A/N This is an expanded answer to 'Brother from Another Mother' challenge on m7land and actually a crossover of ATF Universe with 1990 movie Nave SEALs, but all you need to know/remember from that movie, is that Michael Biehn starred there, as a Lieutenant James Curran, the commander of the Navy SEAL platoon. I'm also assuming that the events of the movie happened in 1988.
Special thanks to jinks7985 for the beta-reading!
Through the years
Maggie Larabee looked at the big clock on the wall of the living room; about half an hour left. She should of course wait here, but… giving up the struggle with herself, she went upstairs. The door to her son's room was wide open, and she could see Chris in the middle of packing.
"Knock, knock," she said out loud.
Chris lifted his head and smiled. "Oh, Mom, come in. I'll be ready in twenty."
Maggie entered and sat on the chair in the corner; it was already free of the stuff, unlike the bed and the desk, which were covered by various items, slowly making their way either in duffel bag or Chris's backpack. The most noticeable thing on the desk was a thick folder with papers – Chris's papers and acceptance letters from the Naval Academy. The reason Christopher Larabee and his father, Air Force Colonel Matthew Larabee hadn't exactly been on speaking terms for the last year.
Chris had applied for the Naval Academy the week he'd turned 17, and politely informed his parents after the fact. Adding that if he wouldn't be accepted, he'd enlist as a sailor. Maggie hadn't been really surprised, but Larabee Senior had still held some hope his boy would follow in his footsteps; Chris choosing the Navy had been the last straw for already tensed relationship. But at least no doors had been slammed and no unforgivable words spoken; Maggie was sure they both would come around sooner or later.
She looked at the walls; most of the photos and posters stayed in place, but there were three empty places – a small poster of one of Chris's favorite music groups (Maggie never could remember their name), a family portrait, taken on Chris's 15th birthday, and one more framed photo Maggie could see lying on the bed, waiting to be packed. On the photo there was a young man in a dress uniform of Navy ensign, with his arm over the shoulders of a teen in a slacks and short-sleeved shirt. A year ago, when the photo had been taken, the likeness between the two had been noticeable; now it was scary. Couple of years of military training for Chris, and Maggie suspected people would take them for twins, though they were only half-brothers and Jamie was five years older.
Jamie was Maggie's firstborn; his father, Navy Commander Andrew Curran, had been one of the first US casualties in Vietnam, killed before Jamie's second birthday. Maggie had remarried someone who'd survived, and give birth to three more children – one boy and two girls. Strangely enough, Chris, like his brother, took his appearance from Maggie's side, while both girls were 'Larabee in skirt'; but they said it's a good sign… And while Chris's relationship with his father had always been tense at best, Jamie had been his friend, role model and confidante ever since Chris could talk. Even after James had left home, they stayed close; calls and letters were regular, first from the Naval Academy and now from the SEALs training centre. So Chris's career choice really hadn't been a surprise for Maggie; and she had two sons at the mercy of the sea. Not that she expected otherwise, coming from a long line of military wives; it didn't make it any easier, though.
"Okay, Mom, I'm finished," Chris said, zipping his bag and looking at her with that boyish smile that got him all the girls in the neighborhood.
"Then let's go." She would have gladly come with him to Annapolis, straight to the Academy's door, but a ride to the bus station was all Chris accepted, eager to start the 'adult' life.
"Tell Jamie not to be a stranger, Chris. And don't become one yourself."
"It's a deal, Mom."
Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland
"My God, there is two of them!" the nurse muttered under her breath, showing Lieutenant (junior grade) Christopher Larabee into a room where Lieutenant James Curran was recovering. They chuckled, used to this reaction ever since Chris had joined the Navy; Hawkins, James's 2iC, occupying the visitor's chair at the moment, gave a loud whistle. He wasn't surprised by the likeness, of course, but the new and shining Lieutenant's insignia on Chris's dress uniform, together with Navy Achievement Medal, sure impressed him.
"Wow," he exclaimed, getting up. "Congratulations, Junior! Well, I'll leave you two to catch up." He left the room, slapping Chris's shoulder on his way out. Chris came close to the bed, and James felt his brother's intense gaze checking him over. Then the younger man took the chair Hawkins had vacated and squeezed his brother's arm, the one free of the IV.
"Hey, big guy."
"Hey yourself, bro. Hell of month, don't you think?"
James didn't offer any congratulations; of course, he was proud as hell of his kid brother receiving a promotion and a medal during his first year in the SEALs, and he didn't doubt it was well deserved, but… While the details of the missions of the other units were classified, the funerals were not, and James was sure Chris didn't feel any better about his latest mission than he about his own. Though Chris's was probably an even bigger screw-up, considering there had been two platoons involved, and both had losses. Including Chris's CO, whose place he was taking now.
"So," James asked after a pause. "You picked your men already?"
"Yes. We have first group training session on Monday."
"Good." James himself had some recruiting in his nearest future, because, damn it, four men weren't a platoon, and he wasn't looking forward to it at all. "Who is your second?"
"What? He was with Larsen, wasn't he?" And Larsen's was the other platoon from that mission…
"He was. I stole him." Well, if there was one big difference between brothers, it was that Chris never used a word he could do without.
"Wait a minute, Wilmington? You were in training together, I thought you hated each other's guts?"
"We did. Things change, bro." Chris tried to suppress a shudder, and almost succeed. "And sometimes they change real fast."
James nodded, understanding. Well, it looked like something else good, aside from Chris's promotion, had come from that disaster of a mission…
Little Creek, Virginia
"So you've made your decision," James half-asked, half-observed, pouring himself and his brother a shot of whiskey; they were sitting in one of the smaller bars of Little Creek, one that wasn't frequented by either of their units.
"Yes. It might be a coward's way out but I can't stay on the Team under Norlan. And transferring... It's not an answer."
Chris downed his shot, James followed and refilled, saying:
"You were never a coward, Chris, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I'm not trying to talk you out of it – believe me, I know the situation and I don't like it a single bit. And God knows I wouldn't want to face Mom or your Sarah if we lost you."
"So, what are you going to do?"
"Sarah inherited a horse ranch in Colorado, close to Denver. We'll go there, look around a bit, then maybe I'll join the force or something."
"I see. Wilmington following you?"
"Yeah, as soon as he is able to. Though I tried to talk him out of it."
"Ha. Wasn't going to happen, and you know it."
Chris grinned, and they finished the second shot, silently toasting to friends and loyalty.
"Do me a favor, big guy," this time it was Chris who did the refilling. "Keep an eye on Norlan. He's bad news."
"Aren't asking for simple things, are we?" 'Keeping an eye' on a Commander of another Team wouldn't be easy; but James trusted Chris's instincts. "I'll try, Chris."
"And send me your leave schedule once you know it, we count on you to show up on our wedding!"
"It's a deal, bro!"
Larabee's ranch, outskirts of Denver, Colorado
"He took after you," James commented, watching a blond toddler – Adam Dicky Larabee – chasing big green ball through the yard.
"In looks, yeah," Chris, standing next to his brother on the back porch, agreed. "But the temper is pure Irish!"
"And that's bad how?" James asked, amusement clear in his voice, and Chris chuckled.
"Yeah, yeah. So, big guy, what's the news?"
"Who said I have any news?"
Chris raised an eyebrow. "I'm a detective now, remember? Come on, Jamie, give."
"Well, I do have news - both good and bad, actually. Good news is that Commander Norlan was discharged last month. You were right about him; sorry it took us so long to do anything about it."
Chris exhaled sharply, with a mix of relief and satisfaction. Finally. Not that he still wanted revenge (though in a way he probably did), but COs like Norlan, who forgot about 'no man left behind' motto, didn't belong in the Navy. Especially in the SEALs.
"Better late than never. Thanks, bro." He paused, then asked: "Bad news?"
"Who do think will take his place?" James answered with a question of his own, rhetorical as it was.
It took Chris couple of seconds to realize what his brother meant. "You're kidding! Seriously?"
"And you didn't say anything!" Chris slapped James's shoulder with enough force for James to sway. "Congratulations, Commander! Mom knows?"
"Yeah, I called her. She is real happy, thinks now that I outrank Dad, I'm safe from his fate somehow. Well, at least something good from all that hassle."
"Oh, don't be silly. That's great and you know it."
"Yeah. Less action, more politics. Maybe I should quit and start giving out parking tickets?"
And then James had to duck a headslap, and when ten minutes later Sarah Larabee went outside to call her men for dinner, she found the newly-fledged Commander hiding from his brother's wrath behind little Adam.
Headquarters of SEAL Team 8, Little Creek, Virginia
"Sir, a phone call from Colorado. They say it's urgent."
"No, sir, someone called Wilmington."
Shit. James grew cold; if Wilmington, Chris's once and forever second, was calling him, urgently, it might only mean bad news. Real bad.
"I'll take the call," he said, and, after the signal, barked into the phone: "Commander Curran speaking."
"Sir, it's Buck Wilmington." Voice on the other end was hoarse, and no emotions could be detected.
"Car bombing, sir. Sarah and Adam were killed. Chris wasn't there, so he isn't injured, but…"
Oh God. A vision came before James's eyes, vision of the Irish beauty walking down the aisle, followed by vision of the blond boy chasing green ball… God, no. No!
"You called Indiana?"
"Yes, they know. The funeral is on Friday, sir, I know you probably can't come, but Chris… I'm not sure I'll manage to handle him, sir."
"You will, Lieutenant," James said in his best commanding voice. "You brought him alive back then, you can do it now. And I'll be there as soon as I can."
Having finished the call, James took a deep breath, trying – unsuccessfully – to suppress a shudder. Damn it all. He'd been a leader of men in the Navy for the long time, and much too often he had to face parents, wives and kids, telling them they'd lost their loved ones, but… It was one thing to lose a soldier in a battle, but to lose a woman and a child to meaningless violence… And Chris, Chris who for years had been risking his life daily to keep his country and his family safe… Damn it, his kid brother needed him more than ever, but with the way things were now he couldn't leave the base even for a day at least for a month or two… Didn't mean he wouldn't try, though.
Buck Wilmington sat on the couch in the main room of his apartment and watched, almost indifferently, as Chris Larabee tried to burn yet another bridge. At least this time he didn't need to interfere; Commander James Curran might not go out on missions anymore, but he still could handle himself in a fistfight. Especially in a fistfight with his blindly drunk younger brother. And indeed, five minutes after he'd started the fight, Chris was laid flat on the floor and didn't try to get up, and James was wiping the blood from his face. Buck wondered idly if maybe he should make some excuses for Chris (he was getting really good at that), but then he met James's eyes, and saw that the Commander understood.
"Damn," James muttered, looking at the still form of his brother. "And I have to be back in Virginia tomorrow."
"Not your fault, Wilmington. You're doing the impossible as it is."
"And I'm intending to continue," Buck muttered under his breath, but James must have heard, because he looked at him sharply and said, "I owe you, Lieutenant. If you ever need help with anything like getting the bills paid, or something, give me a call. And if he gets better… or worse."
Buck nodded. Together, the two of them got Chris cleaned up a little, settled him on the couch and went to the kitchen to share a cup of coffee in an uneasy silence. In an hour, James's taxi arrived, and Buck saw him out.
Already at the door, the Commander turned back and said quietly, "If he even remembers I was here… and if he cares…. Tell him we're still good."
"I will. Thank you, sir."
Federal Building, Denver, Colorado
Chris Larabee walked through empty bullpen (it was Saturday, and his team wasn't on call), went in his office and sat at his desk, similarly and blissfully empty for now. The first case of the experimental unit called Team 7 had been finished; the reports submitted, accepted and approved. The probationary period, for the team as a whole as well as individual members, was over; so successfully over, that there were already legends in the agency, and Travis had a handful of top-shot cases for them come Monday. All in all, no matter how insane that project had seemed to Chris in the beginning, it was working. It was working on professional level, and, even more amazingly, it was working on personal level. Buck Wilmington was at his side again, and he had five more men now. Five men whom he trusted to watch his back, to get the job done and to just be there for him and for each other. He'd never thought he would have something like that again and value it. So… Chris Larabee officially was back among the living; it was high time to make some calls and mend some fences.
Chris found a quarter in his pocket, and tossed it, trying to decide Virginia or Indiana had first turn. The coin landed on the desk tails up; Virginia. If he was lucky, of course, and it was still Virginia, and not some ship or base overseas.
He was lucky; and several minutes later he was greeted by the voice which people say was identical to his own: "Commander Curran speaking."
"Hey, James. It's me."
A brief pause, then: "Chris. It's good to hear you, bro."
Larabee's ranch, outskirts of Denver, Colorado
Vin Tanner sat lounging in his favorite chair and surveyed his teammates, sitting and sprawling in various poses across Chris's living room, surrounded by beer cans and leftovers of pizza. (And for once, neither Nathan nor Ezra had objected the food choice.) The latest case had left them all so exhausted that it would be a couple of days before they'd be capable of anything other than hibernating. Usually they preferred to get through this stage in their own homes, but this case had had too many close calls, and while nobody was seriously hurt, Chris wanted his men right where he could see them. Since the others more or less shared his feelings, no one complained.
The doorbell rang suddenly, startling everyone; good thing Chris was already on his feet, having just returned from the bathroom, otherwise the unknown visitor might have to wait for a long time. Vin listened for Chris's footsteps, then there was sound of the door opened, muffled voices, laughter, more footsteps and Chris's voice, saying:
"I know I should have called, but I didn't believe in that vacation until we landed in Denver, and my pager was still silent!"
The absurdity of this phrase had Vin sitting straight abruptly, but then Chris entered the living room, followed by his doppelganger. Damn it, Vin knew Chris had a brother in the Navy, but he thought it was a big brother, not a twin! The astonished gasps from others were audible, along with Ezra's "My God, there is two of them!" Scary thought, indeed. Though with a closer look, Vin could see some small differences; and the most amazing thing was that Chris did look younger and… lighter somehow? He looked… hell, he looked like a kid, showing off his big brother from the Navy to his friends from the block!
"Boys, this is James Curran, Captain of Naval Special Warfare Group 2, my half-brother as you might have guessed."
Yeah, definitely showing off. Though Vin was impressed by the rank, and, judging by a couple of whistles, he wasn't alone. Chris meanwhile continued with the introductions.
"Jamie, these are my boys. Josiah Sanchez, Vin Tanner, Ezra Standish, Nathan Jackson, JD Dunne and you know Buck."
Buck had already stood up and came close to shake Curran's hand. "Congratulations, Captain. Good to see you here."
James's arrival enlivened the evening a little, because naturally an improvised contest of stories had began, from funny and embarrassing ones to scary and unbelievable. But since everyone – including James – was still dog-tired, two hours and a heated discussion about sleeping arrangements later, everyone went to bed.
Much to his surprise, Vin wasn't the only one to get up with the Sun – when he went out to take care of the horses, both Chris and James were already on the porch, drinking coffee and watching sunrise. Assuring Chris that he could (and would) handle horses on his own, Vin continued on his way – the brothers needed some privacy, and once the rest of the gang was up, it would be impossible.
"Good team you have here, Chris," James said quietly, watching Tanner enter the barn.
"Yeah. As good as back then… Better in some ways."
"Yeah, I saw. Not a sane one in the bunch."
"Well, there is Nate…"
"Really? Being the only medic among y'all?"
Chris chuckled. "You have a point. But they keep things interesting."
"Yeah, I can imagine…"
Then there was silence again; they really had a lot to talk about, but James just didn't know how to begin. It was their first meeting since Chris had resumed communication two years ago; they hadn't wanted to wait for so long, of course, had even planned to visit Indiana together on Maggie's birthday in September, then maybe go on a camping trip to some of the 'old places'… But that September had been the September of 2001, and… Well, the Universe had other plans. Things had only started to calm down a little in the last couple of months, and fortunately two weeks leave was a bonus to James's promotion. Chris seemed to have been busy, too; no wonder, they all fought the same war. But despite the exhaustion James liked the way he found his little brother; there wasn't the happiness of his earlier life, of course, but… Yesterday, glaring at his bunch of misfits, Chris had looked content; and it was much better than James had hoped for.
"So, big guy," Chris asked with a grin, "Do I pass muster?"
James smiled, warmed by the fact they still were in sync with each other. "Yeah, you do. Gun runners must be good for your health."
Chris nearly choked on his coffee. "As Al-Qaeda is for yours! How are you yourself, Jamie? Seriously?"
Curran shrugged. "Not going to quit yet. The rumor is they are going to start a new war soon… someone has to make sure we won't lose the entire group in the first operation!"
"You have someone at your back, bro? Someone worthy, I mean?"
"I do. Maybe not as crazy as yours, but don't worry." And suddenly James realized he didn't want to talk about war, any war, though Chris was one of those who understood. It was a vacation, and Chris had time off too. And there were other, much less painful ways to reconnect. And strangely, he didn't mind Chris's boys hanging around at all. "You better tell me, little brother, do you have an extra horse in that barn?"
A/N If you're interested in structure of the SEALs or US Navy in general, Wikipedia has some very interesting articles:). I know, I've read them:).