Days Like This
Disclaimer: Characters belong to MGM, CBS, TNN, Trilogy, The Mirisch Corp., well, I guess everyone but me.
Notes: Originally posted as three short stories. Thanks to Heidi who helped me "dazzle Chris with bullshit" in part three.
"Y'know, Chris is gonna kill us."
"He will know it wasn't our fault."
"It never is "
The day had started out well. Ezra picked up Vin for work, since the Texan's Jeep was in the shop -- again. Now, half an hour later, they were surrounded by police officers, firefighters, and assorted paramedics, waiting for their boss to appear.
"Where the hell are my men?!"
Hearing the dulcet tones of their leader, both agents groaned. Vin nudged Ezra. "It's your turn; I told him about the last thing."
Chris sighed as he came upon his agents. They were lying on the ground -- bandaged and handcuffed together.
"Thanks for coming, Cowboy."
"Nice to see you, Mr. Larabee."
"Seems I had no choice. I was told to collect my men before they were arrested for reckless endangerment and property damage."
"I ain't reckless." Vin was insulted.
Larabee rolled his eyes. When no other information was forthcoming, he pointedly cleared his throat. "Gentlemen?"
Vin nudged Ezra again and Ezra groaned. He was certain a couple of his ribs were broken. "You see, Mr. Larabee, we were driving on the freeway on the way to work -- on time I might add." Chris waved his hand for the undercover agent to continue. "Ahem, anyway, Vin noticed a man in the car next to us and recalled his face from the vast amount of wanted posters he peruses for his enjoyment."
"It was Max Rose," Vin interrupted, as if that explained it all.
"And would that be the man over there yelling about false imprisonment, and how his rights are being trampled upon?"
Standish looked over in the direction of his leader's gaze. "Yes, that is the suspect in question."
Chris nodded. "You noticed him. Did you call for backup?"
"No. Mr. Tanner decided we should follow Mr. Rose and confront him once his vehicle had stopped." Ezra glared at Vin who calmly smiled and yanked on their joined hands. "Unfortunately, Mr. Rose noticed his tail. He then attempted to outmaneuver my Jaguar. Silly, really. Mr. Tanner insisted on following him."
"That's when he pulled his gun out and started shooting," Vin added.
"For no reason?" Chris seemed skeptical.
"He's nuts! Reason enough," scoffed Vin.
Ezra tried to get the conversation under control. "That's when I backed off. Then, when the criminal ran out of ammo, my partner absconded into his vehicle."
"What?!" Chris looked at his sharpshooter in shock.
"I jumped into his convertible." Tanner shrugged.
"For God's sake, why?"
"To get him to pull over o' course. Only he wrestled with me fer the wheel."
"And it took them to the other side of the freeway. Swerving the vehicle back onto the correct path, my partner managed to avoid causing any accidents."
"Except something happened," Chris stated matter-of-factly.
"I am afraid Mr. Tanner has yet to learn to control some of his baser instincts." Chris shot a look of shock at his best friend. "I mean his aggression, Mr. Larabee," Ezra said with a sigh. "Apparently, Mr. Rose took offense at Mr. Tanner's intrusion and suggested something vulgar that Vin could do with his badge."
The sharpshooter nodded. "He told me to shove it up my--"
"All right," Chris interrupted. "So why are you two under arrest?" he motioned at the handcuffs binding the two.
"We ain't actually under arrest. The PD was just a mite pissed. Especially after the crash."
"What crash?" Chris' voice had gotten very quiet not a good sign.
"In his attempt to bring the malefactor under control, the convertible was driven down an exit ramp. There just happened to be a modular home being transported on the entrance ramp directly below."
Vin fumed, "What is it with those people? Are they just too lazy to pack? They gotta move the whole damn house?"
Larabee didn't respond to Vin's attempt to lighten the mood. "And then?" Chris asked Ezra.
"The convertible managed to enter the modular home at an advanced speed."
"You crashed into the house?" Larabee yelled at his sharpshooter.
"Not on purpose," Vin defended.
Chris threw his hands up. "What am I going to do with you two? Do I need to lock you up?"
"I fear that is not the end of our tale, Mr. Larabee." Ezra tried not to flinch as his leader's steely gaze was directed at him once again. "I followed as quickly as possible to ensure my partner's safety. Unfortunately, I noticed gasoline was leaking. We managed to extricate Mr. Rose, and then I suggested that we evacuate, post haste. We got the driver out of the truck and moved back a ways."
"Which was good thinkin' since the whole damn thing exploded."
The man in black hung his head low. "What else?" he asked, fearful of what the answer might be.
"That's it," Vin announced.
Vin glanced at the gambling man. "Well, okay. One more thing."
"I'm afraid to ask."
The sharpshooter shrugged. "Seems like the guy transportin' the house is holdin' us responsible."
"I wonder why."
"He reckons the ATF owes 'im fer the house."
"And how am I supposed to find enough money in the budget to pay for a house?"
"Don't ya have home insurance?"
"You aren't helping, Tanner!"
"Mr. Tanner," Ezra commented, "it seems as though you were right. We are to be blamed."
Chris screamed in frustration. "You're only being blamed because it's your fault!"
"What do you mean 'They're in jail'?"
Chris Larabee turned to his oldest friend and grinned. "I mean... those two idiots are sitting in jail."
"But why?" JD asked, just as confused as his partner.
The man in black quickly explained about the morning's car chase and modular home being burned down.
Josiah chuckled. "Are you trying to teach our wayward brothers a lesson?"
Chris shrugged. "Nothing else seems to sink in."
"So how'd they take it?" Buck was finally getting into the moment.
"As well as you can imagine."
Each man took a moment to picture the scene in his mind's eye; it brought a smirk to everyone's face.
Nathan shook his head to clear it. "So, when are you bailing them out?"
"Chris!" JD was aghast.
"Oh, they aren't really under arrest. They just think they are."
"What are you talking about, pard?"
"The PD was tired of cleaning up after them, and just as anxious for those two to curtail their hijinks. They processed them and locked 'em up. Vin and Ez will be released later tonight."
"But if they were fingerprinted..." Nathan mused.
"It might not be wise to have Ez's prints on file with the PD," warned Buck. "A little too easy to access."
"Don't worry," Chris told his men as he brought out some papers from his jacket pocket. "I have all their paperwork right here... it's all good."
JD laughed. "Wait until they find out."
"I'm not afraid. By tonight, those two'll be so worked up and worried, that all they'll be thinking about is how to stay outta trouble."
It took about five seconds until the other men started screaming with laughter at the thought of the original "trouble twins" behaving themselves. Larabee just watched them with a scowl on his face.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra Standish was sitting on a bunk, still rubbing his hands, trying to get the ink off his fingertips.
Vin Tanner lay on the opposite bunk with his fingers laced behind his head, staring at his partner. "It ain't comin' off, Ez. Why doncha jest relax?"
"Because, while you are certainly used to such treatment, I, however, am not." Ezra gave up his futile attempt to clean his hands and started pacing around the cell. "I hope Mr. Larabee is attempting to affect our emancipation. I do not relish losing my current position on our team."
"We ain't gonna get fired."
"And how do you know this, Mr. Tanner? Or should I refer to you as the Amazing Kreskin?"
"Ol' 'Evil-Eye' Larabee is just tryin' to shake us up a mite."
That stopped the undercover agent in his tracks. "What are you talking about?"
"We ain't under arrest."
"I beg to differ." Standish threw up his hands, motioning at the jail cell surrounding them.
"It's a goof. Chris was pissed and he wanted ta get back at us."
Ezra still looked confused.
"I spied that asshole takin' our prints an' such from the cop who tagged us." Vin snorted. "Our boss needs some lessons in bein' sneaky."
"Are you saying I've been tricked?"
"You know what this means, don't you?"
"That we will have to plan our reprisal."
"When is this guy gonna show?"
"He will arrive soon, Mr. Tanner."
"And you're sure he won't get scared off by Chris?"
"This gentleman has argued in front of the Supreme Court." At Vin's look of 'So?' the Southerner added, "I have assured him Mr. Larabee's bark is much worse than his bite."
"And he bought that?"
"Shh, here comes our fearless leader now."
Chris Larabee walked up to the desks of his trouble-making agents. They had each arrived on time that morning and neglected to mention the previous day's incarceration. "You two done with your reports on the incident?"
Both men handed the blond their finished reports and smiled politely.
Chris barely refrained from crossing himself to ward off whatever evil they were sending his way. He quickly retreated to his office.
Vin looked over his desk to his partner in crime. "Chris knows somethin's up."
"He has no idea what, though." The undercover agent smiled in satisfaction.
Surprisingly, the rest of the team refrained from teasing their formerly imprisoned teammates. None of them wanted to be in the line of fire for what they feared was coming. Minutes later, a gentleman stepped off the elevator and made his way to the nearest agent, which happened to be Buck.
"May I speak to Mr. Christopher Larabee, please?"
"That depends, what do you want?"
"I believe it is a matter that Mr. Larabee would prefer to keep private. Is he here?"
"Let him in, Buck," Chris called from the doorway.
Wilmington slid to the side to let the suited gentleman pass. The man followed Chris into his office.
The blond shut the door and walked around his desk to face his visitor. "How can I help you, Mr....?" Chris offered his hand.
The visitor shook it while introducing himself. "Maitland, Daniel Maitland." The well-dressed man placed his briefcase on Chris' desk, opened it, and took out a card, which he passed to the ATF agent.
Chris gave the card a cursory glance. "Lawyer, huh?"
"Yes, Mr. Larabee. I am here on behalf of my client, Paul Belkey."
The leader wrinkled his brow, trying to recall where he'd heard that name before.
Maitland saw his confusion and assisted the agent's recall. "He was the owner of a beautiful, brand-new, modular home, being transported through downtown Denver."
Larabee groaned in disbelief. Those two are dead! he thought. "Why don't you go talk to Brian Harris. He's in charge of our legal department."
"I am aware of that, and if this were an ATF matter, I would. But this suit names you, personally, in addition to Agents Tanner and Standish."
"You, Mr. Larabee, are being sued for 1.3 million dollars."
"But it wasn't even me who ran into the damn house!"
Outside the office, six men gathered around the sharpshooter's desk, which was the closest to their leader's office. The voices carried easily through the closed door.
"Your men are under your authority, and thusly, are your ultimate responsibility."
"I'm protected from lawsuits by gov--"
"Due to a small amount of initial research on my part," the lawyer interrupted, "I am able to cite at least three similar cases, in which you were unable to control your men. I'm sure if I looked harder I would be able to find many such examples. You are not going to be protected under governmental immunity because you have set precedent in being an ineffectual leader. As such, you are ultimately responsible for their actions even though you were not present at the event in question."
At this point, the man in black was speechless, and had to rely on the power of his glare.
Unfortunately for Larabee, Standish had warned Maitland of this particular characteristic, and the lawyer didn't even flinch as he stared down the lead ATF agent. "Mr. Belkey believes you are personally culpable for the damage, both physical and emotional. This visit was a courtesy to inform you of the suit so you may retain your own counsel. The paperwork will be served shortly, and I'll see you in court." The lawyer quickly shut his briefcase and, with a short salute, was out the door. "Gentlemen," Maitland said as he passed the gathered group of agents outside the office.
"Holy shit," Buck breathed. He looked over at Vin and Ezra. "Glad I ain't you two."
The two guilty agents exchanged a look. Maybe they took this too far? The door to Chris' office opened and the four innocent -- well, in this particular instance they were innocent -- men scattered, leaving the sharpshooter and his partner alone at their desks.
Chris moved in front of them and silently stood there. Tanner and Standish pretended to work on their computers until the tension proved too much. "Can we help ya with somethin', Chris?" Vin timidly asked.
"Just answer one question." The blond stood with his arms crossed, eyes closed, and his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Of course, Mr. Larabee. Any help we can offer will be freely given."
"Is there any reason I shouldn't shoot you two right now?"
"Too many witnesses?" Tanner nodded at the rest of the team.
"No, Mr. Tanner, I believe our compatriots would be too quick to assist our leader in his self-defense plea."
The longhaired agent shook his head. "But as federal agents, they have to uphold the law."
"I agree with you in theory, however in this instance--"
"Enough!" shouted Chris, waving his arms and walking away.
Vin watched his boss retreat back into his office. The sharpshooter leaned across his desk and whispered, "When we gonna let 'im off the hook?"
"He must have no idea that we were behind this. This makes us even, and I don't want to start a war."
"So, how we gonna do that?"
"I say we let him stew for today, and by tomorrow he will receive a registered letter from the lawyer stating that the case has been dropped."
"Then he won't kill us good plan."
"Glad you approve."
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