Disclaimers: Don't own'em, no money made etc.
Thanks/Acknowledgements: MOG her sandbox...Mitzi (of course) and Nancy for continuing her excellent efforts in maintaining the Blackraptor page.
"ATF!...Federal Agents!" Voices rang out all around them. Bodies stormed through doors and windows brandishing weapons and badges. A swarming horde of jean clad officers in windbreakers flooded the warehouse. Weapons dealers and body guards considered making a stand but the overwhelming forces converging on them halted any brash escapes.
Criminals found themselves thrown to the ground, over crates or against cars. Handcuffs materialized and wrists wrenched roughly behind backs. The ominous click of cuffs locking closed herald the physical end of another successful bust for Team Seven.
The Sharpshooter nimbly scurried down some scaffolding keeping his eyes on two people who played their roles a little too realistically. The tattered soles of his cowboy boots hit solid ground as a firm hand clasped his shoulder.
"Ahhh shit here we go," Vin intoned softly to Buck as the two agents watched Larabee slam "Sullivan" none to gently against a car door jam. The undercover agent's face slapped against the roof of the car with stinging intensity.
"Don't do anything dumb Ezra," Wilmington pleaded softly to himself. Vin and Buck watched helplessly as the bickering and nit-picking that had occurred between Chris and Ezra over the last few weeks came to ahead. Just as the words slid from Buck's mouth Standish acted as predicted.
"Shit," JD came to stand next to Vin and Buck and shook his head. Sometimes Dunne did not understand what made those two idiots tick. Chris and Ezra could be the biggest pride driven morons, the young agent knew.
Standish snapped his arm from Larabee's grip while stepping back into Chris. The leader of Team Seven had no choice but to give ground.
"Ya think we should stop them?" Nathan stood on the other side of Vin. This had been building for weeks now. Jackson had figured before this was over someone was going to need stitches or traction. Maybe he could convince Josiah to slip them a sedative. Nah, let the damn fools beat each other senseless..at least it would give him and the others a day of quiet at the office.
"Nope. I think our Brothers need to excise some demons," Josiah's voice rolled from behind the small gathering of men. Sanchez had hoped ,with the ending of this bust, Standish and Larabee would quit chewing on one another. It seemed the tension between the two men had release itself but in a physical manner. It came as no surprise...they were physical men. Sanchez had no desire to pull snapping dogs apart...he might get bit himself.
Josiah sat himself on some crates. He cautiously chose his spot not wanting to inflict any slivers he could not easily reach. Nathan sat beside him with JD jumping up between the medic and Ladies man. Vin leaned furthest down the row with ankles crossed and arms folded. Buck reclined against the wooden crates half sitting half standing enjoying the spectacle.
Nope,If these two wanted to kill each other...well, shit happens movin' west...let'em. Buck figured Vin could handle the office and team for a while.
Nathan chewed nervously at the inside of his cheek. If those two did manage to kill one another .....The paper work involved would be a hassle Jackson swiveled his gaze down the line trying to finagle away of pinning the hardship on one of the others. Paper work involving any type of death...idiotic induced or not...was always complicated and long.
Larabee was forced back a step as Standish whirled around with a flying side elbow. Chris neatly bobbed and weaved under it retreating further. The leader of Team Seven would let his undercover agent decide how far this was going to go. Chris silently hoped Ezra stepped across the imaginary line and did something stupid. Larabee nearly choked out loud at the thought. the man had stupid stunts down to an art form.
Ezra clenched his jaws in frustration when his elbow breezed over the blonde head with just millimeters to spare. It would have felt good to flatten that pompous, mute, son of a bitch'n' Midwestern, self indulgent, holier than thou, 'my way or the highway' brass balled, chimpanzee.
Larabee should have followed up with a few quick uppercuts to Ezra's ribs. The blonde had not. Standish figured Larabee was hedging his bets...waiting to see what Ezra ,himself, would do next. Larabee, always sittin' on his ass making others do the work. Pompous ingrate.
Ezra would not disappoint him. This had been building too long...Chris pushed and pushed. Ezra had to grudgingly concede that he too had feathered the flames of dissent. Neither held an innocent position and certainly neither was going to accept blame.
"I got ten bucks on Ez," Vin stated. He held out a bill to Josiah. To Tanner, Larabee and Standish had been like two Beta Fish kept in adjoining bowls. Finally, someone put them in the same tank. Perverbial Fins were going to hit the fan...or filter.
Buck looked at the sharpshooter in surprise, "Figured you would have bet on Chris," Wilmington noted as he took out a twenty and handed it to the ex-anthropologist, "Twenty on Chris, Josiah." 'bout time these two fools quit snippin' at each other and did something entertaining. Ez might have a matching gold tooth on the otherside by the time this was done.
"Yeah, Vin why Ez?" JD held out a ten to Josiah and softly said, "Chris." JD could not remember the last time Chris and Ezra had been in the office together without some kind of argument insuing. Gawd damn they were worse than a bunch of old ladies fighting over the last piece of chocolate. What was it with women and chocolate anyhow? He would have to ask Nathan...maybe it was a medical thing. Dunne turned his attention back to Tanner.
"Well," Vin sat quietly for a moment with a furrowed brow, "Ez is a might pissed off," Tanner stared down the line at the others, a knowing smile leached across his features, "an' if Ez, can keep his feet Chris don't stand a chance." Chris been so heated lately he can't form complete thoughts....his games off.
Nathan nodded his head in agreement. He leaned forward resting his forearms on his dangling knees and stared at the others, " Vin's got a point...but I bet Chris knows it too."
The medic handed Josiah a twenty, "Chris." Larabee was no fool he would even the odds and turn them to his favor. someone has to teach that damn fool southerner not to take unncessary risks...course Chris ain't the best instructor...not known for his patience an all.
Josiah held the bets and added his own twenty, "My money's with the underdog.... besides I think Ezra has a few dirty tricks up his sleeve." The others nodded in agreement and continued to watch their two friends. David beat Goliath...and little David didn't have Maude for a mother
Ezra had removed his blazer. For this particular bust his four figure suits still hung in his closet at home. Today he had dressed the part of a simple lacky. He wore only loose heavy slacks and a collared shirt. His tie soon followed the coat and came to be folded over the arms of the tracker. The obvious missing, protective, vest, acted as just another reminder of the on going disparities between the two men. The undercover agent slipped a twenty into Vin's hand and softly muttered, "Twenty on Chris."
Vin raised his eyes in mute shock.
Standish grinned with grim determination, "Don't worry good sir, it's Ttwenty dollars I intend to lose." Shove it right down Larabee's gullet so his proctologist has to retrieve it
Tanner frowned and shrugged his shoulders as the undercover agent turned and faced Larabee.
Larabee stood with his arms held low and wide, in a satiric invitation. A feral smile of anticipation leered across Chris's face. Southern cocky son of a bitch just thinks he can waltz in and out of trouble as if a magic cloak protects him....I'll shove that cloak so far up his ass his Dentist can pull it out.
Buck shook his head as Larabee goaded Standish. Chris could sometimes be as abrasive as the Southerner.
"Knock 'is friggin' teeth out Sullivan," An arms dealer still being loaded into a squad car yelled over the uniform.
Standish chuckled. With pleasure you sophomoric imbecile.
"Git them loaded up and out of here," Buck urged the senior uniform police officer. The old Sergeant simply did his bidding. It would seem that ATF agent Chris Larabee was going to dole out a lesson about resisting arrest and did not want any outside witness. That Sullivan character was a dead man.
Ryan Kelly and his men stood and sat on the crates with the rest of team 7.
"You boys gonna let this go?" Ryan sat above Buck and Vin on the next tier of crates. His team had already placed their wages. Larabee and Standish had been tearing strips off of one another for weeks now.
"Yup," Vin answered. He watched as Standish snapped out a straight punch. Chris ducked left as Standish had apparently anticipated because a left cross landed loudly against Larabee's cheek and ear. A red angry welt had begun to develop immediately.
It was an open handed shot. Tanner and the others conceded that Ezra was not as suicidal as they had originally thought. Enough strength existed in the blow to water eyes and carry the stinging sound of flesh striking flesh. It lacked the ripping intensity that normally accompanied a closed fist. The only thing suffered would be pride and a few bruises.
"Those two have been acting like an old marry couple," Buck answered never taking his eyes from the two combatants that circled one another. "Jist bickering and bitin' each other on the ass."
Standish's hands were frighteningly fast. The fighting stance constantly changed in fluid motions between right and left...neither side more dominant than the other. The ambidextrous ability was paying off or someone had trained him well. His feet never crossed and Buck couldn't pick up a 'tell'.
Ryan merely nodded. about time those two quit their bitch'n
"Ya see that JD," Nathan pointed out, "see the distance Ezra's keeping?"
Dunne scrutinized the observation Jackson made. "Yeah, I think so."
"Well Ezra is a boxer...a striking art. He needs to maintain a medium distance. Can't get in too close because his punches won't be as strong and Chris might latch on to him....and he can't dance too far back because then he can't land a blow." Nathan watched as the two men danced and parried in a tight circle. Neither worked on a linear plane. Never follow you opponent. Change direction...change your angle and keep moving.
"Chris latches onto Ez and it's all over," Buck pointed out. Wilmington cringed when Standish lashed out with a foot and connected to the side of Larabee's knee. Chris dropped his hands for a split second as his shoulder dipped downward toward the slightly buckled leg. Standish's hands were there immediately making solid contact palm to cheek, palm to eye and palm to ear. Chris's head was rocked repeatedly toward the side. The left hand snaked in under the chin and snapped Larabee's head back, extending the neck and accentuating his tracheal rings.
Buck was beginning to wonder if he made a poor bet.
Josiah's chuckle rumbled across the warehouse. The profiler saw the change in the eyes. Larabee had taken his last unanswered blow.
As a boxer Ezra knew to keep himself from getting pinned against the ropes or any obstacles when facing a grappler or groundfighter. Mr. Jackson had been taking the time to introduce the Southerner to the art of wrestling and joint manipulation. The fear of going down to the mat or the deck or the floor still played heavily in the undercover agent's mind. Nathan, over the last few weeks, had made the change in orientation more acceptable.
Ezra did not like fighting on the ground. He knew that was Chris's area of expertise. If he could keep Larabee on his feet then this little soree was his, no questions asked. Should Larabee knock him to the unyielding floor the fight would be Larabee's. The ground was Chris's world. The leader of Team Seven was a formidable man on his feet but lacked the formal training of Standish. The ground ,however, was a different world. There was no distancing yourself from your opponent. Arms and legs and head became not only weapons but manipulatable targets. Jackson had taught Ezra a few escape moves and a few attack moves...but it paled in comparison to Chris's ability.
Standish merely wanted to maintain his feet and work his penned up anger and frustration that had hounded him for weeks prior to this.... and wipe that smug 'Eat Me' expression off his gawd damn face.
Larabee's ears rang with the last snapping palm to his head. Son of a Bitch that hurts! With a guttural growl he abandoned all tact and charged his undercover agent.
Shit. Standish tried to side step the raging blonde but Ezra found himself a half step too slow.
Larabee latched onto his belt. The wiry arms snaked around Standish's torso.
One moment Standish perceived the world from a standing position and the next air wooshed from his lungs with a rib bending intensity. His shoulders and back slammed into the unforgiving concrete flooring. A brief ,but brilliant, display of lights danced in his blackened vision.
A flash of panic seared through Ezra. Shit...shit...shit.
Larabee quickly sat on Standish's midsection careful not to bend his head to far forward...knowing the slithering, southerner would probably try and head butt him...and careful not to sit too far back because legs could easily wound their way around him. Damn snake
Chris saw the momentary fear in the pale green eyes. Larabee smiled like a Boa that had caught a deer. Fight and struggle as it might once found within its grasp, the deer would eventually succumb. Gotcha
"Ahh Shit," Vin said dejectedly. Ten bucks down the drain. Buck smiled at the sudden thought that someone else would be buying the drinks tonight.
Nathan leaned back against the crate and watched the Southerner with a critical eye. He and Ezra had practiced a few moves from this position. He was curious if Ezra would keep his head and think his way out of it.
Ezra swallowed his panic, slowed his breathing and did as Nathan taught him. He swiveled his body sideways bending his shoulder toward his hip while flinging his inside leg up and around Larabee's neck in one rapidly, fluid motion. Not over yet, dear sir
Nathan gently nudged Josiah's upper arm with his elbow, "I taught him that." The pride in Jackson's voice brought a smile to the others.
Chris was momentarily unseated. The brief moment would hardly register on stop watches. Larabee quickly countered the move sliding an arm between his neck and the offending leg and using the momentum of his opponent forced the leg to continue in its arc to toward the ground. Nice try...not gonna work
Ezra's brief moment of elation quickly fizzled. He now found himself on his side. His two legs slightly bent side by side. His left shoulder and arm were pinned between Larabee's crushing weight and himself and his right arm was extended useless out in front of him. He could not reach his opponent with the right arm.
"See that JD..see how Chris won't allow any light between Ezra and himself," Buck pointed out. JD squinted his eyes and hunched over a little further trying to get a better look at the two men.
"Chris is using his weight to keep Ez pinned, no wasted strength involved in trying to keep Ez down. If Ez tries to push him off he'll be having to lift Chris's entire body weight." Buck rubbed at his mustache with his index finger.
Chris braced his left palm against the floor keeping the Southerner pinned. His chin was tucked in close to his chest but used his head as a third arm pinning the Southerner's neck to the floor insuring that Ezra would not try and head butt him. 'bout the only thing he uses his brain for anyhow
"You ready to give up?" Chris whispered harshly in Ezra's reddened ear. Sweat covered both men. Ezra's harsh breathing filled the small space and Larabee could feel the expansion and contraction of Standish's chest with each breath.
"Funny, I was thinking the same thing concerning you." Standish had no intentions of quitting. He struggled a little testing the hold that kept him efficiently trapped. Ezra took a calming breath and confidently stated, "you are not in a position to be dictating terms of surrender." A good confident bluff could sometimes go along way in foiling a player.
Larabee could not say he wasn't pleased. He was not ready to end this yet. Anger, frustration and anxiety still coursed through his veins. Why didn't Standish understand that the rules and orders laid before him were for his own protection. Chris liked Ezra...really did, but the man gave hemorrhoids a bad name. Standish ,the fool, had a stubborn grit about him that made him an exceptional friend. Sometimes, however, that obstinate Southern pride and over worked mouth created problems.
"Whatcha think they're doin'?" JD asked. The two bodies tangled on the floor had not moved for a few seconds. The young Bostonian could see the deep rise and fall of Larabee's back. Chris had his legs splayed toward them. The wide base gave the leader of Team Seven more leverage. JD could only see the bottom half of Ezra. The rest of him appeared to be tied in knots under Chris. Dunne sighed. Ezra was never good with knots.
"I think Chris is asking Ezra if he wants to quit," Vin spoke up watching the two men a few yards from them. The others groaned.
Buck laughed, "Chris sure does know how to push buttons...don't he?" Wilmington asked in general.
"I would loved to hear what Ezra has to say," Nathan returned shifting position on the wooden crate.
"I bet Brother Ezra is creative in his response," Josiah responded with a chuckle.
Chris started working a hand under Standish's pinned left shoulder. Ezra recognized the move and panic once again nearly stole his breath away. He could feel the steely pressure of fingers between his ribs and upper arm.
"See that JD?" Vin asked leaning forward peering down the line of men beside him.
Dunne leaned forward to stare around Josiah and Buck a question apparent on his young features.
"Chris is starting on an arm lock."
The others watched the subtle shift in position begin to occur. Just as a constrictor will respond to a struggling doe's exhales...Chris slowly worked his hand up under Standish's arm.
"Shit," Nathan muttered out from his vantage point. He had shown Ezra how to escape a few arm holds and how to respond aggressively to anyone attempting them. Unfortunately, the Southerner had a weak point. His left shoulder had a tendency to pop out. It did not happen often and usually only after a serious blow but still the joint had some laxity in it that would not take too much pressure.
Chris had succeeded in gaining purchase with the left arm. The leader was just about to lean back and simply tilt his pelvis upward and lock the arm putting intense pressure on the joints. The accomplished moves were done with efficient, blinding, speed. Larabee had shifted his torso from Standish's but managed to drape his legs over the Southerner's chest while trapping the left shoulder and arm under his calf and over his thigh. With a simple arching of his pelvis he would have this finished.
Larabee felt rather than saw Standish try and answer his move with moves of his own. The Southerner would not go quietly to defeat. Never knows when to back down
Just as Chris started to change the angle of the arm and put upward pressure that would torque the shoulder to potentially dangerous position, he paused.
The other six men watched silently hoping Larabee and Standish would realize what was about to happen.
Ezra did panic. Nathan had shown him this lock before and warned him of how easily it was to break or dislocate a shoulder or elbow, depending on the fine tuned adjustments one made on the hold. Standish knew his left shoulder would not be able to withstand the forces Larabee was about to apply to it. You had to push the man...had to slap him a few times...ah hell seven or eight times to the head...you never learn do you? Ezra berated himself mentally. Surrender was not an option....yet.
Chris suddenly realized he held Standish's left arm. Shit...it was the left one that dislocated on occasion. Shit...shit...shit...Larabee loosened his grip. The hand that had been snugly captured quickly tore itself free.
Ezra found his left hand suddenly free and pulled it from the danger zone. The Southerner capitalized on the sudden freedom and grabbed a foot. One must take advantage of sudden windfalls and opporunities....Good ole mother knew her stuff
Ezra did not have the proficiency or skill of either Larabee nor Jackson. If he would have been faster and more precise; if his actions would have been more secure and authoritative; he might have stood a chance. As it was...Standish was new to this game and unaccustomed to this ground environment.
Son of a Bitch! Larabee cursed as he felt his foot get captured. A gawd damn leg lock.
Who the hell taught this Southern pig-headed fool about leg locks?
The others sighed in relief when Standish snaked his left arm out of a potentially brutal situation.
Vin and Buck made eye contact. Both knew what Chris had done. Just as Ezra had kept his hands open during the standing part of the fight...just as the Southerner had held back on his kicks that landed above and below joints, never landing on the joint....Larabee simply offered their undercover agent an out.
The twosome laughed as Standish dove right back into the mix latching on the toe and heel of Larabee's foot.
Ezra tried to set up the leg lock. It was alot more difficult with a resisting opponent.
Nathan sat on the crate silently coaching his student. No under your armpit...Ezra! put the toe under your arm pit. Bend the damn knee...No the knee...Gawd damn it Ezra don't ya listen....Y'got to bend his knee.
"Yes!" Jackson whooped out as Standish finally bent Larabee's knee by pinching the muscles behind the knee. With the leg flinching into a flexed position, Standish captured the toe under his arm. "I showed him how to do that." Nathan said answering the questioning looks thrown at him by the others.
Shit!!! Who the hell taught him that? I'll ring their necks
Larabee immediately answered the maneuver.
Ezra, for a brief moment, thought he had it. For a small finite amount in time, he thought he had this joint manipulation figured out. It wasn't so tough.
Then his elation crashed and burned like jet fighter landing nose first on the tarmac.
One moment he had Larabee's toes where they belonged...under his armpit. He had begun to wrap his hand around the heel and then all he had to do was cinch the grip and shift the angle of the ankle.
Suddenly the foot disappeared. A heavy weight once again flattened itself across his chest. An elbow seated itself just under his xyphoid process; the sensitive spot where abdomen met sternum. The pressure caused him to lift his head slightly. An arm snaked under his head and neck. His own chin was forced into the tight space between collar bones. He felt the top of his shirt get grabbed on both sides and forearms cinched down forming and X across his throat. The move baffled him for a moment until the pressure started. Ezra knew he was in trouble.
With subtle pressure, his wind was cut off. A cough reflex was initiated and the blood to and from his head became slightly impeded. His eyes watered.
"Damn....we haven't gotten that far yet," Jackson uttered now sitting hunched on the crate.
Chris increased the pressure a little at a time. He held it steady when Standish's frantic movements for escape settled. Larabee never loosened or tightened his choke. He gaged the strength of his hold simply by judging the struggles of the man trapped under him.
Top dog held the submissive gesture to hammer home his position in the pack. Though Standish did not challenge him for the alpha seat....he did present a challenge. A lesson learned...and probably needed to be re-ingrained some months down the road. It was the nature of packs...the nature of social beings. Larabee answered it with no questions lingering.
Standish, in a pure act of self defense, tapped Larabee on the upper arm signaling submission. Chris by right and natural ability called the shots and made the demands.
"Damn, thought for a moment Ez might have had'im," Tanner pushed himself upright.
"Ole Chris has always been the best at fighting on the ground," Wilmington stated matter a factly. He laid a restraining hand on JD's shoulder halting the young man from intruding too quickly on the combatants.
Chris rolled off Ezra. Both men lay side by side on the ground breathing hard.
"You feel better now?" Chris kept his voice low, the dictatorial, condescending, inflections that had infused his tone for the past few weeks was missing.
Standish lay on his back trying to figure out how the hell Larabee went from having his shoulders down by Standish's feet to suddenly up by his head in just a matter of a second. Apparently the popular laws of Physics did not apply to his leader. Not much did when it came to Larabee.
Ezra took a deep breath considering the question, "Yes...much better...thankyou." Standish focused his attention on the steel rafters.
Larabee kept an eye on his undercover agent until Ezra once again met his gaze. Then with a wince both men sat up.
"Guess we might as well go find out how much money I won," Ezra slowly rose to his feet as muscles complained against the use. Both men latched onto one another using each other for support.
Larabee eyed his undercover agent. The man had no shame. Even losing he made a profit.
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