Loyalty III: Aftermath and Proof
Feedback: Yes! (But please, no flames theyll shatter my already fragile self-confidence. LOL!)
Summary: (Sequel to Loyalty II: The Bust) The Wednesday after the bust, Teams 7 and 8 show Team 5 that real loyalty does exist, if theyre willing to work for it.
Chronology: Loyalty was set on Wednesday morning, Loyalty II was set on Monday, and Loyalty III is set during late Wednesday afternoon. Hows that for confusing? :P Wow, I hope Im not wrong about it. I even confused myself! How embarrassing.
Disclaimer: Okay, so the GOOD good guys arent mine. The 7 dont belong to me, and Im just messing around with them a little bit because my muse (who incidentally, looks like a cowboy dressed all in black that smokes cheroots and drinks whiskey) likes them so much. LOL I may have roughed Ezra up a little bit, but I guarantee hell be returned in tiptop condition, none-the worse for wear. Or however that saying actually goes
Um the ATF universe isnt my creation (its Mogs; for all you uncultured brutes that didnt know LOL!) and again, Im just messing around in someone elses sandbox. Ill clean it up when Im through, I always do. ;)
The characters of Team 8 are Heather F.s creation, and Im borrowing them again, b/c I needed more GOOD good guys. LOL do I make sense? But anyway, BIG thanks to her for letting me borrow them, and helping me out by giving me their character descriptions and stuff. ;) We needed SOMEONE to put Team 5 in their places while Team 7 is worrying about Ez. ;)
Speaking of Team 5, the 7 BAD good guys from Team 5 are entirely my creation (would you BELIEVE I actually thought of SOMETHING on my OWN?!). I dont know if I want to keep them though, theyre a bunch of bastards. LOL Oh well. Theyre my bastards, I guess. Talk about characters only a creator would love. Hehe. Um, Ill stop rambling now. Promise.
Distribution: Ask (Nancy) and ye shall receive. (More likely than not) ;) I mean, how could she say no? (Hint: Bribe her!)
Authors Notes: My beta Luna suggested, after reading "Loyalty" that I fill in some stuff from both before and after the accident I mentioned in Loyalty. You know, to elaborate. Since I just finished the before one, I thought Id go ahead and do the after now. Ive never been one to shun good advice from my elders and wisers anyway. This is dedicated to Ker, my sis, who constantly reminds me of all the things I love that are M7, and to the girls at LA, for volunteering to read my stories even though they know nothing (save for Skye) of what Im talking about. Early apologies if Ive thoroughly confused anyone with all my rambling.
I swear to god Ill kill Delvin and Jameson for this, Ezra fucking bastards deserve to be ripped open and have their intestines yanked out. Better yet, they should have their intestines pulled out and used as a noose to hang themselves. Okay, I know Im not helping, but Im worried about you, you crazy son of a bitch. Yeah, I saw that bullet. You saved my life. The guy went for a headshot, didnt want to risk missing the kill. Lucky for you, hell, for all of us, that he only nicked the side of your head. Youll be okay. But, damn if I wasnt scared to death when I saw that spray of blood erupt from your fool skull. I thought for sure he had gotten you. I dont think Ive felt that hopeless since the car bomb.
Im sitting next to Ezras hospital bed, waiting for him to wake up. Cause I want to make sure he wont be alone when he does wake up. Its a little past one oclock now, almost two days past since Mondays bust gone bad. The head wound is probably keeping the guy down, but after a while longer, well be able to take him home; hopefully even tonight. Cause we definitely dont want to stay here, and the others miss him. Its only cause that damn nurse, who looks a bit like the dancing alien from "Men in Black," (God, Im quoting from one of JDs movies now) would only let us in one at a time in to see him.
The bullet went right into his shoulder, but didnt come out the other side. The impact broke some bones, but the doctors say hell be okay. Shit, why didnt the bastard keep his vest on? Okay, I know I didnt either, but Im going to from now on. Im going to have to talk to the fellas about a new rule. You dont take the Kevlar off til I fucking say you can. But, the doctors say Ezra will be okay. Hell be in pain for a few weeks while we wait for his collarbone and shoulder to heal up, and the gash on the head will leave him dizzy for a while. But, hell be okay. I guess I really couldnt ask for anything more right now. Except, maybe Delvin or Jamesons head on a platter. Hell, maybe both of them. I think if I asked my team or Team 8 to get em for me, they would. And its not like anyone would miss those self-serving assholes, anyway.
(Team 8: Ryan Kelly)
Walking through the hallways, I can hear laughing around the corner. Before turning it, I recognize Terry and Campbells voices. Wonder what could possibly so funny today? Especially after the way Jameson and Delvin screwed up Monday.
"Yeah Team 7s a bunch of lucky bastards. Theyll probably take the rest of the week off, go hit the clubs while Standish is out of commission " I hear Campbell snort.
"Seeing to Standish in the hospital is just another one of Traviss lame excuses to cover for his precious team. Larabee and the rest are probably planning to hit the Saloon as we speak."
I try to keep from bristling with indignation. Is that what they think? The bastards. They have no idea, do they? It comes as no surprise to me, but then again, what can I do? Terrys always been a selfish ass, even when we went through the academy together. He doesnt watch out for anyone but himself. How could I expect him to care for anyone else?
Maybe because its a team. How can the leader of his team not care about his members, even a little bit? It sickens me to think that a man like Terry is in charge of six other lives. It sickens me even worse to be hearing Jake Terry talk about Chris Larabee in the same context he holds himself to. I have never met someone more fucking dedicated to his team and his men than Chris Larabee. Yet here Terry is, undermining the integrity of that team and how much Chris cares about every single one of them. A man like Jake Terry has no right to even let that name slip past his lips. It seems blasphemous.
"Say, how many bullets do you think itll take to actually kill Standish the next time some shit like this happens?" Doug asks Jake, still chuckling.
Terry shrugs. "I give it three."
"Im guessing four."
I push back the urge to storm the hallway and knock the man unconscious. Instead, I round the corner to see the two lazy asses lounging just outside the restroom doors, Terry stretched out in one of the armchairs just across from the door. They turn up and look at me, having heard me walk upon their little get together.
"Mornin, Kelly." Campbell greets me, but I just glare at him.
"Dont you two have something to do?"
They shrug and look at me; Terry starts playing with a pen he took out from his jacket pocket. "We got tired of cleaning up Team 7s shit, Kelly. Thought wed take a break."
My eyes go wide before I can stop them. Did that bastard just say what I think he said? "Team 7 doesnt usually leave much shit after a job, Terry" I respond, my voice clipped.
"Yeah well, they made a mess after this job, and we still have to do the paperwork," Campbell sighs.
"Heard it was your team that made the mess."
"From who, Travis? As far as that old bastard sees, his precious Magnificent Seven is infallible."
Im impressed. Terry used the word infallible correctly in a sentence. "Thats because, most of the time, they are," I respond, glaring at him with my best impression of Larabees infamous one.
It must have worked pretty good, cause Jake just goes back to playing with his pen. "Yeah, well, its not fair for us to be stuck with the paperwork," Campbell responds, lamely.
"Dont worry, Travis asked Tanner and Larabee to write up their own reports too. You know, to make sure nothing gets, overlooked."
Brad laughs. "Wow, Clints in for a shit load now, isnt he, Campbell?" he snorts, finally pocketing that damn pen.
Campbell grins. "Been a long time coming to that cocky ass son of a bitch anyway, Terry."
I look at these two, and I feel sick. This is their teammates career theyre talking about.
I think about the men on my team, and how weve come to depend on each other, become friends. I think about the weekend barbeque we had a Bretts last week, and the arm-wrestling contest Dougie and I got into Friday at the Saloon, when we were bored and buzzed. Then I look at these two, and I wonder what went wrong for them. I wish there was something I could do about it.
(Team 5: Jake Terry)
Campbell and I are sitting out in the hallway, guessing about how many bullets itll take before Standish ends up dead next time. The man has more fucking lives than a cat, I swear. Campbell and me, we were just minding our own business, taking a break from finishing up Larabees shit. Then Kelly rounds the corner, and he kinda stops and looks at us. I remember when Kelly was a pretty good guy, back in the academy. He was straight laced and he did everything by the book, minded his own business. Now he looks at me, and I see that holier-than-thou expression on his face. It takes all my restraint to not get up and knock that look off the bastards face. Fuckin asshole.
"Mornin, Kelly." Campbell greets him. I see him glare back at Doug in response. Who the fuck does this guy think he is, anyway? He here to glare at us just so we dont stand a chance of forgetting Larabee? Doug is too friendly sometimes, makes me wonder if the bastards gone soft. If he has, hell be the first to go. You dont get soft in this line of work. You end up like Sanchez, or Wilmington, or Dunne. Then wed all be on a one-way trip to hell.
"Dont you two have something to do?" Kelly asks, trying to keep his voice even. Fucking bad actor if I ever met one. Glad hes not undercover.
So, now not only is he doin Larabees job with the glares, hes trying to be AD Travis by telling us to get back to work? He thinks hes such a hot shot, since his teams got the second best record in the state. Yay him, and his mother fucking team. If I were him Id be pissed that the likes of Larabees Team 7 was beating me. I wouldnt have made friends with Larabee, wouldnt have helped him out as much as Kelly helps him. Thats what happens when you go soft. You lose your edge, and youre fine with being number 2 when you could be number 1. I keep myself from saying that out loud, and instead, Campbell and me just look at each other and I pull a pen out of my pocket to fiddle with. "We got tired of cleaning up Team 7s shit, Kelly. Thought wed take a break."
His eyes widen before he can stop himself, but he doesnt rise to my bait. Damn, guess today is gonna be pretty boring. Instead, he just straightens a little and says, "Team 7 doesnt usually leave much shit after a job, Terry."
I try not to laugh aloud at his statement. Not a lot of shit, right. Thats why they have the highest injury rate of any team in the goddamn country. No shit, ha. Ryan Kellys a fuckin riot.
"Yeah well, they made a mess after this job, and we still have to do the paperwork," Campbell sighs.
I look over at my man, and he barely even knows whats going on here. But, I guess my team aint full of any fuckin geniuses. Never has been, guess it never will be. Putz.
"Heard it was your team that made the mess," Ryan responds. Sounds like hes calmed down some. Good. I wouldnt want to have to kick his ass if things got out of hand.
I look Ryan in the eye. "From who, Travis? As far as that old bastard sees, his precious Magnificent Seven is infallible."
He looks impressed. Damn straight. I know whats going on here. Someone in Team 7s got Travis in their pocket. But then Kelly goes and opens his gob again. "Thats because, most of the time, they are." He finishes off his little statement with another glare, and I just go back to fiddling with my pen. Does this guy really think Larabee and his team are perfect? Is this a fucking joke? Cause if it is, hardy har har. Great one everybody pulled over Terrys eyes. Hello? Was I the only fucking one that saw Standish jump into a couple of bullets yesterday? From what Im hearing, if he was two inches more to the left, his goddamn brains would need scrapin off the warehouse floor.
"Yeah, well, its not fair for us to be stuck with the paperwork," Campbell butts in, lamely. Great fuckin comeback, Einstein.
"Dont worry, Travis asked Tanner and Larabee to write up their own reports too. You know, to make sure nothing gets, overlooked," Kelly replies. I catch the undertone in his voice. Oh, real scary Ryan, Im fuckin shaking over here. Hes trying to threaten us? Ass hole. I know what happened, and I goddamn wrote what I saw. If this bastard doesnt think its good enough for his god, Chris Larabee, then fuck him. I didnt do anything wrong, Standish was the one that took the jump. I stop after a second. Clint might be screwed to kingdom come though. Fraser says Clint disobeyed an order from Larabee and left those guns on the floor. I almost laugh out loud. Hes so royally fucked. And this time, my teams actions wont get me reprimanded. Oh, this is too good.
"Wow, Clints in for a shit load now, isnt he, Campbell?" I say aloud to Doug. Poor bastard probably wouldnt have realized it unless I pointed it out anyway.
Campbell grins. Finally, he gets it. "Been a long time coming to that cocky ass son of a bitch anyway, Terry," he says, laughing.
I look back up at Kelly, and the guy looks a bit green around the gills. Its really kind of funny, I wish I had a camera.
(Team 8: Douglas Stone)
Im glad to hear that Standish is all right. Hes a good guy, whether he wants the rest of us to believe it or not. Arrogant son a bitch, but all around nice guy; good agent, too. He knows Im a better agent than him though. I laugh a little to myself at the thought of that cocky bugger admitting someones better than him. Not gonna happen.
Me and the rest of Team 8 are planning on getting a card signed round the office for the guy and bring it buy the hospital with some presents later. Well call it a late lunch break. Well bring around stuff to you know, to speed up his recovery. Maybe a little Jack Daniels and a dirty magazine. Cause the sooner he gets back, the faster we see him piss off Terry and his team with that smart mouth of his. Yeah, I like that silver tongued little bastard. Hes got grit. Kirk and me are rounding the corner to Team 7s offices now, where Team 5 is wrapping up their paper work for them. Kirk was the one that suggested we come down here and get those boys to sign. Kelly and I, we knew they wouldnt want to, but Kirk doesnt like to write people off, no matter how much the rest of us might hate em. He was always great that way. I wish I had Kirks faith in Terry and his lot.
I look down at the card Brett picked out for Standish; figures the guy would get something like this. It got a picture of some cartoon guy in a hospital bed getting a sponge bath from one of those really hot nurses. Says, "Get Well Soon As You Want To." I didnt think it was that funny, but Brett thought it was a hoot. Bretts always been stupid that way, but I guess thats why we like him so much.
I round the corner with Gustin to see Jameson and Delvin still giving each other the evil eye from across the place. Those two never learn. "Hey fellas. We got a get well card for Standish, any of ya want to sign?" I ask, waving the card up in the air.
Delvin snorts, but I guess hes feeling bad for leaving the weapons on the floor, cuz he gets a pen and grabs the card. I let him take it, and look to the rest of his team. Erikson is making his way over; hes probably the only one of em I can really stand. Normally, Im a pretty friendly guy, but sometimes, some people just dont deserve bein nice to. I hate to say it, but its true. Kevin is a likeable guy most of the time, Im kinda sorry he got thrown in with this lot. Maybe things would have turned out different for him if hed got tossed a better hand of cards.
Hes got a pen now, and hes trying not to look any one of his teammates in the eye as he walks up here. Whend they get to such a stage that theyd ridicule each other for showing some compassion?
Devlin is finished, and he hands the card to Kirk, before throwing Jameson the finger and getting back to work. I can feel the love in here. Kirk looks at what Delvin wrote and laughs a little, shaking his head before handing it to Erikson. I cant help but wonder whats so funny. It couldnt have been the card. As far as I know, Bretts sense of humor is a little far off compared to the rest of us. But I reiterate, hes a good guy. Im glad Kelly recruited him instead of Fraser, like he had planned to do when we were starting Team 8.
(Team 8: Kirk Gustin)
I take the card from Delvin and I look at it, seeing his new signature, small, and off to the side, underneath Ryans. Im curious as to what Clint has to say after yesterdays fiasco. I cant help but smile a little when I read it."Get well soon Standish, we need you to piss off Terry with that smart ass of yours. Oh, and learn to duck, dumbass."
I figure thats the sweetest thing well ever get out of any one of Terrys men, and I try to be content with it. Im guessing that Clint just doesnt understand. Ezra knows how do duck, Im pretty sure. But he also knows whats more important to him, whos more important to him. Maybe Terrys guys will learn that someday, too.
I hand our little card to Erikson when he gets over here, and look around to see if there are any other takers. Fraser looks like he might come up, but only if none of the others are watching. He makes a move, but thinks better and sits down. I shrug mentally. Two from Team 5 isnt bad; I was barely expecting one. But, I didnt have the heart to condemn any of them without trying, blast my gentle nature. I grin to myself at the thought while Dougie and I wait. He hates it when I call him Dougie. Hes not that much younger than me, but I play it up anyway. What better way to show your teammates you care about them than annoying them every once in a while, huh?
Erikson gives me back the card and moves to sit down. I see Jameson sneer at him for doing it, and Kevin quickly flashes the little rat of an undercover agent the finger. I guess thats a sufficient means of communication between these guys. I wave the card around once more. "Anyone else?" I ask. "Cmon guys, Im sure Standish will appreciate it."
"Standish can shove it up his ass," Jameson shoots back. I know jealousy when I hear it, so I ignore him. Its not hard to feel incompetent around Ezra, especially if your own field of expertise is his as well. Hes too damn good sometimes.
"How about you, Brad?"
Fraser looks up from his work. "What?" he asks, exasperated. I ignore the tone. Hes got to have a heart down there, somewhere.
(Team 5: Brad Fraser)
I look up when Gustin calls my name, holding that damn card he wants us to sign. I want to tell him to fuck himself but my damn conscience is nagging at me. I feel kinda shitty for not telling Clint that hed been taken in by that perp. If I had, Standish probably wouldnt have gotten shot. This is kind of a weird feeling for me. Usually, what happens, happens, ya know? I dont think about it. Sure, it would have been a hoot if Clint had gotten his wallet taken and had no money for lunch. But instead, Standish was shot and the perp was eviscerated.
I cant help it, I feel bad. I still hate everyone here, but its not like Id want to kill them or anything. Well, most of them. Sighing, I get up and head over towards Gustin and Stone with a pen in my hand. I ignore the sneer I get from Riley, but resolve to get him back for it later. Now him, hes one of the few I wouldnt mind dead, so much. Damn conscience.
(Team 8: Brett Jordan)
Doug and Kirk are off getting Team 5s sigs right now, and Im wondering if Standish likes Guinness or Corona better. Then I wonder if we should get him an ODooles instead, so Jackson wont kill us for giving his patient alcohol. Then I wonder if Standish will kill us for giving him something non-alcoholic. Its kind of funny when I think about it. See, me and some of the fellas are taking off for a late, late, lunch break in a bit to see Standish and the others at the hospital. I called Larabee and he said when Ezra wakes up to get his head examined again, theyll be able to leave later. But knowing those guys, all theyve been eating is vending machine fare; cheese balls, and if theyre lucky, some Gardettos. I got Wanda from expenses to put together a little "Get Well Ezra" pool and were gonna go get the guys from Team 7 something substantial to eat. God knows they wont do it by themselves while one of em is in the white house. Thats what we call the hospital, by the way. Whites the only damn color they put up in there, sometimes. Hurts the eyes, but hey. Well, I figure Ill take three Guinness, three Corona, and three ODooles and let Larabee and his team figure out what they want on their own. Now, should we just go pizza or deli?
Standish likes Thai food, I hear. Never tried it, but I guess well have to take him out for some after this. Heros celebration and all. Not everyday a man as cocky as Ezra puts his life on the line for men as volatile as Larabee. I guess thats what I like so much about their team. Theyre all so different; seem so polar. But when they come together, its like the big bang. Theres suddenly something out of nothing. Me and the fellas on Team 8, we got something like that too, and Im not just talking about when Dougies got gas.
I hear voices around the corner coming towards the kitchen area, as I toss the beers in a bag. Were technically not supposed to have alcohol on the premises, but no one really checks anyway. A few seconds later Terry and Campbell round the corner, both holding empty coffee cups and laughing about something.
I look up as they enter the little kitchenette, and they immediately stop talking. Okay, either they were talking about me or I pause and wave at them. "Hey guys."
Terry just nods. "Afternoon, Jordan."
Campbell cranes his neck to see what Ive got in my bag, and makes a face. "You plan on getting really drunk tonight?" he asks.
I shake my head and offer him another Corona from the fridge. "Nah, going over to the hospital to have a little, um, celebration with Team 7," I respond. Campbell takes the beer without so much as a thank you, and examines it in his hand.
Terry just snorts. "Yeah, figures Standish gets a big congratulation party. Dont know if its worth getting shot over, though."
I dig some more in the fridge for a coke, because I know JD prefers those. "Dont think he wanted to get shot for the party afterwards," I explain, moving aside something wrapped in foil that might have been here since the first Bush was president.
"Yeah, he did it cause he thinks the world needs guys like Chris Larabee," Terry states, heavy on the sarcasm.
I dont really react to the comment and push aside a Tupperware with Jacksons name on it to grab the last Dr. Pepper. "Maybe hes exactly what the world needs."
"Like a hole in the head," Campbell replies, popping the cap off his drink with his teeth. He was a football player in high school and through college. I hear that being able to do something like that to a bottle of beer is part of the initiation process.
I kind of look at Doug for a moment and dont say anything. Im a studier I guess, always have been. I like to think that theres something good about everyone, but Im not naive enough to probe where Im not wanted. Most of the time, anyway. Sometimes, like Ryan says, I can be fuckin incorrigible. I guess this is one of those moments. "Hey, why dont you guys come down with us? Weve got the go-ahead from Travis, and we can take an extra long lunch break with Team 7. I think were ordering out, something nice, you know, that Standish would eat. Its on us."
Terry looks like someone smacked him in the face. Either that or something really long and barbed got shoved up his ass all of a sudden and hes reeling from the sensation. Campbells brow narrows for a moment, like hes trying to process some complicated, dastardly plot Ive got against him and his team that started with my invitation. After a minute he gives up cause he cant see it, and looks to Jake for the answer.
Obviously, Jake Terry has never been invited to a luncheon with coworkers before. He looks positively dumbfounded. If I had a camera, I would have snapped a picture, just because my team and the rest of Team 7 would have gotten a hoot out of it. "Ah you askin us to come with you guys, Jordan?" he asks, brow furrowing.
I nod slowly. "Yeah. You want to?"
"Um " Campbell and Terry exchange a look. I think this is the most teamwork Ive ever seen either of them exhibit. Theyre trying to make a decision together. I can almost hear Wilmingtons snide aint that cute in the back of my head.
"Sure " Jake shrugs after a second. "Free lunch, you say?"
"Yup," I nod, and I dont give him that customary disgusted expression hes gotten used to. My sincerity throws him for a bit of a loop, and I happily return to raiding the fridge. I hope Kelly wont mind if I steal some of his grapefruit Fantas. Its towards a good cause and all. "Were meeting at the hospital at around 2. Just show up, and well take care of the food. I just need to tell Kelly to order for 7 more " I stand up and close the fridge, leaving the kitchenette before Terry or Campbell can get a word in. Smugly, I make my way back towards the office I share with Dougie, and I can picture Terrys flailing mouth in the back of my head. Thats right you two, youre bringing your whole damn team.
(Team 5: Doug Campbell)
Okay, I have nothing against free lunch. Those are good. But free lunch with the rest of my team seems like a fuckin trap somehow. Im not exactly sure how, but it does. Its just one of those gut feelings I get, you know? I move as if to say something to Terry, but he cuts me off.
"You pussy out of this and Ill find some excuse to fire you, Campbell," he says without missing a beat. "Theyll be laughin it up about us bein no shows for weeks if we dont go."
"Yeah, I dont like it either. Smells like a trap."
I hate this fuck. I hate how he never lets me finish a goddamn sentence, walking around like hes the only one that has permission to speak. But, I dont say anything, because I know he can do it. He can find a way to get me fired. And thats exactly the fuckin thing I need least right now. Gambling debts are already a bitch to pay off. "Fine," I reply, knowing at least that he cant cut me off from a word that short.
"Go tell the others."
"Wait a fuckin "
He stops me with that hand of his again. That one he puts up in the air between us, right in my face. Then his mouth sort of opens and he gives this, "ah ah ah, naughty Doug" look. I feel like some scolded puppy when he does that. I hate it. "No excuses Campbell. Im team supervisor. You know what that means?
I think something along the lines of sleeping in late and pressuring the secretaries to sleep with him, but dont say anything out loud. "What?"
"It means I run your fuckin life. So go and tell the others to be at the hospital at two. And tell em that if any of them dont show, Ill have their badges. Then Ill take those badges and shove em up their asses."
I sigh internally and head off towards the office, with the message, and that nasty image in my head. I hate Jake.
(Team 8: Douglas Stone)
I hear Kirk on the phone from my office, ordering the lunch were going to go pick up on the way to the hospital. Then I hear Jordan join him, and ask him to order for seven more. This piques my curiosity, and as Stone adds to the order, I get up and round the corner, intercepting Brett.
He smiles when he sees me, a bag full of drinks in his hand. "Goody bags?" I ask, amused.
He nods. "Just call me the Santa Claus of soda and liquor," he quips.
"I heard you ask Kirk for seven more."
He nods. "I invited Team 5."
Okay, Im a little skeptical about that, but I figure on giving Brett the benefit of the doubt. "You did?"
"Yup." He pops his P brightly. Thats Brett, our little ray of erratic sunshine. He sure can be irritating as all hell sometimes. But I guess we all can be.
"Because no one else did."
Damn kid likes to play games, he does. I sigh. "You know that Team 7 and Team 5 arent on the best terms right now."
"Well, clue me in, Jordan, cuz Im obviously missing the punch line."
"Figure nows as good a time as any to open Team 5s eyes a little," Brett shrugs, putting his bag of treats on a nearby filing cabinet. "Make em see the light."
"Larabee will kill them. Only light theyll be seeing is the bright white one at the end of the tunnel when Chris sees those boys anywhere near his agent again."
"Larabees got more important things to worry about, I figure," Brett responds.
"So you decided to play Aesop?"
He looks confused at my analogy.
"Moral to the story? Sour grapes?"
"Must have been before my time."
I catch the second layer of meaning behind his answer. "Fuck you."
He grins and heads back towards his own office. I watch him go with a little smile on my face. Gotta admire the man, hes a bold one.
(Team 7: Buck Wilmington)
I hate hospitals. They smell all synthetic and well, fake. Okay, I know they mean the same thing (really I do!), but I cant think of another word for stinky. If Ezra were here hed give me somethin ta use. Then I remember where Ezra really is and why were all here in the first place. Damn. He woke up a little while ago, still groggy, but hes formin coherent sentences, even if theyre sorta short for Ezra sentences. I figure its a good sign though. He should be fine soon. Theyre lookin him over now, and I just got a call five minutes ago from Kelly. Hen the boys will be over soon, with food. Thank God. Much as I appreciate the nurses, for their good intentions, not for what that other thing I know youre thinking, but I hate the food they give us. Gave most of mine to JD, cuz the kid was sick of vending machine stuff. Dont think he was too choosy, which is good, cuz then all them great brown colored Brussels sprouts woulda been wasted.
Im damn tired. Havent left the hospital since the shooting. Havent gotten a wink of sleep. I look over across the way where Vin and Nate are sittin, and if I look as bad as either one of em do, its no wonder none of the nurses have tried to flirt with me the entire time. I rub the bridge of my nose and fight back another yawn, because I dont like the water that comes out of my eyes when I do it. Makes my eyeballs feel cold.
Some of us could go home. Sure. But we all sorta wanna be around, close, in case Ezra needs anything, or he tries to break out. See, we havent let on that hes staying with Chris til hes up and about again. He sorta gets ornery whenever we tell him hes got to stay with Chris. Its probably cause those two usually come to blows when theyre left alone long enough, but theyd never hurt one another (beyond anythin a first aid kit could patch up), and Chris is the only one with enough stamina to deal with Ezras bullshit when hes hurt. Works out for all of us.
I just wish Ezra hadnt been hurt in the first place. It wadnt a very hard bust, just in and out. JD called it like a pro, we all had our positions, and the bad guys went down. Im really wantin to blame Team 5 for the whole fiasco, but I know part of its our fault too. We know those guys; know we cant rely on em. But we did anyway, and it came back and bit us in the ass. I feel poorly for failin Ez, and Chris. Think the other guys do, too.
Im glad Team 8s comin down with grub. Itll cheer us up some. Brett and JD can tell each other their ridiculous jokes, an the others can get us some real food. And itll distract the rest of us from how we feel for a bit. Until we can talk to him, in any case. He wont blame none of us of course, not even Jameson or Delvin for their part. Hell just sorta nod tiredly and close his eyes, figure he should cut his losses and be happy hes alive in the first place. Aint Ezs place to lose his temper. He never does, says its bad PR, or somethin. Usually leaves the temper losin to Chrisn me, I guess. Thats something you gotta love about Ezra, he knows when to let other people do the dirty work. I smirk to myself at the thought, and Vin quirks an eyebrow at me from where hes sittin across the way. I just shake my head, and he shrugs. Ill tell him about it later.
I turn around at the sound of my name, and cant help but crack a smile, seeing Kelly and team making their way over toward us, with what looks like fuckin picnic basket and armloads full of goodies piled high. I think Jordan has a card in his hand. Hes a funny guy, Brett is. Next hell be bringin those balloons that last a week and bouquets of chocolate roses. Just cause he knows it makes Ez uncomfortable. I count the members of Team 8 and then realize that theres too damn many of em.
I squint, to try and see who else they brought with them, thinking that maybe they got Team 6 swept up in the excitement too. I dont see Agent Chung, so I guess not. Butm I do see holy shit. They didnt. Theres no fuckin way!!! Why on Gods green earth would they
I lock eyes with some of the members of Team 8, and they all avoid eye contact, nodding subtly in Jordans direction. I growl. Who the hell does that guy think he is? I get up, and the storm clouds musta been in my face cuz Team 8 splits like the Red Sea and Brett Jordan is standin before me like a Thanksgivin turkey Im about ready to stuff.
"Mister Standish can see you all now."
And then I stop at the sound of that voice. Its the nurse that told us last night only one at a time. I turn around, and instantly forget that Im supposed to be pissed at Brett. Cause, well, theres more important things to worry about. I look at the nurse.
"Really?" I hear JD ask.
She smiles and nods at the kid, who looks like hell cause he hasnt had a decent nights rest in too long. "If you all behave yourselves I think well manage to fit you all into Mister Standishs room."
And theres a whooshing sound, and Im the only one of the fellas left in the hallway. Well, that just cant stand. Id forgotten Kelly, and Jordan, and Terry and Delvin the second I heard Ezras name. One moment later and Im right behind the rest of my team in Ezras room.
(Team 5: Kevin Erikson)
Its strange really. One second, I see Buck Wilmington bearing down on us like, well, a bear, looking at Jordan like hes going to rip him a new one. Most likely for inviting me and my team here in the first place. Terry and Fraser look like theyre about to place bets on the amount of time itll take Wilmington to chew Jordan up and spit him out, but the nurse pops her pretty little head out of Standishs room and says in a real quiet voice, "Mister Standish can see you all now."
And it was the damndest thing, too. It was like some hypnotist snapped his fingers and Buck went under his spell or something. One minute, hes a raging bull and the next, he couldnt care less. He couldnt care less that the people who may or may not be the direct cause of his current misery are here, smirking and going on about some bullshit or another regarding Ezra Standish. They dont care that Jameson is saying Standish got what was coming to him, or that Terry is sayin Larabees probably downtown living it up right now, and the rest of them are here for show. I know Wilmington hears it, because hell, they say it loud enough for the whole hallway to hear it, but he just doesnt give a shit.
But Team 8 gives a shit. Gustin smacks Fraser upside the head like hes some ten-year-old kid that said the wrong thing at his aunts weekend get together. The rest of us laugh at that, until we hear Kelly say if he hears another snicker hes gonna beat the shit out of whomever did it and check him into ICU so he can heal up and get beat on again.
Terry isnt really paying attention right now though. I can see him looking through the window into Standishs room. Hes kind of got a sick look on his face. I turn and peek in between the blinds to see what hes looking at while Campbell sneaks a bag of chips from one of the picnic baskets, asking when theyll get to eat. Standish is awake, I can see, but he looks like shit. He smiles anyway, with all his teammates there, and he grasps Tanners hand and they share a sort of look.
I wonder what crawled up Terrys ass and nested there. I wonder, vaguely, if someone has a Polaroid handy, cuz the look on his face is sorta funny. God, Ive been on Team 5 way too fuckin long. Like proof to myself, I sigh and snag the bag of chips Campbell managed to grab and throw him the finger when he moves to protest.
(Team 5: Jake Terry)
I scratch my head. I count seven of em. Theyre all there. Geez, theyre all SO there that theres barely enough space in the room for all of the bastards to fit. Something bitter builds up in my stomach that I want to chalk up as disgust, but that fuckin voice in the back of my heads laughin at me. Its voice suspiciously sounds like Brett Jordan. So they really were here the entire fuckin time. I get that part, I guess. They decided to stay, keep an eye on Standish to make sure his brains didnt leak out all over the floor and cut their teams collective smarts in half. I get that. But I dont get why the fuck theyre here. What is it about Standish that could be so goddamn important that theyd wear the same clothes, eat shit out of a bag, and sleep in vinyl chairs two days straight? Dont make sense to me. Standish is an asshole. He fucks around with everyones heads and then prances off into the sunset like hes one up on the world with that cocky ass son of a bitch smirk of his and those "Im smarter than you" big words.
So then, why the hell is Team 7 in there with him? Why arent they at home watchin the game or having a drink while theyve got these extra days off? Why didnt one of the poor bastards even go home to shower? Change? Get some real food? Some sleep? And more importantly, where the fuck was my team the last time I got shot? I woke up to an empty room, a get-well card from AD Travis, and a nurse that looked like something Godzilla fought in downtown Tokyo. Im just as big an asshole as Standish can be. But look at him. And then look at me. Where the fuck was my team?
(Team 8: Douglas Stone)
I like how it got real quiet the second that nurse told the fellas they could see Standish. Also glad that Jordan didnt get his nuts yanked out and shoved up his nose by Wilmington, cause lord knows that looked like what the guy was plannin on doin to the kid. I also like that kind of stricken look on Terrys face. Like he just got bitch slapped to hell and he doesnt know what the fuck to do next. I kinda wish I had a Polaroid, to catch it all. Then I realize Ive been hating Team 5 too long, and make a face. Dont want to get into that. Instead, I sneak another peak at Team 7, just in time to see Standishs eyes bug out a little. Guess they told him he was stayin with Larabee. I smirk to myself, and then turn to watch the rest of Brads expression, cuz its pretty priceless too.
Well Sheeeiiit, I chuckle.
And Agent Jordan looks pretty damned pleased with himself.
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