AU: ATF crossover w/The Sentinel
Feedback email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoilers: Definitely for TS by BS, The Debt, Foreign Exchange, maybe some others
Author's Note: I'm not normally big on Post TS by BS Blair as cop but it fit this story so well that I decided to go with it. For those of you unfamiliar with the Mag7 ATF AU, the boys are living in present day Denver and are ATF agents; most everything else is the same. And for those of you unfamiliar with The Sentinel it's a buddy cop show about a cop with enhanced sense and the anthropology student who helps him.
Grand Cascade Hotel & Conference Center
"Hey guys, you're never gonna guess what I heard today," JD Dunne bounded up to the table where his six older friends and fellow ATF agents sat eating their lunch. There were some days Chris Larabee, team leader, wanted to turn their youngest member around so he could check for the Energizer battery in his back.
"You are surely not going to ingest that...that concoction, Mr. Tanner?" Ezra Standish asked with a shudder.
Vin looked down at the double bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, onions, tomato, pickles, ketchup, relish and mayo on a sourdough roll with gravy cheese fries, then grinned. "Yep."
The grin widened when Ezra made a horrified choking noise as he bit into it with great enjoyment.
"Mr. Jackson, surely you have some comment to make on his deplorable eating habits?"
The dark-skinned ex-medic didn't bother to look up from his Chef's salad, "If he wants to clog his arteries with all that fat and grease and drive his cholesterol up so he brings on a heart attack and dies at an early age, that's his prerogative."
"Knew you'd see it my way, Nate."
Nathan just raised an eyebrow that turned to a look of pained startlement when Buck, laughing, slapped him on the back. JD heaved an exasperated sigh. Nobody ever listened to him.
"What did you hear, son?" Josiah asked, taking pity on him.
"I had this Computers & Surveillance seminar just now. It was pretty boring, I already knew most of what the guy had to say, although he did talk about this one program that was really cool. It could..."
"The point, JD. The point," Buck growled affectionately as he whapped the back of his head.
"Anyway," JD glared at the unrepentant ladies' man, "there were these two guys in the seminar also. One was older, about your age Buck; he was tall, and like half-bald. The other one was younger with long hair like yours, Vin, only curly. He was about my height. The older guy obviously didn't want to be there, he was asleep half the time. Every now and then he would look around and glare at someone. The other guy was taking notes like crazy and kept raising his hand to ask questions or answer one but the guy giving the lecture kept ignoring him. The guy sitting next to me was from the local PD and he told me that the younger one used to be some sort of doctoral student and he wrote his thesis on people called Sentinels. They're like Superman or something..."
"They have enhanced senses, JD. Not Superman, just above average senses," Josiah interrupted, frowning thoughtfully.
"Uh, okay. Well, this guy tried to claim that the detective he was working with, who's his partner now, was one of these Sentinel people. When the press got a hold of it and started making a big deal, he held a press conference and claimed the whole thing was a lie. He admitted to being a liar and a fraud. Then they still let him become a cop. He even got bumped right up to being a detective in the Major Crimes unit. Don't that seem weird?"
"Hell yeah. How do you let someone like that become a cop? It don't seem right," Buck said, shaking his head.
"Being as we don't know all the circumstances I believe it would be wrong of us to pass judgment on the young man, Brothers."
"Are you telling me that you think it's right they gave a badge to someone who admitted to handing in a fraudulent paper and then lied about it? You're kidding right?" Nathan looked over at Josiah, not believing he'd heard what he had.
"If they saw fit to give him a badge after what occurred I think there is more to it than meets the eye," Josiah said a bit sternly.
"Ya know, Josiah's right. They wouldn't have given him a badge without a good reason." Vin shrugged, noticing that Ezra had grown quiet during the conversation and realized it had probably brought up memories of the rumors surrounding his own career. Rumors he had never been able to fully get away from. "It's real easy for things to get twisted around an' around until you don't know what's truth any more and what ain't."
"Naw, that just don't sit right." Buck shook his head in disagreement. "The guy went on TV and said he was a fraud and a liar. Why would he do that, destroy his own career and credibility, if it wasn't true that he'd lied? How many people do you know would destroy their own lives to protect someone else's?"
Vin looked at him closely before shaking his head sadly. "I thought I knew at least six people who would."
Suddenly JD's eyes opened wide and pointed to a table across the room, his voice wasn't much more than a whisper. "Those are the two guys I was talking about."
Six heads turned to follow his gaze. On the other side of the dining room the two men sat at a table oblivious to the scrutiny.
"Captain?" Vin breathed, barely aware that he'd spoken aloud. Chris and Ezra looked at him, being the only ones who'd heard.
"I think you have been misinformed, JD. That man is incapable of that kind of deception," Josiah said, unable to tear his eyes from the familiar face.
"You two know them?" Chris asked, looking from Vin to Josiah.
"I think so," Vin answered, his hand trembling slightly as he gulped from his drink.
"I know the younger man very well," Josiah said with a paternal smile, but it turned to a frown when he thought of what JD had told them. Something wasn't right. "I think it's time we renewed our acquaintance."
"What do you mean you think so? Either ya know him or ya don't," Buck asked, as Vin rose with Josiah.
"I ain't sure it's him cause the Captain went MIA in Peru close to nine years ago. So, I don't know, but I'm gonna find out."
The others scrambled to follow after the pair as they wended their way through the crowded dining room. Ezra noticed that most of the tables surrounding the pair were empty, very unusual considering the amount of people dining. He also noticed some of the openly hostile looks directed at the pair. From the way the older man would occasionally turn to glare at someone it was obvious they were not unaware of the attention they were receiving. As they got closer the younger man noticed them first. His mouth opened in a shocked 'oh' then broke into huge smile.
"Lord, it's good to see you, Blair." Josiah grinned and scooped Blair up into a big bear hug.
"Tree?" Buck and Nathan mouthed to each other with upraised eyebrows. JD just grinned at the happy reunion, all thoughts of the earlier conversation gone. Chris and Ezra were more concerned about Vin, who had hung back as Josiah approached Blair. The older man with him had risen to his feet frowning slightly. He didn't seem angry; he just didn't appear to like not knowing what was going on.
Finally Vin took a step forward and said hesitantly, "Captain?"
Pale blue eyes swung from Josiah and Blair to the shy sharpshooter. The eyes widened in recognition as they took in the lanky form, the long brown hair, and blue eyes almost as pale as his own. "Tanner?"
"Yeah, Captain. Wasn't sure ya'd remember me," he said as they clasped hands then hugged briefly. Pulling back, Jim kept a hand on his shoulder, "Still as scrawny as ever I see."
"Yup. Still the runt a the litter."
Jim's eyes clouded over for a moment and the sadness was visible to everyone. "Yeah, but you were the runt of my litter," he said softly.
"The others?" Vin asked, certain he already knew the answer. The negative shake of Jim's head confirmed it. "Damn."
"Ahem," Ezra coughed politely, breaking the silence that had fallen over the group. They were drawing a fair number of looks and most of them were not entirely friendly. "Perhaps we should move this reunion to a more private place where Mr. Tanner and Mr. Sanchez can make introductions?"
"Um, yeah. I think there's an empty conference room down the hall from here. There aren't any seminars scheduled in there today."
"Please tell me you didn't memorize the entire conference schedule and room assignments, Chief?"
"I didn't want to be late for anything." Blair shrugged, leading the way.
"But the entire schedule? And you call me anal retentive."
"You are anal retentive, Mr. I go into a cleaning frenzy if I find a speck of dust under the refrigerator. Mr. I have a house rule for everything."
"Maybe your friend should visit the CDC for a week or so, Mr. Tanner. We might see an improvement."
"Nah, the Captain'd have a heart attack if he ever saw the CDC."
"Why would I have a heart attack if I saw the Center for Disease Control?" Jim turned to look at Ezra and Vin.
"Not *the* CDC, but the domicile in which Mr.'s Wilmington and Dunne currently co-habitat. Due to its state of cleanliness, or lack thereof, it has acquired the nickname of the CDC. We are all quite convinced that there are numerous exotic and deadly diseases germinating therein."
"He means it's a mess," Blair clarified when Jim frowned.
"Yeah, I got that part. I'm just amazed that there's someone besides you who can fit that many ten-dollar words in a sentence."
"Why do I think I should resent that slanderous remark?"
"Cut it out, Ezra," Chris growled. "We've been here barely 24 hours. If you get us in another fight..."
"Oh no, last evening's unfortunate misunderstanding at the airport was all Mr. Wilmington's fault. I refuse to take the blame for that. How was I supposed to know that the gentleman inquiring about Mr. Wilmington's 'discussion' with the red-haired woman was her husband? Speaking of Mr. Wilmington, would you go retrieve him, Mr. Dunne, as we have reached our destination."
"Sure. Where is he?" JD turned to look for the older man.
"Just down the hall talking to that lovely brunette," Ezra sighed, pointing him out.
"Okay," JD grinned, heading down the hallway. As he went he unclipped his nametag from his shirt and shoved it in his pocket.
"This should be fun," Vin grinned at Chris, who just shook his head.
Josiah leaned in towards Blair, standing by the door. "Best get ready to open that door real quick. JD's having some fun."
None of them could hear what was being said, but the five ATF agents had a pretty good idea. Jim extended his hearing to listen in.
"If you're free how about we go out to dinner tonight? I'm sure this city has some great restaurants. What do you say?"
Before she could answer JD bounced up to them, an expression of wide-eyed innocence on his face. "There you are, Dad. I've been looking all over for you. Is she coming with us to the Zoo?"
Buck just stared at him in open-mouthed astonishment. The woman looked from Buck to JD and back to Buck. She could definitely see the similarities. JD's next words brought her attention back to him.
"She's real pretty, Dad. You should make her my new mom. Do you want to be my new mom? You're much prettier than the three women he's dating back home."
Buck was still staring at JD when she slapped him across the face and stormed off. This seemed to bring him out of his daze. It was clear from his expression that JD wasn't going to live long if he didn't run; and run he did. "I'm gonna kill you, boy!"
The others couldn't help but snicker as the pair ran past in to the conference room. They followed at a more sedate pace. Buck had cornered JD behind a chair and was advancing on him when Chris called a halt to it.
"Buck, JD, sit down." He glared at them until they complied. JD made sure to put Nathan between him and Buck. Finally when they were all settled, Chris indicated for Josiah to make introductions.
"All right, this young scamp is JD Dunne, our computer and surveillance expert. Next to him is Nathan Jackson, former Army Medic, EMT, and our Forensics specialist. He also tries to keep us all in one piece despite some of our best efforts to the contrary." JD and Vin had the grace to blush, while Ezra just raised his eyebrows in a 'Who, me?' look. "The black-haired man with the mustache is Buck Wilmington. Ladies man and self-appointed big brother to JD. Most of the time his job consists of keeping JD from getting himself killed."
"Hey!" JD protested.
"Thankless job it is too," Buck muttered.
"Can it you two," Chris growled.
"The gentleman with the sunny disposition dressed in black is Chris Larabee, our team leader."
"Team babysitter you mean," he muttered this time.
Josiah ignored him. "The long-haired young man with the Texas accent is Vin Tanner, our sharpshooter and tracker. The fashionably dressed gentleman next to him is Ezra Standish, our undercover agent."
"Charmed, I'm sure." Ezra gave them his customary two-finger salute.
"Hey, cool shades. Are they Ray-bans?" Blair asked, just noticing the Southerner had yet to remove them.
"I thought you said your eyes weren't bothering you anymore?" Nathan demanded, starting to rise from his chair.
"I assure you, Mr. Jackson, my eyesight is fine."
"Quite being such a peacock, Ezra, and take off the glasses. You can put them back on when we leave the room." There were some days he really wished he could shoot the smart-mouthed Southerner himself. With a sigh Ezra pulled off the glasses, revealing the fading bruise and slightly puffy eye.
"Wow, man, nice shiner. How'd you get it?"
"A minor misunderstanding, Mr.?"
"Oh, I'm Blair Sandburg and this is my partner, Jim Ellison. We're detectives in the Major Crimes unit here in the Cascade PD. What PD are you all with?"
"We're ATF agents," JD said proudly.
"Out of the Denver office." Vin added.
Jim shook his head. "Don't tell me you moved back to Purgatorio?"
Vin gave him a sheepish smile and shrugged, "It's home."
"The Hell's Kitchen of Denver, son," Josiah answered.
"You live there?" Blair turned to glare at Jim, "And you thought *I* was crazy for living in the neighborhood I used to live in."
"Chief, your apartment was demolished when the drug lab next door blew up. That is a bad neighborhood. And don't give me any of that crap about how cheap it was. A bad neighborhood is a bad neighborhood."
"Your apartment blew up?" Josiah frowned at Blair.
"Long story, man. Long story."
"He's right you know, pard," Chris said to Vin.
"Uh-uh. We ain't startin' this again, Chris. I ain't moving."
"As much as I would love to witness yet another debate over where it would be best for Mr. Tanner to reside I believe the lunch hour has drawn to a close." Ezra informed them, slipping his sunglasses back on. "Perhaps this conversation could be continued at a later time?"
"That sounds like a good idea. Dinner, maybe? We don't have anything scheduled tonight do we, Chris?" Josiah looked to him for confirmation.
"Evenings are free to do whatever you want," he shot a warning glare at their three youngest and most prone to trouble, "within reason."
"How about we have everyone over to the loft, Jim?"
"Sorry, Chief. Tonight's Poker Night, or did you forget?" Jim noticed Ezra sit up a little straighter at the mention of poker.
"Nah, I didn't forget, but only Simon and Megan are coming."
"Joel's daughter has a dance recital tonight. H has a hot date with Shar-Lee Michaels from accounting; and Rafe mumbled something about blood-sucking fiends so I think his sister is in town. So?"
"All right. How does eight sound?"
"If you're sure it's not a problem?" Chris asked, knowing how quickly, and easily, his exuberant agents could wear out their welcome.
"Yeah, it's fine. I just wasn't sure how the others would react to so many additions to the game, but Simon and Connors won't mind. Chief, paper and pen?" Jim took the pad and pen from Blair and quickly wrote out directions to the loft. "Here's directions. It's apartment 307. I don't think the elevator's working again so you may have to use the stairs."
"'Kay. We'll see you at eight then. All right, boys, let's get going. Ezra, I don't care how much of an idiot the lecturer is, keep your comments to yourself. I've already had one complaint about your smart-ass remarks. Vin, I don't care how cool it is you are not bringing home any new guns. Ezra, keep an eye on him. Hit on one more instructor, Buck, and I will lock you in your hotel room and make sure they only send up *male* staff. JD,...keep a leash on Buck. Josiah, Nathan, have fun."
Jim and Blair watched and listened in amusement as Chris herded his team out of the room. Jim heard him mutter, "I'm not an ATF agent; I'm a den mother."