Disclaimers: Not mine, no money made from these stories.
Acknowledgments: MOG--her sandbox (Hi mog)...Mitzi..she's read this a trillion times (both endings.) Huge Thanks.
Another Brick in the Wall.. by Pink Floyd.
Thanks: Nancy at Blackraptor for posting it ...and Mitzi again.
Warnings: Fluff....just a fluff story....a filler....a, "No TV reception at night...No shoes on my horse...Its raining again....stuck at an airport terminal....what am I to do now?" kind of story...
"Now Ezra quit yer gawd dang belly aching an' git yer ass movin'," Buck Wilmington forcibly shoved the Southerner through the door.
"Really gentlemen its feeling much improved," Ezra punctuated the remark with a careful smile trying valiantly not to raise the upper corner of his right lip. " I think the pills the good Doctor prescribed are working wonderfully."
"Cuz they're pain meds Brother," Sanchez rested a firm guiding hand on the undercover agent's shoulder and gently propelled the stalling agent forward.
"Yes, yes of course they are...and I think they've done the trick," Standish ran his tongue up over the trouble spot in the back of his mouth and though it ached some and felt slightly hotter than the rest of his mouth....all in all it was greatly improved.
Ezra tried to roll out of Sanchez's grasp. Buck quietly grabbed his upper arm, "Keep movin' forward Ez." Together Buck and Josiah manually herded the undercover agent toward the front desk.
Pleasantries were exchanged.....The receptionist smiling sweetly at Buck. The paper work had been filled out previously, a simple way to shorten the wait.
It was the waiting that was the worst. Not only that but in those long minutes or half hours that one is forced to endure in a receptionist area....the ominous tick of the clock became closely akin to types of mind games and torture.
It was also a time in which one Ezra Standish could probably finagle his way out of what he perceived to be a bad situation.
So with forethought and much planning, Chris and Nathan had the paper worked filled out earlier. JD and Vin were forbidden from extradicting Standish to the present location. Vin would have to much empathy and allow for an escape and JD would be unwillingly conned into letting Ezra 'walk'. Chris and Nathan both refrained from chaperoning the undercover agent...neither one had the patience nor benevolence to put up with his balking.
That left the dirty chore to Buck and Josiah. Both men took the responsibility with silent agreement but in private they made sure Chris some how 'repaid' them for services rendered.
It was with a sigh of relief that the head nurse suddenly materialized and escorted them down to the prep. room. There had been no wait.
With each muffled step on the padded carpet, Standish spoke quicker. His greasy charm oozed like slime from a slug. Buck quietly tightened his hold on Ezra's upper arm...silently re-affirming his own resolve to follow this through. Damn Ezra could convince a bear to waken in the dead of winter.
Josiah had merely chuckled at the litany of phrases that spewed forth with southern charm and educated arguments...even philosophical. Sanchez admired the few prints hanging on the ivy textured walls. The corridor, though seemingly too long, was tastefully decorated.
At the threshold of the prep room. Standish finally stopped walking and dug his heels into the small runner that divided carpet from textured well crafted tile flooring. There was no way in hell they were getting him to go through with this madness. A simple procedure his ass...or mouth more like it.
He had a cousin once. A year or two older than he. They had played cards together as children. When she had seen an Ace of Diamonds slip from his shirt sleeve she had beaten the living tar out of him. Whenever he had practiced his 'arts' on her....whether it be picking pockets, the lock to her secret box or anything of the kind...and she'd catch him...holy terror reigned down upon him. When he had been forced to go to school with her...she never let anyone pick on him...never. Anyone pushed her little cousin around she stood up for him and bloodied their noses. Despite falling under her tyrannical sense of right and wrong, Ezra had really liked her. He lived with her and her parents for almost six months. She had been the first one to introduce him to a Swirly. He never thought he would forgive her for shoving his head into the toilet...and she had never thought that she would forgive him for reading her diary. That tough older cousin of his, at the fragile age of eleven years old, taught him a lot about respect and honing ones skill.
She had her tonsils removed three weeks after he had been forced to leave their home. Tonsils...not a big deal. She had never come home. At the wake....holding a new Aunt's hand...he had forgiven his cousin for the swirly and wished she could rise up out of that silk line coffin and perform another one.
Standing now at the entrance of the room with Josiah and Buck flanking him. He seriously reconsidered his options.
A dentist chair sat toward the front of the room facing large picture windows. A rock garden with a small cascading falls rumbled down shelves of rocks. The view afforded the patient a calming scene of the outside world. Behind the serene display of falling water lay a thick batch of birch, pine and amazingly a few maple trees. The garden all an all was very sedate and almost comforting.
Comforting......if one was not the individual directed toward 'the chair'.
The Chair itself was cast in a light shade of soft silver, perhaps, nickel or pearlescence, maybe even pewter.....or if one was of Ezra Standish's frame of mind....prison drab grey.
"Come on Brother don't stop now," Josiah's soft voice rumbled against Standish's ear.
"Ya don't move yer butt Ez and I'll haul yer ass over there," Wilmington whispered on the other side.
Standish quickly surmised a plan for escape. The grips holding him fast...increased their pressure.
His Uncle, a rancher by trade, (an endeavor Ezra never understood. Why someone would devote their time and energy to raising unforgiving hooved beasts for a pittance earning, was totally beyond the young southerner) still this Uncle, though not truly an uncle. Uncle Thomas was just an acquaintance of Maude's new husband. Unfortunately he had an extra bed under his roof for a growing boy. Uncle Thomas had a toughness about him that awed the young city southerner. With a soft voice and a steady hand the man yielded equipment and animals like no other. A life time of sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy had caught up to the old man. One evening late, in a heavy down poor a young Ezra, barely tall enough to see over the dashboard of the '77 Rust colored Ford guided it down country roads rushing to get his uncle to the local hospital. His Aunt had sat beside him holding desperately to her paling husband trying to keep his life going.
In the waiting room, she had kept wringing her hands as she sat primly in a plastic chair fighting back tears. Ezra had flipped cards. He knew the outcome. It would be just like his Cousin.
This time he did not get to go to the Wake. A stranger had picked him up the next morning at the hospital and shuttled him off to a new destination. His soft good byes to his grief striken Aunt had fallen on deaf ears. It didn't matter. In the end, they had wheeled a sturdy man between doors that read NO ADMITTANCE and he never came out.
Ezra tried to squirm out of Buck and Josiah's holds. He was not as strong as his Uncle. He did not have the same leathery toughness as that old man. Cousin Katie could have probably out shot, out rode and out fought any of them. How could Ezra ever hope to survive where his stalwart cousin faltered. Why would the results be any different?
In front of the chair rested a tray, empty at the moment. A movable surgical light hung over the area and a small stool sat beside the chair. Anesthetic machine rested off in the corner discreetly out of the main focal point of the room.
A nurse nodded a 'hello' and directed the three men toward The Chair.
Buck and Josiah each tightened their grip and tugged the smaller man between them.
Standish peered anxiously over his shoulder praying for some kind of natural disaster. Perhaps a small earthquake...tiny maybe just in this general vicinity. A tiny flood, an electrical storm? A meteor shower?.....tsunami? In Denver? Well....he wasn't picky right about now....Maybe they were near a trailer park...perhaps a mini twister...
"Let's go brother..." Josiah's gentle hand the shoulder metamorphosed into a death grip that encompassed not only shirt but skin as well.
They settled him bodily into the chair.
Ezra's feet wiggled side to side. He kept his knees bent, braced for escape.
He sat forward unwilling and unable to let his head rest back against the head rest.
He inched toward the sloping plane of the leg extensions hoping to maybe spot some kind of relief. Perhaps and opening. Maybe the large window before him was 'safety glass' and he could burst through it and run to freedom. Of course, Buck and Josiah both carried their service revolvers and Chris had given them permission to shoot if necessary. Truly unfair...ganging up on him like this.
Two hands firmly and authoritatively pushed him back against the chair.
"Stay put," Wilmington kept his hand on the now damp shoulder. Sweat slowly seeped into the material.
The Doctor entered the room somewhere behind them. His voice full of cheer and re-assurance. He spoke to each man in turn. Josiah and Buck returned pleasantries. Standish finding that his orating skills had failed him in his trip down here....hoped to find invisibility in silence.
Josiah stepped slightly to the side as a nurse stepped forward. She grinned as she lifted the cuff of Standish's white designer T- shirt sleeve. She swabbed a spot on his triceps area. With a confident smile, she ignored the wide eyes and partially clenched jaw. The sweet smile never dipping, she asked him some nonsensical personal questions and slid the needle quickly and skillfully under the skin, through the subcutaneous fat and into muscle.
Ezra never saw the needle. The soft pinprick suddenly registered as a mortal stab wound. He would have leaped from his submissive position if not for the restraining grasps of his traitorous friends. He wondered if they had given similar medication to his stalwart cousin.
The nurse wiped the arm one more time.....lowered the short sleeve cuff and stepped away. Her smile never dipped. She winked at Buck.
Ezra wondered where they found nurses with such evil glares. Mr. Larabee had nothing on them. And what the Hell was in that shot...apparently nothing that would work on him. He felt fine... intuned...just fine.
Then the world began to swim. The cascading water just outside the window began to bend and fluctuate in directions that defied natural laws.
His limbs became impossibly heavy. His mouth suddenly went dry. His head thudded back against the head rest. He tried to pick it back up but found his neck muscles in the same fickle position of the rest of the muscles in his body. Nothing wanted to work...and apparently he did not care.
Buck and Josiah shared amused glances. The injection had hit home. Neither man relinquished nor lightened their grips. Standish was a squirrelly fighter on a good day...and today he was in top scrappy form.
A natural disaster would be good right about now....not that it would have helped his situation...but it certainly would have enhanced the strange and wondrous swaying and bending of things around him. Ezra felt.....detached. He blinked slowly and sighed.
Buck chuckled somewhere far off. Josiah's face suddenly filled his vision but try as he might Ezra could not get the older man into focus. Standish attempted to raise a hand to swat at his older teammate but his hand had ceased to exist at the moment.
Josiah then moved out of his vision. The cascade again...but it seemed further away. He widened his eyes and shook his head. Gawd he felt heavy.
Voices rumbled in the background. A hand patted his shoulder.
Then a strange face. A green surgical shirt and a hairy neck. Then glasses, a clean shaven face and the mouth moved. Sound came out but the words floated away with the near imperceptible air currents in the room.
Standish blinked again and tried to lift his head from the seat. It was time to go.
Buck pushed Ezra's head back against the seat rest. Wilmington chuckled, the undercover agent blinked slowly widening his eyes trying desperately to make sense of a world caste in a swirling haze.
Sanchez stood behind the chair ready.
The Doctor had tried to convince the two agents that it was alright to leave. With the pre-meds on board Mr. Standish would no longer be a problem.
Both Buck and Josiah disagreed.
The anesthetic machine had been wheeled closer. It rested slightly adjacent to the doctor between himself and Sanchez.
The nurse handed him the mask. Oxygen and anesthetic flowed down the twin tubing toward the rubber nose and mouth applicator. Nathan had suggested that they use this particular version and once, 'The Pain in the Butt' was truly out switch to the simpler, less bulky, nasal mask.
The doctor saw no reason for this but under the quiet re- assurance of Dr. Lauren Murray he listened to the advice and heeded it accordingly.
Ezra's eyes widened at the object that descended upon his face from the parting heavens. Something out of Aliens perhaps (damn JD and his movies).
The anesthesiologist fit the mask neatly over the nose and mouth of his rather subdued if not quiet patient.
It latched itself to his face....Oh Gawd...it latched to his face....it was starting....They wouldn't be able to take him....never....
Buck and Josiah shared a look. Both felt the once relaxed shoulder muscles suddenly tighten.
The anesthesiologist noted the familiar look of fear....furrowed his brow and reconsidered it....terror maybe.
Ezra would not fall quietly into whatever horrifying clutches that ensnared him. Death had qualifying fears for Standish. He respected it but did not fear it in a gun battle, or when driving his car or working undercover. Not really, he understood Death could be a possible outcome and did everything in his power to ensure his success. He had danced with the Dark Specter on numerous occasions but always with his feet planted firmly in reality.
This situation took that agility away from him. This mask over his face ,with its foul gases trying to infiltrate his lungs, took all the control from him. He would be at its mercy and the mercy of others to insure his safety. That simply was unacceptable. Ezra Standish watched out for number one. A very easy dictate. Not very complicated, certainly not confusing. Mother did not raise a sheep of a son. Never. Yet here he suffered under the potential debilitating effects of a substance that threatened to rob him of his only chance of survival....as he saw it.
This was inexcusable. His cousin had been tough, toughest kid in school, if not a little unlady like. His Uncle practically chewed nails for breakfast, a bit of a Neanderthal but still a powerful and steady force. Both hardy people fell and crumbled when thrust into the arms of the health care professionals.
Ezra Standish would not go so benignly.
So he reacted. He fought for his life. He struggled no less than if he found himself in a gun battle or in a street fight. Standish put every once of panicked energy into use.
Buck and Josiah witnessed the blazing flash of horror in the startled green eyes. Damn.
Ezra arched his back and snapped his head violently to and fro. He whipped his hands by his face attempting to knock the smothering contraption from his nose and mouth.
Buck and Josiah, having witnessed a similar terrified response before, anticipated the moves and cinched down tightly. Wilmington neatly parried a flying hand and trapped it. He hooked a leg up over one of Standish's preventing the Southerner from actually standing in the chair. Instead Standish merely had himself arched off the seat his shoulders and head pressed firmly into the back of the chair.
Josiah cringed slightly at the other hand that had taken purchase at the small of his back. He could feel the fist tighten and knot itself around his shirt material. Damn Ezra had strong hands. Josiah snaked an arm over the flung back arm and trapped it.
Good thing they had waited on the IV.
"Don't stop now Doc," Buck hissed between clenched teeth.
A flailing foot shot up knocking the small stainless steel Mayo stand over. It clattered to the stone tiled floor.
The sharp noise heightened Standish's fight response. He strained and wiggled again, arching precariously from the seat.
With wild eyes, he struggled against the unseen forces that chained him to........something.
Josiah...Buck....they had Josiah and Buck....Who?
"Don't let up now Doc....our brother is going to take a breath soon," Josiah had wrapped an arm around Standish's neck trapping it between powerful biceps and forearms. Like a boa, he snugly kept his captive from escaping.
Standish took a deep breath.
A strange taste tickled the back of his throat. He could feel something flow into his lungs. He cut the breath short and struggled again. His lungs and body revolted against the sluggish command of his conscious mind and a second lung full was drawn.....the sweetened flavored air seemed to coat his insides. His chest felt heavy.
Another deep lung full....the world swam, there was no sound.....shades of grey rolled from the periphery of his vision like ocean fog.
Another labored breath sucked in more tainted air. He could feel his ribs expand. Could imagine the muscles and ribs separating allowing his lungs to inflate..... He felt his eyes roll...unroll and roll again. Another breath.
Neither Buck nor Josiah released their holds. Instead they gauged their undercover agent by his expression. The terror melted into confusion. Eyes rolled showing only slightly blood shot whites but Standish was a fighter...and glazed green irises jockeyed for position. He settled heavier in the chair, the hand that had snaked around and latched onto Sanchez came loose and swung toward the floor. Feet slipped from the base of the chair.
In a few short minutes....the dark hair settled heavily against Sanchez's forearm.
Buck cautiously loosened his grip. He backed his hands off the shoulders and chest of the Southerner, ready to pounce should Standish come back to life.
Following Wilmington's lead, Josiah gently released the choke hold, that had no debilitating choke involved, and stepped back. Standish's head merely lolled toward his shoulder.
"Guess he's all yours Doc." Buck backed away from the chair smiling widely at the puzzled if not surprised anesthesiologist. Dr. Winston had been in this profession for almost a life time. Put three kids through college and two through Grad school. He had seen a lot of things and had heard a lot of things....Agent Larabee's Team certainly was never a bore.
"We'll be waiting out front when you're done," Josiah said backing away from the slumped form in the chair. He felt a measure of guilt. Then he thought of all the weeks they had to listened to Standish grumble and growl. The last straw finally came three days ago when a cigarette runner punched the southerner in the mouth with a relatively light hit. It had knocked the undercover agent to his knees clutching his face. Chris had seen and heard enough. "He shouldn't wake up on his own either," Buck smiled at the petite recovery nurse, "he'd do better with a familiar face."
...all in all you're just another brick in the wall...
Larabee gazed at his office clock. Ten am. So far no news...no news ,of course, being good news. The betting pool had stacked the odds in favor of Standish escaping. The board had people pegging times when Josiah or Buck would call saying Ezra had slipped from their clutches. None of Team Seven had made those wages. They were all confident that Buck and Josiah together could get Standish to the oral surgeon's office.
The real money lay in whether or not Josiah had to sling the undercover agent over his shoulder and just haul his ass into the office or if Ezra maintained his dignity and walked in himself.
Larabee bet with the dignity....as did JD. Vin and Nathan had both figured Josiah would have to carry Standish in like a sack of feed. Vin, would be betting from his own experience. Not that he had to lug the undercover agent anywhere....but Tanner himself had to be forcibly dragged on the underground T in Boston. The Blue Line from the Aquarium to the airport. When Dunne had pointed out that it was possible they would travel under the harbor...well the damn Texan just about come unglued. Nathan and Josiah had to drag him on kicking and squirming like a three year old. Damn man paced the crowded car like foaming dog.
It came as no surprise then that Vin had thought Ezra would behave in a similar manner. Unlike Vin, however, Standish had a few days to try and gain his composure....or keep his composure, if truth be told.
Nathan understood just how unhinged the Southerner tended to get after a 'Day-Surgery'. Ezra hated not being in control of his thought processes. He would balk. Jackson had been sure of it.
It was 10:05am and still no word. What if Ezra had somehow knocked everyone else out and took off. It would certainly seem farfetched to believe that Standish would be able to convince a whole office to drink the elixir of anesthetic...and it would be morally reprehensible....but this was Standish they were talking about. Moral and Ethics carried a price tag.
The phone rang.
"Larabee," Chris noticed Vin, JD and Nathan crowd his office. Ryan Kelly followed. Team 8 did not trust anyone when it came to wagering. It seemed the whole Denver ATF office as well as DA office had a bets riding on this morning's outcome.
"'Ey Chris," Buck's voice echoed around the small office. The others stepped closer to Chris's desk hoping to hear both sides of the conversation. Larabee hit 'Speaker phone' and hung up the receiver.
"How'd it go?" Larabee leaned on his desk with one elbow running a hand through his hair.
"Went good...just waitin'...hold on a sec," Buck's voice suddenly pulled away from the phone and soundly slightly muted. "Hey Josiah he's beginnin' to move around some," Then Wilmington's voice came back, "he's comin' around now."
"He give ya any trouble?" Chris knew the answer to this question but needed details to satisfy the betting pool.
In the background, they could hear Josiah deep voice, "Now jist take it easy son....yer all right..." There was a pause, "that's it brother....take it nice and slow."
"Nah not to bad," Buck's voice chuckled over the digital phone. The qualifying statement had yet to be uttered.
"No Ezra you don't need to be sittin' up just yet....just lay back....you with us?" Josiah's voice came across the small speaker almost as clearly as Buck's.
"He didn't give you any trouble?" Nathan spoke up with disbelief from across the room.
"Well not until we reached the entrance to the building," Buck's voice faded away again and they could hear him speaking to someone else...presumably Standish. "'Ey Ez, ya alright...jist relax pard' yer doin' jist fine." "Yeah, but he didn't put the brakes on until we actually got into the room with the chair." Buck's voice had come back to the phone.
"Did Josiah have to carry 'im?" JD called out. He spun the rawl of the spur that sat on Chris's desk.
"Nope...did have to drag'im some...but nothin' too undignified," Buck answered.
"Ezra? ya hear me? how ya feelin' son?" Josiah's distance question was answered with a muffled, garbled, groan.
"Damn they've got half the cotton in Georgia shoved in his mouth." Wilmington spoke softly out loud.
"Did Josiah have to sit on'im?" Tanner's soft Texan drawl floated around the room.
"Nahh nothin' too drastic....I think Murray must have phoned them. They knocked him for a loop with some premeds in the arm...took the spit and vinegar out of'im,"
"Damn," Kelly's disappointment brought smiles to everyone.
Wilmington laughed, "Yeah Kelly seems your team owes us a round at Inez's tonight." Hoots and whistles in Chris's office filled the speaker phone.
Chris chuckled relieved that at least his team came out winners in the wagering. He looked meaningfully at Ryan Kelly...their material witness to the conversation.
"Well get him settled in at home and decide which one of ya is going to baby-sit him and the other get back here...we got work to do."
Josiah reached over and snapped the seat belt. "How ya doin' Brother?"
Ezra merely gazed at him with lackluster eyes and then let his head fall back against the passenger window with a thud.
Wilmington cringed. He pulled his sweat shirt off wadded it up and placed it under Standish's head. "Damn Josiah he's not even with us," Buck sat back and leaned against his door.
"Good thing too....you got his meds?" Sanchez backed the beat up suburban out of the parking lot. The ex-anthropologist/profiler grinned. This morning was probably the only time Ezra had ever ridden in the truck and prayed for it to break down. Josiah paused in his thoughts...it was one of the first times the Southerner had ridden in his truck that it didn't actually break down. Lady Luck. Fickle mistress.
"Yeah in my pocket," Buck leaned back in the worn seats and closed his eyes. What a morning.
The distant shrilling sound had Ezra trying to lift his head again. Somewhere passed the lethargic grey mud his mind and body wallowed in, he recognized a change in motion....or direction. Someone spoke his name...an apology maybe.... Josiah?
With a groan he let his head fall back.
Buck grimaced when Standish once again let his head slam against the passenger window. Wilmington reached over the front seat and picked up his fallen sweat shirt. Once again he placed it under Ezra's head.
"Chris say why he wants us all at the office?" Buck rested back in his seat and met Josiah's eyes in the rear view mirror.
"Nope...but he said we might as well bring Ezra along since he isn't suppose to be alone," Sanchez headed back toward the Federal Building and the twelfth floor that housed their ATF offices.
Buck and Josiah rounded the corner and entered into their teams bull pen. Between them on sagging legs that did not know they belonged to a body, was Standish.
"He doin' alright?" Chris had been leaning over JD's shoulder staring at the information on the young man's terminal. He stood up and faced his three agents.
"Yeah he's just not home right now,' Buck offered.
"Put'im in my office and then everyone meet in the conference room in five minutes."
Vin came in through the fire entrance. His cheeks held the bite of a spring wind. Chris figured his sharpshooter must have been on the roof again trying to find some space within a crowded city....and office floor.
"Ey Ez...ya in there?" Tanner lifted Standish's chin and peered at the heavily lidded eyes, "Earth calling Ez...come in Ez....earth callin'....aw heck ain't nuthin in there."
"Been sayin that for years," Jackson intoned following the threesome into Chris's office. The ex-medic held an ice pack wrapped in a towel. The gross swelling and bruising to Standish's right cheek seemed horribly worse than it had yesterday. Impacted wisdom teeth. Figures.
"Vin?....You get the print outs of the Warehouse?" Chris asked leaving JD's desk to stand at the entry way of his office. He watched as Josiah and Buck manipulated and cajoled Standish into laying down for a moment. The ice pack became neatly nestled between ear and cheek. Nathan draped a blanket over the agent and placed a plastic lined tin trash can next to the couch.
Larabee appreciated the gesture....though he didn't think Ezra had the where for all to know to utilize the bucket should he need too.
"Conference room gentlemen," Judge Travis strolled into the bull pen area. He paused at Chris's office and waited for the men to file out. He took a quick gaze at the trouble maker ensconced in a blanket on the couch. Agent Standish appeared harmless almost benign. Then again so does a sleeping wolverine.
"Josiah have to carry him into the surgery this morning?" Travis asked quietly of Larabee.
Chris smirked and shook his head, "Nope...walked in."
The Judge's softly muttered, "Damn," brought a chuckle to Agent Larabee.
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