Summary: Chris comes home from a conference to a surprise.
Authors Notes: Feedback and constructive criticism greatly appreciated. Thanks to KathyM for the beta, any remaining mistakes are all mine.
Chris sighed as the elevator door dinged and started moving up towards the floor where his office was located. He had been at a conference for law enforcement leadership for the past week, and he hadn't wanted to leave. Not that the conference was helpful to him, he'd love to see any of the presenters try to manage his team, but it had been located in Southern Florida. In February. It had been just what he needed.
The elevator dinged again, bringing his focus away from sunny days and beaches, and back into reality. Heaving another sigh, he headed for the bullpen. He hoped that his team had managed to stay out trouble while he'd been gone. He hadn't gotten any phone calls either stating that someone was in the hospital or complaining about something Tanner or Standish had done. Those two could be dangerous when they were together, unsupervised. Hopefully Josiah and Nathan had kept everyone under control.
He entered Team 7's office and stopped in surprise. Everyone was sitting calmly at their desk, working on something. Even Ezra was in, although he didn't look quite awake yet, even with the massive coffee cup sitting in front of him.
Vin was the first to notice his arrival. Glancing up, he leaned back in his chair and grinned. "Welcome back, Cowboy."
That got everyone's attention, and they all looked up and greeted him. Chris chuckled as Ezra merely grunted in his general direction. Ezra wasn't his usual articulate self at eight in the morning.
"Hey, guys. So sweet of all of you to get here early to greet me. How'd you get Ezra here on time?" he asked.
"His Jag's in the shop, Vin offered to pick him up," Buck informed him with a grin. His grin just got bigger when Ezra glared at him.
Chris laughed. "Did he get you up in time to see the sunrise, Ez?" Ezra's glare switched to him.
"Mr. Tanner fails to appreciate the benefits of a full night's rest. I'm sure Mr. Jackson could give him several lectures on the importance of a complete REM cycle to the overall health of an individual." Vin just laughed.
"How was Florida?" asked JD. "Was it hot? Did you go to the beach?"
"It was nice. Blue skies, 70 degrees, not a snowflake in sight. The first time I didn't want to leave a conference," he answered. He looked back to where Nathan and Josiah were quietly listening. "Did you two manage to keep the kids out of trouble?"
They smiled. "Had to throw Ez and Vin in the corner a couple times, and send JD and Buck to separate rooms, but for the most part they behaved themselves," Nathan said.
"That's because Josiah threatened to go Old Testament if Buck stole my hat again." JD piped in.
"He did it six times in ten minutes, and you spilled my coffee trying to get it back. A man can't be expected not to retaliate when you spill his coffee." Josiah defended himself.
"Yer just lucky ya didn't spill Ez's coffee," said Vin, daringly making a grab for Ezra's cup. Ezra wrapped his hand around it and pulled it to his chest, shielding his caffeine from him.
"Mr. Tanner, if you desire to keep that appendage, you will desist your attempts to abscond with my coffee," he growled.
Chris laughed again and headed for his office. There was sure to be a mountain of paperwork on his desk, all insisting that it was needed ASAP or the world would end. Thank god they didn't have any major cases at the moment, he might get to catch up a little. Opening the door, he came to a stop and just stared. He shut his eyes, knowing that what he thought he saw wouldn't be there when he opened them again. He was wrong.
Calmly closing the door and walking back into the bullpen, he stopped in front of Vin and Ezra. The chatter in the office broke off as he just stared at the top of Ezra's desk, taking several deep breaths. Vin and Ezra glanced at each other, silently asking if the other knew what was going on, and then back up at him, waiting.
"You ok there, Cowboy?" Vin asked.
"Your face seems to be turning an unnatural shade of red, Mr. Larabee. Did you get sunburned on your trip?" Ezra knew he might be asking for trouble, but he hadn't had enough caffeine yet that morning to help himself.
The breathing exercises did not help Chris calm down, but the extra air helped him get a lot more volume when he exploded.
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?"
Neither man flinched, but their eyes widened at the outburst. Vin and Ezra both looked at each other again, then blinked back up at their angry boss, totally at a loss. They had been on their best behavior while Chris had been gone - or at least they had behaved - and had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
Chris glared down at them, trying to see past their blank stares to find some indication of guilt. Finding none, he glared for another minute, then turned around to Buck and JD, glaring at them. But, they also just stared blankly at him, too surprised to say anything. He looked again at Vin and Ezra, trying to figure out who was going to bear the brunt of the Larabee wrath.
Then he saw something out the corner of his eye. Slowly turning away from his four problem children, he looked at the older, wiser members of his team, who met his gaze head on, large smirks on their faces.
You?" he asked. The infamous Larabee glare was gone, he was too stunned to maintain it, or even notice it's absence. The four men behind him looked at each other in total confusion. He ignored them. "You did that to my office?"
Josiah and Nathan's smirks become full-fledged grins. "Yup," they drawled in unison.
Vin, Ezra, Buck and JD glanced at each other again, and then there was a mad dash for Chris' office, Ezra still with a death grip on his coffee cup.
Chris didn't notice his men charging like a herd of buffalo across the office. He was still gaping at Josiah and Nathan. "What...why..." he can't seem to finish a thought.
"You kept telling us how much you were enjoying the nice weather, and the sunshine," said Josiah.
"And giving us a hard time about having to stay in Denver," Nathan added.
"That we decided that you would enjoy your own little piece of Paradise when you returned." Josiah finished.
The others had made it to the door and were staring into Chris' office, all wearing matching expressions of pure astonishment.
Chris' small, but normally neat and tidy office had been transformed. A giant sandbox had been built, filling the entire room. All of his furniture was where it should be, but was now standing in three inches of sand. In front of his desk was a real palm tree, a lawn chair, beach umbrella, towel and sunscreen. A heat lamp was off to the side, adding a bright sunny day effect. There was even a small table with a large glass of iced tea, with a pink umbrella poking out of the top. In front of the couch was a small kiddie pool. As the men looked closer, they realized that it was filled with dozens of goldfish. A fishing rod was planted in the sand next to the pool.
They quietly filed back out of the office, joining Chris in front of the two smiling agents, staring in awe and admiration.
Silence reigned. For about two seconds.
"That is awesome..."
"How the hell did you do that in one night..."
"We bow to the masters..."
"Why didn't ya ask us to help..."
Everyone was talking at once, except Chris. He had yet to regain the ability to speak. When it finally quieted down again, he walked back to his office, tossing a comment over his shoulder.
"What the hell am I going to do with all those damn goldfish?"