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. “I’m sorry, Ezra,” he said softly.
Ezra leveled a glare at the sharpshooter. “It was your responsibility, Mr. Tanner. I don’t know if I can forgive…”
“Ah, come on, Ezra,” Buck cajoled tentatively, trying to make peace between the two disparate friends. “Vin didn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 hadn’t happened like they had. It would take some time, but eventually he’d 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 Vin’s face and the stubborn tilt of Ezra’s chin. It was worse than dealing with children, he decided, shaking his head as he went to his office. There’d 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 they’d just been a part of. He pursed his lips and lifted his chin a bit to get a glimpse of Vin’s ducked head. He frowned. Perhaps I’m being too hard on him. Green eyes flashed with anger as he recalled what had happened.
He’d 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, they’d teamed up with Team 5. Vin had scouted the meet area and with the help of Team 5’s 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 buyer’s bodyguards. Eric Jenkins had been giving Ezra the creeps ever since the first time he laid eyes on him, but he couldn’t figure out why. He didn’t 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, Ezra’s 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 hadn’t had to switch locations at the last minute, something Ezra had been unaware of. He still wasn’t sure exactly why they’d switched, but the result had been disastrous.
Ezra, though shocked by the outcome, immediately began working the angle. He met Jenkins’s 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 Jenkins’s 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 5’s 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 didn’t you trust me?” he finished on a plaintive note.
Vin gaped, then reached for Ezra’s 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 Vin’s sad face.
“Thought you might read my report, see if there’s anything I missed,” Vin drawled softly.
Ezra caught his arm before he could move away. “I’d rather hear about it from you,” Ezra entreated. “I’m sorry I didn’t let you explain earlier.”
Vin grinned sadly. “Hell, Ezra, I can’t really blame you. It was my responsibility. I shouldn’t have changed the plan without telling you. It was…” 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 you’re watching my back, I don’t have to worry about anything but playing my part.” He looked down briefly, uncertainty showed in his eyes when he met Vin’s gaze again. “When I heard that shot and Jenkins went down, I couldn’t understand why you didn’t give me any time to fix things.”
Vin pressed his lips together. “Damn, Bagwell. I’m sorry, Ez. I would have if I’d been in the right spot. Sam saw what everyone else did, the meet going bad. If I’d 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 don’t know you like I do. I’m 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 pansy… There was this great, big ol’ 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, weren’t there before,” Vin explained.
“Sam came scooting over to my spot just before the meet, saying how he was arachnophobic and couldn’t concentrate with the eight-legged critter just hanging there.” Vin grimaced and sent an apologetic look at Ezra. “He was sweatin’ 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.
Vin’s answering grin had an evil tint to it. “Oh yeah,” he drawled. “Most definitely.”