Lost and Found
Summary: Vin, against advice of counsel (Chris), takes off, is chased, is caught and is told and shown he is loved. (I hate summaries.)
Category/Pairings: Discipline, slash (nothing shown), Magnificent Seven ATF C/V
Series/Standalone: Pre-quel to my other story in this universe, "Don't play with fire." It might help to have read that one first but this one should be able to be read on its own.
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys. I don't own the concept. I don't own anything worth suing over except a whole lotta debt which you are more than welcome to.
Archive: Please contact me.
Feedback: Please, I live for feedback. On or off list is fine. I would prefer that if you have constructive critism that you send it off list so there isn't some terrible backlash on the list. I have seen too many flame wars and don't want one here.
Notes: This is a story using characters from the Magnificent 7 television show staring Michael Biehn as Chris Larabee and Eric Close as Vin Tanner (plus five other guys). A couple of years ago, MOG took that original group and decided that they needed to live in the present in Denver CO and be Federal Agents in the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. She opened her sandbox for anyone to write in. The result was tons and tons of stories in that AU. I decided that Chris and Vin needed to get together and Vin needed a strong hand to keep him in line at times.
Thanks: Special thanks and love goes out to my Beta Kristen. I couldn't have written this without her. I would have hit the delete button instead of the send button if it wasn't for her. Thus, I dedicate this story to her. All mistakes and problems are my own.
Chris Larabee walked out of the elevator onto the eleventh floor of the federal building at 7:00 am ready to get a jump on the day. After starting coffee in the break room and snagging a stale doughnut left over from the day before, he wandered toward his office. While in the hall he noticed a light coming from one of the cubicles.
"Hey Vin," Chris said, leaning in the door frame.
"Hey Cowboy," Vin said, looking up.
Chris took a long, hard look at his agent and realized... "You look like shit, Tanner."
"I'm fine," responded Vin brusquely.
Chris didn't agree. He knew their last case had hit Vin hard. Over the last three weeks the two youngest ATF agents on the team - Vin and JD - had been undercover in a local high school where guns had been traded on an increasingly high rate. One month before, an honor roll student had taken a gun, shot two kids, then turned the gun on himself. Fortunately for the boy, the gun misfired and the bullet missed killing him only, leaving a small scar where the bullet grazed his forehead.
Talking with the student later, the police were informed that the two students he shot had been bullying his younger brother and threatening him with guns if he didn't buy drugs and weapons from them. The older brother finally had had enough. He bought a gun from the boys and then shot them with it. The dead boys had been pawns in a larger gun war being fought on the high school campus.
Larabee and his ATF team had been sent in to stop the gun trade on the campus. J.D. Dunne, twenty-one years old and looking 15 on a good day, had been established as a sophomore in the school. Vin Tanner was set up as his older brother, a senior. The weapons gangs had quickly latched onto the two young men as new buyers and possibly more. After three weeks of working with the gun sellers, a meet was established between Vin, JD, and the main boss of the gun-running syndicate.
At the meet, everything went wrong. All of the guards, lookouts, and runners for the boss were young high school and middle school aged kids. Unfortunately, one of the kids lived in Vin's neighborhood and recognized both agents. A firefight broke out and when the dust settled, eight kids were dead, including Juan, the neighborhood kid. JD was shot in the leg, Vin in the arm, and the boss had escaped out the back.
While Vin was on the mend physically, his mental state had Chris concerned. For the fourth day in a row, Vin had beaten him to the office after having stayed later than anyone else the night before.
Neither JD, Buck, nor any of the rest of the team blamed Vin for JD's injuries or the death of the kids, but Vin blamed himself.
"Did you sleep at all last night?" Chris asked, concerned.
"Yeah, I slept some last night, pard," Vin said, not looking at Chris. The connection that had formed upon their first meeting made it impossible for Vin to lie to his friend's face.
"How much sleep, kid?" Chris asked, knowing that Vin was lying.
"Why don't you take the day off and go on back to the ranch? I've got a couple of new horses over the weekend. You could check them over for me. I know one of the other horses is getting sick, you could look at him for me. When your done, you can stretch out and take a nap," Chris asked, knowing that suggesting a nap would not go over well even though that was what Vin needed. "You're getting sick, you haven't slept or eaten in days. Go back and take a break."
"I gotta get these reports done for IA. And I was helpin' get JD's reports done 'cause he's hurt. And I have to finish up the details for the funeral for Juan. And I gotta..."
"Not all today, Vin," Chris interrupted. "The boys will be in later this morning and then we're all taking off early and going out to the ranch for a cook-out. Why don't you go now? You can have some time alone with the horses before JD and Ezra get out there."
Early on, the team began having regular cook-outs at the end of busts as a cool down and unwinding from the stress of the job. At the very first one, the three youngest team members had disappeared early. It took Chris and the others an hour to finally find Ezra, Vin and JD in the barn with the horses. Since then all three had become devoted to the animals and spent as much time as they could around them.
JD had been around horses when he was younger and could never get enough of them. He would pester Chris and the others continuously to get to go out for rides.
Although Ezra would not "debase myself with menial labor" such as fencing or hard labor on the ranch, he could and would spend hours helping care for the horses.
Vin would do anything for the animals. He groomed them and took care of the barn. He had been at the ranch when one of the mares went into labor and she began having complications. Vin saved not only the mare but also the colt when he helped with the delivery. The colt was now devoted to the young man and followed him around like a puppy.
While Vin never minded sharing the barn and the animals with Ezra and JD, Chris knew that time alone with the animals was rare for the quiet sniper and tried to find ways to give him solitude in the barn.
With the thought of a chance alone with the animals, Vin seemed to perk up and began getting his things together. "I guess I could wait till later with this stuff. I'll head on out."
Although he sounded happy, Vin's thoughts were going a different direction as he grabbed his stuff and headed for his jeep and the ranch. *I knew they were mad at me for getting' JD shot and those kids killed. Senora Rodriguez won't talk to me 'cause I killed her grandson. Buck and JD hate me. Chris doesn't even want me around them. He doesn't think I can do the stuff and wants me gone from the office.*
Vin continued to berate himself all the way to the ranch. By the time he parked his battered jeep near the barn, he was convinced that the team did not trust him nor want him around.
Vin began saddling one of the horses and, without any thought, planning, or a jacket, he mounted up and rode out towards the woods and mountain trails.
A few hours later, Chris and the rest of the team pulled into the ranch.
Opening the door, Chris called out, "Vin, we're here."
"Where's Vin?" JD asked, hobbling in on his crutches. "I saw the jeep by the barn."
"Knowing him, he's in the barn with the horses still. Sit down before you fall, JD," Chris said, adding the last as JD starting tilting toward the side.
"I'm fine," the youngest teammate said, aggravated that he wasn't.
"Sure. You sit down, and I'll go get Junior," Buck stated, coming up behind his roommate and helping him onto the couch. Once JD was tucked in to the satisfaction of Buck and Chris, Buck headed down to the barn and Chris headed into the kitchen.
"Want anything to drink JD?" Chris called.
"Yeah, a beer, thanks," the boy answered, hopefully.
"Nope, here's a coke. No alcohol while on drugs, kid. As soon as you are off antibiotics, I'll spring for the first round, but until then, coke."
"Chris, is Vin okay?" JD asked tentatively.
Taking a deep breathe and sitting next to the youngest agent, Chris attempted to answer. "I don't know, JD. I don't think he is. I think he's scared of what happened and what almost happened to you."
"Does he hate me?" asked the boy quietly.
"NO!!" Chris answered firmly. "Right now, he's scared. He thinks that this is all his fault. He thinks that he caused you to get shot and that he caused Juan to die."
"But it's not his fault, it's the fault of those idiots selling guns and drugs at the school. Juan brought it on himself because he was selling and working for the gun runners. How did Vin cause that?"
At that moment, Buck walked back into the room. "Junior's not in the barn. His saddle and tack are missin' and so is the black gelding."
"Shit. That's the horse who's sick. He's got croup in his lungs. I was hopin' Vin would be able to get him to calm enough to take his meds. I warned Vin about him. What the hell was he thinkin'?" As he was talking, Chris was gathering the things he need to go after his teammate and best friend. "And what the hell was he thinkin' runnin' out like that. He knew we were coming out. He knew I told him to come out and take a nap. He knew he was getting' sick. What the hell was he thinkin'?"
Watching from his seat on the couch, JD spoke up. "I don't think he's been thinkin' about much beyond the bust lately Chris."
"When I catch him and his scrawny Texas-ass, he sure as hell will be thinking," Chris stated, charging out into the afternoon.
Up in the mountains, Vin was starting to think again. After listening to the horse's raspy breathing, Vin realized that the horse he had ridden out on was the sick horse that Chris wanted him to take a look at. Walking the horse, Vin poured out his heart to the sick animal.
"What am I gonna do, Black? JD and Buck hate me 'cause I got Juan killed. Chris doesn't want me around. What am I gonna do without Chris? Did I tell you that I love him? I haven't told him. I bet he'd shoot me if he knew. Ever since that day three months ago when I saw him in that warehouse I knew. He was the one. It should be illegal for someone to look that good in black. Except for you, Black."
Throughout his monologue, Vin had been leading the horse back towards the ranch. At the top of a small hill less than a mile from the house, Black realized how close he was to home and the warmth of the barn and he broke free of Vin's light grip on the reins and ran home.
"And even you don't want to be around me," Vin said to the departing horse. "The whole team is there now. It would be best if I wasn't there. They would have a better time."
As the snow started to fall and the sun began to set, Vin turned away from the home where his heart ached to be and slowly walked back into the woods.
"You are not going anywhere but back into the house, JD!" Chris shouted at the young man tottering on his crutches as he tightened the cinch on his saddle.
"Come on, Chris. I got a jacket on, I won't be walking on my leg, and I'm good with the horses. They won't hurt me," JD whined, knowing that he was losing. The argument over JD going with Chris to look for Vin had been raging for the entire twenty minutes that they had been in the barn.
Chris turned and glared at the young man. "One last time. Get into the house, sit on the couch, and don't move a muscle. Is that understand?"
Taking his life into his hands, JD demanded, "Why?"
"Jonathan Daniel Dunne, get your ass into that house. You are injured. You can barely stand on your leg with your crutches and have not even been cleared for walking beyond the limits of bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and couches. You shouldn't even be in this barn. Buck, take him back into the house before he falls on his face."
JD turned around and started limping toward the house. Buck sent a glare at Chris letting him know that the speech was not warranted or appreciated.
Hanging his head, Chris called out, "JD?"
"Yes, sir," a quiet voice answered with a sniff.
Walking up to the young man and speaking softly to the boy, Chris said, "It will be okay. I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at Vin for taking off, and I am scared because he's scared, hurt, tired, and sick. I know that you want to help and you would normally do a great job helping. But I need you to get better. Let Buck take you inside and rest. I'll go get Vin, have a talk with him, and then we'll be home. Okay?"
"Yes, sir," JD answered with a grin as Chris reached out and ruffled his hair.
As JD stepped out of the barn, he saw the black gelding come trotting up without his rider. "Chris!"
At JD's cry, Chris came running. "Damn, it's Black. Ezra, could you brush him down and take care of him? He needs his medicine. There's a stove for boiling the water for the meds in the back. You're the best hope for getting him to calm enough to take it in. Could you do that and keep an eye on JD?"
"I can take care of this fine animal and see to the necessities of his treatment. I shall also watch our young Mr. Dunne and see that he too is taken care of. Please, keep in contact and let us know of the search," Ezra answered, grabbing the reins of the sick animal and leading him to his stall.
"Chris, here are radios. We can split up and cover more ground." Josiah stated, handing walkie-talkies to his teammates.
As soon as the horses were saddled and ready, Chris mounted and called out to Buck, Josiah and Nathan, "Let's ride, boys."
"Ezra?" JD asked from his position by the door as he watched the others ride off in different directions.
"Yes, Mr. Dunne?"
"Vin's gonna be okay, right?"
"Mr. Tanner shall be fine," Ezra answered. But added under his breath, "Up until the moment Mr. Larabee finds him."
"Chris, this is Buck, have you found anything yet?"
"Negative. Not even a track." Chris sounded frustrated over the radio.
"You know Brother Tanner can disappear in these woods without any tracks whenever he wants. No tracks doesn't mean anything." Josiah's calm voice filtered through the radio.
"It's dark, Chris, and we're losing the moon's light in these woods," Nathan announced through his radio.
"I know. Just a little while longer. We have to find him. He's sick, he doesn't have a jacket on, and it's getting colder out here. Keep searching," Chris answered.
As Chris crested the top of the next hill and peered into the woods, he spotted a small figure huddled in the roots at the bottom of a huge tree. Chris cautiously approached the figure and realized that it was Vin and that the brat was asleep.
Stopping while he was still out of earshot, Chris called the others on his radio. "Boys, I found him. Why don't you head on back and head home. Come out tomorrow and we'll do our cook out and play some poker. I'll get our runaway home."
"Roger that, good luck," Nathan answered, turning around and heading back to the ranch.
"Ten-four, Chris, see you tomorrow," Josiah called out as he too headed for home.
"Chris, don't forget he's scared and sick. Don't go off on him until he understands what he done wrong. He ain't had a lot of people stick by him in his life. Hell, he probably ain't had no one do that. Make sure he understands." Leave it to Buck to be the voice of reason for Chris. "And Chris?" Buck continued.
"What, Buck?" Chris asked.
"Tell him that you love him. He deserves to know. I think you'll be surprised by him. See ya tomorrow." Buck signed off, leaving Chris staring at his radio in astonishment.
His love for Vin had been instantaneous and unstoppable. He thought that he had kept his secret from the rest of the guys, but, Buck, his oldest friend, had seen through him immediately.
After securing his horse and slowly approaching his young friend, Chris hesitated in waking him up. *What am I gonna say to him?* Chris thought, sitting down. *We've already talked about him going out on his own and risking himself needlessly. I know I threatened to punish him if he ever did it again but I don't think he believed me. I need to show him how much I care about him. How much his reckless behavior hurts the rest of us. I need to tell him I love him. I need to show him that I will be there for him, even when he does something as stupid as taking off in the snow without a jacket and already sick.*
Staring at the man he was in love with, Chris came to the conclusion that although Vin was sick and tired, Chris needed to go ahead and take action. It had only been six months since they had met but already Vin had needlessly put himself repeatedly in danger. Chris had already lost one family when his wife and son died. He would not, could not, lose another love, especially because that love acted recklessly. It had to stop.
With his decision on his course of action made, Chris reached over and gently shook Vin's shoulder to wake him.
"Vin, time to get up."
"Hmmm, five more minutes," the sleepy voice answered.
"Vincent, wake up," Chris said a little louder with a stronger shake.
"Hi, Cowboy," Vin mumbled sleepily. At that moment, Vin, blinking his eyes and rubbing the sleep from them with his fists, looked five years old. "What are you doing here?"
"Looking for you, kid," Chris answered, exasperated. "What are YOU doing here? I thought you were going to take a look at Black and then go take a nap."
With a quick, sheepish grin, Vin said, "I was nappin', till ya woke me."
"Take a nap inside at the ranch," Chris said with a stern look on his face.
"You never said to nap at the ranch, you just said take a nap and I was," Vin said peevishly.
"Vincent Tanner!" Chris said, glaring at Vin.
"You never said nothing like napping at the ranch," Vin declared, pouting and crossing his arms.
"Did you know that when you're tired and sick you act like you're five years old?" Chris asked. "Fine, if you are going to act five, I'll treat you that way. You knew what I meant when I said take a nap. You also knew what I meant when we had a discussion last month about you going off on your own and taking risks. I said I would take you over my knee if you ever did something like that again. This is considered going off on your own and taking a needless risk." Grabbing Vin's arm, Chris pulled him up and over his lap in one swift motion.
"Why are you over my knees, Vincent?" Chris asked with a swat to the jean covered backside, remembering Buck's advice and hoping he would get a little insight into Vin's mind.
"'Cause I took your horse out," Vin answered, thinking Chris was upset over stealing Black.
Chris was startled by this revelation. Pausing his hand in the air, Chris addressed Vin's concern. "Vin, I'm not mad that you took out Black. I know you. You know you have permission to ride any horse in the barn without asking, anytime you want. But why are you going to get a spanking?" Chris asked again.
"'Cause I coulda hurt Black by takin' him out with him being sick," Vin answered, knowing that hurting Black was the only thing Chris could be upset about today. *Ain't done nothing else today for him to be mad about* Vin thought.
Chris rolled Vin over and pulled him up into a sitting position. "Vin, do you know why I am upset enough that I am going to spank you?" Chris asked, truly concerned.
"'Cause I killed Juan and got JD shot?" Vin questioned, confused.
"No Vin," Chris said, sadly. "I am not upset with you over what happened. You did NOTHING wrong at all with that. YOU did NOT kill Juan. YOU did NOT get JD shot. That all happened because of the gun dealers at the school. You were trying to stop them. You did everything right at the school and with JD." Chris held Vin on his lap and in his arms wishing he could make the younger man see that he was not at fault. "Vin, do you know why I am going to give you a spanking?" Chris asked again.
"No, sir," came the quiet reply from Vin, who was staring at the ground.
Placing his hand under Vin's chin, Chris said, "Vin, look at me, please."
Vin pulled his face out of Chris' hand and returned to staring at the ground.
"Vincent Michael Tanner. Look at me," Chris stated in a deep authoritative voice. Whether it was the result of his full name being used or the tone of voice, Vin immediately looked up at his boss.
"I am upset with you, Vincent, because I told you to go to the ranch. You are hurt, lacking sleep and food, and getting sick. You took off into the forest without any thought to your own welfare. I will not tolerate you hurting yourself or putting yourself in danger. THAT is why you are going to get a spanking. This isn't the first time that acting without thinking endangers yourself. You didn't get away with it last time, you're not getting away with it tonight, and you won't get away with it in the future. I love you too much to let you needlessly hurt yourself." Chris let the last sentence slip out in a whisper, not sure of the reception he would get to the admission.
"You love me?" Vin asked, amazed that someone as wonderful as Chris could love someone like himself.
"Yes. I love you. I think of all of the boys as family. JD and Ezra as sons, Buck and Nathan as brothers, Josiah as an uncle. But you, Vin, you are more than family. You are the other half of my soul. Since the moment that I saw you climb down from those rafters, I knew there was a connection. I know that you have played around with guys before and so have I, but, I don't want to play around with you. I WON'T play around with you. You are too important to me. I will do anything I can to keep you safe. Including tanning your backside when you fail to watch out for yourself." With that statement of love, Chris turned Vin back over his knee and started the conversation over again. "Why are you over my knees, Vin?"
"'Cause I didn't do what you said and take a nap after lookin' at the horses," Vin stated.
"That's right," Chris answered with a swat to Vin's backside. Continuing to rain down swats, he asked, "Why else?"
"'Cause I needlessly endangered my life. OWWWW. And I didn't take care of myself," Vin answered, squirming under the barrage of spanks.
"That's right. From now on, whenever you needlessly endanger your life you and I will be back in this position," Chris declared. "Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," Vin yelled, almost in tears.
After another hour of spanking, or one minute in non-spankee time, Chris asked his final question, bringing the spanking to a close. "And now, why else I am giving you a spanking, Vin?"
"Uh ..." Vin hesitated, not knowing the answer.
"It's the most important of the reasons, Vin. Why am I doing this?" Chris asked.
"Oh. 'Cause you love me," Vin responded, with a grin.
With that, Chris pulled the younger man into his arms and held him tight. "That's right. I love you, little one."
"I'm not little," Vin responded, pouting at the endearment.
"Sure you are. I'm bigger than you, thus you're my little one," Chris said with a grin and a quick kiss to Vin's forehead.
"Not my fault," Vin said, sounding all of three years old, and not looking much older. Before Chris could respond, Vin let out a jaw popping yawn and snuggled into Chris' arms.
"Let's get you back to the ranch and into bed, little one."
Chris steered his horse down the trail towards the barn. He used the excuse of having to hold the reins with Vin sitting in front of him as his way to put his arms around the man he loved. Half way home, Chris realized the smooth gait of the horse on top of his the physical and emotional exhaustion, was lulling Vin to sleep despite the sore backside. Casually, Chris brought his arms closer to his body. Vin responded by leaning back against Chris and letting Chris bear his complete weight.
Chris delighted in the trust the younger man showed and held him tight. *Just to keep him securely on the horse.* Chris thought with a grin *That's my story and I'm sticking to it.*
Chris rode into the barn and slid down from the horse, keeping one arm around Vin. "OK, little one, time to get down," Chris told him.
"Don't wanna," Vin responded, still seated with his eyes shut.
Pulling him down and into his arms, Chris grinned at the sleepy young man. "Come on, little one, lets go to bed."
Opening his eyes, Vin stared hard at Chris. "You'll come too?" he asked, pleading with his eyes.
"Yes, love, I'll come too."
"'Kay," Vin responded, again snuggling into the strong arms that held him safe and secure.
After carrying him to the bedroom and helping change him into sweats and a t-shirt, Chris laid his young lover on his big bed.
Chris carefully tucked him in and, with a pull from Vin, spooned up behind him. "Good night, little one," he said, thinking that Vin had succumbed to the sandman.
"Night," came the whispered Texas drawl. "Love ya, cowboy."
That night, Chris fell asleep with a smile on his face and his soul in his arms.
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