azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Stakeout
Rating: PG
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Main Characters: Ezra and Chris and the rest of the seven
Summary: Ezra Standish has been recruited to investigate an agent but finds that the agent is also investigating him.
Disclaimers: The guys are owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp.
Notes: This story is set in an alternative ATF universe. I've written a different reason for Ezra Standish joining Team Seven and I've given him a sort of different history. Ever thing else is still more or less the same.
Spoilers: None
Status: Complete
Total Word Count: 30,319

Ezra Standish opened the door with trepidation. He had known for the last two days that this moment was coming. He had seen the signs; the lack of success on his part and the impatience of his employer. Four weeks had been a long time and in a way, he agreed that this meeting was needed, but it wasn't going to go his way. He was going to be blamed as always; it happened every time, and why not, if it wasn't being done then it was his fault. He'd been hired to do a job and he wasn't doing it, but he wasn't going to take the full blame this time, his boss was interfering too much.

Chris Larabee was a closed book. He talked about nothing that bothered him. This had made the undercover agent's job a lot harder than it should have been. The rumours of his own past also didn't help. Chris Larabee didn't trust him and neither did the rest of the team. Why would Larabee tell his secrets to a man he didn't trust, or even like for that matter.

"Sit down Agent Standish." Judge Travis ordered him without looking up from his paperwork.

"I'd rather stand Sir and get this over and done with." Ezra replied.

"You know why you're here then?"

"Yes, you want to tell me how to do my job. . . again."

The Judge became tense at the sound of sarcasm that came from the Southerner. His gaze slowly lifted to take in the handsome man's face. Standish was too smug for his own good.

"If you were doing your job, I wouldn't need to have this conversation with you!" Travis retorted.

“You haven't been allowing me to do my job!"

"Lose the smart mouth Standish, I've had enough of your shit to last me a life time!" Travis growled at the man that was still standing. "Team Eight are on a surveillance job, I want you and Larabee to take one of the shifts. I'm sure during a twelve hour period, you'll be able to convince him to talk about it." And maybe Chris can get you to talk.

"No, it won't work."

"You don't have a choice in the matter!"

"Obviously." Ezra smiled.

"You've been on this case for four weeks now and you've found out absolutely nothing."

"Have you ever tried getting him to talk about it? About anything?" Ezra shot back. He knew he was making excuses. The blame should be shared between himself, the Judge and Chris. He didn't want to do the job, the Judge was telling him how to do his job and Chris, well Chris was just being himself.

"Of course I . . . "

Ezra interrupted him. "Then you should know how hard it is. It's going to take time."

"You haven't got time. You're supposed to be the best at what you do Standish. The best would have been able to get the information needed by now, information that I want!" Damnation, why was this man able to piss him off so easily.

"Then perhaps you should get somebody else to do this." Ezra quietly told him.

"It's too late for that. But let me warn you, if I could, I would. Agents have told me what you're capable of and in the four weeks you've been here, I haven't seen it!"

"That's because you keep telling me how to do my damn job. If you had left me to it from day one, it would have been done by now."

"What are you trying to say Standish?" the Judge rose from his chair and walked around his desk so he could stand face to face with the Southern know-it-all.

"What I'm saying ‘Judge' is that you don't want to find out the truth. You're afraid that the truth isn't what you want to hear. You want it swept under the rug so no one else will ever know what really happened." Better late than never, he should have said it two weeks ago.

"If there was ever a good time for you to shut up Standish, now would be it."

"I don't agree with what you're making me do."

"Like I said Agent Standish, you don't have a choice."

"And if I won't do it."

"Then you're back on the street where I found you." Travis threatened him.

"What are you going to do when he finds out this was your idea, that is, after he kills me."

"He won't kill you!"

"But isn't that what they're investigating him for. Killing an Agent." Ezra smiled at the flicker of emotion that crossed the Judge's features.

"Get out and do your job." Travis turned his back on the agent, a few seconds later he listened as the door was slammed shut.


Angry enough to hit someone, very hard, wasn't enough to describe the anger Ezra Standish was feeling right now. All his life, people questioned him. Relatives questioned his life, they had wanted to know why he even existed; a bastard child that didn't deserve to live. They wanted to know why he was so much like his mother; a liar, a cheat and a man that could con the pope out of the church's money. He had stupidly thought that it would all change when he joined the police academy, then the FBI. It did for a while but other agents didn't like the fact that he was a loner. How could he change the habit of a lifetime. Friends was an unfamiliar word, he'd never had any. His mother hadn't allowed it.

Friends were people who would use you to get what they wanted, they sucked you dry then threw you away. It wasn't worth the emotional torment to have a friend. The fact that he often had to pretend to make friends while undercover only proved that what his mother always told him was right.

The FBI in Atlanta had wanted to get rid of him, they didn't like him, didn't like the way he worked. A setup up had been attempted, someone wanted it to look like he was on the take. The setup had failed but the rumours flew. They all believed that he was on the take, no one believed him when he said he wasn't. What the setup failed to do, the rumours completed with a finality that told him his career in the FBI was over.

Now he was here, it was the third time he had to do this. Why didn't they just transfer him to Internal Affairs and be done with it? Because they didn't want him either, no department did. He was being used, he knew it. They would put up with him while they needed the job done, once it was over, he was quickly moved to another organisation in another town. He was good enough to do the job they wanted done, but not good enough to stay.

The elevator stopped but the door wouldn't open quick enough for him, his hand slammed against the ‘open door' button. A grimace of pain flickered in his eyes. The door opened a few seconds later. Ezra stepped out then froze in his spot. Chris Larabee was standing in front of him, the arms were crossed over the chest. Anger shown in his eyes.

"Where the hell have you been?"

Ezra opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted before he even spoke.

"The meeting was supposed to start fifteen minutes ago!"

"Judge Travis requested my appearance in his office." Ezra moved forward and brushed against Larabee as he walked passed him.

"What did he want?" Chris frowned at Ezra's back.

"Thinks I'm not doing my job well enough." Ezra stopped and waited for Larabee to agree.

"Hell Ezra, he won't even let you do your job. How would he know if you're doing it well enough."

Ezra looked over his shoulder in surprise. "What do you mean?"

"He won't let you go undercover, don't know why, your record proves that you're the best at what you do."

Ezra suddenly felt ill. This man was praising him. "What . . . ?"

"You want me to talk to him?"

Yep, ill would best describe the way he was now feeling, the anger had quickly subsided. "Talk to him?"

"Yeah, tell him to let you prove yourself, that way he'll get off your back."

"No . . . no . . . that's okay . . . no . . . thanks anyway."

"You sure?"


"Okay then, let’s get this meeting over and done with."

Ezra followed Chris Larabee into the conference room. The anger that filled it hit him with enough force to push every last bit of breath from his lungs. The eyes that were full of anger glared at him demanding an explanation.

"It's okay fella's, wasn't Ezra's fault that he was late." Chris explained when he sat down.

"Why not, it's usually his fault that he's late." Buck Wilmington took his eyes off Standish and looked at his long time friend and boss.

"Travis wanted him."

"Oh," Buck nodded, "What did you do this time Standish?"

"Slept with Mr Dunne there, the Judge doesn't like office relationships."

"You did not!" JD Dunne protested. "I didn't Buck, honest, I'm not like that, and you know that."

"He's just being an asshole JD." Buck slapped his flat mate on the back of the head.

"Enough Buck!" Chris warned him. "Leave Ezra alone."

Ezra's head turned quickly to look at Chris. Now the man was standing up for him. What the hell was going on? Was he just being nice because they were going to be stuck in a room for twelve hours. Probably, there would be no other reason for him to act as though he actually liked him. No one liked Ezra Standish, not even Ezra Standish himself.

Chris noticed that Ezra was staring at him, was that shock that had surfaced on the undercover agent's face. It was his first sighting of an emotion that he had caught on the handsome features. Ezra Standish had worn a poker face from the first day they had met him. There had never been any sort of emotion shown, no anger, no joy, no sadness, nothing. Ezra had been cold and distant. It was only after a week that he'd begun to talk. But he was very selective about who he spoke to. Only Chris and Vin seemed to be able to get a conversation going with the Southerner.

"You standing up for him?" Buck asked.

"Someone has to." Chris returned to staring at Buck.

"Ezra didn't do anything wrong Buck." Vin Tanner agreed with his boss.

"Don't know why you're having a go at him for something that's not his fault."

"You too?"

Vin nodded.

Ezra slowly turned his head, he was afraid that if he moved it too quickly, he would wake up from this dream. A dream where men he worked with, stood by him and protected him against those who wanted to destroy him. This was something that had never happened before. He leaned to his left so that he could speak to Josiah Sanchez without the others hearing him.

"Mr Sanchez, could you please pinch me."

"Ezra, how many times have I asked you to call me Josiah."

Ezra lifted his green eyes and looked into Josiah's blue grey eyes.

"Could you please pinch me."


"I want to make sure that this isn't a dream."

"Why would you think that this is a dream?"

"Never mind ‘Mr' Sanchez."

"Ezra?" Josiah nudged the smaller man that now seemed to be ignoring him.

"I said never mind!"

"Can we get back to the meeting now please." Chris slammed his folder against the desk so he could get everyone's attention. Once he had it, he began to speak. "Team Eight are on surveillance and apparently they want us to do a shift . . . "

"Noooooo . . . " Five voices groaned at once.

"Don't worry guys, it's just one shift and it seems that they asked for Ezra and myself."

"Chris," Nathan Jackson shot an apologising expression towards Ezra then looked seriously at Chris. "I don't think you two would last an hour alone in a confined area."

"He's right Chris." Vin leaned forward in his chair. "I think you two would kill each other before your shift is over."

Ezra chuckled at the comment that Vin made. He waved his hand in the air as a way of an apology. "Sorry gentlemen, continue."

"What's so funny Ez?" JD wanted in on the joke, he loved to tell jokes but for some reason no one ever laughed at them.

"Mr Dunne, my name is Ezra not Ez and what I find so funny is none of your business."

Chris dropped his head towards he chest. Why did this man go out of his way to make people dislike him so much. Why would anyone want to do that. A man who didn't want to make friends would do that.

"Guys." Chris sighed as he lifted his head to look around the table.

"Can we please drop the dramatics, this isn't the time or place for it."

When he got everyone's attention, he continued. "We take our shift in two days, 6am to 6pm . . . "

"Whoa Ezra, looks like you're going to have to get up early." Buck slapped the table with his hand and broke into a bout of laughter.

"Go fuck a whore Mr Wilmington." Ezra growled at him.

"You son-of-a-bitch!" Buck stood up and pushed his chair away from the table. It was only the lack of a retort from the Southerner that stopped him from jumping over the table and beating the crap out of him.

Ezra looked down at his hands. Son of a bitch and a bastard Buck. You have to get it right.

"Vin, you'll be in charge during that time."

"We're not having any part of it?" Josiah asked.

"No, they say they have enough backup, don't need anyone else."

"Okay, but you know where we are if you need us." Josiah nodded.

"Yeah. That's it guys. You can go back and do what you consider to be work." Chris stood up and waited for the others to leave. "You okay Ezra?"

"Fine Mr Larabee." Ezra answered without looking away from his hands.

"Good, we've got a meeting with Team Eight in ten minutes."

"Is that something that I have to go to?"

"Yes it is, so get your skinny ass moving."

"It's not skinny." Ezra protested.

"I don't care what it is, get it moving, I don't have all day."

"For your information, most women appreciate my ass." Ezra told him as he stood up. He hated pretending like this, he hated being forced to be part of a friendship that wasn't real. If he allowed it to be real, he would be the one that was going to suffer at the end of the day. If he stayed cold and distant emotionally, then he might just survive losing something that he wanted to be real.

"The rest of you too, I'm sure." Chris laughed.

"If the shoe fits Mr Larabee."

"Will you stop calling me that!"

"Calling you what?" He had to call him that, why call a person who was never going to be a friend by their first name.

"Mr Larabee, I hate that."

"Really Mr Larabee."

"I swear Ezra, if you keep calling me that, I'm gonna shoot you." Chris grabbed Ezra by the shoulder and pushed him forward.

"As you wish Mr Larabee." If only you would put an end to this miserable, waste of a life.

"Shut up Ezra."

"Yes Sir." Ezra mumbled as Chris continued to force him to move forward. He wanted to break away from the hand that rested on his shoulder. Physical touch was something that caused him to cringe. While he was growing into a young man, the only touch that he understood was the connection of a closed fist against his body. As a child he had taken many beatings, some worse than others. It had become a way of life for him that was until he was big enough and strong enough to fight back and win.


Chris Larabee looked around the table at the six men that made up Team Eight, knowing that there wasn't a man among them that actually liked Ezra Standish. They didn't even bother to hide their dislike of the man. Chris knew that there were times that Ezra could be a very unlikable person, and that Ezra seemed to go out of his way to stop people from liking him. It was something that Chris was yet to understand. He'd often searched the undercover agent's file looking for something that would give him an explanation but the file only spoke of his service record. The commendations and brilliant undercover work. It also commented on the fact that he wasn't a team player and hated authority. The man preferred to think on his own and make his own decisions. It was the only way he liked to work. Maybe that was why Travis hadn't allowed him to go undercover. Then why recruit the man in the first place.

"Is there any particular reason why Standish has to be on this?" Martin asked Chris while he stared at Ezra.

"Travis wants him in on it." Chris answered.


"Because that's what he wants and I've learnt not to question him." Chris still wanted to know why Ezra had been chosen, he'd even had an intense argument with the Judge. Stake outs wasn't Ezra field of expertise, his specialty was undercover work.

"So we don't have a choice." Martin sounded the disgust he felt at having to work with Standish.

"No, you don't have a choice." Ezra smiled at the man.

"What's the situation?" Chris changed the subject.

"Chance Dormett," Martin threw the file across the table to Chris Larabee," we've gotten a tip that he's going to show up. We've been after this guy for over a year and I don't want this messed up." his eyes turned to Ezra then looked away. "The address is in the file, also everything else you need to know."

"What if he shows up?" Ezra leaned back in his chair and placed his crossed ankles on the table.

"Then you call in and let me know." Martin growled.

"And if he leaves before you get there?" Ezra continued.

"Ezra . . . " Chris warned him.

"You follow him. Simple as that." Martin smiled at a fellow team member. "Don't you know the proper procedure in a case like this."

"And if he sees us and attempts to escape."

"You stop him!" he was beginning to lose his patience.


"Ezra." Chris nudged with an elbow.

"Just having some fun with the asshole."

"Ezra, I know he's an idiot but we have to work with him."

"Idiot? The guy has two brains; one's lost and the other one is out looking for it." Ezra argued with his boss.

"Tell me about it," Chris leaned closer to Ezra, "you know, it takes him an hour and a half to watch Sixty Minutes."

"Really?" Ezra turned his head, his instincts almost caused him to flinch away from Chris, he hadn't realised the man was so close to him.

"You finished." Martin stood up.

"Not really," Ezra told him, "I still have plenty to say but I can see you need to be somewhere else."

"You know Standish, it doesn't surprise me at all that the FBI got rid of you. It's going to be the same here. Travis and Larabee will only tolerate you for so long then they'll throw you out on your ass just like the FBI did. You're not trustworthy and you're a risk to other team members. I heard about what happened to your partner, and if it happens here, we won't let you get away with it."

I'll be out of here sooner than you think. Ezra gave the man a two-finger salute and watched him leave the room. The rest of the team followed him.

"What was he talking about Ezra?" Chris leaned forward in an attempt to see Ezra's face.

"Nothing that is of your concern Mr Larabee." Ezra practically pushed the chair against the wall when he stood up. He stormed out of the room before Chris had the chance to say anything else.


Ezra tossed and turned as he struggled to fall asleep. He sat up and adjusted his eyesight so he could see the digital numbers on his alarm clock; 2:06 am. He groaned in frustration and slumped back down on the pillows. Shadows danced across the ceiling to the beat of an unheard rhythm. Sleep wasn't going to come for him now, it was too far into the night. The only thing left to do, was to get up. There were reports he could work on, maybe even go into the office and do some filing. Wouldn't Larabee and the others be surprised when they walked in at seven thirty in the morning to find him there already; in the office and working. They would think something was wrong and then start asking questions.

Chris Larabee suddenly jumped into his thoughts and took control. The man had stood up for him yesterday, he'd even gone against the Judge. There was a warning at the meeting with Team Eight but he hadn't stopped him, he'd actually joined in. What was Larabee thinking. Ezra knew that if he continued to think about it, hope would be ignited and the cold fire in his heart would begin to burn in the hope that a friendship was being offered to him. His brain immediately spoke up and told him that he would only be hurt, that Larabee was only doing it because it would make it easier for Larabee to spend twelve hours in a room with him. There was no attempt at a friendship, just a con to help him get through a difficult operation.

Ezra threw the blanket that covered him off the bed. The night's chill suddenly hit him causing goose bumps to form all over his body. Maybe a couple of drinks would help him to relax. The idea of getting completely pissed brought a smile to his face. It hadn't happened since he came to Denver and now was a good a time as any to over indulge in the bottle of scotch he had hidden away for such a time. There wasn't any difference from losing his job now than after the twelve-hour stake out. He rather it was now, he no longer wanted to lie to Chris Larabee. Ezra Standish didn't respect many people but there was something about Chris that demanded respect. Respect that was earned and well deserved.

That's what he was going to do. Get drunk, go into work late, very late, tell Larabee to go Fuck himself and be fired. Life could be so simple at times. It was going to be the best for everyone, especially for Ezra Standish. No more lying and no more pretending, he was getting tired of living a life that was full of lies. He could go somewhere, start fresh, and begin a new life where there were no rumours that would ruin any chance he had of having a decent life.


Ezra bolted into a sitting position. There was a noise, he knew it was a noise, it couldn't be music, and there was too much screaming. Alarm, it had to be his alarm. He turned towards it, 7:00 am. Aw, shit! It was too early, way too early. His arm reached out as he rolled towards it and he had to grab onto the small set of drawers to stop himself from falling off the bed. Whoa, a little too much to drink there Standish, I know you wanted to get drunk but I think you went a little too far. What was he doing? It took a moment for him to remember, he was trying to turn the alarm off. He fumbled for the button and after six frustrating seconds, he picked it up and threw it against the wall. The sound stopped as suddenly as it started.

He rolled onto his right side and pushed his face further into the pillow. The feel of the thick, but soft pillow felt good against his skin. Something else began to register. There was a slight headache just above the back of his neck. A couple of hours of sleep will get rid of that.

"AHHH!" Ezra yelled when the alarm went off a second time.

Suddenly his headache began to worsen, it seemed to pound with the beat of the music that was now playing on the alarm clock. What was it with these things, they just didn't want to die. Well this one was going to die, it wasn't going to live another day. He jumped out of bed and grabbed the gun that was still in its holster, he hadn't bothered to take it out the night before. He turned slowly, bringing the gun up towards his face. The alarm clock was sitting in the corner of the room near the bedroom door. It seemed to be mocking him. He aimed, then fired two shots. The bullets struck the clock dead centre, sending splinters of plastic in all directions.

"Ah shit . . . "

The sound of the gun had brought his headache to the forefront of his mind. He had a hangover. Why didn't he think of these things before he got drunk. He hated the after effects of drinking too much. He groaned when his stomach tipped, then rolled back. This was another thing he hated about it; throwing up. His legs carried him as quickly as they could towards the bathroom. Was he going to make it, he didn't think so. His stomach emptied itself before he reached the toilet. Quick reflexes had him throwing himself against the bath, he managed to lose most of it into the bathtub but some of it had hit the floor first. When he was done he moved to the toilet bowl while he had the chance, his stomach wasn't finished, he knew that, it was only a matter of how long it was going to take.

Ezra had just finished what he hoped was his last bout of vomiting when he heard a pounding on the room's door. A strong voice announced itself as being a member of the Denver PD.

Great! Just fucking great, this was all he needed. At least it would end his career for good, he wasn't going to have to do anything else to be fired. His current mood refused to answer the door, if they wanted to enter the premises, then they could do it on their own abilities. He sat down on the cold tile floor and listened as the police officer forced the door open.

"POLICE! Come out with your hands up."

What did they think this was, a dope house, that he was sitting in the bathroom with half a dozen guns and enough ammunition to kill twenty police officers. He shook his head in disbelief and regretted the sudden movement. He was going to throw up again, in front of a police officer, while he was being arrested. Great, fucking great!

Ezra saw the dark uniforms out of the corner of his eye as the two policemen moved into the bathroom. He ignored them and covered his head with his hands. They would be able to see that he wasn't armed, that way he could continue throwing up.

The two officers waited until the man was finished, they didn't want vomit on their uniforms. It took a few minutes but the man had finally stopped and was now cleaning his face and mouth with cold water.

"We got a report that shots were fired in this room."

Ezra didn't answer them, why should he, unless they arrested him he didn't have to say a word. A crime hadn't been committed, there was no victim. They could go to hell for all he cared.

"You gonna answer me, or do we have to take you down town?"

"Am I under arrest?" Ezra turned around and raised an eyebrow at the black police officer.

"Not yet . . . "

"Then fuck off and leave me alone."


"You heard me." Ezra pushed passed them and walked into the small bedroom and sat down on the bed. He wanted to lie down but before he could, his arms were gripped firmly and he was pulled to his feet. The next thing he knew, he was being slammed face first against the wall.

"We're going to search you and the room." the officer told him.

"Unless you can prove to me that a crime was committed here, you have no right." Ezra mumbled.

The black officer pushed Ezra's face harder against the wall until he heard a grunt of pain. "We think there was a crime committed, that's enough according to the law."

Ezra knew the man was right. "Is police brutality law?"

The undercover agent moaned in pain when a fist hit his left kidney, it was meant to cause pain. "You've got a smart mouth boy."

"It comes from expensive schools . . . " Ezra started.

"A rich boy too huh."

His head was pulled back then brought forward. The side of Ezra's head hit the wall hard enough to leave a dent in the plasterboard. This wasn't a good start to a bad day.

"You need to be taught a lesson."

"From an overweight asshole like you? You must be joking."

Another blow landed against his kidney. More blows rained down on his body, these men knew where to hit a person that would hurt the most. They struck his chest stomach and kidneys. When Ezra fell to the floor one of the officers kicked him in the side, another kick and then it was over.

"You, pretty boy," the officer that had kicked him, leaned down and gripped Ezra's chin, "are under arrest."

"For what?" Ezra groaned as he tried to curl himself up into a ball.

"Resisting arrest, and firing an illegal fire arm." he smiled.

"I don't see any bruises on you." Ezra spat the bile that had risen into his mouth into the man's face. It earned him another kick to the ribs.


Chris Larabee, a man that was ready to tear the face off any man or animal that got in his way, stormed into the police station. He walked straight to the front desk. There was no need to identify himself, he was well known in the Denver PD. A friend in the department had called him to let him know that this undercover agent had been arrested and was now sitting in a jail cell. He had also neglected to inform the arresting officer's of who it was they had arrested. He was going to hang around and enjoy the show.

"Where is he!" Chris yelled into the desk Sergeants face.

"I'm sorry, where's who?" the man looked at Chris then somewhere else, in the hope that he would be able to find someone to help him.

"Don't act stupid with me! Ezra Standish, where the hell is he!"

"Uh, Ezra Standish," he started to read the arrest sheet.

"You do know who I am don't you?" Chris sneered at him.

"Agent Larabee, ATF."

"One of my men was arrested this morning. I want to know why. I want to talk to the arresting officers. I want my agent
standing here next to me. I want all of this done in the next five minutes. If it isn't done then heads are going to roll.
Now . . . if you really know me like you say you do, then you'll know that I carry out my threats."

"Yes Sir!"

Chris waited thirty seconds. "Well."

"There isn't an Ezra Standish on the arrest sheet."

"Five eight, short brown hair, green eyes, southern accent. Have someone find him and bring him here." Chris spoke with a calmness that even surprised himself.

Chris waited two minutes. He turned when he heard a door close shut and swallowed his anger when he saw Ezra. The man was a mess. His trousers were wrinkled, the white shirt was untucked, only four of the buttons were done up. The handsome face was pale, the green eyes bloodshot. A large bruise was forming on his forehead. He held his jacket in hands that were cuffed in front of him.

"Take those damn cuffs off my agent!"

"I'm sorry sir, but until I have proof that this man is an ATF agent, I'm not letting him out of these cuffs or out of this police station."

"You're not taking my word?"

"He said his name was Harold Smith." answered the man who had beaten and arrested the man he held beside him.

"You didn't check his ID?" Chris almost laughed aloud at the stupidity of the man.

"We couldn't find any." he shrugged.

"Did you bother to look for any." it wasn't a question, if they had looked they would have found his ATF ID.

"Of course we did, we found a weapon and no ID."

"You are an idiot."

Ezra raised an eyebrow at the comment and a small smile cracked his features.

Chris pulled a file out of the inside of his jacket and handed it to the man.

"Oh shit." the officer handed the file back. "He . . . he didn't identify himself as an agent. He was aggressive, drunk, and he resisted arrest."

"Is that true Ezra?" Chris looked at his agent.

"Yes . . . well . . . except for the drunk part, I was actually suffering from a hangover, and the aggressive part, that's my natural personality when I'm suffering a hangover. And as for the resisting arrest part, all I did was sit down on my bed, I still haven't received an explanation as to why I had the shit beaten out of me."


Ezra lifted his shirt so Chris could see his growing bruises. He would normally have kept this to himself but the men that had done this needed to lose their jobs. If they did this to him, they would also do it to an innocent man. Guilty until proven innocent was how these two men worked.

"Where are the idiots who did that?" Chris pointed to Ezra's stomach.

"He fired two shots in his hotel room . . . " the black officer started knowing he was wasting his breath.

Ezra stepped out of the way when Chris rushed forward. The officer didn't know what hit him. One minute he was standing there, the next, he was flat on his back holding his broken and bleeding nose.

"I want it in his report that he arrested an ATF agent while he was . . . "

"Throwing up." Ezra offered.

"Then beat the shit out of him . . . "

"When all he wanted to do was sleep." Ezra put in again.

"Then brought him here and threw him into a cell, when he should have been taken to a hospital!"

"Hospital?" Ezra stared in shock at Chris. "What do you mean hospital? I don't need a hospital."

"Didn't I ask you to take those cuffs off." Chris growled without taking his eyes off the man on the floor.

"There off already." Ezra threw the cuffs onto the floor.

Chris raised an eyebrow at him. "How did you do that?"

"Trade secret Mr Larabee."

"You're going to the emergency room. I want to make sure there's nothing seriously wrong with you."

"Apart from being sore and unwell, there is nothing wrong with me."

"Get your ass moving Standish, I've had enough crap for one day." Chris grabbed Ezra's arm and dragged him to the front door. "Thanks Jeff." he winked at the man sitting on a bench seat near the front door.

Ezra turned and looked at the man, he then looked back at Chris. "Who was that?"

"That was the man who told me you were here."

"How in the hell would he know who I was?"

"That man knows everything." Chris stated simply.

"Oh kay. . . " Ezra nodded.


Ezra slept while Chris watched from an uncomfortable position in an uncomfortable chair. Ezra had the better part of the deal, a soft bed, soft pillow, stiff sheets and an uninterrupted peaceful slumber; that was until he woke up, then he was going to be in a world of pain. Pain he didn't deserve. What was it with police officers these days. Some of them thought they had the power to be Judge, Jury and Executioner.

Chris looked down at the arm that lay across the slow moving chest. The bruise was growing larger each time he looked at it. He couldn't understand why the man had fought the doctors and nurses so hard. It had taken five attempts to get the IV into his arm. They had given up after the fourth and administered a sedative to make it easier for both patient and medical staff. The IV was then inserted without further complications.

The doctor had found no serious injuries but there was some bad bruising to his ribs and left kidney. There was no concussion or injury to his brain. It was insisted that Ezra stay for at least four hours so they could keep an eye on him and administer fluids into his dehydrating body.

Four hours, this was going to be a long wait on his part.


Ezra stretched his legs and rolled onto his left side. He snuggled his face deeper into the pillow and let out a deep sigh. This was his favourite part of the day. To wake up in the morning knowing that he didn't have to get up. He could stay in bed for hours if he wanted to and that was what he planned on doing.

"Ezra?" Chris leaned forward in his chair. "Ezra?"

Oh shit, what did he do now? And what the hell was Chris Larabee doing in his hotel room while he was sleeping.

"Ezra, you awake?"

"No Mr Larabee, I am not awake."

"The doc will be here in about twenty minutes, if everything's okay you can go home." Chris explained.

"Doctor? . . . where exactly am I Mr Larabee?" Ezra didn't want to open his eyes and see that one of his nightmares had come true. He despised hospitals.

"You're in a hospital emergency cubicle." he stood up and moved closer to the bed and sat on the edge of it. He placed a hand on Ezra's hip and felt Ezra flinch under the touch. "You remember what happened this morning?"

Ezra wanted to reach out and remove Chris' hand from his hip. He didn't like the friendship this man was offering. No Ezra, remember why he's doing this. He has to get through twelve hours with you. Not if I get fired first.

"Have I been fired?"

"For what?"

Ezra looked over his shoulder at Chris. This man was full of surprises lately. "For being drunk and disturbing the peace."

"You had a hangover Ezra, you were sick at the time and the police assaulted you. Why would you be under arrest. If anything, you should be suing their asses off."

Would nothing ever go his way.

"So, why did you get drunk?"

"That's none of your business Mr Larabee and could you please remove your hand."

"What did I tell you about calling me Chris."

"Mr Larabee . . . I don't know you, I don't even like you, I think you're an asshole who likes to control other people’s lives, and so why in the hell would I want to call you by your fist name."

It was a lie, Ezra knew it. He had to be cold to stop this man from wanting to help him, to stop him from conning him by creating a friendship that didn't exist.

"So, what you're saying is, that you don't want to call me Chris."

"That, and the fact that I don't like you. I don't like any of you."

"Then why are you still here?" Chris asked him.

Chris didn't know what was behind this sudden animosity towards himself and the others but he was going to find out. Maybe it had something to do with what Agent Martin had said the day before.

The question shocked Ezra to the core. He didn't expect a question like that. He thought . . . , no he was sure that Chris would react angrily and possibly with violence.

"I've been asking myself the same question."

"Did you come up with an answer."

"Yes, I did."

"Mind if I ask what it was?"


"So what was the answer you came up with."

"I thought it was going to be different here, that the rumours wouldn't follow me, but they did, it's not going to change. I thought your team was going to be different, but you're not. I'm not trusted here either. I gave it time and now it's time that I left"

"Four weeks and you're giving up already."

"I'm not giving up Mr Larabee. I'm accepting the inevitable. I'm going to be fired eventually. It's better if I just quit now. It'll save everyone else the trouble of doing it for me." Ezra paused and looked down at his hands. He was speaking the truth, speaking from his heart and he didn't understand why he was opening up to a man that was going to hate him in a couple of days. Chris will probably take everything he'd said and throw it in his face. The thought didn't stop him, maybe later when Chris stopped to think about what had happened, he would partly understand a Southern bastard that was only kept on to do the Agency's dirty work. "I don't fit in with the rest of the team, and I'm never going to. I'm not trusted and I can't be bothered to fight for that trust. I'm too tired to keep fighting for something that I now know I'll never earn again. I can't work like that and I know you can't afford to have someone like me on your team. I'm a risk and I'll only get someone hurt."

"Give yourself some more time."


"Why not?"

"Because it's never going to happen. Didn't you just listen to a word I said."

"Yeah I did. I know you're tired, you don't believe it's ever going to happen but it will. You have a chance here Ezra, I'm giving you that chance. I trust you, the others will too. It's like you said, you haven't had a chance to prove it, once you have, and they’ll trust you."

"You're not the one that's stopping me from proving myself." Ezra growled. "When did you say I could leave here."

"About twenty minutes. You're going to spend the night at my place so I can keep an eye on you. Don't want you getting drunk again. You have to go on a stake out day after tomorrow. We can also spend some time talking about your job and what we're going to do about it."

Ezra ignored him, there was no way in hell he was staying at Chris Larabee's place.

"Look Chris . . . " shit, this man was getting to him, "Mr Larabee, I've told you already, it won't . . . "

"I'll talk to Travis." Chris wasn't going to react to the use of his first name. It only proved to him that what Ezra had said before about not liking him, wasn't true. This all must have something to do with Martin. He made the decision that after he spoke to Travis, he was going to have a word or two with Martin.

"I don't want you to talk to Travis."

"I'm talking to him anyway."

"Fine, talk to him but I'll be putting in my resignation after I've completed my first exciting assignment. Twelve hours in a room with you, I don't know how I'm going to handle it."

"You'll love it Ezra."

"Go away."

"No, I'm staying until the doctor arrives, then we're going to the office where you can rest while I finish up some stuff and talk to Travis, then I'm taking you to my place."

"I'm not going to your place." Ezra growled at him.

"You're not staying in a hotel! You're not well, the doc said you have some pretty bad bruising and that you need to stay off your feet for a few days. You need looking after and we're going to do that for you."

"Fuck!" Ezra rolled over and forced himself into a sitting position and grabbed his side, the pain only made him more angry. "What the hell are you doing?"

"What?" Chris pushed himself further onto the bed, Ezra wasn't going to force him off it.
Ezra slammed his head onto the back of the bed in frustration. He missed the grimace that crossed Chris' features.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

"As I said before Ezra. What am I doing?"

"Fuck you!"

"What's got you so angry?"

"Being in this fucking hospital and you!"

"Me? What did I do?"

"You're being a fucking friend, that's what you're doing!" Ezra yelled at him.

"Excuse me?" Chris smiled in relief, he thought it was something serious. "You're pissed off at me because I'm being a friend."

Chris Larabee was scaring the hell out of him. He was supposed to betray the man in a couple of days. This was going to make it even harder.

"Can I please stay with someone else."

"I'm sorry Ezra, didn't mean to come on so strong."

"Are you for real?"

"What do you mean?" Chris frowned at him.

"This friendship crap, is it . . . never mind." Ezra waved him off.

"If you're talking about me being a friend . . . yeah it's for real."

"Whatever Mr Larabee." Ezra wanted to believe him but past experience told him not to, he didn't want to be hurt again.

"Ezra, I . . ."

"Don't, just don't." Ezra rolled over until his back was facing Chris. He wanted out of this career and out of this life. He'd had enough of all the crap that people like Chris were trying to feed him. It was all a lie, Larabee just didn't have the guts to tell him that.


Chris quickly grabbed hold of Ezra's elbow when the smaller man continued to sway side to side after the elevator had stopped. Maybe the doctor shouldn't have allowed him to leave so soon. The features were still pale and dark blemishes had begun to show under the green eyes. Ezra Standish looked like shit.

Ezra pulled his arm from Chris' grip. He only needed to pretend so much, he wasn't going to do anymore than he had to. He stepped out of the elevator and saw Nathan Jackson heading towards him. The undercover agent turned his head towards Chris and gave him a questioning look.

"I called him while you were getting dressed. Wanted to make sure he was here to keep an eye on you while I talk to Travis."

"You couldn't have phoned Tanner instead?" Chris shook his head. "You do know that this guy is going to give me a speech about morals and how I don't have any. That I should be more respectful to those I work with."

"Maybe you should listen to that last part."

"I will endeavour to do so Mr Larabee." Ezra smiled.

"Hey Ezra, you all right?" Nathan frowned at the Southerner's appearance but there was no concern written on his own dark features.

"Piss off Mr Jackson, I don't need a nurse maid!"

"That's the way Ezra," Chris slapped him on the back, "I knew you could do it."

Ezra pushed himself away from the two men and tried to make his way to his own office. His arms were abducted as was his body and he was forced to go in a direction that would take him to Larabee's office.

"My office is just as good as yours." Ezra growled.

"My office has a couch." Chris smugly replied.

"You need the room to sit your fat ass." Ezra retorted.

"I knew you had a sarcastic wit in there somewhere." Chris opened his door and pointed to the couch. "Lie down, get some sleep and I'll be back in about an hour, maybe two."

"I don't want to sleep Mr . . . "

"While you're still working for me Standish, you will follow my orders! Is that understood."

Ezra bit back the retort, he had no choice. Larabee was walking out of the office and closing the door behind him. Yes, he respected Larabee but sometimes he didn't really like him.

Jackson tried to gently pushed Ezra towards the couch but when he resisted he used physical force.

"I can find my own way!" Ezra growled at him as he tried to plant his feet so he couldn't go any further.

"Then find it." Nathan pushed him forward and watched as Ezra half fell onto the couch.

"Lie down."

Ezra pushed himself into a sitting position.

"You don't want me to make you Standish." Nathan threatened.

"Why not? I know you'd enjoy adding to the bruises I already have."

"Just lie down Ezra, I'm not in the mood for this."

"Me neither Mr Jackson, so why don't you just go away."

"No, I've got my orders."

"Uh huh," Ezra nodded, "should have known you weren't doing it out of the kindness of your heart."

Ezra lay down and faced the back of the couch. He didn't want to see the man who had been ordered to sit with him.
Nathan waited until the Southerner was lying down then left to get a blanket. When he returned a few minutes later, Ezra was fast asleep. The ex-medic placed the blanket over the still form and pulled it up to rest under Ezra's chin. He then made himself comfortable in Chris' chair and watched the man sleep. How could someone who looked so innocent when he slept be such a bastard when he was awake.


Chris knocked on the Judge's door then entered the office without waiting for permission. The Judge was sitting behind his desk, ignoring whoever it was that had entered his domain unannounced. Chris wasn't in the mood for games, he wanted to deal with the situation and find out what the Judge had against Ezra.

"Why won't you allow Agent Standish to go undercover?" Chris didn't even bother to sit down, he didn't think he was going to be here for very long.

"What makes you think it's me that's stopping him?"

"Because he doesn't think it's me." Chris answered the question truthfully.

"Do you agree with him?" Travis put his pen down and removed his reading glasses. His eyes stared at Larabee.

"I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't."

"He's out of control at the moment, he hasn't dealt with his past and that may be a problem."

"That's it?" Chris was dumbfounded.

"That's it."

"That's a pathetic excuse!" Chris growled. "The only way he can deal with those rumours is by working, by showing everyone that he can do the job. What you're doing is making him look like an idiot."

"I wasn't talking about the rumours."

"What were you talking about?" Chris demanded to know.

"That's privileged information Chris. It's something that Standish doesn't want people to know, so it was taken off his record and put in a separate private file."

"Don't you think that I should know about it, I am his boss for Christ sake."

"It has nothing to do with the job Chris, it's a personal matter. It came up in his last case, some people made a big deal out of it. The wrong people used it against him, said it was the reason he was taking bribes."

"What was it? Did something happen to him?"

"Chris . . . " Travis had felt sorry for the undercover agent when he'd read the report in its entirety. No one deserved that sort of treatment, not even Standish, but his past didn't make him any more likable. The man went out of his way to make enemies. It was obvious that it was the only life he knew and he had expected it to carry on into his adult hood, and in a way, it did. "I can't tell you that, you'll have to ask Ezra. All I can say is that he needs to deal with it before he can go back to work."

Travis knew Standish would go off the handle if he heard what he'd just said. He knew Standish was the best at what he did, that's why he'd been kept around, even if it was only to work undercover within his own agency. He was where they could keep an eye on him, a place where he wouldn't get hurt. Travis had thought that Chris would be able to pull him into line but so far, it hadn't worked. There was little time left for Larabee and Standish. Travis no longer had a choice but to push Standish, he didn't want to lose either man.

"So it' not because you don't like him, or you don't think he can do the job?" Chris began to relax. If he could find out what had been taken out of Ezra's report then he should be able to help the stupid jackass to deal with it so he could then settled down in one place and make friends. Chris knew that Ezra didn't have a friend, not even in the FBI where he had worked for five years. It must be a lonely life.

"You can't help but not like him Chris, but that's because of the state he's in. I'm sure he's a nice guy once you get to know the real man. As for his work, his record speaks for itself, he was the best in the business."

"Was?" Chris tried again.

"I can't tell you Chris."

"Okay, as long as I know where Ezra stands." Chris nodded then turned to leave. He stopped after a few steps and turned back to the judge. "I want him to stay Judge, not because of his abilities, but because he needs a home, he needs friends. He hasn't got that, I don't think he's had that for a long time."

"You're right there Chris, he hasn't had it for a number of years." Travis hung his head in shame. He remembered the way he had spoken to the agent the day before. He'd threatened to throw him back onto the street where he found him. It was probably talk like that, which gave the man an attitude problem. He expected it so he instantly reacted that way. "Do what you can. I'm sure he'll grow on me in time." the last comment was spoken through a grimace.

"Thanks." Chris hesitated then left the room.

The Judge sat back in his chair and leaned his head back. After making the decision, he got up and left his office. It was time he had a real talk with Agent Standish.


Agent Martin looked up and groaned when Chris Larabee walked into his office and made himself at home. The man that always dressed in black began to pick at the things he kept on his desk. Martin didn't even bother to try and out wait him, no one could be as stubborn as Larabee. The man could be both an enemy and a friend. He didn't have him as a friend and he didn't particularly want him as an enemy.

"What can I do for you Agent Larabee." he put his pen down and gave Larabee his full attention. If he didn't like where the conversation was going to go then he would stop it.

"I would like to know what you were talking about yesterday when you mentioned Ezra's partner." Chris laid one ankle on the desk in front of him and crossed the other over it then leaned back. He refused to looked Martin in the eye, he would do that when he needed to and not before.

"Don't know what you mean Larabee." Martin shrugged. This was something that he didn't want to talk about to Larabee.

"You said you knew what happened to his partner, that if it happened here, you wouldn't let him get away with it."

Chris brought his eyes up and used them to threaten the agent. "You're going to tell me what happened and you're going to tell me now."

"Standish hasn't told you himself?"

"No, I didn't know anything happened to his partner until you mentioned it yesterday . . . Now, do I have to ask you again."

"No you don't have to ask me again, I'm not deaf." Martin stood up and walked towards his office door, he stopped and held it open. "Larabee, you may think I'm an idiot and an asshole, but I'm not a gossip. I have no intentions of starting any sort of rumour, be it a lie or the truth. If you want to know what happened, you ask the man yourself."

"You're not going to tell me . . . even if I threaten you?"

"I'm not going to tell you, I'm not that sort of person." Martin informed him.

"Okay, fine, I'll just have to do this myself." Chris stood up and walked out of Martin's office. A small smile crept onto his face. Martin had some balls after all.


Travis knocked on the door then opened it when he received an answer. He had expected Chris' voice, not Nathan's. He hid the surprise he felt to find Standish sleeping on the couch. His old tired body moved forward and sat down as quietly as it could into a chair. He watched the sleeping form and tried to think of a way to talk to Ezra when he woke up. He needed to get it across to the man the importance of getting Chris to talk about what had happened. He needed evidence so he could clear Chris' name at the hearing. Without that evidence Chris would lose, he would then be officially charged with murder.

"Is there any particular reason why he's sleeping on that couch instead of working?" Travis asked the ex-medic.

"He hasn't had a good day." Nathan shrugged. Chris hadn't explained Ezra's condition to him, just that he had been ill and the doctor had ordered him to rest. He had been given the job of babysitting the man while Chris tied some loose ends before he took the Southerner out to the ranch.

"Really. How did he get the bruise on his forehead?"

"I didn't ask."

"Why not?"

"He would've just told me to mind my own damn business."

"That's true." Travis turned back to watching Ezra. "He going to be here all day?"

"No, when Chris is finished doing what he has to do he's taking him home . . . to Chris' place that is, for some reason Chris is feeling motherly towards the shit."

"There's a reason for everything Agent Jackson."

Nathan frowned at the judge but didn't question him about his statement.

"You can go, I'll stay here with him."

"I don't think that . . . "

"That was an order Agent Jackson!"

"Yes Sir." Nathan stood up and without looking at either man, he left the room. The door was slammed shut behind him.

Ezra jerked awake at the sound.

"Nice one Jackson." the Judge commented under his breath.

The first thing Ezra thought was that he was going to be fired. About time. His second thought was that Travis was going to eat him alive. The expression the Judge was wearing made him feel very uncomfortable.

"Judge . . . " Ezra greeted as he tried to pull the tangled blanket from his body.

"Stay where you are Ezra, I've been told that you should be resting."

Ezra nodded and looked away from the older man. "Chris told you what happened?"

"No, he didn't. And I didn't tell him what you don't want people to know."

Ezra's eyes shot back up, a threat of erupting anger shown through his green eyes.

"I didn't tell him anything Ezra, he knows something's wrong. Maybe you should talk to him about it."

"That's not why I'm here remember." Ezra growled back at him.

"I'm not going to get angry Ezra, I did that yesterday and look where it got us." the judge smiled at him. "Chris wants you to stay."

"He'll change his mind after he finds out why I'm here."

"Somehow I don't think so." Travis continued to smile.

"Why would he want to keep me on?" Ezra was becoming even more scared.

"Ask him." Travis suggested.

Ezra nodded and laid his head back down. This case was harder to deal with than a physical beating. He closed his eyes against distant memories. Now was the wrong time to start thinking about his past.

"Ezra . . . I'm sorry about yesterday. I'm worried about Chris, this shouldn't be happening to him. He was just doing his job. The stupid idiot isn't even worried about it, he doesn't think that it'll go to trial. I'm a judge, I know it's going to go to trial."

"I understand . . . " Ezra stayed in the same position.

"I'm worried about you also."

So far there hadn't been any sarcasm, or anger coming from the agent. Maybe this was what he was really like. It made a nice change.

Ezra opened his eyes in shock but didn't look at the Judge. Why was this shit happening to him and why now?

"You're going through a pretty bad time yourself. You need to talk to someone about it."

"Judge, I'm trying to do a job. I don't need that brought up and thrown in my face."

No resentment and no anger, not really anything.

"I'm not throwing it in your face Ezra. After this is finished, I want you to stay with the team and get some help."

"Judge . . . please . . . not now."

"You know Ezra, you can be likeable when you don't use that smart mouth of yours."

"Thank you . . . I think."

"We'll talk about your new job when you're finished the one you're on."

Ezra just nodded and shifted himself closer to the back of the couch.

"You go home with Chris tonight, I'll ask him not to bring the subject up. Okay?"

Ezra nodded again and closed his eyes. He hoped that this would signal the end of the conversation.

"Get some rest, I'll stay until Chris comes back."

The undercover agent didn't think he would be able to get any rest while this man sat in a chair on the other side of the room watching him sleep. He rolled further onto his side and gritted his teeth against the pain. It hadn't really hurt before but now the bruising was starting to cause him pain. No, he wasn't going to be able to get any more sleep.

Part One | Part Two

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