By Sarah (winks7985)

The Magnificent Seven / ATF AU

Rated R



Part 3

The trip to Oak Falls had taken almost an hour due to traffic congestion in Denver and Boulder.  Once on the other side of Boulder though, it was as though civilization took a step back about thirty years or so.  There were modest but adequate houses cheerily painted and well-maintained with large, comfortable yards; nothing like the modern cookie-cutter developments that seemed to spring up everywhere.  Life out here would definitely be a refreshing change of pace from the city, Tanner thought as he watched the scenery roll by.

Chris, Vin and Nathan rode in the Ram and had the lead, while the others followed in Josiah’s suburban.

Halfway from Denver to Boulder, Vin had sent a message to Ezra via text.  Without knowing who might be around Ezra when he got these messages, the two had agreed on an easy code.

The message sent was: Hey cuz! Gonna be in Boulder this afternoon dropping off. You around for a bite?

They were almost through the snarl of traffic in Boulder when the message was returned with: Haven’t seen you in forever. How long you here? I know a great place I can meet you there.

“Bout time,” Nathan said humorously from the back seat.

Vin shook his head and smiled.  He sent back: Name the place. I trust your choice.

Shortly after, he was answered with: 1:30? Lunch rush should be clear. Phil’s Diner on Main has the best rubens.  Looking forward to the company.

Vin smiled as he quickly sent back: It’s a date. See ya then.

“So?” Chris asked when it seemed that the sharpshooter was going to keep everything to himself.

“1:30 at a diner in Boulder,” Vin answered flatly.

“What did all that other stuff mean?” Nathan asked.

Vin stared out the window as the world passed.  “Ezra had me set up as his cousin from out of town; a teamster.  That way, it wouldn’t be so odd for someone to just show up.  Him picking the place means that there’s no problem in getting there, ‘Looking forward to the company’ means he’s pretty sure he won’t be alone, and so we shouldn’t let our guard down when we’re there.”

“And rubens?” Chris asked.

Vin half chuckled in amusement.  “Sometimes a sandwich is just a sandwich.  The man likes his rubens.”

Nathan snorted from the back seat. 

“Well…  alright then,” Chris said and shrugged.


 The Oak Falls police station was on the main road through town.  It was a decent, if small sized building, maybe about the size of some of the one storey old shops in Denver.  There wasn’t anything on either side of the building for a good 500 feet in each direction; people liked their space out here.  The parking lot was small, but then so was the town’s police force. 

The two vehicles pulled into two adjoining spaces to the right of the building marked ‘Visitor Parking’.  The six men slid from the vehicles, stretching cramped muscles and working out kinks from the ride.  Gathering their gear, they headed for the front of the building and the entrance.

Chris was the first to enter, taking off his sunglasses as he did.  He took in the main room: a small lobby area to the right, a half wall sequestering it from the rest of the squad room; an old-school counter with a deputy stationed on the other side at a computer; past her, the rest of the squad room was open, with desks facing desks making little wooden islands in a sea of floor.  On the back wall, several glass windows were tell tale signs of interrogation rooms, and off to the left, he could see metal bars through an open door: holding cells.

As the other five men followed through the doors, they all took a minute to allow their eyes to adjust to the change in light. 

Buck stifled a chuckle.  “Paging Barney Fife.”

Chris silenced him with a look.  Turning around, he walked towards the seated deputy who had been watching them with a wary eye since their arrival.

“Hi,” Chris said.  “We’re here to see Chief Owens?”

She smiled back at him.  “Ok.  And you are?”

“Chris Larabee, ATF,” he showed her his credentials.  “This is my team,” he indicated with a nod over his shoulder.  “Orin Travis said you would be expecting us.”

“Oh right!” she said.  “Come right around,” she stood and indicated the small gate at the end of the counter.

“Jeez, this reminds me of high school, getting sent to the principal’s office,” JD said quietly as they all made their way through the gate.

“What did you get sent to the principal’s office for?” Buck asked incredulously.

JD looked at him with a half smile.  “Stuff.”

“Right,” Wilmington replied.

The deputy led them to one of the only rooms along the side of the large open area and knocked on the door to the office.  Upon hearing a sound of acknowledgement, she opened the door and leaned in.  “Chief, the ATF is here.”

“Show them in,” a voice said pleasantly from within the office.

The deputy turned and smiled at Chris, gesturing to the open door with a swish of her hand.  She waited until all the men had entered and shut the door behind them.

Chief Susan Owens stood and came around her desk, offering her hand to Larabee.  “I’m Chief Owens,” she said, shaking his hand.  “Welcome to our town.”

“Thank you ma’am,” Chris answered.  “I’m Chris Larabee, and this is my team,” he indicated each man as he spoke, “Buck Wilmington, Josiah Sanchez, JD Dunne, Vin Tanner and Nathan Jackson.”

All the men smiled in greeting at her.  “Very nice to meet you all.  I hope you’ll be comfortable here.  We have you set up in the conference room,” she pointed to the wall of her office, towards the interrogation rooms.  “We don’t have a lot of officers around right now; most are out patrolling or following up on some local business.  Help yourself to coffee.  Anything else you need, please don’t hesitate to ask.  And don’t worry, your other man hasn’t been here long.”

“Other man?” Josiah asked.

“His name is George Henderson.  He said he was meeting you all here today.”

An awkward silence fell as several of the men looked at each other questioningly.  “Alright ma’am,” Buck smiled, breaking the silence.  “We’ll just go on and meet up with good ol’ George and get started.”

“Right this way.”


The conference room was nothing more than two collapsible tables surrounded with chairs that would be better suited for cafeteria use.  A man in a dark blue suit and silver tie sat on the far side, far end, looking through file folders in front of him.  When the six men came in, bidding a thank you to Chief Owens as she left, the man stood up in greeting.

“Agent George Henderson,” he said, extending his hand. 

Larabee shook it, clearly sizing the other man up.  “Chris Larabee,” he looked behind himself.  “Vin Tanner, Nathan Jackson, Buck Wilmington, Josiah Sanchez and JD Dunne.  ATF.”

Henderson nodded at each member as they were introduced.  “Nice to meet you all; wish it could have been under more pleasant circumstances.”

The ATF Agents claimed seats and started setting up the gear they brought.

Vin looked at the clock over the door.  “Chris.”

“Go,” said the blond, tossing his keys to Tanner.

“Where’s he going?” asked Henderson.

“Vin’s Ezra’s contact,” Buck announced.  “He’s gonna go meet him.”

“Should someone go with him?”

“Better if he goes alone.  Too many people are eye catching,” Larabee answered, as he tried to settle into the uncomfortable plastic molded chair that seemed to have a bit of a wobbling problem.

Buck looked at his leader and chuckled outright at Chris’s discomfort.

“Shut up, Buck.”

“I’m sorry, but this is too much like Mayfair,” he said, laughter dancing in his eyes.  The others couldn’t help but chuckle with him.

“It’s rustic,” added Josiah, who looked rather uncomfortable in his own chair.

“Rust-y maybe,” Nathan added.

“Guys, we’re here with a purpose and by favor, don’t forget that,” Chris said, sending all of his men a look.

Henderson sat in his chair watching the byplay.  He smiled to himself, taking note of the team dynamics.

“Gentlemen,” Henderson said.  “I know I am here as a courtesy, and I hope not to step on any toes.  This is your operation.  I am only here on the periphery.  Anything I can do to help you in any way, please let me know.  But I also have to ask that you don’t keep me in the dark on anything.  The smallest of details could make or break the case, and could jeopardize the safety of your agent.”

Chris watched the man with a careful eye, scrutinizing him.  After a moment, Chris seemed to come to a decision. 

“Ok, Henderson.  You show us yours, and we’ll show you ours.”

Henderson smiled and reached for his briefcase, pulling out six copies of the DEA’s case file and passing one out to each man.


Vin entered Phil’s Diner right at 1:30.  A small bell above the door heralded his arrival to the mostly empty restaurant.  He scanned the waning lunch crowd, looking for Standish.  Not seeing him, he took up a table near the back where he could watch the door, but was still enough out of the way that the two would be able to talk.

Vin picked up a menu and opened it, going through the motions of looking through it, but really keeping an eye on his surroundings. 

A young waitress came by with a small stack of dirty dishes, and asked him, “Can I get you something to drink?”

Vin looked up at her, seeing one of the dishes balancing precariously near the rim of another.  “Just a Coke is fine.”

“Pepsi ok?”

“Yeah,” he smiled.

“Ok, I’ll be right back.”  With that, she whisked away and into the kitchen through a swinging door.

The bell jingled above the door, and Vin swung his attention that way so fast he almost made himself dizzy.  He hadn’t realized he had been watching the waitress saunter away.

Ezra saw him right away, and with a big smile, walked towards him.  “Billy!” he announced, opening his arms wide as he got nearer the table.

Tanner smiled, relieved to see his friend after so long.  He stood as Ezra approached and returned the hug in earnest, both men slapping each other on the back at its conclusion.

“Eddie, how you been?  It’s been too long,” Vin said as he sat down.

Ezra slid into the booth across from him.  “I know, I know, I have no excuse.”

The waitress came back over with the soda for Vin, placing it on the table and pulling a paper-covered straw from her apron pocket.  “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked Ezra.

“Just coffee for me, black,” he replied with a smile.

“Sure.  You guys know what you want to order?”

Vin smiled.  “I hear tell you guys do a mean ruben.”

“That we do,” she answered with a grin.

“Two of those please,” Ezra ordered. 

“Comin’ right up,” she said cheerfully, sauntering away again.

“Really, Vin,” Ezra said in mock admonishment.  “I doubt she’s even 18.”

Vin didn’t realize he’d been staring again.  He just smiled at his friend.  “So,” he said in a normal but hushed tone.  “Where’s your sitter?”

The left side of his mouth went up slightly as he answered.  “Mr. Nevins is not fond of this ‘dive’, which is another reason for choosing it.  They really do make a good ruben though.”

“Will he be joining us at any point, you think?”

“No.  He knows well enough to give me space.  The only reason Josh is along for this is that Shep needed him to run some sort of errand.”

The questioning look from the sharpshooter led him to elaborate.

“Not that type of errand.  It’s unrelated.”

The answer seemed to satisfy Tanner.  “So,” he said again, “How are you?”

Vin knew that their table location in the diner was secluded enough that no one would be able to hear them.  And for all intents and purposes, they were just two guys catching up.

Ezra leaned against the back of his seat, sighing audibly.  “I can’t wait to nail this son of a bitch’s ass to the wall.”

Vin chuckled once, quietly.  “I bet.”

The waitress came back with coffee and placed it in front of Standish.  “Food should be up shortly.”

“Thank you,” Ezra said. 

This time Vin didn’t watch her walk away.  He watched his friend, seeing the exhaustion in his eyes.  “You look tired.”

“I am tired,” he said, lifting the mug to his mouth to take a tentative sip.  The look on his face was either because the coffee was too hot, or it was awful.  “Good lord,” he said calmly as he put the mug down.  “I think their hot water supply is hard piped directly from Hell.”

Vin snorted, then took on a serious tone.  “How are you, really?”

Ezra sighed softly.  “I’ve been better.”

“It was the kid, right?”

Standish nodded once tightly, a haunted and sad look in his eyes.

“It’s not your fault.  You know that, right?” Vin pushed.

“He was just a kid, Vin.  He didn’t deserve that.  No one deserves that.”

“Tell me what happened.”

The waitress came over at that exact moment and put two plates in front of the men.  Two rubens with fries.  “Can I get you anything else right now?”

“No thank you darlin’,” Ezra replied.  “I think we’re all set.”

“Ok.  Just holler for me if you need anything.  My name’s Sandy.”

“Thanks, Sandy,” Vin said.

As soon as the waitress was gone, Ezra spoke.  “Let’s eat first, Vin.  I want to enjoy this meal as much as possible.”

The two men ate in silence, both enjoying their sandwiches more than they thought they would.  Maybe it was the company and having not seen each other in so long.  Maybe it was the calm before the storm.  Maybe it was just a damn good sandwich.


The bill was paid and both men sat staring at their bottomless drinks.  Sandy came by a couple times and refilled both beverages, thankful for the large tip she received when the men had cashed out.

“So I take it you saw the tape.”  It wasn’t a question.

“Yeah, we all did,” Vin replied quietly.

Ezra nodded absently.  “Is the officer all right?” he asked, but didn’t look up, not wanting to face the possibility that he wasn’t.

“He’s ok.  He has a concussion, and they’re keeping him overnight tonight for observation, but yeah, he’s ok.”

“I didn’t want to…  hit him.”  He shook his head in regret.  “But he and Jon… God, I’m just thankful that he didn’t get shot and that all he has is a concussion.”

Vin nodded in understanding.

“What will happen about it?” 

Vin shot him a quizzical look.  “What do you mean?”

“Will there be a reprimand, a suspension?”  He seemed almost disinterested when he asked.

“No, Ezra, nothing like that.  Everyone knows you did what you had to do.  Your motives aren’t being called into question.”

“Not yet.”  He smiled a knowing smile.  “I have felt the backlash of rumor before, Vin.  Be honest, someone has to have concluded that I’ve joined the other side.”

“No one that matters.”

He took a cleansing breath, then pushed it out.  “Ok, so tell me about the DEA.”

“Well,” he said, sitting back.  “Travis seems to have handled them for now.  They got a guy working with us, as a courtesy.”

Ezra snorted.  “That’s gonna be fun.”

“I know, huh?” he said through a smile.  “They just want to protect their case against Sheppard for the drugs.”

“And make sure I don’t fuck it up for them.”  He smiled.

“I’m sure there’s that too,” Vin said with humor.

Ezra’s face got serious.  “Vin, Shep showed me everything.”

He leaned in over the table. “What do you mean, ‘everything’?”

“He wants me… to take over his operation.  And he wants to expand.”  Ezra slugged the last sip of his coffee.


“And the longer I stay with him, the more I spend time with him, the more I loathe him.”  He seemed to drift off track.  “Now when he smiles, I see Jon’s head exploding silently.  I smell blood, and I can’t get the smell out of my nose.  I can’t help but stare at the spot on the floor where his body landed.  And I can’t stop thinking about him at the bottom of some lake.”

“Jesus, Ezra…”

“But, in taking over my new role,” he said with disdain, then paused, as though contemplating that exact role.  Then, looking in his empty coffee cup he spoke slowly and deliberately, “I now have the names of suppliers… distributors… and customers.”

Vin’s face was that of pure shock.  “Ezra, that’s…”

“Unbelievable, right?  The only thing I have left to get, the only hard evidence I lack, is the address book with all the names.  Can you actually believe he keeps a fuckin’ black book with that shit in it?”  He laughed, but it lacked mirth.

“And he’s gonna give it to you,” Vin said, still shocked.

“Like it’s my fuckin’ birthday.”  He paused and waved off Sandy’s approach with the coffee pot.  She’d been quite good to them while they were here, more than earning that $20 tip Ezra had left her.


They ended their meeting with a hug, partly to keep up the charade, but also because they both needed it.  As they turned to go their separate ways, Vin put his hand on Ezra’s arm, stilling him for a moment.

“It won’t be much longer,” he said with a lazy smile.

And Ezra couldn’t help it; he smiled back.

And then Vin was gone. 

Ezra flipped his phone open, calling Josh Nevins to come and collect him, as per their agreement. Nevins was in the neighborhood anyway, and was at Ezra’s location a minute later.  Ezra walked around to the driver’s side, ordering the other man out.  Nevins did so wordlessly, knowing that Craig could do whatever he wanted. 

Sheppard seemed to have an endless supply of innocuous-looking vehicles.  This one was an old green Taurus with some rust along the driver’s door.  The door screeched when it was opened, metal rubbing metal, and the sound made Ezra cringe every time; like nails on a chalkboard.  It grated on his already frayed nerves.

The tailpipe blew smoke upon starting, but then petered out in gear.  Ezra’s mind wandered back to his meeting with Vin, trying to hang on to the feeling of camaraderie that he’d felt, if only for that short time. 

Josh tried to make small talk, but the southerner was mostly unresponsive, keeping his eye on the road.  After a minute or two, he reached for the radio and turned the volume up.

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6 




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