Thanks to Mitzi for her beta-ing this story.
Story moved to Blackraptor in October 2009
Katherine's March Challenge IS :-
Give any one of the seven a hobby the other six do not know about, until events conspire to bring it to their attention. Hobby must not be anything previously mentioned in other stories...ie. no working at a shelter for Josiah, no piano playing for Ezra, no working with neighborhood kids for Vin. You get the idea. In essence I want to know what one of the boys does with his down time, and the reaction of the others when they find out. They aren't always working.
This is my response...
Josiah Sanchez waited impatiently
at the carousel. He glanced at his watch; it was one twenty,
Saturday morning back home. He searched for a clock in the airport
terminal and adjusted his watch to match the current local time.
He saw his suitcase added to the rim and strode toward it. Sanchez
was anxious to drop his luggage off at the hotel and be on his way to
the site, as there was about an hour of daylight still available.
He was far too psyched to be concerned about jet lag, and he had far too
little time in the country and wanted to utilize every minute to its
fullest. He could catch up on missed sleep when he returned to
The grey headed man stepped through
the automatic sliding doors and sighed with satisfaction. He
closed his eyes for a minute and breathed in a lungful of hot sultry
air. A full grin spread across his features as he allowed
the throbbing ambiance to wash over him. He stood motionless,
content to listen to the traffic noises and the unfamiliar sounds that
circled around him.
“Hey Mister, you okay?” a
concerned voice registered behind him as a body bumped against his large
Sanchez turned around and smiled
broadly at the smaller man. “Couldn’t be better,” he gushed
and headed to find transport to his hotel.
Week One - Monday
Buck Wilmington trailed behind JD
Dunne, his gaze appreciatively following the receptionist that exited
the elevator ahead of them.
“Buck,” Dunne hissed, grabbing
the taller man by the arm and towing him into their office space.
“It’s rude to stare.”
“JD,” Wilmington sighed
indulgently, “beautiful ladies love to be noticed.”
“Well, that beautiful lady has a
big mean SOB for a husband, and I’d guess he wouldn’t be too
thrilled to find you leering at her.”
Buck gaped at the younger man.
“How’d you know that?” The receptionist had only started
work that morning, and being a ladies’ man, he would have noticed her
before now if that hadn’t have been the case.
Dunne tapped the side of his nose
and grinned knowingly at Wilmington’s confusion. He dropped a
duffle bag on his desk and looked around to see who else had arrived.
“JD. Buck,” Vin greeted,
following the curious gaze of Dunne. “Chris is already in.”
He nodded at the closed door. “And Nate’s called in to say
he’ll be late.”
“Nathan hasn’t arrived?” Ezra
questioned incredulously, only just now entering the room. The
Southerner was notorious for turning up late and had never arrived
before any of the others. Standish hid the sly grin that grew,
fully intending to torment Jackson when he arrived. He settled
behind his desk and booted up his computer, but frowned, noticing there
was still one person on their team unaccounted for. “Where is
Larabee stepped out of his office;
surprised to see his undercover agent here when Jackson was missing.
“Josiah’s taken a week’s annual leave.”
Standish’s eyebrows rose upward.
“That’s a little sudden isn’t it?” When they left on
Friday there was no mention of Sanchez taking any time down.
Something must have occurred over the weekend.
Larabee shrugged his shoulders
unable to give out any further information. Chris couldn’t pry
that information from Josiah Friday night when he’d called to request
the time off. Sanchez had been most secretive and anxious to end
the call. Larabee had finally agreed to Josiah’s request, even
though he’d had no prior warning. Especially so after the older
man had gruffly suggested that he was taking the time off whether Chris
cleared it or not. “Ask him next week when he gets back.”
He saw the mystified looks on all their faces and held up his hands to
prevent the expected inquisition. “I don’t know any more than
you do…so you’ll all have to brave it out. Patience boys,”
Chris chortled. “Now, do you think we can get some work done
“Where is he?” Chris dropped
the phone back in the cradle and glared out into the bullpen.
“It’s ten…where the hell is he?” he shouted at nobody in
Tanner met his gaze across the room
and they both turned to face the elevator as the bell rung, announcing
it was going to open on their floor.
Larabee launched through the office
and rounded on his tardy agent as soon he stepped from the elevator.
“It’s ten!” Chris growled.
Ezra heaved a tired sigh and lifted
his arm to check his watch, confirming Larabee’s words. “It is
indeed,” he drawled sidestepping around his boss.
Chris glared at the various men who
deemed it funny enough to laugh. Larabee strode after the
Southerner and slammed both hands solidly on his desk.
“Standish,” he warned, drawing out each syllable of his name.
Ezra sank into his chair and rolled
his neck. “My apologies for the delay, Mr. Larabee.”
“Not good enough, Standish.”
He studied the Southerner and was puzzled by the tired façade.
His apology had even sounded sincere.
“I received a phone call from
Josiah, this morning,” he took a deep breath which smothered the yawn.
This garnered the attention of the entire group and they converged
around his desk firing questions at him.
“Where is he?”
“Is he okay?”
“He’s not in trouble is
“What did he want?”
“Is he having fun?”
“He didn’t say, but I could
hazard a guess. Definitely out of the country. He sounded
fine on the phone. I don’t believe he is in any danger. He
requested I locate a digest of his and,” Ezra smiled for the first
time that morning, directing it at JD. Trust Dunne to ask that
question. “…It is only my humble opinion, but I’d wager Mr.
Sanchez is enjoying his holiday immensely.”
“What’s that got to do with
your coming in late?” Chris grilled.
Standish sighed. “The book
Josiah requested was at his place, not mine,” he emphasized.
“Once I arrived there the text was not where Josiah had identified and
I had to spend some time searching it out. He does have rather a
large collection, I might add.” Ezra glanced around the group,
seeing that he’d captured their attention, he continued. “It
seems that Josiah is an avid archaeologist. And in his spare time
he attends digs, which is where he is now.”
“Yeah?” JD enthused
brightly. “Man’s that’s great! I was reading this
article in Time magazine the other day about buried tombs…wonder if
Josiah’s seen it?”
“You read Time Magazine?”
Wilmington heckled, throwing an eraser at the younger agent.
“So? I’ve seen you
flipping through the National Geographic…”
“I hadn’t realised Mr.
Wilmington read anything beyond the pin-up variety,” Ezra quipped,
earning a scowl from the gregarious man.
“You said that Sanchez didn’t
confirm where he was…where do you think he is?” Larabee asked,
“I don’t know positively, but
there are a few possibilities, and bearing in mind the time zone
difference…” he stated three different sites.
Chris nodded. He often
wondered about all those reference books at the older man’s house.
“What did he want with the
book,” Dunne eagerly asked, sitting his hip on the corner of Ezra’s
Ezra yawned; squeezing closed his
eyes in the process and finding that they felt gritty from the lack of
sleep. He would have reprimanded JD for his familiarity with his
furniture, but he couldn’t be bothered. “He wanted to refresh his
knowledge regarding a particular artefact. Unfortunately, by the
time I located the text and waited for Mr. Sanchez to call back so I
could relate the information, it was long past the hour to retire.
My apologies again, Mr. Larabee.”
“If it was too late to turn in,
then how come you still wound up being late,” Jackson asked, smirking
at the undercover agent. “Why didn’t you come straight
Standish rolled his eyes.
“I had to return to my abode, and,” he shrugged his shoulders
sheepishly, “I succumbed while I was there…needless to say…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Chris
grunted in understanding. “Don’t let it happen again.”
Standish saluted his boss, raising
two fingers to an imaginary hat.
Larabee stood half hidden from the
others. He watched as JD’s head jerked strangely once more,
fighting the urges of sleep. The younger man stared at his screen
for minutes at a time, not appearing to move the document he was
supposedly reading or typing anything on his keyboard. Chris
licked his lips and frowned as he glanced across to Buck’s desk.
Wilmington was not even attempting the pretence of work; he was sprawled
asleep with his head on the desk, and a sign written in black ink stuck
with tape to his back. It read, DON’T DISTURB! He wondered
which of the clowns had attached the note. And Standish didn’t
appear any better. He was leaning back in his chair, head resting limply
to one side oblivious to his surroundings.
A sadistic smile came to his mouth
and Chris turned back to his office. Larabee was only gone a
minute, but had picked up the blow horn that he’d confiscated from
Tanner last week. He covered his ears with a pair of ear
protectors and depressed the horn. The loud blaring noise startled
the entire group, sleeping and awake. Standish fell from his chair
as he abruptly woke.
Once all his agents looked at him
with some degree of wakefulness he stepped to the centre of the room.
“Conference room. Now!” He left, expecting the others to
Chris paced in the small room while
he waited for the five team members to gather. Tanner was last to enter
and hung by the door. It wasn’t him that Larabee was pissed with
so Chris didn’t mind. Buck and JD slumped in the chairs, but
Standish sat bolt upright. Nathan was still rubbing at his ears,
and took a seat at the end of the table. “So… what’s the
Buck cleared his throat.
“Josiah called last night.”
“Ah huh. And?”
“Well, Josiah didn’t want to
bother Ez again, ‘cause he called him the night before…”
Chris glanced at Ezra and figured
there had to be more, but it was JD who continued.
“Buck said he was only going out
for an hour so I waited up…then I got worried ‘cause he didn’t
return by the time he said he would,” Dunne scowled at his roommate.
“That weren’t my fault!
Like I said, JD, the book wasn’t at Josiah’s…so I had to go over
to Ezra’s. And you know how hard it is to wake him up.”
Ezra groaned. “May I point
out that I was already awake by the time you assaulted my front door.”
“That’s only ‘cause Josiah
called first to let you know I was on my way over,” Wilmington
“Well how was I to know that
Josiah would send you after reference material. I thought it
prudent that I took it to my place so it was readily available.”
“Guess Josiah thought he could
trust me to read from the book and pass on what he wanted. Only
you pilfered it!”
“Pilfered? My my…been
studying the dictionary, Buck?”
“I just want to know why nobody bothered to call me?” Dunne complained.
The three agents continued to
banter back and forth. Nathan shook his head, clearly amused by it
Larabee looked at Vin and an
unspoken message passed between them. The sharpshooter put two
fingers to his mouth and whistled. The noise level dropped
“Do you think you three can
manage to put in a full day’s work? Or should I send you
Wilmington’s eyes sparked up at the offer and he opened his mouth, but clamped it shut quickly as Chris amended his previous statement.
“It’ll come off your leave,
“What’s going on?” Larabee
leaned against the doorframe and sent Tanner a clearly befuddled look.
Four of his team were converged around Wilmington’s desk.
“Don’t look at me, pard.
I just work here.” Vin smirked at his boss’ less than friendly
demeanour and decided to elaborate further. “I went to the break
room to grab some coffee. Want some?”
“What has Josiah caused now?”
His patience with the profiler was wearing thin and Sanchez wasn’t
even here. “JD?”
Dunne waved a distracted hand and
returned to typing madly at Buck’s computer terminal.
“Hey, Chris,” the ladies’ man
stepped back so his boss could see the screen.
“You got a bug?”
“Yeah, looks that way.
Opened an email from Josiah this morning then everything started going
Chris groaned, looking at Nathan
and Standish who appeared to be waiting for JD. “Don’t tell
me…both your PC’s are down too?” At the affirmative nods
from his agents Chris shook his head. “What about your’s?”
he directed at Vin.
“Dunno…nothin’ happened when
I tried to turn it on,” he grinned.
“Did you try plugging it in,”
“Hey!” Tanner punched the agent
in the arm.
Larabee exited the elevator with
a certain degree of trepidation. With everything that had been
going on this week, he was beginning to have second thoughts about
coming into the office on time himself. It was still early yet and
normally he wouldn’t expect to find anybody in the office before him,
but the proof was parked in the underground parking garage.
Standish had beaten him to work! And it wasn’t yet seven in the
morning. Even Vin hadn’t arrived yet.
“Ezra,” Chris called out the
greeting, but the office remained quiet. He flipped on the
overhead lights and noticed the agent’s briefcase by his desk, but the
Southerner wasn’t there. Chris sniffed the air and followed the
scent to the break room. He poured himself a coffee and nodded
appreciatively. Standish knew how to make a decent pot of coffee,
but he was not in the room.
Larabee opened his door to find
his agent lightly snoring on his couch. He picked up the mail in
his in-tray and closed the door behind him. He could just as
easily start work on this at one of the other’s desks. He
wondered if Standish’s unusually early appearance at work had anything
to do with Sanchez. How was he going to get any work out of his
team if they continually fell asleep? This hobby of Josiah’s was
beginning to be irksome.
When Ezra woke at nine he
stumbled out of Chris’ office. His hair was sticking up at an
odd angle and his face was lined with crease marks where he’d been
sleeping. He glanced at Larabee seated behind his desk and winced.
The others immediately stopped their work and turned as one to face the
Southerner. Realising he’d fallen asleep, and in Chris’
office no less, while the rest of the team had arrived for work, brought
a flush of red tinge to his cheeks. “My sincerest apologies.”
“Uh huh…what did Josiah want
this time? And I thought he was doing the rounds…wouldn’t it
have been someone else’s turn?”
Standish was momentarily stumped
for words. Obviously he was still in the process of waking.
“Josiah has a large collection of disks at his desk and he requested I
copy them and pass it along through the Internet.” Ezra rubbed at his
eyes and looked thoughtfully at the former medic. “Ummm, he
attempted to call you, Nathan, but you were… unavailable?”
Jackson swallowed uncomfortably
as they all turned to face him. “I had Raine over last night,”
he stammered guiltily. “Guess we ummm unplugged the phones and
forgot to plug them back in. Sorry, Ezra.”
“How long have you been
here?” Larabee pressed.
“Since three, I think,”
Standish yawned. Although he’d worked longer hours before now.
“Is there any coffee left?”
“Made a fresh pot not long
ago,” Tanner grinned; he knew Ezra despised the coffee the
“Guess I’ll forgo it then,”
Ezra mumbled and took his seat as Chris vacated it.
“Go home, Ezra,” Chris ordered, he wasn’t going to get any decent work from the exhausted agent.
“Why are we here on a
Saturday?” JD whined. It was the weekend, after all. He
wondered if Josiah would mind if he borrowed the disks from his desk.
He could study them over the weekend and have them back in place by
Monday before the profiler returned from leave.
“’Cause Chris called us in,”
Buck answered, hitting the computer expert’s head with the back of his
“He didn’t happen to mention
the reason for this meeting? Especially at such an ungodly
“We all got the same drill,
Ezra,” Tanner chuckled.
“Then where is he? It is
uncommon for Mr. Larabee to be anything but punctual.”
“Could be caught in traffic,”
Wilmington slapped JD on the arm.
“That’s one of Ezra’s excuses…Chris will have come up with
Standish glared at the moustached
man, which turned into a sly smile when Buck winced.
“Hey!” Buck grabbed his
shin and furiously rubbed it.
“Didn’t your mama’s ever tell
you to keep yer hands and yer feet to yourself?” Jackson folded his
arms and mockingly reprimanded both men.
“I think I require a
translation,” Ezra feigned ignorance.
“He said - THAT IT AIN’T POLITE
TO KICK!” Buck growled, shouting across the wooden table.
“Who’s kicking?” Chris asked
as he barged into the conference room. “Nope, on second
thoughts, I don’t need to know.”
“What’s up, cowboy?”
Chris sank to the only chair that
was left. “Got a call from Josiah early this morning.”
“Guess you got the night off, hey
Ezra?” Buck kicked under the table and applied a bruise of his own on
the Southerner’s shin.
Ezra’s poker face remained
unchanged. “What makes you say that?”
“He called you again?”
“Seems to be routine.” He
reached under the table and absently rubbed his leg.
“He ring you before or after
“He needed your number…he lost
it and couldn’t remember it off hand.”
“Josiah wanted another week’s
leave approved. He’s decided to stay longer.” Larabee
“You give it to him?” Nathan
stood up and wandered over to the window. He glanced at the
overcast sky that threatened to end in rain before the day was over.
May as well be at work if he was going to be trapped inside anyhow.
He bet Josiah had perfect skies where he was, otherwise he wouldn’t
want to stay longer.
“Sure. Travis is going to
be pissed, but other than that…” he trailed off. “We need to
do some catch-up work…seems like everything has come to a standstill
this week.” At the chorus of moans he added, “Just till one,
then you can have the afternoon off.”
Week Two – Monday
Ezra Standish smoothly guided his
Jag into the parking space reserved for him. He whistled softly and
rolled his eyes. Nathan was going to be pissed. For the third
time in two weeks, the undercover agent had beaten Jackson to work.
He quietly thanked Josiah, and wondered what the giant of a man had
requested of the former medic to precipitate his late arrival.
With a cheeky grin he jauntily
stepped from the elevator, belying any fatigue that over-rode his body.
“Gentlemen,” he greeted. Standish glanced askew at the growing
number of miniature dinosaurs that adorned the profiler’s desk. He
wondered whether it was Vin or Buck who was leaving them there. Probably
Buck, he determined. He’d seen the ladies’ man rearranging them
“Hey, Ezra…You look like
shit!” Dunne stared at the haunted features of the Southerner and the
black circles that framed his eyes.
Ezra glanced down at his impeccable
choice of suit and polished shoes, expecting to find something obviously
“He don’t mean yer clothes,
Ezra,” Tanner drawled.
“Josiah still calling you?”
Larabee asked. He actually thought it was hilarious that the
profiler was making a habit of communicating with Standish every day, but
he’d be glad when the amateur archaeologist was back in Denver.
“Nathan’s not here,” Ezra
stated, emphatically changing the subject.
Buck chuckled, tossing a paper
plane through the air. It landed on Sanchez’s desk and knocked
over two of the dinosaurs. Buck immediately collected the model
plane and returned the figurines to their original position.
“Josiah wanted Nathan to water his plants…said it was urgent, seeing
as how they hadn’t been done since he left. Made Nate promise
he’d do it before work.”
“Guess that leaves just you and me,
Vin,” JD apprehensively predicted. “Wonder what he’s gonna get
us to do?”
“You want me to make a suggestion
to Josiah?” Ezra taunted.
“NO!” both younger men howled.
Chris Larabee had an early meeting
with AD Travis and didn’t return to his floor until after eleven.
He searched out his team and assessed each of them. He let out a
breath he was unaware of holding as he counted five heads. At least
they all made it to work, sometime that morning. “So who did
Josiah call?” Larabee raised a speculative eyebrow in the
“Reckon it was my turn,” Tanner
lifted his hand and waved.
“Why don’t you look like you’ve
been awake all night?”
Tanner smirked. “He only
called at six.”
Ezra cleared his throat and grumbled
under his breath. “That’s because I held him off until then.”
“What’s he got you to do?”
Wilmington grinned, expecting some major expedition.
“Nothing so bad,” he shrugged his
shoulders. “I just got to pick up a package from the post office.
Reckon I might take a bit longer for lunch,” he queried his boss, “so
I can call in and take it straight over to Josiah’s.”
“Sure, that’s alright.”
Vin parked his bike in the
five-minute pick-up zone and raced up the steps into the modern mail
centre. He hadn’t been here before, but Sanchez had given him the
address and assured him the package would be there that morning.
“Name’s Vin Tanner, I’ve been authorized to collect a package for
Josiah Sanchez. It should have this address on it.” Tanner
handed over the profiler’s address and frowned at the relieved
expression that crossed the clerk’s face. He asked if Vin wanted
to take it now and Tanner replied that he would.
“You want to follow me,” the
clerk signalled with his hand and disappeared through to the back room
behind the counter. He turned back and rubbed at his chin thoughtfully.
“You bring someone else with you?”
“No,” Vin drawled suspiciously.
He worriedly glanced at the packages that lined the room; some of them
were as big as a fridge. He swallowed apprehensively. “Which
one is from Josiah?”
The clerk pointed out two wooden
crates of similar size. Vin’s eyes widened. One crate alone
was bigger than his TV, and longer. There was no way he’d be able
to get them to Josiah’s on his bike. What the hell is inside
them, he mused? “Ah…I gotta make a phone call… and move my
“So you won’t be taking them
yet?” the clerk called after him.
“Larabee,” Chris answered.
He waited a minute and then interrupted, “Where are you, Vin?”
Buck watched as Larabee buried his
head in his hands and slowly replaced the receiver. “What’d
Junior do? He didn’t total his bike did he?” Buck asked
“Nope, nothing so simple,” Chris
grimaced. “Seems that Josiah’s package came in pairs and
they’re the size of a God damn sarcophagus.”
JD snorted. “Guess he can’t
balance ‘em too well on his bike.”
“Hmmm. I’ll be back in a few hours,” he grumbled. “Try and do some work while I’m gone,” Chris instructed.
“Chris, you okay?” Jackson
poked his head around inside his boss’s office. He’d watched the
blond walk stiffly across the room, not bothering to even acknowledge his
team or the fact that he was last to arrive. An occasion so rare
that it warranted tackling.
Larabee cautiously lowered his frame
into the swivel chair. “Must have pulled something yesterday when
we were loading Josiah’s crates to and from the Dodge. It’ll be
fine Nathan, I’ve had a hot pack on it for most of the night.”
“You want me to take a look?”
“Nah…” he dismissed the former
medic’s concern. “It’ll be right.”
“Whatever you say,” Nathan
“You all won’t believe what I
just found out,” Dunne’s voice held an odd note of awe.
“What’s that, kid?” Tanner
“I was messing around, just looking
up sites, when I came across a program for a seminar at that’s on in
April. One of the guest speakers is a J Sanchez…You think that’s
“You don’t say…” Wilmington
drawled. “Ole Josiah’s got a few more secrets stashed away in
“Is there a rundown on the
speakers?” Nathan’s curiosity peeked; he abandoned his computer
and leant over JD’s. He pointed at the screen and Dunne nodded
Dunne moved the mouse around and clicked a few times. “‘Josiah Sanchez is a respected veteran in the field of archaeology. Being widely travelled and having attended major sites in the many countries, including China, Egypt and Palestine, the Amazon and Chile, Mr Sanchez is well renowned for his theories and thesis surrounding the Minoan culture’… it continues on quoting stuff he’s written and there’s a really ancient photo of him at the bottom.”
“Yeah?” Wilmington whistled
and jumped up, joining Nathan crowded behind JD’s shoulder.
“Reckon you can get an enlargement of that photo?” Buck chuckled.
“Man look at his hair! Do you reckon it’s permed?”
Dunne groaned. “A child
could do that, Buck.” He only had to save the image and then
“So do it…it can be a welcoming
home present for him.”
“You mean along with the collection
of prehistoric creatures, Buck?” Ezra smiled.
“Who says they’re from me?”
“Well they ain’t from me,” JD
“Or me,” Jackson stated.
“And I can’t imagine Chris going
in for that,” Tanner smirked. “And I didn’t leave ‘em.”
Ezra titled his head, a growing smile
showing up his dimples. “Sprung!”
Wilmington shrugged. “Want to
see the one I picked up yesterday?” He removed a stegosaurus from
his pocket and stood it between the brontosaurus and the triceratops.
It’s legs move; and he proudly demonstrated.
The Southerner winced at the harsh
tone that erupted from Larabee’s office. He cast a speculative
glance at Tanner, but Vin shook his head – he didn’t know what Chris
“Standish!” Chris shouted again
just as Ezra arrived at his door.
Larabee shifted uncomfortably,
rubbing at his strained back. “When the hell is Sanchez getting
Ezra crossed his legs at his ankles
and leaned on the doorjamb. “Mr. Sanchez was considering asking
for an extended break…” the Southerner tormented, knowing full well
that that wasn’t the case.
Chris jumped out of his chair and bit
his lip as his back spasmed in pain. He straightened, deliberately
ignoring the discomfort. He pointed his finger accusingly at the
undercover agent and shook it. “You tell Josiah that if he isn’t
back in the country and ready to resume his caseload on Monday, then he is
Standish ducked his head, and
smirked. He hadn’t intended to cause Larabee any further stress,
but it was too great a temptation. Seeing the vein throb in Chris’
forehead, he decided to avail his boss. “Mr. Sanchez is booked on
the 8.40 flight into Denver Sunday evening.”
Chris sighed thankfully. “You
“I checked the reservation
Chris wondered whether he should have
one of them pick up the profiler from the airport. “You going
“I’ve advised Mr. Sanchez that I
will meet him at the terminal,” Standish finished. “Shall I call
you to let you know when he has returned to us safely?”
“Yeah…No!” he changed his
mind…Larabee didn’t want to know if Sanchez had changed his plans once
more. He followed Ezra from his office and took a step backward in
surprise. “What the hell is going on?”
“It was Vin’s idea,” Dunne
blamed, pointing a white hand in the direction of the Texan.
“Thought they might be nice for
Josiah, seeing as he’s interested in…”
Larabee curled his bottom lip.
“They’re moulds of our
hands…reckon they’d make a great paperweight. You could do feet
as well if you want.” Tanner picked up the heavy bucket full of
plaster and tipped it for Chris to see inside.
“I’m running a child care centre.
You planning on painting them too?” he asked sarcastically. God he
hoped Travis didn’t choose now for a visit.
“Hadn’t thought of that,”
Tanner grinned. “Not a bad idea. Thanks pard. You
gonna do one?”
Larabee shared a look of horror with
the Southerner and shot it back at Vin. “Has he done one?”
When the sharpshooter shook his head, Chris sighed with relief.
“When you get Ezra’s, then I’ll consider it.”
Ezra rolled his eyes.
“Don’t hold your breath, gentlemen.”
“So, Ezra… what did JD have to
“I’m sorry, Vin, but I have
absolutely no idea,” he repeated for the forth time.
“Both Buck and JD are late…so
it has to be something good…ah, come on,” he begged. “Spill
Ezra glanced to Chris and back again
to Tanner. “I honestly don’t know.”
“Go and get yourself a coffee, Vin.
Might calm you down until Laurel and Hardy show up.”
Jackson chuckled. If Buck and
JD were Laurel and Hardy… “So what does that make Vin and Ezra?”
His grin widened at the scowl Standish threw at him.
“The Hardy Boys,” Larabee grinned
“And Mr. Jackson and Sanchez?”
“They’d be…Batman and Robin?”
Chris improvised, not having considered labelling them before now.
“Why do they get to be
Vin returned from the break room,
coffee mug in hand and having only heard the last part of the
conversation. “I want to know which one of them is Robin?”
“I’m Batman,” Nathan bagged.
“I can’t imagine Mr. Sanchez in
the red and green outfit… or the tights for that matter.” Ezra
laughed at the image that came to mind.
“I reckon Josiah would make a
better Batman,” Tanner opined. “He is older.”
“I ain’t being no Robin,”
“Anybody tried ringing the CDC?”
“Got the answering machine.
So I guessed they were on their way.”
“How long ago was that, Nathan?”
Jackson looked at his wristwatch as
the elevator bell chimed in the foyer. “Reckon that’s them.”
“Boys,” Chris greeted
“Hi, Chris,” the moustached man
“Hi ya, Chris.”
“Dare I even ask why you’re only
now turning up for work?”
Dunne bowed his head. “It’s
all my fault…I kind of figured Josiah would be calling last night, so we
decided we’d just wait up…” he glanced to Buck. “But he
didn’t call. We stayed up all night and he didn’t call.
You don’t think there is something wrong, do you?”
“He’s fine, JD,” Ezra assured.
“But, but…So why didn’t he ring
me? He called all the rest of you.”
“Perhaps Mr. Sanchez was aware that
he’d already caused you to lose a night’s sleep when you fretted over
Mr. Wilmington’s absence.”
“But that was last week,” he
“JD, if Josiah rang you, he would
have woken Buck as well,” Tanner simplified.
“But he was already awake
anyhow,” Dunne persisted.
“Mr. Sanchez didn’t know that,”
Ezra smiled wryly.
“Just that I found this neat
site… and I thought Josiah might have wanted to know about it,” Dunne
“I’m sure he will be thrilled to
talk to you about it when he returns,” Standish assured.
“So I gather you put off leaving
the CDC in the hope that Josiah would eventually call,” Larabee
presumed. He sighed and shook his head in resignation when both
agents nodded affirmatively.
“Mr. Larabee, may I have a
word?” The Southerner hovered at Chris’ doorway.
“Come on in.”
Standish handed Larabee a form and
stood behind the visitor’s chair to wait for the explosion.
Chris looked up expectantly for an
explanation. “This is a leave application…”
“That is correct.”
“It’s for the beginning of next
month.” Larabee frowned wondering if his agent was as fatigued as
he appeared. “That’s only two weeks away, Ezra.” Damn it
was hard enough to manage Josiah’s leave with such short notice; leaving
him with one man down on the team. Now his undercover agent was
planning a sojourn.
“I should warn you that Mr. Sanchez
will also be requesting leave for the same week.”
“He has asked me to join him on the
“You’re going to, willing dig in
the dirt looking for old bones and crockery?” Chris asked doubtfully.
Standish was of the belief that any manual labour was to be avoided at all
“It seemed like a logical solution,
considering the past two weeks. I can explore the local province
during the day and discuss Josiah’s finds after he has returned to the
hotel at night.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Chris
‘That’s all I ask.”
Chris relaxed back into his chair and
thoughtfully stared after his agent. A weary smile came to his lips.
His back was still recovering from the strain caused from carrying those
crates. He couldn’t wait to find out what was inside them.
Josiah had certainly involved them all in his passion for archaeology, he
Hell, he didn’t want to go through the past two week again. Maybe Ezra had the right approach after all. Chris wondered what the chances were of getting the same time off for the whole of his team. He glanced speculatively at the phone, eventually picking it and dialling Travis. He could only try.
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