All Clear

Written after reading a few too many stories where there was much angst about the guys being gay

"All clear, no shots fired. Figures." Charlie cleared the round from his pistol, engaged the safety and snapped it firmly in his holster. "So, Jack, do they still have that suggestion box back at the office?"

His partner cleared his own gun and put it away. "What are you talking about?"

"Isn't this the third bust this year we've worked with Team 7 that had no shots fired, no injuries, everything wrapped up nice and tidy?" Charlie leaned forward onto the steel drum he and Jack had been using as cover.

"Yeah, so?"

"I'm starting to figure that it's because they're all gay."

Jack stared at Charlie. Incredulous didn't cover how he felt. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"It's like this," Charlie said, "Team 7 is the only team to keep on bringing in busts with no shots fired and nothing going wrong. Team 7 is also the only team where all the guys are gay. It's the only explanation."

"Explanation for what?" Jack was truly confused.

"You know," Charlie went on, warming to his subject, "they got the best undercover guy because everybody knows the best actors are gay."

"Hold on a sec, don't forget John Wayne. Not gay."

"But the best are," Charlie insisted. "So, Standish is gay. No question. And Tanner, don't figure he could be anything else with the hair and the earring." Charlie nodded to himself. "Yeah, he's probably paired up with Standish."

"That's only two," Jack said, "and no way Wilmington or Larabee is gay."

"That's what you think. Couple weeks ago I was late getting out of the office and saw Larabee and Wilmington in the garage. Coulda knocked me over when I saw Wilmington grope Larabee's ass and how Larabee grinned at him."

Jack was getting more confused. "But Larabee was married. Had a kid and everything."

"So was that politician that's been in the news lately. Patrick what's-his-name?"

"Right." Jack nodded. "So, you're figuring Standish is doing Tanner and Wilmington is doing Larabee? What about all Wilmington's women?"

"Smoke screen. Happens all the time. Look at all the women Rock Hudson had around him."

"You're scaring me here, Charlie. You're almost making sense." Jack considered for a moment. "What about the rest? No way Jackson's gay."

"No, not Jackson," Charlie agreed, "but the Dunne kid? He rooms with Wilmington doesn't he?"

"But you said Wilmington was doing Larabee."

"Doesn't mean he isn't doing Dunne, too."

Jack rubbed the back of his neck. "You're making my head hurt, Charlie."

Charlie laughed. "It's not that complicated. Standish and Tanner. Larabee and Wilmington, maybe Wilmington and Dunne. Jackson's the token straight guy."

"What about Sanchez?"

"Too old. No lady friends. Ex-priest. Probably sits home and watches movies and reads books."

"Anyway," Jack asked, "what's all this got to do with easy busts?"

"Come on, Jack, keep up," Charlie grinned at him. "Gays are better actors, more attention to detail, more careful in the research. Of course their busts go better than anyone else's."

"And the suggestion box?" Jack was totally at a loss by now.

"Going to write one up that every team should have at least one gay guy to keep things going clean like that. No shots fired, fewer reports to write, no desk time while a shoot is investigated." Charlie reached out and shook Jack by the shoulder. "Just think how much simpler the job would be and how much we'd get done!"

Jack laughed, sure that Charlie was pulling his leg. "Okay, man, if you say so."

"I'm serious!" Charlie was grinning, but Jack could see the intensity behind it. Damn man wasn't joking. "If Team 7 can put together a record like they have, there must be something to it."

A burst of static in Jack's earpiece startled him, and with the realization they were still wired he felt like he'd been gut punched. "Oh fuck," he whispered. "Charlie, they heard all that."

Charlie's face was white as a sheet. "Um, guys?" he tried talking to the wire. "I was kidding. I swear." He pulled off his earpiece and looked at Jack. "They're going to kill us and nobody will ever find the bodies."

J.D. reached out to switch off the recorder. "There it is. I pulled it off the archive tapes of the take-down, but I figured you guys would want to hear it." He looked around at the other six men at the table. "This is the only copy."

Buck grinned. "He compared me to Rock Hudson."

"He also said you were doing J.D.," Vin reminded him.

"Maybe, he said maybe I was."

Chris ran a hand over his face and through his hair. "What we need to decide is what to do about this."

"If I may," Ezra began, "I'm not sure we need to do anything about it."

"Easy for you to say," J.D. interrupted. "He thinks I'm gay. I'm not gay! Ask Casey!"

"That's not really the point." Chris nodded to Ezra. "I think Ezra's right. Doing nothing is the best option."

"As the token straight guy," Nathan said with a grin, "who hasn't had to patch up any bullet holes in over a year, I'm with Charlie."

J.D. glared at Nathan. "We've got three straight guys on the team. You, me and Josiah. Charlie's got it all wrong."

"You know, kid," Vin said, "what Charlie's talking about really isn't who's gay or not. What Charlie's talking about is that we're good. Really good. That our ops go down clean and safe. And he likes working safe. He's not going to risk screwing that up." He looked around the table. "Let me talk to him."

Chris nodded. "That makes sense. Everybody good with letting Vin talk to Charlie?" Nods came from everybody but Josiah. "Josiah, you got a problem with this?"

"He said I was too old." Josiah shook his head. "Boy has no respect for his elders." Tension crept into the room, only to be dispelled when Josiah grinned and laughed. "Vin, you go talk to Charlie, but remind him that old doesn't mean dead."

"Poor Charlie." Ezra smiled. "Try not to scare him too much."

Vin cocked an eyebrow at Ezra. "You want to come along and make sure I don't?"

"Good idea," Buck grinned, "you two go put the fear of Team 7 in Charlie and I'll stay here and grope me some Larabee ass."

"Fine. Whatever." J.D. reached to pick up the recorder. "You guys don't want to take this seriously, it's fine with me."

"J.D.," Chris said softly, "give me the tape. I'll keep it in a real safe place." He smiled at the younger man. "It isn't that we don't take it seriously. It's that Charlie isn't a threat to us. He's not going to cause us trouble. Vin's going to ask him not to talk to just anybody about who might or might not be gay around here."

"And in case that don't work," Vin deadpanned, "I'm going to get us all matching lavender tee shirts."