by Helen Adams

Main Characters: Nathan Jackson and Judge Travis

Genre: Gen, Comedy

Notes: Mag7Challenge for December, by Debby: Your fic can have as many of the guys as you choose, take place in any AU (that's open of course), and be either jolly or not so jolly but it must include the following: A seasonal/Christmas party, a spiked drink, faulty decorations/Christmas lights, and at least one of the seven in their underwear, long johns, get the idea.

I just thought it would be fun to put Nathan in the hot seat for a change. J

"Uh- J-judge, this ain't what it looks like! It's, that is we, uh-" Nathan Jackson trailed off lamely, unable to think of any excuse good enough to explain why he was standing in the middle of an office liberally coated in pseudo-snow confetti and strands of silver tinsel, wearing nothing but boxer shorts, a tank-top and a pair of boots. Or why he was leaning over an unconscious Vin Tanner with a half-full bottle of wine in one hand and a sprig of mistletoe in the other. Seeing the older man's eye fall upon the bottle, the medic swiftly straightened and hid the objects behind his back, his face turning an interesting shade of maroon as he blurted, "It wasn't my fault!"

"Really," Travis said slowly, his squinty gaze trailing across desks piled high with boxes, torn gift-wrap, gaudy holiday decorations and dozens of empty and half-empty glasses. The eagle eyes eventually landed on the desk in the corner, from behind which a soft two-toned roar was emanating. He took a step closer and checked behind the desk, sighing deeply as he took in the sight of Josiah Sanchez and Ezra Standish crumpled in a heap on the floor, the undercover man's head resting upon the profiler's shoulder, and Josiah's head resting against the top of Ezra's. Two prodigious snores were creating a peculiar buzzing harmony and the normally dapper Agent Standish, dressed to kill in a wrinkled Armani tux, was drooling on the lapel of his comrade's best (and only) suit. Shaking his head, Travis muttered, "Four down, three to go."

"Chris is in his office tendin' to JD," Nathan offered helpfully, hoping to divert the AD's attention long enough to slip away. "Kid had a little too much punch."

The judge's gimlet stare pinned the medic in place. "And what sort of 'punch' did you boys provide for this year's officially sanctioned alcohol-free ATF office party?" he asked sarcastically, raising a brow at the bottle Nathan had stealthily slid over onto a desk.

Following his gaze, Nathan squirmed. "Like I said, sir, this really ain't what it looks like. That's not booze over there. It's just sparkling cider." The incredulous look he received in reply had the underdressed medic scrambling to shove the bottle into his supervisor's hand. "See?"

Travis took a cautious sniff of the liquid, then ran a fingertip around the narrow opening and tasted the droplet of liquid he had captured. A look of surprise crossed his face. It was nothing but plain apple cider. Just at that moment, Vin chose to come out of his stupor enough to open his eyes, grin hugely, then point at the judge and begin singing an off-key rendition of You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.

Nathan groaned softly as the AD's gaze pinned him once again. "Figure somebody must've spiked the punch bowl," he muttered. "Vin had himself about four cups before anybody noticed."

Awakened by the rising volume of his teammate's holiday tune, Ezra suddenly lurched to his feet, his absence causing Josiah to slide the rest of the way down the wall to land with a thunk on the carpet. The big man grumbled something and curled into a ball. Ezra blinked down at him for a moment, then removed his tuxedo jacket and placed it beneath the profiler's head, which he gave a solicitous pat before weaving his way around the desk to join Vin in a second chorus of the Grinch song.

Covering his ears, Travis yelled over the strident duet, "How much did the others have?"

Wincing as the singers hit a particularly sour note, Nathan answered, "Josiah, Ezra and JD all sat over there in the corner talking and drinking punch for the better part of an hour. I didn't notice how far gone they all were until JD stole my Santa hat and barfed into it."

"Your Santa hat," the judge repeated blandly, raising an eyebrow at Jackson. "The uniform seems to have changed a bit from my day."

"Uh, yeah, well you see, that's why I didn't notice the punch. I was too busy trying to put out the fire Buck started."

"What was on fire?"

Nathan squirmed again. "Me. Um, just my pants, though."

The older man shook his head sharply, trying to force the words he had just heard to make sense. "Agent Wilmington set fire to your pants."

Nodding eagerly, Jackson added, "Yes, sir, but he didn't mean to. He was trying to get those bubble lights he bought to work. The damn things just wouldn't bubble, so he took 'em off the tree and set the string down on a table. Only he forgot to unplug the damn things."

"And you were-"

"Standing right next to the tree handing out the gifts. I'd just handed Chris his present when one of the bubblers exploded. Caught my fur on fire. I was tryin' to beat it out with my hat when JD snatched my cap to be sick in."

A snort interrupted the explanation as the sheer absurdity of what he was hearing, combined with the insulted look on the medic's face and the two happy drunks sitting on Tanner's desk belting out Frosty the Snowman got to Travis. Trying to force his face back into a stern expression, he said, "Dare I ask how you managed to put the fire out at last?"

"Chris grabbed the punchbowl and set it on a chair. Forced me to take a seat. Put the fire out all right but it wrecked my jacket. Those pink fruit juice stains are never comin' out of that white fur." He sighed mournfully. "Suit was a rental too."

Not sure if he wanted to laugh or to throw a fit and suspend the lot of them, Travis covered his eyes with one hand. "So, you got rid of the ruined Santa suit, Mr. Larabee is taking care of young Mr. Dunne, Sanchez is passed out from too much punch, as apparently are Standish and Tanner," he noted, seeing that the two office chorus-boys had once again succumbed into quiet snoring. "So that just leaves Buck."

Clearing his throat, Jackson admitted, "Asked him to go find me some clothes. Figured I might as well clean the place up a bit while I was waiting." Half-heartedly waving the sprig of wilted mistletoe, he shrugged. "He left these dang things all over the place."

Judge Travis considered the uncomfortable looking man before him. Nathan Jackson was known for his scrupulous honesty; it was unlikely that he would make up such an outrageous, not to mention embarrassing, story. And if the story were indeed true, then Team Seven might have simply been the victim of a punch-spiking Yuletide prankster and a bit of bad luck. The judge smiled. No, much as he would love to know who the prankster was, and he strongly suspected the absent Mr. Wilmington, he would let the matter drop. It would benefit no one to discipline his wildest, unruliest, most talented team for falling victim to a little holiday excess. Besides, this story would be the hit of the bureau if he told it at the Executive Christmas party tomorrow night.

"I think I'll go see what sort of shape Agent Larabee is in," he said casually, surprising the other man considerably when he added, "You're going to need some help pouring these boys into cabs and getting them all home."

Unable to believe they weren't in trouble, Nathan stammered, "You mean you're not- We're not-?"

The grin that had been threatening for several minutes broke free, lightening the judge's appearance greatly. "No, Mr. Jackson, you're not. Consider it your Christmas bonus."

As he watched the older man stride back to Chris Larabee's office, Nathan sat down on the edge of the desk next to his two unconscious friends. "A Christmas miracle is more like it," he muttered. Looking around the trashed but still festive looking office, he started to laugh. "Glory, hallelujah."

The End