Seven ATF agents sat around a long table in the conference room on the seventh
floor of the Federal building. The men made up the members of the highly
venerated Team 7, also known as the Magnificent Seven for their high success
Large pieces of paper were laid out, covering the shiny laminated wood surface
of the table and giving audience to the seven men. JD, being the only
one showing the exuberance of youth, was bent over between Buck and Josiah,
examining the detailed plans and maps. The others displayed varying degrees
of interest, from apathy to mild concern to irritation at JD's profusion
of energy, which Buck finally restrained, by forcing the youngest member
of their elite team into a chair.
"These are the plans to the warehouse district. We got a tip that a
load of weapons will be delivered to this building." Chris placed his
finger on one of the many abandoned warehouses that still cluttered part
of downtown Denver. His eyes came up, scanning the faces of his men.
He knew they were paying attention, even though it was hard to tell.
"They'll be there in two days, for one night. We'll be able to grab
the sellers and buyers in this one."
Buck arched a dark eye brow as his interest piqued. He loved it when
they could catch some big fish. He got tired of always arresting little
inconsequential puppets, who ended up thrown to them to protect the real
"So what's the plan, cowboy?" Vin asked with a sly smile as he leaned
forward in his chair.
"Simple, us and another unit will raid the warehouse, hopefully surprising
them," Chris explained.
Buck shook his head, folding his arms across his chest.
"Is that a problem, Buck?" Chris asked, straightening. He had noticed
his old friend's perturbed expression. Buck was never one to hide his
feelings; they were always posted on his normally jovial face for all to
see. Next to JD and Nathan, Buck was the easiest to read.
"What if they're ready for us? This could be a set up and we'd be caught
in the middle, as usual," Buck answered, his brown eyes glared at Chris from
across the table.
"That's just a chance we'll have to take, Buck. We have to get those
weapons before they reach the streets," Chris explained. He could tell
that Buck was on edge, had been ever since he heard about this raid.
"I have a bad feelin' about this one, Chris." It was the tone in Buck's
voice that got Chris' concern. He couldn't remember ever having heard
him so ominous before.
"Buck, this is just a simple raid don't go thinking about things that might
not even happen," Chris reprimanded, he didn't need Buck planting doubts
or fears in everyone's mind, especially JD's.
"Hey, whose turn is it to get the grub, I'm hungry," JD suddenly voiced as
he felt his stomach rumble. He also hoped to extinguish the growing
tension between Buck and Chris. Everyone turned their attention to
Ezra who seemed oblivious to the goings on.
The undercover agent raised green eyes as he felt everyone's attention now
directed at him. "Gentlemen, I regret that I will be unable to widen your
culinary horizons, my car is indisposed."
"You mean it's in the shop again," Josiah chuckled, never passing up an
opportunity to deliver a little jab here and there to the smooth talking
southerner, and when it came to his car it was always hitting below the belt.
Ezra gave the large agent an offended frown. "It's just being detailed,"
Ezra added. He caught the flash of metal coming toward him and caught
the keys in mid air, flashing a traitorous sneer at Vin who only grinned
and sat back. Everyone chuckled as Ezra reluctantly walked out mumbling
under his breath about the lack of appreciation his cohorts showed for
"That's Tanner's car." Three men in a black sedan cruised slowly by
the beaten up red jeep. "Tanner is one of Larabee's closest friends,
if we grab him it should be easy to convince Larabee to stop the raid."
Ezra continued to complain under his breath as he made his way down to the
parking garage. When he reached the ground floor, he started going
over a list of restaurants in his head. Discounting most, as his fellow
agents' tastes were far below his own sophisticated palate. However,
if he brought them something truly exotic they might never ask him to do
this bothersome duty again. Now, there's a thought that brought a
mischievous grin to his clean shaven face. He got behind the wheel
of Vin's rather beat up jeep, careful not to rub up against the mud caked
outside, which was probably the only thing holding the vehicle together.
He placed the key in the ignition then froze as he felt the barrel of a gun
at the back of his head. It's a unique feeling, having a gun pointed
at your head, a feeling one never gets use to.
"Okay Tanner, very slowly, step out of the jeep and keep your hands where
we can see them," a deep voice instructed.
Ezra stepped out and turned to see three men standing before him. All
of similar size wearing three piece dark suits and dark glasses, looking
like the characters from the movie, 'Men in Black.' Ezra had to suppress
a chuckle as a smile cracked his handsome face, bringing out his dimples.
"I would have a talk with whoever designs your wardrobe, gentlemen," Ezra
One of the men stepped up and rather intimately frisked him, relieving him
of his weaponry. Ezra glanced toward the elevator wishing someone would
come down, but it was late for lunch and most people had already left to
"I feel it's my duty to inform you that you have made a grievous error. I'm
not Mr. Tanner," Ezra admitted.
"He's right, Frank," the smallest of the three said as he opened Ezra's wallet.
"His ID says Agent Ezra Standish." The three men glared at the well
dressed ATF agent.
"Well, let's just hope he's as good a friend of Larabee's as Tanner," Frank
Ezra didn't get a chance to realize the implication in that statement as
one of the men struck him over the head letting him crumble to the cement
floor. The three men picked up Ezra's limp body and threw him into
the trunk of the car.
"Where the hell did Ezra go to get lunch, Kansas City?" Buck
grumbled. He had been in a bad mood all day and he didn't know quite
why. It was usually Vin or Chris who got these premonitions, but lately
Buck had been blessed or cursed with them. He just couldn't shake the
feeling that something bad was about to happen.
Chris hadn't realized how long the southern agent had been gone until Buck
voiced his complaint loud enough for everyone to hear. Chris got a
bad feeling, which started in the pit of his stomach. When he heard
JD swear from somewhere out in the other room that feeling sent tendrils
of dread up to his chest. He closed his eyes.
JD came running through the maze of cubicles waving a piece of paper in his
Chris stepped out of his office meeting the anxious agent who was being dogged
by the others.
"Chris, this just came over the fax!"
Everyone gathered around their leader as he read the message, "We have your
man, call off the raid or he's dead."
Chris crumpled the paper in his fist. Vin's eyes went wide and he took
off. Buck clenched his fists in helpless rage.
Chris sat down on the corner of one of the desks, realizing that it was
Ezra's. He looked at the sterile cubby that the undercover agent worked
in. He smiled when he noticed the single picture of all of them during
a fishing trip last month hanging on the wall. It was the first one
Ezra had ever been on.
Vin returned moments later. "They must've grabbed him thinking he was
me. My car is still there." Guilt stabbed at the lean
sharpshooter. Josiah placed a hand on his shoulder.
"It's no one's fault Vin, they would have grabbed any one of us," Josiah
said, trying to soothe the sharpshooter's troubled soul. Vin and Ezra
had grown closer in recent weeks. Ezra was secretly helping Vin with
writing his reports, and helping to improve his writing and grammar
skills. Chris was aware of this literary alliance and was grateful
to the sometime arrogant agent.
"What are we going to do, Chris?" Buck asked, running his hand through
his thick dark hair. He blamed himself. He had felt that something
was going to happen, why hadn't he acted on it? God! How did Chris
and Vin live with this?
"Try and get the raid called off," Chris replied, the tone of his voice
revealing the lack of confidence he felt that this would happen. This
was to be one of the biggest weapon deliveries to come through Denver, and
their best chance to catch sellers and buyers together. He wasn't sure
the agency would pass up this chance to save one man.
Ezra was taken to an old abandoned house not far from the warehouses, which
ran along an old rail line. He awoke on a cold cement floor, his hands
tie-wrapped in front of him. He was in a small basement with a small
dirty window above. They had taken his jacket and vest. He slowly
pushed himself up to a sitting position, wincing at the pain in his head.
He had no idea how long he laid unconscious or if the others realized he
was even missing. Larabee would probably just think he was taking one
of his extended lunches.
Three men entered the small room. The same three that had taken him
in the garage, one carried a Polaroid camera. "Okay pretty boy, we
need to make you presentable," Frank sneered, removing his own jacket and
rolling up his sleeves.
"Actually, I was at my barber just yesterday," Ezra smugly replied, earning
him a kick to his side which began the fierce beating from all three men.
Ezra tried to curl up and protect his stomach and face. Frank grabbed
him under the arms and pulled him up, holding him while the other two took
turns landing punches and kicks to his face and upper body.
After twenty minutes, Ezra laid semi-conscious, tasting the blood that filled
his mouth. He knew his ribs were cracked and his whole body ached.
He could feel the blood on his face from the numerous cuts and his left eye
was already swelling shut. Frank forced Ezra back up opening his shirt
to show the growing bruises across his mid section. One of the others
started taking pictures. He thought his name was Dillon, since he had
kept hearing the other man yell, 'good one, Dillon' every time a particularly
painful punch was made to his mid section.
Ezra was sure the pictures were to give Larabee something to think about.
After the photo shoot was done, they let him fall back onto his side.
Ezra closed his eyes, trying to push back the pain that he felt with every
breath he took. Someone grabbed his arm and wrapped something around
his upper bicep. He forced his eyes open enough to see the needle coming
toward his exposed vein. New found strength and energy created from
unmitigated fear flooded through him and he started to fight, trying to push
himself away. He felt the weight of two more bodies holding him down
and watched in horror as the needle slid into his protruding vein and the
liquid slowly injected. He screamed.
God, how he hated needles, ever since he was a kid and his mother would trick
him by saying they were going to the store then he'd find himself at the
doctor fighting for all he was worth as his mother continued lying to him,
telling him it won't hurt. The thought of that thin piece of metal
entering his body made him nauseous. He had felt the narcotic seep
into his vein like a demon thing, rejoicing to be let loose to reap chaos
within its host. The room started to heave and tilt. Ezra stared
at the walls that ballooned and fluctuated for hours, they almost seemed
to be reaching out for him. He heard laughter and saw the disjointed
bodies of the three men around him. A face swam to within a few inches
of his. Ezra brought his head forward fast and hard his brow connecting
with the bridge of the man's nose, bringing a smile to his face as it brought
a scream of pain from the other.
He felt the kick to his ribs, but his smile refused to leave his face.
"What do you mean Travis said no!" Buck yelled, pacing angrily back
and forth in front of Larabee's desk, his arms waving wildly. Chris
sat behind his desk his head in his hands rubbing his temples. He kept
his head down as his friend continued to rant. Buck quieted as the
receptionist entered, lying a manila envelope on Chris's desk.
"Thanks, Patty," Chris said to the petite woman who gave him a warm smile
and quickly left.
Chris had known the raid wouldn't be called off. He had spent two hours
with Judge Travis and several other high end executives who recited the
unofficial lines to every situation, 'Every man knows the risks when they
join the force. It's what they're paid for. It's part of the job'.
Chris had to control the urge to punch one rather smug looking captain in
"Travis says the raid goes down as plan. We have two days to find Ezra,"
Chris stated flatly. Vin sat in the corner not saying a word and looking
down at his cowboy boots. Why hadn't he just gone and got lunch?
"Well, that's just great! Two whole fucking days, we don't even know
where to start or who grabbed him," Buck fumed, but some of the fervor
was leaving him. He couldn't help thinking about what could be happening
to Ezra right now. He fell heavily into a chair as if all the life
had been suddenly drained from him.
Chris opened the envelope, as Nathan, JD and Josiah entered, spilling the
contents onto his desk. Seven polaroids slid out, causing audible curses
and gasps from everyone in the room. Chris abruptly stood, as if some
vile creature had leapt out at him, shoving his chair back hard enough for
it to bang against the wall. He picked up one of the pictures looking
at the battered figure of his friend being held up by an unknown pair of
hands. Ezra's chin rested on his chest, black and blue marks dotted
his smooth stomach. JD turned away unable to stop the tears that now
flowed freely. Chris's hand shook.
It was always the same three men that Ezra had contact with. The one
that he had head-butted now sported a thick bandage across the bridge of
his nose and two black eyes. Sometimes they would talk, thinking he
was too out of it to know what was going on. During the times when
his mind was able to fend off the effects of the drugs, he listened, but
it was getting harder. He knew he was losing his fight to hold on to
some part of reality. He actually felt rather proud that these men
thought him important enough that a whole agency would halt a raid, just
for him. Boy, were they in for a surprise, Ezra quietly chuckled.
Larabee had everyone in the agency, and friends outside the agency, on the
lookout for the missing undercover agent. The Magnificent Seven had
a reputation for getting the job done, even if there methods, at times, were
rather unorthodox. Everyone knew of the bond that held the seven men
together. They were as close as any family, and everyone feared what
would happen if one of those bonds was broken.
The six agents worked around the clock checking every lead; the only sleep
they got was when they finally passed out at their desks whenever they checked
in. They raided the lobby vending machines for substance. Buck
took a baseball bat to one of them when it cheated him out of a turkey
sandwich. Everyone was on edge and as time passed no one wanted to
think that their efforts might now be in vain.
Ezra no longer had any concept of time, only the intervals between
injections, which seemed to be getting shorter and shorter. They had
tried to ply him for information, but he believed he succeeded in totally
confusing them, at least he hoped so. He was never sure what he actually
told them during these brutal sessions. He was scared. He no
longer feared the needle, and infact, welcomed it, and this realization scared
him more than he'd ever been scared before.
They had just given him another injection when Frank, who seemed to be the
leader, entered the small room, his face contorted in anger.
"Damn! Patty just told me they're going through with the raid tonight,"
he yelled at his two associates.
'Patty? The receptionist at the office was named Patty,' Ezra thought for
just a second then reality ceased to exist.
"Can we change the delivery place?" Dillon asked.
"No. Hell, we can't even get in contact with the sellers--it's too
late. They're on their own," Frank explained, regretting having to
leave their sources out to dry. He had bet on a long shot, on the
camaraderie and loyalty of the agency and it had back fired. Frank
glared down at the wasted agent who lay unmoving on the floor. At least
he would get some satisfaction out of all of this. "Take him to some
back alley and finish him off. It'll make for good headlines in tomorrow's
paper, 'ATF agent found dead from drug overdose."
The two men roughly picked up the drugged southerner and dragged him out.
It was the night of the raid, the six agents having just returned from another
futile search. Chris had managed to talk Judge Travis into calling
in another team to take their place in the raid. He wanted to spend
every second he could in trying to find Ezra. They only had five more
hours before it all went down and Ezra's life would then be worthless.
Josiah and Vin had threatened, bribed and pleaded with every snitch they
had, but no one was talking or knew a thing.
JD passed out coffee to the five dejected and weary agents. They all
were running on less than six hours sleep in over 48 hours, but they wouldn't
stop until they found their missing man and brought him home, no matter what.
Ezra's hands had been untied and he was leaning up against the door in the
back seat of the sedan, barely coherent. His whole body shook convulsively,
he couldn't feel his hands and he had a hard time making anything work.
The car drove the speed limit down Colfax Ave., the smoked windows making
it hard to see out into the late evening darkness, and smudging the passing
headlights. They were going to dump Ezra's body down around Elitch's
amusement park just off Speer Ave. It was Wednesday night so the streets
weren't too congested but construction zones had forced traffic to a crawl
on Colfax nearing Sixth. Ezra felt the car stop and heard the two men
engage in conversation. He was acting on an instinct to survive when
he brought his foot up striking the man next to him in the ribs, taking pleasure
at the yelp of pain he produced. Ezra yanked at the door handle and
fell out of the car. He staggered to his feet, disoriented for a moment
and then ran across the median.
Dillon, the driver, got out of the car, drawing his gun. He fired at
the fleeing agent. Ezra didn't even feel the bullet rip through his
shoulder. The second man leapt out yelling, "What the hell do
you think you're doing?"
The two men looked around at the other cars stopped around them, seeing people
pull out their cell phones. "Shit, let's get out of here." The
two men got back in their car, drove over the median, and headed west.
Ezra heard the sirens and brought his hands to his ears. People stared
at him, moving aside at the state that he was in. Ezra just ran, fell,
picked himself up and continued running, his heart thundering in his
chest. He didn't feel the blood running down his arm leaving a trail
down the sidewalk. He looked up at the tall buildings, which suddenly
appeared to melt down around him. He leapt as the sidewalk seemed to
buckle, and he shoved someone aside who tried to help him.
JD, Vin, Buck, Nathan and Josiah headed for the elevator to once again try
and search for their missing friend when they heard Chris yelling as he raced
out of his office.
"They found him!"
"Is he alive?" Vin asked, as the six men ignored the slow elevator and headed
for the stairs, taking two at a time as they raced down the seven flights.
The team drove through the streets in two vehicles, their sirens blaring.
They pulled up in front of a small Korean restaurant on the east side of
town. Chris raced inside stopping when he saw a familiar uniformed
police officer talking to a small, elderly Korean woman. The cop nodded
and broke away coming up to Chris.
"He's in the back, Chris," the officer replied to the team leader's silent
question. Chris saw in the officer's face that there was more and he
held his breath as the officer added, "He's strung out."
Everyone's mouth fell open and JD felt his stomach knot. "No one else
has been notified and it won't appear on any reports, just get him out of
here quick before anyone else shows up."
Chris smiled at the huge officer. "I owe you one, Harry."
"Hell Larabee, this is just one less I owe you." Harry smiled and returned
to the distraught restaurant owner.
The six agents entered the small back room, which functioned as the kitchen
and were shocked at what they saw. Ezra's bruised and bloodied body
was hunched down in a corner, sweat ran down his face and chest. His
breaths came out in fearful pants, but what grabbed everyone's attention
was the intensity of his green eyes. Ezra looked like a wild animal,
trapped, coiled and ready to strike. He held a large butcher knife
in front of his face, seeming to take an interest in the shiny metal.
Nathan saw the blood that flowed from Ezra's arm and knew they had to get
to him fast or he was going to bleed to death.
"Ezra?" Chris almost choked on the name, trying to keep his emotions
from overwhelming him. He quickly wiped away the tear that escaped
his watery gaze. He would exact his own form of punishment when he
caught the people who did this, and he would catch them.
Nathan placed a hand on Chris's shoulder and leaned toward him. "I
don't think he recognizes any of us."
Vin silently backed up and left.
"God, Buck, look what they did to him." At the sound of JD's voice,
Ezra's eyes came up. Chris grabbed JD by the arm bringing him forward.
"Talk to him, JD," Chris whispered, afraid any sudden noise would send the
man over the edge.
JD tentatively approached, keeping his hands in front of him. "Ezra,
it's me, JD. You're safe now, why don't you put the knife down."
They barely heard the southerner's quiet voice. "Can't. No more, won't
let them." Ezra's eyes glazed over and returned to his knife, running
the blade down his arm. Nathan inwardly winced at the sight.
Chris's rage was building. When had the enigmatic agent gotten to him?
When had he entered the family and their hearts?
The five men moved a step closer breaking Ezra out of his fascination with
the knife. Faster than anyone thought imaginable, he swept the knife
out, almost catching Buck across the stomach and causing everyone to jump
back. Chris saw Vin slip in the back door. He moved to Ezra's
right hoping to keep his attention and enable Vin to creep up on him.
"Ezra, we're you're friends, we're not going to hurt you," Chris calmly uttered,
keeping his voice even.
Buck was to enraged to even speak, he just kept staring at his tortured friend
and wanting badly to rip someone's heart out of their chest.
Ezra sensed someone behind him and turned. Chris lunged forward grabbing
the delusional agent and driving them both to the tile floor. Vin fell
on Ezra's arm holding the knife down and wrenching it out of his hand.
The others quickly piled on top, surprised at the smaller man's strength.
Ezra screamed in pain and fear. He spewed a litany of profanity, which
stunned all the agents. Chris looked into the fear stricken face of
his friend and did the only thing he could think of. He brought his
fist into Ezra's already bruised jaw knocking him unconscious.
Everyone slowly got up; Vin pulled Ezra's head and shoulders into his lap
and pushed the sweat soaked hair back from his brow. Everyone was breathing
hard, and no one could say a word. JD rubbed his side where Ezra's
foot had caught him, knocking the wind out of him.
"Oh my God," Nathan whispered on a breath of disgust. He had pulled
up Ezra's sleeve to reveal an arm covered with needle marks.
"Shit!" Buck swore turning away, tears threatened to fall from his
brown eyes. Nathan had to swallow the bile, which rose in his own
throat. Josiah said a prayer for the southern agent and a curse for
the people who had done this.
"Buck, bring my car around to the back," Chris asked, throwing his keys to
the standing agent. Buck grabbed the keys and raced out, followed by
"They must have been about to finish him off when he got away," Josiah finally
found the strength to speak.
"We'll take him to my place," Chris stated to no one in particular.
"Chris, he needs a hospital," Nathan stated.
"No," Chris snapped. "The brass already have it in for him, if they
got wind of this they wouldn't care what the truth was they'd force him
out. It would kill him."
Nathan bowed his head knowing that Chris was right. Ezra's disregard
for authority had earned him the ire of several high officials, if not for
his outstanding undercover work and the support of his fellow agents, he
would have been out a long time ago. Chris laid a hand on the dark
"You and Josiah have to take care of him the best you can, at least until
we get him clean."
Nathan's lips pressed together in a firm line of determination. He
started checking the bullet wound to his shoulder relieved to find that it
had gone straight through. They heard Chris's king cab rumble up to
the back door and Buck and JD raced in.
Josiah gathered up the smaller man and placed him into the back of the truck
where JD had laid out a blanket. Nathan climbed in next to him followed
by Vin, who still felt guilty, knowing it should have been him.
"Chris, I need to go home and get some things that might help our brother
through this," Josiah said to the worried leader.
"Sure, Josiah." Chris jumped behind the wheel as JD and Buck squeezed
in the front seat with him.
Chris had built a small, but comfortable log home, in a secluded area west
of Evergreen, which was about thirty minutes west of Denver. It was
nestled within five acres of dense pine and aspen trees, the beautiful Rockies
as a backdrop. Even with rampant growth throughout Colorado, Chris
had managed to create a haven from the stress and chaos of the outside world.
Vin and Nathan carried Ezra inside, placing him on the king size log bed.
He stirred briefly, his head going back and forth on the pillow as the demons
once again began their delusional dance in his mind.
Nathan removed Ezra's shirt and boots. Chris pulled out a couple sheets
and ripped them up to use as bandages. Nathan pressed on Ezra's stomach
and ribs, feeling three of them give. Buck brought in a pitcher of
water and some cloths and began wiping Ezra's fevered face and body.
Nathan managed to get the bullet wound cleaned and bandaged when Ezra's eyes
flashed open causing him to jump. Buck and JD were still in the room
and saw the dangerous look those eyes held. "Ah shit!" Buck yelled
as all three men jumped on top of the now violently thrashing agent.
Chris and Vin came running in from the kitchen seeing the others trying to
hold Ezra down.
"Jeezes, won't he ever tire out!" Buck yelled over Ezra's horror driven screams.
"Nathan can't you give him something?" Chris yelled.
"Not with all that junk in him."
Josiah walked in the door a few minutes later, seeing everyone still trying
to hold down the seemingly untiring southerner.
Josiah came up behind JD and pulled him aside, grabbing Ezra's forearm tight
and placing his other hand on the delirious man's forehead. He kept
his voice low, but sharp, trying to penetrate pass the drug induced demons,
which plagued Ezra's drug sopped mind.
"Ezra, Ezra." Josiah brought his hand down off his forehead and squeezed
Ezra's wounded shoulder slightly to get his attention. He was rewarded
with an angry, glare thrown up at him. "Listen to my voice son, feel
this?" Josiah squeezed Ezra's forearm. "These are the only things
that are real, concentrate on my voice." It took a moment, but Ezra
slowly calmed, his eyes regaining some measure of rational as he heard the
spiritual agent's baritone voice, trying to break through the wall of
hallucinations, which wrapped around his mind.
Ezra swallowed as he looked into the blue-gray eyes of his friend.
The others slowly released their hold. Buck fell back against the wall
and slid to the floor, putting his head down on his knees to hide the
tears. JD quietly joined him. Vin flopped down in a nearby chair
and closed his eyes totally exhausted. Chris sat on the floor at the
foot of the bed and Nathan sat on the other side of the bed trying to make
sure Ezra hadn't re-opened his wound.
For the next fifteen minutes, Josiah talked smoothly and calmly until Ezra
finally drifted into a reluctant sleep. Josiah stood bringing the quilt
up to Ezra's chest. Everyone, except Vin, who had fallen asleep, left
Josiah handed Nathan a small package. "When he wakes up brew these
herbs up into a tea for him."
"What is this?" Nathan asked, wrinkling his nose as he smelled them.
"When my father was doing missionary work down in South America he came across
all sorts of cures that the native Indians used."
"How did you manage to get Ezra to calm down?" Buck cut in.
"I did some volunteer work at a drug rehab several years ago. I saw a lot
of youths going through exactly what Ezra is going through, only difference,
most of them had the choice to start." Josiah paused as if remembering
a rather unpleasant memory. "Ezra is in for a rough couple days."
Chris turned to Buck. "Buck, you and JD need to go back to the office
and cover for us. We're going to keep Ezra under wraps for awhile until
he recovers and I don't want the Judge becoming suspicious."
"Don't worry Chris, we'll keep him guessing." Buck grabbed the young
agent by the arm and dragged him out after him.
Ezra's violent outbursts diminished by morning, but fevered and uncontrolled
tremors took turns ravaging his body. The drugs had revived many unpleasant
memories buried deep within Ezra's mind, memories that were now turning into
nightmares. Someone was always with him, moping his brow with a cool
rag and talking to him, helping him through the hallucinations that the drugs
and fever conjured up.
During one unpleasant bout of nightmares, a heart wrenching scream woke
Vin. He jumped and raced to Ezra's side, wrapping his arms around the
shivering man and hearing the quiet pleas to his mother to not leave him.
After two very tiring days, Ezra finally slept soundly and peacefully.
His fever had finally broke, much to everyone's relief.
Through those two days, the agents took turns covering for each other,
using the excuse that they were following up on leads. The Judge indulged
the agents, thinking that there was very little hope of them finding Standish
Vin had just returned from the office and entered the room, which was becoming
everyone's second home, to find Chris and everyone surrounding Ezra's bed.
He was finally coming around.
Ezra's eyes fluttered open, closed, and then opened again. He smiled
faintly as he looked up into the familiar faces of his fellow agents.
"Welcome back," Chris stated, a genuine smile of relief removing the worry
of the last few days from his face. Nathan took Ezra's pulse and checked
"How long?" Ezra hoarsely asked.
"You were takin' five days ago, we found you three days ago," Chris informed
Ezra remembered some of what happened over the course of the week.
"I guess...it's safe to assume...I'm out of a job." He knew certain
ATF officials were always waiting and watching for an opportunity to fire
him. What would be better than an agent who was a junkie, even if it
was only for a short time and under protest.
Chris pressed his lips together and shook his head. "No one but us
knows a thing. Officially, you're still missing. We'll wait another
day then tell the Judge we found you tied up in one of the warehouses, just
a little battered. That should be good for another week of convalescence."
Ezra smiled. He couldn't believe what these men had done for him.
"What happened with the raid?"
"We caught the sellers, the buyers never showed. We think they were tipped
off somehow," Buck added.
Something flashed through Ezra's still hazy mind. "What is it, Ezra?"
Vin asked, noticing the strange look that crossed his face.
"Something I overheard when they thought I was out of it. 'Patty said
that the raid was still on." Ezra furrowed his brow making sure he
had remembered it right.
Everyone looked at each other then JD voiced their thoughts. "Isn't
that new receptionist named Patty?"
"Yeah and she knew about the raid," Vin added.
"Shit." Chris ran his hand down his face. "Buck."
"I'm on my way, Bossman."
"Remember Buck, she's still a woman," Chris dryly reminded the slow burning
"Ah, Chris, why'd you'd have to go and remind me."
"I better go with him and keep reminding him," JD said, racing after his
"Hey Chris, we can't keep covering for you. You're goin' to at least
have to make a cameo appearance or something, or the Judge's going to send
out the whole agency looking for you," Vin said, his eyes shining with amusement.
For the last couple days, everyone had been dancing around the questions
that the Judge kept asking. Chris had only made one quick appearance
in the office and rushed out before the Judge could even question him.
Josiah entered the bedroom holding a steaming cup of tea. He helped
Ezra up and placed the cup to his lips.
"God Josiah! This stuff is awful, you trying to kill me," Ezra sputtered
at the horrid tasting liquid. Josiah tipped the cup back forcing the
rest of the noxious liquid down his protesting friend's throat.
"It will purge your soul and your body of the demons, which may still lurk
there, brother Ezra," Josiah said with a grin.
"PURGE!" Ezra's eyes widen as he felt the contents of his stomach rise up
his throat. Nathan was ready with a bucket.
One week later.
Ezra had returned to his own apartment after a couple days, but one of the
other agents continued to stay with him. At first he protested, then
he decided it would be easier just to get use to it. He returned to
light duty, no one the wiser. Patty was arrested and confessed to
everything. She was then placed in the witness protection program.
She had been selling secrets for a month. Her mother had become very
ill and she needed the money for her medicine and treatment. Since
she was willing to cooperate they went easy on her. The information
led to the arrest of some of the buyers and two of the three men who had
abducted Ezra. Needless to say, those two men spent three days in intensive
care, apparently they fell down several flights of stairs and off a building
trying to escape, at least that's what Larabee put down in his report.
The Judge entered the Seven's office area. He heard the friendly laughter
and banter of all seven agents coming from Larabee's office.
"Judge." Chris nodded as Travis entered. The esteemed magistrate
turned to look at Standish, who still appeared a little unhealthy.
His emerald eyes were bright, but slightly sunken, he had lost some weight
and still appeared a little shaky.
"Mr. Standish, under the recommendation of Mr. Larabee and myself I have
placed you in for commendation," Judge Travis announced.
Josiah, who sat next to the astonished agent, slapped him on the shoulder.
"Sir, what for?" Ezra asked warily.
"You identified the leak, which led to the arrest of one of the largest arms
Ezra shook his head. "I was just lucky that I overheard what I did,"
he tried to explain.
"Hey Ez, don't fight it," Buck said. "After what you've been through
you deserve it."
Ezra cocked his head and had to think about that a moment, then a faint smile
came to his face as he decided that he did. Everyone laughed at his
expression and the Judge could only stare, slightly bewildered, and realizing
that there was something he was missing, but not sure he really wanted to