by Twyla Jane
DISCLAIMERS: This is fan fiction. No profit involved. It is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended. Mog created this Wonderful A.T.F. Universe. This short demented journey was written as a gift for Angela B. 2/8/04
"Josiah?" The insistent voice called his name. "Josiah, can you hear me? Josiah it's important we need know where's Ezra?"
The big man lay there for a moment trying to open his eyes or at least get his mouth to cooperate. His whole body was a seemingly impossible combination of aches, numbness and burning sensations as hands manipulated him, straightened out his folded limbs relieving some of his discomfort. He didn't understand why, worse yet was he was totally clueless as to how he ended up that way.
Yet that persistent voice spoke to him, urging him back, but back to where? Sanchez couldn't quite grasp the magnitude of the question instead his muddled mind started to drift away as a hand shook his shoulder, the voice pleading with him. "Josiah!" It took every fiber in his being to muster up the strength to peel open his eyes expecting some sort of revelation only to be greeted by a dark blurry world.
Dazed blue eyes blinked several times before the mind comprehended that its wasn't dark at all someone was hovering over him blocking the light talking to him. "That's it stay awake 'Siah, you are gonna be just fine " The dark figure shifted away and the painfully bright light seared through his brain forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut again all while a myriad of familiar voices spoke around him. The closest one asked. "Where's that ambulance?"
"Should be here five minutes tops Did he tell you where Ezra was?"
"No God Buck what if we can't find him in time!"
"Don't Vin we can't think like that we'll find him."
The bewildering sensation enveloped him.
He felt like he was floating, except that he knew he wasnt because there was something, a lump, a brick some object he couldnt identify digging into his side. Disconcerting enough but more worrisome was that he realized try as he might he couldn't move, nor could he see.
His sluggish brain couldnt quite grasp what was going on because suddenly he felt like he was airborne, Ezra's disjointed journey ended with a painful thud. Standish was denied the ability to groan properly. The crude gag even effectively muffled a satisfactory grunt.
The thought of panicking never crossed his mind, any normal person would have. Maude Standish didn't raise him for mediocrity.
Pity he couldn't keep hold of that thought.
It was so hard to breathe.
Where would they start?
Not easy an easy question to answer, especially when the only person that possibly knew where Standish was, lay in the hospital drifting in and out of consciousness. Nathan shuddered. Not wanting to think about what could have happened to Josiah if he hadn't been discovered exactly when he had been just moments shy of being permanently lost. The teams profiler had been painfully stuffed into a garbage can and set on the curb on collection day.
So Nate did the only thing he could, he waited. Keeping watch at Josiah's bedside while the others tried to find any traces of Ezra.
It was supposed to be simple fact finding mission, just gathering information on a suspected counterfeit tobacco tax stamp operation, then when it became apparent that Standish and Sanchez had vanished after they had failed to make a scheduled contact, the team went into action.
Unfortunately Team Seven had failed to turn up anything. Twelve long hours had passed since the abduction when word finally came via one of Tanners less than savory acquaintances.
After some money had exchanged hands Vin accompanied by Buck following the directions they had been given, found at least one of their missing agents.
Both good and bad have come their way. J.D. Dunne was nervously chewing at a pen cap. Gnawing on the bit of plastic while he went over Standish's files. Staring at the stacks of neatly penned notes looking for even the smallest of clues that might be held within the crisp white pages.
The young man let out a frustrated sigh and pushed himself away from the paper-laden desk. Not that it helped much but Dunne began the walk about the empty office in an effort the stretch out his restless legs. Weaving his way through the maze of cubicles stopped once he reached the outer wall and stared down into the parking lot. The overhead lot lights brightly lighted the area; the sun had set hours before.
The rapid passage of time only succeeded in twisting the growing dread the gripped J.D. allowing his mind to run through a seemingly endless list of frightening scenarios, none of which reassured him. He didn't want wonder what had happened to Ezra and Josiah's barely surviving the trash bin encounter didn't ease his mind.
J.D. leaned his forehead against the cool pane of glass as he spoke.
"Ezra, where are you?"
On the other side of the vacant office the phone began to ring. Jogging over to the nearest desk Dunne snatched up the receiver.
Hello Agent Dunne speaking The rote greeting spewed out J.D. gripped the handset intently listened to the person on the other end of the line furiously scribbling down the information. He barely even finished the one mostly one-sided conversation before he tugged out his cellular phone and hit the speed dial. Chris J.D., yeah I got something uh huh well Pete called never mind you dont know him seems they have some one down in holding you may want to talk to yep 5th Precinct
The connection went dead.
Dunne stared at the phone for a second before clipping it back in its case on his belt thankful that at least he got the message to Larabee.
How could a body be hot and cold at the same time? That concept was difficult for Ezra. Standish couldnt quite wrap his mind around it.
The tired and confused agent couldnt keep focused. His mind seemed to drift of its own accord, one moment he would be in a panic the next the brain dulled he would be thinking of mundane occurrences about needing to get the annoying drip in the kitchen sink fixed, get the stain out of the sleeve of his Armani suit, but the more disturbing ones. One that was reoccurring with increasing frequency had a common theme revolving around something bad happening to Josiah.
Visions of Sanchez covered in blood.
A flash of the large agent sprawled flat out on a floor with a puddle of the red liquid pooling under his head.
Then reality would inevitably and harshly rush back revealing an absolutely overwhelming claustrophobically murky world where his twisted limbs burned with an agony he couldnt describe. Ezra wasnt even sure if he was upright or on his side, all he knew it was hard to breathe and he could barely make a sound to alert anyone to his predicament.
He thought at some point that there were people nearby his dark cramped prison, that there had been voices. Now he wasnt so sure.
Ezra Standish went against everything his mother had spent his entire childhood trying to burn into his mind, every lesson she had so painstakingly tried to teach him when he mentally made a silent entreaty to any deity that would listen.
Please let Josiah be okay
Larabee was pissed.
Procedure wouldnt allow him to interrogate the man beyond the two-way mirror. He was a forced spectator in this game and he hated every last second of it. The call from J.D. was the first spark of hope they had in their efforts to find Ezra.
He stood there staring at what might be their last chance to locate Standish alive. Edmund Finkle.
Denvers finest, the boys in blue had picked up this demented character, with the wild white hair and beard and tattered clothes that made him look like an old time mountain man straight from the old west. Chris knew he had to let the detectives handle this but it didnt help ease the anger as it began to slowly burn away what patience he had left. The pent up fury boiled his blood as he listened to the ranting of a crazy old man.
The man a chronic alcoholic and prone to delusions swore that he saw the two agents get nabbed off the street. Finkle babbled on and on about how he had spent the day pushing his cart collecting bottles and cans. The crusty old timer barely managed to keep a cohesive conversation, continual veering off topic spouting off his views on the government and societys downward spiral.
Larabee didnt know how the detectives managed to keep steering the discussion back to the missing agent and his whereabouts. After a long hour they succeeded in getting Finkle to repeat word for word something he had over heard the unknown felons say.
Now young man I swear I heard those young fools say. Boss wanted you to know that you are just like the others, the garbage heaped upon humanitys curb like unwanted unclaimed baggage at the bus station. Found that a might peculiar thing to be jawing on about if I do say so myself.
Another ambiguous clue, Larabee hoped it was enough.
Nothing was going to keep him away from the bus station.
At first Ezra thought he was hearing things.
They grew louder, so loud he could no longer hear himself breathe.
Yes, he had to remember to breathe. It was getting so hard to do that. Panic stricken unable to hear his own ragged breathing, Ezra fought feebly against his bonds. His exhausted muscles strained within the tightly confined space. His entire dark world was roughly jostled.
A loud Zzzzzt filled his ears and the light filtered through his blindfold. Intrusive hands removed the blindfold, tugged the gag out from between his teeth, the rough material peeled off his dry tongue allowing him to breathe unimpeded.
The cool air he sucked in was heaven.
Hands were all over him, he would have complained about the indignity but he lacked the energy besides they had lifted him out of that wretched place. Freeing his arms and his legs, briskly massaging them. The pain that surged through him, as the circulation in the numb limbs was painfully restored left him gasping for air all over again as he felt the world tilt and turn gray, then black.
A shifting and swaying world greeted him.
Sirens were screaming around him.
Ezras brow furrowed.
Movement under his eyelids followed by an inaudible groan had an almost instantaneous result, as he tried process what was going on, a warm hand squeezed his own. The gesture had him trying to open his eyes only to fail. The weary mind opted to listen to the soothing words being spoken unable to understand everything that was being said.
Giving up on the effort to stay conscious as he heard. Ezra youre gonna be fine
The ambulance hit a rut in the road. The vehicle hit it hard then swung wide as the driver fought to keep it under control. Chris Larabee barely managed to remain seated. He never once relinquished his hold on Standish, not at all sure if he was doing for Ezras comfort or his own to reassure himself that the man was indeed still alive. Not after the way he had been found. Ezra looked more dead than alive when they pulled him out of the suitcase bound, gagged and blindfolded. Chris couldnt push the horrifying scene from of his mind.
Standish had been spared the agonizing slow death.
Twin I.V.s each snaked into a slack arm.
Dried blood was caked into matted hair and smeared down the pale clammy face. Dark bruises at the corners of dry chapped lips, matched the ones that encircled each wrist. His friend was a mess but he was alive.
Bastards hed find them no scratch that theyd find them.
If the infernal beeping hadn't woken Ezra, his aching head would have. He tried turning his head but an agonizing bolt of pain shot through his skull. He absentmindedly rubbed the I.V. in the back of his left hand against the cold metal of the bed rails briefly trying to rid the hand of the annoying feeling. Unaware he had a matching one in the other hand,
"Won't be doing that again any time soon." Some where nearby he heard Larabee chuckle, abandoning his earlier effort in pursuit of another as he tried to get his thick fingers to dislodge the nasal cannul uncomfortably wedged up chapped nostrils.
Ezra, best if ya left that alone!
"Lord, spare me " Ezra rasped out.
"Seems he already did!" Josiah's normally deep baritone voice sounded gruff and raw, reinforcing Standishs need to look.
At least this time he remembered to move his head slowly towards the sound of that voice. Rapidly blinking eyes glimpsed Sanchez before they slid shut. His own voice wavered as he half questioned half stated the mans name. "Josiah?!"
Yes Ezra its me.
Good! Ezra muttered allowing himself to drift away. For reasons he couldnt quite comprehend a strange sense of relief washed over him knowing that Josiah was close by. Nor did he understand the conversation that followed him back into slumber something to do with tattoos and luggage tags.
Letting out a soft sigh Ezra smiled, the last thought that went through his waking mind was thered be hell to pay if he woke up to find the inscription If Lost please Return to anywhere on his anatomy.