Chris Larabee joined his long time friend and leader of Team 8 Ryan Kelly.
"Ryan," Chris spoke quietly sliding up beside his friend. Ryan and Chris stood side by side facing Jeff Graham. The two ATF leaders presented a formidable presence. Though neither man held the physical size nor strength of Josiah or Buck both men held an air of authority. They stood shoulder to shoulder a few feet apart, just enough to make two distinct targets. The two agents together had enough of a presence to intimidate most men.
Jeff Graham was not most men. He had taken lives, taken chances and taken many gambles. These two men before him, intense and formidable, yes, but not unstoppable. They were human, therefore they would fall and bleed. They could be killed. Graham did not have to adhere to rules or regulations, he did not have to answer to a higher authority and did not have to explain his actions. He only had to answer to himself. His life and only his life was paramount. Because of this single driving force, this simple goal, he would not lose, never fall. Jeff Graham watched out for himself and would do and had done just about anything in his power to ensure his own safety. He would kill the ATF agent in his grip and anyone who stood between him and freedom. He would not hesitate to take a life. He knew that to be his ace in the whole, his trump card. These ATF agents would shoot to kill but first they would try to talk him down, talk him out of his gun. They would feed him false reassurances and make empty promises. It would buy him time.
Graham would play the game. They would drop their guard and then he would strike. He would hit them hard, fast and deadly. His men would cover his escape and maybe fall to protect him. There deaths meant very little him. He paid them to take risks to protect his life. They had better or he would come back to hunt them down and kill them whether he was dead or not.
"You bring your boys?" Ryan asked. He had seen no sign of team 7 except for Larabee. Kelly was not surprised. Team 7 was almost as good his men, not quite but with a little time and a little more coaching they would improve. Team seven might have had a better success record, that meant nothing. They did not have the suave tact as team 8. They were fledglings with a lucky streak.
"They're here." Larabee intoned never deviating his eyes from the arms dealer and captive agent in front of them. Chris, Buck and Ryan had a history together. Ryan ran a good unit they just needed a little more experience. Kelly surrounded himself with good men, not as skilled as Chris's boys but Ryan's did their jobs.
Douglas for his part seemed almost bored. He was Josiah's size with Buck's attitude toward life. A giant clown with an ego to match Standish. Chris chuckled. Graham could not have picked worse hostage.
Douglas was a pain in the ass, much like Wilmington and Standish. Larabee silently thanked the Judge for letting Kelly have Douglas on team 8. Chris could only take the man in short bursts. He had Buck's running mouth and Standish's cockiness. Larabee felt positive that if Stone had been placed under his command, Chris would have gone home by now to teach Graham a lesson about taking hostages.
"You ever consider letting Graham have Douglas?" Larabee asked just loud enough for all three men present to hear. Douglas Stone's brown eyes widened slightly and a wise smirk creased his stubbled features. Stone knew he could handle the gun dealer who had him in a neck hold. His team just needed the practice. Well not as much as Team seven but still it was good to run through certain scenarios. Stone did not need Larabee's or his team of misfits offer of help.
Graham's eyes narrowed.
"Yup." Ryan answered a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Larabee could be an ass sometimes but he was good and his team trustworthy.
"You bring those two drunk cowboys of yours?" Kelly inquired returning the slight barb. Ryan Kelly protected his men as closely as Chris did his team. Soft chuckles and two distinct groans echoed around assorted headphones.
"Yup, figure Tanner has a bead on Grahams head by now." Larabee answered again loud enough for the threesome to hear.
The other two teams listened to the exchange over their headsets. Vin took his cue. Graham must be wearing a vest. Damn criminals were better protected than the law. He raised his gun sights and took site on the smaller more moveable target. The head. He would have preferred the torso or abdomen but Agent Stone was an effective shield.
"You want to negotiate?" Ryan asked again the little group clearly heard the words. He knew the answer to the question before he asked it. He needed to signal the teams, things would not wait any longer.
Scattered around the area the other ATF agents heard the off hand conversation. There was no excitement no tension. Larabee and Kelly might as well have been discussing what they watched on Television last night.
Josiah peered at Nathan. Jackson appeared better this morning. He had not slept well that was evident in the dark circles under his brown eyes. The confidence was back. Sanchez breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe sending Ezra after Vin was a good idea in the long run. Nathan appeared better for it. Ezra seemed a little shaky though.
Negotiate? Josiah and Nathan knew the answer to that and rechecked their weapons.
Buck nudged JD. The younger agent merely nodded understanding what was about to happen. Dunne loved this sensation. His heart beat a mile a minute, his pulse roared, he felt he could run a marathon and never get winded. Things seemed to slow down his body ached to move, he wanted action. His hands as always remained steady. The rush was almost euphoric.
JD did not think he ever heard Chris use the term Negotiate. Dunne knew he would get to move soon.
Standish leaned tight against the wall in the warehouse just inside the open doors. He saw no one in the vehicle. Buck and JD had a clear view of him from their vantage point. Negotiate?, awww hell, Gangis Kahn was more open to negations than Chris Larabee.
Vin took a breath and let half it out then paused. He focused only on his sites. Negotiate? It was time.
"Nope." Chris answered Ryan's seemingly benign question with determined vehemence.
Jeff Graham reacted first. He knew the reputations of the two men in front of him. It always paid to know ones enemy. There would be no negotiations, no wasted pleadings for a life. Graham cinched his arm tighter around Douglas's neck, he leveled his gun at Larabee and stepped to the side. Less than a second had elapsed.
Vin fired. His target moved. The shot went wide furrowing across Graham's hairline but doing little more than burn the skin. Douglas landed a solid back elbow into the arm dealer's midsection. The vest protected the criminal from suffering from the blow, but the force was enough to knock him back a step.
Gun fire erupted as the first shot rang out. Team 7 and Team 8 waited a brief second as the hidden henchmen made their presence known.
Larabee and Kelly fell to the ground laying down suppressing fire covering Douglas's hasty retreat to safety.
Nathan and Josiah focused on two individuals to their right.
Buck and JD found themselves preoccupied by three gunman diagonal from them and high to their right. They threesome lay belly flat on top of a cargo trailer. Standish was still within their sight and very much within their realm of protection.
Tanner's second shot hit Graham solid in the vest. The arms dealer was brutally thrown backward his legs kicking in the air. He fell to the ground in an unconscious heap.
Standish first shot the front tire out of the SUV, disabling it and then turned his attention on Graham. The arms dealer lay only a few yards from him pistol in hand. He, by no means, out of the picture. Standish diverted his attention to the sudden appearance of a target behind a row of boxes. A shot rang out embedding itself in the thin sheet metal by Standish's face. The undercover agent dropped to his knees and fired at the assailant behind the crates.
Vin kept his sites aimed on Graham as his blue eyes scanned the area. Buck and JD fired keeping their targets effectively pinned.
After a few minutes with the sharp poignant sting of gunpowder in the air. The firing had come to a halt. The area had become suddenly quiet. Voices began to sound off over the head pieces as the agents checked in their status. Then a screamed warning a pause and two rapidly fired shots rang out crashing down on the sudden silence.
From his vantage point Tanner watched as Buck and JD had successfully subdued their adversaries. In fact Buck was hollering obscenities at them as JD collected their discarded weapons. Wilmington covered them, threatening them with miserable painful deaths should they try and pull anything stupid. Tanner smiled. Buck sometimes made a graphic point. At the sharp report of two gunshots the joviality fell from their faces.
Tanner noticed Josiah and Nathan. Josiah was kneeling on the small of one man's back while Nathan cuffed the other individual. Ryan was gathering his team and talking to Douglas. Everyone's head snapped up.
What the hell happened?
Tanner searched for Larabee and Standish.
Chris had watched Standish's line of fire. Ezra had someone pinned down behind some moving crates. In the space between those two was the unconscious form of Graham. Larabee jockeyed for a better vantage point hoping to help his agent.
Then movement just to the outside of Standish line of sight caught Chris's attention. Someone leveled a gun and took aim at the southerner. Without thinking, with only an inarticulate scream of warning Larabee took off sprinting for all his worth.
He covered the few yards of open ground in a mad full out sprint. He dove arms wide.
Ezra did not see Larabee until Chris was air born. Standish one moment was kneeling down on one knee firing. The next moment Larabee was flying through the air his mouth open screaming something. Then the vested shoulder careened into the exposed jaw and both men slammed into the concrete flooring. Larabee came up gun in hand.
He fired two quick shots and the body guard fell dead on the ground only a few yards from Buck and JD.
No one moved for a moment.
Chris held his position kneeling low beside Standish. His hazel eyes never wandered to his listlessly moving undercover agent. Instead he waited for movement from his target. Nothing.
Then an awed voice sounded over the headphones, "Nice shootin' pard'." It was Buck.
Vin nodded from his position, Chris made a tough angle look easy. That was a one in a million definitely a low percentage shot. Buck and JD held much better positions for the shot.
Chris knew this as well as the rest of his team, "Shut up Vin," Larabee answered the unspoken musings of his sharpshooter.
Josiah's baritone laugh echoed over the small headsets. Nathan tried to hide his smile as he and Sanchez pushed their two captives forward.
Buck and JD deposited their prisoners with Team 8 and headed over to the outside entrance of the warehouse. Josiah and Nathan jogged to catch up.
"Jes' hold still," Larabee commanded as Standish began to move with more vigor. He bicycled his legs and tried to roll over onto his stomach. Something pinned one of his shoulders and a someone was barking orders at him.
Chris had removed his head piece and was trying to work the tiny headphones from Standish's head. The southerner began to move in earnest.
The other five men came in just as Larabee tried to wrestle his agent still.
Nathan dropped down beside Chris and asked, "He lose consciousness at all?"
"No, not really just really sluggish for a moment or too," Larabee explained as he tried to hold the owl eyed man still. "though it seems the light switch kicked back on."
Jackson grabbed the southerner's jaw and held it still. The pupils were still equal but the eyes fought to focus.
"Ezra you hear me?" Jackson asked loudly.
"I'm all right, go away," Standish mumbled out struggling gamely to sit up.
Jackson merely shrugged at Larabee and both men eased the undercover agent into a sitting position.
The spinning increased, Standish groaned.
"Next time Mr. Larabee a little more warnin' would be nice," Ezra drawled out hoping he sounded better than he felt.
Chris patted Standish's shoulder and straightened out, "I would've Ez, but..."
Josiah finished the statement for him, "There was no time," his short fragmented phrase settled heavily in the room.
Chris stared from Vin to Nathan then back to Vin. The weeks arguments suddenly hit home.
"Damn Ez, you're lucky someone saw him, he had ya dead to sites," Dunne spoke quietly finally observing the position of the gunman and southerner. There was no way Chris or Ezra should have been able to make that shot. The dead man had time to aim and take his shot. He could have killed Ezra if Chris had not interfered.
"I didn't see'im," Standish droned out not bothering raising his eyes. The undo movement might be to much for a fickle stomach. He rubbed absently at the back of his head.
"He has eyes in the front of his head JD not the sides," Nathan pointed out pressing his fingers experimentally on Standish's scalp. The undercover agent yelped and shied away when the back of his head was touched.
Chris furrowed his brow, "Quit clowning around Ez, I hit ya from the side." Larabee could not figure out what the gambler was trying to finagle, "Back of your head was spared."
"Yeah well tell it to my head, cuz it hurts," Standish mumbled out rubbing his jaw where Larabee's vested shoulder connected.
"Think you can stand?" Nathan asked.
"He tackled me Mr. Jackson, he didn't shoot me," Standish answered slightly annoyed.
Nathan and Chris exchanged glances and together hauled the undercover agent to his feet. His knees immediately buckled forcing Larabee and Jackson to tighten their grips.
"Whoa Ez, maybe ya should sit down," Vin said watching the color drain from the southerner's face.
"No jus' give me a minute," Ezra whispered out the spinning and tilting world eventually slowly to uneven gyrations. The others waited patiently while the undercover agent regained his 'sea'legs.
The seven men slowly left the front warehouse and headed toward the growing knot of men. Local DPD had arrived, as well as ambulances and the coroner. Only one fatality, the desperate soul who fell to Chris's one in a million shot.
"You wanna go get checked out?" Nathan asked.
"No," Ezra answered in no uncertain terms. He had no intentions of falling into the hands of the medical profession.
Team 8 booed and hissed the members of Team seven good naturedly as the seven men walked by their little group.
JD waved back in a manner that could only be described as cocky while Buck and Vin flipped them the finger the sly smirks easily visible on smug features.
Josiah's deep voice cut above all the din, "Brothers, next time your necks need saving you all jus' call us again."
This earned a whoop from Vin. Buck and JD high fived one another and Chris laughed outloud.
Nathan chuckled tightening his grip on the weaving Standish.
Chris and Ryan silently acknowledged one another and nods of 'thanks' were exchanged.
+ + + + + + +
An hour later team seven was back at their office. No one was interested in doing work. They were still riding the high of the bust. Chris let it go for now, in an hour or so he would tighten the reins again and pull them back into line. Until then, he would let JD expound on his expert marksmanship skill while Buck tried to shoot baskets backward from his office chair, not listening to JD.
Josiah sipped coffee but his feet tapped energetically against the leg of his desk. Nathan flipped through the bound portfolio with more interest than he had yesterday. Standish sat as he desk with his head buried in his arms. Vin flicked little balls of aluminum foil into the southerner's coffee from his desk with a pencil. Chris mused how the marksman could eat so many candy kisses in one sitting.
Larabee still had the discipline issue to deal with as a result of yesterday.
Chris understood Vin's lack of time spurred his seemingly reckless actions during the previous bust. Still Larabee could not ignore yesterdays over indulgence at the saloon. Vin and Ezra were in a heap of trouble. Though watching Standish now, it would seem the southerner was paying dues on yesterdays foray into the depths of a whiskey retreat.
Larabee's gaze fell to Nathan. The man seemed different, more at ease than he had for the past few days. Larabee had noticed it but had not stepped forward to ask what was bothering the gifted agent. Whatever had been eating at him must have been solved. Jackson's confidence and self assured attitude seemed back in place.
Chris stood in his doorway. "Nathan," he called out. He watched as Jackson's head snapped up recognized he had been summoned. The Chemist quietly gained his feet and weaved between the desks. He knocked Buck's 'three point shot' out of the air and crossed the floor to Chris.
Larabee did not fail to notice Josiah's scrutinizing gaze.
"Nathan everything all right?" Larabee asked. It had never occured to him that Jackson might have assumed some responsibility for the friction between Vin and Chris. Larabee scrutinized his agent searching for any sign of self doubt or self incrimination. Chris in no way blamed Nathan for Vin's actions or for the arguments that punctuated the last few days. Yet Josiah's watchful gaze indicated some concern. The leader of the seven needed to know if he had to repair any damage Vin and his fighting might have created. Jackson might be a keystone in the group but even the steadfast ones could waver. Larabee did not want to lose one of his best and most stable agents to harmful, scrutinizing, second guessing.
This took Jackson by surprise. Had Chris asked that question less than 18 hours ago the answer would have been a definite 'No' and a letter of resignation may have followed in its foot steps.
A smile lit the medics face."Yeah Chris everything's fine," he answered truthfully.
The leader scrutinized him for a brief moment. He nodded in acceptable agreement. Of all the seven, Chris believed, Nathan was the stable one, secure and confident in his job. Jackson took what he did seriously and excelled at it. He had nothing to prove to the others or to Chris and for that Larabee was grateful.
Larabee nodded silently accepting the answer.
Chris changed subjects. "He ok?" He tilted his head in the direction of Standish.
Nathan furrowed his brow and stared at the southerner who sat hunched over his desk. "'Sides from a hangover an' a slight concussion he should be fine," Jackson gave his best observations.
"Concussion?" Chris paused and continued, " I didn't think I hit'im that hard," Larabee furrowed his brow slightly.
"Ya didn't, but you tacklin' him sure didn't help it any," Jackson answered and then asked, "That all?"
Larabee nodded dismissively trying to untangle Jackson's meaning. Maybe, Chris mused, Josiah and Ezra already broached the subject with Jackson.
Chris sat in his office mulling over the predicament with Standish and Tanner. Disciplinary action had to be taken against those two. He could not let this go. It would effect the whole team no matter what he did. Ignore it and then every time one of them disagreed with Chris or a decision he made they would deem it all right to walk out and get drunk. He had to nip this at the roots. Chris had no problems with the others not liking his decisions and would even listen to their ideas and suggestions. He accepted that as part success of the team. However, when Vin left with Standish close on his heels to the saloon, they took their little leeway and created a new ball field. Chris would not and could not allow anyone to play in that furrowed ground. It was dangerous and undermined his authority. If he did nothing Chris would be condoning Vin's actions.
He had to make an example of them. He despised office politics and being forced into the political game. Chris reached a decision. He pushed himself from his desk and walked onto the bull pen floor.
"Everyone in the conference room," his tone held no humor. Buck and JD stopped playing one on one basketball. Vin pushed himself away from his desk sighing. He knew it was time to pay the piper. Nathan looked toward the restroom but Sanchez gently shoved him in the direction of the others. Josiah walked a the six feet to the 'Mens Room' and pushed open the door peaking his head inside. He did not bother entering the small grey tiled room.
"Chris wants us in the conference room," he said letting the door go muffling the retching and the moan.
Josiah joined the others at the conference table. He took his customary seat next to Nathan.
"Where's Ezra?" Chris had no intentions of waiting on anyone. This had been gnawing a hole in his gut as much as it had been surely bothering Vin and Ezra.
"Pukin' his guts out," JD said unconcerned.
"Again?" Buck asked.
Chris turned to Nathan, "Should he be at a hospital or something?"
"Nope he'll be all right," Jackson reassured.
"How'd it happen anyway?" Buck asked. He and JD had overheard Chris and Nathan's discussion.
There was silence around the table but everyone's attention fell on Nathan, searching for an explanation.
Jackson sighed was about to start explaining when Josiah cut him short.
Sanchez smiled and chuckled, "I think Brother Ezra is learning a lesson about keeping one's mouth shut at the proper time." His explanation flopped like a lead zeppelin.
"You care to explain?" Larabee pinned the older man with a stare. He thought the in house fighting was over. There was no more beating on the new guy, trying to test his loyalty and grit.
Jackson then jumped in, "Ezra and I had a bit of a discussion last night, he straightened me out on a few things and well I re-vamped some of his walls," he paused and added, "with his body." He thought about it and corrected, "More like his head," Jackson finished with a grimace. His guilt clearly evident on his face.
"You put Ez through a wall?" JD asked. Nathan never got angry, well unless fighting verbally with the southerner. He never resorted to physical violence even when pushed by the surliest of criminals. Nathan always walked away.
"Well not completely through just slightly dented it in a few spots," Jackson edited.
"How many spots?" Buck asked a laugh playing at his lips. He would have loved to have been a fly on the wall last night, well maybe the ceiling. The walls had a rough night from the sounds of it.
"Three," Jackson answered slightly ashamed.
"Why?" Chris did not like the direction of the conversation. His team, since the previous bust, apparently had infighting developing. This angered Larabee, while he and Vin butted head likes two Big Horn Sheep, the rest of his unit apparently was squabbling on their own.
Nathan paused. He did not like the interrogational feel of this question. He answered anyhow, "He hit close to home on a few things, 'sides he got Vin drunk an' you two are having enough trouble as it is."
Chris eyed his agent beggining to the see the seemingly benign man had a very real temper. Larabee, in the three years he had known Nathan Jackson, had never witnessed the Chemist lose his temper. Jackson was a tall well built man, a natural runner. He was lithe and quick and almost as quiet as Tanner. The only times the EMT had ever raised his voice were during those moments of 'discussions' with Standish. Though Jackson tended to judge the southerner and throw his fair share of biting remarks he never truly lost his composure. Larabee did not think he ever wanted to bare witness to such a tirade. Last night Standish must have said some pretty foul things. He earned himself a concussion. The sleeping giant had finally woken, Larabee could not ascertain if he ever wanted to bare witness the 'quiet man's' temper. If Ezra was any indicator to Jackson's unseen anger, it might be best to let a sleeping dog alone.
Just then the conference room door opened and Standish shuffled through. His tie was loosened and pulled down, his shirt sleeves rolled up and his suit coat missing.
Larabee realized he had better start taking more notice of Jackson's disposition.
"Speak of the devil," Buck chimed in, "how's the head?"
"Shut up Buck," Standish rasped out. He sat heavily in his customary chair and buried his head in his arms on the table.
"A little hangover and bump to the head and he talks like you Buck," JD joined in adding misery to his friends pitiful state.
"Ezra you gonna live?" Vin asked.
"I'm praying for a quick death," came the muffled reply.
"Well it isn't gonna happen." Chris grabbed control of the meeting,."you and Vin have some explaining to do." His tone removed any light heartiness from the room. This was serious.
"Ahh Chris it weren't Ez's fault," Vin said glancing from the dark brown head to the Larabee.
"He went there ta git me, but I told him if he want'd ta talk he'd better drink and make sure he didn't pull any of his tricks," Tanner explained.
"He could've walked away," Chris pointed out.
"Then he wouldn't have straightened me out," Nathan answered softly.
Standish and Tanner both deserved to get reprimanded for their behavior the Chemist acknowledged it. Standish had already used up his one mistake. He stood the real possibility of losing his job. Tanner would be marked with an official reprimand and it would stick with the quiet man the rest of his career. In one foolhardy move the two men had managed to place their livelihoods in precarious situation. Despite all this, Nathan had been verbally slapped off the head and put back on the straight path. Jackson felt it was his responsibility to come to the aid of his teammates. He had benefited the most from their disorderly conduct. Friends just trying to protect friends. Jackson finally began to understand what JD accepted so easily and Buck tried to tell him yesterday. It was the stuff that made their team excell.
This grabbed Larabee's attention. He stared pointedly at Jackson. Sanchez quietly shook his head 'no' from behind Jackson. There was a better time and place for the question on Larabee's mind. Chris heeded the older man's advice.
Buck and JD saw it and shared confused expressions. They would find out in the end. The gruesome twosome would bide their time.
"Chris I know ya can't over look what happened yesterday," Tanner serious Texan drawl silenced the room. "I know that and I knew that the moment I left the office, but Ez ain't apart of it"
"How noble Mr. Tanner but if he's offering a quick bullet," the misery in the southern accent was quite discernible. "Please don't spare me." There was a slight pause and then a painfully distressed, "Oh no," and soon Ezra was running from the conference room.
"I think Brother Ezra is being punished enough," Sanchez observed.
Chris watched his men. He knew he had a good team, everyone in their department knew it.
What Chris was learning and what the other leaders and Judge Travis already knew, no one else could head up team seven. If it were anyone other than Larabee, the crack unit would be nothing more than a group of unruly misfits.
Vin broke more regulations and procedure in one week than most agents do in a life time. Somehow he dragged Ezra down with him at Josiah's insistence. In doing so they saved Nathan Jackson from some unseen danger, mostly brought on himself. Everyone and everything turned out ok, well if one over looked the violent bout of retching occurring in the Men's Room.
Chris stared hard at his men, finally resting his gaze on Tanner. The warning clear to everyone. No one joked, no one laughed. Jobs could have been suspended or lost.
"Don't you ever pull a stunt like that again," Chris leaned dangerously over the table his blanched fisted knuckles straining under his weight, "do you understand me?" His voice was low and dangerous each word articulated concisely.
JD slouched down in his chair physically trying to hide from the verbal assault. Buck's blue eyes fell to the blotter in front of him. Nathan diverted his gaze to his hands and Josiah closed his eyes.
Vin stared at Chris's enraged hazel eyes. They were friends had been from the moment they met. Vin overstepped his bounds he knew it. Tanner was more than willing to acknowledge it might have been a mistake. "Yes," he returned softly but clearly. He diverted his pale blue eyes to the table top. Larabee was the alpha wolf of this pack and Vin never meant to challenge it.
"Good," Larabee straightened up. He surveyed his team again. He held enough respect for them to know an incident similar to this one would not be occurring soon.
He rested his attention back on the ex-bounty hunter. "Once you get Ez out of the john and settle in at home you can fill out the reports on today's activities and last week's as well."
Vin paled slightly but did not dare protest. Larabee scrutinized the Texan and was thankful Tanner held his tongue. Chris continued, "He's got a computer at home and you're ultimately responsible for his condition."
Tanner merely nodded his head. He had a lifetime of paper work ahead of him. The meeting was over. People escaped basically unscathed but the warning clear for all to see.
Buck and JD started laughing and raced each other to the bathroom to share the good news with Standish. He got to go home early and he still had a job.
Larabee rested his hand on Jackson's shoulder delaying the Chemist's departure.
"You realize your abilities were never in question?" Chris asked quietly his blue eyes searching Jackson's. "You're an important asset to this group."
There was a pause.
Nathan finally nodded. In a soft voice that chuckled quietly, "Ezra said something similar last night."
Chris backed off a little from the EMT in confused query. "That earned him a concussion?"
A genuine smile spread from the corners of Jackson's mouth. "He lacked your tact."
Larabee patted Nathan on the back and headed out into the bull pen to join the rest of the team.
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