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The Baby-Sitters Club

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"You just gonna sit here all day?” Raylan asks of Tim, but is careful to keep his voice low. Willa has tuckered herself out and fallen asleep in his arms, and Raylan finds he concurs with Winona on this one: he loves her, but when she’s quiet? It’s almost like she loves him back.

Tim shrugs in response, remains seated.

"And you don’t even have one of these to occupy yourself with."

"You say that like I’ve been derelict in my duties," Tim says, smirking.


Raylan shifts in his seat, then, to accommodate the sudden buzzing of his phone. He can’t quite meet his hand to his pocket without disturbing Willa. But the buzzing gives way to a slew of text message alerts, and besides the obvious—Raylan needs to answer these calls—all this juggling will inevitably wake his child.

"I got her," Tim offers. Raylan almost doesn’t hear him, he pitches his voice so low and even. By that token, he isn’t even sure it’s Tim’s first offer.

Raylan stands, adjusts Willa in his arms. She’s tiny, but Raylan feels her like a tremendous weight. He glances at Tim, circumspect. “What do you know about child care?”

Tim looks affronted. “I babysit you all the time.”

The phone in Raylan’s pocket seems to—if possible—buzz still more aggressively. It could be Ava with news, he supposes. Or Winona needing something, checking in. Raylan circles his desk and meets Tim at his.

“Okay. Just.”

Raylan practically stands chest-to-chest with Tim in an effort to pass Willa into his arms with as little room for error as possible. He wasn’t this concerned in his hotel room, but it was just Winona, then. The Marshals’ offices hardly constitute the wild world, but Raylan feels preoccupied nonetheless with Willa’s potential heart murmur, her ear infection, her general well-being. He’d put a great deal of stock in those first few months, and the comforting notion that his child was healthy and out of harm’s way. All of these thoughts come at him, all at once, and suddenly his hands are empty and his daughter is, again, in unknown territory.

But Tim cradles her gently, careful not to wake her. He sits back in his chair, but doesn’t chance reclining. His back is strict as a board as he secures her neatly in his arms, and brings one large hand to cup her head.

“Good coverage,” Raylan says, sort of stunned, and so in awe of just how small his child is that he forgets his reason for handing her off.

Tim’s a steady hand, Raylan knows that. He won’t drop her.

“Your phone?” Tim prompts. It’s going off like a car alarm in Raylan’s pocket.

“Two minutes,” Raylan says, firm like a promise he’s making both to Tim and with him.

“That’s plenty of time to find an interested buyer,” Tim deadpans, then tucks his chin in and murmurs into the terrycloth of Willa’s hooded jumper. “What do you think? Craigslist? Nah, you’re top dollar. Let’s go deep web.”

“Two minutes,” Raylan presses, and is already on his phone and starting for the door.

While Raylan’s back is turned, Tim finds Nelson’s gaze from across the room. He lifts Willa off his chest, slightly, like he’s showing off a champion wrestling belt. His expression is one of triumph.

Raylan’s two minutes turn into ten. Most of the calls are from local law enforcement, and he cuts them off mid-stream to inform them that if they’re looking for the man in charge, it’s Chief Deputy Brooks they want—and her number is listed.

One of the missed calls is from Winona, and Raylan finds a quiet corner of the building to answer it, and hopes not to give away his location. It wouldn’t look good, bringing her here.

None of all the calls are from Ava. Raylan thinks about trying her himself, but sees the time and decides it can wait. He takes the stairs and beats the elevator to their third floor offices.

The first thing he notices is that Tim is gone. The baby bag, too.

And it doesn’t even register in his mind that there’s something to react to. Raylan just stands, dumbfounded, his blood running cold despite the heavy pounding in his chest. He’s on the very edge of a lot of things—confusion, fear, anger. None of them surge ahead of the pack and Raylan finds himself stalled in both action and feeling. He’s completely at a loss.

Tim’s suddenly at his side, having entered the office’s just a second after him.

“Hey,” he says, and bounces Willa in his arms. She cooes happily, recognizing her daddy. It’s the kind of bright-eyed, wondrous expression that ought to melt a parent’s heart.

But Raylan’s is still in his throat, and his tone is harsh when he asks of Tim, “Where the hell were you?”

Tim smiles a little uneasily. “Bathroom. She took a monster shit.”

Raylan can hardly hear him for the blood pounding in his ears. “In the bathroom?”

“In her diaper,” Tim corrects, slowly and with some patience. “Which I then changed in the bathroom, because this is how a society conducts itself, Raylan. Babies can’t just poop untended. It’d be anarchy.”

Raylan’s not listening. He’s staring at his daughter, eyes searching her bright face and tiny hands for so much as a bump. The hood from her jumper is slightly askew, but she’s smiling. Raylan can’t find a damn thing wrong about that smile—the lack of teeth, included. She’s got roots in hill country, like it or not.

"Shit. Right." Raylan doesn’t apologize for snapping, but he figures he’s repaid Tim more than enough with the rough cut of his worried father routine. Tim starts to walk ahead of Raylan, back to their desks, and Raylan follows. "Thanks."

"You should have seen her," Tim grins. He adjusts her weight in his arms as she makes a grab for his ribbed jacket collar, but latches onto one of the buttons, instead. "She woke up, looked me dead in the eye, and just unloaded. I could hear it. Still coming out when I got her down.”

"Sorry I missed it," Raylan says dryly. Not that he hasn’t seen his child release a spectacular load, but he hasn’t seen her take aim and let one rip on Tim. He doesn’t think lightening will strike twice, however, and Tim’s two minutes are up and well over. “I’ll take her, now.”

Tim holds her out promptly and Raylan, with a grunt of dissatisfaction, rushes to meet her.

"You gotta relax," Tim says, smirking as Raylan cuddles her close and again takes his seat. Tim gets real close to the plastic partition between their desks and whispers ominously, "They can smell fear."

"I think that’s dogs," Raylan says. Willa is back to happily bouncing in his lap, her arms reaching for everything scattered on his desk.

"Mm. Raptors, too."

"You being condescending again?"

"No, Raylan, this is me at my utmost sincere." Tim even holds up a hand, steady and sure, like he’s got the other planted flat on a bible somewhere. Then, he leans back in his seat and studies the pair. “She looks nothing like you, by the way. I’m just saying.”

Raylan smiles down at his child. The more she takes after her strong-willed mother, he thinks, the better. “Then you and Art are in agreement.”

He finally takes a breath, as well as Tim’s advice.

Tim clicks idly at his computer, routinely refreshing the list of credit card charges. Raylan’s attention is back on his daughter, but the clicking is incessant, and soon Raylan finds himself distracted.

"You didn’t really think Walker was going to use his credit cards, make it easy on us?"

Tim doesn’t so much as blink. “Shit, no.”

"So why is it you’re here, again?"

"Just trying to pass the time," Tim drawls, and that—Raylan can believe. Even after choosing to break away from the manhunt in favor of his blossoming little family, Raylan felt himself itching to get back to it. He doesn’t know how shit shook out so that Tim got the boot, too, but he can’t imagine he went peacefully. Even now, Tim’s fingers drum against his desk. It’s not like either of them to leave a thing unfinished.

"T-minus sixteen hours," Tim adds, and doesn’t need to check his watch to confirm.

Raylan smirks at that; of course Tim is counting down.

"You would pick right up at the stroke of midnight, huh?"

Tim frowns and waves a hand to indicate the procession of activity in the bullpen. “You say that like you don’t think these fine people here and the one helo we got circling a corn field ain’t gonna get our guy.”

"That was certainly never my intent," Raylan says, his tone marred in mock-offense, like he is genuinely hurt by Tim’s supposed misreading of his comment. He can bullshit with the best of them.

Tim purses his lips to keep from smiling. He doesn’t think Raylan needs anymore positive re-enforcement. He answers plainly, honestly, “Someone needed to do it, and I figure better in the sacred circle than out.”

Even as he’s talking, Raylan sees that Tim is studying the map the other Marshals and locals are putting together. Hell, he isn’t being subtle about it.

"Hm. Well, if you trip over all this decompression time and happen into something, give me a call."

Tim shoots him a look. They’re both without their weapons for the time being, and the new accessory Raylan’s got on his hip ain’t quite up to the rigors of nap time, let alone the hunt for a dangerous fugitive. “I don’t think they carry bulletproof vests at the Baby Gap.”

"Winona’s flight is this afternoon," Raylan tells him, and Tim realizes he’s serious about going rogue if need-be. Raylan looks to his child, then, like he knows he shouldn’t be plotting any ill-conceived counterattacks with his infant daughter sat in his lap. She’s facing him, and he draws her into his arms, turns her, and remedies that. "I should probably get going."

But he remains seated, and even joins Tim in staring across the room and getting a feel for the manhunt’s continued coverage. He can’t fault Tim for wanting to be ready when their shared leave ends and they’re finally allowed back into the fold. Raylan finds he’s more anxious than expected for that turn of events, himself.

He strains to hear some of the more detailed conversation, too, but finds there’s a new clicking sound disrupting his concentration.

It’s Tim again, but instead of a computer mouse he has his right hand wrapped around something else—a pair of Aviator sunglasses—and is rapping his index finger thoughtlessly along the wire rim.

It crosses Raylan’s mind that he’s previously thought Tim got them at Arlo’s, actually—if only because he hadn’t seen Tim with them before and they look kind of old. But now with the hills on his mind, Raylan remembers where he’s seen the pair once before.

Maybe it’s where his head’s been at, with Winona and their child, and Raylan’s so hungry for a mystery that he finds one in Tim’s idle hands. But maybe not.

Raylan casts a line.

“You alright, shooting those soldiers?”

Tim’s hand stills immediately, and Raylan knows he’s got him hooked. He takes a perverse kind of pleasure in it, because not ten feet away people are scrambling to find a shooter, and here Raylan’s making progress with their own.

Tim’s grip tightens around the sunglasses, and he disappears them into his jacket pocket under the guise of stretching his neck and reaching for his cup of coffee.

“They were there to kill one of their own,” Tim says, his voice sure and unwavering. He raises the cup, but doesn’t drink. “I’m not alright with that.”

“You put a couple good shots into our dearly departed Choo-Choo, yourself.”

Tim seems to take offense at that, but for all the wrong reasons. If he’d had his rifle instead of his sidearm, Tim knows it would have been one shot. “Well he just wouldn’t go down.”

Raylan smiles at that. He knows neither of them are joking, really, but the teasing commentary serves its own purpose. He decides not to string Tim along, and just asks plainly: “What’s with the sunglasses?”

Tim smiles a little in return. It’s some kind of effort, and passes quickly.

“I think you know what,” he says, and purposefully waits for some passersby to clear, so that he is not overheard. The only audience he deems suitable for this particular truth is Raylan and Willa—apparently. “It’s not often that I’m close enough to take a souvenir.”

Raylan doesn’t know what’s more off putting: that Tim would say such a thing in fairly damning circumstances—he’s spending his twenty-four hours of leave time here in the office, after all, hopeful for any crumb of information that might lead him to Walker and the sure-to-be bloody showdown—or the fact that he smells like baby powder, saying it.

Raylan pulls the baby bag onto one shoulder, gives Willa his car keys to hold and nods at Tim.

“See you in sixteen hours.”