Authors Note: Inspired by Kelly Bolster Leach's Ezra 'action figure'.
"Miz Travis wants to have what made of us??" asked Vin in shock as he stared at the Judge. The rest of Team Seven were gawking at the older man with similar expressions on their faces. The vein on Larabee's forehead was throbbing and the hazel green gaze was almost as icy as when the imposing figure was intimidating a perp.
"Action figures," repeated Orin patiently. He understood the men's astonishment, since he'd looked at his wife the same way when she told him her idea.
"The charity board she's on was looking for new and unique ways to raise money, and Evie came up with this. They are 'hot' right now, you know. And you boys are quite popular among the . . . *ahem* . . . females in town."
"There's gonna be a doll made of me??" rasped Tanner, his voice going a bit higher than usual as he continued his queries. Almost as if he thought if he repeated the questions enough, the answer would magically change.
"ACTION figure," emphasized the Judge. "You know . . . like GI Joe, or Hicks from Aliens . . . "
"Cool!" opined JD, the youngest of the group. "I've got one of those Hicks figures, with the weapons and everything." His hands made a motion like sliding a pump shotgun. "I like to keep this handy . . . " he started quoting from the movie.
"Hey, a Buck figure oughta make all those Barbie's real happy!" laughed Wilmington as he smoothed his mustache down with one finger. "Just like the real thing does to the life-size versions."
"Shut up, Buck!" came in six different accents, accompanied by several gestures that were fairly easy to read.
"Boys, please," said Travis, jumping in before Standish could start the long-winded, ten-dollar word protest he could see forming in the undercover agent's mind. "This is for a good cause, and it's not like you're going to have to pose nude or anything. They aren't going to be anatomically correct . . . "
"Hey!" protested Buck, his mental scenarios interrupted by the knowledge that his mini-replica wouldn't be as endowed as himself. At the six other glares that came his way though, he stopped before he added anything else.
"Still, Sir, are action figures of us really a good idea? I mean, almost all of us have gone undercover at one time or another, so putting our faces out there even on miniatures doesn't sound like good judgement," commented Josiah.
Everyone but Wilmington got expressions of hope on their faces. That sounded like a great reason to refuse without hurting Mrs. Travis' feelings.
"I concur with Mr. Sanchez . . . it would be imprudent to place my likeness on toys that might end up anywhere," added the undercover agent with an earnest expression.
"Most of you, including Ezra, alter your appearance somewhat when you go undercover. Besides, it's not like the ladies . . . um, buyers . . . are going to be letting their kids take these figures to school with them. They will be collectable items. We'll make it a stipulation that they not display the pieces in the public rooms of their houses or in any other situations where your identities might be compromised," answered the Judge persuasively.
Six pairs of shoulders sank a bit at that reasoning.
"The only way I will agree to this is if my character is provided with appropriate haberdashery. I will not have my likeness, no matter the size, attired in cheap knock-offs. I can ask my tailor if he can make suitable reproductions of my Italian suits and silk shirts, etc. for these . . . action figures. While we may be popular, I can't see more than a few dozen being sold, so I'm sure he could handle the orders. The cost of the ensembles can be added to the price of the offerings in advance," Ezra made his feelings clear, emerald gaze piercing Judge Travis as he spoke, and a bit of a sniff in evidence as he uttered the phrase 'knock-offs'.
"Well, ya should offer a discount on Bucklin's figure then," offered Vin with a bob of his brows at the ladies' man. "All ya need for his is jeans and a wild-patterned shirt."
"Hey!" protested the tall brunet. "There's nothin' wrong with my clothes! The women love 'em. At least I wear somethin' 'sides faded jeans and tee shirts like you."
"Hey, yeah! If they're dressed like us, Chris' black pants, jacket, and boots will give him away. He might wear different colored shirts, but everybody knows he only wears the dark other stuff," added JD with a bit of concern.
"Like your high-tops and electronics logo shirts with the Red Sox ball cap won't tell everybody who your doll is supposed to be?" muttered Buck as he took a swipe at the much maligned head gear.
"Action figure!" reminded the smaller form as he expertly ducked the long arm that reached for him.
*Ahem* Chris cleared his throat and the rest of the team settled down so the Judge could speak. He wasn't crazy about the idea himself, but he'd learned the hard way that when the man's wife was involved, they usually ended up giving in whether they wanted to or not, so might as well hear him out.
"The people who purchase the figures will obviously know who they represent and which one they are buying, but Evie's friends are all aware that it is best to be discreet when charity functions offer things that pertain to you. I don't think we'll have anything to worry about. I'm sure the likenesses will be put up safely. And as Standish said, I doubt there will be more than two or three dozen ordered at the most."
The older man's eyes caught and held each of the agents' for a few seconds as he looked at them. "Now, can I tell Evie that she can contact the company that does the 3-D reproductions?"
Various hues of eyes flicked for a moment as six of the seven tried to come up with another reason not to do the figures that would sway their boss. Unfortunately none came to mind, so they all eventually nodded somewhat reluctantly.
The assistant director rubbed his hands together in satisfaction and beamed at the disgruntled forms. "Excellent! I'll let her know she can start the process. I'm sure the children's wing of the hospital will be very grateful for the money that is raised. I'll let you know in a few weeks how the dolls . . . uh, figures . . . are coming along."
Several weeks later . . .
The Judge sat in the bullpen with a pleased look on his face as he spoke to the assembled members of Team Seven.
"The action figures for the charity turned out quite well. Evie sent pictures of all of you, so the resemblance is very good, though the features are generic enough not to draw undue attention to you. And she didn't tell the company anything about who you are, so there should be nothing to worry about there. Standish's tailor generously agreed to do the outfits for each of the characters, not just Ezra's, and we added the cost of the clothing to the total amount of each figure. Since the majority of the money is going for charity, those placing orders have been more than happy to pay the price, some even donating above the required amount. However there is one small detail we didn't expect . . . "
Larabee's hazel gaze skewered the older man.
"What detail?" asked the unique voice in a deceptively soft tone that was more menacing than a bellow.
"Well . . . remember that we said there probably wouldn't be more than a few dozen sold?"
Seven heads nodded mutely.
"It appears we underestimated the attraction you boys have for the local ladies. Evie's taken orders for seven dozen already and there are people asking if they can get more. Apparently quite a few of those buying the figures want the full set. Evie is ecstatic!"
The agents did quick calculations in their heads.
"You mean people have already ordered almost a hundred of us? I mean . . . our likenesses?" asked JD in awe.
The Judge nodded.
Buck simply smirked. "Told ya that animal magnetism of mine would pay off." Cobalt eyes speared Dunne before the kid could open his mouth. "And don't say 'maggotism' JD, or your doll will be headless," threatened the taller form.
"Action figure!" exclaimed Dunne, then stuck his tongue out at his roommate to show he wasn't disturbed by the promise of harm to his reproduction.
"Wow, that's pretty good," commented Jackson, wondering if he should get one for Rain. She might like having a figure of him when he had to be gone long hours. And if they had kids, it would be a neat thing to give them when they got older.
"Guess the children's wing will be pretty pleased," added Josiah with a wide smile. The profiler hadn't been sure of the plan at first, but now found it somewhat flattering that people wanted that many figures of the team.
The expressions of the others seemed to imply that they felt the same way, even Chris.
"At least we don't have to do anything else and the hospital gets a good donation," murmured the blond in approval.
"Mmm . . . .well, about that . . . " said Travis softly.
"What do you mean?" asked Larabee with a look that would have made an iceberg appear warm and inviting.
"It seems several of those purchasing the action figures asked if it would be possible to get the boxes signed. An autograph makes a figure more collectible apparently."
Vin's mouth fell open. "Ya seriously expect us to let these people line up to get our signature?"
"Actually, there are some of them waiting down in the lobby. I thought you boys could go down and sign the boxes now. They've offered to pay extra for the autographs. Shouldn't be but a handful."
Giving reluctant sighs, the seven handsome forms rose and followed the Judge down to the first floor. When they went to step off of the elevator, Vin gave a squeak of surprise and then tried to backpedal, running into Chris as he did so.
"What the hell, Tanner?"
"Handful my ass!" mumbled the sniper as he pointed at the full lobby of the federal building.
Ezra's mouth fell open as he peered around Tanner's shoulder. "Good Lord!"
At least thirty or forty women stood with eager expressions on their faces, boxes holding 16" figures clutched in their hands, or in some cases carried in totes for those who wanted the whole collection signed. The uniformed guards were using hand-held wands to check for weapons and other contraband at the doors as even more people waited patiently to get in.
When the members of Team Seven appeared out of the lift, the mass of female bodies suddenly pressed forward with excited exclamations, as the women angled toward their favorite subject. About to get squashed in the area in front of the elevators, the agents took off at a rapid trot up the nearest hallway. They were followed by ladies holding out boxes and markers to them, some delayed by the elbows or feet of the other women as they jockeyed for position.
The females followed the seven as they headed down the empty hall. Ezra had to dodge a redhead who thrust a little too forcefully with the box she carried and lost her balance. As he did so, he tripped over the feet of a brunette reaching for Vin and bumped into Buck, who was trotting alongside him.
Though light, the hit knocked Wilmington off stride and into JD, who was a step in front of the ladies' man. Dunne lost his footing and stumbled into Josiah and caused the big man to get his feet tangled trying to avoid the smaller form.
Reaching out for something to stop his sideways momentum, the profiler grabbed onto Nathan's arm. The strong, off-center jerk swung the medic around and into the path of a blonde determined to get to Chris. The woman tried to go around Jackson, but tripped over one of the tall figure's legs as he attempted to keep from landing on the floor.
She in turn hit Larabee from behind, causing him to stumble forward. The brunette who had reached for Vin got his elbow and pulled him sideways, into Chris' path. The lithe leader had to leap over the sniper's legs, landing on the other side of the slender figure who was holding himself up at an angle with his right arm.
Ezra saw the pair in front of him, but couldn't stop in time and plowed into Larabee and Tanner. The rest of the men got caught up in the tangle as well, the whole team toppling forward like dominos. Chris was pushed against a door at the end of the hall, and managed to halt the falling forms before they all ended up in a heap on the tiles.
Trapped, bruised, and winded, the seven handsome figures started trying to once again keep from getting crushed by the press of women who weren't at all deterred from their goal by the comedy of errors that had just occurred in front of them.
"Ok" yelled Vin above the din. "Now I see why they're called action figures!"
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