Family of Adam
Contribution # 396250 submitted by rows
May 11, 2002
Rows WIP answer to the May Challenge...
I am going to jump on the WIP bandwagon - mainly 'cuz RL
has gotten nuts with Open Houses and moving details AND 'cuz I wanted to prove
that I really am working on a story. Hell, I'm always working on a story, never
finishing 'em is the problem, i.e., April's Challenge. Not beta'd, WIP.
So here we go:
Title: Family of Adam
Note: May Challenge offered by Michelle Naylor. Do you believe in the supernatural, the unusual, the out of the ordinary things that cannot be explained? What would the boys do when faced with such a situation? Write a story where one or more of the boys are caught up with forces beyond their control. My one stipulation is that there most be some other-worldly figure, (ghost, alien, angel, etc...) there to help them along. Note: This should not be a horror story!
THE FAMILY OF ADAM
An ATF/M7 Universe story
"So God created man in His own image; male and female, God created them."
ATF agent Josiah Sanchez was staring at the package on his desk. Hands clasped in front of him, shaking in an uncharacteristic show of excitement, he could only stare at the plain, brown paper wrapped, approximately forty-or-so-inch long, rectangular box.
Time slowed -- or did it stop completely? -- for Josiah. Or was it that time continued as usual, but left no lasting impression on the silent man, who -- when he wasn't found staring at unopened packages -- was the profiler for Team 7? Or was it simply that nothing else mattered to the older man except the precious bundle resting on his desk...?
"Josiah! Man, you with me here?"
"Well, you're answering me. That's an improvement," Nathan Jackson said. Team 7's EMT sat at the opposite end of the large desk he and Sanchez shared in their office, arms folded across his chest, concern clouding his features.
"Why wouldn't I answer you?" Josiah asked.
"I don't know. You tell me why you've spent the last five minutes staring at that box and I'll tell you why you weren't answering me."
"Oh, umm..." Josiah's voice trailed off.
"Josiah!" Nathan got up and waved a hand in front of the silent man's face. "What's with the package?"
"It's a gift," Josiah said in a whisper.
"That's nice. What's in it?" Nathan sounded annoyed...or amused. It was hard to tell with the oh-so-serious agent. "Are you going to open it?"
"The package, Josiah! Are you going to open the package?" Obviously, annoyance was winning over amusement.
"Afraid of what?" Vin Tanner, the team's sharp shooter, asked coming into the office.
"The package," Josiah said, pointing to the object on his desk.
"Ooh-kay," Vin said, standing behind Josiah's chair, scratching his chin. He and Nathan exchanged a look of confusion over the silver-haired man's head.
"Why?" Nathan asked.
"Because I'm afraid it's not going to be what I've been waiting for," Josiah answered, running a hand over his face with a deep sigh.
"Did you read the letter?"
"What letter, Vin?" Josiah asked, a dazed expression on his face.
"The one taped to the side of the box, Sanchez," Chris Larabee, Team 7's leader, said leaning against the doorjamb. "Some agent you are. You didn't even see the envelope, did you?" Chris's voice was gruff, but his hazel eyes twinkled with amusement.
"Hey, what's going on, guys?" JD Dunne asked, popping around Chris to sit in Nathan's empty chair. Although he youngest of the seven men of Team 7, Dunne was none-the-less a top notch ATF agent and the team's computer guru. There wasn't a system he couldn't hack into, or a piece of information he couldn't come up with.
"Josiah was just about to open a package he got," Nathan said, pointing to the still-wrapped package on Josiah's desk.
"How the heck did it make it past security?" JD asked.
"I brought it in with me," Chris answered.
Josiah's head shot up, blue eyes wide. "You know what's in here?"
"Is it...? Did she actually...?"
"Just open it, Josiah."
"Yeah," Chris said, with a slight smile.
Josiah reached out with his still shaking hands and touched the package. He pulled back and swallowed loudly, causing the men in the room to groan.
"Josiah," Nathan said imploringly.
With a sheepish expression, Josiah put his hands on the package again and reached for his letter opener. Slitting the tape that held the envelope, he opened it and cautiously unfolded the letter. In silence he read it, unaware of the large smile breaking out on his face. Letting out a whoop of excitement, the letter fluttered out of his hands and he eagerly started slicing through the tape covering the package. In no time, Josiah was holding a long object wrapped in tissue paper.
"What the heck is it?" JD asked.
"This, my friend, is a rare ceremonial pipe," Josiah answered, removing the tissue paper.
"What tribe?" Vin asked, coming around to stand next to Josiah, his eyes glued on the object in question.
"Blackfeet. According to Ms. Cody, it's Piegan Blackfeet, circa 1878."
"Cool. Who's Ms. Cody and what's Piegan?"
"The Piegan's are the Northern branch of the Blackfeet tribe, JD," Vin answered for Josiah, his soft Texan drawl filling the office. "Their homeland is what is now considered Montana and Wyoming. This pipe obviously belonged to a strong Shaman. May I?" he asked Josiah, and carefully picked up the pipe when Josiah nodded. "Look here," Vin pointed to the tan hair clustered at the center, "this is from a coyote, and see the twelve teeth inserted here in the middle; it's a combination of coyote teeth and human teeth. Probably the Shaman's own teeth."
"And this," Vin turned the pipe over and pointed to the spiral wrapped hide covering the handle of the pipe, "is coyote hide, dyed red and green -- very powerful colors. The pipe head is probably carved from bison tusk; once again in the shape of the coyote. The coyote's a sacred animal to the People; he's known as the Trickster. Anyone using him as a spirit guide would have needed to have strong majic. And I believe Ms. Cody is Chris's friend Lorraine. She works for the Indian Bureau, trying to help locate and return sacred items, like this, back to their proper tribes."
The men in the office stared in amazement at their normally reticent sharp shooter.
"What?" A blush started working its way up Vin's neck, spreading to his cheeks.
"Wow, Vin. I didn't know you could say so many words at once," JD said, bumping Vin's shoulder.
Chris raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth, but before he could get a word out, a door opened from one of the another offices and loud voices interrupted.
"Face it, Ezra, you're just mad that I came up with the information before you did."
"On the contrary, Miss Wells, it was my pointing you in the right direction that allowed you the opportunity to come up with the correct answer."
"That's bull *Mr. Standish*! You know perfectly well that it was my idea to begin with."
"I know nothing of the sort. I will grant you that because of your unorthodox behavior more information was forth coming, but-"
"See, you admit it! You wouldn't have closed the case without my help."
"The only thing I am admitting to, Miss Wells, is that your secret agent stunt almost got us both killed. As it stands now, Mr. Wilmington's injury is a direct result of your not being able to tell the difference between the foolish and the wise. Next time leave the undercover work to the professionals."
"That's what I'm talking about. Those convoluted sentences of yours would have freaked out your informant. She's a teenager, for Christ's sake, and needed to be dealt with like one. You couldn't have done it. *YOU* needed me."
"Miss Wells, I'm a consummate undercover agent. Talking plain would have afforded me no trouble what-so-ever."
""Miss Wells"...Ez, are you listening to yourself? You can't even do it now."
"You want it plain, Casey?"
"Yeah, I want it plain, Ez."
"Fine! Little girls like you have no business trying to play with the big boys."
"Little girl! Is that what you think of me...? Don't you walk away from me, Ezra Standish...get back here...!"
The sound of a door slamming, followed by that of a metal filing cabinet drawer being abused echoed throughout the cavernous office space that housed the seven members -- plus two assistants -- of Denver's Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Team 7. Another door slammed down the hall and the banging suddenly stopped.
Situated on the eighth floor of Denver's Federal Building, Team 7's *home* took up half of the available floor space. Comprised of five spacious offices, two conference rooms, a large break room and a state of the art Audio/Visual room -- put together specifically for Team 7 -- it was easily the largest of all the ATF offices in the building. But with the ongoing argument between Ezra Standish, team 7's undercover agent and Casey Wells, his assistant, the office walls seemed to be closing in on all the other occupants.
As one, four of the men in the Josiah's office turned and looked at the fifth.
"Yes," the four answered.
"No, come on guys. Why me?"
"She's your girlfriend, JD."
"Yeah, but...but..." JD stammered for a moment. "Chris is her supervisor!" he cried with a triumphant note.
"He's got a point, cowboy." Four men then turned and looked at the fifth still leaning against the doorjamb.
"Don't call me cowboy, Tanner. But you're right, this has gone on long enough. STANDISH, WELLS, get your butts out here!" Chris's bellow bounced off the walls.
The five men waited, the ticking of the clock loud and annoying, but nothing happened.
"DON'T MAKE ME ASK AGAIN!"
"Please excuse me, I didn't realize you were voicing a request the first time. I would have answered you immediately if such were the case," Ezra Standish said, his dulcet Southern voice coming from behind Chris.
"Jesus, Standish! Why do you insist on sneaking up behind me?"
"He can't help it, it's part of his character," Nathan said, and laughed good naturedly, taking the sting out of his words.
"I heard that, Mr. Jackson," Ezra said, stepping around Chris to enter the office. "Now, what can I do for you, Mr. Larabee?"
Chris didn't answer Ezra, he bellowed again. "CASEY!"
Casey's door opened and the young woman came flying out. "I'm coming! Don't get your panties in a bunch." She suddenly stopped, a look of consternation crossing her face. "Uh, Chris, I didn't mean...I mean, I didn't...Aww, hell." She walked over to the men with her head down.
"Very loquacious, Miss Wells."
"Shut up, Ezra. I want to see you and Casey in my office, now." Chris turned and headed down the hall.
Casey sent an imploring look to JD, who shrugged. "I can't Case. I told you I wouldn't when you started working here."
"Oh, grand," Ezra said and sighed. "Nothing like a good inquisition to start the day."
"If you two'd stop arguing, there wouldn't be a problem," Nathan mentioned.
"We don't argue, we discuss-"
"Right, Casey. Really loud and obnoxious discussing."
"Thank you for the input, Mr. Tanner," Ezra said, sarcasm oozing from every word. "But you have a point, Miss Wells has been behaving in the most obnoxious manner as of late."
"Now Ezra, that's not fair," Josiah said, looking up from his prized possession.
"Thank you, Josiah," Casey said, turning to face Ezra, she waved a hand in a wide sweeping motion. "After you."
"No, my dear. I was raised properly-" Snorting laughter from the room's occupants interrupted Ezra. When the laughter died down, he continued. "As I was saying, I was raised with the old fashioned adage of "Ladies first"."
"How about "Age before beauty"?"
"I don't recall asking for your help, Mr. Dunne-"
"I'd get going if I was y'all," Vin said.
"Yeah, Chris seems pretty pissed." JD added.
"Sure am glad it's not me going in there, but then again it never is." Nathan pointed out.
"Tick, tick, tick..." Josiah threw in.
"Your support is truly appreciated, really." Ezra held out his arm to Casey. "Shall we?"
Casey laughed and placed her hand in the crook of Ezra's elbow. "Together." And they headed to the lion's den.
"What is it with those two?" Nathan asked, watching Ezra and Casey walk away, shaking his head. He threw a pencil up into the air and caught it mid twirl. "They fight like cats and dogs and yet, they're going to go in there and present a united front."
"It's a family thing, Nathan," JD said.
"I don't get it."
"Why Nathan?" Josiah asked. "It's the same thing we'd do."
"But Ezra has a right to be mad. Casey did put them both in danger and Buck was lucky that bullet only winged him. It could have been much worse."
"Hey!" JD started, "Casey was only trying to help."
"You have to say that, JD."
"No, I don't, Nathan. We discussed it before she met with that girl. Casey had the right idea."
"But she didn't clear it with Ezra first." Vin pointed out, still running his finger along the intricate stitching of the pipe.
"There wasn't time," JD interjected.
"Yes, Casey's heart was in the right place, JD, but she needed to think her actions through," Josiah said. "Now back to Nathan's question, Casey's as much family as the rest of us. She might have messed up, but we still need to back her -- like we would each other. I know Chris is thinking along the same lines. He'll ream them both for not following procedure and then thank them for closing the case."
"So, you really think Casey's one of us?" JD asked, sounding pleased.
A chorus of yes's greeted JD, with one exception. The men all looked at Nathan and after a few moments, he shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, I guess she is, but I still think..."
The men spent several minutes discussing Casey, Ezra and the case, until Vin brought it back to Josiah's pipe.
"So, what're ya gonna do with it, 'Siah?"
"Now that I know for sure it's authentic, Kojay and I are going to head up to the Blackfeet reservation in Montana this summer and return it to it's rightful owners."
A murmur of agreement followed Josiah's words; they all knew the man well, especially Vin. A full-blooded Apache, Kojay was an enthusiastic member of the Indian Bureau, working hard to reclaim what rightfully belonged to each tribe.
"That's good, Josiah," Vin said softly, and held out the ceremonial pipe for Josiah to take.
Josiah took the pipe and cradled it in his arms. "As much as I would love to keep it, it's not right for-" A loud crash interrupted him.
"...AND DON'T COME BACK UNTIL YOU CAN BOTH GET ALONG!" Another window rattling crash sounded. There was a moment of silence and then Ezra and Casey could be heard squabbling, as they headed for the main office door.
"That's what I mean, they go in there together all happy and then end up arguing again." Nathan slipped back into the chair that JD vacated.
"JD, better to leave them be, right now. They need to work this out, son."
"I guess so, Josiah, I just wish they'd try to understand where each other are coming from."
"Wise words, JD. You should have faith, though. I believe everything will work out," Josiah said, slowly stroking the tuft of tan fur on the pipe.
Ezra and Casey continued to argue, their words growing more heated as they waited for the elevator. People passing by in the hallway stared at them, and finally one brave woman asked them to kindly keep the noise down. Staring at each other, they both shut their mouths and looked the other way.
Stepping into the elevator, they continued to ignore each other. Ezra pushed the button for the parking garage, placed his briefcase down beside him and began brushing off the nonexistent lint from his suit with exaggerated movements. Leaning against the wall behind him, Casey stuck out her tongue and mimicked his motions. When Ezra shifted his weight from foot to foot so did Casey. When he straightened his tie, Casey straightened an imaginary one. Casey's actions reflected in the high polish of the metal door and Ezra raised an eyebrow at her, which Casey promptly copied. And on it went until the elevator car came to a stop.
The door slid open with a hydraulic swish and Ezra stepped out, saying goodbye without looking back. Casey mumbled in return and pushed herself off the back wall just in time to stop the door from shutting. She started to head the opposite direction from Ezra and then stopped suddenly.
"Damn, damn, damn!"
Ezra, half way to his car, slowed his steps. "A problem, Miss Wells?" he called out.
"JD brought me in today. I know he could get a ride home with Buck, but that would mean-"
"You would have to go back upstairs for the key. And you don't want to do that because of the inevitable teasing that would befall you." Ezra paused and appeared to ponder Casey's problem.
"Not to mention I really don't want Chris seeing me again."
"Yes, I could see where that might be a problem. Our esteemed leader does seem to be a bit put out with us."
"More like he's ready to wring both of our necks," Casey said, coming up beside Ezra.
"Well then, I guess there is only one answer to your current predicament," he said and continued walking toward his car. "Come along."
"You don't mind?" Casey asked, casually falling into step with him.
"While it wasn't on my to-do list for the day, I can't see allowing you to go back to office. That would be like sending a lamb into a den of wolves." Ezra smiled to take the sting out of his words.
"Thank you," Casey said. "I don't know why they think we don't get along?"
Ezra hit the remote on his key chain twice and the locks on his Jag popped open. He opened the passenger door and helped Casey to get in. "I don't either, Miss Wells."
Casey's head hurt. A relentless, throbbing with every obnoxious beat of her heart, kind of hurt. And it was so heavy. Heavy and throbbing, with something warm and sticky running down the side of her cheek. She put one hand on her forehead and the fingers rubbed in the short hair just above the temple, trying to find relief. The other hand worked its way up from jaw to cheek, trying to find the source of the warm sticky blood through the stubble.
Short hair? Stubble?
Her eyes flew open and met darkness. She fumbled with the visor above her head, knowing there were lighted mirrors in them. The small lights exploded in the dark, sending needles of pain into her brain. She almost shut her eyes again, but a flash of green caught her attention. There were green eyes staring out from her reflection. Jade green, not soft brown. And long eyelashes, the kind of long eyelashes that every woman not blessed with is immediately jealous of...
Casey snorted and continued her stunned perusal of the face in the mirror. A large nose came into view next and then strong cheek bones, followed by lips, the upper lip thinner than normal, while the lower was fuller and finally the chin. The square jaw, with the small scar she didn't remember getting, which meant...
She let out a shocked hiccup and her head fell forward, hitting the steering wheel with a spectacular eruption of brightly colored lights. She groaned with the pain and nearly jumped out of her seat when an answering groan sounded beside her.
Reaching up she groped around for a second and then turned on the console light. She turned her head, wincing at the sharp pain, and saw herself sitting in the passenger seat.
A rumpled, bleeding version of herself, but it was her body, sitting there, right next to her...
"Oh my god," she said and heard Ezra's voice. Her hands griped the steering wheel and she stared at the tapered masculine fingers in fascination. She was definitely making them move, but they weren't her hands. No, her hands were small and delicate, not big and square, and her knuckles definitely did not have hair on them...
A soft moan came from her lips -- the ones beside her -- and she turned her attention to it...or to herself...who was Ezra...who was in her body...
"Miss Wells?" Her voice asked and then stopped with a squeak and the brown eyes widened.
Casey watched with a curious sense of morbid detachment as Ezra ran through the same steps she had previously, starting with the mirrored visor. Finished with the face, the shaking hands hovered above the chest. With a deep breath, the breasts were cupped lightly and then the hands moved away as if burned.
"What is it with men and boobs?" Casey jumped again when Ezra's voice came out.
Brown eyes turned to her when she spoke, clearly startled. "Miss Wells? What the hell happened?"
Casey was unnerved to hear the voice coming out of her body had taken on Ezra's unmistakable Southern accent. "I'm not sure...