by Kris

ATF Universe

Sequel to Hoax

Authors note: As this story picks from the next day…you really need to read Hoax. Sorry, otherwise you might be kinda lost. Lenny Hoskins used with permission from Bern. Referenced her story Betrayal.


As the sun crested the highest peak, Josiah was still sitting by the fire, watching over the family. The emotional day had taken its toll and six men slept. Chris was almost invisible as he pillowed the heads of three men. Ezra and Vin each had their heads on Chris’ chest and JD had his head on Chris’ thigh, while JD’s hand rested on Ezra’s chest. Even in sleep, they needed the reassurance that the men they’d almost lost, were really with them.

Nathan slept flanking Vin, while Buck flanked Ezra, as they too felt the need to stay close and protect. Josiah watched over them all. He kept the fire going and reflected on their good fortune that kept the group intact once again.

The harsh realities of day would soon refocus their attention to the situation that forced them here. That someone wished to inflict intense emotional pain in the form of faking Ezra’s death. Nearly costing the emotional well-being of five, to crippling degrees. They would need to deal with it quickly, find the cancer or it could erode the healing that had been accomplished. Josiah swore that he would guard that healing with his life. He himself, had been forced to face the depth of importance this group of men had come to mean. To be accepted as is, is a gift that is as rare as finding your own true family.

Chris Larabee woke with a cold back and a warm chest. He opened his eyes and was overjoyed to discover that is wasn’t a dream and Ezra was alive and Vin was safe. Ezra’s eyes flew open when he detected a change in Chris’ breathing. Green eyes immediately sought out hazel ones to reassure himself that all was well. Chris sucked in his breath as his eyes connected with the green eyes, that held nothing back. Chris saw affirmation that he was as necessary as air to the owner of those green eyes. He decision to stay wasn’t wrong.

“Morning cowboy, seems you ain’t as smart as Ez and I, we had comfortable pillows.” Though the voice was light and airy, the blue eyes that connected with hazel ones told a different story. The honest relief that the box of pain will stay closed another day, was there for him to see. The blue eyes moved and caught the green and betwixt them the message of contentment passed between ‘em.

JD sat up, ready to attack another day. Buck leaned up and rested on one arm and smiled. JD, Chris, Ezra and Vin were whole and he took the first breath not filled with fear in two weeks.

Josiah looked over at Nathan and asked aloud, "Nathan, you asleep?”

“No, just enjoying this beautiful place because we’re here together.” A simple statement, a wealth of meaning.

Josiah smiled, then pointed over his shoulder, "Coffee.”

Six scrambled to sit, coffee. JD told them to stay still, he’d pour. He passed out the paper cups and poured the coffee. Strong, but better than none. JD turned and asked Josiah, "Where you get the coffee?”

“I’ve learned to go nowhere with you fellas without a large supply of the stuff. Why, Ezra alone can drink one pot himself.” Happy at being able to tease him at all.

“Hey you guys, everybody stand up. I’ve got a camera, and I want a picture.” He was hit with a chorus of ohhs and uhhs, but they all stood and assembled together. JD set the timer, then ran to stand between Ezra and Buck. Chris was flanked by Vin and Ezra, and he had his hands on both their shoulders. Nathan stood between Vin and Josiah. As the timer buzzed and the flash illuminated them, seven genuine smiles were captured for posterity.

“Let’s go get something to eat,” Vin asked of the group, realizing that he was really hungry. They gathered the few things they had and took off for the vehicles. They hit a Denny’s in Blacktail and got a rounded booth in the back.

They ordered, and scarfed down their food. Then asked the waitress to keep the coffee coming. Chris looked at each member of his family and smiled. Then, before their eyes, Team 7 leader appeared, saying, "We need to figure what the hell happened and why.”

“Well, my mother, will be able to provide some information,” Ezra said in a non-emotional voice.

“Maude? Why?” Chris asked.

Nathan and JD both looked to Ezra, but could tell the betrayal was too close right now. So Nathan answered for him, "Seems Maude helped with the video. It was made in France the first week of his stay there. Ezra thought he had been sick, but I believed that he had been drugged and so has no recollection of any of the events we saw. She told Ezra that she had called you and obtained permission for him to stay the additional time.” Nathan stopped, his disgust was starting to show in his voice and he didn’t want to make it harder on Ezra than it had to be.

JD was gratified to see the incredulous looks on Chris and Vin’s faces, sort of mirrors what he had felt too. As Chris gently rested his hand on Ezra’s shoulder, JD added the most hurtful information, "Maude did it for two million dollars.” Chris gripped his shoulder harder as JD leaned into Ezra and whispered in his ear, "Ez, you got your real family around you now.”

Pulled out of his thoughts by JD’s words, he smiled down on his honest face, "Indeed I do.” He looked up to the eyes of his friends and found nothing but compassion and understanding and…. caring….so profound that another shard of Ezra’s heart healed.

“So’ll we’ll need to contact her,” barely contained fury simmered under the surface and Chris was sure he would strangle her if she were here now.

Buck could feel the anger and deflected it, "Delivery of the videos was a cash transaction to a private delivery company. Said the customer read the directions. Figured that he was just hired for only that particular job. No fingerprints could be found on four of the tapes. One of the tapes was destroyed and one tape couldn’t be found.” Buck directed the last part to Vin and Chris.

“Destroyed.” Vin spoke the one word with certainty, and his darkened blue eyes left no doubt as to the savage way it ended up.

Josiah spoke up with some of the thoughts he had percolating, "This enemy is not done. He wanted us emotionally broken first. This tells us, he knows us…..knows the teams reputation in-house as being closer that most. The enemy resides close to us, and wanted to see the effects of his work. We’ve probably pissed him off, we left.”

“Well, ain’t that a damn shame.” Buck’s savage feelings weren’t hidden what so ever. “And he’s made a deadly error, he’s fucked with the wrong team. No one, NO one gets away with that.”

JD smiled, "Were gonna get 'im.”

“Damn right!” Josiah affirmed.

“Hell yes!” Nathan second.

“Bet your sweet ass we are!” Buck was determined to kick some ass.

“Well, gentlemen,” the twinkle in Ezra’s eye belied his thoughts on the gentlemen part, "It appears this walking dead man’s plan backfired. Instead of breaking us, we have forged a stronger bond.”

Chris felt the determination settle in, each man making it personal. ‘Walking dead man’ Chris thought, ‘yeah, I like the sound of that.’ Aloud he said, "Let’s get everything set up to work out of the ranch, we stay of out sight, it might drive the enemy into the open. We need to use every source of information gathering at our disposal, and make up news ones. This does not go unresolved. No one is allowed to hurt my team…..” Chris lowered his voice as emotion gripped it, “….my family.”

Chris took out his Visa card, JD took it to the register, several guys went to fill their thermos’ and answer nature’s call. Vin and Buck still sat at the table, Chris asked them, "What does Travis know?”

“We never told him Ez was alive, hell we never told him you and Vin were gone. Don’t rightly know what he knows now.” Buck answered.

“We only used cell phones. JD wiped our emails. No info to be gathered.” Vin added.

“Vin, call Travis, have him meet us at the Colorado Springs airport. We’ll fly in there, and drive back. Don’t tell him anything over the phone, tell him it’s emergency.” Chris asked of Vin. Vin nodded and pulled out his cell phone.

“Buck, about your truck….” Chris started, but Buck interrupted.

“This time, it’s okay pard, I’m jes' glad that you’re back with us. Anyway, your insurance covered it.” Buck grasped Chris’ shoulder and squeezed hard before he got up and went to the bathroom.

Vin hung up the phone, "I think he’s worried, said he’ll be there this afternoon.”

They had three vehicles and four hours before their flight. JD rode with Buck, who was driving Chris’ truck. Chris, Vin and Ezra rode together in Vin’s jeep, Chris wanted to stay close, their emotions were still raw. And Nathan rode with Josiah, they turned in one of the rent-a-cars, but kept the nicer one.

Ezra drove, he wanted something to focus his thoughts on. Chris realized this and sat in back. Vin was amused that Ezra hadn’t complained about the hard shifting. Chris sat thinking and burst out with, "Shit, I wish Maude was a man so I could punch her block off.”

Ezra sort of laughed, "There has been a time or two, that I have wished the same thing. I just apologize to you for the anguish her greed has caused.”

“Hell, Ezra, it ain’t your fault. I know she’s yer mom and all, but I don’t think she has a keen sense of right and wrong. And, remember, she caused you as much pain as she caused the rest of us.”

Ezra nodded his head a few times, but kept his head facing forward. Chris leaned forward, he placed a hand on each man’s shoulder, "Her action did do something tremendously worthwhile… ….…” Vin turned to look at Chris, Ezra took his sunglasses off and waited, “….I discovered that I’m not really alone.” He squeezed their shoulders, "You are really there for me, and I’m really there for you.” Chris’ voice became a little raspy as he finished, "I can endure hell with that knowledge.” Chris looked up into the rear view mirror and met the green eyes there, the single tear that spilled and the message of gratitude reached out wrapped around Chris’ heart. Vin placed his hand over Chris’ hand that rested on Ezra’s shoulder, and nodded his head in agreement.

Ezra turned on to the freeway, it would now be too noisy to talk, but each were content in the company.

Buck turned on the radio and was singing softly as JD had fallen asleep.

Josiah was glad he had Nathan all to himself, he’d been worried about him. He’ been left to his own devices in this ordeal. Josiah had been so wrapped up in his own grief that Nathan endured the brunt of office duties without complaint. He looked over at his silent friend and asked, "You okay now?”

Nathan shook his head as he said, "That woman has a lot to answer for.”

“That she does.”

“Josiah, I really want to yell at the woman, just let loose on her about her treatment of Ez.”

Josiah almost smiled, "Nathan,..yell…you?”

Nathan raised his eyebrows, and half smiled himself, "Yeah, me. I know I don’t yell much,…. don’t mean I don’t feel though. My father taught me that yelling was hiding what I was really feeling, and it would be time better spent to figure out why I wanted to do the yelling in the first place. Ya know, he was right. Right now the yelling would mean that I hate Maude, and how she’s treated all of us.” Nathan paused, looking out at the scenery that flashed by quickly. “Ya know, Josiah, most of the time when were all together, I don’t even remember that I’m a black man, I don’t think about color at all. I have found a brotherhood, not in color or ancestry, but a brotherhood in the knowledge that we seven are somehow connected in life. And the feeling is really like family. Hell, sometimes I think that Chris and I are the only ones that know what a good family life was. And when faced with the harm to this special family, it’s been doubly hard, ya know it just doesn’t happen very often.” Nathan looked back at Josiah now, his voice registering the dangerous man that lurked inside, "I will fight anyone that would try to destroy it.”

“I stand beside you in that fight Nathan.” Josiah put out his hand and Nathan grasped it, and they each squeezed, like they were signing a blood oath.

Colorado Springs

They saw Travis before he saw them, so they hid Ezra behind them and waited in the luggage pick-up.

Travis saw the six members of Team Seven and was surprised at the less than shattered looks he expected. “What’s up, what’s the emergency?”

The men separated and revealed Ezra standing there right as rain. To say Travis was surprised would be an understatement. His jaw dropped and he was speechless. “What, how? What in the blazes is going on?” He paused, then continued without waiting for an answer. “I’ve got a van, you want a ride back? Figured it might be the only way I could keep you in one place long enough so’s I can get some answers.”

Chris smiled as he shook the Judges hand. They didn’t have much gear. So the judge led the way.

Chris said to the Judge, "We need to have someone retrieve Vin’s jeep and my truck from the Great Falls airport. We needed to return quickly.” The Judge raised his eyebrows as he agreed to send someone up today.

Travis waited until they cleared the airport before he asked for an explanation. They filled him in on all that transpired concerning the actual events and suppositions. The personal journeys were just that, personal. When he got the information about Maude’s involvement, Chris and Josiah could see the deadly man that was hidden inside. Josiah added his take on the profile.

This had the Travis musing, "So it’s someone in the building, possibly from the upper floors. Someone that can come and go without being noticed. I’ll get a list of names of everyone in the building, including regular and frequent visitors.”

“Appreciated, we’ll be working from the ranch. If this enemy can’t see us, we’re hoping to force his hand.”

“Just be careful, I don’t want to lose any member of this valuable team.” Travis filled them in from any of the missed meetings of the last three weeks. “Hoped you all enjoyed your vacations.” Letting them know how he covered their absence.

As they hit Denver, Travis asked where to. Chris said with sincere resignation, "The Cesspit. We need a vehicle.”

At the groans, Ezra volunteered, "My car is at home, it will hold all of us.” Chris nodded at the Judge.

“Then we can make the individual stops for your stuff before we head out to my place.” Chris gave his men a look.

Travis saw the look and smiled, "I’ll do both stops, just call me Mr. Bus Driver.” Travis smiled broader at the different expressions. “Oh, by the way, glad to have you back Standish.” Travis added with a genuine smile.

+ + + + + + +

Next two days were spent on the computer and on the phone. Calling in markers, talking with snitches, running down every name of every worker in the entire ATF building.

Ezra called Lenny, told him what’s what and asked him to poke around. Vin emailed Frolicke and Byers, willing to try anything to get what they needed.

Third morning Chris gets a call from Travis. “Chris, you alone?”

Chris got up from their outdoor breakfast table, and walked inside, "Am now.”

“Maude was in my office an hour ago. She’ll be calling me shortly. She wants to see Ezra.”

Chris growled into the phone, "No way.”

Travis sighed, it’s what he expected. “Chris, she’ll cause a stink, and that could cause us more problems than you want right now. Already made her wait as she didn’t have an appointment.”

Chris paced his living room, primitive-like, thinking, "Not alone. At our offices. Eleven a.m. tomorrow. No compromises on this.”

Travis expected to hear a lion’s roar follow. “Chris, I did get the names of who she worked with on her end.” Travis was sure now he heard a growl, "I’ll FedEx to the ranch by this afternoon…..Chris ……she was paid in cash.”

“Shit.” Chris broke the connection and headed back outside. He stood at the door, searching out green eyes. As if feeling the connection, green eyes instantly hooked with hazel. The silent communication had Ezra grabbing his coffee and heading inside after Chris.

Vin watched a jeans and t-shirt clad Ezra rise and leave, tuned in to the communication. He looked at Josiah, on the alert also.

Chris was already leaning against the post out front when Ezra closed the screen door behind him. He watched Chris, noticing that he seemed agitated, "Bad news?”

“Depends on who you’re talking to,” Chris half smiled at his own answer.

Ezra just waited, Chris would get it out in his own time, "Maude made an appearance at the ATF offices this morning.” Chris felt Ezra stiffen ever so slightly. “Wants to see you. Travis made her wait an hour, said she didn’t have appointment.”

Ezra smiled at the picture of an outraged, impatient Maude.

Chris broke into his thoughts, "I told Travis that we all would be in tomorrow morning. All seven of us.”

“Chris, I can handle my mother myself. You don’t need to go through all her theatrics.”

Chris sat down next to Ezra on the porch. Waiting for Ezra to turn his face to his, Chris wanted the eye connection. Needed to convey with his eyes what his words might lack. “Ezra, there is no way that I am letting you face her alone. She needs to see that we are together…you are no longer alone, and Ez… need your support system. Sometimes that women says some of the most horrendous things, and I’m not sure she actually realizes just how bad she sounds.”

Ezra was overwhelmed by the message, both in the words and from eyes that didn’t know how to lie. Ezra nodded, and let his eyes say thanks. They sat there together, Ezra basking in the knowledge that he really wasn’t alone, Chris marveled in the bond that was growing stronger by the hour. As if the bond was tangible, Vin rounded the corner.

“What’s up?”

“Maude’s in town,” Chris told him.

Vin’s eyes hardened, "You’re not going alone, Ez.” His voice this side of a snarl.

“Where’s Ezra not going alone?” JD asked as came through the front door, followed by Buck. “Josiah? Nathan?” JD called out, he wanted them there too.

“We’re here,” Nathan returned.

Vin just plain snarled, "Maude’s in town.”

“Of course Ezra’s not going alone.” JD said aloud, then at Ezra, "We’re not gonna let her hurt you anymore.”

Ezra tried to remember when he had so many fight for him, the feeling of unity threatened to truly overwhelm him. Chris squeezed his shoulder as Ezra took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and thought to himself…family.

+ + + + + + +

Seven men got off the elevator, united in purpose. Discovering the perpetrator of a hoax that hurt all seven of them. A key stood in the bull pen. They approached her together.

Maude was pacing impatiently, "Ezra, dear, I really don’t like to be kept waiting.” She tapped her foot as she looked straight at Ezra. “Now, why are you not answering your phones, any of them? I had to actually make an appointment with that Travis just to get him to contact you.” She looked him over, seeing faded blue-jeans and a t-shirt that said, just where is Margaritaville? then demanded, "Ezra, how can you be seen in public like that?” Finally adding as an afterthought, "You’re not still upset?”

Vin put his arm out to restrain Chris from lunging out physically at Maude.

Buck jumped in, "Upset? Still upset?” Buck was livid. “What you did…….hell, all you did was only cause all seven of to go through agony of losing someone we cared about, a crashed truck, endless misery, the dissembling of Team 7………Lady…..and you wonder if he’ still upset.” JD tried to hold Buck in check, but Buck was really hot.

Maude didn’t acknowledge Buck, but answered the implied ..why? “Ezra, it was good business. You weren’t hurt, I watched carefully….I made sure. You only got a little sick and you got some needed rest, and we got to spend some time together. Ezra, you don’t spend enough time with your Mother.” Ezra frowned and a hurt look escaped for a moment. Maude responded, "Two million dollars, tax free……tax free. Good business.”

Incredulous, Ezra asked, "Good business, your reasoning……GOOD Business?”

JD stepped forward slightly, said in an earnest, but deadly voice, "Ma’am, there is NO amount of money ….. ever….that could get us to sell out Ezra, or do what you did.”

“Poppycock! I’m sure Ezra has a price in which he would sell you all out.” Maude said proudly.

Ezra was stunned at his mother’s words. His own mother believed him capable of a sell out, his head fell downward, fearing his friends would believe she’d be the one to know, and that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Chris Larabee spoke without hesitation, and with a dangerous look to all who knew, rested in his eyes, "NO, MA’AM. We don’t believe he does, in fact we KNOW he doesn’t. There is not enough money on the face of the earth, not a reason good enough for Ezra to sell us out.” Chris turned his head to face Ezra, hazel eyes sought the green, knowing the doubt building there, and he fixed those green eyes with his and Ezra was lost in the naked, unabashed truth of what he’d said. It was there in hazel eyes for Ezra to read, no mistake. Assuring himself that Ezra understood, Chris turned back to Maude, "I am also of the belief that if you don’t vacate the building immediately, you might come to some personnel bodily harm.” Chris gave all indications of being a tiger ready to pounce on a kill.

Maude drew herself up, "Ezra, are you going to allow that man to threaten your Mother?”

Ezra stood, staring at his mother, ‘incredulous, she doesn’t even comprehend what she’s implied, or did, could effect me.’ Ezra thought to himself, as he focused his rage inward and forced his outward expression to remain passive.

Nathan stepped closer, flanking Ezra on the right. As Vin flanked his left, they both stared at Maude.

“Ezra,” Maude said haughty, "I’m family, these are just men you work with,” indicating with a swish of her arm, the men in the room. “Where are your priorities?”

Ezra raised his brows and said, "Family?”

Once again, JD spoke out plainly, but with a passion that belied his years, "Ma’am, we are family!” JD indicated the line of seven men standing together that drew closer to Ezra as he spoke. “I’m not real sure where you stand?”

Maude stamped her foot as she said, "Ezra,“ with anger in her voice.

“Ah, Mother, you heard them, we are family, and I’m not real sure where you stand.” Ezra repeated JD’s words, with no hint of the hurt she caused reflected in his voice.

Maude was dumbfounded, she was about to speak again, when Chris broke in.

He was poised for the hunt, "Ma’am,” his tone said anything but, "The only reason I don’t physically throw you out is that you are Ezra’s mother.”

Exasperated, Maude ground out, "Ezra, are you going to let that man continue to talk to me like that?”

Buck lost the last of his self control, he lashed out at the one that caused some of his pain. “Lady, I think if you know what’s best for you, you’ll get your ass out of here immediately. Cause, when I think on how you helped make me think that Ezra was…..” The memory of the emotions that tore at his heart caused his voice to take on an even move primitive tone, “……cause of you, I thought Ezra was dead, then I lost Chris. I almost lost JD and when I think on all that pain,…well I just want to cause some pain of my own…..and it’ll all be directed at you.” Josiah was physically holding Buck back away from Maude.

Maude sensed it was time to depart, "Ezra, call me when you’ve come to your senses.” Not understanding the situation at all, she left with her head held high.

Buck put his arm about Ezra after she was out of sight, for he seemed to sag a bit. Buck then grasped Ezra in a light embrace and whispered in his ear, "Ez, you gave me a second chance, and we’ve grown from there, but it wasn’t enough, and when I thought you were gone……and I never got the chance, I regretted every wasted moment. I will not let that happen again.” Buck squeezed both his shoulders, as he pulled back and for a few short moments he and shared the depth of his emotions that rested in his eyes. “Sorry if I got carried away with…..with Maude.” He ended on a whisper, the passion still there, but that anger was not directed at Ezra. Ezra nodded, touched at his openness.

Ezra turned and looked at the group before him, that were now closer than kin. “All my life, that women, my mother, dumped me at expensive schools each time she hooked a new husband. But I’d always believed…..hoped…….that somewhere inside, she loved me. But obviously I was wrong. In thirty three years she has never backed me the way you all did here today. I will be forever indebted to the gift you bestowed in vanquishing a demon.” Ezra’s green eyes filled with tears and glistened. He turned his head away as the intense emotions threatened to overwhelm him. Vin recognized that Ezra was afraid he would break down in front of the others, so he grabbed him by the shoulders and propelled him into Chris’ office. Vin was about to close the door as Chris squeezed inside.

Ezra went over to the window and looked out over the city. But he was unable to see the place that was becoming his first real home, for his eyes were clouded by the tears that broke free of their confinement. Vin walked over and stood next to Ezra, resting an arm over his shoulder. Chris took the other side and dropped his arm over Vin’s on Ezra’s shoulder. They stood together, words weren’t necessary.

Los Angeles, Calif.

The seven men arrived at LAX. Their purposeful stride had folks moving out of their way. They moved even faster than the escalating people movers. After collecting from the pilot, the only bag they couldn’t carry on, they headed for the car rental area. Nathan had an Expedition ready and waiting for them. Josiah drove as Nathan navigated. They had been given a specific place to find their quarry, the Sunset Strip, Hollywood.

Mid-afternoon on the LA freeways was a brand new experience for JD, crowded like New York, but not in the same way. Traffic was a bear and Josiah was grumbling. Nathan’s directions were fine, it was just that there were so many cars and so many different freeways to watch out for. Josiah had to laugh when he saw the sign for San Francisco….400 miles, that was definitely a California thing, only they would think that was a short trip.

The bumper to bumper traffic was thick and appeared endless, so JD let his thoughts wonder back to checking in at the Denver Airport. They each had small carry-on luggage, but their weapons bag caused every sensor to peal loudly. Security descended on them quickly, but just as quickly, the seven men whipped out seven ATF badges. The permits and warrant were also rendered. Since the bag had a special designated lock, the pilot had agreed to secure it in the cockpit for them. Security’s eyes remained open wide until they disappeared.

JD hit Vin in the arm as they passed by the giant donut, "Now that’d work for breakfast.” JD was grinning.

Vin looked at the twenty foot donut and remarked with a sly smile, "Not if I got to it first.” JD rolled his eyes.

When they crossed to the Hollywood freeway, five of them got ready to stop. Nathan grinned, noting their goings on, "We’ve got at least twenty minutes to go.”

“Good, I can get another nap in,” Buck said as he closed his eyes.

They were headed for Mike’s, a restaurant with an extensive outdoor dinning patio. Another Southern California experience. Chris wanted to check it out before the dinner crowd arrived, establish their game plan.

The Sunset Strip was an experience into itself, the variety was spectacular from people to billboards. Chris, Ezra and Josiah couldn’t help but smile at the two youngest faces. Awe and ‘oh my gosh’ would describe it perfect. Nathan pointed out the place they wanted and they circled the block several times. Oddly enough, not looking out of place at all, as they discovered that actually finding a parking place was another one of those must have California experiences.

On their tenth trip around the block, a parking place opened and Josiah was determined to get it. Back and forth, back and forth until he finally parallel parked amid the numerous honks. Chris leaned on the meter as Nathan fed it quarters. Vin smiled and pointed at Chris, the others turned and looked. Vin said, "Look at his face, Chris has an idea.”

Chris just smiled. He then motioned that they were going to the rental place up the block. The men followed. Two hours later they were set. Now, they were just waiting on their quarry. The two men showed up about a half hour later, easy to recognize by their picture. Ibsen and Bellson. Chris waited for them to be seated, then signaled they were ready.

Chris, Vin and Ezra walked into the restaurant as Buck and Nathan carried portable light banks, JD manned the camera and Josiah directed. They surrounded the suspects.

Josiah yelled action as Chris drew his gun and approached Ibsen. Chris put his gun to the suspect’s chest and cocked the pistol. Ezra and Vin both trained their weapons on Bellson. “I want to know who paid you to make that video of Ezra dying.” Using the gun, Chris forced his head to look at Ezra, who saluted the man.

Ibsen knocked the gun to the side as he said, "Hey, someone call the police.”

Chris grabbed the front of his shirt, picked him up out of his chair and tossed him on the ground. Before he could react, Chris ground the heel of his boot in the man’s chest, and rested the toe on his throat. He now placed his gun to Ibsen’s temple, "Who in the fuck paid you to make that tape. Tell me now before I blow you all over this patio.” The look that he focused on the man, made Ibsen think of a primitive gunfighter.

Bellson tried to help but was quickly subdued as Vin put a chock hold on him as Ezra placed one gun point into his ear and his other into his chest. Ibsen looked up at his friend and saw the real fear there. “All right, all right, remove your foot.”

“Not til I get my answers.”

“Justal, Efrem Justal.” Ibsen ground out.

Chris looked back at Vin and nodded. Vin returned it. They both turned and cold-cocked the men saying, "That’s for Ezra.”

Josiah watching closely, yelled, "CUT.”

All the patrons of the restaurant and crowd of spectators applauded loudly. Nathan and Buck turned off the lights and JD switched off the camera, following Josiah to the vehicle. Chris, Vin and Ezra calmly walked out of the restaurant, thanking the people as the called out good scene.

After they returned the stuff and got back in the Expedition, Chris said, "Back to the airport.”

Vin seconded, "Let’s get outta California.”

As Josiah pulled away he said to Vin, "Ya know Vin, there are a lot of places in California you would really love.”

Vin looked at Josiah as he said, "This sure as hell, ain’t one of them.” The others chuckled, all knew of Vin’s dislike of huge crowded cities.


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