Friday, 2 pm

Office of ATF Team 7, Denver, Colorado

"Okay, boys, settle down," Chris Larabee said, quieting the conversation between the

other six men in the room. The men were members of a crack ATF team, of which Larabee was the leader.

"J.D.'s magic fingers finally persuaded that cranky computer of his to cough up some more information on Doyle." Larabee passed out files to each member of the group that was gathered around the conference table. As the others glanced over the files, their thoughts were focused on their target, one Alexander Doyle.

Larabee's Team, nicknamed the Magnificent 7 by their fellow agents because of their high arrest and conviction rate, were the most proficient ATF team in the Western U.S., if not the entire country. And the "7" had been after Doyle for four months.

The elusive weapons dealer had been suspected in numerous cases over the last decade across country, but no one had been able to get enough information to be able to even arrest the man on so much as a traffic violation, much less send him to trial and get a conviction. The man was smart, sneaky and resourceful. But then, so was Team 7 and they hoped to snare their prey soon.

The team had come close two months previously, but Doyle had managed to slip through their dragnet yet again. Word on the street was that the gun dealer had moved his operation out of Denver, where Larabee's team was based. Several reports had him relocating out of state. The best information they had was that he'd moved his operation to the Pacific Northwest.

"J.D., give us a rundown," Chris instructed.

J.D. Dunne was the youngest member of the team. Although he could have passed for a high school senior, he was over twenty-one, which was required for him to be able to carry a weapon in most states. He'd been recruited straight from the police academy after Larabee, while visiting a friend at the academy, had spotted his proficiency with computers.

Dunne flipped open his notebook. "Okay, first off, as you all know, everything that I can find indicates that Doyle is moving northwest, specifically Washington State. Most of the information is centered in the Puget Sound area, not too far from Seattle. We got some activity in Seattle and Tacoma, but the majority comes from a medium sized city, name of Cascade."

Dunne pulled out a map of Western Washington and pointed out the metropolis on the map. "There's a city map of Cascade and the surrounding county in the files that y'all have in front of you. Several real estate purchases have been made around Cascade that can be traced back to front corporations that belong to Doyle."

"Do we have a good paper trail on those corporations?" asked Ezra Standish in his quiet southern accent. Standish was the chameleon of the group, able to blend himself into any situation, which made him the ideal undercover agent. His performances on past cases had brought in such heavy hitters, that the others gifted him with a fake Academy Award after one particularly grueling assignment.

"Yes, we have all the documentation," Chris replied with a smile. "J.D. has been very thorough." Larabee glanced over at J.D. and winked, giving the young man the respect he deserved for the monumental task he'd undertaken and performed. Chris knew that most people outside the team considered J.D. just a computer geek and therefore not a full-fledged member of the team. Chris, however, knew that his computer skills were just as important as Ezra's undercover work or Vin Tanner's sharpshooting. Plus, JD was a good shot and had a quick mind, all needed traits for an ATF agent.

Tanner caught Larabee's eye and nodded his approval for the praise Chris had given Dunne. Although Vin was just a couple years older than J.D., the team looked toward him as their second-in-command. His youth belied his experience. He was better with his rifle than anyone Chris had ever seen. And his life experience gave him an insight into people that no one questioned. His intuitive leaps were almost as uncanny as Larabee's. And Chris bordered on the psychic with some of the "gut feelings" he'd had in the past.

Chris also had the advantage of prior military experience to draw on. He'd been a SEAL team leader while in the Navy, among the elite of military special operations groups. His strategic planning and quick adjustments to changing situations on previous missions left no question about who was in charge.

Buck Wilmington reached over and patted Dunne on the shoulder, proud of his friend and roommate. And impressed with him all over again. Buck was the first person Chris had recruited to the team. He'd been a long-time friend of the team leader, so Chris was familiar with his background. And although Buck sometimes got on Chris' nerves with his never-ending talk of wine, women and song, Chris knew that when it came to the job, the ladies' man was dedicated to the team. He often used his charm and easy-going manner to get them the information they needed. And he was immeasurable as an agent. Even though he was a marksman, as often as not, he just charmed his way out of a bad situation.

"Do we have any contacts in Cascade that can help with the local end of things?" asked Nathan Jackson, the team's medic. Jackson was the only black member of the team. When he'd first been approached by Larabee to join, he'd been hesitant. He'd been working as a paramedic at the time and had earned Chris' respect when he'd entered a still volatile scene to treat a member of the team. Later, when Chris approached him to thank him for his help, he'd learned that Jackson had once dreamed of becoming a police officer. Larabee arranged for him to get the training needed to join the ATF and he was immediately placed on Chris' team.

"We don't have any local PD contacts," Chris told them. "I've been in contact with our Seattle office, which would cover the region that Cascade is in. Unfortunately, they are in the middle of a big operation themselves and can't spare anyone. They suggested the Seattle FBI office, which has had some past cases with the Cascade PD, especially their Major Crime Unit, which is who we'll be dealing with. We have a meeting set up for Monday morning at 10:00 at Cascade PD."

The final member of the team, Josiah Sanchez, was carefully reading through the file that JD had provided each of them. "What about weapons?" he asked, continuing to flip through the pages.

"The usual. We'll each carry our individual weapons and Vin will take his own sniper rifle. Everything else will be supplied by Seattle ATF." Vin nodded his head in agreement. As a sniper, he needed to be comfortable with his weapon. He needed to be sure of its performance each time he used it. Lives depended on him being able to hit what he aimed at, so he needed to know every nuance of his weapon. That's why he'd used the same weapon since he'd joined the team.

"Okay, so, we'll meet here Sunday at noon and head straight to the airport. That's it for now. Take the rest of the afternoon off to make sure you're ready to go Sunday."

"How about we head over to the saloon for a late lunch, or early dinner, or whatever?" Buck suggested. The others agreed since they'd skipped lunch to make the final preparations for their trip to Washington.

"I'll meet you there," Chris said. "I need to check in with DA Travis. Order me a T-bone."

"See ya in a few, pard," Buck called as he and the others filed out.

/

The seven agents arrived at Seatac Airport on Sunday evening. They were among the last passengers to deplane, since Tanner had to collect his rifle case from the locked front storage area. Once inside the terminal, a sandy-haired young man, not much older than Vin, approached them.

"Agent Larabee?" the man asked, striding up to Chris without hesitation. "I'm Mike Rignelli, Seattle ATF. Sam Alders sent me to drop off the van and equipment you requested," he said, referring to the Seattle office's lead agent. Mike and Chris exchanged handshakes. He handed Chris a set of keys and a parking stub. "The van is on the fourth level of the airport garage. I've written the space number down on the ticket. Just show your badge to the attendant, and they'll waive the parking fee."

Chris nodded. "Were you able to get everything we asked for?"

"Yes, Sir. It's all in the van already. Along with a few extras that Sam threw in. There's also a map to Cascade and directions to your hotel. They're holding three suites for you, as requested. You're meeting with Captain Banks at the Cascade downtown headquarters tomorrow morning at ten am. Since we don't have anyone available to accompany you, Sam has arranged for a member of the FBI in Seattle to work as a liaison between your team and Banks' Major Crime department. He'll meet you at your hotel at 9 am."

Chris grimaced, but he knew procedure. It was always best to let a federal agent familiar with the locals act as an intermediary. But Chris hated working with the FBI. Not only did they tend to try and run everything, even when it wasn't their investigation, but previous run-ins with FBI members and his team had not gone well. All the members of team 7, Chris included, felt that the FBI had left Ezra Standish out in the cold when rumors started that the former FBI agent was corrupt.

Since Ezra had joined the ATF team, the few times that they had been forced to work with the FBI had been strained, to say the least. Most FBI agents treated Ezra like a disease, even though the evidence against Ezra was flimsy and circumstantial. The treatment of their teammate raised the hackles of all the members of team 7. They knew Ezra wasn't dirty. They trusted him with their lives. Chris wasn't looking forward to this, but he knew there was little he could do about it…at the moment.

He shook off his worsening mood. "What can you tell me about Captain Banks?" he asked the Seattle agent.

Mike smiled. Sam had told him enough about Agent Larabee to figure the man would take his advice into consideration. "I've worked with him before. He's a hard man, but he's fair and he knows his business. His Major Crimes unit has one of the best records in Washington. He doesn't have a problem working with feds, as long as he's not treated like some little peon just because he's a local. They've put away some heavy hitters. Treat him like a professional law officer, and he'll back you 100%. And if he backs you, his people will back you. They're loyal to him and he to them."

Chris smiled. Loyalty was the sign of a good leader. Banks sounded like his kind of man. He hoped Rignelli was right, because this case was too important to risk over hurt feelings. "Okay, thanks. Do we need to give you a lift back?"

"No. I've got a departing flight leaving in about an hour." He grinned in pride. "My little brother is getting married in two days. I'm heading to Louisiana for the ceremony."

"Congratulations. Thanks for dropping off the van. We appreciate it."

Mike waved off his words. "Not a problem. Good luck in Cascade." The agent smiled at the rest of the team, then headed off towards his gate. Chris handed the keys and parking ticket to Josiah. He hitched his carry-on further up his shoulder. "Okay, boys, let's head out. We'll get to Cascade, have dinner, then get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow's gonna be a long day."

/

Monday, 8 am, Major Crimes

Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg hadn't even gotten over the threshold of the room that held the Major Crimes unit, when their leader was standing at his office door. "Ellison, Sandburg, may I see you in my office please?"

Jim turned a suspicious glance to his partner and roommate, Blair Sandburg. Blair held up both hands in a gesture of surrender. "Hey, man, I didn't do anything. I haven't even been here for the last two weeks, remember. I've been busy with finals." Blair was a graduate student at nearby Rainier University, as well as being a teaching fellow. Last week was the end of the spring semester and Blair had been busy. He not only had three classes he was teaching, but a research paper due and two finals of his own to study for.

The past two weeks, Blair had gotten very little sleep and Jim had only seen his friend when he'd been nagging the younger man to eat in order to keep his strength up for the marathon sessions he was dealing with. But Friday afternoon, Blair had posted his grades and taken his last exam. He and Jim had spent a relaxing weekend at the loft they shared and now Jim would have Blair with him at the station for the next two weeks with no school distractions.

Blair's 'official' reason for riding with the Major Crimes detective was that he was writing his anthropological thesis on the "thin blue line" that existed within the police department. Only he, Jim and Jim's boss, Simon Banks, knew the truth. Blair's real thesis was on Jim Ellison. Jim was a sentinel, a modern version of ancient tribal guardians that protected their tribes from threats and dangers, found good hunting and warned of changes in the weather. All of Jim's senses were heightened, making Jim an even better detective than he had been before his senses had gone 'on-line' several years ago. He was usually able to find evidence and clues that would take the forensics team days to find or figure out.

"Well, something has obviously happened. You know I don't like it when Simon gets polite. It's frightening." The two men walked past Simon, and he closed the door behind them.

"Jim, Blair. How was your weekend? Would you like some coffee?" he asked, holding up the pot from the coffee maker he kept in his office. Blair and Jim exchanged a glance, before Jim turned back to his boss.

"Okay, Captain, what do you want?"

"What do you mean, Jim?" he asked innocently.

Jim smirked. "Captain, when you offer us coffee from your private stash, it either means that you want a favor or you want me to play nice with someone. Which is it?"

Simon sighed, and rubbed the bridge of his nose where his glasses rested. Sometimes it was a pain having your co-workers as friends. They got to know you too well. "We've got a meeting at ten o'clock with some agents from the ATF. They want us to help them on a case of theirs that has led here to Cascade."

Blair wisely kept silent as Jim's face darkened. "Oh, c'mon, Captain. You know I hate working with the feds. They play their damn little games at the expense of the people involved. Hell, Special Agent Donohue," he said the name sarcastically, "is damn lucky I didn't kill him after the fiasco that happened last time."

All three men remembered the last case that Major Crimes had worked on with the local FBI contingent. A child had been kidnapped, and standard procedure was to call in the FBI. Agent Donohue had been assigned and was too arrogant in his opinions about the case to listen to Jim's deductions. That arrogance had almost gotten the latest victim killed. Jim and Blair had shown up where Jim's leads had pointed, only to find the killer was about to stab the little four-year old girl he'd grabbed off the street. Jim had shot the knife out of the killer's hand, then tackled him when he refused to move away from his victim. They struggled while Blair raced to free the little girl.

Once the suspect was in custody and on his way to the hospital for his hand injury, Donohue had shown up and started to berate Jim and Blair for failing to follow proper procedure. Jim had been furious, but held his temper. Then Donohue had made the mistake of remarking that Jim should 'go back to busting pimps and druggies and leave the real criminals to the feds.' Jim had punched the man in the face, breaking his nose, and walked away without saying a word. Just the mention of the man's name was enough to have Jim clenching his jaw.

"Jim, I know how you feel, believe me. If I had been in your place, I would have punched the man, too. But this is coming down from the top. The chief personally asked that Major Crimes cooperate with Larabee and his team. I assured him that we would help out in any way possible."

"Larabee?" Jim asked.

"Yeah, Chris Larabee. He's the leader of the ATF team that's coming. Word is that his team is one of the best. They've got a damn good conviction rate."

"Great, so we'll be dealing with bigger egos than Donohue's. Wonderful, just wonderful."

"Jim, I personally talked to Sam Alders in Seattle. He's got nothing but praise for Larabee and his men. You like Alders. Can't you just trust him and give this Larabee guy a chance?"

Jim sighed heavily. Simon was right. Sam was one of the few feds he actually liked. The man ran the Seattle ATF office with a firm but fair hand and he was a good judge of character.

What else did Sam have to say about this guy?"

Simon's expression didn't change, but he knew his last statement had won Jim over. "He said that Larabee and his team work out of Denver. They've taken on some pretty powerful names in the gun running business and have gotten solid cases against them. Larabee used to be a Navy Seal. He personally handpicked his team. They're very effective."

Jim frowned. "How long ago was Larabee in the navy?"

Simon glanced at the notes he'd made while talking to Sam. "Several years, probably about the time that you were in the Army. Why?"

"Damn. He's *that* Chris Larabee?"

Blair spoke for the first time since coming into Simon's office. "Do you know this guy, Jim?"

"No, Chief, but I know of him. I know his reputation. Hell, even the Rangers have heard stories about Larabee. He was a maverick of sorts. His seal team could get really…creative during a mission, but they always accomplished their objective."

"Well, it seems that he runs his ATF team the same way. Look, they'll be coming in at ten. We'll meet in the conference room and hear about the case. I just wanted to give you a heads up that we are going to be working with them."

"Okay, Captain, I'll be on my best behavior."

"Thanks, Jim. So, Blair," he said, turning to the younger man, "are you going to be gracing us with your presence this week?"

Blair laughed. "Yeah. I'm completely yours for the next two weeks. No papers to grade or write."

"Good," Simon smirked. "Then maybe you can help Jim with his backlog of reports."

Blair's face fell. "Is that all I'm good for around here, writing Jim's reports?"

"Everyone has their talents, Chief. At least you're appreciated."

Blair glared at his partner, but joined in the laughter.

"Here's everything the ATF has on their case. Read it over and see what you think," Simon said, hand Jim a thick file.

"Very good, Sir," Ellison replied as he and Blair left the Captain's office.

/

Cascade Inn

The members of team 7 had gathered in the room that Chris and Vin where sharing, finishing up the last of the coffee from breakfast, when a knock sounded on the door. Nathan opened it to reveal a short, balding man in a black suit. His already pale complexion seemed even more washed out due to the color of the suit. His appearance screamed "Fed".

"Agent Larabee?" he asked. Nathan pointed to Chris. He walked over to Chris, ignoring the others in the room. "Agent Larabee, I'm Special Agent Donohue, your liaison. Sam Alders asked me to lend you my expertise in dealing with the local police."

"Have you worked with Captain Banks and his people before, Agent Donohue?" Chris asked. Something about this man was setting Chris' nerves on edge. Chris' innocent question started Donohue off on a tangent that only increased the team leader's opinion that he hated working with the FBI.

Donohue snorted. "Unfortunately. They're all a bunch of screw-ups, especially Jim Ellison and that so-called 'partner' of his. Ellison thinks he's hot shit, just because he supposedly survived more than a year as an MIA in some South American jungle."

"What?" Chris and Buck both chorused, the last statement having gotten everyone's attention. Donohue smiled as he enlightened the ATF team with his 'expertise' of the local police. He was so caught up in his tirade, that he didn't notice the glance Chris threw at JD. The young agent nodded and quickly booted up his laptop and began typing. Soon, Chris could hear the sound of pages of information being printed out on the printer that they had hooked up to the laptop. Donohue hadn't stopped his monologue.

"Yeah, the Army claims his chopper was shot down and he was the only survivor. They say he connected up with some local tribe and survived for eighteen months. Sounds like a cover-up to me. He probably connected with some little tribal bimbo is what really happened, but of course they can't release that. So they make up some story and proclaim him a 'hero' and put his picture on the cover of 'News Update' magazine."

"Wait a minute, he's *that* Jim Ellison?" Chris asked.

"Hey, yeah, I remember reading that story," Buck exclaimed. "He was an Army Ranger at the time. He and the local tribe, the Chopick or something like that, held off the rebels down there for months." The others nodded their heads. They remembered the article, too.

"Hey, Chris," JD said, "aren't the Rangers sort of like the elite?"

Chris nodded. "Yeah, JD. They are to the Army what the SEALS are to the Navy."

Donohue sneered. "Yeah, and like most of them, Ellison thinks that makes him a star." He missed the narrowing of the eyes that signaled Chris' displeasure. "And Banks plays up to it. He lets Ellison get away with murder. Like calling Sandburg his 'partner'. The little punk's not even a real cop, just some long-haired, hippie college kid acting as an 'observer'," he said sarcastically, not noticing the dirty look Vin gave him. "Sandburg's mother was some drugged out hippie sixties whore of a flower child. She probably doesn't even know who the little freak's father is."

"Hey," Buck said, "It's not nice to talk about a man's mama that way." He looked like he was getting ready to throw a punch at the man. Donohue just ignored him.

"Sandburg claims to be an anthropology student working on his thesis," he continued, then laughed. "Anthropologist is just a fancy term for pervert. Someone who gets off on watching people. He probably really likes watching their mating habits." Donohue continued to be oblivious to the reactions his words were having on the ATF agents. He missed the step that Josiah took toward him. Chris waved Josiah off, not wanting any of his men to get brought up on charges for assaulting the little shit.

"Personally," Donohue continued, "I think Sandburg's hanging around to get information so he can warn all his druggie buddies about raids coming down." Then he smirked. "Of course, Sandburg Idid/I move in with Ellison a few years ago, so maybe 'partner' is the correct term. Ellison is probably making the little freak pay out the ass, if you get my meaning. Why else would two grown men be living together?"

Both Buck and JD frowned at this remark. After all, they shared an apartment, and they took exception to Donohue's bigoted opinion. Buck knew that before this was over, he and this fed were gonna have words. Ezra was the next to find fault with the agent's opinions. His gaze narrowed as his green eyes went cold.

"Then there's the other members of Major Crimes. Detective Brown, reject from the world of grunge, and his partner, Mr GQ himself, Detective Rafe. That man dresses like he thinks some modeling agent is going to come through the door at any minute and make him a star. Those clothes he wears don't come cheap. If he's not taking bribes, I'll eat my shorts." Although he was talking about Rafe, Donohue pointedly glared at Ezra, indicating that he knew exactly who Ezra was.

"Yeah, let's hope you choke on 'em," Vin muttered under his breath. Only Ezra was close enough to hear him. He leaned over to whisper in Vin's ear.

"So far, the only one of us that hasn't managed to be indirectly insulted by this odious creature's remarks has been Mr. Jackson. Ten-to-one odds say that he will accomplish this task before we leave the building." Vin shook his head. He was not about to make a bet that he knew he had a good chance of losing. He was thankful that he turned Ezra down as he watched Nathan's jaw tighten in reaction to Donohue's next statement.

"By the way, if any of your men get injured during this case, take my advice and don't let Ellison near them. He was a medic in the army and thinks this makes him capable of treating people. I wouldn't let someone like that treat me for a splinter, much less anything more serious. I'd probably end up with gangrene."

"The world should be so lucky," Nathan mumbled to himself.

Chris took a deep breath, trying to keep from choking the man in front of him and looked at his watch. Hell, it was only 9:30 in the morning and he already had a headache. He broke in before Donohue could say anything more. "We had better get going if we're going to make our ten o'clock appointment. I don't want to keep them waiting." He turned his back to Donohue as he addressed Vin. "I'll ride with Donohue," he said, his face showing his less-than-pleased expression at this prospect. "You men follow behind us in the van. Let's go, Donohue."

As he passed by JD, the young man handed Chris a folder filled with the pages he had just printed out. He kept a second folder with duplicate copies, which Chris knew JD would share with the others in the van. Before they arrived at police headquarters, his team would know everything they could about their counterparts in Major Crimes.

In the black sedan, silence reigned except for the pages being turned by Chris as he read the information that JD had compiled. He looked at Ellison's file, staring at the photo of the detective. He could see the intelligence and determination in the man's face staring out at him from the page. Donohue had tried to engage Larabee in conversation for the first few minutes, but Chris' one-word answers and grunts had finally convinced Donohue that Larabee wasn't in a talkative mood. Such was not the case in the van following them.

"Did you hear that jackass?" Buck exclaimed. "Why else would two grown men be living together," he mimicked Donohue's words. "What a moron. I'll tell you, he had better watch his mouth before he finds himself on the wrong end of my gun. Especially if I hear him say anything bad about anybody's mama. That's just downright rude."

"Well, I was not inclined to appreciate his remarks about Detective Rafe, either. Especially since he was less than subtle regarding his true target."

The others all chimed in with their opinions of Agent Donohue, except JD. Buck finally noticed that his young friend was being awfully quiet.

"JD, you okay, kid?"

"Hmm? Oh, yeah, Buck. Just reading. I don't know what Donohue's problem is, but according to this," he held up the folder, "the Major Crimes unit does a damn good job. They've gone up against some major players."

"Like who, JD?" Vin asked.

"Like Hector Carasco."

Buck let out a whistle. All the agents had heard that name. Carasco had been a major player in the arms business until his arrest three years before. "Ellison's the one that nailed him?"

"Yep. He's also the one that put Lee Brackett on ice." JD said. "And he captured Karl Zeller."

Vin had heard of Brackett. Every federal cop knew about the rogue agent. But the other name was unfamiliar to Vin. "Who's this Zeller guy?"

Ezra glanced up from the pages that he was reading over JD's shoulder. "It says here that he is the miscreant that goes by the pseudonym of 'the Iceman'. He's an international assassin that was handed over to Interpol a couple of years ago. Apparently compliments of the Cascade PD."

All the agents smiled humorlessly. "And these are the people that Donohue thinks are screw-ups?" Nathan said, shaking his head.

"Yeah," Buck said. "The country could sure use a few more of these 'screw-ups' working in law enforcement." They all agreed with that statement.

/

Simon heard the knock at his door. Before he could look up, FBI Agent Donohue was barging in, followed slightly more quietly by a tall, lanky blond-haired man.

"Banks, this is ATF Agent Larabee. I trust you got Agent Alder's message. You'll be working for Larabee and his team while they're in town."

Banks glared at Donohue with a distinctly sour look on his face before offering his hand to the ATF agent. "Larabee, nice to meet you," he said.

"Captain Banks, I appreciate your help with this. I look forward to working with your team," Chris said, emphasizing the working relationship he hoped to have with the police team. Banks smiled at the slight to the FBI man, then led the way out the door to find six men standing in his bullpen.

"Your team, Agent Larabee?" he asked.

"Yes," Chris said, pride showing in his eyes. He made introductions.

"Welcome to Cascade, gentlemen. My boys are set up in the conference room. We're pulling together what you sent and the info we have on any locals your man might make contact with. We just got the info a couple hours ago, so I doubt they'll have much yet." Banks led the way down the hall and opened the door to the large conference room. He entered, followed by the ATF team and Donohue.

Larabee took a quick look around, spotting Ellison standing in front of a dry erase board talking to a longhaired young man. IThat must be Sandburg/I, he thought. Ellison turned and locked eyes with Chris, both recognizing the stature of a man used to being in charge. They nodded at each other. Jim tapped Sandburg on the shoulder and gestured toward the door. The two men walked over.

"You must be Chris Larabee," Jim said, holding out his hand, which Chris took.

"Detective Ellison. Your reputation proceeds you. I've heard good things about you."

"So, you've looked at my file, have you?" Jim asked with a smile.

"I like to know who I'm working with. You live longer that way."

"I can understand that. Are you as good now as you were when you ran your SEAL team?" he asked, letting Chris know he wasn't the only one who liked to know his fellow officers.

"Better, but I think it's the company I keep," he said, pointing to his team. Jim looked over Larabee's shoulder, a frown suddenly on his face. Larabee turned to see who had drawn his ire, not surprised that the glare was aimed at Donohue.

"I can see there's no love lost here, huh?" he asked quietly, hearing a snort from the man who stood beside Ellison. Chris turned to get a better look at the man.

"Ever heard the expression 'if looks could kill'?" the young man asked. "Donohue would be tarred, feathered, crucified, buried six feet under and tossed out an airplane without a chute, just for good measure, if Jim had his way. Hi, I'm Blair Sandburg." Ellison brought his thoughts back to the man in front of him.

"Ah, sorry. Agent Larabee, Sandburg is my partner. Those two over there," he indicated a casually dressed black man and a young man whose manner of dress rivaled Ezra's, "are Detectives Brown and Rafe. They'll be working with us as well. And the gorgeous blonde in the back ignoring your friend is Rhonda, the Captain's secretary." Chris and Vin turned to see a tall man with a mustache trying his best to make conversation with the only woman in the room.

"That's Buck Wilmington," Chris said by way of introduction. A little louder, he called out to Rhonda, "It won't help to ignore him. It'll just make him try harder. But trust me, he's harmless." She turned and smiled at Chris, then looked up at Wilmington.

"Well, you might as well give me a hand then," she said to Buck. "Come on, I need help bringing up some equipment."

"Take as many of my men as you need, Ma'am." Chris insisted. She pointed to Josiah and Ezra and the three men followed her out of the room, while Chris introduced the rest of his team. The foursome came back a few minutes later with extra phones, a copy machine and a large coffee urn. Rhonda pushed a cart that carried a multitude of cups, paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils. She parked it next to the table where she'd directed Josiah to place the coffee urn. Blair walked over to help set up all the computer equipment that was already in place.

"Can I help?"

Blair looked up to see a dark-haired young man standing next to him. "Sure. I'm Blair Sandburg."

"JD Dunne." The two men shook hands, then set about turning on all the computers and making sure they worked. Blair directed JD to a table where he could connect his laptop.

"Okay, so what do we have so far?" Donohue asked, stepping up next to Larabee, who turned an annoyed look his way. Catching the look, Ellison didn't even bother to try and hide his smirk as he directed his comments to Larabee and turned his back on Donohue, dismissing his presence.

"Why don't I show you what Sandburg has put together, Agent Larabee." Jim said, as Simon let him take the lead.

"It's just Chris. All that 'Agent Larabee' crap is unnecessary."

"Call me Jim, then. Blair was marking the building purchases on the map. They all seem to be centered pretty much in one area, except for one. And that one is residential."

Donohue tried to get a look at the map, but Ellison and Larabee blocked his way with their size. As he tried to work his way to Chris' left, Vin Tanner slid smoothly in front of him, pointing to the map.

"What type of area are the rest of the buildings?"

"Warehouse district and light industrial. Most of those buildings have been vacant for months, some for a couple of years."

Donohue moved in the other direction, only to be blocked again, this time by Nathan Jackson, team 7's resident medic.

"Do any of these warehouses have waterway access?" he asked, not oblivious to the FBI agent's frustration, just ignoring it.

"Yes, these two," Ellison replied, pointing out two buildings on a photo pinned on the board. The four men where soon joined by the others, each new arrival pushing Donohue further from the board that was the center of the conversation.

"Chris."

The ATF team and Cascade PD members turned as one to face an irate FBI man. "That's 'Agent Larabee' to you." Chris asked quietly.

Donohue flushed at the remark, humiliated that he wasn't given the same courtesy Larabee afforded to Ellison. He momentarily forgot what he intended to say. When his silence continued, Chris raised an eyebrow. "Was there something you wanted to say, Agent Donohue?"

That got the FBI man's attention and his anger manifested itself as he tried to take control of the situation. "Agent Larabee, I am the liaison here. I demand to be included in all aspects of this case.

"Oh, shit," Buck muttered as he backed toward the door.

Chris glanced over at Ellison and Banks, who were shaking their heads in disgust. Looking back at Donohue, Larabee took a couple of steps toward the fed, his team moving out of his way. Jim could hear them muttering under their breath about Donohue's stupidity and the quickest way to raise Chris' wrath. He even heard the fashion plate place a bet with Tanner, who shook his head and made a counter bet. Larabee continued to advance on Donohue, finally causing the little man to take a step back.

"Agent Donohue, you are here strictly as a courtesy. Since we are not familiar with the area and the Seattle ATF office didn't have an agent available to assist us, your office was requested to act as liaison because of your previous dealings with Captain Banks and his unit. However, as of this point, I believe Detective Ellison and I can handle it." Larabee continued to back Donohue toward the door. "Contrary to the disparaging remarks you made about the detective and his colleagues, my own research indicates that they are just the team I need."

"Yeah, if you want to have your case blow up in your face," the agent replied with a sneer.

"Why you…" Jim began to march over to take a piece out of Donohue's hide, only to be stopped by a hand against his chest. Vin Tanner's hand. The sharpshooter gave him a half-smile and shook his head, then held up a finger and point at his team leader as if to say "just watch, you'll enjoy this."

And indeed he did.

"It seems to me that Jim and I are doing just fine. From what I've seen, they have a good start in pulling together just the information we need." Chris continued, not paying attention to the others in the room. He advanced another step. Josiah moved a chair out of Donohue's path, wanting to be sure the slimy little man didn't trip.

"So, since Jim and I are getting along so well, we really don't need a liaison."

"Listen, Larabee, you might be a hotshot with the ATF, and Ellison might have everyone here fooled into thinking he's the greatest thing since electricity, but the FBI has a right to know what happens with this case."

Larabee's voice got even quieter and his steps slower, but still kept Donohue moving backward. His eyes we ice-cold. "The FBI has the right to know exactly what I feel they need to know, which at this point is absolutely nothing."

"Now wait a minute here! We don't even have basic information on this case!"

"Good. Then you can't interfere. I need a team that can work together, not fight each other. Your obvious hatred for Detective Ellison and his colleagues assures me you won't be able to work with him…not the sign of a true professional, by the way. And your blatant prejudicial remarks regarding hair length, education and sexual preference only show your ignorance. I don't really care about anyone's private life, as long as they do their job and don't risk the lives of my team. I don't trust that you can do that. I don't trust you to be able to find your ass without someone leading you to it." Two more steps took Donohue to the door, with Larabee just an inch away, nose to nose with the obnoxious agent.

"We don't need or want your help on this one. So just go back to your little office and stay the hell away from my case." Chris put his finger against Donohue's chest and gave a small push, causing the FBI agent to stumble back several steps. Before he could regain his balance, Chris walked away, allowing Buck to shut and lock the door. Chris walked back over to the map and photos. "Now, where were we?"

Silence reigned for five seconds. Then they heard a choking sound. The others turned to look at Blair, who was trying not to laugh out loud. The look of unholy glee adorning Chris' face perfectly matched the one on Jim's. Those twin expressions aborted Blair's efforts and his laughter started the others to chuckle, which turned into full-fledged laughter from all the men in the room. In the hallway, Donohue heard their laughter and knew it was aimed at him. Cursing, he turned on his heel and stalked off down the hallway. Back in the conference room, Banks was chewing on the end of an unlit cigar, satisfaction on his face.

"Damn, Larabee, I haven't had that much fun in ages. I enjoyed that."

After the laughter subsided, Chris turned to his youngest member. "JD, be sure to put a security lock on everything regarding this case. I don't want that asshole able to gain access to any part of our information."

"Already on it, Chris. I initiated that lock right after we met him."

"Good man. Okay, Jim, let's sit down and compare notes."