Disclaimer: Neither BtVS, The Magnificent Seven TV show nor it’s wonderful ATF AU created by Mog belong to me. I’m just playing in the sandbox.
Thanks to RevDorothyL for beta'ing.
Chris was the last one in the office, having stayed later than he had intended. When his phone rang he bit back a curse. He glanced at the number, not recognising it.
“Vin?” Chris was shocked, and more than a little confused, at the playful tone in Vin’s voice. “What’s going on? Where are you calling from?”
“Need ya to come down to the station, pard.” Chris groaned at Vin’s words. Not again.
“You alright?” Chris pinched the bridge of his nose. God, he hoped this wasn’t like the last time.
“Bit roughed up, but we’re OK.” Chris caught the edge of something from Vin’s tone and had a sinking feeling his evening was about to go downhill fast.
“What’s wrong? Who’s ‘we’?” Chris barked out.
“You’d better bring Ez with ya.” Vin seemed unreasonably pleased with the turn of events.
“Xander?” Chris was going to kill him if Ezra didn’t first. This really wasn’t going to be pretty.
“Yeah. We’re OK, but they won’t let us go without someone vouching fer us.” Vin sounded disturbingly like a petulant child by this point. Chris wanted to quiz his friend further but decided it was probably going to be best dealt with face to face. Maybe then he could figure out what the hell was going on.
“I’ll be there in half an hour.”
Chris was pissed. He had no doubt that Vin and Xander were fine; they were both capable adults. What really bugged him was that he had to be the one to tell the undercover man.
He was no coward, but with this particular situation he decided to put off telling the other man as long as possible, preferably until he could get someone else to break the news.
Chris climbed into his truck and called the southerner.
“Mr. Larabee, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Ezra, I need your help with something. I’ll pick you up in 15 minutes.” Chris’ tone brooked no argument.
“Of course you do. I shall await your arrival with great anticipation.” Chris ignored the genteel sarcasm and simply hung up the phone, a fact that set Ezra immediately on edge.
Once Ezra climbed into the truck, Chris wasted no time in setting off.
Ezra waited for some kind of explanation, but when nothing was immediately forthcoming he asked, “Are you going to see fit to inform me what this is all about, Mr. Larabee?”
“All in good time, Ezra.” Chris didn’t even glance over in his direction. Ezra studied the man in confusion. He’d never known Chris to lie to him, but he was certainly obfuscating the truth in this case. It piqued his curiosity, but he supposed he’d find out soon enough.
“Very well.” The rest of the journey passed in silence. Ezra began to get a sinking feeling as they pulled up to a police station.
“And which of our esteemed colleagues requires bailing out this time?” Ezra enquired.
“I’m picking up Vin, but he hasn’t been arrested, apparently,” Chris said as he exited the vehicle.
There. Again, Ezra picked up an unnatural hesitation in his team leader‘s demeanour. He was definitely hiding something. Ezra followed Chris up the steps, suddenly chilling as he took in which station they had come to. It was one of the stations that dealt with the overflow from Purgatorio’s troubles. Xander.
Ezra hurried after the man in black. Surely if Xander were in some kind of trouble or hurt, Chris would have told him in the car…
As they were forced to pause at the entrance by someone leaving the building, Chris decided to inform Ezra of everything he knew. While he’d put it off until now, letting the other man walk in totally blind would be too much.
“Vin called about half an hour ago. Didn’t sound like himself. Said he’d been roughed up and they wouldn’t let him go on his own recognisance. Probably Xander too, but he didn’t say much more.” Chris pulled open the door, leaving the momentarily stunned man behind. By the time Ezra had joined him he’d already spoken to the desk sergeant and was about to be shown to their men. He ignored the venomous glare from his agent and concentrated on the fact that he was about to find out what the hell had happened.
They found Vin and Xander on a bench, joking around with a number of patrolmen. Vin had a rapidly blackening eye, and Xander appeared to be leaning a little unsteadily against the wall. They both had numerous scuffs and tears to their clothing and a number of grazes visible as well.
Xander was the first to become aware of Chris and Ezra’s approach and nudged Vin. The pair turned to face them with twin expressions worthy of naughty schoolboys. At the obvious ire radiating from the older men, Xander leant in to whisper something into Vin’s ear. Their looks changed to what Mary had once informed him were ‘puppy dog eyes’.
“Cut that shit out, Tanner.” Chris was shocked when Vin’s eyes widened even further, and for a moment it looked like he might actually cry. He caught a glimpse from the corner of his eye of Xander grinning proudly. “What have you been teaching him, Harris?” Chris growled out.
“Nuthin’, Uncle Chris. Honest.” Xander plastered an innocent expression on his face, which didn’t last long as the pair began snickering. Chris looked to Ezra for support but found the other man as lost for words as he was.
Ezra looked at the giggling duo in concern. His puzzlement began to change to anger as he saw the state his son was in. He began to question Vin but didn’t seem to be getting much sense out of him. Chris turned to the officer he’d been told had brought the two of them in.
“Would someone tell me what the hell is going on?” The officer took one look at Chris’s expression and immediately began to talk. He’d been warned about Larabee, but the man was damn intimidating in person.
“Well, obviously we haven’t got a completely coherent story out of those two, but between them and the witness statements we think we’ve pieced it together.” Ezra broke away from the still-laughing pair to hear the explanation.
“Apparently, they have been helping fix up the Patton shelter over the last week,” The officer was relieved to see the nods of understanding from the men. “It seems this afternoon they’d been working on painting the walls. Agent Tanner, from his position on the ladder, spotted some suspicious activity in a nearby lot and went to investigate. Mr Harris decided to accompany him.
“They disturbed a deal.” Ezra glared furiously at the long haired agent for dragging his son along on a bust, of all things! “We’ve noticed an increase in the trade of nitrous oxide lately -- the kids get high from inhaling the gas from balloons at raves and things like that. Your boys interrupted the exchange between a driver for a pharmaceutical company and a couple of the local low-level dealers. There was a bit of a scuffle, which technically they won. We’ve got all those involved in custody down the hall. Unfortunately, one of the canisters was damaged during the incident; hence, the laughing twosome over there.
“We didn’t want to let them go on their own in the state they’re in. There shouldn’t be any long-term effects; they just need someone to watch over them for a bit,” the officer concluded.
“I appreciate your assistance.” Chris wished that the whole situation was more unbelievable, but the members of team seven had a disturbing tendency to find trouble in the least likely situations. Now, it seemed like Xander was tarnished with the same curse. “You need them back for statements when they’ve got clearer heads?”
“We just need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s at some point over the next couple of days.” Chris looked over to the two men who had begun to pull themselves together.
“We’ll make sure they do.” Chris and Ezra gathered them up and began to herd the duo out to the car.
“You should have called for back-up,” Chris growled at Vin.
“I did,” Vin defended himself. “It’s not my fault they took so long to get there.”
“You took my son on a drug bust!” Ezra looked about ready to take Vin’s head off.
“Easy, Ezra: we don’t know exactly what happened yet, and this is not the place to get into this.” Chris could feel the curious eyes as they walked through the station.
“He didn’t exactly take me. I used my mad skills to follow him, all stealth-like.” Xander mimed tiptoeing behind Vin, who began to laugh again. Chris shook his head and grabbed Vin’s arm, motioning to Ezra to do the same with Xander.
“Enough, let’s go.”
They decided to go to Ezra’s place, as it probably wasn’t the best idea for Vin’s neighbourhood to see the pair in such a susceptible state.
Ezra was on the phone to Nathan to find out if there were any problems they should be watching out for. Chris, meantime, tried valiantly to ignore the whispering in the rear seat. It was slightly disturbing to see the normally collected Texan acting like a kid.
“Where are we going?” Vin glanced out the window, trying to work out where they were heading.
“I’m taking you to Ezra’s,” Chris stated.
“Why?” Vin looked unhappy with the prospect.
“Because we need to keep an eye on the pair of you, for a few hours at least,” Chris replied.
“Why?” Vin just wanted to get home. He wasn’t a damn kid; he could look after himself.
“Because you’re high!” Chris snapped, subduing Vin’s comments. Xander poked Vin in the arm.
“It’s your fault he’s mad. Fix it.” Xander had a bad feeling about Chris’s mood; they were in enough trouble already.
“Quit prodding me and stay on yer own side.” Vin shoved the encroaching arm firmly back to the one-eyed man’s side.
Xander glowered before turning his attention back to the pair in the front. “Are we nearly there yet?”
“Dear Lord!” Ezra was moving on from anger to exasperation at the antics from the duo in back. He was beginning to see the silver lining of missing out on his son’s childhood escapades, judging from the current situation.
Silence fell for a brief period, before Vin began to fidget.
“I’m hungry.” Vin grumbled.
“Yeah, I kinda got the munchies,” Xander agreed.
“Upon our return to my domicile, we shall provide suitable sustenance.” Ezra just wanted to get them out of the enclosed space as soon as possible, and judging from the white knuckles so did Chris.
“We need proper food,” Xander pouted.
“Yeah, Ez, when do you ever have chips?” Vin complained.
“Or Twinkies. Oooh, you know what we need... ?” Xander looked to Vin, who was nodding his agreement.
“Pie!” The pair chorused.
Ezra saw Chris’s jaw clench. He was impressed that Chris hadn’t totally lost his cool yet, but really wished he’d at least help corral the intoxicated pair.
“Gentlemen, we shall endeavour to satisfy your appetites once we have you safely situated,” Ezra tried to placate them.
“You’ll get us pie?” Xander clarified, smiling as Ezra nodded his agreement.
“Yes! If it’ll keep you quiet, we’ll get you some pie.” Ezra decided discretion was the better part of valour in this case.
“Just sit back and shut up,” Chris snarled. Xander grinned smugly at Vin at the outburst.
“My Dad’s better than your friend,” Xander mock-whispered.
“Well, my friend could kick your Dad’s ass,” Vin stated with some heat.
“Oh, yeah? Wanna bet?” The pair began a playful scuffle, which degenerated rapidly into name-calling.
Chris slammed on the brakes and yanked the truck over to the side of the road. He got out without saying a word, leaving Ezra looking slightly nauseous and the pair in the back giggling once again.
“Wait here. Do not exit the vehicle,” Ezra ordered as he climbed out.
“Well, it’s certainly turned out to be an eventful evening.” Ezra started with a fairly neutral comment as he approached Chris, who stood with his shoulders hunched over. When the man finally turned Ezra was surprised to discover mirth, not anger, in his eyes.
“Sorry, Ezra; I figured that we’d have no control over the two of them if they thought I was anything other than angry.” Chris smiled.
“You make a good point.” Ezra had to admit it was hard not to see the funny side. The issue of dragging his son into danger would have to be postponed until they were sober and alert. “Shall we continue? I fear our day is far from over.”
Chris climbed back into the car, shooting a glare at the duo who at least had the decency to look guilty. The remorse didn’t last long, as the whispering started up once more, steadily increasing in volume.
“These old folks just have no idea,” Xander muttered, getting an understanding nod in return.
Chris sighed. It was going to be a very long night.