Changes in Attitude

by Heather F.

Disclaimers: Not mine, No money made etc.

Acknowledgments/Thanks: Mitzi..She has read this nearly as many times as I have...

Mog (her AU), Debbygerl for the Cocoa Krispies (my favorite) and for perusing the story.

GreenWoman she created the luncheon at Brown's Palace....

Jimmy Buffet's Changes in Latitudes. Nancy for her tireless efforts.

Warnings: It's a sequel.... Might need to read Another Brick first.

Part 1 It's Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes...Nothing remains quiet the same....
Things had gone to hell in a hand basket.

Chris lay on his stomach stretching desperately for the form that dangled a few feet below him. The corrugated metal of the cat walk dug into the underside of his arm. His kevlar vest protected his chest and abdomen. Larabee jammed his shoulder against the remaining vertical support to the hand rail.

Three stories down crumpled on the concrete floor lay Vin Tanner. The sharpshooter had danced like a seizuring marionette before flopping to the ground under a barrage of bullets. Thank God he had not been on the catwalk. The vest had prevented any projectiles from tearing through the torso. Nathan hovered next to the sluggishly moving body. As if sensing the scrutiny, the EMT gazed upward and offered a brief tense wave. Everything was good so far.

Vin was still alive.

To Tanner's left, Josiah and JD hauled bodies off Buck Wilmington. The agent had charged and tackled a hackle of gunmen. The armed body guards did not back down from the fight. Instead they dove on Wilmington like flies on a festering wound. Josiah had stormed into the fray with the intensity of a biblical plague. JD hot on his heels.

Chris had skirted briefly around them after having checked on Tanner. Wilmington, though down, was not out. The leader of Team Seven then scoured the immense building searching for any sign of his undercover agent.

He had found him. Nearly fifty feet off the ground and dangling precariously to a thin piece of metal, hung Standish. With a curse and curt orders for his men, the Leader of Team Seven had sprinted up a flight of concrete stairs to an office. From there he had traversed the corrugated steel steps, taking them two at a time until he reached the catwalk. A hundred yards down the walkway the railing had been bent and twisted outward over the floor far below. With another muttered oath Larabee had jogged toward his agent.

He stretched on his belly leaning precariously over the sharp edge desperately trying to grasp the wrist of his undercover agent. From three stories up, the convergence of rescue personnel into the building looked no more than ants running toward picnic food.

"Ezra give me your hand," The leader of team seven hissed out for what seemed like the hundredth time.

+ + + + + + +

Standish couldn't believe his luck or lack of luck. Fortune or misfortune it all depended on view point and point of origin. He was lucky but could have been luckier. The flip side being he could have been a lot less fortunate. It stood to reason, though, he could have stood to be more fortunate. One's point of view or circumstances, if they were to have an open mindset, could dictate the position or situation that one found themselves in at any given moment. He had been lucky to have been able to halt his fall prematurely. A very fortunate and wonderful turn of events.

The arms dealer, Mr. Coombs lay three stories down broken in a twisted heap of fractured bones and torn organs. Definitely unlucky.

The flip side of this circumstance, of course, being that Ezra could have avoided this ugly situation if he had just insisted on staying on the main floor. Instead, he allowed someone to dictate his actions. Ezra, against his better judgment, had followed the Fanatic to these unhealthy altitudes. The broken mangled man on the ground had a God complex.

Standish swung quietly in the seemed a 'complex' was not quite the same as the real thing. Again an unfortunate turn of events. Misfortune and circumstances.

Standish closed his eyes mustering his strength. Something trickled down the side of his face and threatened his eye. Time had come for him to alter his situation. He held onto the broken railing support with one hand. He dangled over fifty feet in the air, his legs climbing instinctively, trying to gain purchase on thin air. This proved to get him nowhere. This situation needed a quick and reliable solution...or even perhaps a not so reliable solution.

The undercover agent never turned his gaze upward. Never thought to look toward the broken dangling catwalk above him. Instead, a rope lay just to his left just slightly under the cat walk and just out of reach. Too far away by just a finger's breath. The vagaries of Luck and Fortune. Something heavy and thick dripped into his eye. He rubbed his face on his straining extended shoulder smearing whatever flowed into his eye onto his tailored suit jacket. Another suit about to be put through its paces. Dry cleaning and mechanic bills...the few 'Constants' in his life.

He eyed the rope. His breathes puffed out in short hisses. Ribs fought to expand despite the tight constricting tension placed on the intercostals muscles by the dangling body.

A simple problem needs just a simple solution. Nothing fancy nothing elaborate. He was in risk of falling therefore needed to reaffirm his position. The Rope offered such a quick fix. As with most everything, the problem lay in the fine details. His salvation dangled just a few inches out of reach. Unfortunate.

The Southerner stretched and clawed, using his left hand, praying that somehow that arm gained a few inches. The rope lay still, tauntingly fixed, rooted into a pulley system snared and secured against weight bearing supports of the building.

Luck had its qualifying conditions. At least he hadn't fallen yet...but unfortunate the catwalk had given way.

Ezra stretched his left arm out wiggling his legs trying to gain a few precious inches in reach.

+ + + + + + +

Chris lay on his belly stretching down further. He dug his shoulder into the railing trying to maintain some purchase because when he did grab his undercover agent there would be no way in Hell that he would be able to pull him up to the catwalk unless he had something to brace against. Maybe he would by pass Standish's wrist and go for the throat. The damn man was exasperating on a good day. And now suspended unseemingly high off the ground the man suffered from convenient hearing. His Gawd Damn ears must be cosmetic

"Ezra give me your hand," Larabee repeated again. His agent never turned his gaze upward.

Not once did Standish think to search for help from anyone above him.

It had been the way things had been building the last few weeks. Chris noticed the subtle changes. No red flags, no sudden arguments or heated discussions or snide remarks. Things had been remarkably calm at the office. Calm. Too calm. One of the pack watched the rest from the cover of the forest. The lone member venturing to join the others only when it could not be avoided. Carefully measured steps, conversations and cautious laughter hallmarked the gentle retreat of their seventh.

A certain chain of events wreaked of revenge for last months mishap with the pulled teeth. It had the stench of paybacks. Standish by no means held a benign submissive attitude. Never. The man gave as good as he got. He smiled at you while he emptied your pockets. Slowly but surely the six members of Team Seven were paying dues on last months oversight.

Why else would Nettie Wells suddenly show at the office with in a weeks time offering to take JD to lunch. Unfortunately she had come at the same time as a box of unsolicited contraceptives appeared on the young man's desk. Dunne had turned pale, started sweating and nearly toppled over. Ms. Nettie's pickup always had a rifle resting in the gun rack.

What else would possibly explain the gorgeous long haired blonde that suddenly started lavishing undue attention to Buck Wilmington? For the first time in a lifetime Chris had seen Buck stammer and falter around a buxom beauty. It was as if Buck found some unnatural defect or fault with the apparent woman of his dreams. All revealed itself in time. Sam was the name of the tight clothed, low cut, high skirted blonde. After numerous overtures and weeks of foreplay it was unfortunately revealed that Sam was not a nickname for Samantha but rather Samuel. The revelation rocked the Federal building. Wilmington still suffered from the after effects. JD could be heard snickering periodically through out the day. Buck normally stifled him by flashing a package of colored condoms.

It all reeked of revenge. Good hearted paybacks for shuffling Standish from person to person that ill begotten night.

Chris's humor had waned when his house had suddenly appeared on the real estate pages. An Open House advertised for a Sunday morning. At the absurdly low price listing....who could have refused?

Chris had woken to throngs of people pulling into his drive. They ignored him as he stumbled over protests. Husbands and wives piled in through his doors pulling kids with them. Without disguising or lowering their voices, they found fault with the curtains, the flooring, the decidable 'masculine' decor, as if that was a crime in itself. They strode through his barn, found imperfections in his livestock. Women discussed which drapes they would replace, which counter tops would need tearing out.

It came as no surprise the owner expected so little for the place.

The rotten stench of retribution finally aired itself when Judge Travis and Evie decided to join the critical masses and parade through his house. At the disparaging remarks made by the opinionated plebes, Mrs. Travis would merely cover her mouth and laugh. The Judge departed but not before dropping the business card of his Landscaper in Larabee's hand. "You could use the help Chris, increase the value of your home."

It had been the Sunday from hell and Chris had every intention of taking Standish to task for it.....Until Monday rolled by and Vin showed up to work in dark glasses casting furtive glances over his shoulder. He had made the singles Classified listings in all Denver and outlying newspapers. Someone had supplied the single populace in a full page advertisement that Mr. Vincent Tanner was Denver's most eligible bachelor. Women had gnarled and tangled up the phone lines all weekend. Vin Tanner had become a hunted man.

Chris's Sunday paled next to Tanner's seemingly embarrassed continence. The sharpshooter sought refuge from the onslaught of phone calls, notes, flowers and letters by seeking solitude on the roof of the federal building. He took his lunch in the building at the safety of his desk.

Paybacks had been raining on the twelfth floor of the ATF.

Chris had watched it all and hoped that the pranks that had reared and scored on their floor, in their section would prove to be the healing salve that would mend the broken fences and repair the fraying rope.

He knew he had been wrong. Chris had tried to turn a blind eye to the slow distancing of his undercover agent because he did not want to believe that he could have failed one of his own men.

Over the weeks the slow separation, the neat surgical undermining continued to occur. Standish began showing up later and later for work. He stayed later and later at the office. Just recently it had become habit for the undercover agent to not appear during normal working hours at all but instead work at night and dark hours of morning. Reports were finished with their normal punctuality and flourish. Standish's work did not suffer. In the past few weeks, they had begun to see less and less of the Southerner.

He gave no indications of fear or mistrust, yet not once had he ventured forth without his own means of escape available. He came prepared with a ready made exit or hasty retreat. Simply a wary animal watching for the snare or trap to be sprung.

There had been no anger or animosity. A comfortable distancing that protected the afflicted. The others had begun to seethe and boil....until Vin commented that some animals preferred to lick their wounds in hiding.

Chris remembered the scheduling of Standish in Atlanta. The man worked at night. Assigned maybe but it kept him ostracized from the others. Less confrontations, less dependability and less contact with anyone. The supervisors had ordered it and Standish willingly followed.

Everyone virtually protected.

This time around the Southerner discreetly slid himself into a schedule that kept him to himself but maintained his efficiency.

He might have been healing the outward hurts caused by his team's actions but the old wounds below the surface had opened and festered. They oozed out of sight and no amount of solitude would soothe them back to quietness. A sepsis had begun to develop.

Chris and the others found themselves communicating with their seventh through post-it notes, emails and messages. If a meeting needed attending Standish appeared and somehow disappeared afterward. Chris had never broached the subject trying desperately not to see a pattern in something clearly marked as a design.

+ + + + + + +

Standish lashed out with his legs trying to ensnare the rope with his foot. His right arm twinged and burned. His sweaty palms slipped on the smooth metal of the railing. The horizontal bar that connected to the railing dug into his wrist but provided him with leverage. His pulse roared in his ears.

His mother had always said no matter how dire the situation there was always a solution.

His vision had tunneled itself, focusing purely on the thick braided rope just a few maddening inches out of his reach.

He no longer could see Vin laying in a twisted heap on the floor. He could no longer make out Buck Wilmington buried under a mountain of steroid influenced bodies.

The rope lay just a few inches away. He stretched out again arching his back gritting his teeth and squinting his eyes in effort. Sweat rolled down the sides of his face. Neck muscles and tendons protruded from the flushed skin.

The rope remained untouched.

+ + + + + + +

Chris inched himself closer to the edge. His left shoulder hung desperately over the catwalk. The metal grated mercilessly against the soft flesh under his arm. The remaining railing dug deeply into his collar bone area.

"Gawd Damnit Ezra," Larabee cursed out, his face purplish red from exertion. Why didn't the damn man just look up?

Chris eased back slightly and unhooked his secured shoulder from his anchoring point. With the extra freedom, the leader of team seven leaned dangerously over the edge and grabbed for the white cuff linked wrist.

"Ezra look at me," Chris spoke gently with a quiet, soft, whisper of a voice. The pleadings of a big brother trying desperately to save a little brother.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra never felt anything wrap itself around his right wrist. Something ,however, told him to look upward. He nearly let go in surprise.

+ + + + + + +

Larabee saw the shock, unadulterated surprise on his undercover agent's flushed face. Chris saw it and swore.

He never looked up ...he never expected someone to be there for him.

"Ezra, you ass, give me your hand," Larabee's words ground out between clenched front teeth.

"There is a rope Mr. Larabee...I think I can reach it," Standish answered again not quite believing what his eyes told him. His mother always warned him to beware of slight of hand. It was not that he believed Mr. Larabee would let him go. Heavens no. It was just...Mr. Larabee might not really be there. Perhaps Mr. Larabee could afford him the few centimeters he needed to grasp the rope.

"Ezra forget the damn rope and grab my hand," Chris tried to wedge the toes of his cowboy boots into the catwalk flooring. He did not have enough purchase to pull them both up. His heart hammered in his chest.

People milled down below them...the size of Fischer Price Town's People. God why was he thinking of Adam's toys now.

Standish swiveled his gaze from the rope to the hand that encircled his wrist with an iron grip.

Metal groaned and complained. The two German well made screws that had lost their twins only moments ago creaked and cracked. Metal began to heat and shear under the undue weight and direction of miss-applied forces. Bending and rotational forces acted synergistically. Gravity and pressure worked against the metal.

The screws began to come loose. The railing, with a screeching cry of protest, pulled a few more devastating inches from its support. Standish was jerked like a lead weight at the end of a fishing line.

Ezra and Chris gasped in a flash of panic.

They locked gazes. Wide eyed and frozen, the two men hung suspended. Chris reached backward with his free hand trying to pull them both back onto the failing metal catwalk.

Ahh yes the fickle nature of Luck and Fortune....

Standish gripped the dangling rail tighter.

Misforutne seemed to rule the day

With a groan of defeat, the screws snapped.

The railing pulled free of the catwalk. The metal pole remained vertical in Ezra's blanched fist. The two sheared screws caught the artificial light and failed to reflect it. Larabee held fast to the wrist.

For a brief moment nothing moved. Gravity paused. Bodies at rested tended to remain at rest.

Friction kept the shirt covered kevlar vest momentarily in place on the catwalk. Larabee had yet to be pulled forward.

Gravity re-asserted its control.

Suspended bodies with potential motion began to move. Objects in motion tend to remain in motion.

Chris slid forward on the catwalk gaining momentum. The shirt ripped and tore under the abrasive abuse.

Standish stared at the hand that entwined his wrist. It would be prudent, Mr. Larabee, to release your grip.

They fell.

Neither screamed.

For a moment Larabee hung vertical to Standish, arms clasped at the wrist. Ezra careened feet first toward the concrete floor three stories below.

Chris's legs arched behind his head pulling his body over backward curving his back toward the ground. Standish bent slightly with him. Both still grasping the other's wrist. Like high divers that over rotate the two ATF agents accelerated to the floor at 9.8 meters per a second squared.

Not that it mattered. They fell too, far too fast.

Part 2: If it suddenly ended tomorrow I could somehow adjust to the fall...

JD, Buck, Josiah and Nathan stood open mouthed. "Ohhh Shiiiiittttt," Softly rang out around the warehouse. Vin sat up slightly dizzy, "That's gonna hurt."

The explosive release of escaping air shocked everyone into moving.

The massive air mattress the Fire Crews had deployed twitched and bulged as two bodies it hit at an alarming speed. The mattress billowed and flexed, its edges nearly doubling in size before it slowly began deflating.

EMT's and Paramedics converged on the two ATF agents unmoving in the middle of the pad.

+ + + + + + +

Chris opened his eyes in the ambulance. He did not feel the nasal canula or the IV that fed the back of his hand. He was aware of Buck sitting beside him battered and bruised.

Larabee tried to turn his head toward his left to get a better look at his old friend but something prevented it.

A=Ey pard' have a nice trip?" Wilmington chuckled and winced as a swollen split lip unpeeled and started bleeding again. "Catch ya next fall."

"Fuck you Buck," Larabee chuckled slightly and closed his eyes for just a minute.

+ + + + + + +

Larabee woke again to someone speaking loudly to him. Too loudly.

"Shut up," He mumbled trying to turn away from the voices. Something or someone held him still. He brushed at whatever might be thwarting his attempts at escaping the noise around him.

"Easy Chris yer at the hospital just lie still," Nathan held the IV'd hand still as Dr. Murray flashed a pen light at her patient's pupils.

Jackson watched his leader for a moment and then turned his attention to the body on the gurney next to them.

Standish was immobilized much the same way as Chris. Both had their heads secured between large red stiff Styrofoam blocks with black straps across their foreheads. Both lay on back boards. IV's ran from the back's of their hands. The oxygen canulas had been removed.

"Listen Chris their gonna be takin' you to don't give them any grief." Jackson turned his attention back his boss.

"Vin?....Ezra?" Larabee struggled against the bindings. Where's Buck and JD?

"They got Vin in x-ray...he's awake and complaining already," Jackson forced a smile. Damn Texan was worse than any of them on a given day when it came to hospitals. "And Ezra's fine Josiah's with him right here. You're both going to CT together so don't worry none," Jackson leaned over the confused hazel eyes hoping to make himself better understood by the close proximity.

"Buck?" The whispered voice floated out as eyes fought the pull to close.

"Orthopedics....mighta busted an arm....JD's with him," Nathan straightened up and stepped back. Larabee was wheeled out from behind the flimsy curtain by an orderly. Dr. Murray followed giving directions in her quiet but authoritative manner. Standish's gurney followed with Josiah flanking it with a hand resting on the side railing.

The Profiler caught Nathan's eye and winked. Things would improve.

+ + + + + + +

"Hey here comes Buck now," JD stood up and walked toward the slowly shuffling agent. Wilmington held an ice pack to his eye. His shirt tails hung over the top of his belt. Recent but dried blood stains spotted the front of his blue colored shirt as well as the shoulders and rolled sleeves. The dark mop of hair had a disarray about it that spoke volumes.

In short, Buck Wilmington appeared as if he had taken on five men who out weighed him.

His disheveled appearance was in no way deceiving.

Dunne moved quickly toward his roommate. When they had shuffled Buck off to the Orthropod's department the younger agent had been instructed to wait in the main reception area. JD had been soon joined by Nathan and Josiah.

A=Ey Buck you look like shit," Dunne laughed and guided his older friend toward the bank of chairs Nathan and Josiah had commandeered.

"Shut up kid," Wilmington's mumbled words toppled over swollen cut lips. With more help than he thought he needed, Buck sat with surprising tenderness, easing stiff and sore bones down into the unforgiving plastic chairs of the waiting area.

"Anyone hear about the others?" The Ladys' man rested his head back against the chair hoping to ease the growing headache that seemed to radiate down to his toes. Damn, not an inch of him didn't hurt.

"Vin should be out soon. Murray say's he's bruised and cracked in a few places...needs to take it easy for awhile but should be ok in a few weeks," Jackson sat forward trying to peer around Josiah to get a better look at Wilmington.

Buck shut his one good eye. Vin would be ok the other stuff was just details.

"Chris and Ez?"

"Nothing broke....Separated shoulder for Chris wrenched his elbow too," Nathan leaned back in his own chair and faced the swinging doors that led to the crazed organized Chaos known as Emergency.

"Ezra's getting his head stitched and left shoulder popped back in...nothing too damaging. Probably hold onto him for a while make sure there's no concussion."

Buck didn't bother nodding. It took to much effort at the moment. The end result was everyone survived, good enough for now.

The clock moved with a monotonous lack of speed that is known to occur through out waiting rooms, dreadful lectures and traffic on a bad day. Time seemed to draw itself out. The creak of plastic herald the shift in position of somebody waiting painfully for the next survivor to walk through the doors of ER.

What seemed like hours...and could have very possibly been hours, Josiah's deep voice rang out.

"Here comes Vin now," The large man started to stand but JD ,with his excess energy, bounded to his feet to intercept the sharpshooter.

Tanner placed each foot on the floor with precise, premeditated, delicacy. A petite nurse gently grasped his elbow and maneuvered him toward the others.

"Damn Vin, you look worse than Buck," JD blushed at the 'thank you' smile from the young nurse as he moved in to take her position.

"Shut up JD," Tanner hissed between clenched teeth. Maybe he should have admitted his ribs and chest hurt a whole lot more than they suspected.

"Where'ya hurt Vin?" Dunne led the Texan to the chair beside Buck leaving an empty one in-between them. Wilmington had himself sprawled in his own little territory but somehow spilled over the invisible boundaries one normally adhered to in crowded situations. Of Course, the bruised battered and bloody visage would keep anyone from pointing out his possible indiscretion.

"Everywhere kid, everywhere," Tanner in a manner much similar to Buck gripped the side edge of the chair with white knuckles and eased himself down. He exhaled sharply once his butt settled uneasily in the unforgiving seat.

"Ya doin' ok Vin?" Dunne hovered over his friend but maintained his distance. Vin could sometimes be down right nasty when hurting.

"Fine kid....just fine," Tanner shut his eyes and tried to take a breath without moving his ribs. Futile.

"The others?" The painful inquiry had whispered across the room between cracked dry lips.

Nathan sighed and again dove into the sketchy details.

The hands on the clock again tolled their snail like pace around the black numbered face. The hands soon pointed to double digits. While the second hand whisked freely about in its perpetual motion the short hand slugged and slept its way upward as if the climb toward midnight was more than it could handle.

"Chris," Josiah said as once again the ER swinging doors opened. People gazed upward. Buck winked open his one cooperative eye. Vin didn't bother moving. Larabee would apparently live so it required no extra effort on Tanner's part to visually confirm it. Besides, strange as it seemed, Vin knew Chris would be ok.

Nathan stood this time waving JD back to his seat. If Larabee's expression was any indication, than JD's honest observations about appearance would be met with little graciousness. Chris looked decidably tired and pissed.

"You doin' alright Chris?" Nathan kept his hands to himself. Larabee would do more damage trying to shrug off any aide than if Jackson just left him to his own devices. His team mates were royal pains.

"The others?" Larabee shuffled toward Nathan's empty chair. It had been the first chair he spotted and he had no intentions of deviating from it.

Jackson didn't expect an answer to his question but he knew Chris would not be put off so easily. Jackson found that a bit irritating. With a intake of breath, with the attempt to calm himself, Nathan began to catalog the accumulation of injuries.

With clenched teeth and eyes squeezed shut, the Leader of Team Seven lowered a battered and misused body into the chair. With his left arm wrapped snugly to his chest, he found his balance precariously upset. How the hell did Standish do this when his shoulder popped out? Frustrating as all hell.

Chris eyed his team, sizing them up visually inspecting them for himself, confirming that they were in deed alive and well...just slightly misused.

"Ezra?" Chris noticed Josiah sitting beside him and wondered who was with their undercover agent.

"They're gonna keep him for a little longer....observation...they want to make sure about the concussion. 15 stitches over the eyebrow..... they just want to be sure," Jackson pointed out.

"Why isn't anyone with him?" Larabee began to push himself out of his chair.

"He's a big boy Chris he don't need us holdin' his hand...and besides he won't like it," Jackson stated planting himself firmly in front of his leader preventing any kind of easy escape.

"I don't give a damn what he likes or don't likes...."

Josiah felt the familiar slow burn Larabee seemed to be doing these past few weeks flare into a flame.

Chris finally articulated what the others thought they witnessed. Standish had begun to pull away from them. He had begun to act in a manner that persuaded their actions...and in turn fulfilled his expectations of them.

Ezra had convinced himself that he did not need the team and that the team did not want him. He saw himself as a burden, an employee or a co-worker. He saw them in a similar light. They were friends, acquaintances but not the familiars that they had duped him into believing.

Standish was afraid of being forced to relive he gradually made the change himself. No one would force or disappoint him if he did it to himself first. They had allowed it because they had not seen it.

He wouldn't want anyone with him in the Emergency room. It would mean they were concerned or they cared. If they cared then that would disrupt his methodical self imposed ostracism. It would undermine his perceptions.

Josiah nodded and climbed to his feet, "I'll stay with him. Why don't you get the others home." Sometimes dogs made easier friends.

"Stick with him Josiah," Chris's utterance held something akin to a growl.

"Like glue," Josiah promised.

"Like stink on shit," Tanner muttered with smile.

"Like flies on pus," JD added with enthusiasm. Buck swatted the kid on the back of the head. Nathan shook his head in revulsion.

"Damn kid you're disgusting," Wilmington gingerly pulled and pushed himself into a sitting position.

"Comes from living with you," Dunne chuckled.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra blinked quietly and watched the antics of the three small boys on the next gurney over.

They could not have been over nine but no younger than six. The matching brown hair, blue eyes and freckles herald the close kinship of brothers. Brothers very close in age but obviously not twins.

Unruly, tough brothers. They pushed and punched one another. The child of middle height found himself in a head lock. The older one held him pinned while trying to garner the elusive waist band of underwear.

The infamous wedgey.

The littlest brother, though sporting a new cast, shoved the oldest away from the middle brother. The trapped brother, finding freedom because of the intervention garnered by the youngest, regained his equilibrium.

In a move that baffled the muddied mind of the undercover agent....the middle brother angrily pushed the youngest brother back down on the makeshift bed.

"Keep out of it runt," The angry vehemence held reminders of Wilmington. Buck could sometimes be cold in his treatment of JD. Especially when Dunne had stood up before a group of riled out of state agents and defended Buck.

The older brother punched the middle brother in retaliation for youngest...and the youngest in turned hit the oldest brother. "Leave'im alone ya turd." The tiny growl of the injured third held a defiant threat.

Ezra closed his eyes and tried to drown out the ruckus...the three brothers were little replicas of Buck, JD and Vin.....Lord help them all. None of them made sense.....

An orderly came in and spoke sternly toward the oldest boy. The two youngest rabidly came to his defense. The smallest one shimmied off the gurney and put himself between the orderly and his oldest brother. The middle brother shoved the littlest aside and stood as a barrier between his brother and the outsider. The oldest brother grabbed both of the younger ones and hauled them behind his back offering his body as a shield. He stood bravely before the intruder and held his ground. His brothers flanked him in their proper space a step behind but visible.

My God a mini Larabee....Lord help those parents...

As a threesome, they faced the outsider like a herd of Musk Oxen.

The orderly left....The bluff had worked...if in fact it were a bluff. Ezra didn't think so.

Standish blinked and rubbed at his face. He opened his eyes in time to see the three brothers back to fighting and picking on one another.

The Southerner let his eyes drift closed. Why did the behavior seem vague and strangely familiar?


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