Main Characters: JD, Chris, (all feature), Orin Travis
Summary: Complaints against Team Seven? Surely not.
Thanks to Mog for ATF
My thanks to Blackraptor for generously giving my stories a home.
In memory of Robert Vaughn - November 22, 1932 – November 11, 2016
Inside his and Buck's apartment, JD stood leaning against the bathroom doorframe as he watched Buck eyeing himself in the mirror. The youngster bit back a laugh while the big guy primped and preened, finishing with a waggle of his eyebrows. On hearing a chuckle, Buck's focus in the mirror switched to JD.
"Man, you think you're cute, huh?"
Buck winked at his roommate. "No Kid, you're cute, I'm devilishly handsome."
JD actually laughed. "Yeah, yeah, Buck, you keep telling yourself that." Together, they walked into the living room, where Nathan looked up from his seat on the sofa. As his Chevy was in the shop, Buck had asked Nathan to pick them up that morning.
"Are you guys ready, now?"
JD thumbed toward Buck. "I've been ready for a half hour; it's mister 'I'm devilishly handsome' that's taking his sweet time," he insisted.
Buck swiped at the youth's head but JD ducked. "Jealousy will get you nowhere, Kid."
"Actually, big brother, it was sarcasm, but if it gets you moving, I'll take whatever I can get."
Nathan sighed, "Chris is gonna be mad if we're late."
"Chris is always mad." Buck turned to his roommate and stared at JD. "You're going on a bust dressed like that?"
JD looked himself up and down. "Sure, why, what's wrong?"
"You can't wear tight jeans on a bust, JD," Nathan scolded. "You need pockets...lots of pockets, and plenty of room to...move, if you know what I mean."
"But I'll be in the van. I'll have my stuff there."
"Go change," Buck insisted.
JD stared back at the two men. Nathan stood.
"For the love of God, JD…go change we're gonna be late."
"You're in the van, yeah, we know," the pair chorused. "Go change!"
As a mumbling JD stomped off, Nathan's cell rang. He looked at the ID and initially held the phone away from him as if it were about to explode. With Buck waving the phone away, Nathan figured he should take the call. He took in a breath and then exhaled before answering.
"Hey Chris. Yeah. Yeah. Uh…here's Buck." Ignoring Buck's silent refusal, he hastily handed over the phone.
"Hey there, Stud."
"Where the hell are you? There's a briefing in twenty minutes. Get your butts here, now."
"We're on our way." Buck lowered his voice. "It's the Kid…he's a little hyper this morning, y'know?"
"Wilmington...quit blaming JD, and MOVE!"
Buck pulled the phone away from his ear at the rant. Dead air followed, and Buck grinned at Nathan. "It's all good."
"Yeah?" JD said as he walked back into the room, "that'll be a first."
Buck noted Nathan eye JD's cargo pants approvingly, and once again he bobbed his eyebrows. "Yup, and the day is still young."
JD headed quickly for the door. "Yeah, and you're so old!"
Nathan watched the two jog off out through the door, and sighed.
"G-r-e-a-t now they hurry."
Inside the surveillance van, JD yawned. He and his teammates were in position over three hours ago, and the deadline for the meet had passed. The cameras were recording nothing more than still life, and the comm was eerily silent. Suddenly Vin's voice crackled over the airwaves.
"This is a snow job."
"Patience, gentlemen," Ezra soothed, "Rome wasn't built in a day."
"I sure as hell ain't waiting that long," Buck chimed in. "I reckon Vin's right, we're pissing in the wind, here."
"You thinking it's a setup too, Buck?" Josiah asked.
Buck huffed. "Uh, is a frog's ass watertight?"
JD's voice caught everyone's attention as strange sounds came through their earpieces, followed by a mix of coughing and laughing before he choked out, "Sorry, guys…snorted soda."
"JD…settle down," Chris admonished. "All of you, unless it's something useful to the bust, shut up…you're working my last nerve."
"Hey," Buck chirruped, "Chris still has a nerve…go figure."
"Buck! Ezra, are you okay in there?"
"Perfectly well, thank you, Chris," the southerner replied.
Chris shook his head, "A simple yes or no will do."
Despite the gravity of the situation, JD loved to hear his teammates like this. He knew it was all show, a way of coping with the building adrenaline, plus, it made him feel less isolated. JD's fingers touched his earpiece when a sound caught his attention. He checked his monitors. "Stand by," JD said, softly.
Something wasn't right.
JD was still scanning the monitors when the sliding door to the van suddenly flew back and two men jumped in.
Despite the unexpectedness of the attack, JD noticed the monitors coming to life and managed to call out a warning.
Already on alert from JD's notification, the team heard the commotion in the van and was about to break cover to go to their youngest's aid when JD's voice rasped over the airwaves.
"It's a diversion. The bust's on guys… it's on now. GO, GO, GO!"
Armed gunmen swarmed in on Ezra's position, prompting the sited team to swing into their plan of action. Ringing in their earpieces was JD's own struggle. Chris called in the waiting backup, and directed assistance to the surveillance van.
Vin's Remington barked out, aiding one DPD officer to be released from the headlock the now injured perp once held him in. Having moved to Ezra's vulnerable location, Josiah, Buck, and Nathan were engaged in hand-to-hand combat, each man grateful for the strict daily training regime they followed.
Chris provided backup wherever needed, calling to each of his team by name as he confirmed their statuses. With some of his men fighting hand to hand, and the background struggle inside the van playing in his ear, Chris's one remaining nerve finally snapped, taking his adrenaline rush up a whole other level, so when Control insisted they send in a waiting SWAT team, Larabee refused their assistance. This was already too complicated.
JD had no doubt he needed to fight as if for his life, and despite having the initial disadvantage, he was holding his own - although full on attack kicks were not easy to perform inside a confined space full of expensive equipment. JD couldn't help but cry out when he felt a bone in his forearm snap under the weight of something heavy slamming into it. However, the moment DPD officers stormed into the van and arrested his assailants, JD didn't hesitate to jump out and seek out his teammates.
Josiah's fury on observing a DPD officer have his head slammed into a support post provoked him into a need to stride up to the gunman and hold the man in a tight, rib-cracking embrace until the injured officer was helped to safety and the goon could be cuffed.
A gunman fired at Ezra, forcing the southerner to drop and roll. His move was successful, and allowed time to release a spring-loader in his jacket sleeve, which dispatched a Derringer into his hand just in time for him to shoot and hit his armed attacker.
Buck's fight took him and his combatant into the yard. He had the upper hand, but what Buck didn't know, was of the gun aimed at him by a man hidden behind a vehicle. It came to light when JD suddenly appeared and sprinted across the expanse of concrete to tackle the guy a millisecond after Vin's rifle fired. Hearing JD cry out as he disappeared behind the car, Buck threw the 'killer' punch at his assailant, rolled and cuffed him, and then tore off to find JD.
Buck knew JD was alive because he could hear him cussing out whatever injury he'd suffered. All the while, Tanner's urgent voice in their ears prompted JD to confirm that Vin's shot took out the goon and not him. Buck could see when he got to JD that the boy sitting on the ground was supporting an arm, and his head was bloodied. The gunman struck by Vin's bullet was nearby and rolling around on the floor in agony. Buck reconfirmed the hit to further ease Vin's concerns, and then moved to kick away the perp's gun. Buck intended to step over the guy to get to JD. Smiling wryly, and figuring a little more pain wouldn't do the jerkass any serious harm, Buck accidentally stepped on his back, causing the man to squeak out.
"Ooh, sorry about that, pal."
Nathan was finally able to stand up and assess the situation. He could see all but Buck, JD, and Vin, which was soon rectified, in part, when Buck waved him to his and JD's position. On approach, Nathan made an informed appraisal, and deemed JD's head injury to be in most urgent need of attention.
Chris didn't flinch when Tanner's feet suddenly thumped onto the ground next to him. The pair exchanged scrutinizing looks, and nodded their approval at no evident injuries, before moving to help round up the defeated criminals and check on their teammates. Within the hour, most of the team was heading to a debriefing, while JD, accompanied by Buck, set off to be treated at the hospital.
Two weeks later, Team Seven found themselves sitting in a briefing room, and not alone. AD Travis glanced at attending administrators seated at one end of a large table, and then read to the gathered team from a folder in front of him. "Before me, I have a listing of complaints made against Team Seven from your last assignment." He looked to Chris. "Let's start with you."
Travis looked over the top of his glasses at the team leader. "Special Agent Larabee. Failure to allow the attendance of a SWAT team against advice."
Chris shrugged. "We already had backup, and several of my team were wrestling one-on-one with gunrunners. No way was I allowing a SWAT team to storm in and cause more confusion and mayhem, and possibly put those under my command in more danger."
Orin's gaze lingered on Chris before switching to Vin. "Agent Tanner. Firing a high-powered rifle at a target within inches of a police commander's head."
Tanner barely raised an eyebrow. "The officer was in a chokehold with a gun to his head…I shot the bastard threatenin' him."
Travis gave a little cough before turning his attention to Josiah. "Agent Sanchez. The use of excessive, physical force on a perpetrator, causing broken ribs."
Josiah nodded his agreement. "The man brutally attacked an officer, despite said officer complying with the ultimatum given him, and disarming. The suspect was the one who used excessive and unnecessary force first. I simply contained him in a clinch hold until he could be arrested."
Orin glanced across at the unimpressed administrators before addressing Ezra. "Agent Standish. Discharge of an unregistered weapon, causing a serious knee injury to one of the suspects."
Ezra appeared unconcerned. "While on the aforementioned assignment, and with the full knowledge and approval of my team leader, I secreted about my person, a fully licensed, small caliber weapon. It was discharged due to said perpetrator firing on me."
Travis made a strange noise and quickly cleared his throat. "Agent Jackson," Orin read, "the complaint against you is that you treated an injury to one of your teammates before that of a criminal. You failed to observe 'priority of life'."
Nathan nodded. "Correct on not treating the criminal first. One of my teammates was hurt and bleeding. While the injured gunman was rolling on the floor and making plenty of noise doing so, Agent Dunne's responsiveness was deteriorating due to a head injury, and so he became my priority until the paramedics arrived."
Buck sat up straight when Travis looked his way. He knew what was coming. "Agent Wilmington, you are reported to have attacked the injured perpetrator that Agent Tanner shot, and who Agent Jackson reprioritized, insensitively, and without provocation."
Buck tilted his head. "Y-e-a-h, I can see why it looked that way but, in my haste to reach my injured teammate I unfortunately stumbled over the guy rolling around on the floor and my boot landed on his back."
The corner of Orin's mouth twitched in a smile and he coughed harder to suppress it. "Of course." He looked to JD. "John Dunne. A complaint has been filed which states that, not only did you obtain Intel for the assignment illegally, but that your actions at the scene, while possibly saving a fellow teammate's life, resulted however in an extra injury to yourself and prompted two of your partners to allegedly break protocol to assist you."
"Oh, yessir, absolutely." His teammates stifled laughs as JD cradled his strapped arm and nodded enthusiastically.
"When I stumbled out of the surveillance van, after a fair old butt kicking from two of the gunrunners, I can tell you, I observed one of the suspects preparing to shoot Agent Wilmington, so sure, I broke cover." His expression turned more serious.
"As for the way I obtain information for a bust; when one of my teammates goes undercover, I want as much Intel as I can to assist him, and I never technically break the law to do so…or compromise the Bureau to obtain it. When I perform background searches, I leave absolutely no trail, so, with that in mind, I strongly suggest any complaint that I hacked for information is speculation." Despite his outer boldness, inside, JD's heart thumped hard against his ribcage, and his throat was sandpaper dry.
Travis checked through his paperwork, and then turned to one administrator. "Is there irrefutable evidence to show Agent Dunne hacked for information?"
After a pause, the man shifted awkwardly. "No sir, not as such."
Travis jotted something down in a small notebook and looked at five of the agents. "Gentlemen, you are dismissed. Chris, JD, if you could remain a little longer, please."
Josiah, Vin, Ezra, Nathan, and Buck stood and, with quick glances to Chris and JD, left the briefing room.
Chris's body language as he remained seated in the room articulated more than words ever could. The restless team leader stood, and with his weight balanced on one hip, and arms folded tight across his chest, he stared at a giant monitor while JD pulled up the requested, recorded dialogue for their last bust. The powers that be who were visiting, accompanied by AD Travis, required script only, so every word spoken, and by whom, was being relayed in libretto via the screen.
One visitor's nod caught Chris's eye. He turned to challenge him.
"A distinct lack of protocol."
JD and Chris exchanged glances. "Protocol, sir?" JD asked.
"Why are there no call signs?" One female asked.
Chris shifted hips, lowered his arms, and narrowed his eyes. "Is that what this is about? That my team and I choose to use our first names instead of call signs?"
"Choose?" Another woman asked. "Did I miss a meeting on modus operandi? I don't recall options being authorized at any given time, Special Agent Larabee."
Moving to JD's side, Chris set both palms down on the desktop next to JD's IPad, and leaned in. "And did I miss a field operation where yourself, or any of you here came out with us to witness the need for clear, speedy communication? Our lives can depend on a split-second notification, whether from JD in surveillance, or an agent currently in the field. I dispensed with call signs after our second op. We're not military, and we're not patrol units. I don't want my team worrying about remembering tags when we all respond instantly to our own names."
"Are you admitting to a breakdown in your team's efficiency, Agent Larabee? Rules are there for a purpose," another man pushed.
"And I say, sir, that you're nit-picking. We have no operational issues, I simply decided to disregard antiquated regulations. We get the job done, and well, which is why we're here. Surely that's more important." Chris straightened. "I only wish I had the same amount of time on my hands afforded to you, so that I too could do some mindless, inconsequential carping."
When indignant cries went out, Travis stood and turned to the visiting administrators. "Enough! Despite my misgivings as to the pertinence of this particular subject matter, I agreed to this meeting because I hoped visiting with field agents might open your eyes to more than the comfort of the four walls of your carpeted offices. Now, having listened to both sides, I concur with Agent Larabee. The men of Team Seven are far and above my most successful agents, despite their frequent assignments to the Bureau's most demanding cases." He nodded to Chris and JD.
"Safety is paramount, and if this team operates more efficiently without tags, I will personally approach the Director to secure its continued practice. Of course, we could put this to bed right here and now, if you have a mind to close the enquiry."
The bureaucrats huddled together, deliberated, and then quietly passed on their decision to Travis.
"Thank you. I will contact your superior forthwith to advise her of our conclusions. I will also be reminding her that Team Seven was formed for the specific purpose of working on the more difficult cases, and to think, and operate, outside the box. As there are no consequences due to their actions, and the case in question was successfully concluded, I see nothing here to take these grievances further."
He banged his fist down on the tabletop.
"Complaints rejected." His eyes twinkled as he acknowledged Chris and JD. "Special Agent Larabee, I thank you and your team for your time." He smiled. "Good work, Chris."
Larabee returned to the bullpen alone. He noted the questioning looks from the seated agents. "JD's packing up."
"And the inquest?" Buck pushed.
Chris smirked at them. "What inquest?" He entered his office, closed the door, and punched the high back of his leather chair, causing the chair to spin. Chris took a deep, cleansing breath. "Freaking, whining, pen-pushers."
Feeling more composed, Chris opened the door again. He nodded to JD as he rejoined the team, and then grinned at his six friends.
Five men stood and six voices answered unanimously. "Saloon."
All eyes were on Chris as the agents waited for him to continue.
"…Boys, I just wanted to say...I'm proud of you all." He gestured to his office. "There's something I need to finish up. Go on ahead, I'll meet y'all over there." With those words, their team leader re-entered his office and once again closed the door.
The six men looked at each other, all a little overawed by Chris's praise. Despite them knowing he was pleased with their efforts, he rarely voiced it. With glances and smiles, they made their way out of the office.
"You got thirty minutes, Cowboy!" Vin called back.
Chris laughed softly at the remark and then sat back in his seat. His mind filled with the images of close calls, heavy gunfire, and hand to hand combat; situations those accusatory bureaucrats could never even imagine. He looked toward the closing bullpen door, and then to the paperwork on his desk. Opening a drawer, he 'filed' the folder for another day, stood, and went to get his jacket off the coat hook.
Damn straight he was proud of those boys, and before he jogged after them to catch the ride down to the parking garage, he made a vow there and then to make certain he told his team…his friends…more often.