ATF Alternate Universe
Rating: PG - little language
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fanfiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters and settings. I don't own the characters. This story is strictly for entertainment. No monetary gain will be made from it. (Yeah…like people would pay good money for this.)
Note: Comments and creative criticism greatly appreciated at: email@example.com
Not real sure where this came from. I was listening to the TBAA CD today…and this song just kind of hit me as being about Ezra. I guess he's always struck me as sort of the odd-man-out. So…I just kind of ran with it. It's nothing really…just some of what Cass calls…fluff. <g>
Ezra Standish sat at his desk completing some reports that he'd left unfinished the previous evening. He recognized the familiar friendly banter that wafted from the elevator immediately.
"C'mon, Buck…give me a break. I'm not fallin' for that one…again. I may be young…but I'm not stupid." JD Dunne took off his leather jacket and draped it over his desk chair. He picked up the rubber chicken that was on his desk and tossed it onto the desk that was butted up next to his.
"C'mon, kid…I need some help here. Just this once." Buck Wilmington picked up the rubber chicken and shoved it into his desk drawer.
"Nope." JD Dunne walked away from his best friend, shaking his head. He quietly took a seat in the chair by Standish's desk. "How ya doin', Ez?" JD casually fingered the stack of papers in Standish's in-tray.
"Quite well, Mr. Dunne. Yourself?"
"Oh…Buck's tryin' to get me in trouble. What else is new?" Dunne smiled…looking much younger than his twenty years.
"You'd best be careful, my young friend. I don't think Mr. Larabee was any too happy with your last prank."
"Yeah…that's what I told Buck…I'm not stupid enough to do that again." JD rolled his eyes toward his best friend, Wilmington.
"You are far from stupid, Mr. Dunne. Far from it."
JD grinned from ear to ear. "Thanks, Ez. Wish you'd tell the others that."
"Oh…I assure you, Mr. Dunne…the others do not think you are stupid…" Standish smiled…"…just…naive…perhaps." The boy was nothing…if not naive.
"Well…" JD fidgeted. "…I just prefer to see the…'good'…in everyone. That's not so bad…is it, Ez?"
"No, Mr. Dunne…not bad." Ezra clamped his hand on the young agent's shoulder. "Not bad at all, son."
Standish watched as the boy stood and walked back to his desk. JD was the only one of the team that always…'always'…gave him the benefit of a doubt. On several occasions, the others were quick to judge the Southerner.
JD always defended everyone…and no one more than Standish.
Of course, the others on the team rarely…if ever…needed defending. Standish was well known in the department for this unorthodox ways…his loner nature…his black-sheep status. All the topic of many hushed-tone water cooler and coffee break conversations. Standish knew that his team often doubted him…the department doubted him…the whole federal agency doubted him…but not JD.
The boy was loyal to a fault. He'd defend a friend to the death. He'd take on a friend…for another friend…and he'd even take on his 'hero'…if necessary.
And Standish was ashamed to admit that he was the reason the sweet boy had had to take on his hero…Chris Larabee…and fight him.
Ezra knew that it broke JD's heart to question Larabee. And it broke Ezra's heart to know that he was the cause of the boy's heartache.
But he would never forget what the boy had done for him.
And for that…he was grateful.
JD had…believed in him.
+ + + + + + +
"Everyone clear on their assignments?" Chris Larabee turned off the overhead projector and turned on the lights in the conference room. "Well, Chris…let me see…we're gonna take on…what???…half of the Colombian population…living in Denver, of course…and with what???…no back-up??? Oh yeah…I'm clear on my assignment. Just one thing…we gonna get measured for pine boxes before or after?"
"Cut the crap, Buck," Larabee snapped. "We've taken on worse than this in the past."
"Chris, I gotta ask," Josiah Sanchez piped in. "Any reason we're doing this 'solo'?"
"Yeah…good reasons, Josiah. Any other questions?" Chris asked.
"Well…you gonna answer Josiah or not, Chris?" Vin Tanner pushed the matter. "Sayin' you got reasons… ain't no reasons."
"Yeah, Chris. Why no back-up?" Nathan Jackson questioned.
"It would seem, Mr. Larabee…there is discord among the troops," Standish observed.
Larabee slammed his fist on the table. "Anybody else got a smart-ass remark to make?" Chris turned to face the only one that hadn't spoken yet…the team's youngest member, JD Dunne.
JD slid down in his chair, made uncomfortable by the dagger-glare he was receiving from his team leader. He swallowed hard as he started to speak. "Well…I…uh…"
"JD…if you can't put together an intelligent sentence then just forget it."
JD slumped further in his chair, choosing to look at the floor rather than face his hero, Larabee.
"Ain't no call for that, Chris," Tanner defended the boy. "Give 'im a chance, for Christ sake."
"OK…JD…" Chris called out. "What'cha want to say?"
"I…I just don't see why we're not having at least another team for back-up." JD turned away. "That's all. We've never done it this way before."
"No one else knows about this operation. Just us. And if anyone else 'finds out' about this operation...then my fears and assumptions will be true...and I'll move on from there." Larabee slapped his binder shut.
"What the hell ya talkin' 'bout, Chris?" Wilmington didn't like the way this conversation was heading. He knew Chris obviously had some doubts rolling around in his head.
"Look…if no one has any more questions…we're done here." Larabee headed out the door.
"Vin…you know what Chris is talkin' about?" Nathan asked. He figured if anyone would know, Larabee's best friend, Tanner, would know.
"I think Chris thinks there's a 'leak' on the team," Tanner said.
"That's crazy talk," Nathan scoffed.
"Try tellin' him that. He's got some crazy notion…and he's dead-set on provin' it…right or wrong," Vin explained.
"So…while he's doin' his 'proving'…we're out there on our own…with no back-up?" Buck seethed. "That's a buncha crap. I'm gonna go talk to him." Wilmington headed out of the conference room and made tracks towards Larabee's office.
The ensuing 'talk' could surely be heard on several floors of the federal building.
The others huddled around their desks outside the office. It was after the loud comment was made questioning whether Wilmington's birth was legitimate or not, that Dunne covered his ears with his hands.
Tanner walked over to the troubled boy's desk. "You OK, JD?"
JD just shook his head violently. "No…I'm not!"
Josiah came up behind the boy and rubbed his back. "It's OK, son. They're old friends. Friends fight…fact'a life."
JD turned his tear-filled eyes up to the giant-of-a-man. "No, Josiah. Friends don't fight…or at least…they shouldn't."
The slamming of Larabee's office door as Wilmington exited and stormed towards the elevator interrupted the conversation.
JD bolted after Wilmington. "Buck!!! Wait up!!!"
Buck waved the boy away. "Get away, JD. Ain't in the mood." Wilmington reached out to push the button for the elevator, but JD's small hand grabbed his arm.
Wilmington shook the boy's hand off. "Not now, kid. Just leave me be for a bit." The doors opened and Buck stepped on.
And he was gone.
And JD was left standing…by himself…looking at the floor…again.
Sanchez walked up and put his arm around the boy's slim shoulders. "C'mon, son. He's just mad at Chris…that's all." He pulled the boy into a tight embrace. "Got nothin' to do with you, son." He put his huge hand on the boy's head and stroked his hair, turning the youth back towards the others.
Josiah walked JD over to his desk and sat him down in his chair. "Just remember, JD…nothin' to do with you…OK?"
"…kay…" JD sniffed. "Chris is just talkin' crazy…right?" Dunne looked from one agent to the next. "I mean…about a leak…right?"
"Sure, kid." Tanner turned away from the others.
"Vin don't seem…very 'convinced'…Josiah…" JD watched as the team's sharpshooter headed off for another cup of coffee.
"Maybe he knows something we don't, son. He is Chris' best friend. Perhaps Chris has confided in him."
JD shook his head. "I can't believe Chris thinks one of us is a leak."
"Come now, gentlemen. Surely you don't think that Mr. Larabee suspects any of you…do you?" Standish asked.
"You heard him, Ez." JD turned his wide innocent eyes up to Standish. "He's thinks one of us is leaking information. He's trying to set us up."
"Yes, Mr. Dunne…'one' of us." Standish squatted next to JD's chair, placing his hands on the boy's knees. "Certainly you do not think Mr. Larabee is referring to you…do you, son?"
"Why not? I am a member of this team…'ya know," JD said indignantly. "Yes…an invaluable member…at that, Mr. Dunne. But…you…my dear boy…are above reproach. Surely you know that."
"Above reproach?" JD looked puzzled.
"Blameless, son," Josiah offered.
"Oh…how come?" JD asked.
"You are the most honest person I've ever know, Mr. Dunne," Ezra chuckled. "Not that I've known that many 'honest' people in my life…but I can recognize them."
"But…Chris…he thinks it's one of us…how…I mean…we're all agents…right?" JD stammered.
"Mr. Larabee thinks I am dishonest, son. He is hoping that I will 'leak' information on this bust to someone outside. He is trying to set me up."
"Oh, yes, Mr. Dunne. I assure you that is his plan. I hate to disappoint him…but I am really not leaking information. Not that I haven't been accused of doing it in the past…so I'm sure I would be his first choice."
"…no, Ez…you wouldn't do that…"
"Thank you, Mr. Du…JD…thank you, son."
The boy's faith in his friends was one of his most endearing qualities. And the fact that the boy included Standish in his circle of trusted friends touched the Southerner.
Standish had never had many friends…true friends. Nothing more than casual acquaintances throughout his school years. Nothing more than colleagues during his law enforcement career.
But never a true friend.
Never one that would defend his honor.
Not until JD.
It would just never occur to JD that Standish was dishonest. It was if the thought had never entered his mind until Standish himself brought it up.
Ezra was certain the others had heard the rumors that were circulating about him. He was certain that they'd formed their opinions about him. He was unsure if their opinions mirrored those of Larabee's or not.
But not JD.
He knew that JD was hurt by the thought that Larabee even questioned Standish's loyalty to the team. JD was a team player. You just don't do that to your own team.
Plain and simple.
JD never cheated…and neither did his friends.
And if anyone accused his friends of cheating…they were going to have to pay for it.
Standish looked up to see JD knocking on Larabee's closed door.
JD knocked again. "Chris???"
"C'mon in," came the voice from the other side of the closed door.
Oh…God…JD…don't do this, son!! He'll eat you alive!!!
Standish darted towards Larabee's office.
But he was too late.
JD had slipped inside and closed the door behind him.
+ + + + + + +
"Chris??? Can we talk…I mean…yeah…can we…talk?" JD stuttered.
"'Bout what, JD. I'm kinda busy here." Chris never really looked up at the boy. He was hoping that JD would take the hint and move on.
"JD…complete sentences…remember?" Larabee snapped.
The hurt tone in the boy's voice made Larabee 'remember'. Shouldn't have talked to the kid the way I did in there.
"Look, JD…I'm sorry 'bout before. I shouldn't have talked to you like that. Really…I'm sorry."
"No. It's really not." Larabee wished the boy wasn't always so forgiving. Kid needs to 'toughen up'.
"Look, Chris…I came to talk about Ezra," JD blurted out.
"Don't concern you, JD," Chris said simply.
"Why? He's part of the team…and I'm part of the team…right???" JD questioned.
"Still don't concern you, son."
"But it concerned Buck? Is that why you two got mad? And yelled loud enough for cars driving by on the street to hear 'ya?"
"You know Buck…" Chris started. "…he's a 'vocal' kind of guy."
"Yeah…and so are you. I heard what you called Buck. It wasn't very nice, Chris. You know how stuff like that hurts him. Did you mean to hurt Buck?"
"I thought you wanted to talk about Ezra?" Chris tried to change the subject.
"I thought I did, too. But maybe it's you I wanna talk about." JD couldn't believe he was going to say this…but…"I look up to you, Chris. At least…I…did…"
"Well…you're not being fair. To Ezra, I mean. You're just believing rumors. That's all they are."
"You seem to forget the man ran out on me once. He can't be trusted."
"Then why's he been on the team all this time, Chris?"
"Look, kid. We've got a big day tomorrow. You better go home and go to bed."
"I'm not some little kid, Chris. You can't just shut me up by sending me to bed."
"Yeah…well…maybe a three-day suspension would shut your little ass up…how 'bout that?"
"…fine…" Larabee repeated.
"…so…I'm suspended then?" JD's huge hazel eyes locked onto Larabee.
"Aw…hell with it. Get your ass outta here. We got a big day tomorrow."
JD slowly opened the door to leave. "Chris…you're wrong…'bout Ez. I just know it." And the boy was gone.
+ + + + + + +
The agents were all assembled in the federal building garage the next morning. Last minute preparations were made and gear was stowed in the vehicles.
"Glad to see you could make it, Buck," Chris said as he walked up behind Wilmington.
"Lucky I did," Buck snapped to his leader.
"What'd you do to the kid after I left, Chris?"
"What'cha mean…'what'd I do to the kid'…???"
"Kid's dead on his feet. Didn't sleep a wink. He was in some damn tizzy all night long." Buck never took his eyes off JD, who was about 20 feet away getting into his bulletproof vest and getting his radio wired up.
"So…you thinking he shouldn't go with us?" Chris worried. He was concerned for the boy's safety.
"You gonna tell 'im that? Then he'll think you've got him fingered as the leak," Buck seethed. "Just leave him to me. I'll take care of him. You just keep your distance from him…got it?" Wilmington pushed his finger into Larabee's chest and walked over to help JD finish getting ready.
"Got it." Larabee knew better than to challenge Wilmington before a big bust. The man's adrenaline was racing…and Buck's protective instincts for the kid were raging. Best to leave well enough alone…for now.
There'd be plenty of time to straighten things out after the bust.
+ + + + + + +
The bust went well. No leaks…no hits…no errors.
The agents were all huddled around outside the building, celebrating their victory in the fight against drugs, when Larabee started for his vehicle.
"Don't you have something to say, Chris?" JD asked.
"Well…don't you think you owe Ezra an apology?"
"I never accused Ezra of anything, JD."
"But nothing, JD. Let's all just go."
"…no…" JD whispered.
"What?" Larabee spun around to face the boy.
"…no…this isn't right…" the boy's voice was a little louder.
"C'mon, kid. We've got reports to write." Chris headed for his truck again.
"NO!!" JD screamed.
Buck grabbed JD's arm and swung him around. "JD…calm down, kid."
"NO! Everybody else on this team gets to yell…why not me???!!!"
Buck let the boy go. JD charged up to Larabee, who stood a good head taller than him. "Right??? I can yell…if I want…right???"
"Go for it, kid," Larabee smiled. Maybe the kid's gonna toughen up…after all.
"You owe Ezra an apology. You're always thinking the worst about him. That's not right. He's proven himself time and time again to you. What's it take to make you trust him?"
"Well…I guess it's gonna take just one more time, kid. And one more time after that…and one more time after that."
"…So…what??? You're never gonna trust him? That's bullshit, Chris…and you know it."
"You asked me what it would take…and I told you."
"What about Vin? You trust him…he left us one time, too…'ya know." JD turned apologetic eyes to Tanner…but Tanner knew where the kid was going with it…and smiled back at him.
Larabee never said a word.
"Right, Chris.? Didn't you tell Vin one time that you needed to know you could count on him?"
"But he's OK…and Ezra's not…right?"
"No…you look, Chris…Ezra's not a dirty cop. It's people like you…who doubt him…and don't realize what a good cop he is…that keep those rumors going."
"…JD…" Buck tried to grab the kid again, but the boy wiggled away.
Dunne threw Buck's words back at him…"Buck…I ain't in the mood. Just let me be…OK???" and the boy stalked off and climbed into Chris' truck.
"Well…that went well," Standish smiled.
"I'll go get him…he can ride with me." Tanner made his way towards Chris' truck.
"No, Vin…he'll ride with me," Chris smiled, looking at the other agents. "Don't worry…I ain't gonna kill 'im."
"Yeah…well…I'm checkin' him over when we get back to the office, Chris…and he better still have everything he was born with," Buck grinned.
Chris got in his truck and started the ignition. He turned and smiled at JD. "So…anything else you wanna say while you're on a roll?"
"Yeah…that time your air bag exploded…and all that glitter stuff came out??? That was me."
"Uh-huh," Chris grinned. "Figured that. I was getting that stuff outta my hair for three days, you know."
"Yeah…well…just so you know. Buck didn't do it."
"I know that."
"Buck ratted you out…the day after it happened."
"Boy…some friend he is…"
"Yeah. You gotta be careful about who you pick for your friends, kid," Chris teased.
"I'm good at pickin' friends."
"Yeah, kid…I'd say you are."
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org