Hole in the Wall Gang
Sequel to A Home of Ma Own
Thanks to Mog for creating the ATF universe for us to play in.
PG- for language Mainly Chris & Ezra
Chris sipped his coffee as he looked out into Denver's night sky from his office window. There were better ways of spending a Saturday night. The team had been closing in on Sammy Bocko, a known arms trafficker. They had planned on arresting him at the next meet. But Sammy had called the meeting off at the last minute, his mother had become ill. He had gone straight to her side to stay there till she was better. Who would have suspected a cold-blooded killer would turn out to be such a momma's boy? All the work the team had put in on this case had been wasted or at least put on hold. None of their other cases were close to arrests. At least it had given them time to work on their backlog of paper work. District Attorney Orin Travis (their boss) had insisted they get caught up and had given them a deadline of Monday morning to get it done.
Chris walked over to the door of his office and looked out at his team. They were as tired as he was. Why was paper work always more exhausting then being out in the field? Only Buck and Vin were still at it. JD was trying to unscramble Buck's notes on their last case giving him the information he asked for as he typed his report. Vin and Ezra were polishing up Vin's last report; the way they were going at it they 'd be done before Buck. Chris smiled, Vin had come a long way in that department under Ezra's tutelage; none of the others were supposed to know that Vin was working on getting his college degree with Ezra's help. The man had his pride and they wouldn't embarrass him by teasing him about it. Now if only Buck would finish they could all go home as soon as the reports were done printing out.
Nathan and Josiah walked in carrying bags of take out. "Food gentleman."
"Yes, I'm starving." JD jumped up and grabbed one of the bags looking to see what they had brought.
"Vin, Ezra? You boys hungry?" Asked Josiah.
"In a moment Josiah we're almost done." Vin finished typing the last sentence and hit save then print. "Beat ya Buck." Vin got up and grabbed the bag Nathan held out to him. Josiah in turn handed Ezra a bag with a different logo.
"Thank you Josiah," he said pulling out his own turkey sandwich and salad. Ezra shuddered as he watched Vin and JD devour their greasy fries and hamburgers. "How they can digest all that rendered animal fat and not become ill is beyond my comprehension."
Josiah took a bite of his sub and chewed, looking thoughtful he answered, "Well I got a theory on that; after years of eating greasy foods, perhaps they have developed antibodies that fight off the effects of that grease." Nathan gave Josiah a what-are- you-talking-about look. "Can you come up with a better theory brother Nathan?"
"No, and they do seen to be healthy enough for now." commented Nathan between bites of his salad.
Josiah went on, "Now look at Chris and Buck, they've been eating that diet for years and it hasn't killed them yet." At this Chris and Buck stopped eating to glare at Josiah.
"We do eat other kinds of foods. Even Buck's been known to eat vegetables and some of them even come in the color green."
Vin stopped hunting through the bags for more fries. "There ain't nothing wrong with what we eat, as long as it tastes good and there's lots of it. Are you going to eat the rest of those fries?"
Chris handed over the fries and watched them disappear. "It's not grease antibodies Josiah, in Vin's case my money is on a tape worm." Vin threw the empty bag at Chris.
The sound of the printer finishing Vin's report kept him from making a snappy come back. Vin got the document and with a flourish he handed it to Chris, "For once I'm not the last one done. How is it going Buck?"
Buck groaned, "I'm almost done, just gotta end it,..... there." He hit print.
Chris had finished his meal and was going over Vin's report "Well done Vin, I hope Buck's report is as good."
"What is this, pick on Buck night?"
"Yes!" came back six voices at one time. It was mainly due to Buck that they were still there. The man was the worst procrastinator on the team when it came to paperwork, he also kept the worst notes. The other six hadn't been able to start their own work till after helping Buck find and sort his notes into cases. Buck was a good cop and a great agent but never would he be comfortable with paperwork. Finally they were done and everything was ready to be turned over to Travis on Monday morning. As the men got ready to leave, Ezra stopped by Chris' office and asked.
"Chris, it's awful late. Would you like to stay at ma house tonight? It will save you the trouble of driving back for the game tomorrow. I've put featherbeds in the guest rooms."
"Thanks Ezra, I wasn't looking forward to the drive out to the ranch tonight."
+ + + + + + +
Ezra was hosting the game night this Sunday. Everyone would be there but JD, he was spending the day and evening with his girlfriend Casey, making up for breaking their last two dates. Ezra's new home had a large living room with plenty of space for all of them to sprawl out in. The old Victorian was located half way between the federal building and Chris' ranch. While the home was structurally sound (it was built like a stone fortress) there had been a number of surprises awaiting Ezra when he took possession. The house was still full of old furnishings left by the previous owners that needed to be gone through. While the downstairs rooms and upstairs bedrooms had been cleaned and were habitable, the attic and basement still needed attention. Once the yard had been cleared of excessive growth it proved to be larger than Ezra had realized. The city boy had no idea what an half acre looked like and was surprised at how much land surrounded his home. After the grass and trees had been cut back, the driveway to the old stable was uncovered behind the house. It had been build of the same stone that the house had been. The stable had been designed to house two horses and a carriage. The horses and carriage were long gone but the building wasn't empty. Under an old tarp they found the body of a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible. The tires had rotted off and the top was full of holes as were the cushions, but there was little rust on the body or the 289 ci V-8 engine. Buck had fallen in love with it at first sight. Ezra would had been happy to have given it to him if he just got it out of there, but Buck wouldn't hear of it. He knew the value of the old car and wouldn't accept it till he and Ezra came to some kind of understanding. In the end they settled on a trade, Buck's skill in woodwork for the car. He would refinish the wood cabinets in the kitchen for the Mustang. For the last two weekends Buck had been doing just that.
+ + + + + + +
Chris woke and stretched, a good night's sleep was just what he had needed. Looking over at the clock he saw it was already past nine o'clock. He never slept this late unless he was sick or hurt. Damn, Ezra had comfortable beds in his house. Chris stretched again and made himself get up. After a hot shower he made his way down the back staircase to the kitchen to see about breakfast. Buck was already at work getting the last of the paint off the oak cabinets. "Morning Buck, you're up early."
"Nope, you got up late. You feeling any better this morning?"
"Yeah, slept like a baby in that bed. It was just what I needed. Ezra up? Vin here yet?"
"Haven't seen hide nor hair of him or Ezra either. But then Ezra ain't one to meet the sun unless he stays up for it. Brought breakfast with me, didn't know what Ezra had on hand. Bagels and coffee on the table with the paper."
"Thanks." Chris opened the bag and grabbed a bagel and a large coffee. Deciding not to stay in the kitchen he walked through the door leading into the dining room. Nope, too dark in here, Ezra was going to need to find a better way to light the room for it to be comfortable. Going around the table he opened the doors to the living room or the great room as Ezra called it. This was Chris's favorite room in the house. A high ceiling and tall windows graced the room with a lot of light and there was plenty of space. The room was off the front hallway; the two outer walls held windows looking out on the porch. The back wall divided it off from the dining room. The center wall was extra thick because it housed the fireplace. The single largest room in the house, at the moment it was filled with the old furniture that had come with the house. Ezra had the furnishings cleaned when he realized he needed to fix the basics first and shop for new furniture later. The furniture was large and heavy and there wasn't much chance that the roughhousing that the team was known to get into would harm it. Now where to sit? In one of the high wingback chairs by the fireplace or on the couch in front of the entertainment center that sat between two of the windows? The wingback chairs were comfortable but not a lot of room to spread out. The couch it was. He could put his feet up and spread the paper out as he read it. Chris smiled, for once it was going to be someone else's house getting messed up.
+ + + + + + +
From behind the secret panel beside the fireplace Vin and Ezra watched Chris settle down on the couch. His back was to them and the tall wingback chairs blocked anyone in the front of the room from seeing the entrance to the passageway. Ezra whispered "Let the games begin."
+ + + + + + +
Dressed in blue jeans and one of Josiah's old shirts, Ezra walked into the kitchen. It was so unlike his usual attire that Buck did a double take when he saw him.
"That's a different look for you isn't it?"
"You didn't expect me to paint the pantry in a suit did you?" answered Ezra as he opened the refrigerator for the cream cheese to go with the bagels. Ezra sat on a kitchen chair and ate his breakfast. "Where's Chris?"
"All ready up, he's in there on the couch reading your paper."
"Did he seem rested? Ah fear our intrepid leader has been exhausting his reservoir of energy."
"Chris has been working himself too hard." Ezra explained to Buck, "Haven't you noticed how tired he's been of late?"
"Well he did seem a little peaked last night, but then we were all tired."
"If you say so Buck, you've known him longer then the rest of us. If you say this is nothing to worry about then I won't worry, no matter how out of sorts he seems. I will trust your judgment."
Out front Vin came into the living room with his arms filled with bags. Stopping at the end of the couch he dropped his load on it.
"Hey! Didn't ya here me yelling for help with this stuff?"
Chris looked up from his reading. "Sorry, guess I was too engrossed in the paper."
"That's OK, I understand at your age the hearing starts to go. How about giving me a hand with the rest of it?"
"Rest of it? You got enough junk food here to feed an army."
"Na, this is just a few munchies to hold us over till Josiah gets here with his chili. Anyway the beer and ice are still out on the porch. Ya coming?"
Getting up from the couch Chris barely got to the doorway when Vin shoved bags of ice into his arms.
"Here you go, I'll go get the beer that way you won't have to walk so far." With that Vin whirled around and disappeared out the front doors.
"That boy's got way too much energy. Gotta get him to cut back on his sugar intake." said Chris to himself as he carried the ice into the kitchen. "Hey Buck, Vin's here. Ezra were do you want the ice?"
"Salutations Chris, I thought we'd place the ice and beer in the ice chest and leave it under the table. That way we can get all the beer cold at one time."
"Good idea, now where is Vin with the beer?"
"Right here cowboy."
Chris jumped at the sudden voice in his ear.
"Damn, I hate it when you do that."
"Sorry Chris I didn't realize ya didn't know I was there."
"Slipping a little there pard?" chuckled Buck.
"Shut up Buck, I'm going to go finish reading the paper." and with that he left the room with Vin trailing behind him.
"Does Chris seen a little edgy today?" asked Ezra of Buck.
"Shut up Ez."
Out in the living room Chris settled back once more on the couch. Vin grabbed the bags of junk food, all kinds of chips, nuts and pretzels, and started opening them, munching as he went. Dropping a bag of pretzels in Chris' lap, he asked for the sports section. Chris handed the section over as he absent-mindedly started eating the pretzels. After a short time he realized he was thirsty. Before he could make up his mind to get up, Ezra was there handing him a cold beer. "Thanks Ez." Ezra smiled and gave him a two-finger salute and left the room. Chris went back to reading his paper.
"Hey! Where's mine?" an indignant voice asked him.
"Ask Ezra", Chris told him.
"He gave me this one."
"Ezra? When did he give ya a beer?"
"A few minutes ago." Chris didn't like the look Vin was giving him.
"Chris, Ez is in the kitchen painting the pantry. He hasn't been out here. That's all right if ya forgot me, I guess the memory is the next thing to go at your age. I can go get one for myself." With that said Vin got up and headed back to the dining room to go into the kitchen.
Chris snapped his mouth closed. He knew Ezra had given him the beer, but why hadn't he brought one for Vin? For that matter why hadn't Vin seen him? Vin came back and sat down for a few minutes then got back up. That boy was born restless thought Chris, who after a few minutes tuned out the sounds of Vin's restless wandering. Chris finished the editorial section and asked Vin for the sports page. Looking up there was Ezra handing it to him, Chris realized Ezra was wearing the same blue jeans and green tee shirt that he had seen on Vin earlier. What was going on here?
"Thanks Ezra, I think I'll go get another beer." Chris headed for the kitchen, getting there he asked. "Buck where's Ezra?"
Buck looked up at his oldest friend, "Still in the pantry." pointing behind him.
Looking into the small room Chris saw Ezra slowly with, measured brush strokes, painting the shelves so as not to get a drop of paint on himself or on the oversize shirt he was wearing.
"He's not been out of there?"
"No, and he couldn't leave with out me knowing. He would have had to walk by me to get out. Are you feeling all right Chris?"
"Stop asking me that, I'm fine." With that he went back to the living room. There was Vin in the same spot Ezra had been wearing the same green tee shirt and blue jeans. "You and Ezra been shopping together?
Vin stopped eating and laughed "I don't think I could get Ezra into a Wal-Mart and I sure can't afford the places Ezra shops. Why ya asking?"
"I thought I saw Ezra wearing that same tee-shirt that's all, my mistake."
Vin laughed "Ez in a $2.00 Wal-Mart tee shirt, your joking right?"
Chris sat down on the couch and picked up his beer bottle, surprised to find it not only full but ice cold as well.
"Thanks for bring me a cold one this time Chris, try these fancy party nuts of Ez's. They're pretty good."
Chris took the nuts and slowly ate them as he tried to sort the facts out in his mind. Yes he had just been in the kitchen, no he didn't remember getting the beers. But here they were. Ezra had been in the kitchen, but he had also been in the living room. There hadn't been time for him to go out to the front hall and around to come in from the other end of the kitchen before he got there. Buck swore that Ezra hadn't gone around him, either in or out of the pantry. Something had to be going on, didn't it?
In the kitchen Ezra asked Buck "Is Chris all right?"
"Of course he is." snapped Buck, but wasn't so sure himself. Ezra went back into the pantry.
Chris mindlessly flipped through the paper, sipping his beer. He was still trying to figure out what the hell was going on when a Texas drawl asked him "Ya wanna watch a movie?" Looking up expecting to see Vin, there was Ezra standing by the fireplace leaning against one of those tall wing-backed chairs. He was wearing the same green tee shirt and jeans, holding a couple of DVD cases in his hand. Chris closed his eyes and counted to ten when he opened his eyes there was Vin in the same spot wearing the same clothes, holding the same DVDs in his hands. OK maybe he was more tired then he thought. He was going to have a long talk with Josiah and Nathan when they got here. One way or the other he needed to get to the bottom of this. Declining the movie, Chris started nervously tapping his fingers on his knee, wondering if a nap would help clear his head. Vin decided to read the comics and sat in a chair by the fireplace. Deep in thought Chris jumped when he was asked if he wanted to read the funnys. Chris looked over to where Vin had been sitting and saw Ezra. Quickly climbing over the back of the couch he rushed over to Ezra tripping over an ottoman in his haste. Regaining his feet, Chris grabbed Ezra's arm and started pulling him towards the kitchen.
"Wait a minute Chris what do you think your doing?" Asked Ezra, making Chris stop and look at him.
"I'm going to get to the bottom of whatever it is that's going on."
"Chris there is nothing going on. But if you feel the need to talk to Buck about it then lead on."
The two men made their way into the kitchen finding Buck sitting on the floor sanding the undersides of one of the counters. Seeing Ezra standing beside Chris caused Buck to hit his head on the way up from the floor.
"Ezra how did you get out of the pantry?" asked a bewildered Buck as he rubbed his head.
"Why would Ez be in the pantry?" asked Vin. "I'm the one painting the damn thing." Coming out of the pantry with a brush in one hand and bucket of paint with brushes in the other hand, Vin stood there with paint on his face and on the oversized shirt he was wearing. "How do you think the shelves got painted if I didn't do the paintin'?" Waving the brush around as he talked, the wet brush was coming too close to Ezra for his comfort.
"Watch what you're doing with that." Ezra grabbed Vin's hand and pulled the brush free. Ezra's own hand flew back hitting Chris in the face with the wet brush. "Oh lord Chris I'm sorry," mortified, Ezra stood there in shock.
Chris took the brush from Ezra "It all right Ez, it was an accident."
"I'm so sorry, let me get something to clean you up." Ezra hurried over to the sink.
"Hee, hum," smirked Buck fighting a losing battle against all out laughter. Vin put the bucket of paint with the brushes in it on a chair between Chris and Buck then quickly joined Ezra near the back door.
"Buck, it's not that funny," Chris told him, swiping at the paint running down his chin.
"Yes it is," laughed Buck, "You should've seen your face when Ez got ya."
Chris looked at his oldest friend laughing at him, then at the paint-covered brush in his hand. With a smile he ran the wet brush down Buck's face paying special attention to his mustache. "You're right, this is kind of funny."
"Hey, it was only funny when it happened to you." protested Buck.
"Then I guess this isn't funny either." Chris then painted both sides of Buck's face.
Buck picked up a brush out of the bucket and evened out the paint on Chris' face. Then for good measure he ran the brush down the front of his black shirt. Chris repaid the gesture by painting the front of Buck's shirt and then his hair. So intent on covering each other with paint that neither noticed Ezra taking pictures. Nor did they notice when Josiah and Nathan came in the back door. Placing the food they brought down on the kitchen table Josiah bellowed.
"What the hell is going on?"
When even that didn't stop the two combatants in their paint war. Josiah decided to stop them himself. Bad move on Josiah's part, as he moved in to separate the two, Chris grabbed the paint bucket to throw the contents at Buck. Buck was able to duck out of the way in time but Josiah wasn't. Looking down at his chest, Josiah watched the paint run down the front of his shirt.
"Ah shit!" exclaimed Chris when he realized what he had just done. Grabbing both the men by the scruff of their necks, Josiah shook them till they had dropped their brushes. "What the hell are you two doing?" A flash of light made him look up as Ezra lowered his camera, smiling he ran out the back door with Vin hot on his heels.
"It's their fault, I don't know how but I know it's their fault." growled Chris as he started to go after them. Slipping on the paint, only Josiah's hold on the collar of his shirt kept his feet under him. "Nathan go see were they got to."
Nathan was in no shape to do any such thing, sitting on a chair he was bent over laughing. Laughing so hard, in fact, that he was holding his sides. Gasping for air, he wiped the tears off his face and said "I never thought (gasped) I'd actually see anyone doing (gasped) a Three Stooges routine in real life." Getting his breathing back under control he continued. " Lord I have never seen anything as funny as the two of you painting each other and then Josiah you walked right into it." his chuckling turned back into laughter the more he thought about it.
Chris and Buck looked at each other covered in paint, then at Josiah with paint dripping down the front of his shirt. Both started to chuckle then all out laughter broke out with Josiah joining in. Chris gave Josiah and Nathan a quick rundown of his last few hours with Buck adding his part to the tale.
Buck wondered aloud "I don't know how they did it and I'm not sure what it was they did to get us to paint each other, but guys I'm glad their on our side."
"Amen to that brothers."
Nathan had gotten himself back under control. "You better wash that paint out while it's still wet if you want to get it out without using paint thinner. Leave your clothes here and I'll put them in to soak."
The three stripped down to their boxers, then went upstairs to wash. The men had always left a change of clothes at Chris' ranch and Bucks loft apartment, their places were big enough to host the whole team and if the need came up a change of clothes was available. Ezra had given over one of the bedrooms to that purpose. A change of clothes from the skin out was kept there for each member of the team. In JD and Vin's case, more then one set.
Nathan threw their clothes into the washer to soak. While the three were upstairs Nathan examined the pantry. Buck said Ezra had been painting this small room and hadn't left it. Chris was sure he had been in the living room at least part of that time. The side walls had shelves for storage and seemed to be pretty solid. The back wall had a place to hang brooms and a small shelf. Nathan felt kind of silly tapping on the walls, till the back one made a different kind of noise. Pushing then pulling at hangers he heard a click as the wall swung in. A narrow passageway was revealed. Nathan spotted a battery powered tap light and turned it on. Making sure he knew how to open the door back up if he needed to, he closed it and decided to find out were the passageway went. Within a few yards he came to a wooden wall and another tap light, Nathan turned it on and found a narrow staircase going up and that the passageway turned to his right. He followed the passageway to where it ended against a stone wall and found another tap light. At his feet was a small ice chest filled with beer bottles. Looking around he found a peephole that allowed him to see into the living room. From this vantage point he could see the whole room. He also found the latch for the panel and opened it, stepping out into the living room between the fireplace and the back corner of the room. "So that's how they did it", chuckled Nathan. Picking up the ice chest, he closed the secret panel and made his way back to the kitchen.
Josiah was the first one down to the kitchen, attired in a comfortable old jogging suit. A little later Chris came down wearing what looked to be a new black shirt and a pair of black jeans. "The little shits had this planned out even to having new clothes for us to change in to. They knew all along they would get us into that mess."
Buck joined them at the kitchen table. "Don't think I'm ever going to get all the paint out of my mustache." Helping himself to a bowl of Josiah's chili, he too had on a new pair of jeans and a dress shirt. "Maybe they got us drunk on all that beer they brought in."
Nathan pulled out the small chest he found and placed it on the table, "If you're talking about these, then you two didn't look at the labels." Nathan handed them each a bottle then went back to eating as the two examined the beer's labels. In fine print non-alcoholic was printed across the bottom of each.
"This isn't making me feel better Nat, I thought I had an out, now I've got no one to blame for falling for this but myself." Chris sighed "Sorry Josiah, I don't think they planned on you and Nathan coming in on the middle of all this or that you'd get covered with paint as well."
"Well what do we do now?" asked Buck.
"I for one am going to eat this excellent chili and watch the game on Ezra's TV. Then I plan to spend the night in the same comfortable bed I slept in last night." answered Chris. "Then tomorrow when they come into work we'll make them tell us how they pulled this off."
+ + + + + + +
Monday morning Buck was on the phone to the guard at the check in point.
"Chris you can't do this. It's juvenile and messy. You're at work for Pete sake." pleaded Josiah.
"Josiah it's the one place they won't be expecting us to get them back and anyway it fits the crime. Buck is still complaining about the paint he got in his mustache." In fact he and Buck had spent most of last night deciding on what to do to the pair. This was the least lethal thing they had came up with.
"I'm with Josiah on this Chris too many things can go wrong here." said Nathan wondering if he should go ahead and tell them how the boys had pulled it off. But he knew it wouldn't stop them from carrying out the foolishness that they had planned.
JD hadn't said anything. he didn't want anything to do with this. What Buck and Chris had planned was indeed juvenile and messy and in some way he knew, he just knew, he'd be left to clean it up. He hoped to stay out of sight and out of mind.
Buck got off the phone "The guard says they're on their way up." Josiah and Nathan grabbed JD and took themselves out of the line of fire.
Chris and Buck each picked up an open can of paint and took their positions. Each was standing in a doorway on either side of the elevator. Their hiding places were about six feet away, enough space for their victims to clear the elevator doors before they struck. Chris looked at Buck, "You go low, I'll go high that way we can't miss."
The elevator doors slid open, on the count of three both men stepped out and let fly with the paint. Standing in front of them covered from head to toe and dripping paint was District Attorney Orin Travis.
All constructive comments welcome. FHS70@aol.com