Disclaimer: This story is the product of different minds coming together to have some fun. We have ownership over any new characters but the rest belongs to others (such a shame!).

Authors' Note: This is one of my earlier pieces, but it's taken me awhile to get it up to scratch. I wanted to see what Vin and Ezra would look like behind bars.

Wrong Side of the Bars - ATF

By Ladysmiths

Josiah and Nathan looked up from the folder in front of them as four ATF agents filed out of the elevators. "I don't know how you two became the heroes," Buck grumbled.

Nathan smiled at Josiah, "Well, they did get the information from the witness, after numerous attempts by you and JD, and then caught the gun thief. Now we don't have to waste time setting up a lengthy operation trying to flush him out with phoney buyers. I think Chris was especially pleased about retrieving the guns and coming in way under budget. We usually blow our budget."

"Well, I don't get it," JD muttered, "Buck and me talked to that witness, he wouldn't give his friend up. We even tried threatening to arrest him, but he knew it wouldn't stick, he wasn't involved in the actual robbery he was just a bystander."

"Mr Dunne, our methods of persuasion are just a little more effective than those of yourself and Mr Wilmington."

"Yeah," Vin grinned, "Ezra here just flashed him a smile and turned on that old southern charm."

"And, if that hadn't worked I did have Mr Tanner with me," Ezra finished for Vin.

Buck glared at the two agents, "Why'd you wait until Chris called me and JD away to chase the suspect, and why didn't you radio for us to come back when you'd found out where he'd headed? We could’ve driven around the other side of the woods and blocked him off. Sounds to me like you two were after the glory."

Ezra sighed, "Time was of the essence, and you were headed in the wrong direction."

"Besides, he's hideout could be anywhere, if he'd gotten into those hills, it would have taken me at least a couple of hours to track him. We wanted the glory now." Vin winked at Buck which irritated him even more.

Ezra nodded in agreement looking very smug.

Josiah laughed, "Chris doesn't seem to mind them going off on their own as long as they bring the bad guys back."

As Chris walked into the office he smiled. He had been securing the prisoner and had missed the conversation, although he could guess at what was being said by the expressions on everyone’s face. "We might get a commendation for this, fastest bust ever, caught him stealing the guns before he got a chance to sell them. The Judge still wants us to make sure no-one else was involved. It’s a shame you had to leave the witness behind when you went after Emmett. Although, I don't think he was involved, just helping a friend get away. What's wrong Buck?"

"Nothin'. Well, that witness could have told JD or me. Plus Vin and Ezra should have waited for us."

Josiah turned towards Chris and asked, “Do you want us to start on our reports?"

"Nah,” Chris was in a good mood, “I think we should head to Inez's to celebrate, the reports can wait ¡til tomorrow. “ Glancing over at Buck he added, “Unless you'd like to start now Buck, maybe if you put your complaint in writing?"

"Well, seeing as heroes always buy the first round, I think The Saloon sounds like a much better idea than writing reports in triplicate." Buck figured why whinge, especially if they were going to get off work early. JD obviously agreed as he bounded towards the elevators.

The rest of Team 7 followed JD, when Chris’ phone started ringing. “Ignore it,” Vin suggested.

“I might be important, I’ll only be a minute.” Chris didn’t want to spend all evening wondering who was trying to contact him.

Chris emerged from his office holding his arms up, “The Judge wants to see me. Said it was important.”

Vin shook his head, “Next time, ignore it.”

Chris just sighed, “Yeah well, you guys go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

* * * * * * *

The mood at The Saloon was jovial as Chris walked in. "What's wrong?" Vin had noticed the expression Chris wore. The fact that he hadn't shown up until they'd been there for over an hour hadn’t been overlooked by any of the agents either.

Chris just jumped right in, he didn’t know how else to broach the subject. "Were either of you two there when Vin and Ezra questioned the witness?" He asked facing JD and Buck.

"No, we were heading for Buck's truck and it was parked a ways down the hill.” JD answered, “ Why?"

"The witness was found dead, about an hour ago."

Even Ezra couldn't hide the shocked look on his face, "He was perfectly fine when Vin and I left him, I can assure you."

"How?" Vin wanted to know.

"He was beaten to death. I've spent the last hour at the lock-up with the Judge and David Emmett,” when he noticed the confused looks he was receiving, Chris clarified, “The prisoner, anyway David says he turned around when he noticed his friend, Greg I think his name was. He wanted to backtrack to make sure the guy didn’t give his direction away. He claims he saw Vin beating Greg while Ezra just stood there smiling. When the witness finally pointed in a general direction, Ezra held him up while Vin finished him off."

"He's lying!" JD immediately jumped to Vin and Ezra's defence, "Besides if what he said was true, how come Vin and Ezra were still able to catch him?"

Chris sighed, he knew his team would have a million questions, he even prepared himself for them, but all he really wanted was a drink. "He claims he was just so shocked at his friend's mistreatment that by the time he realised he should be running, it was too late."

Vin stood up. "Where are you going?" Chris asked, his tone carried a warning. The last thing he needed was for Vin to go and do something stupid.

"Just don't feel much like celebrating." Vins mumbled as he walked out.

Ezra glanced around the table, “My sentiments exactly,” he stated as he followed Vin.

* * * * * * *

"You know it’s a lie, Chris," Buck broke the silence that had descended after their friends’ departure.

Chris took a long sip of the drink he’d been cradling and sighed, "Yeah, we all do including the Judge. But they were the last to be seen with the witness, there is going to be an investigation."

"Maybe we should try David again, obviously they're being set up." Josiah states.

"We'll wait until morning, I don't think he's going to tell us anymore tonight," Chris had spent an hour with David and hadn’t gotten to the truth. Maybe a night in jail would help him reconsider.

Nathan glanced at Chris, "Do you really think Vin and Ezra are just going home?"

“I hope so Nathan."

* * * * * * *

Ezra ran to catch up with Vin, "It seems we are headed towards the prison lock-up Mr Tanner, do you really think they're going to let us in?"

"I wasn’t plannin’ on askin’ permission."

* * * * * * *

David squinted through the bars and smiled, "Well, it didn't take you two long. Want to beat some information out of me?"

"Who's setting us up?" Vin wasn’t in the mood to be given the runaround, he wanted answers and he wanted them now.

"Well, actually only one of you is being set up. Just bad luck on the other guy’s part."

Ezra decided to jump in when he saw the look in Vin’s eyes. "If you would just disclose who is behind this little intrigue, we might be able to arrange for your release."

“I don’t need your help gettin’ outta here. Besides I’m a dead man if I talk, and this guy’s scarier than the both of you."

"How do you know he won’t kill you anyway, now that he doesn’t need you anymore? You'll have more of a chance if you take this deal and let us help you." Vin stated.

“I’ll take the chance. Thanks anyway.”

* * * * * * *

"Where did you two come from?" Vin and Ezra surprised the guard as they came walking down the corridor. “There are no visitors written up in the book.”

"We weren't visitin'."

The guard just shrugged and shook his head as Vin and Ezra stalked out the door.

* * * * * * *

"Where to now, Mr Tanner?" Ezra inquired wishing Vin would slow down, he practically had to jog to keep up.

"I think you should go home, Ezra.” Vin didn’t want to get his friend involved, “It’s me that’s being set up."

Ezra grinned, and tried to lighten the mood, "I realise that, everyone loves me. Why, I'm just full of that old southern charm you mentioned earlier."

"It ain't funny. You’re in enough trouble because of me and I won’t be responsible for putting you in a dangerous situation. Hell, I haven’t even figured out the situation yet."

"You’re concern is truly touching,” Ezra noticed the look he was getting but continued anyway. “Mr Tanner, as you just stated I am already involved. It seems to me I have two choices. Either I’m arrested for assisting you in you’re alleged transgression, or whoever is behind this has realised that I have dreadful taste in friends and decides to exact revenge. Personally I think that both these options suck.” Ezra watched as Vin’s eyes widened in surprised, “What? I used apt terminology.”

“Yeah, but what exactly are you tryin’ to say?” Vin already knew the answer and was grateful, but he still wanted to hear it from Ezra.

“Unless your planning on having us turn ourselves in, I think I'll stick with you."

Vin smiled slightly, that’s as good as it got.

* * * * * * *

Vin and Ezra had waited most of the night for the police to leave the scene of the murder. Once they were satisfied that they were alone they took a look around. The area had been stripped clean, and without the body to search they weren’t able to find any evidence to contradict the accusations. "It seems we're at the proverbial dead end, Mr Tanner."

“Maybe, we should try to find where David was going with the guns when he headed into the woods."

“A hike sounds wonderful, you did say you could track it down in a couple of hours, correct?"

"Sure Ez, no problem.”

Just as they turned towards the wooded area, sirens began to blare. A couple of uniformed cops jumped out of the cruiser, guns at the ready. Both Vin and Ezra held up their badges. One of the police officers shook his head, "You two are wanted for the murder of Greg Schreck and David Emmett. I didn't think you'd come to us though."

"Damn," Vin swore under his breath, now there were two murders they were wanted for.

"Now, now, gentleman there has obviously been a grave misunderstanding, we would never have committed such heinous crimes. Perhaps you should verify your facts, Agent Tanner and myself will continue to secure the area." Ezra prayed that they’d at least turn back to their car to call it in and make sure, hopefully giving Vin and himself enough distraction to get away.

"Save it, we're bringing you in. Your boss Agent Larabee is pretty mad and he wants you under his custody."

Ezra and Vin stared at each other and nodded imperceptibly, trust Chris to have warned the police about them. Suddenly, Vin grabbed the cop who was closest to him, Ezra jumped other one before he could react and help his partner.

"Tell Chris we're sorry," Vin said as he handcuffed them to their vehicle leaving the key just out of reach.

As they bolted towards the hills, Ezra mumbled, "Marvellous, another violation to add to the list."

* * * * * * *

"Shit!" Chris cursed when they found the two embarrassed police officers. It was hard enough convincing the Judge not to have Vin and Ezra arrested after the murder of the prisoner. The guard had said two men walked out of the lock-up fitting Vin and Ezra's description, but they weren't written up and he hadn't seen them come in. He should have known Vin wouldn't let it drop, Ezra too for that matter. They were both the same, as soon as one found himself in trouble the other wasn't far behind. Of course asking for help or letting Chris and the others protect them never even occurs to them, they just go off and get themselves in deeper. He had no doubt that Vin and Ezra were innocent, but whoever was setting them up was doing a damn good job of it. He'd arrest Vin and Ezra himself and lock them up just to keep them safe, he was even thinking about throwing away the key.

"They headed towards those hills, probably looking for that hideout," Josiah came up behind Chris and startled him out of his musings.

"Right, grab your gear and lets go."

* * * * * * *

Much to Ezra’s amusement, it had only taken Vin and himself a couple of hours to reach a house, well hidden from the track which seemed perfect for storing weapons.

"Doesn’t seem well guarded" Vin stated looking down from their position.

"Perhaps they’re assuming we’ve been arrested and are no longer a threat."

“No, I have a feeling they’re expecting us.”

Vin and Ezra watched as a dark haired man walked out of the cabin and started looking around. "Shit, that's Samson," Vin exclaimed.

"Mr Tanner, you are a fountain of information. Seeing as how you two have already met maybe we should go down there and you can introduce me, or would you care to elaborate?"

"He was in the gang I set up. He was rough and didn't care about anyone, I thought if he felt part of a group then he’d get better. I was wrong. One day I caught him beating another member, a kid much smaller than him...”

“Let me hazard a guess. Being the remarkable human being you are, you jumped in ready to protect the young and defenceless.”

Vin just rolled his eyes and finished his story, “I kicked him out of the gang.”

“I’m sure that’s not all you did to teach the miscreant a lesson. Perhaps from now on you’ll follow your own advice," Ezra smiled at the confused expression directed towards him. “Ignore it.”

"Well anyway, maybe you should head around to the other side of the clearing so we can come in from both sides, I'll keep an eye on Samson. And be careful, I’m sure he has more guys positioned around here somewhere."

"You don't have the monopoly on being able to pass by undetected.”

* * * * * * *

A few moments later Vin watched Ezra being led up to Samson by a couple of thugs, "Yeah right, undetected."

* * * * * * *

"Where's your friend Mister?"

"I have no inclination as to what you are talking about, can't a person take a nice, leisurely stroll in the hills without being accosted?"

Samson’s fist connected with Ezra’s jaw, the kid that had caught Ezra still had a grip on his arm and kept the undercover agent from toppling over. “

I find this behaviour most inappropriate, I have been nothing if not civil. I have already answered your query, but to reiterate I came out here alone to get away from it all, when this young hooligan and his colleague ambushed me.”

"I was going to start punching you until Vin came out of hiding, but after listening to that crap, I think I’ll just shoot you." Samson stated as he pointed his gun at Ezra.

Vin had started running towards the opening as soon as he'd seen Ezra was captured. He came flying past some more kids who were egging their leader on. He leaped into the clearing, effectively pushing Ezra out of the way. Ezra, the guy that was holding him and Vin all landed in a heap on the floor. As they were falling Ezra reached for the gun hidden at his ankle. Rolling away from the other two he shot Samson whose attention and aim was now directed at Vin. Once Vin had scrambled to his feet, he also pulled his gun and trained it on the guy who had fallen with them, relieving him of his weapon. Ezra spun around taking in the startled expressions of the boys that circled them. He recognised the guard from the prison lock-up, so that’s how the second murder was accomplished. He lowered his gun slightly and ordered them to throw down their weapons and line up, he smiled as they all complied readily.

Ezra almost felt sympathy for these kids, now that their boss had been taken down they had no idea what to do. He was about to say as much and turned to see Vin hovering over Samson, “He’s dead.”

Ezra just nodded and watched as Vin struggled to get to his feet. “You’ve been shot, Mr Tanner.”

Vin gave up and sat on the ground, “No shit, Ez.”

* * * * * * *

"The gunshot came from that direction," Josiah yelled.

"JD, you and Nathan head back and call the paramedics, there might be someone down," Chis ordered.

Team 7 approached the clearing cautiously, however Chris started running when he saw Vin sitting down clutching his arm. “What the hell happened?”

“We’re teaching these young men how to be good boy scouts,” Ezra offered.

Chris set his mouth into a grim line, not daring to speak. Without saying a word he helped Vin to his feet and they all marched back towards the road to the waiting ambulance. Buck and Josiah were at the rear covering the group of kids, “You know, it does look like a boy scout trip,” Buck chuckled.

“Yeah, except for the guns,” Josiah smiled.

* * * * * * *

Before anyone could object Ezra jumped into the back of the ambulance with Vin, leaving everyone else to clean up.

"Ezra, I'm sorry , this was all my fault. You were nearly killed, if anything had happened..."

"Now, now Mr Tanner, you’re hardly to blame. I chose to stick with you. I could have contacted Mr Larabee and let him know what was happening. Life's full of choices, I just never seem to make the right one."

Vin grinned, "Thanks, Ezra."

"Now just for clarification purposes, I intentionally allowed myself to be captured as a ploy. If you had not come tearing down like a madman, you would have witnessed me making a brilliant manoeuvre allowing me..."

"Oh, I should've let Samson shoot you."

* * * * * * *

Six men were waiting patiently, or as patiently as they could, at the hospital. “Where do you think you’re going?” Chris asked when Vin walked up to them with his arm bandaged.

"I'm fine, they're releasing me. I think I'll go home and get some sleep."

"That sounds like the perfect plan, Mr Tanner I think I'll do the same."

"Sorry, guys," Chris tried desperately to keep his tone serious and not laugh, "You're under arrest for the murder of Greg Schreck and David Emmett."

"WHAT!" both men yelled in unison.

Chris gave up and grinned, "Well, until we can get the paperwork done, you two are still wanted men."

* * * * * * *

"I hope you don't mind sharing a cell," Chris was finding this very amusing.

“Chris, you leave us here, I swear I'll..."

"What, Vin? You two can think about what being a team is all about. Buck was right before, both of you have got to learn to call for backup and wait for it."

"Thank you Chris, you can also think about the fact the old Buck here is always right while we finish the paperwork," Buck smirked.

Josiah smiled as he locked the cabinet where he’d placed Vin and Ezra's personal items and then chuckled when Nathan added, "And there's a lot of paperwork too. Evidence to go through, forms to be filled out, in triplicate."

Chris watched as Ezra sat down on the only bunk in the cell in resignation, while Vin still stood at the bars glaring at them, "You know, our celebration got cut short the other night, I'm sure the paperwork can wait until the morning."

"Alright!" Buck grinned, "Heroes pay for the first round, right?"

"That's right, Brother Buck," Josiah held up some money, "Vin and Ezra both kindly donated $20.00 out of their wallets."

"Chris?" JD asked as they were heading for the door, "Are you really gonna throw away the key?"

* * * * * * *

"You know your could have exaggerated your injury, or fainted maybe, at least try to extract some sympathy from Mr Larabee. Yes, I think you are entirely to blame for my incarceration."

"Come on, I took a bullet for you."

"Oh yes, you still seem to be having trouble ignoring other people’s plights. Haven’t you learnt that it doesn’t pay to be heroic, brave, self-sacrificing, chilvarous..."

"Ezra, shut up and help me pick this lock."


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