ATF Alternate Universe
The next morning Chris woke up and rolled over with a groan. His arms and shoulders were stiff despite the back rub. He sat on the edge of the bunk and cursed.
"I'm getting too damned old for this shit," Chris complained.
"You're the one that said you could ride," Buck chuckled. He was dressed the same as yesterday but with a red shirt instead of white.
"Where is everyone?" he asked.
"You know Vin," Buck smiled. "He was up and gone before all of us. JD smelled food and he high tailed it outside. Molly came and dragged Ezra's sorry ass out of bed to go pick a costume. Nathan and Josiah left a little while ago."
"I guess I better get going," Chris said.
"Taylor stopped by and said you would be the good guys today."
"Good, I don't think Vin should be in that black armor again today."
"That's what Nathan said," Buck informed him. "Well I'm going to get breakfast. One things for sure we won't starve this weekend."
Chris wandered out an hour later and saw Buck, Josiah, Ezra and Molly talking with Micah. Chris shook his head when he saw Ezra. The undercover agent was dressed in a crushed blue velvet doublet and pale gray leggings. The outfit was trimmed in silver. The under sleeves were of gray silk. The over sleeves hooked at the shoulders and the wrist but were deeply slit to reveal the under sleeves. Molly was dressed in a gray silk gown to match Ezra. Micah was dressed similar to Ezra but in burgundy. The trim was gold and much more elaborate then Ezra's. Josiah and Buck looked like peasants standing next to them. Chris checked the time before he left the cabin and knew the Faire opened in a few minutes.
"Mornin' Chris," Micah said as he got closer. "Sleep well?"
"Like a rock," Chris admitted. "Jousting sure takes a lot out of you."
"Doesn't seem to bother Vin," Josiah teased. "He's been running around all morning with JD playing with the kids."
They discussed what would happen today when of the "wenches" selling tickets came up to Micah.
"Micah we have a small problem," she said. "I know you planned on making Taylor and Philip the black knights but I don't think it's a good idea."
"Why not?" he asked.
"Well Timothy, he's the jester," she added for Chris and the others. "He's been wandering talking to the crowd and they keep asking if they will see the two blondes as the black knights. Obviously words got around."
"Chris do you think the two of you could be the black knight again today?" he asked.
"I'm not sure Vin's up to it," Chris admitted.
"Up to what?" Vin asked as he walked over with JD.
"The crowd expects us to be the black knights," Chris said. "Think you can handle that black armor?"
"I'm fine Chris, "Vin growled. "I'll drink plenty of water. Besides I liked playing the bad guys."
"Yeah me too," JD said.
"I guess we're the bad guys again," Chris smiled.
"Excellent," Micah said. "It's almost time to go out. I'll see you at the joust."
Ezra, Molly Josiah and Buck went with Micah to be part of the royal procession. Chris headed over to breakfast followed by JD and Vin.
"Are you two back again?" the cook said amazement.
"Only for some coffee ma'am," Vin said.
"Good because I can't keep up with the two of you," she smiled. "Now get!"
She gave Chris his breakfast and they walked over to the corrals. When they saw Taylor they told him about the change in plans. Philip was glad he hated that black armor.
The day went pretty much the same as yesterday. Buck broke many hearts playing the rogue. Robin Hood and his men robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Nathan demonstrated knife throwing and Ezra charmed the pants off everyone. The two jousts went without a hitch. They only difference was the black knights were defeated. The only injury was when Philip's horse rammed into Vin by accident. The sharpshooter ended up with a huge black and blue on his left calf from the impact. Nathan poured water down Vin every chance he got until Vin avoided him all together. The crowd seemed larger and Micah was pleased. The visitors loved the jousts and went home happy. Again the seven stayed the night laughing and joking with the group. Buck went off with one of the tavern wenches and wasn't seen again until morning. Vin turned in early and so did Chris. Ezra talked with Corey and had him convinced about his shady deals and that he was looking to buy some merchandize for a friend. Philip kept an eye on him. He just had the feeling that something was going on. He also didn't like all the attention the women were showing Vin. Vin wasn't comfortable with it but they were determined to get him to like it. In the mean time they were ignoring Phillip. The women lavished the attention on him before Vin arrived and he was determined to make him pay for them ignoring him.
The team maintained their cover when they weren't at the Faire. JD went to the University and sat in on Casey's classes. Josiah, Nathan and Buck were between jobs and showed up at the unemployment office each morning. Chris and Vin had the easiest cover to maintain. They worked on chores Chris had been meaning to get to for weeks. Ezra drove around in his Jaguar going to parties and spending the government's money.
They worked at the faire for two more weekends and still hadn't found anything. They were all at Chris's ranch when someone finally decided to check the bogus background JD put in the computer about Ezra. They decided to make Ezra a shady character that actually made his money from illegal deals. One of those was as a gunrunner. They were watching TV when the computer beeped. JD got up to see what was going on.
"We got a bite," he called.
"It's about damned time," Buck said.
"What are you complaining about," Vin said. "You can't tell me you don't love working the faire. You have more phone numbers than you can ever use."
"What are they checking JD?" Chris asked.
"His bank records, the DMV," JD said. "Wait they just hacked into the police file."
"Perfect," Chris said.
"Damn Ezra, you're not a nice guy," Nathan said as he read over JD's shoulder.
"That may be Mr. Jackson but I am a rich one," Ezra smiled.
"Alright everyone if they're checking the files maybe we'll get lucky this weekend," Chris said. "Keep your eyes and ears open."
"Don't worry Chris," JD said. "We know what we're doing."
They performed at the faire that Saturday without any lucky. Over the past couple of weekends Chris noticed that Philip resented the attention Vin was receiving. Vin's easy going nature made him very popular. He was even the favorite during the joust. He didn't do anything to draw attention to himself but the women just seemed to love him. Taylor joked and said it was because he looked good in black and could sit a horse so well. Ezra said it was because Vin was a mystery. After the jousting they stayed so the crowd could meet them. Vin always stayed in the background and let the others do the talking. He never said anything and Ezra pointed out that it added to the appeal. Chris also noticed that every time Vin jousted Philip he ended up with a new bruise. Philip always made it look like and accident. This weekend was no exception and Vin sported a black eye. Vin got the black eye when the two of them bent down to pick something up. Vin didn't have his helmet on and Philip clipped him with his elbow as they went down. Philip apologized and Vin said forget it. These little accidents had Nathan a nervous wreck whenever they went into the ring. The two jousts on Saturday went perfectly and no one got hurt. The evening rolled around and the team spent the evening playing games and talking around the fire. Ezra went to get another goblet of mead. He was walking back to the fire when Philip and Corey stopped him.
"Good evening gentlemen," Ezra said. "Was there something I could help you with?"
"Actually we might be able to help you," Philip said. "We have a friend interested in selling some merchandise."
"I see," Ezra said. "And what sort of merchandise are we talking about?"
"Things our friend knows you have dealings in," Corey answered.
"Oh?" Ezra said with a raised eyebrow.
"Quit the fooling around, Ezra," Philip said. "We know you have been involved with some shady dealings in the past."
"I see," Ezra frowned. "May I ask how you found out about them?"
"Our friend likes to check out all potential buyers before hand," Philip said. "He would like to meet you for dinner."
"I must say you have me intrigued," Ezra smiled. "I would be delighted to meet with him. Would Wednesday at Nikita's be alright? I will give you my cellphone number and he can contact me."
"I'll be your contact," Philip sneered.
"As you wish," Ezra said. "I will give you one of my business cards before we leave this weekend."
Philip agreed and they parted company. Ezra smiled and walked back to the others. When Ezra got back to the fire he sat down and caught Chris's eye and winked. Chris gave Ezra a nod. Vin saw the exchange and looked at Chris. Nothing was said but Vin knew what he was thinking. That night when they returned to the cabin Buck gave Vin and Chris a dirty look.
"OK you two out with it," he demanded. "I saw that silent communication earlier what's up?"
"Actually Ezra started it," Vin smiled.
"Oh well I missed him," Buck said.
"So what's up?" JD asked.
"Philip and Corey stopped me this evening and offered me a deal," Ezra said.
"It's about time," Josiah said. "Micah will be pleased."
"We aren't going to mention this to him yet," Chris said. "Let's see where this leads first. Where does he want to meet?"
"I suggested Nikita's," Ezra said.
"Damn Ezra," Buck smiled. "That place is expensive."
"They of course didn't agree," he said. "They were going to talk it over with their friend. I told them I would give them my business card before I left this weekend."
"Good Ezra," Chris said. "Let's get some sleep."
Sunday ended up being uneventful. Philip was in a good mood and left Vin alone. Buck had four new phone numbers but JD beat him with five. Josiah pointed out to JD that Casey might not be too happy if she found those numbers and he quickly handed them to Buck. Before they left for the weekend Ezra went looking for Philip to give him his business card. Ezra said he was looking forward to hearing form him.
Tuesday evening Ezra was driving out to Chris's when his cell phone rang.
"Hello.....Ah Phillip how nice to hear from you.....How does Thursday at Nikita's sound?............Around seven?........Excellent I looking forward to it."
Ezra hit the end button and smiled. He pulled into Chris's driveway and parked next to Buck's truck. He walked to the door and was about to knock when the door opened.
" 'Bout time," Vin said as he held open the door.
"Were you watching through the window for my arrival, Mr. Tanner?" Ezra inquired.
"Nah, forgot the mail," Vin smiled.
Ezra watched as Vin jogged down to the end of Chris's long driveway to the mailbox. He shook his head as he entered the house thinking he would have driven the car down. When he walked in he could see the table was set for poker and they had just been waiting for him.
"Good evening gentlemen," Ezra said. "I see you are eager to beginning losing to me."
"No way Fancy Pants," Buck grinned. "I feel lucky tonight."
"Give it up Buck," JD said. "You say that every week."
Buck went to cuff JD in the back of the head but the kid ducked. Vin came back in with the mail and handed it to Chris. Now that they were all together Ezra told them the news.
"Finally," Chris said. "JD, Josiah is the surveillance equipment ready?"
"Yup," JD said. "We just have to get it delivered."
"What are we this time, telephone repairmen?" Vin asked.
"That would be best," Ezra commented. "If I remember right there is a telephone across the street from Nikita's"
"Alright," Chris said. "I'll let Judge Travis know tomorrow and he'll get the equipment to us at one of the safe houses. We'll gather there Thursday afternoon. Tonight let's play some poker."
The evening went as expected and they lost their money to Ezra. Vin was able to break even but the wily under cover agent wiped everyone else out. As they were getting ready to leave Chris reminded them not to get sloppy and to maintain their cover. That's why Chris insisted on using the safe house as a rally point just in case they were being watched. They all assured Chris they would be careful before they left. When they were gone Vin went into the kitchen to clean up. It always amazed him how seven men could wreck havoc on a kitchen. He was loading the dishwasher when Chris walked in. Vin could sense something was wrong.
"What is it, Cowboy?" he asked the older man.
"I'm just getting a bad feeling about this,' Chris admitted.
"We'll all be careful," Vin assured him.
"I know," Chris sighed as he leaned against the counter. "But LeBroc always seems to slip through everyone's fingers whenever someone gets close."
"We'll get him this time, Chris," Vin said with confidence.
Chris watched as Vin cleaned the kitchen and wished he felt as confident. When the kitchen was finished they headed for bed.
Thursday afternoon found the team at one of the safe houses scattered around the city. Chris didn't want any plans at any of their homes in case they were being watched. He could sense the team was eager to get this done. JD was playing with the equipment double-checking everything to see it was in working order. Josiah was helping Ezra into his coat. They just finished replacing one of the buttons with a small microphone. Once the coat was on JD had Ezra say something to see if it was working.
"Double, Double toil and trouble. Fire burns and cauldron bubbles," Ezra recited.
"Hey I know that one," JD said. "It's from McB....."
"Ah ah, Mr. Dunne, it's bad luck to call it by its rightful name," Ezra said. "It's referred to as the Scottish Play."
"Whatever," JD shrugged. "Everything's working fine Chris."
"Alright it's five now," Chris said looking at his watch. "We'll head over to set up around six. That will give us plenty of time to get ready."
For the next hour Ezra relaxed shuffling his cards and doing tricks. Buck, Vin and JD worked off their nervous energy by playing video games. Josiah was taking a nap and Nathan was read a medical journal. Chris checked his watch and stood up.
"Time to go," Chris announced.
Vin stood up and pulled up the zipper on his work overalls. He checked to make sure he could get to his gun easily through the overalls. Vin would be the one outside in the cherry picker. They all filed out until Chris was alone with Ezra.
"Ezra you follow when you think best," Chris said. "Be careful."
"I shall endeavor to fulfil that request," Ezra said.
Chris nodded and headed out the door.
Ezra pulled up tot he valet parking at seven. He stepped out of his Jag and handed the keys to the attendant. The under cover agent casually looked around and saw the public utility truck parking across the street. Vin was in the extended basket pretending to look busy working. Ezra smiled, he knew Vin hated to be trapped in the surveillance van. Usually he played Ezra's bodyguard but he wasn't needed this time. He entered the restaurant and was shown to his table. He ordered a glass of Merlot and waited.
"Here they come," Vin announced from outside.
JD adjusted the camera to see Philip and Corey get out of their car. Chris was surprised to see that LeBroc wasn't with them and knew something was wrong. They watched as they entered the restaurant.
"What's going on Chris?" Buck said.
"Yeah why isn't LeBroc with them?" JD said.
"I don't know let's see what happens," Chris said.
Ezra looked up as the hostess brought Philip and Corey over to his table. He noticed LeBroc wasn't with them and became suspicious. When they were seated and had ordered drinks Ezra looked at them.
"And pray tell where is your Boss?" Ezra asked.
"Mr. LeBroc sends his apologies," Philip said. "He won't be able to make it."
"I see," Ezra said. "I must say I am very disappointed. My friend was very interested in receiving the merchandise."
"There's no need to worry," Philip said. "Mr. LeBroc is just being cautious but I can speak for him."
"Oh really?" Ezra said sarcastically. "Do you know his inventory?"
"Yes," Phillip growled.
"Very well," Ezra said suspiciously. "I must point out that this is highly irregular but I will go along with it. My buyer is eager for the goods you have for sale."
"You'll get them don't worry," Corey said nervously.
"Very well," Ezra said pulling out a list.
They were sitting at a private table and Ezra read the list of what he needed. Mostly it was handguns but included on the list were some military ordinance such as MP5N. When Philip assured Ezra they could get all of the items he handed Philip a sealed envelope.
"This is what my buyer is willing to pay," Ezra said. "Since your employer isn't here the price is non negotiable."
"Wait a minute," Philip said angrily.
"No Mr. Jenkins, you listen," Ezra said. "My buyer doesn't like dealing with middle men. He's used to dealing with the top man. Now you take this back to Mr. LeBroc and let him know I will have the money next Wednesday. If he has any questions he can call me."
Ezra stood and pulled two hundred dollars out of his pocket and placed it on the table.
"Please enjoy dinner on me," he said as he walked out.
"Damn!" Chris cursed.
"Easy Chris," Buck said. "Ezra knows what he's doing."
"I know," Chris grumbled. "I had a feeling LeBroc wouldn't show. Josiah did we get it all?"
"Yup," he said. "Loud and clear."
"Ezra's coming out," Vin said over the speaker.
They watched as Ezra waited for his car. Ezra tipped the valet and climbed in. He drove away and Vin turned his attention back to the restaurant to see if Philip and Cory would follow Ezra out. They waited for half an hour when Chris told Vin to come down. Vin made it look like he was cleaning up the area before he climbed into the driver's seat and pulled away. They left the utility truck at the safe house and picked up their vehicles then drove over to Buck and JD's loft. They waited forty-five minutes for Ezra to arrive.
"I can't believe he didn't show," JD complained.
"I'm not surprised," Chris said.
"The offer I made is very generous," Ezra said. "He'd be foolish to turn it down. We just have to wait for his call."
"Well I don't know about the rest of y'all but I'm starved," Vin announced with a grin.
Chris could only smile when he looked at Vin His black eye was a vivid purple against his tanned skin making him look like a clown. JD and Vin started arguing over what to get. The two youngest were always wound up after a surveillance mission and they needed to blow off steam. Buck finally broke them up and said they were getting Chinese. They spent the rest of the evening together watching TV when Ezra's cellphone rang. Nathan quickly turned down the volume on the TV and they waited.
"Hello.....Ah Mr. LeBroc its good to hear from you....Yes I know the place.....You'll be waiting at the old meat-packing warehouse.....Wednesday at 11PM....I look forward to doing business with you....Yes, don't worry the cash will be in older bills.....Good evening."
Ezra hit the end button and looked at the others with a smile on his face.
"Perfect Ezra," Chris said. "I'll let Travis know it's a go."
"What about this weekend?" Nathan asked.
"We better keep up the charade," Josiah suggested. "If we change now they might get suspicious."
"I agree," Chris said. "It's only one more weekend."
"I'm gonna miss it," JD sighed.
"Yeah me too," Vin said. "I like being a Knight."
"I'm surprised," Nathan said. "You have so many bruises I thought you'd be glad."
"Heck Nathan I used to get this many when I was taking Martial arts," Vin said.
"Well gentlemen as always it's been a pleasure," Ezra said. "But I need to be going. I have to call Mother before I go to bed this evening."
"Where is she this time Ezra?" Josiah asked.
"At her Chateau in Vienna," Ezra said. "She took some friends over to go skiing."
"Your mother skis?" JD asked surprised.
"Don't be absurd Mr. Dunne," Ezra said appalled. "Mother sits at the lodge talking with the wealthy gentlemen."
"Oh that's more like it," JD laughed.
"Well gentlemen I bid you Adieu," Ezra said and saluted them as he walked out the door.