Author's Note: Please remember that this is set in June of 1999. It is one year after Vin has become a member of ATF team 7. Before Sept. 11th and the successful attack on the towers. and security measures were incredibly different back then. For those of you with short memories, the towers had been attacked on several other occasions. Remember laughing at Col. Ollie North's elaborate security system? Do you remember the name of the terrorist he was admittedly scared of? It was a man named Osama bin Ladin. Maybe we should have listened better back then.
This is set pre-The Past Remembered. Yes, I know the time line between the cannon 'Sentinel' and my ATF series just doesn't match up. Tough cookies baby. This is au and if Vin Tanner wants to see his captain, then I'm going to give the boy what he wants. So there-sniff- If you don't mind. Hope you enjoy this.
As usual / indicates thoughts projected or read by another/ italic writing indicates personal thoughts.
LOST AND FOUND
June 9, 1999
Ezra and Vin had been whisked away by the powers-that-be immediately after the bust for a debriefing. The team hadn't even had time to greet their friends after the month long separation. Chris had finally been allowed to sit in on the debriefings as the two men's supervising officer. This left the other four members of ATF team 7 to secure the scene, remove the confiscated weapons to a federal lockup, and start in on the never ending paperwork while they waited for news.
"They could have at least let us say hi," JD grumbled as he typed in a list of serial numbers from the confiscated weapons.
"They've both lost weight and neither one of 'em had any extra to loose," Nathan worried aloud.
"Tired, they both looked exhausted," Buck muttered.
"Ezra's hair was mussed, like he was dragging his fingers through it," Josiah sighed.
"You figure he's headed for one of those migraines?" Buck's head jerked up and his eyes narrowed in concern.
"I think so, too," Nathan sighed. "We'd best be prepared."
Almost 5 hours later, the threesome entered the team offices. Chris stormed in following Vin and Ezra, slamming the door viciously.
"That poor door didn't do anything, Stud. No need to rip it off its hinges," Buck soothed.
"Buck don't, just don't!" Chris snarled.
"Chris, pipe down, Junior's hurtin'," Buck rose hurriedly and reached out to steady the wavering man.
Tanner was shaking like a leaf in a gale, his hands pressed over his ears and his eyes tightly closed.
"Mr. Tanner has been suffering a megrim for two days," Ezra said faintly.
"Vin, we shall retire to the conference room as it contains no outside light source." Ezra said softly, before reaching out to touch Tanner's elbow.
"Kay," Vin breathed painfully, allowing Ezra to lead him. His eyes stayed tightly closed as he followed without protest.
"I'll get the blankets and pillows out of Chris' closet," JD whispered, as the conference room door closed quietly.
"Damn, I didn't realize. He seemed fine downstairs." Chris hissed, a dismayed look on his face.
"Chris you know good and well Ace and Slick wouldn't show weakness in front of outsiders," Buck chided gently.
"JD, wrap the pillow in this." Josiah opened one of Ezra's desk drawers and pulled out a silk shirt stored there for emergencies. "I promise Ez won't mind."
"I'll get an ice pack and that ginger tea. Everybody be prepared, Dr. Appleton's prescribed a new pain killer," Nathan warned.
Groans could be heard throughout the room.
"I don't think it can get much worse than that last crap." Buck winced at the memory.
"From your mouth to God's ears," Josiah groaned. Sanchez began to empty the office waste cans and line them with fresh plastic bags, setting them next to the conference room wall as he finished.
"Damp towel, tea, ice pack, prescription," Nathan listed. "Thanks JD," Nathan sighed as a small canvas bag was added to his load. "Vin will want to change into something more comfortable."
Opening the door, Nathan groaned and picked up two of the waste cans. "Get Ez's bag, he's down too."
Vin's eyes opened cautiously in the dim room. "Cowboy?"
"Right here Pard," Chris answered softly.
"Ez? Sick too?" Vin breathed.
"Yeah. He's over the worst of it. Sleeping now, you know how those pills knock him out," Chris reminded.
"Tell Buck I'm sorry," Vin sighed.
"Not the first time I've been puked on, Junior." Buck spoke up in a soothing purr.
"JD?" Vin asked.
"A bit green with the pair of you spewing all over the place," Buck chuckled faintly.
"Aw Hell. How long?" Vin groaned.
"It's almost 9." Chris rubbed Vin's shoulder comfortingly.
"I slept all day?" Vin grunted in disbelief.
"Those new pills seemed to actually work. It's 9 a.m.," Chris responded.
"9 A.M. Aw hell," Vin growled in a normal level. "I slept through?" Vin asked in dismay.
"Nope, 'bout midnight you 'tapped a kidney' and went around snuffling everybody. Once you had made sure we were alright, you laid down and slept like a baby." Buck informed the tracker.
"It looks like those new pills might really work on the migraines. Nate's real pleased," Chris said.
"'Fer a while maybe," Vin sighed, reminding them of his weird responses to pain medicine.
"Well now, you sure look better. Any idea what set you and Ezra off?" Nathan asked while making a quick visual inspection of Tanner.
"Skin ain't hurtin' now. You can do yer thing, Nate," Vin yawned.
Pulling his kit over, Nathan got out a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. "If it's too much, speak up," Nathan ordered.
"Chris said Bullva held a gun to Ez's head three different times." Buck said shakily.
Tanner nodded tiredly. "Rekin tha stress is part of what brought on tha damn headaches," Vin admitted. Tanner began his private debriefing with Chris, covering the things that either weren't of interest to the legal staff, or shouldn't be discussed outside of the team.
"Josiah's profile was accurate . . . to a point. He didn't know Bullva'd started using cocaine. Man was paranoid as hell 'fore he started using, jist got crazy after. Yah could see him losin' it. His new gal is inta that new age stuff. Incense burning all tha time, crystals flashing from all over tha place." Vin reported.
"Oh joy, that's just dandy. First you get stress, and then add triggers on top of it," Nathan huffed.
"Wasn't tha worst of it. Seems Bullva saw some kind of a report on TV about super cops of some kind. Installed a piss poor surveillance system on tha rooms where Ez and I were stayin'. Had a low-level feedback on all tha time." Vin groaned.
"So everything was irritating you," Nathan empathized.
"Meonie, that's tha new gal, was real sympathetic 'bout tha' laundry detergent after Ez explained things. So's at least I quit itchin. Ez and I started sleeping out by the fountain in tha courtyard." Vin continued.
"Natural white noise, it would have helped them deal with the feedback." JD explained quietly as he entered the room, responding to the puzzled looks of Chris and Nathan.
"You're gonna rot your teeth out," Nathan snapped, glaring at the large coke and Twinkie that JD called breakfast.
Vin picked up his story without a blink, more than familiar with interruptions by his team mates. "'Til Meonie got a might more friendly than we was comfortable wit'. Oh, iffen it comes up, Ez and me is life partners according ta them tapes." Vin flushed.
"How much of an act did you two have to put on?" Chris asked.
"Nothin' ta embarrass nobody. Sittin' close, a couple of back rubs. That kind of thing. I ended up snuffling Ez a time er two." Vin smiled sheepishly. Glad tha fellas just accepted the snuffling and never asked fer a reason. "We wasn't comfortable in a strange house and didn't want ta offend our host." Vin grinned, revealing how they managed to stay out of Meonie's clutches and still keep things innocent.
"Good, good job," Chris nodded, "both of you." Larabee smiled faintly at the blurry, half open emerald green eyes.
"Sure glad you two are back," Buck gently patted Ezra's foot sticking out from under the blanket.
"Didn't figure we was gettin' out this time." Vin admitted.
"Mr. Bullva seemed to lose his fragile hold on sanity after receiving some type of news about a 'super cop'. It was at that time Mr. Tanner and I were sequestered and the monitoring system installed." Ezra sat up with a yawn.
"How's the headache?" Nathan asked in concern, although he was unable to suppress the smile at how disheveled Ezra appeared.
"Tolerable, quite tolerable, Mr. Jackson. I might even hazard to state virtually non-existent." Ezra looked relieved.
"Are you gentlemen familiar with a report on this 'super cop'?" Ezra asked. "Or is this yet another part of Mr. Bullva's paranoia?"
"It's real enough. Been all over the news for a couple of weeks now." Chris huffed.
"Yeah some researcher claimed that a police detective in Washington. . . The state not the capital. . . Is some kind of super cop. A forensic lab on legs. He can see further, hear better, etc." JD said cheerfully. "Sandberg, that's the researcher, later admitted he lied about everything."
"All his senses is better?" Vin asked softly.
"That's what Blair claimed. He has since refuted his claims. Although from what I understand of the situation, Blair never released any such information in the first place. It appears a publishing company was attempting to pressure Blair into releasing a manuscript. At least that's what Naomi was saying." Josiah entered the room carrying six coffee cups.
"You know this author, Mr. Sanchez?" Ezra asked in surprise.
"Naomi, Blair's mother, was part of my 'well spent' youth," Josiah chuckled.
"She's tha one what taught yah ta french braid hair?" Vin asked softly.
"The very one. Blair could spin a windy that was believable, but even as a small child he was scrupulously honest when it came to anything dealing with school or research. He was always fascinated by Sentinels," Josiah mused. A faint smile lit his features in memory.
"Sentinels?" Vin asked curiously.
"Tribal guardians with all five senses enhanced," Josiah explained.
"Six, six senses." Vin muttered. "Tha beloved warriors."
"You've heard of sentinels?" JD demanded.
"Comanche and Kiowa both have stories of them what was chosen." Vin shrugged.
"Cherokee as well," Josiah started, handing out cups.
"No coffee," Nathan snatched Ezra's cup out of his hand. "The last thing you two need is caffeine.
"It's tea, Nate. Peppermint wit' honey," Vin took his cup from Josiah.
"Vin's nose must be as good as that Detective Ellison that Sandberg wrote about," JD laughed.
"Ellison?" Vin asked faintly.
"Yeah James Ellison, he was a ranger same as you. Did you know him?" JD asked curiously.
Tanner's face paled and the cup slipped through his lax fingers, hitting the floor and spilling the tea across the blankets. Vin was already up and almost out the door before it came to a stop.
"Vin, are you sick?"
"Where are you going?"
Voices demanded to know what was going on.
"Capt'n, it'th tha Capt'n. He'th alive," Vin said brokenly. "Ah gotta go."
"Whoa Junior, slow down. You don't even know where you're going to," Buck reminded.
"I got . . . need . . . pleathe." Vin choked on a sob before slowly turning around, revealing his desperate expression.
/Easy Vin, let us help"JD get plane tickets. Josiah, Nate hit everyone's place and close them down for an indefinite period. Get Tiny to take care of the horses. Does everyone have their hazard bag?" Chris demanded.
Heads nodded, everyone kept a week's supply of clothing packed and left in the office in case of a call out. JD had started calling them the hazard bags, since anything in the bags had to be replaced any time they were used.
"Cancel appointments people. I'm going to talk to Orrin." Chris stalked out the door.
"You two rest," Nathan ordered worriedly before following Josiah out.
After making arrangements with Orrin Travis, Larabee returned to the team offices to find everyone, with the exception of Nathan and Josiah, in attendance.
Relief washed over the worried faces as Chris stepped into the room. All eyes turned to the slender, tense figure standing in front of the west-facing windows.
"How long has he been like this?" Chris growled.
"Ever since you left," Buck sighed.
"Flashbacks?" Chris hissed.
"After all do consideration, it is my conjecture Sergeant Tanner, is in fact, waiting to report the loss of his Ranger team to his superior officer," Ezra said bitterly.
"Yeah, probably the way he's thinking." Chris grunted and started to walk over to where Tanner stood.
JD silently handed Chris a print-out as he passed by. Larabee glanced down at the flight information. 6 p.m. It's going be a long day.
/How's the headache?/ Chris asked as he stepped up.
/It's there/ Vin admitted.
/Won't be flying out 'til six. Get some rest./
"Cain't sit still," Tanner breathed. "I need ta run," Vin finally turned his head and looked over at Larabee. /I'se gonna fly inta a million pieces. Mah head's spinnin' like one of them wheels in a hamster cage./
/Making yourself sick won't help./ Chris warned.
/Won't overdo/ Tanner promised.
"Buck, take Vin down to the gym and let him run. Then, you two can bring back lunch for everyone," Larabee ordered. "Five miles and no more."
"Sure Stud, the puppy needs his walkies." Buck teased, following the fast moving Tanner out the door. "I'll keep an eye on him," Wilmington promised as he stepped into the hall.
"Hey wait up, Junior," Buck's voice carried back to the rest of the team.
"This Detective Ellison appears to quite effective in his duties. His conviction rate is impressive. Highly decorated as a military and police officer." Ezra commented, studying his computer screen. "I will confess to being apprehensive for our compatriot. This Ellison has the capability to cause great harm to our noble-hearted friend. A few careless words could harm him immeasurably."
"Why didn't Vin know he was alive?" Chris scowled. "Why didn't Ellison come after him?"
"It is a matter of some concern." Standish agreed.
"How's the headache?" Chris studied his charming itch worriedly.
"A painful memory," Ezra drawled, allowing Larabee to see past the mask for a moment.
"Don't push it, Standish," Chris said.
"Vin needs us," Ezra reminded softly.
So you'll behave yourself. You wouldn't want to let a friend down, you fraud. Larabee nodded expressionlessly.
"I think I know why Vin didn't know Ellison was alive." JD blurted.
Rolling his chair over to a dry erase board, he began laying out a time line. "According to the article in News Update, Ellison's chopper went down in November of '95. Vin's team was hit in Feb. of '97. Ellison was recovered May 1997. Vin was in the hospital then."
"Vin was in a real bad way, so it's doubtful if he was ever told." Chris nodded.
"Old news by the time Vin was paying attention to stuff," JD agreed.
"That does not explain Ellison's lack of concern for his team mate." Ezra's drawl was very evident.
Chris looked at the board and considered his own career in the SEALS. "He'd have been in heavy debriefing. They wouldn't have let him go to the head on his own. Army Intelligence would have been sifting through that man's brain for everything they could dig up. His outside contact would have been almost non existent. They wouldn't have told him about Vin, not and chance Ellison taking off." Larabee mused. "Especially since they didn't expect Vin to live."
"It doesn't explain why Vin didn't know 'til now." JD sounded bewildered.
"Mr. Tanner has only recently begun dealing with that period of his life. It is possible, even quite probable, that any associates from that period would avoid mentioning Ellison, assuming that Vin is already aware of the Captain's survival and is at odds with him for some unknown reason." Ezra reasoned.
Chris' worried eyes followed Vin the rest of the afternoon, but the headache seemed to be fading away.
The group had a late lunch, or perhaps early supper, since they would be flying out at 6 pm. Nathan was pleasantly surprised as Vin and Ezra cleaned their plates.
"Boys ought to pick up that lost weight in no time, packing it away like that," Buck chuckled warmly.
"Even a healthy meal," Nathan teased.
"Wanted Mexican but didn't figure it'd be a good idea," Vin sighed.
"I for one, will be forever grateful for your restraint. I would have been apprehensive over our arriving animate in Washington State had we consumed Mexican cuisine previous to embarking," Ezra drawled sweetly.
"What?" voices questioned.
"Ez is saying they don't want explosives, and flammables on them planes." Vin answered calmly. "Figures tha plane would have exploded.
"Well, Buck is the one what goes boom, ain't he?" Vin smirked.
"Hey, it doesn't happen often," the explosive's expert protested sheepishly.
"Every time you consume refried beans," Ezra noted.
"Nah, it . . ." Buck spluttered.
"Yes, it does!" The rest of the team chorused.