Tangled Web

By JudyL

Universe: ATF

Language warning: A few bad words

Summary - VinF&D list challenge - write a story in 1 hour

~~~~~~~~

Ezra strode into the room, every movement betraying his anger. He slung his jacket at the coat hook and dropped into his chair as the others came into the bullpen.

Vin came over more slowly, his shoulders slumped. "Iím sorry, Ezra," he said softly.

Ezra leveled a glare at the sharpshooter. "It was your responsibility, Mr. Tanner. I donít know if I can forgiveÖ"

"Ah, come on, Ezra," Buck cajoled tentatively, trying to make peace between the two disparate friends. "Vin didnít do it on purpose."

"Yeah," JD chimed in, trying to help. "Could have happened to anyone." He aimed dark, puppy-dog eyes at Ezra.

Ezra shook his head, unwilling to let it go so easily or quickly, and to break eye contact with JD so he wouldnít give in. He crossed his arms and sunk down in his chair to sulk.

Vin sighed and went to his desk. He deserved what ever Ezra dished out. He just wished things hadnít happened like they had. It would take some time, but eventually heíd find a way to make things right with the undercover agent.

Chris, Josiah and Nathan entered the bullpen at that moment, making for their own desks.

"All right, people, we have reports to write. Get busy," he said, sending a glance at Ezra and Vin, wondering if what had happened would damage their friendship. He resisted the urge to sigh at the sadness on Vinís face and the stubborn tilt of Ezraís chin. It was worse than dealing with children, he decided, shaking his head as he went to his office. Thereíd be time to discuss things after the reports were done and everyone had cooled off.

Ezra looked around at the others, who were studiously working on explanations for the colossal foul-up theyíd just been a part of. He pursed his lips and lifted his chin a bit to get a glimpse of Vinís ducked head. He frowned. Perhaps Iím being too hard on him. Green eyes flashed with anger as he recalled what had happened.

~~~~~

Heíd been meeting a buyer for the second time, hopefully to solidify a deal and set a time for the buy and bust. Due to the size of the gun running ring, theyíd teamed up with Team 5. Vin had scouted the meet area and with the help of Team 5ís sharpshooter, Sam Bagwell, planned where the two sharpshooters would be during the meet.

Ezra had asked Vin to keep a close eye on one of the buyerís bodyguards. Eric Jenkins had been giving Ezra the creeps ever since the first time he laid eyes on him, but he couldnít figure out why. He didnít recognize him, and neither did any of the others, so he just put it down to the man being an unusually slimy miscreant.

Once the meet was underway, Ezraís feelings about Jenkins grew steadily worse. The man was fidgety and kept sending sly glances at his boss and several of the other men with them. Ezra tried to hurry things along, but to no avail.

Finally, things came to a head when Jenkins pulled a gun and shot his boss. Needless to say, Ezra was surprised, and things would have probably been fine, if Vin and Sam hadnít had to switch locations at the last minute, something Ezra had been unaware of. He still wasnít sure exactly why theyíd switched, but the result had been disastrous.

Ezra, though shocked by the outcome, immediately began working the angle. He met Jenkinsís eyes and prepared to deal with him as the new boss. The other man was clearly dead, they could easily charge Jenkins with murder, but for now the important thing was getting those guns off the street.

Suddenly, the sound of a high-powered rifle broke the tableau and red blossomed on Jenkinsís chest. Surprise lit in his eyes before they dimmed forever, and all around him, the other men pulled guns, aiming them at Ezra.

Ezra dove for cover, somehow managing to avoid getting hit as gunfire played out all around him. His only thought was, why had Vin fired? Surely he knew Ezra well enough by now to give him time to right the situation. Indignation flared in his chest at the seeming lack of trust displayed.

Soon enough, the action was over, with two more of the criminals wounded and one of Team 5ís men also suffering a graze to the arm. Ezra had hunted down Vin, grabbed him by the arm and just barely kept himself from punching the man.

He took a step back only to lean in again. "What the hell were you thinking?" Ezra yelled. "I could have pulled that out! Why didnít you trust me?" he finished on a plaintive note.

Vin gaped, then reached for Ezraís arm and tried to answer, but Ezra pulled away, anger and hurt playing on his face.

~~~~~~

Ezra rubbed his eyes. He never gave Vin a chance to explain. He of all people should know better than to jump to conclusions. He sighed, then looked up, startled as a piece of paper entered his line of sight. He lifted his head to see Vinís sad face.

"Thought you might read my report, see if thereís anything I missed," Vin drawled softly.

Ezra caught his arm before he could move away. "Iíd rather hear about it from you," Ezra entreated. "Iím sorry I didnít let you explain earlier."

Vin grinned sadly. "Hell, Ezra, I canít really blame you. It was my responsibility. I shouldnít have changed the plan without telling you. It wasÖ" he shrugged. "I thought we had to switch places, but I never thought it would be that big of a deal."

Ezra sighed. "I trust you, Vin. When youíre watching my back, I donít have to worry about anything but playing my part." He looked down briefly, uncertainty showed in his eyes when he met Vinís gaze again. "When I heard that shot and Jenkins went down, I couldnít understand why you didnít give me any time to fix things."

Vin pressed his lips together. "Damn, Bagwell. Iím sorry, Ez. I would have if Iíd been in the right spot. Sam saw what everyone else did, the meet going bad. If Iíd had your back," he shook his head. "I could see you were doing fine, but from my original spot, Sam was the one who had to make that call and he donít know you like I do. Iím so sorry, Ezra."

"I know, Vin. I should have let you explain." Ezra held out his hand and Vin grasped his arm. As they gripped forearms, blue eyes met green and soon relieved grins bloomed on both faces. After a long moment, they released their hold, each man more relieved than they could say that their friendship had withstood such a test.

"So," Ezra said, sitting back in his chair, straightening his tie, "why exactly did you and Mr. Bagwell switch places?"

Vin dropped his head, shaking it in uncontrolled disbelief. "That pansyÖ There was this great, big olí spiderweb stretched out right next to where he was supposed to perch. And the biggest damn spider, right in the center. Must have built the web up over the last day or so, werenít there before," Vin explained.

"Sam came scooting over to my spot just before the meet, saying how he was arachnophobic and couldnít concentrate with the eight-legged critter just hanging there." Vin grimaced and sent an apologetic look at Ezra. "He was sweatiní bullets, Ez. I swear he was about to pass out. What could I do?"

Ezra stared at him for a long moment, then burst out laughing. Vin stared back for a moment until the hilarity of the situation hit him and he joined Ezra.

After a few minutes, having earned concerned glances from their team mates, Vin and Ezra finally got things under control.

Vin patted Ezra on the back. "Thanks, pard."

Ezra nodded, then a sly look crossed his face. "So, do you think we can find an appropriate way to pay Little Miss Muffet back for his part in this fiasco?" he asked with an ever-deepening grin.

Vinís answering grin had an evil tint to it. "Oh yeah," he drawled. "Most definitely."

The end.

Feed the muse. Let me know how you liked it. JudyL

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