Authors Note: This is my first attempt at an ATF story, but the Mexican Sunscreen picture was just too good to pass up. Many thanks to Mog for creating the ATF universe and for allowing the rest of us to have fun with it. If you are offended by a picture that shows a little <wink> skin, then I suggest that you skip this one, or do not scroll down to the picture at the end of the story. I have no idea where the picture originally came from, so I cannot acknowledge the photographer, except to say, whoever you are, you have an eye for humor, and thank you for putting the picture on the web for all to enjoy.
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.
Buck stuck his head through the door to Chriss office and cleared his throat to get his attention. The leader of Team 7 continued to work the report in front of him and let out a heavy sigh. At this rate he would never finish this pile of paper work. "Yeah, Buck?"
"Sorry to bother ya again, but theres a call that I think ya should take." Wilmington knew that Chris was tired and wanted to wrap things up so they could all take off early today. That last bust had really taken a toll on all of them.
Larabee raised tired eyes to look at his old friend. "Cant you take care of it?" When he saw the lady's man shake his head, he reluctantly reached for the phone. "Larabee here."
Several minutes later Chris strode out of his office. He took a moment to survey the room and the remainder of his team. He really did not want to tell them that there was no way they would get to make an early day of it.
Josiah took one look at the expression on his bosss face and let out a groan. "Were not getting off early are we?"
"Afraid not," Larabee confirmed. "That call was from Simon Bradford." Six pairs of eyes widened in surprise. Bradford was one of the wealthiest men in the state, probably even in the country.
"Whats he callin here for?" JD asked in awe.
"He has some information for us, but he wont give it to anyone but me," Chris said calmly.
"You aint thinkin of goin alone are you, Pard?" Vin asked in concern.
The big blonde shook his head. "Im tired, Vin, but I am not stupid. Im going to take Ezra with me." He noted the surprised look on Tanners face and set out to explain. "This time I have a feeling that his adaptability from all that undercover work might come in handy."
Ezra was also surprised by this turn of events. Chris usually paired up with Vin when he needed someone to cover his back. He stood up and grabbed his jacket. As he shrugged into it he asked, "Am I permitted to know where we are headed?" He let his green eyes become fixed on the team leader.
"Bradford wants to meet with me at his private club out on Yushome Lake."
"Ah, Chris! Come on an take me with ya," Buck begged. "I heard stories about that place an Id really like to see fer myself if theyre true."
"What? What kind of stories?" young Dunne asked excitedly.
Wilmington grinned widely and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "If what I heard is true, the Playboy estate dont have nothing compared to this place."
"Buck, thats enough," Larabee admonished. "If those stories are true, then I need someone with me who won't get distracted, and someone who will think with his mind and not his...."
"Yea!!" Buck exclaimed. "I can keep my mind on business."
Chris simply glared at his oldest friend and watched as he came to realize that Larabee was not going to give in.
"Ah, Hell! I really wanted to go." The disappointed ATF agent looked at his team leader dejectedly. "Might be the only chance Ill ever get," he continued to grumble.
"Sorry, Buck." Chris gave Wilmingtons arm a friendly squeeze. "Not this time."
"Vin, I want Josiah and you to take up a position just outside the club's walls, but not too close, in case someone is watching.. I will feel much better knowing there is some back up close by if we need it." With that, he turned and headed out the door followed by the chosen three.
+ + + + + + +
Chris pulled up to the guardhouse outside the huge wrought iron gates. A middle-aged man in a security uniform stepped up to the window and asked them to identify themselves. "Charles Lawson, and Edward Stiles. We are guests of Mr. Bradfords," Chris said smoothly. The guard had obviously been expecting them. "Yes, Mr. Lawson. You are to go on up to the main building and someone will meet you there." The guard pressed the button that opened the gates.
Larabee pulled the car through the gate, but not before one last quick glance back up the road. He knew that he would not be able to see Vins jeep from here, but it still made him feel reassured to know that the other two men were close, in case of trouble.
Standish grinned when they were out of sight of the guard. "Well, Mr. Lawson, it appears that you have some hidden talents," he said with a soft chuckle. "Might I inquire as to the origin of our names? Did you create them?" Ezra allowed a slight smile to turn up the corners of his mouth as he spoke.
"Yes, do you have a problem with that?" Larabee became defensive.
Ezras smile continued to grow. "No, Sir."
"Then what the hell are you grinning about?" Chris demanded.
Ezra glanced out the window and then back at his boss. "Its just that I never thought of you as the "Chuck" type of person."
The ATF agent began to make an acid retort, and then he let what Standish had said sink in. He tried desperately to keep a straight face but failed in the end, and he gave in to the need to laugh. "Maybe so, but then I guess that makes you Ed, or better yet, Eddie." Larabee began to laugh in earnest.
The undercover agent had not thought of that prospect, but he could not bring himself to be upset over the unfortunate choice in name. He definitely knew he was not the Ed type, but it was such a rare occurrence to see Chris Larabee let go and laugh that he could not bring himself to smart off to his boss this time. Instead, he just continued to smile.
An attendant met them in front of the main building, handed them a claim stub, and took Chriss keys so he could park the car. Another man was walking down the stone steps toward them. "Mr. Lawson, I am Carl Stoner, Mr. Bradfords personal assistant. Mr. Bradford has been unavoidably detained. He asked me to have you wait for him on the beach. If you will follow me gentlemen."
The two men glanced at each other, and at Ezras quirked eyebrow Chris merely shrugged. He had no idea what to expect either, so they followed Stoner up the steps and through the massive entry hall to the building. It was all they could do to keep their jaws from dropping open and hitting the floor. This place was more than a mansion; it was a palace. Standish took in the inlaid marble on the floors and the rich mahogany wood and the soft kid leather of the furnishings. Oh, he had no doubt that he could learn to love living like this.
The men passed through a wide hall and into a large locker room near the back of the building. Carl motioned to a couple of the lockers and said simply, "You may leave your clothes in the lockers gentlemen."
"I beg your pardon?" Chris said uncertainly.
"To be permitted on the beach you must leave your clothes here, Sir," the assistant repeated.
"Uh . I wasnt expecting to be visiting a beach, and I am afraid that I dont have my trunks with me." He honestly hoped the man was planning to offer them the use of some extra swimming trunks that the club kept for such emergencies.
"Mr. Lawson," the man said with a sigh. "This is a nude beach."
Ezra jumped to Chriss rescue when he could see he was in a bit over his head. "Thank you, Mr. Stoner. We were unaware of that fact. Which lockers should we use?" He tried to ignore the glare he was receiving from one Chris Larabee as he began to shrug out of his suit jacket.
"Those first two are available," the man said flatly. "The beach is out that door, as is the bar and the afternoon buffet. Feel free to help yourself to anything you want." He walked over to a stack of Sombreros that were on a table near the door and picked up two. "Mr. Bradford likes a little variety so he has theme days here. Today is fiesta day. Enjoy yourselves gentlemen. Mr. Bradford will be with you shortly." With that Stoner left the two stunned agents alone in the locker room.
Chris grabbed Ezra by the arm as the smaller man started to unbutton his shirt. "You dont actually think were going out there naked do you?"
Standish stared at his boss, and for the first time he realized that this was making him more than a little bit uncomfortable. "The word is nude, and yes we are, if you want to have your meeting with Mr. Bradford." He continued to remove his shirt and sat down on a bench to remove his shoes.
"You arent bothered by this?" Chris was incredulous.
"I have had to do much worse that walk around in the all-together, in the pursuit of my occupation, Mr. L Lawson."
"Why do I get this feeling like we are going to walk out there and everyone else is going to have on bathing suits?" Larabee started to remove his clothes but with considerable reluctance.
The two men had just removed the last article of clothing that they wore, and they were placing them neatly in the lockers when they heard the outside door open. Chriss eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw that they had been joined by a very shapely young woman, who was also very nude.
"Does that allay your fears, Chuck?" Standish said with a grin.
Chris took a deep breath and held his sombrero in front of him, concealing certain parts that he preferred to keep private for as long as possible. The young woman smiled sweetly when she saw them and changed course to approach them. She held out an elegant hand and said, "Hi, Im Amanda. I dont think Ive seen you here before, are you new to the club?"
Larabee tried to act poised under the circumstances, and he was almost succeeding, but not quite. He reached out and took the delicate hand and gave is a gentle shake. He continued to hold on to it as he spoke. "This is our first time here."
When he did not offer any other comment, she turned to the other man and offered her hand. Ezra took the offered hand and bent to brush it with a soft kiss. "Please excuse my friends abruptness, my dear. He is a little shy. My name is Edward, and my friend here is Chuck." He smiled disarmingly at the young woman, who was momentarily flustered by his attention.
Amanda turned and ran an appraising eye over Larabee, who still held the sombrero like a shield. She smiled and reached out to push the sombrero out of the way. Chris swallowed hard and willed himself not to jerk the hat back into place. "It doesnt look to me like you have any reason to be shy, but I know how you feel. I was kind of nervous the first time I went out there too. But, once you are out there and you see that everyone else is naked, and that some of them really should never been seen in the nude, you dont feel so self-conscious." She turned and started across the room toward one of the stalls. After a couple minutes she emerged and headed back toward the outside door. "See you outside." With that she was gone.
Larabee closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. "Lets just get this over with," he said to the younger man. When they reached the door Ezra stood aside for his boss to precede him. "Rank has its privileges, Mr. Stiles, after you."
The undercover agent, who currently had nothing but a sombrero for cover, walked out the door onto the sand, followed closely by his boss, who had managed to maneuver his sombrero back into its position as a shield. Ezra just shook his head and strode out into the sun. Off to their right was the bar and he headed for it. That brought Larabee to his side.
"No alcohol, Ed," Chris warned.
"No problem, Chuck," Ezra replied. He stepped up to the bar and ordered two pineapple orange juices and handed one to Chris.
"Now what?" The ATF leader asked as he took a sip of his drink.
"Now we mingle and try not to act like we have never done this before," Ezra said as he headed for the buffet. He certainly did not intend to miss the chance to sample all this place had to offer. He helped himself to several items that looked enticing and headed for a table in the shade of a large awning.
Chris followed his agents lead and soon discovered that he could not keep his shield and carry a full plate and a drink glass. It would be too obvious to carry one item at a time to the table while holding his hat in front of himself, so Chris gathered his courage and plopped the sombrero on his head. With plate and drink in hand, he went to join Ezra. He thought the table would offer him some shielding, but he soon discovered this was not the case, because although they were lightly tinted, but they were nonetheless quite clear. Larabee tried to position the plate to block the view of his own "anatomy." He had to say that it was not very appealing to be staring at his own well it just was not something he wanted to see while he was eating. He looked across the table at Ezra, who was apparently not having any such problems. The blonde did not think he had ever seen the younger man eat with such gusto. He picked up his own fork and took a bit of the enchilada on his plate. All thoughts of what he could see through the glass table fled his mind as he busied himself sampling each of the items he had chosen. No wonder Ezra was eating like there was no tomorrow.
A staff member came and cleared away their dishes and got each of them a juice refill. Larabee had to admit that he was becoming less self-conscious the longer they were there. He looked longingly at the expanse of sand on the beach, and the clear inviting water of the lake. It was regretful that they could not go for a swim. It would not do for them to be cavorting around in the water when Mr. Bradford made his appearance. But, that sand looked so good, and he was so tired. "Think Ill go get some sun, since we have to wait."
Standish smiled when he saw Chris plop the sombrero on his head and go to get a towel from the stack on the patio. The leader of Team 7 was coming out of his shell, and Ezra knew he had ammo to tease the older agent with for a long time to come. He got up and retrieved a towel of his own and went to join Larabee.
The two men spread out their towels and stretched out on the warm sand. "Seems to me that you are losing your inhibitions," the younger agent observed.
"Yeah, well I guess Amanda was right. After seeing some of these people, I dont feel so bad about going au natural." He glanced around as he spoke.
"I have to say that I concur with that observation," Ezra agreed with a smile. "However, you have to admire their spirit, and their ability to not allow the opinions of another to bother them. Everyone seems to be quite content with their own appearances."
Amanda saw the two men sitting not far away from where she was playing volleyball, and she ran over to see if they wanted to join in the game. "Hey guys, we could use an extra player or two. Want to play?"
Ezra turned to Chris to see what his reaction would be to the invitation. Chris shook his head and closed his eyes. "I think I just want to lay here and relax. You go if you want to, Ed."
"I would love to play, Amanda," Ezra replied with that smile that showed off his dimples so well. He got up and followed her back to where the game was on hold waiting for the return of its players. He made sure to get on the team that was on the side where he could keep an eye on Chris and soon found that he was really enjoying himself.
Larabee watched his undercover agent as the dashed to get under the ball to keep it in play. He had always known there was a bit of a kid in him, but Ezra took such pains to keep it from showing. He lay back on the towel and placed his sombrero over his face to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun. The warm sun soon had him drifting off to sleep.
Standish glanced up and noticed that Chris was still lying in exactly the same position that he had been for over a half an hour. He had a feeling that he must have fallen asleep, and he hoped Mr. Bradford showed soon, or the blonde man would have one heck of a sunburn. After a few more minutes a man signaled to him that he needed to speak to him. Ezra excused himself from the game and went to where the man waited.
"I am sorry that you have been kept waiting for so long, Sir, but Mr. Bradford had to leave unexpectedly. I am to tell you that he has already taken care of the situation that you came to see him about, and he wishes for you to enjoy the facilities for as long as you would like." That was it. There was no other explanation. It was a straightforward dismissal. It had been a wasted trip. Well, not quite wasted. He grudgingly admitted that he would give his gold tooth to be allowed back in here again. Then his thoughts brightened when he realized that it might be possible, if they had to try a second time to meet with Bradford.
Standish walked over to where Chris was sleeping in the sun, and sat down a little way from him. He shook his head in disbelief as he took in the sight of his boss lying naked in the sun, in the middle of a beach full of people. If Buck could only see Chris now. Ezra grinned widely at the thought. Finally, he considered whether he should wake Larabee so they could leave. No, he decided against it. After all, they had permission to use the facilities for as long as they wanted, and he wanted to use them a bit longer.
When Ezra got to his feet to go back and rejoin the game he glanced back at Chris. From this vantage point he could see that he had the beginnings of a sunburn in some rather delicate places. Damn! He should wake him up so he could get out of the sun. He cringed to think of a sunburn where his friend was getting burned. Then with a grin he knew what he could do. All he needed to do was make sure Chris did not get "that area" any more burned and they could stay awhile. Ezra plucked the sombrero from his own head and gently placed it over the sleeping mans exposed uh .well, he covered it anyway, and then he trotted off to rejoin the game.
+ + + + + + +
A couple of hours later a sunburned Chris Larabeee glared at Ezra when they reached the locker room. "Why the hell didnt you wake me?" he demanded.
"I thought you could use the rest," Standish told him a half-truth. "Besides there was no reason to waste a perfectly good opportunity to partake of some of the finer things in life. We had permission to stay." Ezra tried to rationalize his decision.
Chris hissed as he let the cool water of the shower in the locker room run over his sunburned skin. When he pulled his clothes out of the locker a large envelope fell to the floor. He quickly grabbed it and shoved it back inside the locker out of sight. "I guess this is what he meant by the situation had been taken care of," Larabee observed.
The two men finished dressing and went out to claim their car. Chris had the envelope stuffed in the back waistband of his pants where it would be hidden by his suit jacket. Once they had cleared the gate he leaned forward to allow Ezra to pull the envelope out. "I have to say that was a pretty slick drop," the team leader was obviously impressed with Mr. Bradfords resourcefulness.
"Indeed it was," Ezra agreed, and he casually laid his hand over the pocket that held the Polaroid picture that Amanda had taken of Chris, at Standishs request. He did not know if he wanted to be nearby when Chris saw it posted on the Teams bulletin board in the morning. Ezra smiled a secret smile, and he could only imagine what shade of red the big mans face would turn when he saw the picture, with the caption that read, "Mexican Sunscreen."
Comments to: Luna6438@aol.com