Mano a Mano


Rating: PG13 for a litle swearing

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:  Blame this fic on Maggie, Cassie, Shawna and MOG and the persistence of Mattie, Kim, Penny, Diana, Leslie, Judy and Marla.  Everyone has an opinion.<G>

Archivist's Note:   This fic was previously hosted on another website and was moved to Blackraptor in September 2006.

When the elevator door opened Buck and JD momentarily suspended their game of toss.  They were supposed to be catching up on paperwork while Chris was in meetings. They resumed their game  when the tall man with his neck bent exited on to the eleventh floor.

"Hey Buck, the guys in the white coats have finally come for you." JD smirked as the tall man approached them.
"I just," the scientist began in a squeak. The scientist realized he was the focus of their attention and his voice grew stronger. "Excuse me, I just wanted you to be on the look out for a spider."

JD caught the ball and shrugged his shoulders. Buck thought he might have seen the man around once or twice. A few years older than JD, hair cut regulation short but with several ear piercing, though currently void of jewelry, were evident in both lobes. Buck noticed the man never took his eyes off the ground. The mustached agent looked down too, wondering what was so interesting on the floor.  Finding there was only the plain old floor, Wilmington asked. "A spider?"

The man seemed to hunch over more. "A, umm, tarantula to be exact."

JD stood up looked around then sat down, making sure to keep his feet off the floor. "Those are big, Buck."

Finally the man in the white coat lifted his head and stared at Dunne with an expression that seemed to imply he couldn't understand why anyone would be afraid of a spider. "Claude is harmless. He wouldn't hurt a . . .. Well, never mind." He waved his hand then began to absently play with the identification card hanging around his neck.

Buck squinted his eyed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Claw?"

This time the tall man glared at Wilmington. "ClauDE," he enunciated the last two letters.

JD coughed, trying to hide his smirk. "I'm sorry, this killer spider thing is named ClauDE?"

"After my grandfather." The man smiled wistfully.

Buck rolled his eyes.  "You named a spider after your grandpappy?"

The scientist knitted his brows. He opened his mouth, closed it, and then opened it again. "He's smart. He's . . ."

"A spider," Wilmington added with a smile.

The tall man crossed his arms. Buck and JD looked at each other and crossed their arms too.

"That 'spider' helped me score a date with Janell Dorsey in Ballistics....*she's* not afraid of them."

 Wilmington's surprised expression flashed before he could rein it in. JD nudged his partner. "Wow, Buck. Haven't you been trying to-"

He was cut off as Buck elbowed him sharply back. "I don't need no aractid to get a date, kid." The taller agent folded his arms and stared at the scientist before him.

Dunne leaned toward his friend. "I think you mean 'arachnid'."

Before Wilmington could decide whom to threaten first, Vin broke the stalemate.

"What's up?"  He stopped as he saw the three men staring at each other.

"There's a spider lose in the building. . ." Buck began.

"A tarantula. . " JD added.

"Named ClauDE," Wilmington concluded.

"He's mine and I want him back alive." The scientist tapped his foot impatiently. Then looked on the ground to make sure there was no chance he could have stepped on the spider.

Tanner looked at Wilmington and gestured the tall man was crazy.

"Don't think we don't know about Team 7's motto, 'shoot and ask questions later. . ." the scientist added.

Vin let the insult slide off his back. "So we find the spider, we're suppose to call,"  the sharpshooter picked up the man's ID card from his chest," Bryan Sanders, instead of shooting it, right?"

Sanders snatched his badge back. "Doctor Bryan Sanders. " With one more glare at the ATF agents he stalked away mumbling under his breath about graduate school and being smarter than some stupid agents.

Vin, Buck and JD watched the doctor walk away.  Wilmington shook his head.  "They shouldn't let some people out of their cage."

Ezra finally had some time free to peruse the Wall Street Journal.  He had not given his portfolio much attention in the last few months.

He kept his pen ready to circle any prospects, then he would follow up with some internet research before placing any buy orders.

Standish was surprised when part of the ceiling caved in on his paper.  The southerner shook his head and looked up. He would need to report this to maintenance. However, the ceiling tile above his desk was intact.

The undercover operative turned to study what had fallen on his desk when he saw it move.

"Mother of God!" Ezra exclaimed, pushing his chair away from his desk and almost stumbling in his rush to place distance between him and it.  Standish's outburst brought the others running.

The undercover agent met them halfway.  He kept gesturing with his hands, trying to tell the team how a large arachnid tried to attack him. In frustration he closed his mouth.

"Ezra, are you okay?" Nathan asked, concerned by the red coloring the southerner had acquired.

"I am leaving until an exterminator is called to kill," Standish pointed to his office, "that monstrosity."

Vin shook his head and grinned. "You're afraid of some spider?"

"Named Claude," Buck reminded as he started to laugh.

Ezra narrowed his eyes, disgusted by his compatriot's lack of support. "Claude, Monster Spider, I do not care. I want it gone and preferably dead."

Josiah crossed his arms. "Sometimes people give silly names to things to lessen their threat."

"Marvin," JD replied solemnly.

"Marvin?" Buck replied.

"The monster under my bed." Dunne explained. "I used to hear noises under my bed. My mom said it was just Marvin. So, when I heard the noises I would tell Marvin to go away."

Sanchez clapped the young agent on the back.  "Your Mom was a smart woman."

Standish was surprised he didn't call the local mental health hospital and have his friends committed. They became the most annoying beings in moments of crisis. "I am leaving for lunch."

The others looked puzzled. It was Nathan who looked at his watch. "Ez, it's only ten."

Standish gave them the two-finger salute and headed for the elevator.

Josiah was sitting in the corner chair of his office. He wanted to gain some new perspective. If he hadn't been sitting there then he would have never seen Claude climbing down the column behind his desk. He had to admit, the tarantula was large. Not as large as some of insects in Vietnam, but large enough that Sanchez knew he was going to stay away and practice some Buddhism.

"You know the southwest Native Americans have the spider as the creator. In the Navajo culture, the Spider Woman originally taught them to weave saddle blankets."

The spider didn't seem interested and continued on with its travels.  Sanchez looked at the column again and decided it may be the perfect place for a dream catcher. The spider had been a sign.

Feeling he had used his spare time wisely, Sanchez went to get a cup of coffee. Nathan was there already making himself a cup of green tea.
"It was here." The large agent announced as he pulled his 'Been there, Done that' mug from the shelf.

Jackson took a tentative sip of his steeping tea. "What was?"

"The spider." Josiah replied, as he poured some government house blend into his cup.

Nathan shook his head and headed to the door. He paused and turned around. "Is this like the hay?"

"No, that was different." Josiah stopped stirring his coffee and crossed his arms defensively.

"Okay," The medic shrugged his shoulders. "If you say so."  Nathan walked out of the break room.

"It was the round ones." Sanchez called out after Jackson's retreating back. "They moved."

Vin was typing up his latest report. He saw there were a few words highlighted in red alerting to a misspelled word.  He continued to tap away at the keys.  After lunch, when he was more alert, Tanner would proof read his work.  The longhaired agent shifted his neck from side to side trying to fight off the tension, which usually mounted when Vin was faced with paperwork.

Taking a break, he grabbed his trap muscle in hopes he would massage out the mounting stiffness.

"What the . . ." He felt a rather large, furry, moving thing under his hand. Quickly, he swiped it away. Tanner had heard the thud as the damn spider made contact with an immovable object.

His two Glocks were in his hands as he patrolled his office. "Where the hell are ya?"  Vin said as he crouched on the floor seeking the tarantula. "That Doctor is gonna get you in a ziplock baggy," Tanner announced to the cowardly spider.

The sharpshooter was silent for a moment believing he actually heard the eight little legs move across the floor. But, Vin knew it wasn't the tarantula standing behind him. Tanner bowed his head.

"Have you finally met the enemy?"  Ezra stayed near the opening of the cubicle, his eyes darting up to the ceiling.

"What?" Vin stood up and examined his weapons.  "I was just about to clean them." Tanner held up his guns to prove it wasn't a lame excuse.

Standish crossed his arms, not believing the sharpshooter. "Please, Agent Tanner, you were on the floor." Ezra quickly glanced at the corner of Vin's office. Tanner followed the line of site, aimed his gun and removed the safety.

"It's nothing," Tanner announced, replacing the safeties and putting both weapons on his desk. The longhaired agent sat down, first making sure that nothing had taken up residence on his chair.

Standish stayed in the doorway. "I spoke with building maintenance and they will exterminate this floor this evening."

"Good, I mean . . ."Tanner sighed, then gave a low whistle "That was some bad ass spider, Ez." The undercover agent nodded. Vin grinned. "I bet they don't find a body. . ."

"What amount of money are you willing to part with, Agent Tanner?" The southerner responded and stepped into the sharpshooter's office.

"I see it!" JD said as he put down the binoculars and pointed to the speck approaching the  bullpen.
Buck pounced forward, awaiting the creature. "Damn it! Get me something, JD!"
Dunne handed his roommate the orange-haired troll doll, named Priscilla.
"What the f*ck do you expect me to do with that?" Wilmington shook Priscilla then threw it back to the young agent. "Something else where I don't feel like I have to do hand to hand combat with it." "Sorry!" JD rolled his eyes and then snatched the comic Buck had been reading, quickly rolling it into a makeshift baseball bat. "This more to your liking?"

Wilmington glanced at the rolled paper and then grabbed it, never letting his gaze move too far from the Godzilla of the spider world. "Okay, you mutant arachnid, it's just you and me."

The mustached agent eased closer to the big spot lying in the middle of the bullpen floor. Ezra interrupted his intense concentration.

"Good Lord, Buck, just kill the damn thing already." The undercover agent's eyes grew until his eyebrows disappeared under his bangs. "Darwin himself would be most impressed by this master of evolution. Is that a spider or an alien specimen?"

Standish quickly retraced his steps and hid behind the first thing he found, which happened to be Vin Tanner. "What the hell are you doing, Ez?" The sharpshooter tried to move the southerner from behind him, but that was proving impossible.

"I am merely putting distance between myself and a hairy situation."

"SHHH, all of ya. I've got him cornered." Buck was within striking distance now. It would be him against Claude. "Almost got him."

"What are you all staring at?"

"F*ck, it can talk!" Wilmington jumped back from the tarantula, allowing it to make a quick get away.

Dunne slapped the back of his roommate's head. "And it sounds just like Nate?"

"It got away!"  JD announced as he looked around the bullpen.

Nathan placed his hands on his hips. "You should be ashamed of yourselves. Trying to kill a spider like that. What did it do to you? You wouldn't kill a butterfly." Jackson raised his finger and pointed to each of them.

"But, Nate. . ." JD tried to talk back to the medic, but was silenced.

"Don't, but, Nate me." Jackson continued his impassioned speech. "There's a man who wants his spider back in one piece."

"He would have been in one piece-just dead." Buck snorted. "I don't think he would have lost any legs?" Wilmington looked at his fellow agents for agreement.

"Vin was going to shoot it." Ezra announced.

All eyes went to Tanner. The medic was disappointed.

Tanner shrugged. "I know. I'm going to use a silencer next chance, otherwise too much noise."

The others nodded in agreement. Nathan was frustrated by the audacity of his friends. "That's enough. Chris will have your hides if he gets wind of this." Jackson smiled, knowing the threat had worked. Larabee was in meetings for the whole day, and the medic wasn't planning on telling the leader. But, he wanted to plant the seed of doubt.  "Now, I know you're all going to do the right thing." Nathan left, feeling confident the spider would be left alone.

"Shut the lights and let's get out the night goggles." Wilmington directed, and the foursome scrambled to get their equipment.

"He's trying to make a run for it!" JD announced.

"Target is by the elevator," Josiah responded.

"Converging on target," Vin replied. "Ez, where the hell do you think you're goin'?"

"To set up a defense perimeter in case he gets by."  Standish replied.

"He's not getting by, not this time."  Buck growled. "I see him. I'm going in for the kill." Wilmington bit his lip. "Ahh, sorry, Nate, I got the jar."

"Be careful, Brother." Sanchez's words echoed in the dim bullpen.

On his knees and elbows, the mustached agent crawled. "Steady," he held up the jar ready to pounce.  Suddenly, bright light filtered into the room and momentarily blinded Buck. "Damnit!" Wilmington pulled off his goggles.

The others came running only to face a glaring Chris Larabee

"Claude!" JD bent down near the leader's feet.

"What the hell is going on?" Larabee asked as he shifted the pile of folders from one arm to the other.

"I was trying to kill the spider." Wilmington straightened up, propping his hands on his hips. "He's crafty. I'll say that for him."

"He escaped?" Standish's shoulder's slumped.

Chris shook his head and glanced with puzzlement at his agents. "So you clowns didn't finish the paperwork?"

The men shuffled in place and mumbled excuses. "Well, Agent Larabee. . ." Ezra began to explain.

"This guy comes up and tells us about this tarantula. . ." JD tried to tell the important parts.

"ClauDE," Buck interrupted with the spider's name.

"He is  a cretin." Standish finished the story. "The exterminator will be here by 6." Ezra glanced at his watch, within an hour the bain of the eleventh floor would be gone.

Josiah closed his eyes for a moment. "There's no escaping the poison."

"Poison?" Dunne shook his head and gave a noticeable wink to the undercover agent. "Nah, remember they are humane. They put it to sleep then let it go." JD kept nodding waiting for the others to back  him up so they could avoid Nathan's wrath.

"Nate's a big boy, JD." Tanner hitched his fingers through the belt loops of his jeans. "They're gonna kill it.  Months from now we'll probably find it dead in the corner."

Standish rolled his eyes. "Lovely, absolutely lovely depiction. Thank you, Vin."

"So who is going to inform Doctor Bryan Sanders?" Nathan crossed his arms. "Don't go looking at me."

Vin shrugged his shoulder. "Chris is team supervisor. . ."The others nodded and agreed, leaving Larabee dumbfounded in the center of the room. This was the last time he would go to a meeting.
"Someone start explaining. . ." Larabee growled.

Tanner didn't back down. "Come on Cowboy, Ez's buying us drinks, tonight."

"Pardon me!" Standish stood up, his mouth gaped open.

"Great! Let's go to the saloon." Buck ushered the others to the elevator.

The seven packed into the available car, believing they had left the spider behind. Claude would be a distant memory by the morning.

But up above on the top of the elevator was an excited spider about to break into the real world. "These humans, they are so inept."  Claude thought. Freedom was staring him in the face. He was exiting to the outside. The tarantula crawled confidently. "What the hell?" He thought just as the Jaguar's tires ended his life.


The End