THE ATF OLYMPICS
Disclaimer: I do not own the seven and I most definitely do not own the Olympics (they can be a little litigious or so I've heard).
Summary: Well the clue is in the title really. Those pesky bosses at the ATF building have come up with another team building exercise, but this time it looks like the guys might actually be happy about it. Well except for one of course – but maybe not for the reason you might think. A bit of fun, a bit of angst and Ezra in hardly any clothes – what could be better! (and yes, the scenes of Ezra in his tablecloth were firmly in my mind, yum!)
A/N Being a Brit we have a little sporting competition going on at the moment in case you didn't know. Caught up in all the excitement I couldn't resist penning a little story. By the way hope you all enjoyed our opening ceremony. I think it had a certain charm and I hope the rest goes well. Also just a mention about one event I am not including in this story although it is an Olympic event, shooting. This is for two reasons. Firstly with the agents using weapons regularly and being tested on the shooting range I felt that there would be no suspense for them, after all they all already know that Vin is the best! Also I admit to a certain amount of discomfort in featuring shooting after the tragedy in Colorado – silly I know, people kill people not guns as they say, but it's just the way I feel.
A/N2 This will be quite a short story, probably just four or five chapters of which this first is the longest. I don't want to still be writing it come the Rio Olympics in 2016 lol. All suggestions and comments welcome. Oh and distances etc are in metres because that's what they are in the olympics.
"Okay ladies, conference room in two minutes."
The teams collective heads raised and brows furrowed at their leader Chris Larabees announcement and rapid stride across the bullpen and into his office.
He wasn't growling which was good. But a two minute warning suggested a possible urgent case which was bad… and good. Good in that action was what they were there for and bad in that they had just finished a particularly long and tough assignment – in fact Nathan was still in a state of shock that they had all emerged from it unscathed. He kept casting suspicious looks in Vin and Ezra's direction as though waiting for one or both of them to collapse from some hitherto unspotted injury. All in all they had been rather looking forward to a few days of boring paperwork for a change.
"Wouldn't Mr Larabee have been carrying more than just a single sheet of paper with him if it were a case. He has just come from Travis' office after all." Ezra's musing had the effect of transforming all their frowns into looks of puzzlement.
"Best get it over with" announced Vin as the two minutes rapidly ticked away.
"Indeed brothers" chimed in Josiah's baritone rumble, unflappable as usual. "We won't find out what is afoot unless we…"
"Move your asses" Chris called as he exited his office still clutching the suspect sheet of paper along with a newly added notebook and pen. As the leader of team 7 strode ahead JD turned to his gathered friends.
"Hey guys, you don't think it could be… a memo, do ya?" JD winced at the five glares he received in return for his suggestion. Departmental memos were the kryptonite to any successful and therefore rebellious federal agent and team 7 often felt unduly targeted by official red tape and political correctness.
"Gentlemen, I have a memo." Chris stared bemusedly as JD hunched down in his chair under a barrage of accusing looks. 'What was with that, wasn't as though the kid had written it' Chris shrugged. The day he understood his men was the day he would know for sure that he was insane.
"I think you'll like it." Glares turned to blatant disbelief and those accusing looks transferred their target. Well he supposed he couldn't really blame them. Memos usually meant new ways to torment them.
"Well get on with it!"
Trust Buck Chris thought with affection for his affable yet easily excited friend.
"Best get it over with" added Vin once more. Although he was the total opposite to Buck and could wait patiently all day if necessary however it WAS way past breakfast.
"Well" he began and everyone leaned forward expectantly. Everyone but Vin who was too laid back to get over excited and Ezra… well appearances WERE everything. Chris sat up a little straighter himself as he got down to business. "You do realise, I'm sure, that it's been over a year since the last Agency fundraiser don't you?"
Groans met the statement and were music to Larabee's ears – 'serves them right for all the grey hairs they'd given him, his count was in double figures now. Thank God he was blond!'
Federal fundraisers were, as far as most teams were concerned, evil, pure unrelenting, dinner suited and booted, finger food filled evil. And the gala dinners were bad enough; God help them if this was a talent contest or a slave auction. A collective shudder went through the men although Buck's thoughts were stuck on the possibility of a slave auction… he smiled lasciviously and his mustache twitched as his thoughts wandered. A sharp dig to the ribs brought him back to the moment. He grinned unapologetically. Could he help it if he had a well developed imagination.
"Before I go any further I need to state that this was Evies idea so it's set in stone guys" More groans. Chris was right; as wife of their boss nobody would dare to insult Evie Travis besides she was a lovely lady and nobody would even want to.
"It's a masked ball ain't it?" Vin voiced his deepest fear. For some reason he couldn't understand the moment he put on a tux the women wouldn't leave him alone… it was flattering but embarrassing.
"No it isn't. Since two agents were discovered to have hired ringers to attend for them while they snuck off to 'a more pleasurable event' Chris said the last in a distinctly southern tone as he stared into two sets of unrepentant eyes, one sky blue and the other jade green. He ignored the muttered "would've worked too if'n the idiot hadn't taken his mask off to bong a beer" Chris also ignored the sniggers accompanying the memory.
"Well as I was saying" Chris attempted to continue.
"Before you so rudely interrupted yourself."
"Ezra!" Chris was tempted to give up. He could swear he just felt another grey hair sprout but continue he did. Determination was his middle name… actually it was Matthew but still.
"The bosses have elected to do something different this year. Something that should even make you guys happy, well most of you" Ezra raised an eyebrow at his leaders pointed look but said nothing.
"As long as I don't end up dragging anyone to the ER I'll be happy" Nathan commented but seeing Chris wince brought on a sense of foreboding. He stared hard at Ezra and Vin who smiled innocently – truly a frightening sight.
"Can't promise you that Nate. We're talking sport here."
The tones of massed repeated 'Sport? What sport?" varied from bouncy enthusiasm from JD to near horror from Ezra who was pretty sure that Larabee didn't class poker as sport and to Ezra anything that involved sweating in public was a step too far.
"Remember the agency baseball tournament? Before your time Ez" Chris clarified at Ezra's puzzled querying look.
"Cool! We having another one?" JD had done well at the last one in more ways than one. Casey had been so impressed with his skills she had agreed to their first date.
"Not quite JD. But since this is an Olympic year it was thought that an ATF Olympiad might go down well."
"Wow!" JD's puppy dog enthusiasm was matched by Buck's "Yeehaw" Chris was sure that if the ladies man had been wearing a hat he would have been waving it in the air. Josiah looked pleasantly surprised and patted Nathan's arm consolingly as the medic made a rapid mental inventory of his first aid kit. Vin kept quiet but his eyes shone with an excited glimmer while Ezra's expression showed… nothing at all, his poker face was firmly in place. However if anyone had been looking a moment ago, hadn't been distracted by Buck's cry, they might have seen just a shadow of what might have been distress cross the pale eyes.
"So how will this work, and how will it raise money for charity?" Ever the practical one Josiah brought an end to the excited chatter and got them back on track.
"Okay, it's quite simple really. The actual games will take place in a month" 'I should give Josiah a raise' Chris thought thankfully as he consulted his brief. "That will give everyone time to practice their event. There will be volunteer coaches provided by local sports clubs and schools. All necessary equipment will also be supplied and if you have always wanted to try a new sport but never had the chance then there are no prerequisites just don't expect to win a medal. I'm sure that the ATF has a lot of hidden talent… and Buck, I expect you to keep your 'special talents' hidden. This competition is open to all employees and the last thing we need is a sexual harassment allegation."
Buck looked hurt.
Chris's stare was unimpressed.
Buck chuckled, shrugged and nodded. Could he help it if he was irresistible?
"The actual competition will last one week with those not competing filling in as needed to keep things ticking over. Team nine, all of whom are over 45 will be team on call as they have agreed not to take part." Actually they had jumped at the chance to avoid it, in part because they hardly ever got to be at the front of the queue for the best cases given their ages. "Josiah, though everyone will be expected to take part there is an optional refusal over the age of 45 so you don't have to compete, however those with no sport to train for are expected to offer support services. Give it some thought. And Nate you're under 45 but might be needed as a first aider so you'll have an optional exemption."
"No Ezra" Chris added before the southerner could do more than open his mouth to speak.
"The committee have drawn up a list of events. Each participant will be expected to sign up for at least two disciplines and no more than four. Competition will be on an individual basis with medals awarded for gold, silver and bronze positions. However medal totals will be added together at the end of the competition to decide team placings overall. The winning team will be presented with a trophy and one weeks vacation, destination to be announced. The money raising element will come at the end of the tournament which will be a sponsored half triathlon which every competitor in the other sports will be expected to participate in unless they have good reason not to, like being injured or unable to swim. Proceeds are to be split between Mercy Hospital's childrens ward and the Purgatorio Park reclamation programme. Any questions before I list the sports?"
Silence. 'A miracle' Chris mused.
"Now don't forget guys, you don't need to be experienced in the sport you choose but I wouldn't recommend trying something totally alien to your physical capabilities, we want to win this."
Everybody nodded and listened closely as Chris listed the chosen sports.
"Okay fellas we have,
Athletics, which will consist of the 200m hurdles and the 100m. Both running events can be chosen individually and there's a medal for each but they only count as one discipline when you choose. There will also be a field events competition which will be a combination of javelin, discus and long jump. Those come as a package.
We also have boxing
Diving, both 3m springboard and for those of a suicidal disposition the 10m platform – but please note, it says here, that only those with previous experience of diving will be allowed to compete on the platform due to the skills needed. Tuition will be given on the springboard if required and is open to all.
The swimming events will be the 4 X 100m individual medley and the 100m freestyle. Like the running both can be chosen independently of the other but if you choose both it will only count as one choice as they are both in the same category.
There will be a two man canoeing event which will be the only two man event in the games.
The triathlon will be half the distances of the real thing which will mean a 750m swim, which is fifteen lengths of a 50m pool, then a 21.5km bike ride and finally a 5km run." Chris waited patiently as the chatter started up again. He could understand their enthusiasm because he felt the same himself. It had been a hard year and they all deserved a little light relief. He watched the expressions on his men's faces, judging their level of emotion and was pleased to see almost the whole team were on the same playing field as it were. Well except Ezra of course. But then he hadn't expected anything else. Their enigmatic undercover agent wasn't known for his love of the great outdoors and seldom turned up for football or baseball games with the rest of them. He supposed it must be hard for the man, being a rather obsessive perfectionist in his job, to take part in a competition he didn't have a chance of winning. Poker was not, thank God, an Olympic event otherwise no-one would stand a snowballs chance in hell. However Chris had had enough of Ezra lurking on the periphery of the team so he would take part even if it killed them both.
"Right guys, JD photocopy this list of events and hand them round. I want you all to spend the rest of the morning giving your choices some thought and we'll meet back here after lunch. And I don't want everyone signing up for the same few sports. We need as many medals as possible so we need to be spread around. This may be for fun but we still want to be top of the tree… don't we?"
Chris' glare left no doubt that saying no wasn't an option and most nodded emphatically on their way out.
Ezra chose not to join the others for lunch. He had some thinking to do. Grabbing a sandwich and a Starbucks the troubled southerner headed for the park and sat on a bench by the lake. The coffee disappeared quickly, despite the warmth of the early summer day he felt unaccountably cold. The sandwich remained uneaten. What on earth was he going to do.
He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to run and not look back. 'Oh don't try and fool yourself Ezra P.' he mused. What he wanted to do was take part, take part and win his chosen events, do well for the team and prove to Larabee that he valued them as much as Josiah kept telling him that they valued him. But if he did all of those things parts of his past that he preferred to keep private would become public, amongst the team at least. He snorted at his own attitude. It wasn't as though he were hiding some terrible dark secret. No dead bodies were involved; no FBI dramas, just… just something personal that had destroyed a little part of him way back and that he thought he would never have to face again. Silly really. Bits of his sandwich went to feed the ducks. He watched them swimming about and his anxiety smoothed out into a subdued yet not bitter resignation. It was his chance to prove to the guys that he could be a team player. A chance to prove it to himself too. After all nobody had ever given him a chance before. He owed it to them. He owed it to himself.
Lunch for the others had proved a little less introspective but all of them had taken some time to ponder their choices and they had all agreed to keep their deliberations to themselves. The last thing Chris wanted was anyone taking on a sport they didn't want because of their individual friendships. He quirked his mouth in a slight smile, he was already feeling the competitive drive set in.
Once again Chris surveyed his men seated round the conference table. The excitement was more pronounced now even though the atmosphere seemed calmer. He spent an additional few moments checking out Ezra, his biggest worry. To his surprise his undercover agent appeared calm and even vaguely interested in proceedings. He looked away quickly when Ezra sent him a little smirk and a trademark two fingered tap to an imaginary hat in salute. Readying his paper and pen he began.
" Don't forget that I want as wide a spread of events as possible but that doesn't mean that more than one of you can't choose the same event if you want to. So let's take down your…"
"Pants!" yelled Buck among giggles and sniggers. 'Why me?' Chris lamented silently.
"Choices" he continued. "You first Josiah, what have you decided?"
"Well Chris, I may be a bit long in the tooth but I think I've got a little fire in me yet so I'd like to take on the weightlifting if that's ok. And I'll have plenty of free time to help anyone who needs it, be it coaching or just someone to talk to" Josiah was a big man and naturally very strong, he wasn't nicknamed 'the bear' for nothing. Everyone nodded and commented on the rightness of his choice.
"Nathan?" Chris turned to the next in line.
"Well I think if you guys are going to be throwing yourselves into unaccustomed activity you might benefit from having a person around who can organize your diets, physio and the like, but I'd hate to miss out on the fun so I'd like to take up the fencing. Got some experience from my college days and it would be nice to get my equipment out of moth balls."
"Buck!" Chris warned again before his friend with the dirty mind could make anything of that statement. "Excellent choice Nate and having you as our guardian angel will give us a great advantage. You next JD, and don't forget that unlike Nate and 'Siah the rest of you all have to take on at least two events each.
JD was literally bouncing in his seat, his bangs flapping in his eyes. "I played a lot of sport as a kid but it was mostly team sports, ice hockey, baseball and at MIT I was kinda into my computers and gaming so I don't have any specialities. I can run though and swim. So I figure I might do well at the 100m and 200m hurdles track races and the 100m freestyle swimming." JD stopped bouncing as a frown appeared on his leaders face. Had he made an error?
"Don't want you to choose just based on what you might win at JD You need to enjoy it too."
Relieved JD let out a whoosh of held breath. "Oh I'll enjoy it, they both sound like fun and I'll get to show off my stunning physique to Casey."
"Heck JD! If Casey hasn't seen ya pheeseek by now then you're doing something wrong! Maybe I should lend ya some of my animal magnetism!"
Even Chris couldn't help but laugh at that one and JD blushed even as he was laughing and mock threatening his roomie.
"That sounds fine then JD, long as you're happy." Chris made a note of JD's choice. "Buck, dare I ask?"
"Heck Chris, I'm such an all round bundle of awesomeness it's been an impossible decision…. Everyone's a critic" he groused at the unrepeatable comments he received.
"Just give me the details Hercules"
"Gotta do the wrestling. I owe it to the public to let them see my 'expert techniques'… don't laugh, I'll have you know that I was really good at college, until I discovered that grappling with sweaty men wasn't half as much fun as grappling with sweet smelling women." Chris smiled. It was true, he had been a good wrestler at college.
"And? Two events at least, remember?"
"Well, I had a fancy to do something a little different since there'll be training so I'm gonna do the springboard diving and the field events."
"Good, good" Chris acknowledged before giving Vin and Ezra a questioning look as Ezra whispered something to his partner which resulted in much mutual amusement. Vin shook his head to say that it was nothing but both men looked at Buck with glee. No doubt they'd find out what was so funny later. "Your turn Vin."
"Done some archery 'm pretty good with a bow. I'll give the Taekwondo a go too. Be nice to do it in a competitive atmosphere. Think I'll join Buck on the 3m board too."
"Great stuff" Chris enthused "We're getting some wide ranging choices but also some events where we can support each other."
"What about you Mr Larabee? Ah presume that team leaders will be leading from the front? Surely you are not exempt?" Ezra didn't think for a minute that Chris would shy away from taking part but if his question put off having to make his own choice public for a few more moments then it was worth that inevitable glare.
"No Ezra, leaders are not exempt, even team 3's leader will be doing something"
"Didn't see donut eating on the list"
"I wanna do the donut eating!" Vin yelled in response to Buck's jibe. There was not much love lost between the two teams and Mitchell was not only unfit he was lazy and always badmouthing other teams agents.
"I spend so much time wanting to hit the people I work with I figure I should be a natural in the boxing ring" Chris brought them back to Ezra's question.
"Nothing to do with boxing for the navy then?" Buck asked with a smile
"Not at all" Chris lied with an answering grin.
"That is only one event Mr Larabee"
"Your ability to count astounds me Ezra. I'll also be doing the swimming, the 4 X 100m medley."
"Aw hell" It was spoken quietly but unfortunately for Ezra his comment fell as the chatter died away.
"Something that you want to tell us Ezra?"
'Yes, I quit, I'm retiring to a tropical island filled with beautiful women and pineapples. If only' "Nothing in particular Mr Larabee." Was his actual reply. Never had his poker face been so difficult to fix in place.
"Well don't keep us in suspense son."
Josiah's chivvying displayed a curiosity that was shared by the rest of the team. They hadn't expected their skittish friend to go along for the ride so easily.
"May Ah first say that I am doing this under protest…"
"No, so get on with it" Chris could tell that the protest was only token but he wasn't going to let the man think that it would work.
"Very well Mr Larabee. Though I feel that given the wide range of Olympic sports available the choice could have been a little less… energetic…"
"I Hear that Olympic basket weaving goes down a storm in some countries"
"Very funny Mr Tanner. We cannot all have your unfortunate affinity for the great outdoors and perspiration."
"Ezra! For pity's sake…"
" Ah will join Mr Tanner in the archery… someone should be there to give the poor man some competition, Lord knows that our colleagues on the other teams don't stand a chance."
"You are welcome Mr Tanner."
"At least one more Ezra" Chris kept his fingers crossed and the disbelief out of his voice. Surely it couldn't go this smoothly.
"The 4 X 100m medley and the 100m freestyle."
Chris nodded happily and jotted the final events down. He could keep an eye on his most insecure agent in the pool. Meant he wouldn't have to confiscate his passport… passports plural knowing the wily conman.
Ezra waited a few moments. Could he help it if he had a flair for the dramatic? He WAS Maude's son after all.
"And the 10m platform diving."
Silence fell like a stone and mouths hung open.
Chris' pen snapped in half.
To his credit Chris recovered quite quickly considering the bombshell that had just been dropped on him. Perhaps Ezra had forgotten that platform divers needed some experience… yeah right; his agent with the photographic memory had forgotten something. And a pig just flew past the conference room window. Perhaps the man was joking. That was possible. When he wasn't being paranoid he had a wicked sense of humor.
"You're not joking are you. You do remember that…"
"I have some diving experience."
"Oh." It was all that Chris could think of to say. He forced himself not to turn in Nathan's direction but he could swear he had just heard a whimper.
Seeing the need to break the moment Vin slapped his partner on the back none too gently and offered "Hey Ez, if'n you lose your nerve up there I can give you a helping hand" The slap became a push in example.
"Why thank you Mr Tanner, so kind of you to think of me when you are going to have to spend so much of your time adjusting to the new healthy eating regime that Ah'm sure Mr Jackson will be organizing for you." He grinned his sharks grin at Vin's scowl and shudder… vegetables, ugh.
"Oh God, get me out of here, somewhere without troublesome overgrown danger junkies." Nathan held his head in his hands in exasperation.
"Somewhere with pineapples" suggested Ezra with a heartfelt sigh.
Chris shook his head as he broke up Ezra and Nathan's peculiar conversation and by turn, the meeting. That had all gone better than he had thought it would. A sex mad exhibitionist. A neurotic medic armed with a sword. A sharpshooting martial arts expert with a knack for getting revenge against those who had offended him or his friends and a reckless conman with no sense of personal safety and a love for heights.
Piece of cake.