Author's Note: I do not own Justified, its characters or anything else by EL. This story is rated for the usual cussing and violence.
All the Way to the Bone – Chapter One
Spring had come early to Kentucky, so it made sense somehow that summer would, too. It was late May and the temperature was already hovering at 80° and it was muggy. Art had been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, his knees ached less, and the unusually quiet office, Raylan and Tim were both away. It seemed a bad omen to Art that the humidity hit, and with it the achy knees, right when Raylan and Tim reappeared. He braced himself for the storm to follow.
Raylan had been working in Miami for the past three weeks, helping his old boss, Chief Deputy Dan Grant, wrap up an investigation. The case was connected with the Miami Cartel and Raylan had been instrumental from the beginning in the hunt for a thug wanted on two federal murder warrants. His knowledge of the cast of players was appreciated by the Miami AUSA in charge and though Raylan would rather have been there when the fugitive was cornered and arrested, the closure was still satisfying. He returned a little tan and with a little lightness in his step.
Tim had been at Camp Beauregard in Louisiana for some routine SOG training. The warm weather had brought out all kinds of bugs, including a flu bug, and they had to shut the training down early sending the entire team home sick. Tim, hacking and feverish, had offered to come in but Art told him he'd put him down like a rabid dog if he dared step into the courthouse with his imported bayou germs. He had finally crawled in the following week, a little lighter in his step, too, having dropped ten pounds that he couldn't afford to lose.
This was the first day Raylan and Tim were both present in the office again and Rachel noted, wisely not out loud, that Art seemed more cheerful having his boys back. He had missed the banter.
"Does it count as incest?" Raylan pondered aloud. "I mean, they've pretty much adopted him and he's sleeping with their daughter."
"Don't know why you're asking us, Raylan. You're the one from Harlan. That'd make you the resident expert on the subject," Art commented.
Raylan gave his boss an evil look which Art called with one of his own and raised with an enthusiastic raspberry.
"I think he's too old for legal adoption," piped in Rachel. "Once you're over eighteen, the courts wouldn't recognize it, so that would rule out incest."
"I wish you all would stop talking about me like I'm not sitting right here. I'm starting to get a complex and my headache's making an encore," Tim complained. He was typing at his desk with his right hand, one key stroke at a time, and propping his head tiredly on his left, trying to catch up on days of missed work. "And since when did bringing someone soup count as part of a legal adoption process?"
"As a father of daughters, I should warn you, Tim, I'd be suspicious of their motives," said Art. "Maybe they're working to get you so in debt you'll have to take her off their hands. Like an indentured servant, or maybe more like a purchase agreement."
"It's soup, Art," Tim repeated.
"You know, it's a good plan," Art mused. "I wish I'd thought of it. I might have gotten rid of my girls sooner."
"I should have called in sick again today," Tim groaned. He rubbed both hands on his temples, stood up and glared at them all. "It's almost five, I'm leaving."
He marched toward the office doors but Art stuck out an arm and stopped him.
"Not so fast. I didn't come all the way out here from my office just to tease you about your girlfriend's mother bringing you soup," said Art. "Though, I have to ask, did she tuck you in at nap time?"
"I'm gone," Tim stated, stepping around a giggling Art.
"No, wait, Tim," Art called him back. "Seriously, I need to talk to you and Raylan. Someone has to go to San Diego tomorrow. Prisoner transport."
"Send him," Raylan and Tim replied, pointing at each other.
"Actually, you're both going. Won't that be fun?"
"Whoa, why both of us?" Raylan asked. "Are we escorting Hannibal Lector?"
"No, more exciting," Art replied, clapping his hands together with enthusiasm. "A couple of tech nerds from a firm in California. They were served subpoenas and decided to vacation in Kentucky instead of showing up at court."
"What were the subpoenas for?" Tim asked.
"They're supposed to provide evidence in a fraud case. Some company embezzling funds," Art explained. "These highly-educated young men decided to go drinking when they got to Lexington. Sat at a bar and tried to impress some girls by announcing loudly how clever they were for avoiding their court appearance. An off-duty local called it in."
"So now we have to escort them back, at taxpayers' expense," said Rachel. "Unbelievable."
"Can't we just put them in a box and mail them?" suggested Tim.
"I don't think that's regulation," Art replied, "but I'll put in a call and ask."
"We could put them in separate boxes," Raylan offered.
"Two prisoners, two Marshals," Art said, finishing the conversation. "Pick them up at the Main Street lockup. Flight leaves at 10:45am tomorrow. I'll leave you two to work out the details." He handed a folder to each.
"I got the impression you were happy to have us back, Art," Raylan said, sounding hurt. "And now, you're shipping us off again."
"I kind of enjoyed missing you, Raylan. It was bittersweet."
Halfway to San Diego, it became clear to Raylan that Tim wasn't doing so well. He had turned the color of the overhead luggage bins, a kind of sickly grey-green. Raylan's prisoner had an unhealthy pallor as well, but for different reasons. He was afraid: afraid of the Marshals, afraid of flying, afraid of going to prison. He had a lot to be afraid of. Tim's prisoner was working hard at hiding his fear by keeping up a monologue at a speed that was going to get it to San Diego before the jet.
Raylan finally leaned over and suggested that he trade seats to give Tim a break from the steady aural barrage. Tim weakly accepted and slid carefully across the aisle.
There are regulations for a prisoner transport on a commercial airline, including being first to plane and last to deplane, keeping the prisoner's hands restrained, usually with handcuffs concealed by a jacket, keeping firearms concealed as well so as not to panic the public, and seating the prisoner in the window seat in the back row with the Marshal in the aisle seat, blocking him from view, blocking his escape and giving the pair convenient access to the bathroom facilities.
Tim was particularly grateful for the last part because the movement of switching seats did him in. With a quick hand signal to Raylan he darted for the bathroom. Raylan took one look at his prisoner, still, ghostly white and staring blankly at the seat back, and decided he wasn't a threat. He moved over into Tim's seat beside the other prisoner and patiently sat listening to his ranting.
"I know my rights. I mean, I'm not stupid, you know? I don't have to testify against my own company. It's incorporated, so that means its arms-length, I'm untouchable. I am going to so sue somebody's ass. Someone's going down for this, out-of-a-job, down so low they'll never see sunshine again."
The plane hit a pocket of turbulence. Raylan swung his fist and connected solidly with the prisoner's nose. His head hit the seat back then bounced forward, but not before Raylan quickly reached over and opened the latch on the tray, letting it fall. The prisoner pulled up his hands to cover his nose and jammed the tray into it instead.
The flight attendant happened by at that moment and saw the tray slam into the man's face. She brought her hands up and covered her mouth, her expression a mix of surprise and sympathy.
Raylan admired his work then turned to the attendant, feigning concern.
"Would you mind, ma'am, getting him a rag or some napkins," he suggested. "I told him to leave the tray alone." He shrugged helplessly.
"Oh dear," she exclaimed when the blood started flowing. She hurried off down the aisle.
"Could you bring us a couple of ginger ales on the way?" Raylan called after her.
She returned quickly with two cold cans of pop, a bag of ice, and a roll of paper towels. Tim came out of the bathroom behind her, looking a little steadier. He squeezed past her into Raylan's old seat and watched curiously while the flight attendant helped the prisoner position the ice pack on his nose. He raised an eyebrow at Raylan and grinned in appreciation.
"Feeling better?" Raylan asked, passing him a can of ginger ale.
"Enormously," Tim smiled. He opened the can and settled in for the remainder of the flight.
A/N: Has anyone ever been on a flight with a Marshal transporting a prisoner? PM and tell me about it if you want.