Office Politics

by Luna Dey

Author’s Note: This fic was written just as a fun little piece in response to a list challenge. I hope ya'all enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I do not own them. They are the property of MGM, Mirisch, and Trilogy Entertainment; however, if they ever come up for sale, I will be in the front row at the auction.

Feedback: Feedback is welcome and greatly appreciated, but no flames please.

Completed: 3-30

Chris Larabee walked into his office and slammed the door behind him. Six pairs of eyes looked to each other in surprise. It wasn't that it was unusual to see their team leader in a foul mood, but it was unusual for him to come in to work that mad. Each of the six ATF agents shifted nervously in their seats; each wondered if he was the reason for the boss's ire.

Suddenly, the door to Larabee's office was yanked open and the blonde leader stuck his head out and glared at JD. "Coffee! Now!" he snapped at the younger man causing him to jump quickly to his feet.

"Sure, Chris. Anything else?" he asked his boss, much more cheerfully than he really felt.

The man in the door just turned the glare full force on the young agent and went back into his office. JD watched the retreating form with some trepidation. He was sure now that he was the one who had done something wrong to cause this latest visit from the famed Larabee temper.

"I said NOW, JD!"

Dunne nearly did a 180-degree turn in mid jump in his haste to get out the door and make his way down to the break room. With shaky hands he poured the coffee into the mug, and started to go back to the office. He noticed that Ezra had stopped at the pastry shop that morning and there were some of Chris's favorites among those that were left. In hopes of softening up the boss a little, he grabbed a napkin and picked up one of the pastries to deliver along with the coffee.

Back in the office, JD tentatively knocked on Larabee's door and entered when he heard a muffled acknowledgement come from inside. He walked hesitantly to the desk and waited for Chris to look up. "Just set it down and go," the blonde said as he sat poring over some papers on his desk. Dunne leaned over to set the coffee and the pastry within easy reach for the older man and managed to catch sight of the headings on some of the papers. He turned pale and swallowed hard when he saw what they said. With a sense of foreboding the young agent turned and went back into the bullpen with the others.

The others agents watched as the youngest member of their team came in and flopped heavily into his chair. The expression on his face spoke volumes. Whatever had taken place inside that office did not bode well for the team, because what affected one affected them all.

Wilmington made his way over to his roommate and perched on the corner of his desk. "Hey, Kid, y'all right?" The dark haired lady's man looked at the stricken expression on his young friend's face and felt his jaw clench. Damn that man! He knew how sensitive JD was, and he damn well better not have hurt the kid again.

JD looked up at his best friend and nodded. "Yeah, I'm alright, but I think I know why Chris is so upset." This caught the attention of the remaining agents in the room, and they all stopped what they were doing to join Wilmington at the younger man's desk.

"Well, Mr. Dunne, are you going to elaborate on that statement, or do you plan to keep us all in suspense?" the team's undercover agent asked impatiently.

JD felt a big hand come to rest on his shoulder in a reassuring gesture and looked up to see Josiah giving him an encouraging look. "Go ahead, son. If there is something bothering Chris we might be able to help."

"I don't think we can help this time, Josiah." He hesitated a moment and organized his thoughts before continuing to speak. "When I went to set the coffee down, I noticed the headings on the papers Chris was workin' on." The kid stopped to steady himself, because he was becoming more upset the more he thought about those papers.

"Just spit it out, JD. Yer startin' to scare us, Pard," the team's sharpshooter urged him on.

"He's working on the budget," JD blurted out. "The papers were about budget cuts and staff reductions."

The silence in the room became oppressive as the five stared slack jawed at their youngest member. Ezra found his voice first. "Oh good Lawd! Do you suppose that means that he has to eliminate one of us?

Nathan shuddered at the statement and looked accusingly at Standish. "Don't ya think you could have chosen a better way of sayin' that? I can't say I care much for the idea of being eliminated."

"Well, he just can't do that!" Wilmington protested. "We are a family, not just co-workers. We all need each other and count on each other. He can't split us up."

"I agree, brother," Josiah spoke up softly, "but, it might be out of his hands. The higher powers might not be giving him any choice."

"It'll be me." Dunne said matter-of-factly. "I am the youngest and the most inexperienced. It'll be me."

"No, it'll be me," Buck interjected. "You are too good on the computers for them to let you go. If they have to get rid of someone it would be me. They don't have to have two on surveillance."

"We can be sure it won't be Vin or Ezra," Nathan supplied. "They are both too valuable. There isn't anyone that's a better sharpshooter than Vin, and hell, Ezra could convince and Arab that he was a camel if he set his mind to it."

"As much as I appreciate that vote of confidence, Mr. Jackson. I do believe that when bureaucracy is involved, no one is safe." Inwardly, Ezra knew he was good at his job, but he also knew he had caused their leader more headaches than he cared to admit.

The phone rang, causing six large, fearless ATF agents to jump. They looked at each other sheepishly, embarrassed by their reaction. Josiah grabbed the receiver before it could ring a second time. "ATF, Sanchez here." There was a pause while he listened to the person on the other end of the line, and five pairs of eyes looked on expectantly. "Yes Sir, I'll make sure he knows." Josiah replaced the receiver into its cradle and looked at his friends. "AD Travis is on his way up. He needs Chris's recommendations now." There was a heaviness in his step as he walked to Larabee's door and knocked lightly.

The team's profiler opened the door and stepped inside to deliver the message, but before leaving the office he paused to look at the man behind the desk. "Chris? Is everything alright?" his concern obvious in his voice. Larabee continued to look down at the papers on his desk and simply waved Josiah out the door without answering.

In the outer office, the others had scattered back to their own desks and were making an attempt to look busy when the AD arrived. Sanchez followed their example, but found he was not able to concentrate well. He could not imagine the team without any one of them.

A few minutes later AD Travis breezed into the room and headed straight for Chris's office without saying a word. He opened the door and walked on in without knocking. Time seemed to drag for the six men who waited. They had all given up any pretense of trying to work and sat watching the clock as the minute hand move with agonizing slowness.

At last the door to the inner office opened and Travis stepped out followed closely by Larabee. "Boys, we have an announcement to make," Chris said seriously.

Each agent looked to his colleagues for a moment before turning his undivided attention on the two men standing outside Larabee's door.

"Gentlemen," Travis began. "There are times in this job when I have the pleasure of passing on good news, but more often than not, I have the sad task of passing on bad news." He paused to make sure he had all their attention. "Today, it is my pleasure to inform you, that you have all been recommended for commendations for performance above and beyond the call of duty. "

Six jaws dropped and you could have heard a pin drop in the room. Chris Larabee and AD Travis both broke out laughing at the stunned expression on the agents' faces. Chris walked over to JD's desk and dropped a paper in front of the young man. It was the paper about the budget cuts and staff reductions. Dunne picked it up and looked at it, and then he blushed bright red as he looked up at his boss. Larabee grinned down at him and through stifled chuckles said, "April fool, JD."

The members of team 7 looked at their leader as if he had suddenly grown a second head. Did he really just say April fool?

They watched Travis and Larabee turn and go back into Chris's office and heard the two burst into laughter again once the door had closed. Suddenly, the door popped back open and the blonde stuck his head back out. "Oh, by the way, the commendations are real." He then turned his gaze to JD. "For once, I got you before you could get me." With that he ducked back inside, leaving six very stunned and very relieved ATF agents behind him.

Buck said nothing as he rose easily from his chair and walked to Josiah's desk where he picked up a newspaper. He folded it up as he walked across the room. WHAP!!! The sound of the paper smacking JD in the back of the head filled the room.

"Ow!!!! What was that for?"

"That was for scaring me outta ten years of my life," Wilmington informed his young friend. "April fool, more like April fools. He got us all through you, kid."

The young agent thought a second and then grinned. "Yeah, he did, didn't he? He got us good too." Suddenly he found himself ducking behind his desk as a barrage of paper balls came at him from all directions.

Unnoticed by his teammates, Vin sat and smiled to himself. Yeah he did JD. He got us good. He turned his eyes to the team leader's door, and anyone watching could not have missed the glint of mischief in those clear blue eyes.


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