RATING: PG (just a handful o' minor bad words)
DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to CBS/Trilogy/etc. No infringement
intended, no profit being made.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This stems from a challenge, of sorts, by GreenWoman,
who said I was in charge of filling in the facts surrounding Chris injuring
his knee while tripping over Cuervo. BTW, that tidbit was mentioned in her
fabulous 'Island of Bones'. And I will gladly accept any 'fact-filling'
challenge she tosses my direction since it means they will be facts
coming from her fiction.
Hope you like it...I thought it was terribly funny as I was writing it
at 1 a.m. Friday night after a couple of beers . Okay, maybe it won't be as
funny to you. No beta, excuse mistakes.
Throwing up on one's self has never ranked high on the 'Good Ways To
Start Your Day' list. And if it ever had appeared on Chris Larabee's list, it
certainly would have fallen a few notches now that he actually
Larabee hadn't slept well the night before. A stomach flu that Josiah
so graciously imparted to several of his teammates seized Chris somewhere
around two a.m. Starting with sweats and chills, Larabee's body let
him know, in the early hours of the morning and in no uncertain terms, that
it was not amused by the viral infection that had come to visit.
By five forty-five a.m. his exhausted body had recruited his weary
brain as well and, working together, they made sure he slept through his alarm.
However, a small part of his subconscious that housed the Type-A
personality finally put its foot down and woke the Senior Agent at the same time he
usually made it into the office.
'Seven o' clock?! Aw, hell.' Technically, he wasn't required
to be in
until seven-thirty. Yeah, and *technically* he could still be considered
The long, sharp needle that had imbedded itself at some point through
his left temple while he slept was apparently intent on making its way
completely through the front part of his skull till it exited out the
right side, and from the way Chris felt - it was succeeding.
He pushed himself out of bed and was actually able to make it through
shower before the aches kicked in. 'I'm sure once I'm up and moving,
I'll feel better.' But denial goes a long way toward convincing us of the
absurd. And soon it was, 'Just gotta get something in my stomach, then
I'll feel better.'
But the banana and the bagel didn't do it either.
He was halfway to the office when he realized how much it hurt to have
skin. 'Once I'm focused on work, I won't notice it; then I'll feel better.'
Unfortunately, although that was what his brain said, it was not what
his body heard. No, what Chris Larabee's body heard was more along the
lines of, 'Once I'm driving 65mph toward the office in the middle lane of the
freeway boxed in by a white El Camino and a yellow Datsun station wagon with
fake Brady Bunch wood paneling, then I'll chuck up that banana and bagel -
and that will make me feel better.'
Chris Larabee's body was wrong.
To his credit, he did almost make it to the far right lane. Almost.
Standing now on the shoulder of the freeway, with oblivious morning
commuters whizzing past and armed only with napkins from the glove box
Chris attempted to rid his truck's carpeting of banana, bagel and bile. Oh
He glanced at his watch, 8:05. 'Great.' The sour smell and disturbing
moistness that dampened the right thigh of his black dress pants did
little toward helping Larabee believe that he would be feeling better any time
At 8:15 a.m. Chris slid his security card through the magnetic slot
that told the gate of the Federal building's underground parking lot to open
the hell up because I don't feel well and I'm late and I'm in no mood to
sit in my truck while you take your sweet-ass time moving out of my way.
At 8:16 Buck Wilmington was getting irritated.
"Anybody heard from Chris?"
"He's not in yet."
"I *know* that, Vin. That's why I'm askin'."
"Usually he's in by around eight."
Wilmington shot Nathan an 'I can't believe you just said that' look.
"Y'all are just a file full of obvious facts. Me and him were supposed to
have a meeting at 7:00."
"Have you tried calling him?"
"No, kid, I've been relying on my psychic abilities. Of course I've
tried calling, his cell's on voice mail and I got his answering machine a
little bit ago."
Ezra raised an eyebrow as he passed by Buck and couldn't help but
comment on the man's agitation, "Have you ever considered switchin' to decaf, Mr.
"Just 'cause you don't see nothin' wrong with glidin' in shortly before
lunch don't mean the rest of the world works that way."
Standish attempted to look wounded, "I was here at 7:25 this mornin'."
'Damn, even Ezra's here already.' Chris pulled in past a scattered row
of familiar cars and parked his Dodge. As he eased out of the big truck
he grabbed his long black leather coat from the back portion of the cab
and slipped it on, trying to tell himself that the goosebumps running up
and down his arms under the sleeves of his dress shirt and suit jacket had
nothing to due with any type of fever.
Heading for the elevator he felt a slight weight in the right pocket
the coat. His shoulders sagged as his hand closed around the familiar shape
of his cell phone. And he winced a little more as each realization struck
him 'Damn, didn't have it on...Damn, there's gonna be messages...Damn,
there's gonna be messages from Buck. The meeting!"
He punched the power button and ignored the beep that told him to check
his voice mail. He dialed up Buck's number and stepped around a small blur
of orange and white that appeared suddenly and felt that attention should
be paid to it.
"Yeah, I'm in the garage, I'll be up in a minute....no, not now."
Buck didn't realize the last quote was directed at a certain persistent
"I'm on my way up....damnit, knock it off."
"Is everything all right?"
"Yes...no, I feel like shit....go away!"
Then a sharp yell and the silence of a broken connection. "Chris?
Buck slammed down the phone and bolted for the elevator. His five
co-workers had only heard Wilmington's brief side of the conversation
but didn't feel they needed to know anymore and followed on the tall
On the floor of the parking garage, Chris Larabee decided now would
a good time to start hating cats. Cuervo, vying for attention with the
phone, skipped along next to Chris as the Senior Agent made his way to the
elevator. Utilizing the jump-and-rub tactic, Cuervo hoped to score
some head scratchies from the human with the nice smelling coat. But the
human wasn't falling for it.
Plan B. The Weave. Get the target to stop by twisting in between its
striding legs; thus insuring a cease of movement and a greater chance
of picking up the much sought after attention. But The Weave was a
dangerous move, and if done incorrectly could result in being stepped on. Such
was the case this morning.
Cat underfoot. Cat under shoe. Human on cold concrete of parking garage
watching the battery of his cell phone go shooting under a parked car
as it is dislodged from its housing after hitting aforementioned cold
concrete. Not that Chris cared that much about the battery since 94% of his mind
was focused on the incredible pain lancing through his right knee.
The doors of the elevator slid open and the first thing that Larabee's
men saw was their leader curled in a tight ball on the floor, his eyes
closed and his teeth clenched in pain. JD was beside Chris in a second, Buck
actually had his weapon drawn and was surveying the surrounding area.
Nathan was surveying Chris. "What happened?!"
"Goddamnit!" Larabee's breath was coming out in heavy, uneven
Ezra wasn't sure he heard the last two words correctly, "What?"
"Cuervo! Ran in-between my legs and I tripped over him!"
All six men stopped and stared at each other.
Buck holstered his pistol.
Ezra began to laugh. "You tripped over the cat?"
Larabee forced his eyes open, fixed Standish with a deadly stare and
hissed through gritted teeth, "I feel like shit, my knee is killing me and
I'll shoot you if don't stop laughing."
Ezra stopped laughing.
As Nathan helped Chris sit up he realized that it wasn't just a
wrenched knee that was bugging his friend. Jackson lay the back of his hand
briefly against Larabee's cheek and forehead and frowned. "You got that flu?"
But Chris didn't answer, so Nathan grilled him some more. "You
shouldn't even a' come in today. Now look at ya." Jackson's voice was harsh but
his hands were careful as they raised Chris's pantleg up to get a look at
the rapidly swelling knee. "JD, run up an get an ice pack."
But Larabee stopped him, "No, wait. I have one in the truck." From his
jacket pocket Chris maneuvered a set of keys attached to a chain with a
small, flat silver cowboy hat at one end. He passed them to JD who
jogged toward the big black truck a short distance away.
As Dunne retrieved the Cold-Pak from Larabee's small first aid kit he
heard Nathan stating how it was going to be. "I don't care. That knee is
already 'bout twice the size as it should be, you're gonna get it X-rayed."
JD turned around to find Josiah and Nathan supporting Chris. Dunne
wordlessly passed Jackson the keys and the chemical ice pack before
ducking out of the way. The young agent knew better than to stick around when
those two were getting stubborn with each other. Besides, he knew Nathan
Shortly after eleven, and against Nathan's advice, Chris hobbled on
crutches towards his office to check his voice mail and grab several files
before allowing Jackson and Buck to drive him and his truck home.
Ezra raised his head from the folders that were spread out before him
and took in the rather dismal character leaning in his doorway. "Dear Lord,
Mr. Larabee, I do hope you are goin' home." The southerner's eye drifted
from Chris's flu-stricken features to the knee he was obviously favoring.
"Oh. That does not look good."
"I'll have these for another week; and for a good month after that I'm
supposed to avoid anything more strenuous than walking up stairs - that
is, if I want to avoid surgery. 'Course, right now I don't even think I
feel like getting out of bed. Remind me to kill Josiah when I get
back...maybe I'll just throw up on him on the way out."
Ezra leaned back in his chair and mentally pictured a crutch-shaped
spanner being flung into three months of his work. The southerner ran a hand
over his fair features, "A month? That means--"
Chris cut him off with a heavy sigh and a slight nod. Standish
been orchestrating the sting of Titusville Diving and Salvage. A group
operating out of Key West that was turning quite a profit specializing in
smuggling and modern piracy. Ezra would now have to pry the newly tossed wrench
out of his plans and figure out how to reorganize the team's undercover
duties to exclude Larabee.
Ezra couldn't prevent a weary laugh as he shook his head. He raised
eyebrow at his leader, "How do I know this was not just a tactic to
make you available for the DoJ conference?"
Larabee had been invited to speak at a regional Department of Justice
seminar but had had to decline due to his involvement in the TDS
operation. Chris leaned heavily in the doorway to Ezra's office, "Yeah, you know
how much I love public speaking. Maybe you can get Cuervo to take my
Standish still looked worn out but the smile was genuine this time,
"Can he hold a gun?"
Chris wasn't concerned over the southerner's abilities to handle the
changes, but noting Standish's own tired features Larabee couldn't help
but voice the question that popped into his head. "You feelin' alright?"
Ezra paused, taking a second to realize what his superior meant.
Oh, fine. I have told my body that I simply do not have the time to become
ill." He gestured to the various files, photos and other bits of research
accumulated on his desk, "Slightly behind in my sleep, is all. Once we
put TDS to bed, I'm sure I'll be restin' easier...then I'll feel better."
Larabee opened his mouth to offer his opinion on and recent experience
with that statement but decided against it. He was sure there was no way
those four words could be as much of a pox upon Ezra as they had so assuredly
been upon him.