It’s All Your Fault

by Nadine

This is set in the ATF AU. Not sure what rating to give this story; PG13 maybe, there are a few bad words and two naked bodies with only general descriptions of them in it. My thanks to Mog for creating this AU.

Ezra let warm water from the shower wash over him, relaxing his aching muscles. He had finished washing the dirt, stink and God alone knows what else was in that duck-pond, from his skin. Now he was just enjoying the feel of the warm water. It had been too long since he had been able to indulge in being this clean. It was all Vin’s fault; the bust went down without any problems till Hopkins, the second in command of the gang of lawbreakers they were arresting, decided to flee as his fellow felons were being handcuffed. Vin took off after him.

Ezra didn’t think, he just followed Vin. There was no way he’d allow his partner to go running off without backup. This led to an abhorrent tour of some of Denver’s more colorful back streets and dirty alleyways as they followed the illusive criminal. The trail had them crossing a community park filled with families out enjoying the warm weather. The chase ended when the thief tripped over a duck in his mad dash around a duck-pond, causing him to fall into its murky depths. Vin, following close behind, slipped on the wet ground and ended up next to the felon in the water. When they managed to regain their footing in the slippery slime the criminal had had a knife in his hands; Vin a duck. With children in close proximity Ezra couldn’t dare risk using his gun; he had no choice but to tackle the pair. All three of them went under the filthy mire filled with honking waterfowls.

The local police officer, who had answered the call from anxious parents in the park, had to stop laughing at the soggy agents before taking the criminal off their hands. Fortunately, he knew Vin from his bounty hunter days and was willing to call Agent Larabee to verify their claim as ATF agents. They had to accompany the officer to the local police department to assist in the booking, then wait for Larabee to arrive per Chris’ orders. By the time the others got there Vin and Ezra had dried somewhat but they had acquired a smell.

When Chris and Buck walked through the doors they found the two soggy agents looking miserable and smelling like an unkempt barnyard. Chris had gotten the full story of the park adventure from the police officer and had to fight with himself to keep the smile off his face. Duck feathers and mud (he hoped it was mud) covered his two men from head to foot. The usually immaculate undercover agent looked like a drowned cat and Vin wasn’t any better. But they had caught the last bad guy, putting an end to Ezra’s undercover assignment. Chris decided he would have to come up with a creative punishment for them taking off on their own. Right now they reeked. Before he did anything to the pair they would have to get cleaned up.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra’s undercover assignment had had him living on the street for the last three weeks as a mentally unstable homeless person. Before becoming Crazy Eddie Stamp, Ezra had allowed his hair to go unwashed and grow long, getting Nathan to chop at it with his knives to make it look uneven and hacked. He also covered his gold tooth and went without shaving before hitting the streets. It took only a week for Ezra to get recruited to run errands by their target.

Their target was one Ricky Thalheimer, a rising drug and numbers runner.

The Narcotics unit of the Denver Police Department had asked ATF District Attorney Orin Travis to lend them someone who could assimilate himself into the area. Their own people were too well known by Thalheimer, who had made a study of the DPD Narcotics unit and knew their personnel. He was a low life who used mentally unstable homeless people to run his numbers and pick up his drugs all the while being watched from a safe distance by Thalhelimer’s gang members to be sure they didn’t wander off. Ricky Thalheimer claimed that the homeless would be useless to the cops as witnesses and if they disappeared no one would care. If they had anyone, then they wouldn’t be living on the streets. Everyone was in agreement that Ricky Thalheimer had to go down. With the help of Team Seven, the DPD now had Thalheimer behind bars with enough evidence to keep him there.

+ + + + + + +

Chris Larabee took his men back to the federal building. He wanted to get the reports done for Travis, which would finish up their end of the assignment on this case, at least till it went to trial. There was also the necessity of getting Vin and Ezra cleaned up. As it was, the drive back was done with all the windows open. He was going to have to get the Ram professionally cleaned to get the odor and feathers out of it.

Vin and Ezra went off to the men’s locker room by themselves as neither Chris nor Buck wanted to ride in the elevator with them. They left with the promise of clean clothing waiting when they got out of the showers. Buck went off to obtain clean garments for the pair, while Chris went to speak with Travis.

+ + + + + + +

When Ezra finally walked out of the locker’s showers, he was physically clean. He’d bathe again after he got home and pamper himself to a long soak in a hot tub of water and softer, longer bath towels than what were used at the Federal building. One towel barely circled his waist and with another he rubbed at his wet hair. He wasn’t used to long hair and it bothered him.

“Vin, how do you tolerate your mane of uncontrolled tresses on a daily basis?” asked Ezra.

Vin was already at his locker when Ezra walked up and asked his question. “Here use some of this.” He handed his friend a tube of hair conditioner. “One of my foster mothers got me started on this when I wouldn’t let her cut my hair. It works great on getting the tangles out and makes it a lot easier to get a comb or brush through. Just work a little of it into your hair.”

Vin went back to toweling his own hair wanting to get as much water out of it as he could before dressing. He hated putting on wet clothes and as Buck hadn’t shown up with any yet anyway he had time. The lean Texan had his spare towel drape loosely around his lean hips and nothing else on.

Ezra read the description off the tube before working a little of the conditioner through his still wet mane. It indeed worked wonders, for when he ran his comb through this time it was without the pain of pulled hair.

“Thank you Vin.” As he was now able to make short work of grooming his hair, he was about to tie it back off his neck when Vin stopped him.

“It will dry quicker if you leave it down.”

“Ah bow to your superior knowledge in these matters sir.” He let his hair stay down and went back to drying himself.

A wolf whistle cut the air and both men reach for their guns, dropping their towels in the process, ignoring their nude state as they searched for the intruder. At the end of their wall of lockers stood a group of women who were enjoying the sight before them. Vin cursed, taking a step backward and banged into his locker as he tried to cover himself with every towel he could get his hands on and crawl into the metal cubbyhole at the same time. The locker was too small but it didn’t keep him from trying. Ezra could feel the heat from Vin’s blush even with his back to him. Vin Tanner was well known for his shyness. To be caught naked by a group of women was a dire predicament indeed for the sharpshooter to find himself in.

Ezra decided to turn the women’s attention to himself. Having obtained most of his education in Europe, nudity didn’t disturb him in the least. He was comfortable in his own skin. Nakedness wasn’t a problem for him, so he didn’t make an effort to cover himself as he stepped over the low bench into the center of the walkway between the two rows of lockers.

“Stop right there and identify yourself,” he ordered.

The women stopped not because of the gun on them but to enjoy the sight before them. The undercover agent was a good looking man in his Armani suits, Ezra’s usual choice of attire. What they hadn’t known till now was those suits covered such a well-defined body. A light sheen of water still covered his torso, showing off his rippling muscles as he moved under the harsh lighting of the locker room. Agent Standish was a well muscled male from his broad shoulders and sturdy biceps down to his the well-shaped feet. Washboard abs, flat stomach and slim thighs, strong legs; a very nice packet any woman would like to enjoy.

“Sorry for the incursion Agent Standish,” said the young woman at the head of the group. She didn’t look sorry, none of them did. “I’m Linda Lesko from human resources and I was giving the re-evaluation tour of the building. Locating all the fire exits on each floor as required by the new mandates. No one answered when I called out before we entered. I didn’t realize there was anyone using the showers, you must not have heard me.”

“Well ladies if you’d elevate your line of sight to above ma waist it would be easier to deem the sincerity of your account," drawled Ezra as he relaxed. The women seemed to be what they said they were, and he had seen Ms. Lesko around the building. Ezra made no move to cover himself or lower his gun though. While the women didn’t seem to be a threat he wasn’t going to allow any distractions before he got them to leave.

“Really Agent Standish you don’t have to keep your weapon on us. We aren’t going to attack you,” said Ms. Lesko as she tried to keep her eyes above his waist; the chest was very nice too. “You can get dressed if you want.”

Twittering could be heard behind her as the double entendre was recognized. Ms. Lesko blushed as she realized what she had said.

One of the other ladies laughed outright and said. “He doesn’t have to get dressed on my account. I know I speak for the other ladies here when I say you are one fine looking man Mr. Standish. Are you seeing anyone?”

Ezra had the grace to smile and his cheeks turned slightly pink. “Ladies Ah believe the fire door exit you were looking for is by the stairs. If you will please verify its location and allow us to dress in private.”

Ms Lesko turned to her charges and addressed them. “I believe we have overstayed our welcome, shall we go?” Reluctantly, the women filed out, but not before taking another long look at the not so under-cover agent.

+ + + + + + +

Buck came in to the locker room looking over his shoulder at the departing women as they made their way up the stairs, finding his colleagues at their locker now dressed in their boxers.

“What’s going on guys? Ya having a party and didn’t invite me? Buck asked as he walked up to them. “I just saw a group of lovelies leaving here and overheard one of them say she never realized what those Armani suits were hiding. ” Buck looked over Ezra’s shoulder at Vin covered in towels and his face a bright red. Buck started to chuckle.

“They caught the two of you in your all together didn’t they?” Buck asked with a smirk as he handed Vin some of the items he had brought with him.

Ezra looked at those items of clothing but didn’t see his suit.

“Buck?” Ezra asked the lady’s man.

Vin didn’t answer Buck’s question, he just grabbed the clothes Buck handed him and put them on.

Ezra was getting impatient. He hadn’t gotten an answer from Buck, as he was too busy teasing Vin.

“Where is my suit, Mister Willmington?” demanded Ezra. All Buck had in his hands were jogging pants and t-shirts with the ATF logo on them. Where was the suit he kept in the bullpen’s closet for an emergency change of clothes? All he kept in his locker was a change of underwear and toiletries.

“Well it hasn’t come back from the cleaner,” Buck told him.

“And why was ma suit needing to be cleaned?” Ezra demanded.

Buck sighed. It had been his idea, so it fell to him to inform the Southerner of his transgression. Ezra was generous to a fault with his possessions (with his friends) but he wanted to be asked before they borrowed anything from him.

“Sorry Ez, we borrowed it when you were under cover. Chris and I had a meeting with that jackass Gedia from the FBI.”

Ezra indeed knew to whom Buck spoke of and agreed with Buck’s evaluation of the man. But what did it have to do with his suit?

“He called and wanted us to bring JD with us to go over the surveillance recording of the Berryhill case. Travis should have never turned over that case to the Feds, they blew it big time. Gedia wanted JD to go over the recording with their expert for this supervisor. But he had the gaul to tell us to make sure the kid dressed properly, he didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his boss by the kid’s lack of professionalism.”

Ezra’s eyes narrowed as he listened, JD was unsurpassed as an electronics expert. There was no one better when it came to computers and all things electronics related. As for his skill as a cop there were few better. He was one of the few Ezra wanted working beside him or watching his back. Those few were on Team Seven and in true big brother fashion he was angry that someone outside the team called JD a kid; a privilege allowed only to team members and a small number of close friends.

“Did the suit help?” Vin asked. He had been listening as he dressed in the clothes Buck had brought.

“Yeah, Chris put in a call to Travis and let him in on what was going on and bought us some time. Nathan and Josiah helped JD get dressed in your suit; he cleaned up real nice; he looked like a million bucks after they were done with him. Found out Gedia’s supervisor wasn’t happy with his team’s lack of success on the case and Gedia was trying to blame the information they got from us as the reason.”

“Were you successful in demonstrating otherwise?” asked Ezra.

Buck smiled as he thought of the meeting. “Between Chris’ glare and JD’s computer double talk Gedia didn’t know what was going on. The kid out did himself, he was more than professional and polite even to the jackass. Impressed Gedia’s boss to a point she offered JD a job. The kid turned her down nicely and everyone walked away happy but Gedia. His boss told him if he didn’t come up with something by next week she was turning the case back over to the ATF.”

“While Ah do not care to increase our work load, Ah am delighted that Mr. Gedia is in the preverbal doghouse,” remarked Ezra, “so Ah will forgive the pilfering of ma suit.”

Buck breathed a sigh of relief. He knew Ezra wouldn’t be annoyed about the suit after he heard the whole story. Ezra was almost as protective of the youngest member of the team as he was.

+ + + + + + +

The bullpen was empty when they got upstairs. A note in Josiah’s handwriting was taped to the office door explaining that Chris was still with Travis going over the case and that the others had gone out for food. Beside Josiah’s note was one from Chris ordering Vin and Ezra to get their reports started, not only from today’s arrest, but their unsanctioned stroll through the park as well.

‘This is all your fault,” Ezra told Vin as he sat down across from Vin.

Vin looked up from his side of the two desks. “You didn’t have to follow me.”

Ezra didn’t even bother to answer as he bent over to roll up the legs of the jogging pants, they must have belonged to one of the taller members on the team. The T-shirt was the right size but Ezra’s broad shoulders had the shirt hugging the contours of his muscular chest like a second skin, far from the Southerner’s usual well-tailored attire. With a final tug at his shirt and a glare at Vin for his asinine statement; he started his report.

Soon all three men were absorbed in their work. Vin decided he needed coffee and offered to get the other men some as well from the break room.

“No thank you, Ah’ll wait for our associates to return, optimistically they thought to stop at Starbuck's for a decent cup of coffee,” Ez said not looking up from his screen.

“You can get me a cup junior,” Buck told him. He looked up when Vin didn’t answer him.

Vin had stopped moving when he saw Ezra’s hair. The damp locks were drying and as they dried they curled. In all the time he had known the Southerner he hadn’t known that Ezra had curly hair. But then Ez took great care with his appearance. Vin had never seen the man unkempt unless working under cover. Even then every piece of his attire was under strict control. The curls around his face gave him a softer look, almost made him unrecognizable.

“Is there something amiss?” asked Ezra.

“Nope, my foot went to sleep and I’m giving it time to wake up. Sure ya don’t want coffee?”

“Quit sure, Ah’ll wait.”

Buck too had been caught by surprise by Erza’s curls. It was rare that Ezra let his hair grow past his collar, only on assignment and it was cut as soon possible after the bust went down. This was too good to pass up. He had to warn the others before they got back so as not to spook the undercover agent into getting it cut before Buck could get some pictures.

“Think I’ll go downstairs and get me something to tide me over till the guys get back with the food. There’s a new candy machine in the lobby. Ez you want anything?” asked Buck as he headed for the elevator.

“No thank you, Ah had enough junk food to last me a lifetime,” Ezra told him. His time on the street had him eating less than was healthy. The easiest provision to obtain had been fast food. He wished his teammates would settle down and let him work. All he wanted right now was to get the paperwork done and head for the comforts of his home. His feather bed beckoned, far surpassing the cardboard boxes he had been sleeping in for the last few weeks.

+ + + + + + +

Buck saw JD, Nathan and Josiah as soon as he got off the elevator. They were just getting through the security check and Buck waved them over to him.

“JD you got that phone with the camera in it?”

“Yeah why?” JD wasn’t about to turn over his new phone before he knew what Buck wanted with it.

“I want to take Ezra’s picture with it.”

“What’s going on?” asked Josiah. He shifted the bags in his hands till he had emptied one. Laying that free hand on Buck’s shoulder to get his attention. His boy had had a few rough weeks and Josiah wasn’t going to let a practical joke go too far as they had been known to in the past.

“Not to worry papa bear, it’s nothing that’s going to harm your cub,” Buck told the big man. “You might want a few copies yourself.”

Josiah had taken a fatherly interest in the undercover man and was known to be quite protective of Ezra. The paternal interest both pleased and embarrassed the young agent; especially when Josiah got physical with someone who tried to harm his young friend. When Ezra had first joined the team Josiah had stood up for the Southerner from the beginning, along with Vin. It had taken time for Ezra to return that trust, but once given it was a bond that would not be easily broken by either side.

“Then why don’t you explain it to me Brother Buck?” asked the big man, his hand still on the smaller man shoulder. So Buck did.

+ + + + + + +

Thinking Nathan and Josiah would be able to keep from staring, they went into the bullpen first, with Buck and JD bringing up the rear. It was a sober group that came in the bullpen, a fact the sent Ezra’s warning signals off the charts. There was no way Buck and JD could be together and not talk unless someone was dead or they were up to something. He was betting on them being up to something. But why were Josiah and Nathan staring at him? Vin was keeping his head down and pretending to work on his reports.

Josiah walked over and handed each man a food bag. Nathan handed out the coffee. One look inside the sacks had Vin and Ezra exchanging bags. Ezra had been looking forward to a meal not dripping in grease. But the actions of his associates had made him apprehensive.

“All right what’s going on?” Ezra demanded. All five of the men were openly staring at him now and Ezra wanted to know why.

“It’s your hair Ez,” JD spoke for the group. “Never knew you had curly hair before.”

“Curls?” muttered a bewildered Ezra as he brought a hand slowly up to his head and touched the chestnut locks.

For the first time in memory the hair on Ezra Standish’s head was free to be as nature had intended it to be, without the restraints of hair gels, sprays or any other form of discipline. Unclipped and allowed to be longer than the collar on his silk shirts. Ezra’s hair was free for the first time just to be and that was showing off its naturally curly state.

Buck pulled out a mirror from his desk drawer and handed it to the undercover-man, who examined his reflection. By the puzzled look on his face the others realized Ezra hadn’t a clue to his hair condition.

Josiah spoke up. “Ezra all of those schools you went to growing up had strict dress codes didn’t they?”

“Very, there was no deviating from the norm.” answered Ezra as he studied his reflection. Where had the curls come from? His hair had always been kept short to abide by the dress code of whatever school he had been attending. It had gotten to be a habit over the years. He couldn’t remember ever being allowed to be untidy. Appearances were everything, a lesson he had been taught early and repeatedly. He hesitantly touched one curl, pulling it out straight and watched as it sprung back when he let it go.

“Gee Ez didn’t ya ever rebel and refuse to get it cut?” asked JD, whose own hair, like Vin’,s was longer than regulation.

Ezra, preoccupied with the novelty of his hair, answered absentmindedly. “There were more… circumspect methods of rebelling against the system than the length of one’s tresses.”

“Yeah, what’d you do?” asked Vin ,who had stopped pretending to work and was eating.

Ezra didn’t answer; he kept looking into the mirror, trying to make up his mind whether he liked it or not. Should he keep his hair this way (sure to annoy Chris and Travis) or get it cut as soon as possible? He was ever mindful of his appearance, and the look really wouldn’t go with his Armani suits or preferred lifestyle. He didn’t notice Buck taking his picture with JD’s cell-phone.

“Ezra… Ezra!”…Josiah had to say his name twice before getting the Southerner’s attention.

Ezra looked up away from the mirror just as Buck took his picture again. That did it, he reached for his phone. “It’s coming off.” He started to call his barber to make an appointment to get it cut.

“Ezra you have a visitor,” Josiah told him.

It was Ms. Lesko from human resources. Ezra put down the phone and stood up. “Is there something Ah can do for you Ms. Lesko?”

“No Agent Standish I just wanted to thank you for not being more upset with me and the other ladies for walking in on you like that. If it had been the other way around I might not have been so understanding,” said Ms. Lesko as she raked her eyes over Ezra’s chest. The tight black T-shirt covering his upper body displayed the muscles under it, more than it concealed them.

“It was a mistake Ah’m sure you won’t be making again,” Ezra told her. “All is forgiven, Ms Lesko. ”

“In that case… would you like to go out for dinner with me this Saturday night? And it's Linda.”

“Ah'd be delighted to, Linda, if you’d do me the honor of calling me Ezra. When would you like to be picked up?”

“It’s my invitation Ezra, I would like to pick you up around seven if that’s alright,” Ms. Lesko countered with a smile before adding, “I like the curls.”

“You almost make me want to give in to ma fancy of keeping them. Unfortunately, it’s not practical in ma job.”

“Too bad.” Ms Lesko looked at her wristwatch. “I’m afraid I need to get back. I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

“As am Ah,” said Ezra as he walked around his desk to escort her to the elevators.

Nathan looked over to Vin for an explanation. “What’s that all about?”

“Ms Lesko is with personnel. She was leading a group of women on a tour of the building’s floor plan and all of the fire-door exits and walked in on us in the locker room,” Vin answered.

Buck was watching the pair at the elevators. “She’s a little pretty thing isn’t she? The way she was looking at old Ez… he could get lucky.”

“Buck get your mind out of the gutter,” Nathan scolded him, “I sure they’ll have a nice time just having dinner. Not everyone jumps into bed on the first date like you do.”

Buck just grinned and started to turn his attention back to his report when Vin let out a noise that make them all jump.

“No one apologized to me,” said Vin looking irritated for he had just realized it. “I was there too.”

“Bet you were hiding behind Ezra,” snickered JD.

Vin didn’t answer but his cheeks turned pink at the memory of only being covered in the few towels he could get his hands on at the time. There hadn’t been that many.

“Brother if you were hiding behind Ezra, they most likely only saw him standing there,” Josiah told him.

Before the conversation could get any more uncomfortable Chris, Travis and Ezra walked into the bullpen.

“Sorry Agent Standish, you will have to change your weekend plans. Agent Larabee has volunteered you to take this assignment along with Agent Tanner,” DA Orin Travis told them. “This assignment with help out a fellow police department and promote goodwill between the two agencies.” To himself Travis thought, It serves you and Tanner right for worrying everyone for taking off the way you did.

Ezra turned to Chris. “You said you weren’t going to let us be loaned out again.”

Chris grinned as he walked over to stand behind Vin. “That was before the two of you took off without backup this morning.” He leaned over a little, just enough to make sure Vin felt his presence. “None of us saw you go.”

Vin broke in trying to justify his and Ezra’s actions. “If Hopkins had got away, he’d just start up somewhere else with Thalheimer’s ideas. Hopkins was Thalheimer’s lieutenant, he knows all Thalheimer’s suppliers and buyers. We’d be doing all this again as soon as he could set up shop.”

Chris wasn’t buying any of it. “You could have stopped long enough to let any of us know where you were going. One call, and I know you had your cells on you, I heard them ring earlier.” Chris wasn’t happy he’d spent so much time worrying this morning on what could have happen to his men. “You’re going.”


“No buts.”

+ + + + + + +

“This is all your fault, Mr. Tanner,” growled Ezra as he tugged at his dress before entering the nightclub.

Transvestites were being attacked at the gay nightclubs in the area and they were demanding something be done about it. Ezra and Vin were acting as decoys to catch those responsible.

“This is all your fault Vin Tanner,” Ezra growled again later that night as he tried to strut in his high-heeled shoes. His feet hurt as did another appendage that had to be taped down as he played the part of a transvestite. Both were dressed and made up; going to gay nightclubs in the area hoping to draw the attackers out. Ezra was the woman in red from his high heel shoes to a tiny red hat setting among his curls that he hadn’t been allowed to cut for this assignment. Vin was voguishly dressed in a bright blue outfit and a long green feather bola that matched his high heels. Hair, makeup and clothes were courtesy of a local queen who had wanted to help out. They made quite a sight as they waltzed into each social establishment. They didn’t lack for dance partners anywhere they went, not that they wanted to dance. But they had to make it look real.

Unknown to the pair was the fact that Chris and Buck were watching over them as they left each club. They had taken over surveillance from the local police earlier in the evening. Chris and Buck were now setting in a nondescript SUV with blacked out windows in the parting lot with the surveillance equipment listening to every word.

“You going to tell them that the local cops caught the attackers?” asked Buck

“Nope,” said Chris as he got comfortable in his seat. I’m going to let them go to a few more clubs before pulling them in. I hired a guy I knew from when I worked vice to keep hitting on them and to follow them from club to club.”

“That’s evil. I’m proud of you hoss.”

Chris smiled as he and Buck watched Ezra and Vin stomp out of the club with a man following them out practically on their heels. As they waited for their car to be brought around, the man kept trying to pick them up using one bad pick up line after another. Finally Vin had enough as he turned to face the man. “Stop following us. We’re not interested in you, we do not want to dance with you, we do not want to talk to you, we do not want to go home with you. Do you understand?” Vin said all of this loud enough to be heard inside of the SUV even without the use of the microphones the agents were carrying.

The man dropped to his knees at Ezra’s and Vin’s feet with his arms outstretched and started in declaring his undying love for the two most heavenly angels on Earth; describing their beauty and other attributes in great details. He did this at the top of his lungs much to the amusement of the patrons in the parking lot and the embarrassment of the two agents. Chris and Buck didn’t try to hold back their laughter as they got the whole thing down on tape.


I know that in the real world, the locker room scene would have ended in legal suits being filed. But luckily this isn’t the real world. This all started out as a plot-bunny trying to get a wet and longed haired Ezra story. I might have got a little carried away. Hope you liked it.