Enter Mary Into The Fold
Disclaimer: I do not own or profit from the use of the Magnificent Seven characters. Thank you to MOG for the creation of the ATF.
Comments: Well this is a continuation of Enter Mary. Mary is going to meet the rest of the guys. Thank you to MOG for letting me harass her*G*. She is an amazing beta reader and is a generally generous person! Information that appears on the flyer in opening scenes is information from the following web site: www.atf.treas.gov The karate stuff that I put in comes from my own experiences. I hold a black belt in Shotokan karate. You will also note I have incorporated the stories of MOG, Laura and Kim as much as possible. Thank you to them for their inspiration.
Archivist's Note: This fic was previously hosted on another website and was moved to Blackraptor in September 2006.
The flyer had some across her desk a week ago.
ATF will continue to work toward a sound and safer America through innovation and partnership. In doing so, ATF makes its juvenile initiatives a top priority. The Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative aims to reduce youth firearms violence. The initiative develops information about illegal firearms trafficking to young people and new methods of reducing illegal supply of firearms to them. Therefore we would like to welcome all of the Four Corners Community to: Protect Our Youth Carnival.
The ATF wanted the presence of a reporter to tout their latest community effort. And now here she was with an excited Billy in tow, hoping for another opportunity with Agent Chris Larabee. He had kept his word, and had informed her in a timely manner of busts that had occurred with the assistance of the ATF. Mary had hated to use her association with Judge Travis, but she really wanted the story, and felt it had ramifications to the Four Corners community. However, since their meeting months ago, she had only spoken to him over the phone. She found herself more and more often thinking about his stormy blue eyes and steely determination. She had been concerned when weeks had passed and he hadn't called. Through the judge she was able to ascertain he had been seriously injured, but would recover, and then he had eventually gone on a fishing trip with his team to recuperate further. She had sent him a get well card, which he tersely thanked her for when next he called.
She could see the colorful tents had been set up in the Four Corner's high school field. The cacophony of sound traveling down Main Street. Already, Mary noticed there had been a great turn out for the event as the throngs of carnival goers filtered around the tents and rides. Billy was pointing at the Ferris wheel,
"Mom, look!" Diverting his mother's attention from looking for the man in black to the multi-colored Ferris wheel.
"Yes, honey, we'll go on in just a second," Mary was still craning her neck to see above the crowd.
"Ms. Travis," she recognized the gravely voice immediately. She turned to the man in black standing by the gate with the mustached man who she now knew was called Buck Wilmington.
"Agent Larabee, nice to see you again." She struggled to make conversation, all the words she had practiced to say before somehow forgotten. He looked better than when she had last seen him, tan, fit and relaxed. "I hope you're feeling better?"
"I'm fine Mary, thanks for asking." He knelt down to her son. "How you doing Billy?"
"Great, Agent Chris, I can't believe you remember me!" Billy said, his face beaming with a smile.
"How could I forget that firm handshake of yours," Chris flexed his hand. Her son chuckled at Larabee's antic.
The young boy's attention was quickly diverted by the site right behind Chris. A boxing ring had been set up, and there was Agent Vin Tanner kicking focus pads held by Agent Josiah Sanchez. It was nice to know the names that went with the faces, finally, thought Mary.
"Wow, what's going on over there?" Billy pointed to the boxing ring.
Buck answered, also bending down to the child's level. "That's our friend Vin. He is warming up with Agent Josiah cause Vin is going to do a karate demonstration."
"Karate!" Both agents laughed at Billy's exuberance. "Oh, Mom can I go watch, please?" He looked at his mother beseechingly.
"We can watch for awhile," Billy was nodding at his mother, "but remember I'm here for the paper, and I need to visit the other booths." Billy looked down at the ground. "I think the ATF wants to show that there not just about arsonists, bomb threats and fighting militias."
"I can take him, Mary." Chris said simply. She looked up at the man with some hesitation. "I have an in with the guy doing the exhibition," he smirked.
"I don't know. . ." She paused, but Billy had already made up his mind by clasping Chris's hand.
"Bye Mom, see you later!" He waved, as the agent and her blonde haired boy walked to the ring.
She was still watching them when Buck interrupted her reverie.
"Well, Mrs. Travis I would be happy to show you around."
She looked at the congenial man. "Oh no, really, I can manage." She started to scamper away from him and join the other townsfolk.
"Consider it part of my duty as an ATF agent. Plus I am supposed to be at the information both, and you will be allowing me to be informative." Buck said chasing after her. She could see she was not going to win, and his becoming smile was contagious.
"Okay, Agent Wilmington, lead the way." She gestured with her head to the booth in front of them.
"Buck, if you don't mind. I only use the Agent Wilmington when I am trying to scare people, never for a lovely woman as yourself." Mary smiled at Buck's flirtatious comment.
"What's going on over there?" She had pointed to a booth that seemed very popular at the moment.
"Oh that's Ezra. He's running a slight of hand booth." He called out and waved to the dark haired man, wearing a uniquely, patterned, Missoni sweater. The only man who differentiated himself amongst a sea of jeans and button down t-shirts.
"Agent Wilmington," Standish said above the crowd in front of him, shuffling a deck of cards in his hand. "Who is your lovely acquaintance?" He was looking appreciatively at Mary.
"Why Ezra this is Mrs. Mary Travis of the Four Corner's Clarion," Buck gestured with his head towards the fair headed woman.
The agent's green eyes grew wide for a moment, and then he quickly recovered. "Mrs. Travis it is a distinct pleasure." He hopped over the booth. His leather loafers softly landing in the grass.
"AAAWWW," the crowd erupted.
"One moment ladies and gentlemen. I have not forsaken you, and perhaps this gives lady luck a chance to join you." The crowd grumbled in response. They had been pulling out cards from a deck, and Ezra had been finding them once they were placed back in the deck. The crowd had begun to gamble on the outcomes.
"Agent Standish, isn't it?" Mary put her hand forward. Ezra lifted her hand from underneath and placed a kiss on it.
"Yes, it is," the suave man answered.
"Ezra, we need to be going," Buck bent his arm and offered it to Mrs. Travis with his other hand he gave Standish a jaunty two finger salute, which the undercover man returned with a knowing smile.
"Nice meeting you," Mary called back. She could hear Ezra address the crowd,
"Break is now over! Let us commence!" The crowd gathered around the booth once more.
They stopped momentarily at the information booth to pick up the ATF's brochure's on preventing juveniles from acquiring firearms. At the booth Buck was harassed by the other agents since he was also supposed to be assisting them. In the middle of the jesting one of the agent's mentioned, JD. Buck replied he was heading there next.
"Buck!!!! Help!!!" The young man sputtered as he came up for air from the tank he had just been dunked into. His black, chin length hair was glued to the side of his face making him look even more younger. Mary couldn't believe that was possible.
He moved to the side of the tank, and rested his arms against the rim. "Someone told the high school baseball team that their pitcher sucked, and now he keeps dunking me!"
Buck smiled. "JD, meet Mary Travis."
JD's face lit up in recognition of the name. "Pleasure to meet you." He looked at his wet hand, and placed it back on the rim of the tank. He smiled at her instead in greeting.
"Nice to meet you too. I can imagine the ribbing you take being the youngest." Mary answered.
JD rolled his eyes up. "The thing is Ma'am, I don't even follow high school baseball."
Mary moved in closer to the wet man. "You don't think someone is playing a joke on you?"
"Now who would do that?" The blonde haired woman heard him mumble to himself. "Vin is a joker, but I haven't done anything to him, plus he is busy. . . ." The young agent looked straight at Buck. "Buck! I am going to kill you!" JD tried to grab Wilmington, but only succeeded in splashing him.
Buck stood laughing, slapping his knee in glee. "See you later JD!" Buck hid behind Mary, knowing JD ould not splash her, and they backed away from the dunking tank.
However, JD was giving Buck a look of pure revenge.
Across from the dunking tank, Nathan stood shaking his head. He called out to Buck,
"You know it's all your fault if he gets pneumonia!"
Wilmington escorted Mary to meet another member of the seven.
"Nate, pneumonia from a dunking tank?" Mary's escort raised his eyebrows. "It's for the kids after all." Nathan looked at Buck and shook his head in disbelief.
"I want you to meet Mary Travis," Buck pointed to Mary who was beside him.
A look of puzzlement passed over the black man's features as if he was trying to place the name. Then his face lit up. "Nice to meet you Miz Travis."
Funny, thought Mary, I keep getting these strange looks from these men. I wonder what Agent Larabee has said about me.
Nathan extended his hand. Mary clasped it. She noted this was the hand of a man who could heal with these hands or diffuse a bomb, but both lead to the same conclusion-to save lives. Mary had learned Nathan had graduated from college with a dual major in chemistry and biology. He had been accepted to medical school, but something changed his mind and led him to law enforcement. The Judge didn't explain any further. He just said the ATF was always looking for people with chemistry degrees to help with arson investigations and such.
"Have you been busy today?" She asked, noting there was no one presently in the tent with Agent Jackson.
"Just a few scrapes, nothing serious." He turned to Buck. "You going to see the match?"
"Yep," Buck's eyes darted to the boxing ring. "Just going there right now. You coming?"
Nathan laughed, "I'm sure with Vin involved, you will be seeing me there soon."
Buck laughed. "That boy does get in to trouble. It's a wonder Chris is actually allowing him to do this exhibition."
"It took a lot of convincing," Nathan smiled in thought. "But, once Vin agreed to use pads, and Josiah said he would be in Vin's corner, Chris felt better."
Buck laughed again. "Well, I'll be taking Mary to the mother hen now."
Jackson smiled again. "Miz Travis, nice meeting you."
"Likewise, Agent Jackson," Mary said to the healer.
From the distance Mary saw her child, resting on the shoulders of the mysterious blacked dressed agent. Billy was punching on pads being held by Agent Sanchez from the ring. She could see the expression of pure delight on her son's face. She was prompted to ask Buck a question about his friend which she couldn't ask the judge.
"Buck?" Buck stopped rambling about the ATF and turned to her. "Is Chris married?"
Wilmington's face turned into a mask of seriousness, "Was." He hesitated. In a low voice he continued, "Chris's wife and son were killed a few years back when he was with the FBI."
"Killed?" She said in disbelief.
"He was working on a big case where he was the star witness, and they tried to get to him, but got his family instead," Buck said his eyes losing their twinkle.
Tears welled up in her eyes, "I am so sorry."
"He never has got over losing Sarah and Adam like that." Buck grew uncomfortable with the mood he had set, and the memories the conversation brought back. He gestured for Mary to be quiet. He crept up behind Chris and then appeared in front of them with a "Boo!"
Billy erupted in a fit of laughter. Buck helped him down from Chris's shoulders. Billy stood between Chris and Mary.
"So how is our boy doing?" Wilmington asked as he saw Vin, his opponent, and the referee talking in the middle of the ring.
"He's raring to go," Josiah said, appearing with a white towel around his neck, "or so his trainer believes."
Chris's eyes never left the ring, but he made introductions. "Josiah this is Mary Travis."
"Pleasure, ma'am. Your son has a mean right hook." Josiah tousled the boy's hair.
"Thank you, I think." Her attention was also focused to the ring In the middle the two opponents bowed to each other signaling the start of the match. Both were wearing full protective gear. Tanner's brown locks, extended past the black, padded helmet. His hands and feet covered in black pads with the name Century written across them. His opponent, another agent, wore red pads. Both wore white karate uniforms with blackbelts knotted about their waists. As soon as the referee left the center ring the exhibition began.
"Are you sure this is only an exhibition?" Mary asked as she watched the intensity at which the men attacked each other. The pads were not just making slapping sounds when they made contact, each kick and punch was landing with a resounding thud.
Josiah chuckled by her side. "Ma'am when the testosterone starts to fly, it comes down to one thing-a competition."
She gripped her son shoulders.
Vin's opponent had been pushed against the ropes by Vin's attack. A gasp went through the crowd as the defender used the springiness of the ropes to propel himself forward and land a flying sidekick to Vin's unprotected stomach. Tanner fell backwards on the mat.
Chris rushed to the edge of the ring, "You okay Vin?" He was already slipping through the ropes when Vin turned head to him, and put his hand up to stop Chris from entering.
Vin was forcing breath in and out of his lungs. "Oh yeah," He grimaced, turning over on to all fours, shaking his head, he stood up. "I think he called me a cowboy." Chris backed out of the ring.
Tanner's opponent was moving around in his corner waiting for Vin to get up. Mary heard a voice behind her,
"Unfortunately, I fear Agent Conners now has the odds against him," Ezra said strolling up to stand beside Chris.
"Don't tell me you are taking bets. It is an exhibition," Larabee glared at his undercover agent.
"Talk of the 'exhibition' has spread through the carnival like wildfire," Ezra drawled.
Buck also joined the men, "Ezra, I'll put twenty down on Vin."
Nathan and JD also came running over. JD's clothes clinging to him, and his wet hair dripping around his face.
"Heard someone may be hurt," Nathan asked, looking at the two combatants in the ring.
"Vin just had the wind knocked out of him for a second," Josiah replied.
"Josiah, give JD a towel. I think a puddle is forming around him," Buck said seeing the young agent dripping.
Mary listened to the exchange with interest. During the whole conversation six sets of concerned eyes never left the form of their team mate in the ring.
A look of seething determination radiated from Vin's eyes. There was a rapid exchange of punches and kicks, but to no avail, other than leaving each man gasping for breath from the aerobic exertion. Again they came toward each other, this time Tanner surprised his opponent with a hook kick. Agent Conners stepped into the kick to block it, unaware Vin was following up the kick with a round house and then lastly a crescent kick to Conner's head. Conners fell sideways to the mat. Mary leaned in forward and saw the blood rushing from the fallen Agent's nose. The agent lay back holding his nose with his hands.
Vin bent down. Mary saw a quick conversation taking place and then Nathan was called over. Nathan stepped into the ring and assisted Agent Conners into a chair. Vin nodded to Nathan and came out of the ring, swiftly going between the ropes and standing with his friends.
"Nice fight," Buck said patting Vin on the back. Tanner took off his gloves and helmet and passed them to Josiah.
"Thanks," he responded, and walked away from the group to a quiet area. His hands on the top of his head, as he walked around.
JD was walking towards him, when Chris pulled him back. "Leave him alone JD. It's an adrenaline rush, he wants to calm down first."
"Gentlemen, I would like to thank you for an interesting day," Mary said, as she slung her purse on her shoulder in preparation to leave.
They all nodded, and said goodbye.
"I am going to bring Vin his clothes, and guide him to the changing area," Ezra said giving his team mates a strange look.
"Oh!" JD said as Buck elbowed him silent.
"Come on now JD and see if we can find you some more clothes too." Dunne's shirt and shorts were soaked through. "Didn't you even dry yourself off?" Buck gave Ezra a salute as if he was tipping a hat.
Then Josiah piped in, "Nathan looks like he could use some assistance with Agent Conners." He stepped into the ring and went over to Nathan, who was stuffing cotton into the bloodied agent's nose.
Quickly the men dispersed, leaving Chris and Mary alone. Billy was walking ahead with Buck and JD.
"Thank you for watching over Billy." Mary smiled at Chris as they walked toward the gate.
"He's a great kid," Larabee responded as he watched his agents play with the boy.
"Buck told me about your loss," Mary said quietly. She did not expect the harsh glare Chris gave her. "I know what it feels like. . . "
He stopped. "Lady, you have no idea." Mary watched as Chris stormed off into the crowd. She quickly lost sight of him. Billy ran back to her.
"Darn, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye," Billy shrugged his shoulders. He smiled at his Mom, "Buck and JD said anytime I want, I can come by the ATF offices for a tour."
"Sure honey," she said trying to lift her mood and thinking about what her next meeting with Agent Chris Larabee would be like.
Buck turned his head, facing the opening of the tent.
"Make sure you dry off first this time," Wilmington said to JD who was in the tent changing. He heard a muffled response.
"Yeah, yeah." Buck smiled at his own mother henning. He turned back to look out at the carnival which was ending. Chris stood in front of him.
"Hey Chris," the congenial man said. They had all given Chris some time alone with Mary, hoping for the best.
"Buck," Larabee gritted and then punched Buck squarely in the jaw.
The momentum sent Buck into the yellow tent flap, but Buck caught himself before he fell completely over. He was seeing stars.
"What was that for?" Buck stood up, holding his jaw, looking accusingly at his leader.
"Sarah and Adam are not a topic of conversation," Chris's voice no louder than a deadly whisper.
"She asked," Buck looked straight into cold, calculating eyes. "What am I supposed to say?"
Chris positioned himself so his face was millimeters in front of Wilmington's. "Stay out of it Buck. It's my personal business." Chris stalked off leaving Buck hurt and angry.
"Buck," JD came out of the tent wearing navy blue sweats with ATF written in white on the sweat shirt. "What happened to you?" JD reached out and moved Buck's chin to see the purple bruise developing.
"Nothing, kid, nothing," he slapped away JD's hand and walked away.
Over the remaining part of the weekend, word spread to the other men of Chris and Buck's encounter. JD had told the whole story or as much as he could find out from Buck. Dunne and Wilmington lived together. Buck had gotten drunk and told JD about his admission to Mary.
Chris had not been heard from since the carnival. Vin had called and even checked the ranch, but the silent leader was not around. Tanner had begun to worry, but on Monday, Vin found Chris in his office. He was relieved. The marksman was usually the first one in, since he was an early riser, although Larabee was usually right behind him. He had tried talk to Chris, but the black dressed man said he couldn't talk and needed to do paperwork. Vin noticed the bloodshot eyes and the sagging weight of guilt on his friend's shoulders. By the time the rest of the team had clocked in, Vin had made a decision on how to proceed.
"Buck, isn't it your turn to get the donuts?" Josiah asked, looking at Buck who sat listlessly at his desk. The bruise on his jaw had turned to a brown, green color since the punch on Saturday.
"What, Josiah?" Wilmington snapped his head up.
"You wool gathering over there, Buck?" Vin commented from his desk. "Josiah was asking you to get some donuts."
The now quiet agent got up from his desk and fished his truck keys from his jean pocket. "Yeah, sure." The team watched him leave.
"That was easy," JD exhaled the breath he was holding.
"He's not himself," Nathan said as he watched the elevator close. "Usually he would somehow get JD to go."
They all nodded in agreement. Wilmington did have a way of getting his young cohort to do most of the errands.
"Now we must deal with our surly leader." Ezra got up from his desk, adjusted his finely tailored suit, and faced Larabee's office.
"He's been in there all morning," JD commented nervously. Dunne didn't like going against the team's leader, even if he was wrong.
"He's been stewing long enough." Vin said, walking towards Chris's office. "Let's go boys." They all headed into the office, Vin in the lead as pro facto leader. They left the door ajar.
"When will you all learn to knock!" Larabee ground out from his desk, never taking his eyes off his paperwork.
"We will, when you do." Vin drawled back, leaning against one of the glass walls, getting comfortable for the coming altercation.
"So, why are my agents here, in my office, instead of doing some work at their own desks?" Chris's pen sliced through the reams of paper in front of him.
"Buck, you and the team," Tanner stated. He had designated himself the spokesperson, a job he did not enjoy, but found necessary for this occasion.
"What's going on between Buck and me has nothing to do with the team. It's personal." Chris looked up from his paperwork staring at Vin. Tanner knew it was a stare that was supposed to silence him.
"Something funny Agent Standish?" Chris diverted his glacier stare to the well dressed man.
"Quite amusing, actually," Ezra continued, "I recently remember you informing me it's no longer personal if it effects one of your agents or the team in general." Standish unflinchingly returned Larabee's glare. "I'd say your dilemma with Agent Wilmington does qualify."
"He was only being honest," JD chimed in, wanting to protect his best friend's actions.
Tanner was hoping his plan was going to work. Having five concerned men harping on you was formidable. But, Chris was as stubborn as they came. Vin also did not want a friendship, which predated the team, to be lost over an angry moment. The long haired man also felt liked he owed it to Buck to patch things up. After all, in a sense Vin had usurped Buck's place in Chris's life.
"Can't be expecting people to read your mind, and lyin for you pard," Tanner stepped away from the wall. He heard Buck's heavy footsteps exiting the elevator. Vin turned his head slightly and saw Buck holding two boxes in his hands. Everyone in the office turned when they heard him,
"Come and get it. . . ." Buck stopped mid sentence, noticing his partners were in the glass enclosed office. He put the donuts on Josiah's desk, lingering over the boxes.
"You need to meet him halfway brother," Sanchez said, intensely focussing on Chris.
"After all, you did sucker punch him," Nathan said trying to appeal to Larabee's sense of justice and fairness.
Chris slowly got up from his desk. His men parted. He walked through the door, and could feel the five sets of eyes watching his every move not knowing what to expect. Cautiously he lifted the lids of one of the boxes. Buck was not looking at him, and had flinched when he saw Chris's hand move towards the box.
"Did you get the honey-dipped one's?" Larabee inquired, not looking at his oldest friend.
"Don't I always. I know they're your favorite," Buck answered, also taking in the contents of the box instead of meeting Chris's eyes.
The blonde haired man picked out the honey dipped donut, and now faced Buck. "We go back a long way."
"Yep," Wilmington replied. His shoulders slumped as he continued, "I cared for them too, Chris. I didn't mean any disrespect."
Chris nodded, accepting the apology. "Hate to lose a friend over me being bullheaded."
Buck's smile returned to his face. "You, bullheaded, nah."
Chris laughed and slapped him on the back. He turned to return back to his office with his donut. He saw his agents clearing out of his office.
"Another fine plan Agent Tanner," Ezra said to Vin. The marksman looked sheepishly at Chris. Chris gave him the jaunty two finger salute his other agents had been using.
"Get back to work," Chris said seriously, and then grinned at his agents. Larabee heard his
phone squealing in his office, disrupting the playfulness of the seven.
"Want me to get that?" Vin was already returning to Chris's office to pick up the phone.
"I'll take it at Buck's desk." He picked up the phone and pressed the glowing button.
"Yes. . . .fine. . . .send them up. . .my authority." Chris returned the phone back to its cradle, eyeing his men suspiciously. "Seems like we are having some visitors."
"Who?" JD asked, his curiosity overwhelming him.
"Billy and Mary have decided to pay us a visit," Chris said to the team. "Am I supposed to believe, you men had nothing to do with this?"
"Don't look at me Chris. I only planned the donut escapade," Vin said, taking a seat as his desk.
The elevator moaned open before Larabee could investigate further. Out stepped Mary wearing a white shirt and khaki pants. Her son was grasping her hand, but quickly broke free and ran to Chris.
"Agent Chris!" Billy stopped in front of Chris, looking up to the blonde haired man.
His mother quickly followed, "Sorry, he couldn't stop talking about Buck's invitation to have a tour of the ATF."
Chris quickly cocked an eyebrow in Buck's direction. Wilmington had suddenly found something engrossing on his desk.
"I hope we aren't inconveniencing you?" Mary said, doubt creeping into her voice.
"No, Mary it's all right," Chris looked over the people in the room. "Seems as though my agents have nothing to do today." The six men did not meet his gaze. Buck came forward and gave a high-five to Billy, now able to pull himself away from his previously absorbing paperwork.
"Billy, how about one of Agent Buck's personal ATF tours?" Wilmington winked at JD who rolled his eyes. Buck's tours consisted of seeing all of the ATF-bathrooms, coffee rooms, firing range and then of course harassing any available female agent along the way.
The young boy jumped up and down. "Yeah!"
Mary's smile at Buck quickly turned into a frown when she noticed the bruise. "That looks painful." She gestured to the congenial agent's chin.
"It was Mary, but now it's feeling much better." He nodded at Chris, who nodded back.
Mary was puzzled by the exchange, but did not comment any further.
Chris turned to Mary, "Buck's tour is something you don't want to miss." Larabee gestured for the reporter to follow Buck and her son, and he fell into step beside her.
The remaining men watched as they entered the coffee room for the first part of the tour. They shook their heads, and then reclined back in their desk chairs taking a break from their tumultuous morning.
"Well I guess there is just 'Something about Mary'," JD joked, and the agents groaned out loud.
The End . . . .Now Chris and Mary have met, but she has to meet the rest of the seven. . .