Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirsch and MGM. No profits were made on the writing of the fic.
Comments: Happy Birthday to Kim, Happy Birthday to Kim (OCC)! This fic was nothing until MOG not only betaed but added so much that we finally co-wrote something together. It was fun working together and I hope you all enjoy. RB remember MOG quoting a certain tv show in the van? <G>
Archivist's Note: This fic was previously hosted on another
website and was moved to Blackraptor in September 2006.
"All I'm saying is you should try seeing it from another perspective." A door slamming shut followed the loud statement made by Ezra.
"I said no!" Nathan hollered. He'd wished Standish had been on the opposite side of that forcefully closed door, but the southerner was still right there with him. As Jackson rounded the corner, he paused; Vin, Buck, Josiah and JD had stopped working and were now focused on the direction of the commotion made by the two agents.
Noticing the eyes on him, Nate gave a tight grin, seemingly embarrassed by the outburst. "We'll talk about this later," he mumbled out of the corner of his mouth to the undercover agent.
"Agreed," Standish nodded.
A second later, Chris exited the elevator; several thick manila folders of photos and lab results tucked under his arm and a cup of coffee in a too thin to-go cup burning the palm of his hand.
It seemed, to Larabee anyway, that the piles of paperwork for him to sift through were endless. So when he stepped off the lift and noticed two-thirds of his team in obvious ‘not working’ poses, he made it a point to clear his throat, announcing his presence and took a small bit of pleasure as they all began to bustle again.
Vin came up to him, folder in hand. "You ready for tonight?"
"Yep, you?" Chris replied, as he headed toward his office. The sharpshooter fell in step beside him.
"All set." When they reached the door, Tanner held up the folder and went back to his desk signaling he was getting back to work.
Larabee closed the door to his office and took off his jacket, hooking it on one prong of the rack attached to the back of his door. The team leader dropped into his chair with a sigh.
The Treasury Department had decided to have a Halloween party at the Federal Building. The large, first floor cafeteria, where the party was to be held, had been closed since early that morning as volunteers decorated. Chris grinned as he thought of Vin the previous day, stockpiling donuts from the now blocked off room so he would not be without his beloved snack.
The team felt obligated to go to the event, the ticket revenue benefited inner-city youth programs. And some of the team, well...Buck and JD, relished the idea of dressing in costume. A mind-bogglingly clever theme of law enforcement had been selected, undoubtedly by some paper pusher with an active fantasy life.
Chris just shook his head; he hated these kinds of parties. Forced to mingle with counterparts and superiors when he’d much rather be at home watching the Broncos, having a beer and relaxing. He was too old for trick or treat.
He was surprised when Nathan knocked softly on his door with Ezra close behind. "We need to leave early," Jackson announced. Chris raised his eyebrows. His two agents had been acting suspiciously, granted, they had teamed up on a case and were in the preliminary ‘fact-gathering’ stage, but something seemed off.
"You got a lead on something?" Larabee asked, wondering if their behavior had anything to do with work.
Ezra cleared his throat. "In a matter of speaking."
The undercover agent's tone of voice was not reassuring but Chris reminded himself, this was Nathan and Ezra. If it were Tanner and Wilmington, the team leader would have required explicit detail and a signed note from the Pope…but Nate and Ez; there was no reason not to let them go.
"Be there tonight," Larabee ordered, as they left his office. If he had to suffer through this so did everyone else.
Buck and JD were the first of Team 7 to arrive. The cafeteria did not resemble the usual institutional ‘white walls with stainless steel fixtures’ space they were accustomed to. Instead, the atmosphere was warmed with pumpkins, tall cornhusks and autumnal mums. JD was disappointed, expecting a haunted house, instead of what now seemed to be a stuffy party.
Buck poked him with the triton he held. "Get a move on, JD." Dunne adjusted his cape and went to greet AD Orin Travis who stood sentinel in the entryway.
"Hello, sir," the young agent said to the man dressed as a judge.
Travis looked at the two men skeptically. Buck saw his confusion. "We're part of the Justice League." Wilmington gestured to JD wearing a skintight red and blue outfit. "Superman." Buck then puffed up proud and displayed an inflatable doll he held tucked under his arm. "I'm Aquaman and you know Wonder Woman." The mustached agent pulled the doll's hand and made her wave.
Orin pushed Wonder Woman away. "Yes, all clear now. Have a nice night, boys." The AD quickly moved away from the two roommates.
The two men shrugged their shoulders. "I think it was something you said, darling." Wilmington suggested to the inflatable woman.
"Brothers, has trouble found the two crime fighters?" Sanchez clapped the men on the shoulders as he came up behind them.
JD turned around, and this time he was perplexed. The large agent stood resplendent in a sharp, black tailored suit, with a long four-button jacket. "Are you Ezra tonight?"
Sanchez shot them a squint-eyed glare that bordered on the theatrical side and slipped on a pair of mirrored, wrap-around sunglasses. "Shaft." Josiah's voice dropped to an even lower than normal baritone.
Buck didn’t hesitate. "He’s one bad motherf-"
"Shut yo’ mouth." Josiah scolded.
Wilmington made a fair attempt at an expression of innocence. "Just talkin’ ‘bout Shaft."
Dunne chuckled for a moment, then leaned toward Sanchez seriously. "Hate to tell you this, J.,...but he's black."
The larger man bent down slightly. "Brother, it's a political statement."
"Deep, Josiah, real deep." Buck said with a wink, as if he understood. "You’ll pardon us, boys, I am going to take Wonder for a spin." Wilmington adjusted his brown top and tight gill-patterned pants with flourish before sweeping the doll to the center of the dance floor.
Wilmington made it halfway across the space before spotting Thelma, the new hybridization tech from Forensics that he’d been trying to meet. She was dressed as Batgirl. Stepping up beside her, he put on his best puppy-dog expression. "Since I couldn't get a date with you, I had to settle for Wonder Woman."
A soft laugh was her reply and Wilmington felt sure he was making headway. The moment was shattered, however, as Tanner slipped up beside him and grabbed the inflatable girl, dragging her away from Buck.
"That’s my woman!" Wilmington called out, chasing after the doll that he used as a second party for the carpool lane on days when JD rode the Ninja.
Tanner was grinning, but handed the doll back without a fight. Buck adjusted her gold belt and removed a bit of dust that now clung to the inflatable's back.
"And who the hell are you two supposed to be?" Wilmington asked.
Vin and Chris were dressed in the same clothes they had worn to work that day. Buck had relished aggravating and taunting the two about what costume they would show up in. He believed they would be The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Every time Larabee entered the conference room Wilmington would yell out, "Hi ho Silver!" Ezra had started a pool. There were even odds on the Lone Ranger/Tonto or a sheriff and deputy.
Vin took out his badge from his back jean pocket. "Vin Tanner, ATF Agent." The sharpshooter snapped the badge shut.
"And you?" Buck asked, shaking his head in disgust over the lack of creativity.
Chris went to his inside jacket pocket and pulled out his shield. "Chris Larabee, ATF supervisor. I leave it up to you to make a fool of yourself."
Josiah chuckled and then masked his amusement with a cough as Buck gave him a narrowed stare. Wilmington, though, had given up and made peace with the idea of losing twenty dollars to Ezra. He has underestimated Chris and Vin. "Hell, you could have at least switched badges."
Vin grinned, leaning in closer to the mustached agent. "We're gonna do that next year," replied the sharpshooter, with a wink.
JD pulled at his cape, tugging the fabric that was doing its best to bunch up around his throat. "Anybody seen Ezra and Nathan?"
Josiah nodded to two men who had just entered. "Speak of devils..."
As they got closer and entered the center of the cafeteria JD could have sworn a hush fell over the crowd. The duo reeked of style, but it was Ezra's blonde hair and Nathan's obvious hoop earring that may have awed the crowd.
Standish and Jackson stood before their team. The undercover agent dusted a speck of unseen lint from his white linen suit jacket. "I'm Crockett. He's Tubbs."
Nathan, also draped in linen but sporting a suit of slate blue, his eyes hidden behind a pair of teardrop aviator-style sunglasses, simply nodded.
"Ladies," Ezra stated, addressing the group of men before them and letting his normal accent slip to more of a Florida drawl. "I’m real sure you all are just the belles of the ball down on whatever ‘gator farm it is you were bred on; but this here is the big city. So if you and the rest of the Clampett Clan expect to be taken seriously enough to do any kind of recreational pharmaceutical transactions with me and my partner, here, I suggest you pay yourselves a visit to a shower and a clothes store a little higher class than JC Penney...in that order."
Vin was the first to speak. "Damn Ez, you dyed your hair."
"Doesn't look bad as a blonde." Buck added, tentatively touching a piece of Standish’s hair. The southerner swatted Wilmington away.
JD cleared his throat, which made the mustached agent notice that the team was now staring at him. "What?"
Ezra shook his head and fell back to his normal accent as he explained. "Well, to get Nathan's cooperation regarding the ear piercing, I had to do the hair. Elise assures me she can bring it back to its normal color tomorrow."
"You did that just for this?" Vin questioned incredulously. But he never received an answer as JD broke in.
"That's a very...pink shirt you're wearing." Dunne stated, raising an eyebrow as he looked at Ezra's pale pastel t-shirt and then to Nathan's dusky plum colored button-up dress shirt.
"Where did you get the clothes?" Larabee asked as he took a sip off his beer. Staring in disbelief at his two agents, he added, "And just tell me I’m not going to see you at work in that get-up."
"These are Armani, Chris, *vintage * Armani." Ezra accentuated the name and lightly fingered the lapel of his suit jacket. "The '80's may have meant skinny, leather ties and stone-washed denim for some; I, however, have always had good fashion sense."
"Can’t really dispute that," Nathan responded, "but I’m not sure how much sense it makes in the middle of a Denver Autumn...I’m kinda cold." He lifted the fine fabric of his trousers to reveal sockless feet inside a classic pair of Romika slip-ons.
"We got to talking," he continued, "turns out we were both fans. Ezra had the clothes...so we did it." Jackson tugged on his ear. "I'm thinking of keeping this."
Chris glared and raised an eyebrow. "Don't test me, Tubbs, I got too many clowns as it is with Switek and Zito, here." With the hand that held his beer, he gestured toward Buck and JD.
"I dunno, Chris," observed Dunne, "I think you’d make a much better Castillo than Rodriguez..."
"I * was * being Castillo." Larabee defended.
"Oh...uh, yeah, that’s what I meant," the kid replied vaguely. His brain scrambled to think of something to cover the mistake when Buck’s interruption saved him.
"What would you know about it anyway, JD? You woulda only been about 10-years-old when it was on."
Dunne shot his partner a ‘get a clue’ expression. "Cable reruns, hello? One of the stations ran a ‘Vice-a-thon’ just a couple weekends ago. But even without that," he added, pride puffing out the ‘S’ on his chest, "I’ll have you know I watched it from the pilot to the last episode."
"That’s ‘cuz you were too young to do anything * real* on a Friday night," teased Buck.
Vin unintentionally cut off any retort JD may have responded with. The distant look on Tanner’s face matched the ‘thinking out loud’ tone in his voice. "I missed most of the last season. Wasn’t there somethin’ about them not bein’ partners anymore, didn’t they have a fight, or somethin’? Whatever happened to those two?"
"They became the best of friends." Ezra replied as he raised his glass in toast, first to Nathan then the others.