Title: The Transitive Property (1/7)
Fandom/Universe: Magnificent 7 & Make It or break It
Universe : Mag 7 ATF and Pre-series for MIOBI
Characters: Vin Tanner, Steve Tanner, Lauren Tanner, Ezra Standish and the rest of the seven are around
Summary: Vin Tanner returns to Boulder, Colorado to stay with his brother Steve when he takes a job with Chris Larabee's ATF team in Denver. Vin doesn't know what to think when meets Ezra Standish, who could be his brother's twin
A/N: You don't need to know anything about Make it or Break It except that Steve Tanner and Ezra Standish are both played by Anthony Starke. Steve Tanner has a 17 yr-old daughter who is an Olympic Level Gymnast
The Transitive Property: Chapter 1
Lauren finished her dismount and looked up to see her dad smiling his approval from his place on the balcony. She waved at him before wandering back to where some of the other girls were gathered.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"I think you have an admirer," Kaylie said.
"He's really cute," Lisa added. "I love the long hair and leather jacket look."
"I think it's kind of creepy the way he's been watching you," Payson added, always the cautious one.
Lauren looked to where her friends had indicated and felt a smile break out across her face as she recognized the man leaning against the wall.
"Do you know him?" Kaylie asked.
Without answering, Lauren was already moving across the gym floor. "Uncle Vin!" she shouted and flung herself in to his arms.
"Hey kiddo. Looking good out there," Vin said as he hugged her tightly before setting her back down.
"Thanks." She smiled. "The qualifiers for Nationals are in a few months. It'd be great if you could come."
"Yeah, little brother, are you going to be around?" Steve had seen the reunion from his perch on the balcony and had headed over to join them.
Vin smiled and the two brothers quickly embraced. "I should be," Vin said.
"So you got the job? You're really going to be an ATF agent?" the disbelief clear in his question.
"You make it sound like I'm gonna be cleaning sewers." Vin laughed.
Steve smirked. "It's about as glamorous."
"Well there are a lot of people who think lawyers are worse." Vin knew his brother was just concerned. Vin had been through a lot of different jobs since his discharge from the Army and nothing seemed to stick.
"Lauren! You talking or training," Coach Marty called from across the gym.
"Coming!" she called back before hugging Vin once more. "Gotta go." She headed back to work.
"So the job?" Steve prompted. "This guy Larabee, he must be ok if you already said yes."
"We clicked," Vin confirmed. "I think it'll be a good opportunity. I meet the rest of the guys on Monday."
"You sure about this? As much as I love the idea of having you in the same state again…" Steve paused. "I mean it's dangerous work."
Vin smiled. "Always the big brother. I'll be fine and it's not any more dangerous than the military."
Steve snorted. "You'll move back in right?"
"I was thinking of getting a place in Denver."
"Don't be ridiculous. You still have a room at the house. Save your money."
"House," Vin chuckled, "that place is more like a hotel."
"Very funny. You're staying and that's that."
"Control freak," Vin teased.
"Stubborn bastard," Steve retorted before adding, "It's good to have you home."
Vin nodded and looked out across the gym to see his niece on the balance beam. "Damn she's impressive."
"Best beamer in the country," Steve said proudly. "I only wish her mother could have seen how great she's become."
Vin watched as Steve toyed with his wedding ring. "I'm sorry I wasn't here," Vin said, placing a hand on his brother's shoulder.
"It's been four years, you can stop apologizing now." Steve gave him a sad smile "You were in the Army; not like you could have hopped on a plane"
"Still – "
Steve waved him off then clapped his hands together to dispel the mood. Grabbing Vin's arm, he led him outside. "Why don't you head back to the house and relax. Lauren and I'll be there in a few hours."
"Sure. Good idea."
Vin stopped and stared at the black Hummer in the parking lot. "Team Tanner," he laughed, reading the design on the side.
Steve just shrugged. "Don't tell me you're still driving that bucket of rust?" he asked, pointing at Vin's Jeep.
"Hey, don't be making fun of the Jeep."
"Let me buy you a new car; a congratulations on the new job sort of thing."
"I love my Jeep," Vin insisted. "'Sides, you don't need to be taking care of me anymore. I'm a grown up now."
"Can't help it. You and Lauren are the only family I have. It's what I do."
Vin shook his head. Their parents had died when he was six and Steve was sixteen. It took six more years for Steve to graduate high school and college before he was able to rescue Vin from foster care, but his brother had never been far away.
"I know, but I really don't need a car and I will be getting my own place soon."
"Not too soon."
Vin smiled. "Don't reckon it'll be too soon." He clapped his brother on the shoulder and headed for his ride. "See ya later, bro."
Vin pulled his Jeep into the parking garage of the Denver Federal Building. At this early hour, he'd made the commute from Boulder in just over thirty minutes. Steve had been up making breakfast for him when he'd wandered into the kitchen. He'd been reminded of all those mornings that his brother had done that when he was a kid. Vin couldn't help but smile when he thought of how lucky he was to have Steve. His brother had raised him while starting his law career, and then had gone on to become incredibly rich and successful. Vin knew it stemmed from a determination on Steve's part to never be poor or helpless again.
Vin didn't mind living with less, but his brother was one of the most driven people he'd ever met. Vin had drifted after the Army and was hoping that the ATF would provide him with the career he was searching for.
He sat in the Jeep, working up the nerve to head upstairs and start this new phase of his life. Steve had tried to loan him one of his suits, but that was his brother's style not his. He'd thrown on jeans and a T-shirt under his leather jacket much to Steve's dismay. Vin laughed, thinking of the disbelieving look on his brother's face as he'd headed out the door.
"You gonna sit there all day or what," Chris' voice asked, breaking Vin from his musings.
Vin smiled as he exited the Jeep. "Just waiting for you."
Chris returned the smile. "Well then, let's get you upstairs so you can meet the team and start earning that paycheck."
The elevator deposited them on the eleventh floor and Chris led the way into the office space assigned to Team 7. There were six desk scattered in sets of two around the open room, four of which were already occupied. The men all looked up as they entered.
Chris smiled as he leaned over to whisper, "They never get here this early, guess they couldn't wait to meet ya." He clapped Vin on the shoulder as he announced, "Hey Ladies, this is Vin Tanner, our new sharpshooter."
The four immediately gathered round and began introducing themselves.
"I'm Buck Wilmington," said the tall mustachioed man as he was the first to reach them. "Welcome aboard." He held out his hand which Vin shook. "Heard you broke the a few records down on the firing range."
Vin blushed. "I'm pretty good, I guess."
"Better than good," Chris confirmed.
Buck smiled as he stepped aside for an even taller African American man. "Nathan Jackson," he said.
"Nathan," Vin repeated as he shook his hand.
"Nate here's our very own medic," Buck informed him. "Don't get hurt on or you'll never hear the end of it."
"Y'all just don't take care of yourselves so someone has to take charge," Nathan insisted.
"Now, Nate, I know you mean well but we don't need a mother hen," Buck said. "We're grown men."
"Don't act like it much," Nathan shot back, but there was a smile on his face.
"Hey!" Buck tried to sound indignant.
"He has a point, Buck," Chris teased.
Vin smiled at what seemed like a familiar exchange as the others had been together for almost six months. He hoped that he wouldn't feel like an outsider, and he was heartened by the connection he already felt with Chris.
A gray haired bear of a man stepped up to interrupt the banter and held out his hand. "Welcome brother, I'm Josiah Sanchez. Just ignore Buck, we all do."
"Hey!" Buck said again before addressing Vin with a twinkle in his eyes. "They're just jealous of my sparkling personality and my way with the ladies."
"You are so full of crap," said the last man in the group who identified himself as JD Dunne, though truthfully, Vin thought he didn't look much out of his teens.
Buck cuffed the back of JD's head. "Now that ain't nice, kid."
"Cut that out," JD snapped and then looked at Vin. "See what I have to put up with?"
Vin laughed, enjoying the obvious camaraderie and affection between the men. "I'm staying out of this."
"Smart man," Josiah quipped.
"Alright, everyone back to work," Chris said. "JD, help Vin get his computer set up."
"Sure thing, Chris." JD pointed Vin toward the set of desks that had been unoccupied when he'd arrived.
Chris headed into his office, but the others followed Vin to his new space. They all seemed reluctant to get back to work even though Chris had ordered them to do so. Vin looked up when he felt Chris' eyes on him from the doorway of his office.
His new boss smiled and shook his head. Vin got the distinct impression that Chris knew that not much work would be accomplished today and was hoping Vin would be a good sport about it, answering all the guys' questions. Vin nodded his understanding and returned his attention to JD.
"Either one?" Vin asked, looking at the unoccupied desks..
"No actually, that one," he pointed to the desk on the left, "belongs to Ezra. He likes to keep his space neat."
"Guess he's the only one," Vin teased as looked at the other desks which were cluttered with files and personal items.
JD smiled. "Believe it or not, I know where everything is."
"I bet you do." Vin gestured to the unoccupied desk. "So where's this guy?"
"Ol' Ez don't roll in until about nine," Buck interjected.
"He put the flex in flexible schedule," Josiah added.
Vin knew that their start times were fluid as long as they put their time in each week and Chris had told him that most of the team was in by eight except, it seemed, for - Ezra.
JD pulled up a chair and indicated that Vin should do the same. He began to rattle off information and Vin found he had to concentrate to keep up with the flow of words pouring out of the young computer expert. Eventually the others drifted back to their desks when it appeared that JD and Vin were actually trying to get something accomplished.
Vin spent the rest of the morning navigating his computer and filling out new employee forms. The others wandered by asking questions and making polite conversation. As the morning passed and he was included in their camaraderie, Vin felt as if he'd know these guys for months instead of hours; he was sure he was going to like it here.
The mysterious Ezra had yet to make an appearance and Chris had come out of his office several times demanding to know if their seventh had arrived yet.
"No, Chris, he ain't here yet." Buck chuckled when their boss had made his fourth inquiry as to Ezra's status.
"Tell him to see me as soon as he arrives," Chris grumbled and returned to his office, slamming the door behind him.
Nathan shook his head. "Don't understand why Ezra does it."
"Does what?" Vin asked.
"Goes out of his way to make the vein on Chris' head throb," Buck said.
"Because he can," JD added. "And since Chris hasn't actually shot him yet – "
The others laughed at what was apparently a common threat from their leader.
Vin's curiosity about their missing member was piqued. "Chris and Ezra don't get along?"
"Nah, they get along fine," Buck replied. "Ez just likes to push Chris and we like to watch."
"Very true, Brother Buck," Josiah said as he looked at his watch. "But being that it's almost noon, I'm guessing Chris is more worried than angry."
"He's probably out reconning for our next case and forgot to check in," JD said.
Just then Vin's stomach rumbled loudly, letting him know it was lunch time, and he looked up sheepishly as the others cracked up at the sound.
"I think someone's hungry," Buck chuckled.
Vin laughed. "Hey, I'm a growing boy."
"I'd believe it because, Junior, you are down right scrawny," Buck said as he clapped Vin on the shoulder. "You wanna grab lunch?" Buck addressed the question to the entire group.
"Junior?" Vin sent the taller man a questioning look, but Buck just shrugged it off. Vin didn't mind the nickname as it indicated a form of acceptance by the older man which he appreciated.
"I could eat," JD said.
"Kid, you can always eat."
Vin chuckled. 'Junior' was definitely better than 'kid'.
"We usually head to the deli around the corner," Nathan said. "You want to join us, Vin?"
"Sure, just let me finish up here," he said gesturing to his computer.
They each moved to finish up last minute tasks before leaving. Vin was busy deciphering the last of the orientation forms when he heard the others laughing and clapping at the arrival of their seventh man.
"Look who decided to grace us with his presence," Buck boomed.
"Watch out, Ez, Chris has been hunting for you all morning," JD teased.
Vin looked up and felt his breath catch in his throat. He watched the impeccably dressed man enter the bullpen and give a cheeky two fingered salute to his teammates.
"Has Mr. Larabee's anger reached Defcon 1 yet?" Ezra asked.
"The vein was starting to throb," JD warned.
Ezra smiled. "Then I'd best inform him of my arrival before he succeeds in giving himself a stroke."
"Hope you have a good reason for being late," Nathan said.
"Mr. Jackson, I always have a good reason for my time of arrival. Unfortunately, Chris does not always agree."
Vin couldn't help but stare at the man. Ezra was younger and slimmer, but otherwise it could have been his brother Steve walking into the room – well except for the southern accent. Vin froze as the man approached his desk.
"You must be our new sharpshooter," Ezra said holding out his hand. "Ezra Standish at your service."
Vin gulped and tried to find his voice. He stood slowly to return the greeting. "Vin Tanner," he finally croaked out.
Ezra gave him a funny look. "Are you all right, Mr. Tanner?"
Before Vin could reply, Chris' office door was flung open with a bang. "Standish, get your butt in here."
Ezra gave Vin a big shit eating grin. "Duty calls." He opened his briefcase and searched through it before removing a file. He seemed blissfully unaware of the glare Chris was drilling into the back of his skull.
"Sometime today, Ezra!" Chris snapped.
Ezra sighed and rolled his eyes. "Really, the man has only one volume some days." He winked at Vin before heading toward Chris' office.
Vin collapsed back into his chair. He didn't know what to think. How was it possible that his brother and Ezra Standish could look so much alike? A feeling of dread knotted in the pit his stomach because he was sure that he didn't want to know the answer to that question.
"I think he's faint from hunger," JD joked.
Vin looked up to see the others gathered around.
"Are you ok?" Nathan asked. "You just got very pale."
Vin shook off Nathan's concern. "I'm fine." At their disbelieving looks he repeated it, "Really, I'm fine. I just – " He gestured lamely at Chris' office.
"Don't worry about them," Buck assured him as he knelt down beside Vin's chair. "If Chris ain't yelling it means Ezra was on department business this morning. We just ain't been informed what it was about yet."
"Ezra does a lot of undercover work," Nathan added. "It means his schedule doesn't always line up with ours."
They thought Vin was worried about Chris' temper. He almost laughed; if they only knew. He suddenly felt like he needed to get outside, as if the walls were closing in. He stood. "I'm starving; let's get that lunch you mentioned."
"Sure, let's go," Buck said, the concern heavy in his voice. He glanced up to look at Nathan and Vin knew they were worried about his suddenly erratic behavior.
"Great!" Vin grabbed his leather jacket off the back of his chair and practically raced to the elevator. He didn't even look back to see if the others were following, he had to get out of here now.