Josiah arrived to collect his friend early the next morning and the big man
had to admit he was becoming really concerned about Ezra's odd behavior.
He'd been thinking about it all night and knew there was more to the problem
than met the eye. He now wished he'd done something about it yesterday because
today Ezra seemed highly agitated, fidgety and very scared. He was very quiet
and would still only answer Josiah's questions with one word instead of his
usual long, half-understood speeches. <P> "Are you alright, Ez?" Josiah
asked after ten minutes of silence had gone by.
"You're a bit quiet. Are you sure there's nothing wrong?" No response. The
profiler tried to study the man beside him without making it too obvious
what he was doing.
Ezra stared out the window and seemed to be looking at every passerby or
car with a high degree of mistrust. When Josiah pulled up at an intersection
and a car drew up beside Ezra's window the agent actually put up a hand to
hide his face from view. Josiah saw the man peeking through his fingers to
look at the driver surreptitiously as if expecting trouble from him. Once
they moved on and the car turned off Ezra finally removed his hand but maintained
his state of high alertness. He even started turning round to check over
his shoulder and looking in the rearview mirror to watch the traffic behind
"What's up, Ez?" Josiah asked after a while when his friend looked over his
shoulder for about the tenth time in as many minutes.
"Nothing," the agent snapped irritably. "Mind your own damned business."
Ezra had a bottle of water clutched tightly in his hand and he took a quick
sip after muttering the six words. He then started tapping the bottle against
his thigh impatiently and began talking quietly under his breath.
"Faster," the dark-haired man ordered loudly all of a sudden as he caught
sight of a red Cadillac behind them.
"'Scuse me?" Josiah asked as he flicked a quick look across at his friend.
The man looked exceedingly pale, sweaty and terrified.
"Go faster, I said. Are you deaf?" Ezra shouted almost maniacally as he began
"I'm going the limit. Why do you want me to go faster, Ezra?" the profiler
asked but he got no reply.
Josiah was getting increasingly worried because Ezra's behavior now seemed
to be changing with each passing minute. He also noticed that the undercover
agent's words were becoming slightly slurred. The big man was glad when he
finally pulled into the parking garage at work after the highly uneasy journey.
He parked and accompanied the still muttering Ezra into the elevator and
up to their floor. Josiah walked along the hallway with his companion when
Ezra suddenly dived off into the rest room without so much as a word of
explanation. Josiah hesitated, not sure what to do for a minute. Go and check
on him to make sure he was alright or leave him be? He eventually decided
to leave the man alone and went in search of Nathan instead while he had
the chance to talk to him alone. He didn't feel he could leave things as
they were any longer. The profiler found his friend sitting at his desk and
he tapped the man on the shoulder and beckoned him into the conference room.
Nathan look! ed up and frowned but followed his friend where he indicated.
"I'm real worried about Ezra," Josiah said as soon as his friend was inside
and had closed the door. The profiler leant back against the table with the
palms of his hands laid flat on the surface behind him.
"Why? Is he sick?"
"Maybe mentally," the big man sighed as he rubbed his brow anxiously.
"He's acting really strange, Nate. On the journey here it was almost as if
he thought we were being followed. He seemed genuinely frightened at times.
He was real quiet and highly agitated and then started talking to himself."
"Well, we all do that from time to time. I know he was unsettled at the hospital
but I thought it would pass. Is it just today that you've noticed it?"
The big man shook his head and grimaced. "No. He was acting out of character
yesterday too but I just thought it was the aftereffects of the accident.
He just seems to have been getting worse but I really can't explain it, Nate."
"I wonder what can have caused it," Nathan said thoughtfully.
"I really don't know, Nate. I just wanted to say something so I could see
what you think too. If he needs help the sooner he gets it the better and
he's certainly not the Ezra we all know. I shoulda said something to you
yesterday 'cause I was worried then and I could kick myself for not acting
sooner but I thought I was being oversensitive. I know people act differently
in these sort of circumstances so I thought I'd wait and see how Ez was today
seeing as the accident only happened within the last few days. I was wrong
though, wasn't I?" Josiah sighed loudly.
"Okay, don't panic. You've done the right thing now. Have you told Chris
about this yet? Ezra is due to do that big undercover operation with the
CIA next week if you remember."
"Shit, no I'd forgotten about that. I'll see him next. Thanks Nate, I hate
the idea of spying on Ezra but it may be for his own good," Josiah commented
quietly as he bowed his head and closed his eyes briefly.
"I know what you mean. Don't worry, I won't make it obvious but if he's acting
strangely it will be hard to miss."
The two men walked back out into the office and while Nathan sat back at
his desk, Josiah knocked on Chris's door. Ezra looked up from his own desk
and watched Josiah suspiciously as he entered the blond's office. The undercover
agent then felt eyes on him from someone nearby and he looked round quickly
to try and see who it was. Nathan managed to look away quickly enough so
Ezra didn't know it was him. He peeked out the corner of his eye at the man
and saw him studying each of the two other agents who were currently present
before turning his eyes back to look at Chris's door unblinkingly.
Josiah hovered in front of Chris's desk apprehensively. It didn't usually
worry him to talk about awkward topics with his boss but this was slightly
different. The blond looked up when Josiah didn't speak and narrowed his
eyes when he saw the man's unease.
"Josiah? Is something wrong?"
"I don't know how to say this, Chris. It's a bit awkward."
Chris pointed to the chair as he put aside his pen so he could concentrate
fully on the profiler. He could see that the man was highly unsettled. "Sit
down and say it straight out, Josiah. I find that's always the best way."
Josiah perched uncomfortably on the edge of the seat and sighed. "It's Ezra."
"What about him?" Chris asked with a frown when Josiah stopped.
The big man met his boss's eyes and said with a wince, "He seems mentally
"Run that by me again, will ya? I don't think I caught it that time. Mentally
unstable? What makes you say that?" Chris asked in confusion as his frown
deepened and he tilted his head on one side questioningly.
Josiah explained about the undercover agent's behavior and Chris listened
quietly but certainly not calmly. The blond thought back to Ezra's behavior
at the hospital and when he'd driven him home and could see what Josiah was
getting at. When the profiler had finished his explanation the blond stood
and went to the door. "Nate? Can you come in here for a minute?"
The medic joined his two friends and was aware of Ezra's eyes almost boring
into his back with the intensity of his stare. The medic sat down on another
chair that Chris moved into place for him. The blond then sat on the edge
of the desk in front of them with one foot on the floor for balance and the
other leg swinging distractedly.
"Nate? You've heard about Josiah's thoughts on Ezra's state of mind?"
"Yeah," the medic confirmed.
"What do you think?"
"Well, I haven't really had time to observe him for that long. He seemed
unsettled when Josiah came in here and his gaze has been fixed on the door
ever since. He realized I was watching him, well....... that someone was
watching him is what I mean. He looked round quickly and I managed to avoid
his eyes but he looked at everyone very carefully before setting his eyes
back on this office again. He seems very alert and suspicious but until I've
talked to him I can't really say for sure how he is."
"Josiah? You've had more experience with people with mental problems. Can
you guess what might be causing Ezra's behavior? Are you sure it's mental
and not drugs or something? Could it be schizophrenia? Is it something to
do with the head injury he had in the accident?"
Nathan held his hands up to stop the flow of questions. "Chris, I saw his
skull x-rays myself. There was no damage whatsoever, I swear. Nothing to
cause a change in behavior like this anyway."
"Josiah?" Chris asked as he turned back to get an answer to his other questions.
"I really can't tell, Chris. He needs tests to confirm what it is and he
ain't likely to agree to that any time soon. I think he needs watching first
but I think you ought to take him off the CIA operation next week to be on
the safe side."
"Are you positive?"
"Until we know more, yes," the profiler said insistently. Now Josiah had
got things started he wasn't going to let up until they found the cause of
"Okay. Send Ezra in, will you? I want to see for myself how he's acting."
"Sure." The two men rose and walked back out into the office. Josiah felt
the undercover agent's eyes on him as soon as he entered the room. He had
to admit it was very unsettling but he walked over to the man and said, "Ezra?
Chris wants to see you."
"What have you told him?" Ezra whispered angrily. "You told him lies, didn't
you? He told me you would."
Vin looked up, startled at the venom he heard in the usually easygoing agent's
"Ezra? A word," Chris called after catching sight of the hostility that was
plain to see on the man's face.
The dark-haired man rose angrily and strode into Chris's office still clutching
his bottle of water as if it was a lifeline. He sat where he was told to
and looked challengingly at Chris. He was beginning to feel increasingly
claustrophobic and he was sure there was a conspiracy against him amongst
his colleagues. His mood kept changing from fear to anger and back again
as he contemplated his situation.
"I'm having to take you off the CIA case next week," Chris told the man.
"I need you here."
"What did he say to you?" Ezra asked aggressively.
"Who?" Chris asked innocently as he studied the man opposite him. He could
see that the undercover agent was not his usual tidy self. He was slightly
disheveled and his hair wasn't quite as neat, which in itself was very unusual.
The man was always fastidious about his appearance.
"Josiah, that's who," Ezra snarled with a look of pure contempt on
"He didn't say anything, Ez. Why? Should he have done? Is there anything
you want to tell me?"
"No. Just tell me why he was in here."
"I was only telling him about the change of plans for next week because he's
been involved in the case from the start."
Ezra shook his head negatively. "He came to see you. He knocked
on your door of his own volition not because you called him to see you,"
the undercover agent contradicted.
Chris thought on his feet. "Nate told him some of the details first. That's
why they were in the conference room earlier and Josiah just came to confirm
things with me afterwards." The blond wasn't sure his explanation sounded
plausible but it was the best he could come up with at short notice.
Ezra narrowed his eyes and looked highly skeptical. He looked down at his
hands and started fiddling with the ring on his finger once he'd put the
water bottle in his pocket for safekeeping. He turned the ring round and
round and began muttering angrily again.
"Pardon?" Chris asked from where he was watching the man intently. He had
noticed earlier that Ezra had pinpoint pupils and he frowned in concern.
Ezra jumped as Chris's voice got through the fog in his mind. The undercover
agent looked up as if suddenly remembering where he was. "What?" he asked
breathlessly as his eyes flicked around the room worriedly. The furniture
went in and out of focus and he rubbed his eyes irritably.
"You said something," Chris replied calmly.
"No," Ezra said out loud as his inner voice started talking again. He's
getting suspicious. Don't trust him. Ezra shook his head and looked over
his shoulder as the voice spoke. He was positive he would catch whoever was
talking to him and he frowned when he saw there was no one there.
"You did Ezra. You said something," the blond repeated.
Ezra turned back to face Chris and stared at him as he put a hand up to his
mouth and frowned. He chewed his nail and then scratched his head as he stared
at Chris nervously. "You're trying to confuse me. I didn't say anything.
I know I didn't.......I know....I know. Didn't. He told me about you. Told
me I shouldn't trust you........ I saw you yesterday outside my house. You
were following me....... chasing me."
"No, I wasn't, Ez. I haven't seen you since I took you home from the hospital."
Chris raked Ezra from head to foot with a penetrating stare. He could see
the man opposite him shaking constantly as he sat awkwardly on his chair
like a naughty schoolboy.
"I saw you. I know it was you." Ezra felt panic rise in him. The feeling
of paranoia was growing with each passing minute and he really didn't know
how to handle it. He felt increasingly as though everyone was an enemy, even
his friends, and he didn't know what to do. The voice he kept hearing in
his head and the strange things that he thought he saw were highly unsettling
and contributed to his feeling of doom.
Chris watched the emotions flicking across the man's face opposite him and
he knew Josiah had been right to be worried. The things that the man had
just said gave cause for alarm as well. Who was Ezra talking about?
Chris wondered. The blond rose and walked round to sit on the desk nearer
Ezra in an attempt to put him at ease. Ezra, however, saw it as a threat
and backed his chair away hurriedly so he ended up sitting in the middle
of the room.
"You've been watching me at my house. I've seen you in a car outside.......
Stay away, don't come near me.......... I'm warning you," the dark-haired
man muttered haltingly as he fiddled with his jacket distractedly.
Chris put his hands up and stayed where he was. He was worried because he
knew Ezra was armed and he didn't want to do anything to create a bad situation.
He kept a close eye on his agent and stood up slowly. He needed a way of
disarming him safely but he didn't have the slightest idea of how to achieve
While he was contemplating his dilemma, JD, who had been out of the building,
suddenly burst into the office, unaware of what was going on inside. Buck
had tried to stop the kid but hadn't managed to catch him in time. Ezra sprung
up as Chris whirled round in surprise at his youngest agent's noisy entrance.
The undercover agent moved rapidly across the room and grabbed Chris round
the throat and put his gun against the man's temple. If Chris had needed
any more evidence to prove Ezra's worrying state of mind he now had it.
"Back away or I'll blow his head off," Ezra yelled hysterically as he stared
at JD. "Back off now.......I'm telling you...I'll kill him....kill him....kill."
JD came to a sliding halt with a look of absolute terror on his face. He
put his arms in the air and backed up to the door hurriedly. The men outside
heard the shouting but did not approach the office for fear of making Ezra
carry out his threat. They all stood up though so they could see what was
going on in case they were needed, which was more than likely all things
JD stared at Ezra and saw the wild eyes and shaking hands. He moved his gaze
to Chris and saw the fear on the man's face. That was an emotion he wasn't
used to seeing in the older man and it made the youngster uneasy. If Chris
was scared then God help the rest of them. The kid knew Ezra was likely to
do what he had threatened so he decided to try and diffuse the situation.
"I ain't moving, Ezra. Why don't you put the gun down? Chris ain't gonna
hurt ya so there's no need for all this."
"Shut up. Just shut up! I can't hear what he's saying to me.....I can't hear,"
Ezra said as he shook his head and then looked toward the door. Leave
the room. You've got to get out. Must get away from them before it's too
JD narrowed his eyes and studied the undercover agent intently. What the
man had just said didn't make any sense at all. He looked back over his shoulder
and saw the rest of the men watching anxiously outside from a distance. Josiah
and Nathan had just been bringing the other men up to speed with Ezra's condition
and the profiler now knew what he had suspected was actually true. The men
stood with bated breath waiting to see what was going to happen. All, that
is, except Buck.
The tall agent caught Ezra's eye and moved slowly to the office door with
hands outstretched. He didn't want Ezra to do something he would later regret.
"Ezra? It's Buck. I know you're confused and don't know what to do but hurting
Chris won't help ya. Why don't you give me yer gun? I promise nothing will
happen to you. We'll get you some help, pard." The ladies' man advanced slowly
with arms still outstretched in a placating gesture. He kept eye contact
but the undercover agent looked back at him as if he was a stranger.
Ezra watched Buck warily as he approached and tightened his grip on Chris's
throat in reaction. The blond couldn't help but cough at the increased pressure
and Ezra jumped in fright at the sound. He looked at the man he held and
then the two men in front of him. He backed up as Buck got closer and Chris
could feel him still trembling continuously. Just don't tremble too much
and pull that damned trigger, Ezra, he pleaded silently as he sent a
warning look to Buck.
The undercover agent saw the others outside the office and he felt trapped.
He started looking round the room in panic and Buck knew he was going to
do something stupid. Ezra suddenly pulled his gun away from Chris's head
and fired it erratically in Buck's direction. All the men ducked instinctively
and sincerely hoped that the bullet wouldn't find a human target. Ezra took
advantage of their distraction and pushed Chris forcefully in the back so
he collided with the other two men in the office. Buck, JD and Chris fell
to the floor in a tangle of limbs and with a lot of muffled curses. Ezra
was out the door and off down the hallway before any of them had recovered.
He was free but he had no idea of where to go to get away from his nightmare.
Vin made moves to give chase but Chris called him back.
"Why? He's crazy."
"No. Just leave him. I don't want him tackled in his present frame of mind.
He ain't crazy. Something's wrong but he ain't mad."
"We need to follow to see where he goes. He may hurt someone else or hurt
himself," Vin said insistently. "You can't just leave him like he is, Chris.
He needs help."
The blond nodded reluctantly in acknowledgement. "He ain't got transport,
has he? Alright, Nate and Josiah, you go after him on foot. Just follow him
and only intervene if he looks like doing something to hurt someone. Don't
hurt him unless you have to but keep in touch. If you can detain him safely
then all well and good. JD and Buck, go to his house and see what you can
find there. See if there are any drugs or anything out of the ordinary. Nate?
If Ez looks as though he's heading home call Buck, will ya? I don't want
him stumbling on them by accident. Right, I need to see Travis to tell him
about all this. Vin, you'd better stay here and listen for Nate and Josiah's
updates," Chris ordered breathlessly before he hurried along to see Travis.
"Chris wait," JD called as he ran along after the black-clad man.
The blond turned to face the youngster and JD said, "Look, I'm sorry I barged
into your office. I was just coming to tell you that they've narrowed the
list of cars down to five. They're gonna go and look at them all to see which,
if any, could be the correct one."
"Thanks, kid. Let me know what else you learn." The blond patted JD's shoulder
and went off to see his boss. He came back after half an hour and sat next
Vin had his feet up on the desk as if he was relaxing but Chris could see
that the man was as uptight as he was. The sharpshooter looked up as Chris's
shadow fell over him. "You okay, cowboy? Bit of a shock Ezra threatening
you like that."
"I'm okay. Bit shaken I admit but it'll pass. Heard anything from Josiah
"They're still following. He don't seem to be heading home yet and is just
wandering about aimlessly. Still seems very angry and he's shoutin' at anyone
who gets in his way."
Chris shook his head and looked down at the floor as he rested his elbows
on his knees in defeat. "Jesus Christ. What do you think can be making him
act like this?"
"Vin?" The radio crackled interrupting the conversation.
The sharpshooter slammed his feet back on the floor and picked it up anxiously
and said, "Still here, buddy."
"Lost him," Josiah admitted quietly.
Chris plucked the radio from Vin's hand and barked, "Shit. How?"
The big man winced as he heard the blond's obvious displeasure. "He spotted
us and went ballistic. He was shouting, screaming almost and then he ran
across the street. He only just missed being hit by the traffic. We followed
for a while but lost him in the crowd. I'm really sorry, Chris."
"Godammit. Come back in, will ya?" Chris slammed the radio down on the desk
and swore. He got up and stood with one hand on his hip as he ran the fingers
of his other hand through his hair nervously, while staring into the distance
"Now what?" Vin asked as he watched his friend warily. The sharpshooter could
almost feel the tension in the air and he wondered whether Chris was on the
verge of erupting like a once-dormant volcano.
The blond, however, managed to keep a hold on his temper and answered in
a reasonable tone, "Don't know. I'd better ring Buck in case Ezra does go
home now. I don't want him approached again until we know exactly what's
wrong with him. Seeing us just seems to make him behave even worse." Chris
picked up his cell and punched in his oldest friend's number and updated
him with the minimum of words.
"We've got a lot to tell you, Chris. Something real weird is going on but
I'll tell you everything when we get back, pard," the ladies' man said before
Josiah and Nathan turned up first, offering profuse apologies and the other
two agents weren't far behind.
"Bucklin?" Chris asked as soon as the man walked in.
"His water's been contaminated."
"What?" the blond said incredulously.
"You noticed he had a bottle of water with him?" Buck asked and received
a nod in reply. "Well, it's got something in it other than water. JD took
a bottle from his fridge and got it analyzed and it's got small amounts of
two drugs in it so every time Ez drinks it he's ingesting more. The lab said
the two drugs are in different quantities in the mixture but we're still
waiting to hear exactly what narcotics are involved. We don't know how long
he's been drinking it but now I think about it has only got to be since the
accident. I ain't ever seen him with a bottle before that."
JD continued the tale, "We also found some miniature surveillance cameras
set up in most rooms in his house. Also a couple of speakers in the bedroom
sorta set in the headboard by the pillows. They were very well hidden and
I only found 'em by mistake. I'm gonna check his phone records to see who
has called him and who he's called to see if that has any bearing on this."
"JD, go and find out about the drugs first. Bug 'em until they give us an
answer and I wanna hear as soon as they know anything," Chris ordered as
the men split up to start their investigations.
The kid disappeared and rang within the hour. "Chris? One is a hallucinogen
of some sort. That's the drug with the slightly smaller dose. It resembles
the combined effects usually created by PCP and LSD but the guys have only
ever seen it once before. It's got some great long name but it's definitely
what's been causing Ezra's problems. The other one they're not so sure about
but they'll continue testing it to find out exactly what it does and how
it reacts with the hallucinogen. At least we know why he says he's hearing
voices and we can expect more violence if the first drug mimics PCP."
"Thanks, JD." The blond told the rest of his men what he'd just learned and
then asked, "Who the hell's spying on him and how did he get started on the
drugs in the first place? Could it have been at the hospital?"
"Doubt it. He was given a sedative 'cause he was upset. You saw that yerself
but I s'pose it could have been somethin' else in the syringe. They didn't
give him anything else while I was there and I really can't see that
it would have happened there. Why would they do it anyway?" Nathan asked
reasonably as he scratched his leg.
Chris said thoughtfully, "He definitely had one other injection before he
left with me to go home, Nate. Another dose of sedative, I think. Can you
get the records from the hospital? I want to know what he was supposed to
have been given while he was there. Can you see if he had a tox screen done
when he was admitted too? I want every avenue examined no matter the
relevance. This has all happened to him around the time of the wreck and
as far as we know he's only been at the hospital and at home during that
The sharpshooter nodded thoughtfully. "I'll go and question his neighbors.
I mean, the surveillance equipment had to be installed at some point so someone
may have seen something useful. When we know how long the cameras have been
there it will give us a clue as to when Ezra was initially started on the
drugs," Vin pointed out with a shrug.
"Yeah perhaps, but he was aggressive and angry when I took him home from
the hospital. He'd been totally fine up until the day of the wreck, hadn't
he? I'm positive whatever happened started on that day, either before or
after the accident, so I want those hospital records whatever, Nate," Chris
"Okay. I'll go get them but it's a long shot," Nathan said as he hurried
out the door to do his boss's bidding.
+ + + + + + +
Chris went to the ranch after finding out that Ezra still hadn't returned
home. He was getting worried as he wondered where the man was and what he
was doing. He had got all his men out searching and he'd alerted the police
to keep an eye out for his wandering agent as well. He really didn't know
what to do next. He'd arranged for his men to meet him back at the ranch
if they hadn't found Ezra within a couple of hours and they all finally turned
up after failing to track the missing man down.
Nathan arrived with the medical notes from the hospital and laid them out
on the table. "I can't see anything out of the ordinary. They didn't test
him for alcohol or drugs 'cause he was the innocent party so we can't tell
whether the drugs were in his system to cause the accident or not. I checked
his skull x-rays at the time as I said and there was nothing wrong with that
either. The drugs he was given officially at the hospital are par for the
course too but they're hardly gonna write down that they've given him a
hallucinogen, are they? You said he was given something before you took him
"Yeah." The blond moved to stand beside the medic.
"Well, everything he was given should be listed on here with the time it
was administered. There is one listed for the morning and it looks all above
board. Who gave it to him?"
"The same doctor who treated Ez when he got upset just after we first arrived,
remember?" Chris said and received an understanding nod on reply. "Ez's
got to have been in contact with another source of the drug, don't
he? It ain't all down to him drinking the water because of the time-scale
involved but the question is where and when he was given it and by whom."
The blond shrugged before turning to the sharpshooter and asked, "Vin? How
did you get on with the neighbors?"
The man scowled and shook his head angrily. "Zip. Didn't see a thing. One
bastard even had the gall to complain to me about Ezra shouting in the night
and disturbing his sleep. Didn't give a shit about what had happened to Ez
The conversation was interrupted by Chris's cell phone and the blond answered
it irritably, "Larabee."
"Ezra? Is that you?"
All the men looked up at the mention of their colleague's name.
"Where are you?" Chris asked as he flicked a quick look at Josiah.
"Don't know," Ezra replied in a timid voice.
"Are you okay?"
"They're after me. Please help me.... Need you...please," the dark- haired
"Calm down, Ez. Who's after you?" Chris asked quietly.
"Them. Always tells me things...always talking..always talking to me," Ezra
babbled as he tried to concentrate on talking to Chris instead of what was
going on in his head.
Chris shook his head worriedly, not knowing what to do or say for the best.
"Please come. They're all around me and I'm scared," Ezra begged plaintively.
"I can't come until I know where you are, Ez. Can you see anything that might
help me find you? A street sign or a store name?"
Ezra looked around in confusion as he tried to answer the blond's question.
He began to panic when he couldn't see anything of use. His eyes darted back
and forth and finally spotted the name of the only store in the street.
"Millies," he suddenly blurted out in relief.
"Millies. Store in the street. I see it," Ezra said haltingly as he backed
up until he came to a wall as he tried to escape the images that constantly
"Okay, just hold on a minute, Ez. Don't hang up, you hear me?" Chris turned
to the listening men and said, "Buck, find the phone book. See if there's
a store called Millies listed."
Buck flicked through the pages quickly and ran his finger down the page.
"Yeah, got it. Berkeley Street, Downtown Denver."
"Okay, Ez? You still there?" Chris asked anxiously.
"Yeah. Still here....still here."
"We'll be there soon. Don't go anywhere, okay? Just wait where you are,"
the blond instructed insistently.
"Yes. Just you...only you," Ezra pleaded as he put his hand over his ear
to try and block out his inner voice.
"Okay, I'll come alone." The blond couldn't understand why Ezra insisted
he only wanted Chris to go and collect him. After the troubled agent's earlier
outburst at the office and seeming to be scared of Chris it was rather an
odd request. Who knows what's going on in his mind at the moment,
the blond mentally shrugged. Chris moved to go out to the Ram but was stopped
The sharpshooter shook his head as he kept a firm grip on the blond's upper
arm. "No Chris, not on yer own. We're all coming with ya and
you're gonna be wired. We need to hear what's happening."
"Vin's right. He could blow up again and he's still armed, remember?" Josiah
"Alright but you all stay out of sight. Don't spook him and I'll call, or
you'll hear, if I need help," Chris agreed reluctantly.
"I'm taking my rifle," Vin stated quietly.
"No way, Vin," the blond retorted vehemently as he shook his head vigorously.
"Yes, Chris," Vin said insistently with a determined look on his face. "If
he goes ape again he needs taking down before he hurts you or an innocent
civilian. He needs help but you know what he was like last time in your office.
It would only take the sound of a car horn for him to flip. He's too highly
strung to treat without caution and using a gun is the only way I can see
of subduing him quickly and safely."
"YOU AIN'T KILLING HIM," Chris retorted angrily as he emphasized each
word clearly. He stood toe-to-toe and eyeball-to-eyeball with his
second-in-command and glared at him fiercely.
Vin met his friend's gaze unblinkingly and didn't wither beneath its intensity.
He answered calmly and quietly but the other men could tell he was angry
that Chris had thought he'd even consider killing his friend. "Did I say
otherwise? I can shoot to wound and it'll be the best way. If I take him
out at least we can treat him instead of losing him again."
"Could we use a taser instead? Bullets seem a bit extreme even if it
is just for wounding him," JD said apprehensively as he looked from
one man to the other. He didn't like the way things were going at all and
he hoped to possibly supply an alternative solution.
Vin shook his head negatively. "Too risky. You need it handy and if Ezra
saw it he'd freak, kid. Even if we did use a taser it don't mean he couldn't
fire his own gun before the charge took effect. If I can shoot his arm or
shoulder he won't be able to use his gun at all."
"Can't you stun him before you get close, before he sees you? Take him out
before he causes problems," Josiah suggested, not happy about using bullets
"Depends where he is on the street and you have to be pretty close to fire
a taser. If he's in a store doorway I'd have to get within sight of him to
use it and it'd be hard to creep up on him anyway without being seen," Chris
replied, reluctantly coming round to Vin's reasoning.
"The bullet is the only way and we ain't got much time to collect other weapons
anyway. I've got my rifle with me and JD's got the wiring equipment too.
If we delay, Ezra will just disappear and we can't afford to lose him again
'cause it's gonna be dark soon," Vin said insistently. "We can't guarantee
he'd go back home. Whatever happens I need to deal with him from a distance.
We need to lure him out into the open and give me room to work if it comes
down to shooting him. Any weapon he sees at close range will set him off
but that don't mean you should go unarmed, Chris. Just keep yer gun well
hidden but easily accessible. I'll lend ya my body armor too. Ain't having
you more vulnerable than you need to be by not wearing anything protective.
You hear me?" the sharpshooter demanded sternly as he looked at his
Chris sighed and stared down at his sneakers as he nodded resignedly. He
knew Vin was right in everything he'd said but that didn't mean Chris had
to like it. "Okay, I hear ya. Now you listen to me, cowboy.
Wound, not kill but still only as a last resort. I want to avoid hurting
him 'cause he can't help what he's doing."
"That may be so but he could still kill you without meaning to, pard," Buck
said from where he'd been listening. He didn't want Ezra to be hurt either
but it seemed the only way to subdue the man if he lost control again.
"Right let's get set up."