ATF Alternate Universe
Part 2 of The Physical
"Tomorrow's the big day huh?" Buck Wilmington asked Vin Tanner as he noticed the younger man staring longingly at the burger JD Dunne was wolfing down a few desks away from his own.
Vin snapped out of his day dreams of rib eye steak with all the trimmings long enough to realize that Buck had spoken to him, unable to keep from feeling a renewed wave of annoyance at having been forced to diet this past week. "Yep," Vin said easing back into his chair, shaking the image of JD's tasty burger out of his mind and consoling himself with the meal he was going to enjoy after his physical in less than a day from now.
"I must admit," Ezra Standish replied from his own desk, flipping through a copy of Fortune 500, "I am curious to know what exactly you must have said to the dear lady to invoke such a harsh response from her."
By 'her', Ezra of course referred to Alexandra Styles. She, the hated enemy who had forced him to endure nothing but salads, made him climb out of his warm bed at the crack of dawn to jog and worst of all, causing him to be the butt of everyone's jokes this past week. Whenever he had faltered in his determination to lose the two pounds that was the cause of all this humiliation, Vin only had to remind himself that he would have the satisfaction of rubbing those same pounds in her face when he saw her at their next meeting. That thought alone, had renewed his purpose and sent him to bed with a smile on his face, among others things.
"I didn't do nothing," Vin growled.
"That's not how she tells it,." the suave ATF agent said with a slight curve of a smile on his face.
"You met her Ezra?" Buck asked before Vin could bring that up. "What she like?"
"Extraordinarily beautiful," Ezra retorted. "Strange how you neglected to add that in your initial description, Mr Tanner."
"Vin, you said she was a hound!" Buck accused; hating to know that any good-looking woman was left to roam the halls of this building without his attention or his knowledge for that matter. Vin's description of the woman had bordered between harpy and battleaxe and Buck had been surprised how the normally unflappable agent had lost all calm when talking about her in any capacity.
"She is," Vin said uncomfortably and felt guilty at how he had described Alex to them, particularly since his initial report on her features was a far cry from what she actually resembled, a fact to which Ezra could now personally attest.
"Trust me Mr Wilmington," Ezra glanced at Vin with smug expression on his face, enjoying this opportunity to make the young man squirm a little, "if they made canines like her, I should be happy to remain in a kennel most of my life. In any case, I met the charming young doctor at the cafeteria yesterday afternoon at lunch and she was most pleasant."
"Well, wait until she has to give you a physical," Vin grumbled, feeling annoyance seep into his bones each time he thought of Alex anywhere in the company of Ezra Standish. Alex, with her sheeny dark hair and that maddening scent on her skin which clung to him for a day after his appointment with her.
Calm down, he told himself, Ezra only had lunch with her.
"Fortunately, she agreed to accompany me to the theatre tomorrow night," Ezra announced nonchalantly, his gaze having returned to the magazine he was reading once more, with no idea of what effect his statement had upon Vin.
"A date?" Vin immediately sat up in his chair and stared at the man. "You made a date with my doctor? With Alex!"
"Yes," Ezra looked up, staring at Vin with some measure of confusion as to why he was having trouble with this. "And pray tell what is wrong with that?"
"Nothing!" Vin declared trying to hide that the idea of Alex and Ezra going anywhere together was not only infuriating to him but just plain wrong, She was his doctor, not Ezra's! Where did the man get off dating his Alex'no, his doctor! "I mean it just ain't right for you to be dating her that's all. I mean, I don't want you seeing the same person who sticks a thermometer in my mouth!"
"Trust me," Ezra said unable to understand why Vin was so upset with this since Vin had given him every indication that he abhorred the woman. "at no point will you come up in conversation."
"See that I don't," Vin muttered unhappily and seethed secretly because in truth, there was no reason why Ezra should not date Alex after all, Vin himself had no intentions towards the woman. Why should he? She was nothing to him and he had no right to say anything anyway. Vin returned to his paperwork, stealing glances at Ezra over the next ten minutes wondering if there was anyway to get the man out in the field and involve him in an unfortunate shooting accident before tomorrow. Vin was confident that if they were in close quarters firefight, he could get away with wounding Ezra just enough for the gambler to cancel his date with Alex.
Buck Wilmington had not spoken as he watched the exchange between his two friends and knew just by Vin's suddenly hostile manner that his feelings regarding the new doctor was not one of complete dislike. His reaction to Ezra's statement was more than ample proof that she had gotten very deep under Vin Tanner's skin.
"If I were you Ezra," Buck grinned as he drew away from both men and their undeclared war. "I'd watch my back."
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"You did that on purpose!" Ezra accused as he was rushed through the corridors of the hospital, while lying flat on his stomach on a steel gurney, being surrounded by paramedics and members of Team 7 as he was taken at breakneck speed to the ER. It was bad enough that he had been shot but the bullet's entry point had been his posterior which Ezra was now attempting to cover unsuccessfully with the surgical gauze he was holding against it to stem the bleeding. The whole situation would have almost been funny it is was not for the fact that the pain throbbed and his self-esteem was taking a severe battering.
"It was an accident!" Vin protested innocently for the hundredth time since the incident had taken place. He had been keeping pace with the paramedics, determined to have Ezra believe that this was not a premeditated gesture even though the thought had crossed his mind earlier this morning. Despite himself however, Vin could not help thinking that it was a pity those theatre tickets would now be going to waste.
Vin and Ezra continued to trade accusations and pleas of forgiveness as they moved down through the corridors of the building, stretching whatever humor Chris Larabee had left over this whole situation to breaking point. Their verbal barrage was not only a source of consternation to him but of amusement to the doctors, nurses and patients who happened to observe them as they passed. Even the paramedics were trying not to chuckle at the curious exchange between the two.
"Spilling coffee is an accident, stubbing one's toe against a door is an accident, shooting me in the rear end is NOT AN ACCIDENT!" Ezra roared back at Vin's declaration that this was the result of a misfire. Chris could not blame him for his anger. If he was shot in the butt and forced to be wheeled around in this humiliating position, Chris supposed he would be angry too.
"I didn't know my safety was off. " Vin insisted, trying to sound as sincere as possible even though he could not help feeling some measure of satisfaction that he had managed to put an end to the possibility of Ezra making his date with Alex tomorrow night. Although he felt guilty that his act of violence could produce such emotions, Vin knew that Ezra was not seriously hurt. The injury was nothing more than a flesh wound and all Ezra would have would be a new dimple on his rear end that Vin was determined that some woman besides Alex would appreciate.
"There's a first time for everything," Chris grumbled, trying not to appear as annoyed as he looked. It was hard to swallow that any of this could have been an accident even though there was no doubt in his mind that it was anything but that. Still, Vin was one of the best marksmen he knew. It was almost beyond belief that he could have made such a ridiculous mistake as to shoot one of his own team on the firing range no less. This was the sort of thing that Chris expected from JD who was relatively new to the game and was more accustomed to being in front of a computer terminal than anything, not from a man whom he had come to rely upon as his trusted second.
"I swear, it was a mistake!" Vin continued to plead innocence as they reached the doors to the emergency room when suddenly out of nowhere Alexandra Styles appeared. For a moment both Vin and Ezra stared at her blankly, wondering what she was doing here and then realizing that it made sense that she would be at this hospital since it was the closest one to the ATF building.
"Alexandra!" Ezra exclaimed and then buried his face on the pillow in front of him, wondering if this humiliation could get any worse.
It took her a moment to review the scene before her and understand what had happened, even if she did not have the specifics of the incident. Her eyes touched Vin's for a moment and revealed the same fire he had seen during their examination before that tough, professional mask fell over her face once more.
"Hello Ezra," she said with a smile as she proceeded towards the paramedic who was holding out a chart for her. "I'm guessing you're here to cancel our date?"
"Please," the gambler groaned. "I am in enough pain."
"What happened?" Alex asked politely as she pulled Ezra's bloodied fingers away from their vulnerable position and examined the wound for herself.
"That moron shot me!" Ezra glared at Vin angrily.
"Ezra, it was an accident," Chris spoke up for Vin automatically.
Alex met Vin's gaze and did not make any comment about the accusation. Instead she looked at the nurse and orderly who was accompanying her. "Get him into X-ray and then prep OR3," she said coolly.
Once Ezra was wheeled away, still yelling a litany of erudite curses at Vin as he disappeared down the hall, Chris was able to get a moment with Alex to ascertain how badly he was injured.
"You can both relax," Alex stated. "Judging by the injury, I would says it's a flesh wound. I still need to do X-rays for standard procedure but I don't think there is any real damage besides his pride."
"Well that will take forever to heal," Chris retorted, wishing an end to this overly long day. "Vin," he said turning to younger man who was leaning against the wall, with every indication that he was not leaving the hospital until he knew Ezra was completely out of danger, despite the doctor's comforting words. "Thanks to you and Ezra, I've got a ton of paperwork to deal with at the office, you think you can stay here for awhile?" It was a redundant question because Chris knew Vin was not going to leave.
"I ain't going anywhere else," Vin muttered. "Least I can do is stick around since I did this to him."
"Okay then," Chris nodded. "Call me at the office and let me know what's going on when you hear something." The leader of Team 7 gave Vin a slight nod before making his departure, leaving Vin alone in the corridor with the lady doctor.
Neither said a word until Chris had well and truly rounded the corner and then it was Alex who broke the silence. "You didn't have to take me literally when I said you were a pain in the ass."
"It'was'. an'accident." Vin growled, in no mood for her sarcasm as it was. He felt bad enough for wounding Ezra, particularly when he had entertained the thought only this morning because he hated the idea of Ezra going on a date with this woman before him. Even now, through the sterile smell of disinfectant that reeked from every corner of this hospital, he could smell her perfume and savored the smell once again, hoping it would follow him around as it had before when he left this place.
"Tell me Mr Tanner, do you always have a habit of having things go off prematurely?" She asked, a brow raised while her lips curled into the faintest hint of a smile.
"I haven't had any complaints in the past," he retorted, taking a step closer to that intoxicating aroma of her skin, even though he had intended the gesture to appear menacing, not because of some hidden agenda of his own.
"Some women are polite," she answered, making no effort to move away and feeling her cheeks flush at his closeness before she reminded herself that this was hardly the place for it.
"Not with me," Vin replied just as suggestively, meeting her gaze with his cobalt colored eyes and detecting a slight shift in her manner that would have gone unnoticed by anyone who did not feel for her as strongly as he did. If humans could give off their own pheromones like animals did, then Vin would swear that she was exuding a scent of desire that was wafting in his direction. His breath caught at the shift and deny it as he might about how he felt about her later, at this moment, he wanted nothing but to taste those silken lips and devour her mouth in a kiss of passion.
"Well that's hardly surprising too." She stepped away finally, feeling the air around her thinning until she was breathless. What is it about him that made her go weak at the knees and want to slap him at the same time? Her feelings for him were such a contradiction that Alexandra Styles did not know what she was going to do about it or about him for that matter.
"I guess you're not going to be able to make the theatre with Ezra tomorrow night." He could not help but point out and saw her face change from unspoken desire into pure outrage.
"You didn't!" She exclaimed horrified at the notion that was screaming possibilities in her head.
"Of course not!" Vin realized what she was alluding to. "What do you take me for?! He's one of my best friends and don't flatter yourself, no woman is worth putting a bullet in another man's butt. Not even you!"
"Ah ha!" she retaliated pointing a finger at him "But you admit I'm special!"
Vin rolled his eyes in sarcasm. "Of course you're special! Believe me, if I am going to be reduced to a homicidal maniac because of a woman, you would be the one to do it!" Vin barked back just as fiercely.
"Well thank you!" Alex snapped with just as much anger. "I bought a dress for that date and because of you, I'm probably be going to be sitting in front of the TV with a Lean Cuisine!"
"It figures!" Vin shouted back and both were unaware that passers by in the corridor in front of the ER were watching them with expressions of amusement and disapproval, all at the same time. "No wonder you're trying to make me eat rabbit food if that's what you're living on!"
"You were two pounds overweight, you needed the diet and I'll have you know that I eat real food!" Alex declared hotly, unable to believe how infuriating this man could be. If she did not fall hopelessly in love with him then she was going to strangle him alive and right now, the murderous part of her choices were the most enticing of the two.
"I suppose you don't like Mexican!" he said just as sharply, unable to imagine what he might have seen in this woman even if she did look stunning in her rage. Was he actually jealous that Ezra wanted to date her? He ought to be handing her over to the gambler on a silver platter. That is once Ezra's butt was on the mend
"I love Mexican," she replied triumphantly, so engrossed in her anger that she did not realize that he was maneuvering her into position for'.
"I know a restaurant," he said with a smile.
Alex paused and glared at him with narrowed eyes. She took one step towards him and said very firmly. "Mr Tanner, I would not have dinner with your or anything else for that matter, even if you were the very last man on this planet and even then I'd have to think about it!" With that she turned on her heels and started towards the ER once again.
"But that's not a no," Vin pointed out triumphantly with a perfectly straight face.
"Oooh!" Alex squealed a she swung around in indignation and could offer nothing more than a outraged huff of fury before she burst through the doors, almost breaking the nose of the nurse who was coming through from the other side of the room.
Vin watched her go grinning and thought to himself as he saw her disappear, I'll try her again tomorrow.
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This story continues in The Physical III