Chris Larabee’s living room was filled with paper and bodies. Computer print outs, files, phone logs, police reports and case histories lay strewn everywhere. The six members that made up team seven poured over the accumulated information.

Ryan Kelly and his team 8 joined in the effort. Team seven complemented his team wonderfully. Whatever those clowns under Larabee’s reign did Kelly was sure to warn his team against. Chris and his men were magnets for trouble. Keeping them whole was in Kelly’s best interest gawd forbid his team fell under the same lead magnet that enveloped the others. Ryan had to admit though things were tense without the lazy gambling southerner.

Ryan had quietly asked Douglas Stone to keep his impressive personality tuned down somewhat. Team seven was itching for a fight and Kelly did not want any of his men being made targets. Kirk Gustin, Kelly’s surveillance expert and Douglas Stone tended to feed on one another. They made for an unholy, rowdy pair. Kelly knew he held undisputedly the best agents at surveillance and undercover work but occasionally they got as obnoxious as Wilmington and Dunne. Well not quite that overbearing but close. Ryan silently wondered how Larabee worked with such ‘colorful’ characters. None of team seven was exactly ‘normal’. Thank goodness Chris was stuck with them and not Kelly. Hell Ryan had once asked Chris if he recruited his team from the a side show at Ringling Brothers circus. His inquiry was met with the infamous Larabee ‘stare’. Ryan tried not to chuckle. Mattel’s Barbie would probably look more fearsome if Ken dinged up her red convertible.

Larabee’s men were not bad, still Kelly figured his team could teach team seven some tricks, make them more efficient. These last few weeks had not been the time for such lessons. Though after this Kelly was going to suggest that Chris install an electronic microchip behind Standish’s neck, just like his dog. That way they could track him anywhere in the country, well if he ended up in a dog pound at least. Kelly would wait on that suggestion too. He knew Standish was coming back, there was no doubt in his mind. The cocky southern cuss was one of the family a southern hick sounding hillbilly with a flash of style. Standish would be back, he had to be, Team seven would fold if it lost a member, any member. Besides if one of Larabee’s men fell it meant that one of Ryan’s men could fall. Though always possible no one wanted to think it could happen to them.

Pizza scattered the area like tiny food islands periodically through out the paper mess. Soda and occasional beer cans littered the cluttered space. Suggestions were tossed onto the floor and either discussed or outright shot down.

Buck and Douglas concentrated on the phone logs. Larabee had received many calls in which all he received was a click and no one on the other end. His phone was not bugged they had already ruled that out. They tried tracing the caller with star 69, star 58 to no avail.

Chris sat with Ryan reading through cases Standish had been involved in and been threatened. The pile was impressive. The southern undercover agent had a tendency to anger just about everyone he met. Damn nuisance.

A knock at the door grabbed everyone’s attention. It was 2am who would be way out here in the middle of the night. Guns were drawn and held discreetly out of sight but at the ready.

Chris slowly crossed the paper littered floor. People quietly regained their feet and dispersed themselves making as many targets as possible but providing adequate cover to their leader.

Chris Larabee opened the heavy dark oak door. He kept his lean frame protectively behind the thick hard wood affording himself some safety.

The stranger that stood on his door mat did not belong in Colorado. The well made suit, heavy but well tailored overcoat and wing tipped shoes clearly pinpointed the intruder as a distant traveler. Most people familiar with Denver and the ending of winter were quite familiar with the mud that mired this time of year. Wingtips and expensive pants fell victim to the abundant goo. Standish refused to recognize the need for dressing accordingly and hence was in a foul mood from February to May.

Terry Guidino held his shock in check. Larabee could have been Burkhardt ten years ago.

“Can I help you?” Larabee said. He did not think that this giant was a broken down motorist or a lost traveler. There was a determination to his face and he held a simple leather briefcase.

“I’m Terry Guidino,” Terry said, his New York accent thick and immediately giving away his origins.

New York? Chris wrinkled his brow, he had been stonewalled by that very city this very week.

Larabee waited not inviting the man into his home. Chris had pressing business and he would stop for no one. Not even Terry Guidino. Though the hint of New York prevented him from closing the door. The hound caught a whiff of the scent.

Terry saw that this made no impression. “Henry Burkhardt sent me,” Guidino added. This received a raised eyebrow and movement from the few discernible forms further in the moderately decorated room.

New York again. Those rotten sons of bitches! They were using his agent to go after a shark like Burkhardt?! Deep cover my ass, more like a grave site.

Again Chris paused, he would kill this man before the night was through, he would anything to gain information. He would rip Ezra’s location from him with his bare hands.

Guidino sighed. These pig headed fools. The simple dropping of Burkhardt’s name would have opened most doors. Then again Larabee was not most people.

“Ezra Standish...” Guidino had no more uttered the name when he was suddenly pulled into the room and tossed like a rag doll into a leather chair.

The simple name fueled Larabee’s already broiling temper. It cinched the connection, NewYork, ‘deep cover’ and ‘need to know’. Chris needed to know right now.

“You son of a bitch what hav’ya done to Ezra,” Larabee hissed out shoving the barrel of his sig up one of Guidino’s nostrils. Chris would pick through the grey matter by hand if he had too. He wanted answers.

Terry for his part had been in similar positions before. Agent Larabee would keep his head and calm down in a few minutes. He hoped.

There was pandemonium in the room. Team eight did their best to keep the frazzled members of team seven from dismantling the giant man that suddenly found himself pinned to an over stuffed chair. Douglas held Buck by the upper arm. Kirk Gustin stood barring Josiah’s path to the intruder. Kelly held the young pup JD by the collar while Nathan circumvented the area like a shark ready to strike. Tanner prowled just to the NewYorkers right his lip slightly raised in an unconscious snarl.

No one touched Larabee. He was a coiled spring about to unleash his tensions.

“Mr. Larabee,” Guidino tried to speak. He earned a slap off the side of the head by Jackson. The bodyguard closed his eyes. Patience, show some patience. These gentlemen had been apparently searching for their missing agent for sometime. Henry had a sixth sense about certain things. Good thing Terry was sent and not Mancini. Andre would have snapped by now and gotten himself and a few of these other madmen killed.

“Chris ease up let him speak,” Jackson suggested through tightly clenched teeth. He ripped the brief case from the ‘house guest’s’ lax grip.

Larabee slowly straightened up, removing his weapon from the air passage of the NewYorker.

“Thankyou,” Terry said. Damn that hurt.

“What about Ez?” Buck asked he had successfully whipped his arm free from Douglas. Stone let him go. Wilmington would not kill anyone until he got the information he needed, then all bets were off.

“The ‘Kid’ has been staying as the house guest of Henry Burkhardt,” Terry Guidino said. He never took his eyes from the hazel eyed leader that peered at him like an alpha wolf protecting its pack.

The body guard listened as Jackson and Sanchez rifled through his briefcase. These were dangerous men. He needed to chose his words carefully and stick to the truth. Follow Henry’s advice. Guidino started from the moment they entered the sports bar up until tonight’s fiasco with McDermit’s death. He left out nothing but confessing he was not privy to the information that was exchanged between the southerner and McDermit.

Through his tale no one spoke. Questions were started but Larabee squelched them with an upraised hand. In the end, Sanchez was on the phone making plane reservations to La Guadia airport.

+ + + + + + +

Henry Burkhardt opened the door as Standish shuffled through barefoot clad only in jeans and a t-shirt. Mancini followed a few steps behind. The bodyguard’s eyes met his employers and he simply shook his head, ‘No the kid was not taking taking this well’. Burkhardt merely returned with an understanding nod. He would handle it.

His heart had raced since Mancini had called and though Andre had insured him Ezra suffered no permanent injuries Henry could not help but worry. He had sent Guidino to Denver to contact Larabee in person and pass on information about the Tedeschi clan and possible Hawkin’s connection. Things had gotten out of hand. It was time to stop playing with lives.

Henry watched as Standish paced back and forth in front of the crackling fire. His movements a tightly controlled form of frantic like a caged hound searching for a way out. Apparently his feet were immuned to the cold. He strode back and forth unconsciously wiping his hands occasionally on pant legs or running them nervously through dark brown hair. Tension rolled off him like beads of sweat off a boxer. The light green eyes were still focused on the warehouse on the dead body of his agent. On his failed responsibility.

Burkhardt did not approach his young friend. Not yet. Standish would lash out, fight anyone who dared ventured into his world of misery and guilt. Henry would quietly bide his time and wait for his opening.

Mancini watched the younger man from a few paces off. He would not leave Henry alone. Andre did not fear that Ezra would strike out at the older man. Not hardly those two had become fast hard friends borne out of mutual respect and admiration. The fox and the hound found a common ground. Their tentative friendship had some how molded itself into a brotherly affection. A bond not easily forged or broken. Still Standish hurt and misery tended to ensnare company. The southerner had a sharp tongue sometimes his mouth kicked in before his brain. Henry did not deserve the blind thrashing of an injured friend. As a loyal, understanding, friend Burkhardt would take the barrage without ire. Mancini would not could not allow that to happen. He had devoted his life to protecting the older man. Whether he shielded Henry from a bullet, a fist or the painful throes of a brother Andre would step into interfere. For now the body guard stepped aside and let Burkhardt take control.

Henry pushed aside the brandy and reached for the whiskey. A dreadful drink with a scalding bite but it definitely shocked one back to attention. More than one and the consumer floundered down a dark path of hazy despair. He would let Ezra make that decision tonight. The boy hurt in all sense of the word. The bruising and swelling to his jaw paled in comparison to the turmoil that raged inside him.

Henry held out the small glass of amber liquid to furiously moving man. The first few clipped passages Standish did not notice the proffered drink. He kept his head down facing the slate stone fireplace apron not seeing it at all. He turned and strode a few steps back and turned around again. Short determined strides born out of frustration and adrenaline.

McDermit was dead, they killed Shawn. Who? Who wanted the kid dead? He was just a damn kid just doing his job. The bastards. If they wanted to kill someone why not ‘me’ why not take me? The kid had a future. The kid had family. Oh Gawd they killed Shawn.

He ran his hands nervously throw his hair trying to dispense some of the building energy. What was he suppose to do? He had to contact Shawn’s parents, didn’t he? oh Gawd oh Gawd, why McDermit why not me?

A voice penetrated his panicked musings, “Here son drink this,” a glass was placed before him held in gentle elderly hands. Ezra looked up for the first time and saw Henry Burkhardt.

“Oh God Henry,” Ezra whispered out, “what have I done?”

Burkhardt no longer saw an ATF agent before him but a little brother lost and hurt. With a drink still in hand he embraced the younger man, pulling him forward.

“Its ok kid,” Henry whispered back clutching the back of Ezra’s head holding him to his shoulder, “its ok kid.” He repeated over and over wishing desperately that it was true.

Mancini quietly slipped the full glass from Henry’s hand setting in on the end table. He backed off allowing them privacy but some sense of protection.

Henry held onto the younger man trying to absorb some of the angst from him hoping maybe the proximity and fierceness of the embrace would wick some of the despair from his young friend and brother.

“I know kid, I know,” Henry repeated as short breaths hit the southerner, “I know,” he whispered softly reliving the pain of his wife’s death, the inconsolable loss of his son and the blind grief over a dead brother. Burkhardt held on trying to leech some of the young man’s pain onto himself.

Where are you Mr. Larabee?


Four am, Denver time, Terry Guidino left the home of one of the most fearsome men he had ever met. Larabee and Burkhardt would make a terrifying team. Hawkins and Tedeschi did not stand a chance.

Six Am Terry was aboard Burkhardt’s private jet telephoning his boss. Team seven was at the Denver international airport. Ryan Kelly wondered if New York would be able to withstand the blizzard like storm that was due to land in its unsuspecting midst in just a few hours.

+ + + + + + +

Six am New York time found Ezra sleeping on the couch. Mancini watched him from an armchair and Henry finally retired to bed after speaking briefly with Terry. Andre had assured his boss he would not let the younger man out of his sight.

+ + + + + + +

The six Denver ATF agents sat on the commercial airliner. None spoke. Each were lost in their own thoughts. Terry Guidino’s warning and revelation still clear in their heads. What the hell had Ezra gotten mixed up in this time? The atmosphere between the six men was dangerously charged. The stewardess noticed it, everyone did, even the toddlers that ran amok in the aisles. No one dared entered the space occupied by the six men. Buck did not notice the stewardess that tried to serve them. Vin failed to recognize the close proximity of other people or the encroaching confines of being trapped on a plane. Josiah stared out the window not seeing the white clouds slowly drift passed. Jackson closed his eyes hoping they could suddenly be in NY now. Chris? Chris Larabee stared out at the world warning it to stay at bay. One of his men had been stolen from him. One of his family had been ripped from his protective umbrella. Larabee blamed the world right now and anyone who ventured to close to him. He was a live wire and would strike anyone who ventured to close.

+ + + + + + +

The plane landed without mishap. None of the six really cared. They would fight St. Peter or the Devil himself to find their missing team member. Not even those poor souls in the after life would be spared the wraith of the six. Josiah silently wondered if higher powers to be guided the plane to safety, no one wanted to deal with an enraged Larabee, not even the poor wretched souls in the after life. Maybe the angles washed their hands this foul matter. Let the guilty mortals deal with the wraith they wrought on themselves, Let Chris Larabee dish out his form of punishment. Josiah wanted to smile at the thought, but it seemed to close to the truth. Even JD appeared as a hardened veteran.

The Six stood before they reached the gate. The ‘Fasten Safety Belt” sign still lit. A stewardess made a move to instruct the men to remain seated. The navigational officer who sat beside the young lady kept her in her seat with a gentle restraining hand. His flu systems kept him out of the cockpit. He had seen men like the lithe blonde that now stood unconcerned of the rules he now broke. The navigational officer watched the man’s economy of motion. The blonde was dangerous. He was on a mission of sorts, nothing would stand in his way, not even FAA regulations. The airline officer had not seen such determination since his stint in the Navy when he had to shuttle navy Seals to a drop location. His blood had frozen then as it did now. Whoever this blond and his men were after had best be ware. The hounds of hell had just left Denver and landed in NY.

+ + + + + + +

Terry Guidino quietly opened the front door. Mancini handed him a steaming cup of coffee before he had his coat off. Guidino noticed the agent slightly curled sleeping on the couch. He raised his eye brows in askance. Andre smiled sadly and pointed to the plastered textured ceiling of the living room. Henry too was still asleep. Guidino nodded, not sure he fully understood the silent communication but would allow Andre a chance to explain later. Instead the older body guard peered at Standish. He noticed the bruising and swelling around the jaw. No furniture was broken in the house and no blood stained the rugs, whatever had happened to the young southerner did not occur in front of Burkhardt. Good Henry did not need to see any more trauma befall family. Damn even he was beginning to see this kid as family. Shit. Detachment maintain a professional distance. Henry Burkhardt was his only concern. Somehow Standish had snuck inside the barricade. Damn.

Mancini followed his older counterpart into the kitchen. Guidino was the brains of their service. Though he answered to Burkhardt, Terry answered to no other. He alone assumed responsibility of the older man’s safety and well being. Guidino would destroy anyone who threatened his charge. Mancini understood this and appreciated it. It mirrored his own thinking. Mancini answered to Guidino and in turn to Burkhardt. Though Terry never slung his position around Andre never challenged it. He was comfortable with being number two to Guidino. He was allowed to protect and serve Henry and that was enough.

“What happened to the kid?” Guidino asked as he placed his briefcase on the oriental rug next a kitchen chair.

“He got a little upset about leaving McDermit behind,” Andre answered truthfully He knew he had a short fuse but it seemed like the best solution at the time.

Terry merely nodded in understanding. One never left one of their own behind. You always took care of your dead. It was a motto instilled in him in the service. A doctrine he still lived by today.

“Any problems?” Guidino asked. He had listened to the news channel on the radio during the commute from the airport. There had been no mention of a shooting. Their boys had done a good job cleaning up. They needed to keep the southern agent out of the lime light. They needed Hawkins and Tedeschi running scared. The body would be taken care of properly. No disrespect would befall it. McDermit was someone’s son, he was struck down in the line of duty a noble and respectable way to die.

Terry amended his thoughts there was nothing respectable about the death of one so young. No mother or father should live through the pain of a child’s loss. He learned the horrendous lesson as he watched the strongest man he had ever encountered brought down to anguished knees at the brutal loss of a small child. No one deserved that not even an ATF agent or his parents, not even his partner.

“No,” Mancini answered. He sipped at his coffee. Staying up all night really did not effect him much he actually enjoyed the solitude of the night hours. Tomorrow would be a different story, he knew what little patience he had would be gone. “How’d Denver go?” He asked. He noticed the growing knot on the side of Guidino’s head and slightly swollen left nostril. Someone got a bit physical. Mancini wondered if a dead body or two would be popping up anytime soon in the Denver area.

Terry smiled a slow predatory grin, “Hawkins stole the wrong the agent.” Last night Guidino learned that he and Larabee held similar passions about watching out for their own. Mr. Larabee would bring down anyone in his way. Terry casually wondered if the Emergency departments across the city or the coroner’s office would be kept busy. Chris Larabee intended on extracting proper retribution.

Guidino then started enlightening Mancini as the events of his Denver trip. Andre enjoyed the tale. It was about time someone called on Samuel Hawkins.

The two bodyguards sat at the kitchen table discussing the day’s events over hot coffee. Neither man felt the effects of no sleep. They had a lot to get done. Henry needed to visit his Doctor again, his chest had become congested lately. Standish needed to be kept on a tight leash. They did not need the southerner running loose in New York in his state. Beside Larabee would be on this place like a tornado on a trailer park. Both Body guards hoped the Denver ATF would show some discretion and let the plan fall into place. Sometimes however, when a family spots a missing member they tend to forget caution and rush the wayward soul. If all went well Larabee would find his agent and wait. Patience. Guidino sighed, Larabee had the patience of blood hound on the scent. Guidino checked his watch. The Denver based ATF team should be landing now. The tracking device he gave them would start them on the trail of Tedeschi and possible killers of McDermit. Maybe Chris would introduce himself to Hawkins. Guidino smiled, Hawkins had suddenly become a marked victim.

Terry could only wait and hope things fell according to design.

If it did, McDermit would be buried with honors, Tedeschi would fall, Hawkins would be left to Guidino and Mancini, or Larabee and his men, and Standish would go home to Denver.


Chris speared headed the way down the airport corridor. His men flanked him in a flying wedge formation. They cut cleanly through the bustling crowd at the gates. People back peddled, toddler’s hands were grabbed and heads turned. Six formidable men swooped down through La Guardia airport like raptors. A noticeable space presented itself as people scrambled out of the way. A seventh belonged in their midst the telltale gap was noticeable even to the unawares observer. The six never skipped a step never looked left of right, yet saw and took in their surroundings.

Ticket counter personel looked up from their mundane jobs and watched the six. Was there a security problem some where in the airport? Those unfortunate souls stuck in torturously slow moving lines swiveled their heads following the movement of six determined individuals glad for the simple distraction and took some relief that they themselves were not the object of the hunt. Whatever it maybe. Concession stand patrons whispered to one another, some conversations stopped as heads turned. Eyes were lifted from magazines and newspapers as the six men strode purposefully passed. The CNN news clips were momentarily forgotten as shoulders were nudged by friends and companion’s attention became tuned to the six men briskly striding down the corridor. People parted before them.

Chris did not acknowledge any other living soul. Without hesitation he headed for the baggage claim and ground transportation. People cleared the escalators as the six men descended upon them like a plague. Larabee never stopped moving.

Two NY ATF agents recognized Chris Larabee and stepped forward to intercept him. With a simple adjustment in gait, Larabee laid one flat out. Leaving the man clutching a bleeding nose in his wake. Chris never broke stride. The other five simply stepped over the fallen man. Buck squarely place a boot on him. Vin discreetly shoved the other agent back. The Denver team would allow no obstacle to stand in between themselves and their seventh.

Larabee breezed through the pneumatic doors. He ignored the long line at the taxi stand. The ATF agent opened the back door to a yellow cab. Its potential occupant was about to complain but one feral glare from Larabee shut the man down. Chris, Vin and Josiah took the first yellow cab. Buck, JD and Nathan followed suit with the white and brown cab second in line. The taxi stand’s numerous wind whipped occupants kept their indignation to themselves. These were dangerous men. Hostility radiated off them like the smell of a New York rain storm.

The cabby turned for directions.

“Federal building,” Larabee leaned through the small plastic divider and flashed his badge.

The driver noticed the badge but more importantly took stock in the mannerisms of the gentlemen that just entered his cab. Predators sat behind him. His English suddenly improved.

+ + + + + + +

Buck, JD and Nathan headed for the car pool. They would take an agency car. Josiah, Chris and Vin would face Hawkins. The others wanted to face the NY SAC as a team but Josiah thought it would be better if they split up. Between Vin and himself they should be able to keep Chris in line. Wilmington and the others piled into a light blue Sedan. The tracking device Guidino had left with them last night rested in JD’s capable hands. Buck drove. Thanks to their late night visitor they knew where to find this Tedeschi. They would get to the bottom of McDermit’s death one way or another. They would not confront the arms dealers yet but would get familiar with their territory and travel routes. Maybe offer a little intimidation.

Dunne and Jackson were not to sure about letting Buck drive but Wilmington waved off all their concerns with an innocent, “trust me.” They should have known better when the Ladies Man refused the street atlas offered by the parking attendant.

+ + + + + + +

“Geezus! Buck! What the hell are you doin?!” JD screamed from the back seat. His fingers dug into the soft ceiling that graced the light blue sedan. The tires squealed and smoked and despite his best efforts Dunne was slammed into the passenger side back door. JD out of self defense locked the door.

“Shut up JD! I know what I’m doin’!” Wilmington shot back wrestling with the uncooperative steering wheel. Who the hell has ever heard of so many one way streets in their life. Gawd damn New Yorkers did not believe in two way traffic. Buck weaved the blue death trap down the street weaving it in between the turbulent sea of on coming cars. Horns blared, people shouted, head lights flashed.

“Like hell!” Nathan hissed out holding onto the armrest of the passenger front door. He was going to kill Wilmington with his bare hands. Jackson could remember the conversation quite clearly, ‘oh let me drive...how hard can it be? they’re American right?” American my ass they were in New York all bets were off. So help me God if I ever get out of this car alive I’ll kill’im.

Other cars swerved some turning sideways on the three lane road. Traffic flowed eastwardly on a normal day. Today Buck headed directly west against the on rush of traffic. Soon the smooth if not hesitant flow of traffic now corkscrewed in a plethora of directions. Through it all a light blue sedan threaded the needle. Its passengers promising a painful death on its driver.

“They went left Buck! Left!” JD practically screamed reading the electronical display in his hands.

Wilmington hit his blinker and swung the car left, pumping the gas. The small ill used car leaped over the cement median over a sidewalk through a newspaper display and down a narrow alley. News Papers erupted into the air like spewing molten rock from a volcano. The wide light pages wafted back to the grey iced sidewalk in quiet contrast to the madmen in the blue sedan.

Jackson stared incredulously at his teammate. He used a blinker? He put on the gawd damn blinker? The idiot! He was a certifiable idiot!

Buck gassed the small vehicle down the tight confines of the concave paved ally. He noticed Jackson staring at him as if he had two heads, “What?!” Wilmington did not like the scrutiny. Bad enough he had to cart these two complainers around now Jackson stared at him like a side show freak.

“The blinker really necessary Buck?” Nathan asked trying hard to keep the sarcasm out of his voice but failing miserably.

“Its the law,” Buck stated confidently confused by the chemist’s question. Though law enforcement officers did not have to use their turn signals Buck thought it was a polite gesture. Boy you can’t please anyone these days.

“Right Buck, go right” JD hollered from the back seat. The kid somehow got wedged between the back seat and Nathan’s seat. Still he held his tracking device as if were the most precious thing in the world.

“I can’t go right!” Buck exclaimed

“Go Right!” JD shouted back he was losing the signal.

Wilmington saw a break in the seemingly seamless buildings. He flipped his blinker and flashed a wise, toothy, smile, just to irk Jackson, and gunned the car into the tiny side street.

He slammed on the brakes. The car stuttered to a stop throwing its passengers forward. The smell of burning rubber filled the air.

“Back! Back! Back up! Buck!” Nathan screamed. He clenched to hands to the dash board as Buck threw the car into reverse. Wilmington swiveled around looking over his shoulder, his blue eyes wide and gunned the car backward.

JD still crammed on the floor watched in dismay as the signal faded, “Nooo! you idiot you’re losing’em!” Dunne scrambled up to peer over the front seat.

“Oh Shit! Faster Buck. Hurry up!” JD yelled standing up his eyes glued to the fast encroaching garbage truck. All he could see was the grill up close and personal. Oh shit they were dead. The car banged and scraped against the building walls. Paint and sparks flew from the vehicle. Buck pressed his right foot to the floor flattening the accelerator to the carpet. This is not a problem, no reason for alarm, Ole Buck had things under control.

Wilmington broke free of the tiny enclosed ally way. He slammed on the brakes and spun the wheel. The front end of the car whipped around pinning its occupants to the interior. Buck hit accelerator and with tires squealing shot down the now larger alley. The back bumper hung onto a corner of the building and fell victim to the ever encroaching waste disposal truck.

They soon shot out onto a main thorough fare and joined the flow of traffic. Buck sighed. Garbage men were a little territorial in this town.

Wilmington gazed over at his partners. Both were sitting quietly. Buck smiled broadly, “Not bad drivin huh?”

He was unprepared for the glares that promised murder.

Thankless ingrates, Buck mused. He muscled the little car toward the ATF building. He wondered how Chris, Josiah and Vin fared.

+ + + + + + +

Chris Larabee stepped onto the fifth floor with hate in his eyes. Josiah and Vin flanked him just a step behind. No one was going to stand in their way. Buck, JD and Nathan were out trying to tail Tedeschi, for whatever good that would do them.

Chris headed for the conference room. Hawkins and his team would be there waiting for them. Larabee’s stomach muscles knotted, his hands opened and closed and his teeth were clenched. This son of a bitch stole one of his men. Not just any man but the one most vulnerable to so such attacks. Standish.

Hawkins lecture to his three agents was suddenly interrupted when the conference door flew inward. It slammed off the wall with a resounding thud, the door knob embedding itself in the wall, anchoring itself still.

Samuel Hawkins had been afraid of many things in his life but none terrified him quite the same as the enraged form of Chris Larabee.

“Mr. Larabee! what is the mean...” Hawkins started but Chris crossed the carpeted floor quickly and punctuated the indignant remark with a quick short powerful jab to the SAC’s pointed jaw. Hawkins took a few involuntary steps backward. Before he could recover Larabee was on him again like a tiger on a deer. Chris was determined not to let the man create such distances again and held onto the loathing individual’s tie. Larabee landed a second rapid punch to Hawkin’s piggish eye, then one to his nose a third to his cheek. He tossed the man from wall to wall like a paper weight, leaving impressions with each hit. Chris never let go of his target. Nothing seemed to abate the hostility that had consumed Chris over these last few weeks. He hated Hawkins and wanted the filthy bastard to feel it.

Vin and Josiah stood quietly warning the other three agents to remain seated. No one had any intentions of interfering.

“Where is he? You son of a bitch,” Larabee had the bleeding man’s head pinned mercilessly to the conference room wall. Chris jammed his forearm up under Hawkins jaw thrusting the measly man’s head into the plaster. “Where is he!” Spittle flew from clenched teeth, Larabee shoved the tense forearm even further into the SAC’s throat.

Hawkins tried to cough, tried to swallow the blood that flowed freely down the back of his throat. He could not, he could not breath. Why did his men not come to his aid? He was their leader!

Sam stared into the maniacal hazel eyes briefly and quickly diverted his eyes. Larabee was crazy.

“Where’s Standish?” Chris pulled Hawkins away from the wall. He swung the man around and flung him onto the conference room table. He quickly encircled his hand around the exposed narrow throat. Still no answer. Larabee grabbed the black shortly cropped hair by the forelock and preceded to bang Hawkin’s head off the table.

“I just as soon kill ya, you son of a bitch,” Chris whispered out between breaths.

Hawkins knew this to be true. Just as he knew the others would turn a blind eye to the physical abuse he now endured. Sam without a doubt was confident if he did not speak he would die very shortly.

“B...Bu...Burkhardt,” Hawkins stuttered out. He could no longer see.

“Open yer eyes you piece of filth,” Chris hissed out. Once the brown eyes opened Larabee leaned close and asked, “how do I contact him?”

Hawkins closed his eyes and smiled, “You can’t,” Hell he would bring down Standish and Larabee what a bonus. Tedeschi would thank him.

With a primitive, guttural, growl Larabee hauled Hawkins to his feet and tossed him against the far wall. The SAC melted to the floor like a wet noodle.

Josiah recognized his chance at subtly. Chris was trying to catch his breath.
The large man pulled one of the agents to his feet, “How’do we contact Standish?”

He received a noncommittal shrug. Sanchez could not understand what kind of team would allow their leader to take such a beating without so much as a protest. What kind of team let one of its members go undercover without having some way to bring them back. They were an ineffective lot. Sanchez lost his patience. In two fluid motions he grabbed hold of the agent lifted him off his feet and tossed him threw the large observation glass window that lined the conference room.

The glass exploded outward. Tiny shards rained down like miniature prisms.

The agent landed with a thud in amongst desks and flying glass.

Vin raised an eyebrow. Chris and Josiah were a bit uptight. The Texan sat on the edge of the conference table near one of the quiet paler agents.

“Two down boys,” Vin drawled out, “someone wanna be a little more cooperative?”

“You can’t git away with this,” The agent closest to Vin remarked. Damn Standish. Hawkins should have left him in Denver.

“Ohh wrong answer,” Tanner remarked his inflections never changed no anger entered his quiet voice. He grabbed the agent by the back of the hair and smashed the agents head down on the table. The bridge of his nose connected with the table edge snapping like a match stick. The NY ATF agent slid from his chair holding his face groaning sluggishly.

The one agent left sitting stared at the carnage and then at the three men that converged on him.

He held up his hands in a defensive manner and started sputtering, “I don’t know, honestly I don’t know,” The agent rolled his chair as far back from the three men creating as much distance as he could. “Hawkins brought him here from Denver said he was dirty, gonna take him down with Burkhardt,” The man stammered, “make a name for himself.”

Buck’s low whistle brought everyone’s attention to the conference room door way. Buck, JD and Nathan stood staring at their three partners. They had parked the ‘borrowed’ vehicle in the garage fire lane next to the elevator. One of its hubcaps rolled off clanging to a stop near the emergency stair well. Buck did not think the car appeared to bad from the side if one ignored the missing paint and back bumper, and well the three absent hub caps. From certain angles the driver side doors did not seem to badly dented. Heck no one would notice. The three agents took the elevator to the fifth floor. They found the ATF office and its residents in much the same shape as the blue sedan.

“Told ya my drivin’ wasn’t that bad,” Buck whispered taking in the carnage, blood and strewn bodies that dotted the area. At least ambulances and police were headed toward that unfortunate pile up he may or may not have had a hand in creating earlier down on the boulevard.

There was no one around to help these saps.

Chris took control again, “JD get on Ezra’s computer,” Larabee nailed the one mobile NY agent with a withering glare and turned back to Dunne, “he’ll show it to you.”

JD did not bother arguing. He knew which one would be Standish’s but Chris did not seem open to suggestions just yet.


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