What Might Have Been

by The Immortal

Disclaimer: Don’t own the Seven but would really like to. Angie belongs to Derry and Lila belongs to me.

Author’s Notes: Thanks to Sara, always. She helped me a lot with this one. Thanks to Mog for the sandbox. Thanks to Ruby for the encouragement and Derry for the use of Angie. This sort of started off as a deathfic (not one of the seven, I would NEVER do that ;-) but ended up like it is now :-) To understand this story the reader should be familar with.....The Informant, Good Intentions, On Second Thought, The Past Revealed, by the Immortal and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (a joint effort between Derry and myself), Angie and A Literary Woman by Derry....but if you guys are anything like me.....you've read each fic ever posted at least three times ;-)

I believe in things unseen
I believe in the message of a dream
And I believe in what you are
Because you love me

~ Jo Dee Messina

Ezra was in the midst of a wonderful dream. Or at least, he thought it was a dream. He pinched the skin on his right arm and much to his surprise he stayed right where he was.

He was sitting in his Jaguar. He knew that much. It was the same steering wheel, the same leather seats and the same radio that now blasted some long ago forgotten 80's music. He turned off the car and thus the loud music. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Calloway’s ‘I Wanna Be Rich,’ it was that he didn’t want to disturb the owners of the quaint little house with the paved driveway that his Jag was now parked in.

It was an adorable house. Red brick, with two stories, a front porch that had a little swing, sat smack dab in the middle of fairly big sized lot. The front lawn was a verdant green, immaculately cut with a small flower garden to the right of the steps that led up to the porch.

Where was he?

The undercover agent opened the door of his Jag and stepped out. His brow furrowed as he noticed the wedding band on his hand. Where did that come from? A light breeze ruffled his hair and the warmth of the sun flooded his being. This was indeed a wonderful dream.

He glanced back to the house and noticed that the swing was now occupied. A figure, with copper skin, dark hair and soft brown eyes sat, stretched out across the swing, intently reading a book. Inez. What was she doing here?

Ezra closed the door to his Jag and the figure looked up at the sound. She smiled brightly at him, stood and motioned for him to come join her. In a complete daze, he complied.

As he walked up the three stairs to the porch, Inez met him halfway and pressed her lips to his. To say the least, Ezra was taken by complete surprise. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he responded by deepening the kiss. "Welcome home, mi vida." She whispered into his ear when they finally broke.

"What?" Ezra managed to choke out.

Inez stepped back from him, taking in his confused expression. "Are you ok?" She asked, concern lacing her voice. She placed the back of her hand against his forehead. "Well, you aren’t running a fever. Something happen at work?"

Ezra flicked his tongue out and ran it over his still tingling lips. "No, everything is fine." He smiled genuinely. "Just tired."

She looked over his shoulder. "Are the others coming tonight for dinner?"

By the ‘others,’ he gathered she meant his six compatriots. He wasn’t the best undercover agent in the ATF just by coincidence. "They’ll be along."

"Well, let’s go inside and get ready for them." Inez answered as she opened the screen door.

Ezra caught her by the waist and brought her to him. He kissed her again. After a few minutes, they broke away.

Inez looked at him with a slight smirk. "What was that for?"

Ezra grinned. "Just missed you, is all."

Her smirk turned into a smile. "Well you better get inside. Your children have been squirming all day, waiting for you to get back."

"Children?" Ezra squeaked out in surprise.

Inez looked at him with concern. "You know, your children. Are you sure you’re feeling alright?"

"I’m fine. Just fine."

Inez cast him one last glance. He looked a little pale. Maybe she could convince him to take a few days off. Or she could always talk to Chris. The leader of the ATF team could always force Ezra into taking some vacation time.

Ezra followed the beautiful senora inside. He stepped into a small foyer. Directly ahead of him was a small hallway and to his right was a staircase that led up to the second floor and to the left was a small den.

He kept walking. The hallway opened up on the left into a spacious living room, complete with a couch, two easy chairs and a large screen TV. Inez went into the living room and began to tidy up. Right in front of him was a kitchen and to his right an elegant dining room.

However, that was not what he was gawking at. Sitting at the kitchen table, nose buried in what looked to be a textbook, muttering about the unfairness of Pre-Calculus and math in general was none other than Lila.

But wait, she was...dead? Wasn’t she? Lying in the cold hard ground because he couldn’t save her. But there she was, sitting, alive and well. Without a gaping bullet hole in her chest. He gulped down the tears of pure joy and watched, mesmerized, as the figure reached out and grasped the tall glass of orange juice. She absently pushed a piece of jet black hair away from her vision and tucked it behind an ear. She muttered some disparaging remark about math and wrote something down in an open notebook.

Ezra was almost scared to say anything. He was scared that if he moved, she would disappear. But she was here. In the flesh. His Lila.

Finally, it became too much. "Lila?" he finally whispered.

She looked up. Her blue eyes vibrant and as always, contained that glint of mischievousness.

"Oh, hey Dad. Didn’t hear you come in."

Dad? She just called him dad? It was quite possibly the sweetest thing he had ever heard.

A puzzled look crossed her face. "Hey, you alright?"

"I’m fine." he muttered.

She shrugged and went back to her work. Suddenly, she looked back up. "Oh, Angie has been waiting for you to come home. Don’t forget you promised to help her with that damn kite."

Angie? She was here too? Ezra swallowed again. "Where is she?"

"Up in that Dr. Seuss den that she likes to call a room."

Ezra grinned. Same old Lila.

Inez’s voice wafted into the kitchen. "Lila?"

"Yeah Mom?" The teenager called back.

"Can you take the dogs out before your father’s friends get here?"

Lila stood from the table and gulped down the rest of the liquid in the glass. "Sure thing! Yo Smith, Wesson! Let’s go!"

Ezra grimaced. Dogs? Since when did he own dogs? But he couldn’t help but smile when a black lab and a small beagle rounded the corner at all out speed. He managed to dodge the rampaging animals but Lila just knelt down and embraced them. The two dogs tried to stop but just ended up sliding on the hardwood floor. They barreled into Lila and she laughed. The lab, whom he gathered was named Smith, licked Lila’s face. And she giggled.

He almost fainted right there. One of the most sarcastic people he had ever known beside himself just giggled.

Lila stood, grinning brightly. Ezra had never seen her look so happy. Well, once before but that seemed so long ago.

He could feel himself getting choked up. "Lila," he said quietly when she stood.

"Yeah Dad?"

He motioned her toward him. As soon as she got into reach, he grabbed her and pulled her into a fierce hug. God, she was real. His heart fluttered as she returned the hug with just as much fierceness. He held on, for dear life. Finally, he managed to whisper out an "I love you."

"Love you too."

He released his hold and planted a kiss on her forehead.

"Dad!" he heard a squeal from behind him. He turned around and laid eyes on a very excited little senorita. She held a kite in one hand and gave him a smile that could’ve lit up the darkest room.

"Angie," he breathed. This truly was a marvelous dream. Part of him didn’t want to wake up. The other knew he would have to but he pushed that away. He wasn’t planning on waking up anytime soon.

"Come on, you promised." She stuck out her bottom lip slightly.

Ezra laughed. "Well, I promised. So let’s go."

"Yay!" Angie yelled and flew past both Lila and himself, Smith and Wesson following her. Lila took off in a sprint after the dogs. Ezra sighed, loosened his tie and went after them all.

He stepped out of the back door and again was greeted by lush grass. The back yard was even bigger than the front and fenced in. Two dog houses sat in the far corner. A small picnic table sat close to the fence.

Angie stood in the middle of the yard waiting for him. Lila stood off to the side, frisbee in hand trying to direct Wesson. She threw the frisbee. Smith immediately went after it while Wesson just sat at Lila’s feet and wagged his tail. Lila threw her hands up in obvious frustration.

Angie giggled. "Told ya. He’ll never learn."

Lila turned and stuck her tongue out at the younger girl. "He will one day! Maybe." She added with a impish smile. Angie laughed louder.

Soon, Ezra and Angie had the kite in the air and Lila was still trying to get Wesson to go after the

frisbee. Finally, she just threw it and gave up. She turned her back on the dog and went to a nice spot in the grass and plopped down.

A few minutes later, a loud "Yes!" followed by several whoops caused Ezra to turn around. Wesson trotted up to Lila, the flourescent disk in his mouth and his tail wagging. The pure delight and surprise in Lila’s face warmed Ezra’s heart beyond anything he had ever felt before.

Suddenly she stood up and did a few cartwheels then collapsed on the ground laughing. Angie laughed. The kite forgotten, she ran to her over to her older sister and fell on her, tickling her.

"Dad! Help!" Lila squealed.

Ezra let the kite fall from the air and tossed the little plastic ring that held the string onto the ground. He ran over to the squirming forms. Both of them giggling uncontrollably.

"Alright, alright. Enough tickling your sister."

Angie reluctantly stopped. She exchanged a glance with Lila and they both grinned. They jumped up and attacked Ezra tickling him. He fell on the ground in a fit of laughter. He tried to retaliate but the girls were too much. And finally, he gave up.

Ezra didn’t remember a time when he felt so happy. Happy wasn’t the word. More like euphoric really. Everything he had ever wanted, he had: a house, a beautiful wife, two happy children and six best friends. Hell, he even had dogs.

"Ezra Standish!" he heard the exasperated yell from the back door. He looked up and saw Inez carrying another child. "You’re going to ruin that suit!" Ezra sat up in the grass and looked down at himself. He had completely forgotten that he was wearing an expensive suit. The thought of getting it dirty or ruining it never crossed his mind when he was playing with his children.

His children. And apparently, he had three. The towheaded little boy dressed in red overalls lifted his head from his mother’s shoulder. He smiled. "Dada!"

Ezra’s heart melted. There, staring back at him, were the same green eyes that he saw in the mirror everyday.

The little boy squirmed in his mother’s arms. Inez set him down and the little boy wobbly ran to his father. "Josiah Christopher Seven Standish! Get your little rear end back here."

The child paid no heed. Ezra outstretched his arms and the toddler fell into them. "Hi Dada!" He gave his father a kiss on the cheek. For what seemed like the hundredth time that day, Ezra Standish couldn’t find words. The little boy turned to Angie and Lila. "Hi Gie! Hi Li!"

Lila reached out and messed up the boy’s hair. "What’s up Joey?"

Joey giggled. And squirmed in Ezra’s arms. Finally, he settled for wrapping his arms around his father’s neck and laying his head on Ezra’s shoulder.

Lila pulled herself from the ground and brushed off her wide legged jeans. She offered a hand to her younger sister and pulled her up. Angie ran and picked up the discarded kite. Lila yelled for the two dogs that soon came trotting up.

Joey climbed out of his father’s lap and pointed at the beagle. "Doggie!" He giggled when Wesson licked his face. Ezra made it to his feet, picked up the little boy and walked back to the house. Lila, Angie, Smith and Wesson followed.

When Ezra entered the back door, Inez was busy in the kitchen. She was going to give her husband a tongue lashing about fooling around when they had guests coming but one glance at the love of her life holding her son, she bit her tongue.

Inez crossed the room and took Joey from Ezra’s arms. She gave her husband a kiss and sent him

upstairs to get changed.

Meanwhile, Lila removed her homework from the kitchen table and Angie had already darted upstairs to put the kite away.

Ezra moved through all of it in a daze. This was absolutely wonderful. He never wanted to wake up. Ever. Maybe this was reality and the place he just left was a dream. Yes, this was real. It had to be. Inez, Lila, Angie and Joey were all flesh and bone. This had to be real.

Ezra slowly ascended the stairs, his hand trailing over the mahogany banister. Along the wall of the stairs were pictures. He saw his and Inez’s wedding day, a picture of him and his six friends, a few of him and his two daughters and still portraits of Joey when he was first born.

"Josiah Christopher Seven Standish," he repeated in a hushed tone. Who had named that child? He wasn’t referring to the Josiah. He knew exactly why he had that name. Josiah had become somewhat of a father to Ezra during the years he spent at the ATF. Christopher, no doubt named after his boss. The man he had the most respect for. The man that inspired loyalty in six misfits and kept them together throughout the many trying times. And Seven. Well, they couldn’t very well name him Josiah Christopher Vin Buck Nathan JD Ezra Standish. The poor child would be scarred for life. The Seven made sense.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he concluded that there were four rooms up here. He continued straight and opened the door. The large four poster bed that sat in the middle of the room confirmed that this was the master bedroom.

He stripped off his tie and suit jacket and crossed to the chest of drawers. He pulled out a green polo shirt and a pair of khaki pants. After changing, he sat a moment on the bed.

He ran a hand over the soft down comforter. He slept here every night, with Inez at his side. Sometimes that would change if someone had a bad dream, the bed could get rather full some nights. But he didn’t mind. In fact, he welcomed it.

He loved this. Oh God he loved this. He didn’t want it to end but in the back of his mind, he knew it would. Hopefully, not soon.

He straightened when he heard the doorbell ring. Then it sounded like a heard of elephants were running down the stairs. He exited his room and watched as Lila and Angie flung the door open.


"Now that is the way to greet guests!" He pulled Lila and Angie into a big hug. "What better sight to open a door to than two beautiful women." Lila blushed. Angie giggled.

Ezra walked down the stairs. Buck was here. It couldn’t be a dream. "Hey Ez!" Buck said as he held out his hand. Ezra shook it and smiled warmly.

Both turned their heads when they heard little feet running to the door. Joey ran up and hugged Buck’s leg. "Well there is my little Seven!" He said laughing as he swung the child up in his arms.

"Geez Buck. Hog the doorway."

JD pushed his way in. "Hey Ez. Hey girls. Mm, smells good!"

"Well at least someone appreciates my cooking." Inez joked as she emerged from the kitchen. "Lila, Angie go set the table."

"No prob, Mom. Come on, squirt." Lila pulled Angie down the hall.

Buck continued down the hall carrying the laughing Joey. JD followed right behind him. Nathan and Josiah arrived shortly thereafter. Vin was next, still driving that beat up Jeep. And finally Chris.

Ezra shook his boss’s hand. Chris genuinely smiled at him.

"Looks like you have quite the circus here, Ez."

Ezra grinned. "I’m the luckiest man alive."

"Lila! Angie! Get out of my kitchen!" Ezra saw the two dart out, laughing. They high-fived each other. Inez followed them, shaking a spoon at them. "Go bother your father." The two scoundrels ran into the living room.

Ezra turned back to Chris. "Sometimes."

Chris laughed and slapped Ezra hard on the back. They both retired to the living room where the rest of the seven were hanging out.

Chris entered the room and joined in the playful banter.

Ezra hung back and watched his family. Suddenly overcome by emotion, the usually unflappable

undercover agent ran a hand down his face. His eyes filled and he gulped down tears of absolute

happiness. Dear God, don’t let this be a dream.

He managed to pick up some snippets of conversations.

"Hey Vin, I finally got Wesson to retrieve the frisbee."

"Good job, Lila."

"Yeah but it took four months."

"Stay outta this squirt. Don’t you have an imaginary friend to be talking to?"

"Buck, you going to take up Seven’s time all night?"


"No pard, here you can have him. He was getting heavy anyway."

Inez came into the room and smiled. "Dinner is ready."

That earned her whoops and hollers from everyone.

After a few moments, everyone was gathered around the table. Ezra at the head of one end and Inez at the other. His six friends and three children gathered around him.

On an impulse, Ezra lifted his glass of red wine. "I propose a toast. To my family, my friends and the future."

"Here, here." was chorused followed by a clinking of glasses.

The night passed quickly. Too quickly, in Ezra’s mind. He had finally gotten over the awe of the situation and decided to live it to its fullest. He bantered with his friends, kissed and hugged his children and wife at every opportunity.

But soon, he found himself lying in the large four poster bed watching as Inez brushed her long dark locks. She set the brush down and climbed into bed next to him.

"Goodnight, mi vida." she whispered.

"Goodnight, my love." he whispered back as he pulled her into his arms.

He kissed her cheek and settled down for the night. He felt sleep pulling at his eyes. He jumped awake, however, when thunder shook the house. He heard his young son cry out from his room.

"Momma! Dada!"

Inez started to get up but Ezra stopped her. "I’ll get him."

Ezra walked to the next room over and saw his son sitting up in his low bed that was shaped like a Conestoga wagon. A gift from either Vin or Buck no doubt. Lightning lit up the room and Ezra could discern the cowboy figures on the wall. More of the duo’s influence.

Ezra picked up his child and whispered reassurances into his ear. "Don’t worry. Daddy has you."

He took the child back to his room and handed him off to Inez as he climbed back into the bed. Another loud clap of thunder brought more feet scurrying to his room. Angie climbed into bed between her father and Joey.

Ezra wondered how long it would take Lila to show up. It was no secret she was terrified of thunderstorms. She was probably pacing outside of his door now not wanting to come in and feel like a child.

He took a chance. "Come in, Lila."

The door pushed open and Lila sheepishly joined the group in the bed climbing in on Ezra’s right side. And where his oldest child was, the two dogs were not far behind. Smith and Wesson jumped on the bed.

"Oh no, off you two."

Lila looked up at her father with frightened blue eyes. "They’re scared too, Daddy."

Daddy? That was too much. He grudgingly conceded.

The dogs laid at their feet. Another rumble shook the windows of the house.

"Madre de Dios." he heard his wife whisper.

"Ok, everyone calm down and get some sleep."

Ezra laid his head on the soft down pillow, Lila on his right, Angie snuggled against his left side, Joey right beside her clinging to his mother on the end. He didn’t want this to end. Please, let them all be here when he woke in the morning. Please God, let this be real.

He drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Ezra found himself in a low lit warehouse. Alarm bells immediately went off. He knew, in the back of his mind, that this wasn’t right. It couldn’t be. Wasn’t he just in bed with his family?

No, wait. He had gotten up this morning and had been called into work. Yes, that is what happened. And now he was at work, meeting with some sort of slimy gun runner. Well, he might as well get this over with and get back to his family.

He rubbed a hand over his eyes.

"Hey, Ez..I mean Dad, You alright?"

Ezra snapped his head around. Why was Lila here? She should be at home. Something wasn’t right. He tried to get the jumbled thoughts and images to make sense in his mind. But he couldn’t.

He glanced at her. She was wearing extremely baggy clothes and...and.. A wire! That’s right. She was supposed to be here.

He was meeting with Jones. A gunrunner who had a young daughter named Dana. Ezra had mentioned that he had a daughter of his own and Jones immediately wanted to meet her. He had some insane notion that Lila and Dana would get along.

Ezra had tried to really talk his way out of that one. He didn’t want Lila here. She could get hurt.

Terror flashed through Ezra’s green eyes. No, she would get hurt. This had already happened. This was a dream. A nightmare of already past events.

He tried to swallow the lump in his throat. He knew the outcome already.

Ezra tried to back out of the building, pulling Lila along with him. But it was too late, events were already sent into action.

Scott Jones was already in the building, with his bodyguards and he had already seen Lila. His daughter, Dana, stood slightly behind him and to his left.

Ezra had to finish it, even though he didn’t want to.

Scott Jones stuck out his hand. "Ezra, so glad you could make it."

Ezra reluctantly stepped forward and shook Scott’s hand. The man did have a grip. "Scott." He answered. Ezra put a protective arm around Lila. "This is my daughter, Lila."

Lila took the proffered hand. "Nice to meet you Mr. Jones." If she was afraid, she didn’t show it.

Ezra knew what was going to happen next. He should’ve seen the slight narrowing of Dana’s eyes as she heard the name.

Dana, a small redhead, stepped from behind her father’s hulking form. She pointed at Lila. "Hey, I know you."

Ezra gulped and closed his eyes.

"I’m sorry but I’ve never met you before." Lila said, her voice calm but Ezra picked up the slight tremor.

"Yes you have. I met you once at a shelter when I ran away. You live in a beat up Ford Taurus." Dana stopped for a moment. "And I remember you telling me about a sweet deal you had with an.....ATF agent." Her eyes flicked to Ezra.

Jones frowned and pulled out his gun, pointing it in Ezra’s direction. "Well, well. Thank you my dear. I was about to make a terrible mistake."

Ezra knew there was no use in denying it. He had tried that in real life but it only prolonged the inevitable. He needed to get out of this nightmare.

Scott began to pull the trigger. Ezra found himself violently pushed out of the way. There was a loud shot as Ezra fell to the floor. Then another and he felt pain rip through his side.

He didn’t care. What he cared about was the bloody figure on the floor next to him. He could hear the noise of his compatriots flooding the building but he blocked it all out and focused only on Lila. She lay on the floor, in a rapidly growing pool of her own blood.

That bastard shot her.

She had saved him.

Oh God, not again.

Ezra sat up and pressed his hands down on the gaping bullet hole in Lila’s chest. Blood oozed through his fingers as he desperately tried to keep some of the sticky substance in her body.

She coughed and blood flowed out between her lips. Oh God no. Please.

He looked down into the ever paling face and the half hooded eyes. Lila’s lips moved but no sound came out. Ezra lowered his ear to them. He felt her breath on his cheek.

"I love you, Ez."

His wall crumbled and tears flowed unabashed down his cheeks. He cradled her against him, not caring about his own wound. Slowly, he pressed his lips to her forehead and whispered the words she had so desperately sought after her entire life.

"I love you too, Lila."

A look of child-like innocence and the realization of acceptance passed over her features. But as soon as it was there, it was gone, replaced by a grimace of pain and the rattle of death. A breath caught in her throat, eyes fluttered closed never to be opened again. She was gone.

He heard the sound of someone running. Several people to be exact.

The paramedics gently pulled her out of his grasp and began emergency CPR. But it was too late. She was gone.

Ezra needed to wake up. He couldn’t live through this again.

He felt the presence of his six friends. He heard Nathan telling him to lay back and let the paramedics look at him. Vin and Chris were at his side, assuring him that things would be alright. But he knew they couldn’t be. He heard his own hitching sobs and felt the hot tears running down his face.

Please, wake up.

He felt the blood pouring out of his own side. Ezra gave into the welcoming darkness.

* * *

"Ez, wake up. Ez, come on now. Open your eyes." Vin pleaded with the undercover agent. He couldn’t deal with the sobs and the desperate cries for Lila. He had to wake his friend up.

Ezra’s eyes fluttered open and squinted at the harsh flourescent light. Vin’s smiling visage blocked out the light for a moment. Ezra didn’t want to tell Vin that he looked terrible. But he did. For some reason, Vin had been crying. Ezra could tell from the puffiness around his eyes.

"Bout time you woke up."

Ezra worked some moisture into his mouth. He could tell from the itchy sheets to the beeping monitors that he was in the hospital. Yet again.

"Vin," his voice weak. "I had the worst dream."

Vin offered Ezra some water. "I could tell. Must’ve been some nightmare."

Ezra sucked on the straw for a minute. "Lila was dead. It was horrible."

The smile dropped from Vin’s face. The tracker shot a look over to someone else in the room. Ezra raised his head a bit and saw that Chris, Nathan and Josiah were also there. Where were JD and Buck?

Chris walked over and took Ezra’s hand. "Ezra, I’m sorry."

A look of puzzlement washed over the undercover agent. "Sorry for what?" Then it dawned on him. It hadn’t been a dream. That had been real.

Ezra closed his eyes but couldn’t stop the tears that ran down his face. "Lila?" he finally whispered.

He heard Josiah’s voice. "She didn’t make it, son."

"She died quickly, Ez. She experienced little pain." Nathan’s voice added. It was the best he could offer.

Ezra rolled onto his side away from his friends, not caring about the various tubes and wires he was hooked up to. He cried. He had really lost her this time.

She shouldn’t have taken that bullet for him. Oh God. His heart hurt. He couldn’t stop crying and he didn’t care. He had every right to. She was gone. He would never see her bright smile, hear her laughter and sarcasm. He would never have to worry about her again, where she was, if she was alright. He would always know her whereabouts now. In the cold hard ground.

She didn’t belong there. She belonged in a loving family. Lila belonged at a kitchen table muttering remarks about Pre-Calculus, in the back yard playing with two dogs, being tickled to death by her younger sister, at the dinner table exchanging conversation with her friends. She belonged seeking solace from a raging storm in his arms. She didn’t belong in the ground, with only a few small words on a headstone to remember her by.

Ezra couldn’t stop crying. He heard some of his friends leave the room but he knew someone had stayed behind. He felt the callused hand rubbing the back of his neck. It had to be Chris.

Chris would understand.

"You want to talk about it?" He asked. Ezra could hear the worry in his voice. He also heard the tears that threatened.

"No," he choked out.

"Ok." There was a long pause. "JD and Buck are making the funeral arrangements."

Ezra barely nodded. He wanted to go back to his dream. The good dream. The dream where he was a loving husband and father, where Lila was alive, Angie was his daughter and Inez, finally, knew of his feelings and he still had his six best friends.

Sleep began to pull at him. He let it take him.

* * *

Ezra stood silently during the grave side funeral service. He kept his eyes locked on the headstone. He had to admit Buck and JD did a good job.

Lila Standish

Daughter and Friend

1985 - 2000

The wind whipped around him, tugging at his long coat and ruffling his hair. A light rain began to fall. Fitting, he mused.

This couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be. He absently reached out and pinched his arm. Again, nothing happened.

He bowed his head and let the tears fall. It seemed he had been doing a lot of that lately. He didn’t care anymore. His regular pretenses failed him.

If it could bring Lila back, Ezra would proclaim to the world that he did have feelings. He would do anything to have her back. He would gladly change places. He had the opportunity to live, she never had a chance.

He wiped at his eyes and stifled a sob.

Josiah’s deep voice was somewhat soothing as he gave the service.

Ezra reluctantly raised his head and looked around him. More people showed up than he thought knew the teenager. Of course, his friends were there. Chris stood to his left, a calming hand on his shoulder.

JD and Buck stood off to one side. JD cried. Buck had his arm draped brotherly across JD’s shaking shoulders. At least, the big man tried to hide his tears but in the end the grief won.

Vin stood beside Buck, his eyes staring at the coffin as it was lowered. He occasionally wiped his eyes.

Nathan stood next to him. His face was stoic but the way he held onto Rain as she cried, showed his grief.

Inez stood next to Mary Travis. Both women held wet handkerchiefs. Ezra caught Inez’s eye and she managed a sad smile. He didn’t even try to return it.

Angie and Mrs. Potter stood directly across from him. He was surprised to see both of them there. But then he realized that Angie probably insisted that she be present. He knew that Lila would sneak off and visit the younger girl sometimes.

Pain tore through his already broken heart as he thought that Lila would never do that again. She would never do anything again.

Ezra put a hand to his temple. For some reason, he suddenly had become very lightheaded. It could be that he hadn’t eaten anything to speak of in days, or he could chalk it up to the wound in his side.

The figures in front of him began to melt and blend into each other. What the hell? He wiped his eyes, figuring that the tears had distorted his eyesight. It didn’t help.

Soon the blurred vision was accompanied by a loud ringing in his ears. He took a small step to the left to keep his balance. Then, all of a sudden, he collapsed.

* * *

Ezra shot bolt upright in his bed. A cold sweat clung to his bare upper body. He ran a trembling hand through his hair.

That was the worst possible dream.

He absently touched his wet pillow. Wet with tears. He wiped his face and felt the tears on his cheeks.

God that was terrible.

He glanced at his clock. 3 in the morning. He let out a shaky breath.

It had been a dream. Hadn’t it?

Fear seized him. What if it hadn’t been a dream? Oh God, no! He couldn’t go through that pain anymore.

Ezra flung himself out of the bed. His legs were still tangled in the sheet and he only ended up falling face first on the floor. It didn’t deter him.

He managed to kick them off and get to his feet. He flung his door open with enough force for it to slam into the wall making a dreadfully loud noise. He crossed the hall and opened the door to Lila’s room.

She was there. Thank God.

Lila lay diagonal in her bed. The comforter and sheets were in a ball on the floor. On arm hung off the bed while the other clutched her pillow for dear life.

Relief flooded him. His knees weakened and he had to hold onto the dresser for support.

He noticed that the figure shivered. He smiled slightly.

As quietly as possible, Ezra crossed the dark room and untangled the sheets that lay on the floor. He draped one over the sleeping form and then placed a gentle kiss on Lila’s cheek and left the room. She never moved.

"And people think I sleep like a rock." he muttered but a silly smile was plastered on his face.

He tiredly made his way to the kitchen. He needed a good stiff drink. The fear and sadness that had been so real in his dreams still clung to him.

Where had those come from? And why did they feel so real?

He unscrewed the top of his favorite brandy, and with a still trembling hand poured himself a shot.

He knew exactly where they came from. The Jones case was something that had been sitting on his desk for a while. He had entertained the thought of using the man’s love for his daughter to get close to him. And to do that, he would need to have a daughter of his own. Preferably, one near the same age.

But he had quickly dismissed the idea. No way he would put Lila in danger. He could just imagine the trouble that she could possibly get into considering that she was almost always in one predicament or another. But that had been a few weeks ago.

He downed another shot of the expensive drink. It warmed his throat but it didn’t touch the cold fear that now resided in his gut.

Then there had been today. Lila showed up at the ATF office around 4:30 with the lame excuse that she was bored and didn’t have anything better to do.

Ezra had just accepted it. But he knew something was troubling her.

It hit him over dinner when she asked a very strange question. "Would you miss me if I died?"

He remembered his less than articulate answer. "What?"

Lila just looked down at her plate and pushed her food around with her fork. "Nevermind. It was a silly question."

He had reached across the table. "Lila, if anything ever happened to you....I...I don’t know what I would do."

He didn’t know how much he meant those words. Until now.

* * *

Ezra couldn’t believe he was doing this. Yes, he could. And he knew exactly why he was too. It had been two weeks after he had that wonderful dream and still he couldn’t shake the feelings it conjured up.

He straightened his tie for the hundredth time. Oh, just get it over with Standish. Not like your tie is going to have a big influence on what she says.

He pushed open the door to the Saloon. The object of his affection was busy wiping down the bar. Maybe, he shouldn’t bother her. He could just turn around and walk out. She would never notice.

She looked up from her work and he was frozen like a deer in those chocolate eyes. Damn!

He cleared his throat and walked over to the beautiful senorita.

"Hola, Senor Standish."

"Good afternoon, Inez."

"Your usual, Senor?"

"Um..no thank you, Inez. I was actually here to see you..."

A confused expression crossed her face. "Me?"

He took a breath. Here goes. "I was wondering if you would care to join me for dinner at some point in

time...I mean... You don’t have to...I was just asking..."

Inez smiled at the usually calm agent. He was even cuter flustered.

"I would be delighted, Senor."

The End

I don't know how I survived
In this cold and empty world
For all this time
I only know that I'm alive
Because you love me
When I recall what I've been through
There's some things
That I wish I didn't do
Now I do the things I do
Because you love me
And now that you're in my life
I'm so glad I'm alive
'Cause you showed me the way
And I know now how good it can be
Because You love me
And now that you're in my life
Oh, I'm so glad I'm alive
'Cause you showed me the way
And I know now how good it can be
Because you love me
I believe in things unseen
I believe in the message of a dream
And I believe in what you are
Because you love me
With all my heart and all my soul
I'm loving you and I never will let go
And every day I'll let it show
Because you love me

~ Jo Dee Messina

E-mail: The Immortal