Fic: Not The Type You Bring Home To Mom 1/1 M7/WAT
Title: Not The Type You Bring Home To Mom. Author: Lopaka Tanu Disclaimer: I do not own The Magnificent Seven or Without A Trace. Characters: Vin, Chris, Nettie, Casey, JD, OCs. Words: 6959 Universe: ATF - AU/X-over with WAT. Prompt: Peja's - The Other Man/Woman Challenge. Fandom: The Magnificent Seven/Without A Trace Pairing: Vin/Chris Rating: Teen Warnings: Language, Angst. Summary: The last days of their relationship. Vin's been hiding more than just his feelings from Chris. Author's Note: Circa 1999 - Vin is not a member of the Team. ______________________________________
Vin looked up from the skillet when a hand settled on his hip. The sight of his lover brought a smile to his lips. "Mornin'."
"Morning. I've released the horses in to the field." Standing to Vin's side, Chris looked over his arm to check out the stove's contents. "Smells good. Hope you got enough for two."
"There's enough for two people." The smile twitched as Vin tried holding it steady. "But not with the way you pack it away." A pinch to his side made him jump. Chuckling, he elbowed Chris in the ribs. "Wanted to surprise ya, but that damn nose of yours."
"Mmm, that's right." Chris leaned in to Vin's neck, closing his eyes as he pressed his lips to the warm skin. "I can always tell when you're cooking. The places smells like a chimney."
This made Vin shake his head. "If you want to eat, I suggest you keep those comments to yourself."
"May be I should make another. Might save me from the heart attack." His laugh echoed off the stove, even as Vin elbowed him again. Nipping at his lover's neck, he slid in directly behind him. He wrapped his arms around Vin's chest.
Leaning his head to the side to avoid Chris' actions, Vin forced himself to watch the frying bacon. "We don't have time for this, cowboy. You gotta get in early and Nettie said she'd tan my hide if I was late again."
Chris grazed his teeth over Vin's throat for the nickname. Satisfied his mark would be visible the rest of the day, he broke off from kissing. "Tonight, you're making this up to me."
"I done told you, I don't go on my knees for anyone." But on hands and knees was another position all together. Vin snickered as he made a mental note to pick up something for rug burns later.
The ride in to Denver was always a disappointment. The rolling fields and hills of trees turning in to the flat land that was the metro area seemed almost a sacrilege to Vin. There was more life of the Human variety but a part of him always longed for the wide open range.
He snorted at that thought. The wide open range was an illusion brought on by too many nights at the ranch. It had been too many years since he had lived in the city proper.
Glancing over at the concentrated expression of his lover made Vin smile. The man had spoiled him for the city life any more.
Catching Vin's look out of the corner of his eye, Chris frowned. "Something the matter?"
"Nothin, just admirin the view." That was something Ezra had taught him. Rolling his eyes to the ceiling, he ran a hand through his hair. The long strands were neatly tied back, and would be held there by his hat when he got out. "You got any plans for this weekend?"
"The team's wanting to come out for the game Sunday, but other wise, nope." Checking his rearview mirror, Chris signaled his intention to merge right. "Buck might be bringin his latest by, so you might want to put away your underwear tree."
"That's an indoor clothes rack, and you're the one with the fetish for air dryed boxers." Humorous mood slowly dissipating, Vin turned to face the road again. He would soon be at work and there was no need to bring up old arguments.
Sighing, Chris flipped the switch off as he turned in to the offramp. The truck slowly came to a stop as he joined other vehicles waiting for the light to change. Six blocks away from downtown and the traffic was already almost deadlocked. A sigh from the passenger seat made him close his eyes in dread.
"When are we going to tell them?" Vin intently watched the houses and brownstones. When there came no response, he nodded and swallowed.
A horn honking startled Chris in to paying attention to the world around him once more. The cars ahead of him had moved five feet. Raising his hand, he signaled his feelings to the person behind him.
Catching the action, Vin chuckled. Nothing ever changed.
As he climbed out of the truck, Vin turned back to look at Chris. He caught the man's eye with a lazy smile. "I'll see ya tonight."
A quick look around revealed no one was watching them. Seeing that they were free, Chris leaned over the seat to grasp Vin by the back of his head. He pulled the man to him for a quick kiss.
Vin barely had time to register shock at the move before he was released. Licking his lips, he could still taste Chris upon them. The kiss coupled with the fact that they could have been caught made him a little light headed and giddy. He snickered as he reached up to touch his lips.
"See you tonight, Vin." Chris voice was throaty, full of promises for later.
With a breathy grin, Vin put his hat on and stepped back. He felt a little weak as he swung the door to the truck closed. Why did the man have that much power over him?
The truck pulled away from the curb, the diesel engine humming as it went.
Vin watched it go, taking Chris from him for the rest of the day. The moment he was gone, the noise of the world seemed to come crashing down. This made Vin wince as he turned to face the old Rec Center.
This was Tuesday, which meant he had two more days after for this work week. It wasn't much of a paycheck, but that wasn't why he did it. Besides, if he needed anything he couldn't afford, Chris always gave a helping hand.
That was what good husbands did.
Closing his eyes, Vin let his head drop a little. He knew that it could never happen, but their relationship was very real. A throat clearing from the front steps made him look up.
Standing in front of the chained front doors, Nettie had her hand on the lock. "Are you coming in, or are you planning on attracting pigeons?" With a shake of her head, she pushed the hat up off her forehead and focused on the lock. "Only two new marks, the junkies must be getting bored."
"We could always invest in electrical fences. Chris has'em on the ranch for the cows." Walking up the steps behind her, he adjusted the hat to a more comfortable position. It looked silly on him given the fact he was no where near cows, but he had grown used to the feeling.
Nettie made quick work of the lock with the key from her hip. The moment she released it, the key zipped back to the case on her belt. She pulled the twenty pound chain from the metal security doors and then held it out to be taken.
Accepting the chain, Vin smiled at her. A short second later he had to back up half a step to avoid being hit by the swinging open security door. Once the cast iron doors were open, a pair of black metal wooden doors came in to view.
Her keys came out again, this time Nettie spent less time examining them. Noting no new scratches in their polished finish, she smiled. "Looks like the security held last night." She pushed the door open, smiling as it gave without a sound. "Excellent work on the hinges, Mr. Tanner, I'm happy to see my lessons have paid off. It's only taken six years."
"Thank you." He patiently waited for her to preceed him in to the building. The fact that she wasn't wrong had nothing to do with the fact it annoyed him. It had, after all, taken him six years to remember not to get the hinges when he painted the door. "How many classes are we expected to run tonight?"
"Considering the fact that half the neighborhood froze last night when the power went out, I suspect more than we should." As if to test her point, she walked over to the main console just inside the door. Putting her finger under the switch, she flicked it up.
Sighing, she turned it off. "Apparently a lot more." Dusting off her hands, Nettie headed deeper inside. "Come on, Vin, we've got to get the generators started before the first group arrives."
Stepping inside, Vin closed the door behind him. The heat rushing over his face made his skin flushed. "At least the steam pipes are still working."
"That's because I have you pay the bill on time. I guarantee, if we missed it by even one minute, they would be out here to turn the gas off so fast your hat would spin." The dark humor in her voice belied the fact she wasn't joking. They both known it had happened before. "As you're well aware, the price of turning it back on is three hundred dollars I could put to better use."
"And I am grateful." Slinging the chain over his shoulder, he followed her towards the basement entrance.
The sound of children running, screaming through the halls made Vin wince. He liked them well enough, but some of the kids in this neighborhood were nothing but trouble. One didn't know which ones were which, either.
Well, that wasn't true. Vin smiled around the mouth of his bottle of water. Chris knew about kids. He could spot a bad seed a mile away. Chris was good with children. He would make a great dad, again.
The smile quickly left Vin's lips.
Taking another sip of water, he glanced about his office for S-W-31 form. It wasn't important for his work right now, but they would need to file one if the power didn't come back on soon. The power company would fight them for a credit on their bill if they didn't. He didn't have to wonder what would happen if the Rec Center wasn't on a budget with them.
As it was, he spent most of his time stretching what little bit of money they had coming in. Today would probably net them a thousand dollars over their operating expenses. That included the damage the little ankle biters were probably doing in the upstairs media room.
Upon locating the form, he snatched it up and set it in the to do pile. When he had started working for Nettie all those years ago, he never dreamed he would be the fool in the office. This was just supposed to be a part time job while he got his life in order.
Then Chris had happened.
Shaking his head, Vin brought up the center's accounts. They were operating on a surplus of several hundred dollars for the next month. With tonight they might actually end the quarter in the black. That was, barring any thing should happen.
Something always happened. Vin only hoped that it didn't mean going without being paid for another week. Chris had been understanding, but there was only so far Vin was going to push his good will.
A knock at his door distracted him from the books. Glancing over from the screen, he smiled at Casey. "Hey, Casey. What can I do for ya?"
Warmth turned the color of her cheeks. "I hate to ask this of you, but is there any possible way you can get a ride with someone else tonight?" She wouldn't look directly at him, which signaled she wasn't going to explain why.
Vin didn't have to ask. They both knew where she was going to be. Groaning, he closed his eyes. "All right, but this is the last time. I mean it."
"Thanks! You're the best." She sent him a grateful smile, then was gone as if never having been.
There were some things about this job that made him regret ever taking it. Being pawned off like a burden when Casey wanted a booty call with JD was one of those. He was going to have to get a ride with Emmet, but that would only get him to the last main road. That meant two miles of walking, country miles.
Those damned horses were going to bowl him over getting back in to the stocks when he fed them.
The hum of the lights in his office could barely be heard over the ruckus in the halls. There were so many people that half the halls were jammed with people milling about. He knew it was a fire hazard, but people were cold, tired, and hungry and this was the only building for blocks with power.
After the third person who had come in just to have someone to complain to, he had locked the office door. There was no need for anyone to come in. All deposits were made in a wall drop for security purposes. He would get them in the morning. Vin didn't think about them now.
Since he only worked three days, he had a three day system. Today's job was already done. That meant the weekend receipts and bills were taken care of. Tomorrow was mostly minor repairs to the building and last night's deposits. Thursday was clean up and set up for the coming weekend.
Vin almost longed for the days when he came in every day. That had been when he ran errands, cleaned up the place, and fixed things. It was back before he had gone to night school to get an accounting degree.
So much had changed in the past six years. But, he had a home now, and he had a family to come home to. There was now more to life than living from day to day on the streets of Denver.
No matter how comfortable he got, life didn't get any simpler, though.
Turning off the lights, he checked his pocket watch. It had been a birthday gift from Ezra. Half the time Vin forgot he had it. The rest the time, the case, if it could talk, probably wished he would then too. The poor thing was dinged all to hell, but worked just fine.
Half past three, that meant Emmet was on his way over. Nettie would want her shipment of oats sent on to her farm, but she wouldn't mind if he hitched a ride with the man. After he checked to make sure the window grates were secure, Vin opened the door.
The noise was almost a physical thing. He couldn't make out a single distinct voice in the shouting. Shaking his head, he quickly slammed his door shut and made sure the dead-bolt was locked. One couldn't be too careful with the neighbors.
Once that was done, he headed for the front door. Nettie would be there taking the dollar entrance fee. She had a small pistol under her jacket that kept away purse thieves.
He waved at a few people he knew from back before on his way. They weren't good memories, so he kept his contact to a minimum. It helped that he wore only black clothes. No chance of pissing anyone off for wearing the wrong colors. These had been a gift from Chris.
As he pushed his way through another crowd, Vin shook his head. May be his lover was right, it was time to look for another job. Even if it was just part time. Wouldn't hurt to look.
Emmet was a big man, he liked his space. Vin didn't mind giving it to him, because Emmet also liked to eat his beans.
Face in the crack in the window, Vin tried breathing slowly through his mouth. Thankfully, the ride was almost over. They were close to the turnoff for town and Vin's drop off point. Just around the bend as a matter of fact.
After a careful check of the road signs, Emmet pulled the truck over to the side of the road. When it came to a full stop, he put it in park. "Well, we're here. Hope you got everything you came with."
"Yeah, I do." Pulling his collar up around his neck, Vin zipped up the front of his jacket. "Thanks for the ride." He grabbed the handle and pushed the door open.
"Not a problem." The man checked his mirrors. "There's no traffic, best time to cross is now."
"Will do." Climbing out, Vin nodded. The wind picked his hat up against his hair, but the thick mat held it in place. Bracing himself against the cold, he slammed the door shut. He thumped it twice and backed away.
The truck shifted, then pulled away. Emmet waved out his back window to Vin as he drove off.
After returning the wave, Vin ran across the road to the turn off. Chris' ranch was just at the end of it. Over two miles down it, to be truthful.
By the time Vin got in from feeding the horses, his hat was almost a lost cause. The mean old mule of Ezra's had been waiting for him at the paddock. After a nip to the arm, a quick thump on the nose had set him to rights. Then there had been seven others to deal with.
Taking his hat off, Vin punched the shape back in to it. The only thing that had held it together under the stamping hooves had been the band. Dust rose up off it trying to choke him to tears. After waving it away, Vin put his hat on the hook near the door.
It was time to take care of the two legged animal now. A quick check of his pocket watch told him it was nearing six. Chris would be another two hours still. That left plenty of time for him to get a shower and start their dinner. How much depended upon the number of people showing up.
So, he walked in to the living room to check the machine. Like he had suspected, there was a flashing message light. With a sigh, he walked over to it and pressed play.
"Vin, you're gonna have to order out. Somethin's come up and I won't be coming home tonight. I'll have JD swing by and pick you up in the morning." There was a whine of protest out of ear shot of the recording. "Figure he owes you for ruining your ride home tonight."
"I didn't either! You canceled my date with Casey." This time, JD's voice came through loud and clear.
"He'll be by to pick you up at eight. Don't hurt him too much. See you tomorrow." The line disconnected with JD's groan.
Closing his eyes, Vin let his head drop. So much for dinner. As he wandered to the bedroom, he took a deep breath. It wasn't the first time, definitely wouldn't be the last time.
The alarm went off at exactly six. Vin waited for Chris to turn it off. When he didn't, Vin opened his eyes and looked over at the other side of the bed. Chris hadn't come home the night before. That's when it all came back to him.
Curling up deeper in the covers, Vin wrapped an arm around Chris' pillow. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't go back to sleep. He was just going to rest his eyes for a moment, that's all.
His hair was wet, which made him colder than he already was. The heat was blasting, but in Buck's piece of shit car, that didn't mean much. Shivering in his jacket, Vin looked over at JD. The kid looked perfectly fine which only seemed to make the situation worse.
Sighing as he put the car in gear, JD thumped his fingers against the gear shift. "This thing doesn't go nearly as fast as it should."
"Nothing feels like it goes fast compared to a bike." There was a distinct possibility he was a little upset. Part of that was the kid, but most of it was the fact he had awakened alone.
"Yeah, you got that right." JD had to shift again the moment they crossed on to the gravel road. He winced as the transmission grinded at him. "Don't think I'll ever get used to this thing."
"It's hard to drive a bike with a baby seat on the back." Vin enjoyed the choked sound JD made. He caught the younger man paling out of the corner of his eye. "Remember, all it takes is one broken condom."
"That's not funny." Flooring the accelerator, JD kept a steady watch on the road. For the next mile and a half, he kept to himself. Then he started fidgeting. By the time they had reached the main road, he couldn't hold it in any longer. "Besides, it's not me you have to worry about."
Grinning, Vin glanced at JD from the corner of his eye. "Yeah?" Was Buck already getting hot and heavy with his new girl?
"Yep." This made JD smug. He wore the smirk like it was a rarely used hat. "Chris and Mrs. Travis seemed awfully cozy over dinner last night. With the way he looks at her, I wouldn't be surprised to see if somethin was goin on there."
Vin closed his eyes. Swallowing, he took a steadying breath. "Oh? They were close?"
"Yeah, well, they would have been, but her kid kept getting in the way." Shaking his head, JD chuckled at the memory. He continued on unaware of his passenger's reaction. "Not like Chris seemed to mind, though. I think he's takin a real shine to Billy."
"You don't say." The words sounded far away in Vin's ears. Unable to see the world beyond the car, he turned to face the door.
Snickering, JD checked his blind spot before pulling out in to traffic. "If Mary has her way, you'll be seeing them a lot more. Last I heard, she was angling for an invite this weekend."
Unable to take it any more, Vin reached out and turned on the radio. A yowling screech echoed through the speakers as he twisted the dial to find something loud.
"Jesus Christ, Vin, warn a guy before you do that!" Clutching at his chest, JD shook his head. His eyes were a little wide and his skin pale.
Vin didn't care. He had shut up and that was all that counted.
The jars came crashing down with a resounding thud. "Damn it!" Moving quickly to pick them up, Vin gathered those that had tried to roll across the storage room. He had gotten all except one by the time the door opened.
Standing in the entrance, Nettie stared at Vin with a resigned expression. "Is there a reason you are chasing jars of peanut butter across the store room, Vin?"
He froze, his hand out reaching for the final jar. Looking up, he tried to smile, but failed miserably. Letting his gaze fall to the jar, he shook his head. "I was just trying to get some quiet."
"Well, I understand that. There has been a lot of foot traffic today." Instead of taking that as an excuse, she walked inside and closed the door behind her. Walking over to a barrel of potatoes, she sat down on top. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Not really." It was the truth, only one person could help put his mind at ease now. Sighing, he picked up the last jar. He twirled in between his fingers before depositing it on the shelf.
"I'm not a licensed therapist any more, but I can still practice good old fashioned advice." She took his snort for a good sign and continued on. "Does this have anything to do with that young man of yours?"
Closing his eyes, Vin let his hand drop back to his side. He wanted so much to tell her to leave him alone. There was nothing to come of this. Yet, she already knew and it couldn't hurt to at least talk.
Nettie reached up to scratch at her forehead. "You can't tell me there is nothing going on. I've seen the way you two moon over each other when you think no one is looking. That Mr. Larabee is a tough nut to crack, but he smiles plenty when you're around."
This made Vin smile sadly.
"You've been through a lot together." She watched him carefully as she spoke. "I think he's come to depend upon you. It's obvious he cares for you a great deal."
"I wished that was enough." It had slipped out before Vin even thought about it. But, now that the thought was out there, he didn't regret saying it.
She paused to consider this before speaking. "You want more out of the relationship, that's understandable. It's human nature to crave more. The question is, what is it that you want that he's not giving you?"
Vin didn't answer. This had already gone on long enough.
"I think I have a pretty good idea." Pushing off the barrel, she dusted off the back of her pants. "The solution's simple. Talk to him, tell him how you feel. I'm afraid it's the part after that, that's near impossible."
And that was his problem in a nutshell. He gave her a grateful smile, then went back to studying the labels on the peanut butter jars.
Checking her watch, she blinked twice. "Your break ended fifteen minutes ago. Time to get back out there and deal with those little beauties."
With a groan, he followed her back out in to the hall.
Nervously checking the time, Vin picked up the handset. Putting the receiver to his ear, he dialed the number by heart. His hand shook over the keypad.
He almost set the phone down on the first ring. What was he doing calling Chris at the office like a neurotic house wife? There had been nothing to give him pause. Vin knew he should wait until Chris came home that night.
There was no response on the second ring. A flash of anger made Vin glare at the phone. How dare Chris not answer his damned cell phone? What if it had been an emergency? Certainly, this was important, but still.
The third ring made his chest clench. What if something had happened to his lover? The man worked in a dangerous field. No one knew they were together like that, informing him of something going wrong wouldn't be a high priority to them.
That was just silly. One of the guys would certainly have called him if something had happened to Chris. Wouldn't they?
"Yeah?" Chris sounded tired.
Relief made Vin clench his eyes shut. "Chris."
"What do you want?" There was an edge to Chris' voice, almost annoyed.
This made Vin angry. "I wanted to talk to you."
"Now's not the time. Even if it's important, it's going to have to wait." The tone implied that 'Agent Larabee' was about to hang up.
Vin managed to keep his temper in check. "If it's important? I would not be calling if it wasn't important. We need to..."
"Listen, I don't have the time right now, Vin. We can talk about this later. There's some things going down right now and I have to stay focused." Chris sounded more tired than he had in a while. "I won't be home again tonight..."
"Then don't worry about it. Neither will I!" Slamming the phone down, Vin stared at it as if he could kill the thing. The nerve of that man, just dismissing him like that! He was so mad he was shivering.
Reaching out, he picked up his pen. He flicked it against the ledger in front of him for a full minute before he tossed it back on the desk. What the hell was he supposed to do now?
He had taken the time to call. He had built up the courage to do it, waiting until he knew Chris would be on break. They should have at least agreed to set a date to take time to talk. It was a relationship, they shouldn't have to set a date to have a talk, but that was beside the point. The fact of the matter was, Chris hadn't even sounded like he cared Vin was calling. Vin didn't know which hurt worse.
Steepling his hands over his nose, he stared at the phone as something occurred to him. Why hadn't Chris tried calling him back? Even if it was just to get on to him about hanging up like that, he should have tried by now.
Reaching out, he picked up the receiver. He put the speaker to his ear and heard the dial tone. The phone was old, but it still worked. Chris just wasn't calling.
By the time the end of the day rolled around, Vin was too sick at his stomach to think about food. Despite his best efforts, all he could think about was what their relationship wasn't. He couldn't figure out what he had done to make Chris so ashamed of him.
Every time he tried to realize how silly he was being, it came back to the same old arguments. They never settled anything important. Chris would get quiet and Vin would have to change the subject. This never failed to happen.
Closing down his computer, Vin watched the screen go blank. May be it wasn't better to ignore it. He had spent enough time trying to make things work. Vin was so damned tired of trying.
A knock came from his door as he stood up from the desk. Picking up his jacket from the chair, he looked to it expectantly. "Yeah?"
The door opened enough that Casey could poke her head in. She smiled when she saw him. "You ready to go?"
"No, but let's do it anyways." After he slung his jacket on, Vin moved around the desk. He gave the office a last look over to make sure all was in place. The windows were locked, the guards in place. The office equipment was shut down and the admissions in the lock box. Everything was done for the day. "All right, let's go."
Taking in his expression, she frowned. She knew there was something bothering him, had all day. "I can listen if you wanna talk about it."
"Nah." He shook his head as he spoke. It wasn't worth it. The hair that he normally had tied back fell around his face. Reaching up to push it back, Vin paused.
Chris liked touching his hair.
Clenching his eyes shut, he took a deep breath. "Hey, Casey."
"Yeah?" She had been about to leave, but paused. Turning back to face him, she smiled hopefully.
"You mind if we make a few stops first?" Pushing the hair behind his ears, he felt a nervous tension settle in his stomach. He was really going to do this. "I got somethin I've been needin to do for a while."
It was almost pitch black as the cab pulled down the gravel road. Casey was busy dozing against his shoulder, her snores increasing with each breath. Every time a large rock hit the wheel well, Vin saw the cabbie wince. He would have told him that there wouldn't be any damage, but he wasn't sure he could form the words.
Getting drunk had been a stupid idea. Yet, it wasn't as dumb as his other idea. Reaching up, he ran his fingers over his hair. It was so short that it stood up where he rustled through it.
One thought kept repeatedly coming to mind. Chris was going to kill him. The look he imagined his lover having sent him in to giggle fits every time.
Before he knew it, the cab came to a stop. Blinking, he looked out the window and was surprised to see the security light in front of the house. They were indeed parked in the driveway.
Sighing, Vin jostled Casey to wake her. "Hey, we're here."
"Leave me 'lone." Batting at his hand, Casey shifted so she could lean against the car door.
"Hey, did you need a hand with her?" Twisting so he could look over the seat, the Cabbie smiled at Vin and Casey.
Vin faced him, then the world shifted around him. He frowned and nodded slowly. "Yeah, I think I might. There's an extra tip in it for ya."
"Okay, pal, let me put it in park." The cabbie faced the front again. Reaching up, he put the cab in park and turned it off.
As the man climbed out, Vin opened his door. He nearly fell over as he climbed out, but used the door to steady himself. Once he was standing, he glanced over to the house.
Sitting in front of the porch was a large black truck. Chris' truck. Chris was home?
Vin frowned again. What the hell was Chris doing home? Hearing Casey grown drew his attention to the backseat.
Her door had been opened and the cabbie caught her before she fell out. Blinking, she glanced about her in surprise. "Where am I?"
"You're at the ranch. That man's going to help you inside." Vin nodded to the cabbie and closed the door behind himself. Staggering towards the house, he realized he was more drunk than he had previously thought. That was no big deal, he was home at least.
Behind him, Casey tiredly made her way to the front porch. She more than half leaned upon the man all the way.
By the time he reached the front porch, Vin was winded and ready to go to sleep. Some how he made it up to the door. His key quickly slipped inside the lock and almost by magic he was inside the house. The air stunk of something that his drunken mind couldn't quite place.
He heard the cabbie and Casey behind him as he staggered towards the front living room. "Bring her in here. There's a couch she can sleep on. I'll get her some blankets for her and a tip for your troubles."
"Thanks. That would be greatly appreciated." The man winced as he dragged Casey inside. She had become a dead weight between the porch and front door. By the time he set her down on the couch, she was snoring loudly.
Feeling flushed, Vin tugged at his jacket. The house was unusually warm, which meant they had company. Gasping, Vin puttered his lips. He had to lean on the walls as he made his way to their bedroom. All the money in the house was kept in the wall safe behind the door.
Trust Casey to end up costing him more money than he had. Chris was going to kill him in the morning, but it had been worth it. Getting drunk had taken his mind off his problems. He frowned. At least it had until now.
Shaking the thoughts from his head, he reached for their bedroom door handle. He turned the knob quietly so as not to wake his lover. The man was an absolute bear if he was woken in the middle of the night. While it could be fun, Vin wasn't in the mood to distract Chris with sex.
He pushed it open and started to stumble inside. The stink was the first thing he noticed. The next was the fact that their bed was occupied, both sides. It took him a moment to realize this was a bad thing.
As he frowned, he turned on the light. If Buck was sleeping in their bed again with his tramp of the week, Vin was going to put more than just a foot up his ass this time. The light made things abundantly clear.
Vin quickly turned off the light so as not to disturb Chris. He didn't know who the woman was, but from the blonde hair and the way Chris' arm was wrapped around her waist, he could hazard a guess. Backing out of the room, Vin silently closed the door.
As he made his way down the hall, he seemed to become clear headed. He paused at the hall closet for a blanket, then continued on to the living room. Once there, he found the cabbie waiting for him. Vin ignored him for a moment so he could throw the blanket over Casey.
After he had made sure Casey was taken care of, Vin turned to look at the cabbie. He swallowed and took a quick breath. "Can you take me back to Denver? There's something I need to take care of."
The man glanced over Vin's shoulder for a second, then shrugged. "If you have the money."
"Not on me, but I have an ATM card." Closing his eyes, Vin lowered his head to his chest. "Please, I just..."
"Hey, hey, don't mention it." The man's voice took on a sympathetic tone. "We can go whenever you're ready."
"I can go now." Raising his chin, Vin glanced about the house. "There's nothing left for me here." Shaking, he headed for the door.
Counting off ten twenties, Vin stepped up to the cabbie. The man was leaning against the car. Vin held the bills out for the man to take. "This should take care of your troubles."
The man smiled as he counted the money. Once he was sure how much was there, he stuffed it down the back of his pants pocket. "You want a ticket for this?"
"Nah, I won't need it." Stepping back, Vin gave him a terse nod. This was the last thing he needed to take care of.
It had been a long time in coming, he had realized on the way back in to town. All the warning signs had been there, but he hadn't wanted to pay attention. So long as there had been no proof, he had been able to delude himself. Well, that was no longer the case, now was it?
He matched the cabbie's wave with a small one of his own as he huddled deeper in to his jacket. Vin watched the man pull away from the curb. Once the cab had disappeared around the corner, Vin sighed. He glanced up and down the street both ways before crossing.
His steps took him two blocks before he found what he was looking for. Stepping up to the phone bank, he dug a quarter out of his pocket. It took him a moment to remember the number. After he dialed it, he waited patiently for line to ring. He didn't have to wait long.
After the second ring, a tired voice answered. "Saskatoon Butcher Shop."
"This is Mr. Whiskers. I would like to cancel my order." God, Vin wished he was still drunk. It would have made this a lot easier. Whispering in to a public phone in the dead of night like this made him feel like a lunatic.
The voice instantly became clearer. "Would you like to come in and pick it up, or is delivery service requested?"
"Delivery service, as soon as possible, to this location." Vin winced as he heard a high pitched squeal. One would have thought they might have had a better reception line put in over the past six years. Obviously not.
"Got your address, Mr. Whiskers. Our estimated delivery time is five minutes." The man on the other end of the line yawned. "Good to have you back."
"Just get here fast." Hanging up the phone, he ran a hand through his newly shorn hair. It felt freezing out, despite the temperature being only a degree difference. He knew it was the lack of his hair, but that didn't change the fact he was shivering.
Hands tucked in the pockets of his coat, Vin continued to try and stay warm. While he waited, he watched the cars pass on the interstate a few blocks down. There were people up the street singing loudly, no doubt drunk. A siren sounding two blocks over startled Vin.
By the time a brown sedan pulled up in front of him, he was near to pulling what was left of his hair out. He waited for the driver to flash him a badge before he walked over. As he went, the driver's side window lowered.
Smiling at Vin, the man put his badge away. "You Mr. Whiskers?" At Vin's nod, the driver shook his head in amusement. "I'm Agent Alpo, I was sent by the Butcher Shop."
Reaching out a trembling hand, Vin grabbed the back seat door handle. Once it was open, he quickly jumped in and slammed it shut. The heat hit him all at once in a scalding wave. Despite the tightness of his face, he sighed with relief. "Man, it's freezing out there."
The driver snorted as he checked his mirrors. "It's not much better in D.C., Agent Fitzgerald."
Vin closed his eyes. It had been so long since he had heard that name. "It will be good to get back home, though."
"I hear that." Pulling back out to the street, the man carefully drove down to the stop sign. When he was certain no one was coming, he turned the corner. "You might want to get some rest, the drive to the airport's gonna be a bit. Just want to make sure we're not being followed."
"Go ahead. I've got nothing but time." Which was true. Martin knew he had plenty of time to think about what had happened. And they were going to want to know when he got back to D.C.