A/N: I realize I'm what, like, a year between posting chapters? I apologize…my muse completely lost focus, and this story was a casualty. However, on getting lots of positive feedback (see? It DOES make all the difference in the world! Feed your starving authors! LOL) I decided to try and grind out to the end since I was so close already. So, I have this next part. The Group Honesty Exercise. While I concede that it's EXTREMELY lame in parts (MOST parts, for the matter) it's really the best I could do. *Sigh* I apologize to everyone. Humor was never my strong suit. :) But as always, any and all feedback is welcome. Flames are used justification to start different stories that won't annoy my muse as much. *G*
Part Four: Group Honesty Exercise

9:15 AM, Thurs., June 21st, 2001

**(From the notes of Dr. Samuel F. Preston)

Today is the fourth session I have with Mister Larabee's team. One more day. You have no idea how the thought comforts me. Just one more day with these gentlemen, and I will be free to write my theories and turn in my notes and recordings to the ATF and Judge Travis. I will be done with them, and hopefully, I will never see them again in my life. I know this is a terrible thing to say, but after the sabotage to my reception area yesterday added on top of all the stress of the previous days, you will understand.

To start the list, all of the bottoms to my paper cups were ripped out, a fact I only noticed after I attempted to get water from my cooler and it leaked all over my Italian leather shoes. I checked every cup after that, and I regret to say that the boys were quite thorough. Of course, they didn't see fit to stop there. I thought I was pouring my non-dairy creamer into my coffee later, but it was actually, a mixture of cider powder, hot cocoa mix, orange tea leaves from a tea bag, and coffee grounds. Not only that, I could not find that delightful grill recipe I had planned on using this weekend from one of the office magazines. It has been torn, right out of the book, along with several other recipes. The candy dish on Linda's desk is empty, as were the cabinets that hold our entire supply of extra sweets. There were 10 lb. bags in there, for crying out loud!

My TV is also, currently hooked up to receive illegal cable. I can even tap into the security cameras of the lady's yoga class downstairs. There are several pencils imbedded into my ceiling that will not come down, and my carton of orange juice has sweet and low and floating chunks of bagel in it. The best, the best of course, had to be saved for last. When I moved to shut my door behind me for the night, a container of pencil shavings, water, and what looked to be a mixture of Linda's favorite strawberry yogurt and cottage cheese came splattering onto my head.

I have decided to forget about getting into the team's minds, as I have lost interest to endeavor such a thing for the sake of self-preservation. I think going into their heads is a legitimate thing to fear, if one considers their personalities. I will go ahead with the honesty exercises, and attempt to see what sort of relationship they have developed with each other. The basis of the exercise requires them to be blatantly honest, which I think will be easy. I just pray to God that Mister Larabee doesn't see fit to shoot any of his men in my presence. I took care to prepare as much as possible for this exercise yesterday, however I lack a few essentials. Unfortunately, Kevlar vests are on heavy back order and I was too busy to purchase that Oxford Thesaurus last night, as I was taking my suit to the dry cleaners. They charge exorbitant prices to remove cottage cheese.**

Group Honesty Exercise

The seven ATF agents were arranged in a circle around Doctor Preston's office, much as they had been on day one. The doctor sat with Chris and Josiah on either side of him. "All right, gentlemen, this is a communication exercise. I'm going to ask you questions, and you're to be completely honest with me and your teammates so that…"

"Is this another scheme to gauge are way of thinking?" Vin asked, before the doctor could finish.

"No, it isn't, Mister Tanner. I've given up on that all together."

"Oh. Good."

"Yes. Can I finish, or are there any other questions?" he asked, eyes flitting across the table. The group sat silently before him, no one saying a word. He smiled and took a breath. "Good. Now, the point of this exercise…"

"So there **is** a point, this time?" Ezra interrupted.

Preston shot an annoyed look at the southern undercover agent. "Yes, there is a point. Are there **any** other questions I can take before I go on?" He waited for some smart-ass comment or a noncommittal grunt from any of them.

Silence again. He coughed and straightened up. "As I was saying, the point of this exercise is to see what you think of each other and how you think each other contributes…"

"Like, charity?" JD asked.

"No, not like charity, JD. If you had **let** me finish, I was ready to say 'contributes to the group.' Now can we get on with it?"

They all looked at him expectantly. "You're positive? No more questions? You're **all** ready to begin?" Silence greeted him. "All right then…why don't we…"

"Wait, what the fuck are we doing again?" Buck asked.

Preston sighed. "Just answer the questions I ask you. Now, are there **any** other questions while we're at it?"

All seven men were quiet, and Preston pulled out his notebook and pen and prepared. "All right, then let's get…"

"What kind of questions are you gonna ask?" Vin piped up.

He sighed wearily. "All sorts of questions. Is there anything else?" He looked around. "Nothing? You're all absolutely positive?" Still nothing. "Sure this time?" Silence. "You're not just waiting for me to start talking so you can interrupt me?" Quiet. "Okay then. Mister…"

"Do we have to answer in front of everyone?" Nathan questioned all of a sudden.

Preston growled somewhere low in his throat. "Yes. Are we ready?" Everyone nodded. "All right. Mister Jackson, who on your team do you look up to the most, or who would be the most likely candidate?"


"And why's that?"

"Because he's the only one taller than me."

Preston groaned inwardly. It was starting already, wasn't it? He knew Nathan Jackson was a smart man. He knew he could understand the concepts he was throwing out at him. Why couldn't he just play along? "No, I meant who do you most admire on your team. Not physically look up at."


Preston blinked. "Mister Standish? Are you serious?"

Nathan growled. "What is it with you always questioning my answers? What's the point in asking in the first place if all I'm going to get is patronized when I reply? And who are you to judge Ezra anyway?"

The psychiatrist backed down before another lecture on basic civil rights started, much like yesterday. "Um, my apologies. Why don't you tell us why you admire Ezra the most?"

"'Cause he's pissed off Chris ten times more than the rest of us and he's still in one piece."

"Yes, I suppose that's respectable," Preston drawled.

"Yeah, well, from what I heard you were on hands and knees, on the verge of tears yesterday beggin' Chris to cooperate. I wouldn't use that tone of sarcasm if I was you," Nate shot back.

Chris didn't say anything about yesterday. Preston was used to it, he really was.

"Well, it's just that that's not exactly the answer I was looking for, Nathan."

"Is that a derogatory remark against Ezra?"

"No… no, of course not. I would never want to offend him."

Jackson's eyes narrowed. "Why? 'Cause he's white?"

"No! I didn't mean that. I meant, because, he's um… too crafty for me to want to use sarcasm with him."

"So you think you can use it with the rest of us?"

"No! Please, Mister Jackson, I meant no such thing. I probably should have said he's a sly son of a bitch."

Nathan looked satisfied. "See? That would have worked."

Chris growled from his seat at the doctor. "Don't insult my men!" he warned, eyes flashing.

"Thank you, Mister…"

"Shut up, Ezra. He was right, you are a sly son of a bitch."

Preston was puzzled. "Then why aren't I allowed to say it if it's true?"

Chris glowered. "Why? 'Cause I said so. You wanna argue?"

"No. No, I don't. I really don't." He twitched nervously. "Um, Mister Tanner! What is the most annoying thing about any one of your teammates?"

"Just one thing?" Vin asked, quirking a brow.

"Yes, if you think you can pick out the one that annoys you most."

"The way Ezra rolls up his trash before throwing it away."

Ezra snorted. "With all the garbage you bring into the office? If I didn't compact my trash our corner would be overridden with Twix wrappers and Big Mac boxes!"

The psychologist looked desperate. "You mean that's the most annoying thing about him to you? Not the fact that he's a pompous ass or a lying, conniving smooth talker?"

"Hey!" Nathan and Chris stated simultaneously. "Don't talk about my men like that."

"You've known him for three days! What gives you the right to pass judgment on him?!"

Preston shrank back under the barrage. "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. Um… Mister Dunne?"


"If you could do one thing as well as or better than any of your teammates, what would it be."

"I already can," JD shrugged.

"I mean, like, a talent, or a trait, or a way of handling things that you yourself don't have already."

JD thought about this for a second. "Um… I wish I had Ezra's hair."

"Why?" Buck laughed.

The kid shook his head, tossing his long bangs away from his face. "'Cause his hair is always neat and it never falls into his face like mine does," JD huffed, looking upwards at the thick black strands on his head.

"Oh this is wonderful. When the government asks me what drives the most successful team in the entire agency, I can tell them it's hair envy. Perfect. Just perfect."

"I don't like your tone, doctor," Chris growled, low in his throat. "You wish you had Ezra's hair."

"Do you?"

The leader snorted. "No."

"Mister Larabee, may I be so bold as to inquire about this double standard you seem to advertise, intentionally or not?"

"**You're** calling Chris a hypocrite?" Nathan asked incredulously.

"He's calling me a hypocrite?" Chris asked upon Nathan's exclamation, eyes narrowing.

"I believe he is," Ezra responded. "What exactly, brought on this finger pointing, Mister Preston?"

"Don't pretend like you haven't seen it. Mister Larabee has practically been screaming it since the moment we got here. He can do some things, but he doesn't allow others to do the same thing. He acts like he's the king of the world! Haven't you noticed?"

"Someone's watched Titanic a few too many times," JD muttered to Buck, shaking his head.

Preston growled. "I only watched that movie once, Mister Dunne. I can guarantee that I'm not quoting it. I just… why do you let Chris get away with that?"

Buck snorted. "**You** wanna tell him he can't?" the ladies man motioned to his oldest friend.

Chris grinned like a shark to help emphasize the point. Preston drew back visibly. "I suppose you have a point."

"Are we going to be doing anything constructive today, Doctor, or do you wish to continue this exhilarating game of 'let's see how fast one can get shot with the right type of provocation'?"

"Mister Standish, I most certainly do not want to get shot. And I do have something constructive planned. I had hoped it would go over well, considering the data I've compiled from our previous sessions, but I should have known you seven would attempt to make this difficult."

"Young man, I don't think you should be so condescending," Josiah piped up. "The purpose of this experiment is to gather data. Now, don't you think, as odd as it may be, that Ezra's flagrant disregard for your authority, Nathan's lack of faith in your competence, and the rest of our detached, uninterested manners, might all mean something?"

"Other than your being nuts, I can't think of anything, Josiah," Preston drawled.

Ezra turned to Josiah, ignoring Preston's muttering. "Now Mister Sanchez, he was hired by the government. Funding can sometimes be…"

"Before you finish that comment on quality versus the cost of my expertise, Mister Standish, I can assure you that your organization spared no expense…"

Buck snorted. "He's gettin' 50 bucks an hour. 'S what Linda said."

Ezra smiled and folded his hands into his lap. "And yet another great obscurity is elucidated. Please continue Doctor, if you've a mind to."

"Why, so kind of you, Mister Standish," Preston grumbled sardonically. "Why don't we talk about grievances each of you may have then? I'm sure you'll have plenty."

"About time. Your coffee sucks."

"Your decorator should be shot."

"You need better reading material in the office."

"Linda's clingy."

"Your TV reception sucks."

Preston sighed. "NO! Not grievances with the premises, gentlemen. I meant with each other."

"Vin's coffee sucks."

"Mister Wilmington's decorator should be shot."

"JD needs better reading material."

"Mary's clingy."

"Josiah's reception sucks."

Preston bit the inside of his cheek. "Yes, very amusing, all of you. Now that that's out of
everyone's system, are we ready for some real work? Or should I just give up and write down "insane" as my diagnosis?"

Everyone looked incredulously at him. "Ya mean ya coulda done that Monday mornin' and we coulda been out of here?!" Vin asked, annoyed. "Why didn't ya just say so?"

"Forgive me, but I guess I just assumed that people would generally be offended at being called insane just after I had met them."

"Oh, so you're conservative about the 'insane' thing but everything **else** you say can be a biased, judgmental remark?"

"I am not biased, Mister Jackson," Preston retaliated, rather indignantly.

"Now you're biased against your own bias. What kind of a man are you? You make racist remarks to me the other day, you judge my teammates, and then you have the gall to tell me you aren't judgmental?"

"Please, Mister Jackson, we're getting off track."

"So you change the subject. These sessions haven't had a track every day we've been here, but now you make the excuse that we had one all along."

"Maybe we did," Preston ventured. "This could all be a complex attempt at learning about each of you that none of you know about."

"So now you're calling us ignorant again. You think we don't know what you're doing to us? You're implying that if you were doing something right in front of us, that we wouldn't even know it was happening."

"I'm just saying, it could be that I'm doing something to analyze you gentlemen right now but none of you are quite qualified enough to acknowledge it."

"What about Josiah? He's spent more years studying people than you've been alive! Not only are you unfairly judging him, you're disrespecting his age and his knowledge, undermining his experience with your own, just because you specialize in talking to loonies for a living."

Preston decided to turn the tables on Nathan and play the word game with the chemist. "So you're admitting that your team is full of loonies, Mister Jackson?"

"Shouldn't you already **know** if we are or not, Mister Expert-Psychologist?"

Preston sputtered. "Mister Jackson, I'm just allowing for some possibilities here. You don't have to come to personal attacks. I would expect this perhaps from Mister Standish, but not from you."

"Oh, so you're saying I'm better than Ezra?"

JD snickered. "That's a band." Everyone ignored Dunne.

"No, I'm not saying you're better than Ezra. I'm just saying that it's in your characters to be different in that sense."

"You don't even KNOW Ezra's character. Who are you to be talking about Ezra's character in the first place? He's an undercover agent. Maybe he's just bullshitting you about everything. Maybe he's the most noble, honest person any of us know."

Preston looked skeptical. "Do you really think I'm going to…"

"I don't care if you believe it or not, it's still not your right to judge either way. You don't know him. You haven't worked with him for as long as any of us have, and whether you're a psychologist or not doesn't matter."

Throughout Nathan's rant, JD looked at his watch. Leaning over towards Chris, the youngest agent motioned to the face of his wrist. "Can I run to the vending machine? If I did my math right, Nate's gonna be going for another ten minutes."

Chris nodded but stopped the kid before he could leave. Pulling out his wallet, the team leader yanked a dollar and put it into Dunne's hands. "I want HoHos."

Buck also tossed a dollar at the kid. "Twinkies."

"Tater Chips."



Nathan paused from his yelling at Doctor Preston to look at JD. "Chocolate chip cookies." He turned back and resumed right where he'd left off, to the very word. "And another thing, what's your sick obsession with slandering Ezra's personality? You're completely unqualified compared to any one of us to do anything of the sort…"

**Ten Minutes Later**


Jackson paused in his rant. "Yeah, Chris?"

"You want your cookies now or what?"

"Oh. Yeah."

Larabee tossed his agent the package of Famous Amos. "Sit. Eat."

The chemist caught the bag and plopped back into his seat, the lecture to Doctor Preston completely forgotten.

"Ah…yes, I was saying…what was I saying?"

"You were being judgmental and narrow minded," JD piped up.

Upon hearing the kid's statement, Nathan sat a little higher in his seat and put a finger in the air, as if he were going to say something to the doctor again.

"Nathan…eat now," Chris instructed, soothingly. Preston wondered how Larabee had gone from growling to relaxing within a fifteen-minute time slot.

Jackson leaned back into his chair and popped another cookie in his mouth upon instruction.

"Er… I was asking a question. How about, Mister Wilmington?"

"What about me?"

"Uh…" Preston adjusted his glasses and looked at some of his notes. "Tell me about something that one of your teammates has done to you that's hurt you lately."

Buck snorted and leaned back in his chair. "Chris."

"And what did Chris do?" the psychologist urged.

"What do you mean what did he do? You were right here when he did it! Smacked me upside the head only like, six times."

"What do you mean… oh… on Monday? That's not what I meant when I said hurt you."

"Well, it hurt."

"I meant emotionally."

Buck suddenly turned apprehensive about sharing his grievances. "You mean like, **emotional** emotionally? The touchy-feely type honest "I feel like…" type?"


Buck made a face. "Like, make me wanna cry and express myself, emotionally?"

"Well, perhaps, though there's a plethora of other feelings that are tied to emotional hurt."

Buck's brow's knitted. "So you want me to tell one of the guys he's hurt me emotionally lately?"


"What if they haven't?"

"Of course they have! Humans that work in an environment like you seven do that sort of thing to each other on a daily basis. No matter how small the occurrence, it undoubtedly happens."

"Uhm… Vin flipped me the bird on the way down here."

"Yes? And how did that make you feel?"

"Like flippin' him back."

"So it made you feel retaliatory?"


"Are you always like that?"

"Like what?"

"Do you always feel the need to get back at someone who gets you for something?"

"Hey, if someone flips me off I do it right back, doc."

"So you are."


"So if I were to say, kick you in the ribs, you'd kick me back?"

"Now why in the holy heck would you wanna kick me in the ribs?"

"It was a hypothetical question."

"So it's not a real situation."


"It is?"

"No, it is NOT a real situation. It's just a proposed scenario, Buck."

"So you don't really want to kick me in the ribs?"

Preston sighed. "No, Mister Wilmington, I really don't."

"So then I don't want to kick you in the ribs, either."

"That's not what I'm asking, Buck. I'm asking you that if I **were** to kick you in the ribs, would you kick me back automatically?"

"Not if he was on the floor holding his chest and yellin', "why the hell did you kick me in
the ribs?!" or somethin' like that," JD offered by way of explanation.

"Well, it's not a question of whether he could or couldn't kick me right after I kicked him, but rather a question of whether he would or not."

"What's the point of would or wouldn't if he can't?" JD questioned, looking at Josiah.

The preacher's son shrugged. "Beats me."

"It's just a hypothetical scenario! I wouldn't really kick Buck in the ribs," Preston sighed. "But, let's say that I did…"

"So you WOULD kick Buck in the ribs?" JD asked; his face scrunched up into a giant question mark.

"No! But if I'm asking him what he would do if I did."

"If you wouldn't, why are you saying what would happen if you did?"

"It's a hypo…"

"Yes, Doctor, we understand that portion. I think my compatriots were actually wondering about the situations pertinence if it was as you say, unfathomable, in the first place."

"It has pertinence to the exercise."

"But not to the original question."

"I don't even remember the original question," Preston sighed wearily.

"Then what's the point of keepin' up with **this** question?" JD pushed, impatient.

"It was relevant to the original question."

Josiah quirked a brow. "Which was?"

"Which was… erm… whether or not Buck has a need to retaliate, no matter the smallness of the offending gesture."

Chris sighed. "Yes."

"Excuse me, Mister Larabee?"

"Yes, Buck has to get back at every goddamned son of a bitch that looks at him the wrong way."

"Are you being serious with me, Mister Larabee? This isn't just an answer you're giving me so we can move on, is it?"

Chris narrowed his eyes. "You figure it out. I'm not the one getting paid fifty bucks an hour to sort this shit out."

Preston frowned. "Mister Larabee, has it ever occurred to you that your foul demeanor might be caused by undue stress?"

"Occurred to me?" Chris's eye grew large. "What the fuck kind of stupid question was that? Undue stress? Look around!!!" His arm swept left to right, across the faces of 6 rather bored looking agents.

The doctor flinched slightly at Chris's incredulous tone. "Well, yes, I'll have to agree that your men are somewhat high maintenance, but I was wondering as to the way you might try to relieve some of your excess stress? It would calm you down considerably if you did it right, I imagine."


Preston nodded. "Some people play sports on the weekend, or do a hobby to relax, a sort of way to channel their rage and frustration into something productive. And when they're really furious, some of them write, or count to ten, or hit a pillow, or scream."

"Oh, Chris screams a lot," Vin chimed in.

"Well, um, good. It's healthy. What else do you do, Mister Larabee?"

Chris looked genuinely thoughtful. "Besides scream?"

Preston nodded.

Chris reached into the inside of his coat jacket. The six ATF agents simultaneously ducked and covered their heads. "Oh God, he's going to get a gun?!" Preston yelped jumping behind his seat, cowering.

"No! Worse!!" JD yelped.

"He's gonna play!!" Vin griped, the brim of his hat pulled over his ears disdainfully.

Preston's head poked up from behind the arm of his chair. "Play?"

"This is your fault, Junior! You gave him that Goddamn thing!!" Buck growled, glaring at Tanner.

"It was a gag gift! He weren't really supposed to play it!!"

Preston looked at Larabee, who had a shiny new harmonica in hand, and looked prepared to start a small impromptu performance. Which consisted of random blowing against any part of the grid his lips happened to touch.

"Who has a gun? Someone gimme a gun!" Vin pleaded.

Though the doctor had to agree that Larabee's playing was rather off center, he considered shooting Larabee as a bit of overreaction. "Mister Tanner? Why do you want to shoot Mister Larabee?"

"I don't," Vin responded, cringing as another string of random notes screeched across the room.

"You don't?"

"I wanna shoot **myself**," Tanner ground out, hands clamped on either side of his ears, the perfect picture of tormented agony.

Nathan, hands over ears in a similar fashion, glared at Preston. "Why'd you instantly assume Vin was gonna murder Chris!?" he yelled over the din.

"Well, he was asking for a gun!"

"So you automatically think he'd shoot one of us before he'd shoot himself!"

"Well, it seemed that was the purpose of his wanting a gun!"

"So you think Vin's a murderer!"

"I don't! I just assumed he would want to destroy the source of his apparent agony!"

Josiah chortled. "Doctor, if we were like that, all of us would be dead and in the arms of the Lord…" he stopped. "Well, most of us…"

"So you think that some of your teammates will go to hell?!" Preston shouted over the cacophony.

The preacher's son, hands clamped firmly over his ears, let out a wry smile. "I'm sayin' they'd take it over…"


"Run the devil right out!"

"You're telling me that you're of the belief that your team has the potential to run hell!"

"Look around Doctor. Imagine an eternity of this…"

Preston choked a little at the thought, raising his voice to be heard over the sour notes of the harmonica. "Yes well, I still find it hard to believe that your teammates would give Lucifer himself a run for his money! Care to explain to me as to why you believe your teammates are hell-bound?!"

Josiah, cringing at another off key whistle keened by a very self-satisfied looking Larabee, looked at Preston. "You must have an awful lot of faith son, if you don't think some of us are goin' to the fiery pit!"

"I'm suspending my own disbelief for a moment in order to ask you a question, Mister Sanchez. What have your teammates done to warrant a trip to hell, in your opinion?!"

"Didn't say it was my opinion, just popular credence, is all!" Josiah defended, looking slightly insulted.

"So other people think you're going to hell?! Like who?!"

Sanchez looked thoughtful. "Teams 1-6 and 9-12!"

"So you're implying that the other teams you boys have to work with don't get along with you well?!"

"We get along with Kelly's team!" JD protested.

"They give us beer, sometimes!" Buck explained to Preston, shuddering when Chris took another deep breath and set into his music making with much gusto.

"So the only reason you get along with your coworkers is the fact that they provide alcoholic beverages!?"

Buck scowled. "What's wrong with alcohol?!"

Preston's eyebrow arched. "Besides the fact that it's a strain on one's internal systems and causes slow-wittedness, and vomiting and in my opinion, tastes rather foul?!"

Chris abruptly stopped playing. The other agents sighed in relief when he shoved the instrument back inside his coat pocket. "What?" the black clad leader asked, voice clearly annoyed.

"We were just talking about alcohol, Mister Larabee. It seems your team resorts to it when the usual social graces fail them."

Larabee's eyes narrowed. "What's wrong with beer?"

"Erm…nothing, I suppose," Preston began, growing slightly nervous at the look in the
agent's eye. "I'm just concerned about your team's apparent inability to coexist with the other teams without the use of drink."

"Where the hell did you get that?" Nathan interrupted, eyes flaring. "We lack social graces? What, you assume because our team occasionally likes to partake with Kelly's team that we're all a bunch of drunks that couldn't function without a bottle in our hand?!"

Chris's eyes became thin slits, turning flinty. "What's wrong with beer?" he repeated.

"No, I didn't mean it that way. It was just my personal opinion on alcohol as a whole."

JD snorted. "It even legal for you to have alcohol?"

"I am 25 years old, Mister Dunne, quite past the legal drinking age if I recall. Now can we please try to stay on topic? I want to further address this team's dependency on alcohol. "

"We're not dependant!" Buck protested.

Chris still looked troubled. "What's wrong with beer?"

"Well, one would think that you'd be able to get along with the other teams in your bureau without having alcohol present as a dampener."

"So you're saying we have a problem if we drink to get along with our coworkers?" Nathan asked, eyes narrowed.

"Well, basically, yes. I don't see how it's a bad assumption."

The chemist's nostrils flared. "You haven't even **met** the other teams!! They're bigger asses than Ezra!!! They'd drive YOU to drink too!! Why do you automatically assume everything's our fault?"

Preston blinked. "I um…well, I guess I didn't think of that. Why don't you tell me about people you find objectionable in your facility of work, then Agent Jackson?"

Nathan crossed his arms defiantly across his chest. "Ain't for me to say." He smirked, an Ezra-like twist of his lips upward. "See how easy it is? Why don't you try it, Doc?"

Chris continued to mutter under his breath. "I like beer."

"Mister Larabee, we've asserted that perhaps beer isn't as evil as I'd first inclined. Can we move on before we're out of time?"

"Actually, according to my count, we're out of time now, doctor Preston," Ezra intoned, flashing his sharp silver Rolex.

Preston sputtered. "But we were just gaining ground! I want to know about the role of alcohol in your daily routines!"

Chris's growl rivaled that of a race car engine. "I like beer."

Preston shrunk back.

Buck, smirking, and seemingly nonplussed at his friend's display of criminal-esque insanity, clapped a hand on the team leader's shoulder amiable. "C'mon pard. I'll buy you a Bud. How's that? You like Bud, right?"

The low rumblings in Larabee's throat stopped. "Coors?"

"Sure, Chris, whatever you want."

There came a happy sound from somewhere inside the black clad man.

Preston jotted down more notes while the men left. After a second, he put his pencil down. He really felt like a beer now.

He chuckled a little insanely to himself. "They've driven me to drink!!!!"