February 2nd, 2015 -

"Hey, everyone decent in there?"Billi asked. She pushed the door to the men's locker room further open without waiting for a reply, but a sudden girlish scream set her scuttling backwards.

"You can come in Billi," Ed called without looking. He shook his head but didn't manage to suppress a grin. "Ya know, I think my daughter reached a similar octave this morning, Constable Scarlatti." His eye's met Spike's.

"What can I say? It's a talent," Spike laughed. Billi reappeared and glared in the bomb tech's direction.

"Anyone got a pair of suspenders I can borrow?"

"What they run out of kids sizes-ow!"

"Here ya go," said Kass. Billi snatched the pair from his outstretched hand.

"Thank you."

"I actually have a Mark Twain..." he started, but Jules's head popped into the door frame.

"Party I should know about?"

"Billi's cross dressing," explained Spike, a boot on the bench, a sandwich in hand.

"Oh no," Billi said, "My secret's out."

"We'd never party without you, Jules," Ed said, finishing the top few buttons of his uniform. Jules raised her eyebrows.

"Mfraid I can't say the same." Her hands found her hips, and Spike placed his palms at the sides of his head, mocking horror. The sandwich in the midst did little to aid Jules' attempt to keep a straight face.

"The audacity," said Billi. The younger woman grimaced as the clasp tried and failed to attach to her uniform bottoms. Finally, the metal wriggled itself from her grasp and smacked back towards her face.

"Does our sniper require assistance?" Asked Kass with a twinkle.

"You know, I'll have to make it up to all of you," Jules said, and mocked thoughtfulness. "I'm thinking knife take down in full gear...Sarg and Spike, Billi and Wong, Kass and me."

"That sounds," Ed walked behind Spike and Kass and slammed their lockers shut, "like a great idea. You heard the team leader." He reached over and clasped Billi's suspender with ease and shooed her out alongside the others. He was the last to take a small glance around the room before exiting. "And where is Lonnie?

- : - : - : - : - : -

One of Kasper's flaws, Jules had determined, was that he was too smart in a fight. Any real knife-wielding attacker had unpredictability on their side. The only thing Jules would be able to count on was that they weren't thinking. Here and now, Kassi was thinking, and that left him vulnerable to be analyzed. Standing there, two talkers circling each other in the fight, she realized he was probably doing the same thing.

So what did she know about Kassi? Well, he was good enough to be on team one. He could probably take her down if she let him, but while he had some height, he didn't necessarily have the weight required to go brute force. That was why, even though he was the one with the knife, he had yet to make the first move.

When he did make a move, it would have to be ending. He couldn't count on his energy or skill outlasting Jules' when things became more intimate. She could only assume he was waiting for her to mess up, become distracted, trip on thin air. Then things would be over before they began.

Jules herself wasn't the best of the best when it came to fighting either. She knew every maneuver, every outcome, every read of every situation, but that didn't give her the gift of height and weight to carry out each as desired. Tricks? Yeah, she had plenty of those, and she could outlast Kassi easy enough, but there was the matter of the knife...

Jules feigned a stumble, and the Radwanski ate it up. He dipped and lunged before realizing it was a ploy, but by then, his awkward attempts to escape confrontation only led to a quicker demise. The rubber knife dropped to the ground.

Kassi grinned and threw up his hands.

"Over before it began," he said. Some money was exchanged on the sidelines. Next up: Weber and Wong.

There was no real competition here, and Jules knew it. Billi and Lonnie knew it. Team One knew it. Heck, any passerby would probably know it, but Jules didn't regret pairing them. There was this fire that seemed to burn through the team when they watched the rabbit and the bear. A feeling one got in the field, in the action: knowing the outcome never changed the thrill.

And it was a thrill.

Billi could have just been sprinting. That would easily explain the heavy breathing and sweat and constant blink-and-you'll-miss-it movements back and forwards, bobbing along, dodging each and every swing of a knife or elbow or leg. It was a breakneck display of complete defensive maneuvering, and Billi was brilliant. There were chances, Jules could certainly see them, openings where an offensive move or two could have been afforded, but the woman took none. And maybe that was for the best. Unless those scattered moves could be blessed by a priest, it was unlikely anything would do the trick to take down Lonnie. He was, and he really was, a tank.

But Jules also thought people gave too much credit to his size for that acknowledgment. Sure, six foot six probably warranted a basketball scholarship, but there was a reason Team One wasn't just caught up in the thrill of Billi's defense.
At times, it seemed as though Lonnie had complete control over every muscle in his body. His movements were textbook pages animated and refined to artistic display. Nothing was ever a mistake. It was everything Jules knew put into practice with a height and weight to fill the shoes, and whoever thought the big must be slow ought to look away. Sure, Billi was quicker, but no one could run forever.

Lonnie had the knife against Billi's throat in a minute and a half. She died very dramatically. No money was exchanged on the side lines.

Onto Ed and Spike.

"What would you say to five on Spike?" She leaned her shoulder into Billi's, and the younger woman looked up.

"I'd say I question my team leader's decision making skills."


Ed had the knife this time, but unlike Kass, he was playing the part. There was some drunken stumbling, a few derogatory comments about Italians, and a nice bit of knife waving. What could she say, the guy had acting chops. Spike couldn't stop grinning, even during his failed attempt at a distracted take-down. To everyone's surprise, he escaped unscathed and back into position. In the past, Ed always held the cards. Spike would try to plan things, Ed would do something unexpected, and Spike wouldn't be able to clamber his way out without a few punctured organs. Now, nobody knew where things were going.

Ed had technical know-how, Spike did as well. Ed had physical coordination, Spike did not. Ed could adapt, Spike struggled on that front. Ed was reading Spike like a book, Spike was better suited to actually reading books. Preferably on security systems. Or bombs. Ed could go all day, Spike could go all day.

But all day, it seemed, could not go Ed and Spike.

"Team One: Hot Call! Shots fired."