ankles and waited.
The big dark-haired, mustached man appeared. A powerful grip on to his right wrist took him down to the floor. Take it easy, I ain't gonna give ya any trouble. Vin didn't struggle in the other man's grip. He lay still as the man snapped cuffs onto both of his wrists locking his hands behind his back.
"You've got the right to remain silent," the man started reading him his rights.
"Ya got a man down," Vin spoke softly.
"What?" a startled exclamation broke from the agent's lips.
"Black man," Vin nodded in the direction the agent lay.
"Chris! Nate's down," Buck yelled.
"Brother Nate is fine. He bumped his head is all," Josiah's calm voice answered.
"You got any needles in your pockets or any thing I need to worry about?" the agent asked Vin in a calmer tone.
"I.D.'s in mah back pocket left side. They ain't no needles," Vin sighed. "I ain't one a' yer perps," Vin rasped trying to keep his nose out of the dust.
"I don't really care, Junior. We'll sort it out later," the voice growled. Vin gritted his teeth as the officer patted him down.
"Damnation!" the agent exclaimed as he found the third gun.
If he gets any friendlier he better propose.
"What have you got Buck?" a voice asked from behind Vin. Vin couldn't prevent the flinch as the agent's hands brushed over his body.
"Could ya check mah ID for ya ask me ta tha prom?" Vin growled softly.
"He's not going anywhere Buck. Check the kid out," a cold voice ordered. Two more sets of footsteps approached.
"Ya need ta sign that I got Warner," Vin growled into the silence.
"YOU!" Buck exclaimed.
"Well, I didn't shoot him." Chris admitted. Josiah shook his head no.
"I thought he had me dead to rights," Nathan's voice was shaky.
"Buck?" Chris asked. Buck shook his head and frowned down at the long haired man.
JD charged in "Nate are you okay?" he yelled.
"Just bumped my head," Nathan assured the worried agent.
JD had hacked into the security system in the warehouse and saw everything as it went down on the security cameras. "I've got it all on tape. Thanks, Mister, that was some shot," JD enthused as he spoke to the still belly down Tanner.
Guess this answers m' question. This kid's on tha small side. Rekin they's a runt in every litter. Usually ends up the best pup too. They gotta work sa hard ta keep up wit' tha big dogs. I wonder iffen ole mustache has figured out that he belongs ta this kid yet? Heartbonded them too.
"Kin I git up now?" Vin drawled.
"Certainly Brother," Josiah said as he lifted Vin to his feet.
"Ya ain't mah brother," Vin growled shaking off Josiah's hand.
Easy, Tanner, this ain't there and these fellas sure as hell ain't them. They ain't gonna hurt me none. He tried to contain his panic at the stranger's touch.
"You're a real piece of work," Chris snarled.
"I.D.'s in mah back pocket," Vin reminded. Buck pulled the folder out and opened it.
"Vin Tanner," Buck read off, "looks like he's legitimate. Man's a bounty hunter."
Chris frowned as he looked at the scruffy youngster slouched in front of him with the defiant look. Makes you want to smack him one just for that attitude.
Vin studied the blond haired man glaring at him with interest. So you're tha cowboy.
Officers escorted two uninjured gunrunners out past the group. Chris shivered. What the hell? I never saw them. Chris turned and stared at the north wall. I didn't see them. I couldn't have from where I was. I need to figure this out.
/Reckon maybe yer hearin' and seein' things./
Chris glared at the scruffy man trying to ignore the whisper in his head. I should thank this kid for saving Nathan.
Vin raised his head and locked gazes with the glaring Larabee. "Yer welcome," A lopsided grin was the hunter's response.
Chris froze for a moment looking into the ancient eyes. A soft chuckle seemed to linger in his head. The other agents exchanged confused looks as Chris actually laughed. "Turn him loose Buck," Chris ordered.
Vin smirked and dropped Buck's cuffs into the man's hand. Vin stretched a moment. "Kin I have m' weapons back now, Cowboy?" he asked. Buck flinched and waited for the mouthy bounty hunter to hit the floor.
"Did this scrawny pup just call me a cowboy?" Chris asked softly. The other four agents frowned. They had obviously missed some kind of exchange. Chris' eyes held amusement, and a smirk was on the Texan's face. "Give the kid his toys," Chris ordered. "Buck you need to search suspects better," Chris said with a laugh as he watched Tanner start putting guns into holsters.
"Ya missed a .38 and four knives," Vin informed the open mouthed agent. The agents studied Vin for a moment while Chris strode off to direct several arriving forensic techs.
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"How'd you get in here Tanner?" Buck asked.
"Been here since Monday," Vin replied.
"He was here before we were," JD frowned as the other men chuckled. "Why didn't you show up on the security cameras?" JD demanded.
"Cameras don't cover everything," Vin answered. "Y'all 're pretty good," Vin acknowledged.
"Buck Wilmington, JD Dunne, Josiah Sanchez," Nathan introduced. "I'm Nathan Jackson. Thank you for shooting," Nathan continued.
"No problem," Vin answered softly. "Yella haired fella?" Vin asked.
"Chris Larabee. Our team leader," Buck replied.
Vin straightened speaking softly to the man coming up behind him. "Ya could get shot tryin' ta sneak up on a man like that," he warned Chris. Josiah stared hard at Vin's left shoulder looking very pale.
"Josiah were you hit?" Nathan asked the shaky profiler.
"It's a crow!" he choked. Vin froze and stared at the big man.
"Nah it ain't. It's Raven," Vin corrected softly. Confused looks were exchanged among the rest of the team. Josiah nodded and seemed to calm.
"I'd like to buy you dinner," Nathan offered.
"Yah don't owe me," Vin growled.
"I'd still like to do it," Nathan returned.
"Buy me a beer sometime, then," Vin finally allowed. "What kinda report do yah folks need?" Vin sighed thinking of all the paperwork involved with the shooting.
"You're going to have to go down the office with us. We'll get somebody to type up a report for you to sign. With getting it on tape and everything I doubt you'll have to talk to the prosecutor or anything," Buck considered.
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Vin signed off on the report and was released with out any problems. "Not much of a talker," Buck mused.
"He's like a wild thing," Josiah sighed.
"Lousy job," Nathan growled.
"I liked him," JD admitted.
"Josiah what was that thing with about crows and ravens?" Buck demanded.
"I thought I saw a crow," Josiah growled. "Tanner said it was a raven."
Chris' gaze lingered on the spot where Vin had been sitting. "Any idea why he was so scared when he left?" he asked softly.
"Tanner was scared?" Josiah asked gently. Chris nodded with a concerned frown. "He didn't seem scared to me," Josiah mused. The others exchanged glances and shrugs.
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Vin sat on the roof of his apartment building nursing a beer. That damn tingle's still there. I kin still feel Larabee. Hell, can just see me walkin' up ta him and askin' ta stay. I'se sorry, Cowboy but somethin, happened in that warehouse when I went and prodded yah. What in hell am I gonna do?
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Federal Building Denver Co.
ATF Team 7 office
Friday Morning May 15th, 1998
I'll never get this report done. I'm going to shoot the next person who interrupts. Chris fumed to himself as once again he tried to get the numbers to balance.
"Ah Shit!" Chris groaned as he reached for the phone. "I'll kill you!" he snarled at the computer, as for some reason the screen went back to windows and his report disappeared.
"I take it this ain't a good time ta call, Cowboy," Tanner's amused voice teased over the phone.
"TANNER!" Chris gasped.
"Yeah, Larabee," Vin answered.
"Didn't expect to hear from you," Chris frowned at the phone picturing the laid-back bounty hunter.
"Somethin' come up. Figure it's somethin' fer you boys," Vin drawled.
"Do you need help Cowboy?" Chris asked surprised at the deep concern he suddenly felt.
"Fella name a' Logan's bringin' in weapons. Sellin' 'em ta tha local gangs. It's gonna get ugly real quick. Don't want m' kids caught in tha middle when these idgets start their damn foolishness," Vin growled.
Great a gang war. "I'll see what I can do," Chris promised. "You have anything more than a name?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, need ta know how ya want ta handle this?" Vin asked. "I stole me a pair a AR-15's and a real nice Para Ordinance from a couple of the gang bangers," Vin chuckled.
The damn Cowboy's going to get himself killed. "Do you have a death wish Tanner?" Chris yelled.
"I want these things outta here, Larabee," Vin snarled back. "Kin I bring 'em ta ya with out gittin' mah ass arrested?" Vin softened his voice.
"I'll handle it," Chris promised. "Tell me where you are and we'll come and get them."
"I cain't do that. I kin bring 'em to yer office iffen ya want," Vin replied.
"I'll meet you out front in 15 minutes," Chris answered and hung up the phone.
"Buck get me some paper work going. The bounty hunter's bringing me two AR15's and a Para Ordinance he found," Chris stuck his head out of his office and growled.
"Found?" JD gasped.
"I figure Junior's done stole somebody's new toys," Buck laughed.
"Be back. I'm meeting Tanner out front," Chris said as he slid on his duster and started out the door.
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Exiting the building Larabee walked onto the stairs looking around for Vin.
"Hey Cowboy," a soft whisper caused Chris to jump and reach for his weapon.
"Little jumpy ain't ya Larabee?" Vin grinned unrepentantly. The bounty hunter was leaning against a tree trunk in the dappled shade a duffel bag lay at his feet.
"Tanner are you trying to get yourself shot?" Chris smiled faintly. Damn, I didn't know I was missing the scruffy smartass.
/Glad ta see ya too, Cowboy./ Chris flinched as the golden glow stirred once again. Larabee glared at Tanner's innocent blue eyes.
"Come on up and we'll get started," Chris waved towards the door.
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Vin slouched into the office with his silent catfooted stride.
"Hey Ya'll!" he drawled to the grins and waves.
"Heard you got some new toys, Junior," Buck indicated the weapons Chris was pulling out of the duffel.
"Ain't mine, somebody's Momma didn't teach 'em ta put their toys away," Vin smirked. Soon JD was researching serial numbers.
"Any information that might help us follow this up?" Chris asked. Vin dumped an envelope full of pictures on the table.
"This'ns name is Logan. Ain't showin' good sense selling ta least three of tha gangs. They'll cut his throat they find out he's selling ta all a' 'em," Vin handed Chris pictures telling him names, locations, times, conversations.
"What in hell did you think you were doing?" Chris roared.
"Keepin' m' kids safe. Shit Larabee this is what I do. Been doin' it fer a long time," Vin answered calmly.
"You've got kids?" Buck asked in surprise.
"Nah, their kids that live in mah buildin'. I kinda keep an eye out fer 'em," Vin spoke softly almost embarrassed.
"Vin when did you take these?" Chris suddenly demanded looking up from the pictures.
"Last of 'em was 'bout three hours ago now," Vin responded.
"Shit!" Chris sat down hard in a chair. "When's this going down?" Chris asked softly.
"Tanight at 8. Tha old Berkle warehouse on Silver street," Vin answered.
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Team 7 made preparations for the bust. Warrants were procured, back up arranged.
"Junior sure had the intel on this didn't he?" Buck mused as he checked his gear.
"It'll be good," Chris assured.
"No doubts about that," Josiah returned.
JD was checking the communications gear one more time, he started to speak and stopped several times.
"Spit it out Kid," Buck ordered.
"He didn't have any notes," JD stated.
"So?" Buck looked confused.
"Buck he gave us the run down on two weeks of surveillance. Times, Places, People and never looked at a note or anything," JD spoke in awe. Looks were exchanged.
Buck had a shuttered look in his eyes. "Guess Junior's got a real good memory," he said.
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May 15, 1998
Team 7 laid in wait for the deal to conclude. "ATF. You're under arrest!" Chris thundered.
ATF agents and Denver PD quickly moved in on the frozen perps. Gang leaders and gun dealers were arrested and escorted to waiting transportation. Chris stood watching the final touches being taken care of. No shots fired, guns off the street, looks like it's a good bust.
Tanner sure came through for us on this one. He'd make a great team member. Chris raised his head looking into the rafters. A warm glow seemed to fill him. Chris smiled softly as a shadow moved across a rafter. Chris' soft chuckle greeted Buck's whistled rendition of "Someone to watch over me".
/You be careful Cowboy/ he thought.
/Always am Larabee, always am./ A chuckle lingered in Larabee's mind then the shadow was gone.
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Over the next few weeks Vin would call with information he thought that Chris could use. On one Friday evening he even joined the team for drinks at the Saloon.
I need to run a background check on Vin. He's damn good. I want him on the team. Bounty hunting isn't any way to make a living. He needs somebody watching his back. Chris decided as he drove home that night.
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"Josiah, do you think Tanner could be a team player?" Chris asked seriously Monday morning.
"Probably not in a normal sense. If your suggesting this team, then yes he could," Josiah answered calmly.
"Not another team?" Chris frowned.
"Vin Tanner has been a loner most of his life," Josiah explained. "He has made a bond with this team and most especially you," he continued. "He would try to work with you." he smiled.
"I need to run a background check on him. I'd like to have him on the team," Chris admitted.
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Later that afternoon, Buck handed Chris a folder. "It's a bit skimpy in places. Looks like schooling is going to be the biggest problem," Buck said.
"I can't get it confirmed but a little bird told me that he's a weapons specialist and sharpshooter," Nathan remarked.
"That would fit the profile. He's doing good things in Purgatorio. The folks at the mission call him when they have problems," Josiah added.
"We don't need a Vigilante," Chris frowned.
"Nothing like that. More like a guardian angel. Police don't go to Purgatorio after dark,." Josiah said. Chris started to argue and stopped as he saw the sadness in Josiah's eyes.
"No police presence," Buck looked angry.
"Why Tanner?" JD asked softly.
"He lives there," Josiah responded to the other men's shock.
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Chris carried the folder into his office and began to read. Orphan raised in foster care. Where were you between 11 and 16? He just showed up registered in high school here in Denver. Joined the army at 17. Delarose Mahony signed for him, a guardian maybe? Honorable discharge, Bounty hunting license. No diploma just a GED. We'll have to work around that someway. No legal problems man's never even had a parking ticket. Damn file just leaves too many questions.
Chris dialed the phone "Judge, I've found another man. I need to talk to you" Chris growled. Gathering the folder he started out the door. It feels right. Tanner belongs on the team.