azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: A Werewolf Investigation
Rating: PG
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
AU: Scientific Paranormal Investigations
Main Characters: Ezra, Buck and the rest.
Summary: The team investigate after a death is reported in Lufkin, Texas where the locals claim a Werewolf was the culprit.
Disclaimers: The guys are owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp.
Spoilers: None
Status: Complete
Total Word Count: 30,509



Denver, Colorado - Thursday, 9:03am

Chris Larabee walked down the long white tiled corridor of the Denver SPI Headquarters towards the conference room. He ignored the scientific photos that lined the wall, none of them held any interest for him. He knew nothing about science, he didn't need to. Science wasn't the reason he had taken the position he was now in. He liked the excitement of the chase, the unnatural events they investigated, proving the existence of other life forms, the closing of the case. But sometimes the cases weren't officially closed. An answer hadn't been found for the paranormal event. For him it was frustrating, he didn't like leaving a case that hadn't been completed. Neither did his men. There were seven in all. Outside the team, they were known as 'The Magnificent Seven' but within the team, there was an in house joke. They referred to themselves as 'SPIT7'; Scientific Paranormal Investigations - Team Seven.

The file of a new case was held in his left hand, a hot cup of coffee was carried in his right. He had quickly read the case file and knew that his men were going to enjoy this one. It was a first for all of them. He knew JD Dunne was going to be excited. At the age of twenty-three, he was the youngest member of the team. The youngster was still full of enthusiasm and enjoyed the sort of things that a younger child would. Things like monsters and ghosts. He was going to love this case but then again he loved every case they had.

He stepped through the door into the room and headed to the chair at the front of the long table. He whacked Buck Wilmington on the back of the head with the file on the way past and enjoyed the profanity that resulted from the playful blow. Chris had known Buck for ten years. The moustached man had help him through the traumatic years of mourning after his wife and son was murdered. The killers had never been found and the man who constantly dressed in black was still desperate for revenge, it ate away at his soul until there was nothing left. But after joining SPIT7, he found a new family, people who were able to bring the life back into his body and mind.

"Hey pard," Vin Tanner welcomed his leader and friend to the table, "I see you’re in a good mood this morning."

"New case." Chris smiled and his blue eyes sparkled in anticipation of the case.

He sat down in the chair next to his security man. He and Vin had made a connection when they met, it was equal to the relationship of twins. They knew what each other were thinking or feeling without the use of words. They instantly knew when the other was in trouble. Chris had worried at first that Buck might not take to his connection with Vin but the electronics expert had been fine with it. Wilmington was glad that Chris had made new friends, that he had a new family. Buck had no problem about the fact that he had to share his long time friend.

"So what is it this time? Aliens? Ghosts?" An excited JD asked.

Chris looked over at the youngster and watched as he wiped the shoulder length brown hair from his face. He hesitated in answering the question until JD began to shift impatiently in his chair. "Werewolf." JD's mouth fell open and his large brown eyes widened even more.

"A Werewolf?" Josiah Sanchez laughed. "You have to be joking, there is no such thing."

Nathan Jackson turned to look at the ex-preacher. "You can say that after everything we've seen."

"Nothing exists until you see it with your own eyes." The larger man retaliated with humor.

"Tell that to JD, he still believes in Santa Claus." Buck informed the group.

"I do not!" JD quickly defended himself.

"Do too, and the tooth fairy." Buck continued to aggravate the man he thought of as a younger brother, they even shared an apartment together.

"Buck, leave him be." Chris ordered him.

"Ezra. What do you think?" Chris glanced at the Southern man who had so far, stayed quiet. The intelligent green eyes looked back at him.

"Josiah is right. Werewolves only exist in a person's imagination." Ezra told him.

"That's it?" Nathan questioned him. "That's all you got to say on the subject." The dark man shook his head at him.

"What else do you want me to say?" Ezra raised his left eyebrow at the man across the table.

Chris also shook his head. Ezra Standish was an enigma. The man had been the last recruitment to the team. Larabee had found Standish on the wrong side of the law. Apparently, it hadn't been the first time that he'd used the traits that his mother had taught him. It was these skills that caused Larabee to convince the ex-con to join the team. Standish hadn't had a choice, it was either SPIT7 or jail, and he chose the former. Chris' eyes quickly darted away when Standish looked at him with a questioning look on his handsome countenance.
Chris looked at the rest of his men, he could see that Buck was still hassling JD. He coughed to get their attention, usually he would just yell at them but he was still in his good mood. They all turned to him. "We haven't got a lot of information."

"And what do we have?" Vin asked him. His light blue eyes were smiling but his expression was serious.

"Last night. One death. Male, approximately forty-five years of age. Mortimor Johnson had his throat torn out. Autopsy found animal hair in the wound, they say it could be a wolf, they're not sure about the teeth marks. Think they could be human or animal, they're still doing tests. They found saliva in the wound, their guess is that it's human. There was one witness, his wife. Gertrude Johnson, forty-three years of age. She claimed to have seen a wolf like creature walking on its hind legs so everyone started crying Werewolf." He threw the file into the middle of the table in case one of the team wanted to read it. "Travis wants us to investigate."

"You don't think that maybe an animal did it and a human took advantage of the road kill." Buck asked.

"Gross Buck!" JD screwed his face up in mock disgust.

"We're going to find out Buck." Chris replied.

"Where are we headed and when?" Vin couldn't help but smile when JD went through the motions of vomiting all over Buck's lap.

"Lufkin, Texas. One hour." Chris announced.

________________________________________

Lufkin, Texas - Thursday, 12:49pm

Seven very different personalities shared a table in the Lufkin Hotel's restaurant. Chris, Vin and Josiah sat on one side while Nathan, Buck and JD sat on the other. Ezra sat at the head of the table, his back to the wall, his intense green eyes facing the front and back doors. Ezra always requested that particular position. Chris knew it was a trait that carried over from his former life of crime. He needed to see who was coming or going. Each man checked over the menus they had been handed by the pretty brunette that now waited behind the counter, she would return when she knew they were ready to order.

"I'm starving." JD announced to the group, as though they cared.

"You're always hungry." Buck elbowed his young friend's side then winked at the waitress.

"So are you, but at least I'm only hungry for food." JD argued.

"What do you mean by that?" Buck asked.

"As if you didn't know." JD rolled his eyes.

"I don't." Buck fiend his innocence.

Ezra was getting irritated by the conversation so he decided to end it. "He means that all you want is sex, you eat it, you sleep it and you live it, for some reason you want to take every woman you meet to bed."

"I knew what he meant Ezra, you don't have to rub it in." Buck growled back at the Southerner.

"You said you didn't know and I certainly have no intention of rubbing it in." Ezra retorted.

"What the hell is your problem anyway?" Buck demanded to know.

Chris saw that Ezra was about to loose his temper. He knew his fuse wasn't this short, it usually took a lot more than this to cause his fuse to burn out and his temper to explode. "That's enough! Both of you!"

"Well, I know what I'm having." Josiah stopped the retort that he knew was going to escape from Ezra's mouth. The young man had a way of speaking before thinking. It always got him into a lot of trouble and he had the scars to prove it. The ex-preacher had taken an instant liking to the Southerner and had taken him under his wing. Ezra had of course pushed the large wing out of his way. Josiah had tried to continue looking out for him without the younger man knowing it. It was the hardest job he had ever undertaken. Ezra was able to read people in a way he had never seen before, it didn't matter how hard you tried to hide it, and he could always see it. Josiah knew that this was one of the reasons Chris demanded that Travis allow him to hire the once successful criminal.

"I'll have what you’re having." Nathan knew Josiah always made a good choice.

"We already know what Buck and JD will have." Vin joined the conversation that was being created to distract Ezra.

"Think I'll just have the salad roll." Chris added.

"Me too." Vin agreed. "What are you having Ezra?"

Ezra threw the menu back onto the table. "Coffee." Was the grunted reply.

Josiah motioned to the waitress to indicate they were ready to order. She wrote down his requests then stuck the pencil back behind her ear. She winked at Buck then turned away. Buck nudged JD's shoulder and winked at him. Everyone knew what the body language meant. Buck assumed he would get a date and then something else afterwards. Chris put an end to his happiness.

"Not a chance Buck. We'll be working tonight." Chris smiled at him. "Werewolf remember, hairy things with pointy teeth, only comes out when the moon is full."


Buck shifted uncomfortably and wiped his moustache with his right hand. JD couldn't help but break out into laughter at the expression on his friend's face. The others smiled but Ezra's handsome features didn't. Chris' turned into a frown. He looked sideways at Vin who shrugged back at him. Vin didn't know what was going on with Ezra either.

The group ate in silence while Ezra sipped at his coffee. Each man stole a glance at him when they thought he would not be aware of their scrutiny. But Ezra didn't have to see, he read their faces easily when they weren't looking at him. He knew they were concerned but he wasn't the type to accept that concern. It would only prove what his mother had always told him.

"If you allow people to get close to you, you can't con them. Never make a friend Ezra, only associates and keep them at an arms length away from you."

That was one of her many sayings.

"If you show your emotions people will see how weak you really are."

Ezra Standish shut out his mother's voice and tried to concentrate on his movements. He knew if he allowed it, his hands would start shaking and the memories of their last case would come back to haunt him like they did in his dreams. He had been scared but didn't show it, he wouldn't allow the others to see the weakness that his mother claimed he'd had since he was a small child. He made the mistake of going against her teachings once, he wasn't going to do it again.

As part of his duties within SPIT7, he was required, on occasions, to go undercover to gain inside information. When Larabee had looked at his police record, he had found that Ezra ran different types of cons. This had required him to take on different personalities, another trait that Larabee wanted to abuse.

Chris had joked that Ezra would have made a commendable undercover police officer. Ezra had laughed. He didn't tell him that he had tried to enter the FBI, he would have succeeded but his mother had put a stop to it. She was always able to out con her only child, she'd had one of her many associates make false police records for one Ezra P. Standish.

Ezra hadn't bothered to claim they were false, his mother was too good at her trade. She had always called it a trade instead of what it really was, which were criminal activities. It was after this failure on his mother's part that he had taken up a life of crime. There wasn't anything else that he could do. He had the intelligence and ability but he knew his mother only wanted one thing for him, and that was to follow in her footsteps. She would continue to make him fail at anything else. So far, she hadn't succeeded with SPIT7 but she was still trying.

During the times he had been undercover he had seen things that the others didn't, things that were meant to scare him and they did. He had told Chris when it first happened. His boss had shown concern and understanding. The rest of Team Seven managed to find out and they mirrored Larabee's emotions. These emotions had scared Ezra more than the events that happened while he was undercover. He refused to open up about the things that happened since. He was afraid that his mother's spoken words would be proven to be true.

Emotions were something that Ezra Standish was unfamiliar with, especially when they came form somebody else. His mother never showed any emotions and refused to allow her son to show them. She had tried to bring him up as a cold and uncaring person but it wasn't in Ezra's nature to be like that. He was a kind and caring person, he just hadn't been taught how to show that side of his personality.

"Ezra?" Josiah nudged the man who seemed to have moved to another planet. They had spoken to him but he hadn't answered them. "You okay?"

"Fine. Just thinking about the case." The Southerner lied.

"Speaking of the case." Chris watched Ezra for a moment then continued on. "Nathan, I want you to go to the coroner's office. Talk to the coroner and go over the report, get a copy if you can." The medical scientist nodded. "Vin, I want you to speak to the police officer in charge of the case. Go over his initial report, then see what he personally thinks." Vin also nodded in agreement. "The rest of us will go to the victim's home. That's were the crime accured. JD, Buck I want you to set up the usual stuff around the area, motion detectors, video cameras, you know what we'll need. Josiah, Ezra and I will talk to the victim's wife. Nathan and Vin can meet us at the murder scene when they're done."

Chris pulled out the money required for the bill and a generous tip. He placed the money on the table then stood up. The others followed his lead and walked out of the restaurant. Chris was the last to leave and couldn't help but notice the pout on the waitress' face. She looked very disappointed. Chris knew she wasn't the only one. Buck was going to be complaining tonight.

________________________________________

Lufkin Morgue - Thursday, 2:15pm

Nathan Jackson; ex-medic and scientist sat in a cold hard chair that faced an ugly desk in an even uglier room. He tried to ignore the mess that filled the small area and look out the window but he scowled at the scenery. There was nothing but a brown wall that almost matched his skin colour. This man's job would have to be hell Nathan thought. He had been told that the pathologist would be with him in fifteen minutes; that had been twenty-five minutes ago. He was about to stand up to ask the assistant to get him and get him quickly when the door opened.

A smallish man that was bent over prematurely stepped into the room carrying two files. Nathan stood up to shake the man's hand, it disappeared within his own. The scientist smiled and sat back down. He watched as the other man made his way to his own chair. He was still wearing his lab coat. The glasses that sat on his nose rested at an angle. Nathan noticed the black eyebrows and wondered why no one had suggested that he get them trimmed.

"Mr Jackson wasn't it." When Nathan nodded, the man continued. "May I see some identification?"

Nathan pulled out his wallet and showed the Doctor his ID. When the man was satisfied, he handed him two files. "Those are copies, I don't trust anyone with the originals."

"There's two files here Doctor Morgan. I'm only interested in the initial examination report on Mortimor Johnson." Nathan went to hand back the other one.

"You'll want to see the other Mr Jackson. Two years ago SPI were here investigating a death. His throat had been torn out, a witness claimed to have seen a wolf running away from the scene. He then claimed that it changed to human form before it reached the trees. No one believed him but SPI came down anyway. Far as I know they didn't find anything to prove a Werewolf existed here."

"Is there just the two that you know of?" Nathan asked. If it had happened before, it could have been more than once.

"No. When this one came in, I had my assistant check the files for anything similar. She went back twenty years. Nothing."

"So what do you think?"

"I don't think anything. It's all in the reports. The report on Johnson is on the preliminary examintation. I will be doing the autopsy on Johnson tomorrow at four, if you wish to join me let me know. Now if you'll excuse me I have an autopsy to do on a twelve year old hit and run victim."

Nathan nodded. One hell of job. "Thanks for your help." Nathan shook his hand again and left quietly.
Once he was out of the room, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Vin's number. He opened the second file while he waited for the security man to answer his call. It took long enough for Nathan to glance over the file.

"Tanner." The steady voice echoed in Nathan's ear.

"Vin, it's Nathan. I've got something for you." Nathan couldn't help but smile at the picture in the file.

"Doctor Morgan gave me a second file. Seems the same thing happened two years ago. One of our teams investigated but found nothing."

"Victim's name?" Vin asked.

Nathan looked down at the man who was the spitting image of Don Knotts. "Curly Joe."

"You've got to be kidding me. You are aren't you?"

"Wait until you see the picture." Nathan hung up the phone and walked out of the Lufkin Morgue with two unsolved cases under his arm instead of one.

________________________________________

Home of Gertrude Johnson - Thursday, 3:37pm

Chris Larabee turned off the main road onto the two-mile dirt track that would lead them to the victim's home and widow. His mind drifted from the mourning that he knew would be accuring within the home. It would have been a traumatic event for the victim's wife to witness. Chris knew what she would be going through. He had watched his own wife and son die in a fire that was meant for him. Friends had told him that they would have been overcome by the smoke, they tried to convince him that they didn't feel anything in their last moments on this world, that they weren't burnt alive. Chris wanted to believe that but it was hard. For a year after their deaths he found it hard to close his eyes because all he could see were their burning bodies, all he could hear were their screams of agony.

He tore his mind from the image that began to play once again in his mind. It was a repeat memory that had been played a million times over. He heard a cough in the back and glanced in the mirror. Ezra was sitting in the back, the steel-rimmed sunglasses hid his eyes from him. The expression was calm, showing nothing of what might have been going on inside the man that worried Larabee more than the rest of his men. But then his men didn't take the kind of risks that Standish took.

"You okay Ezra?"

"Fine thank you." Ezra replied then turned his head to look out the window. His unseeing gaze watched the scenery go by. He blinked when he saw the police tape around the murder scene. This is where Buck and JD would be stopping.

"You're not coming down with something are you?" Josiah twisted himself around in his seat so he could look at the younger man that sat behind him.

"No."


"I was only wondering because you didn't eat any lunch." Josiah tried to read the ex-criminal's face but couldn't. He didn't know how Ezra did it. He would give nothing away unless you forced him too.

"I didn't eat lunch because I wasn't hungry." Ezra explained. It was the truth, he hadn't been hungry. He felt sick in the stomach still. A slight headache teased him continuously. He knew it was a result of what had happened during their last case.

He closed his eyes but they flew open again as an image flashed in his mind. His was grateful for the sunglasses. Josiah was still looking at him, the glasses hid the fear that had creeped into his eyes. "Did you want something else Josiah?"

"No." Josiah sighed. The man was as stubborn as Larabee. He closed himself off to everything and every one. He allowed no one to get close to him, to be his friend. Josiah couldn't understand why and didn't think that he ever would. He was just going to have to accept the fact that they may not be able to change Ezra's ways. But they sure as hell were going to keep trying.

Josiah had never married, never had children. He didn't know what it was like to have a child and never would. His profession stopped him from committing to a woman; he had specialised in exorcisms. Now that he was no longer a priest he could find the right woman if he wanted to. But that wasn't a priority in his life, he wasn't like Buck, he could do without one. He had thought that maybe Ezra could give him an idea what it would be like to have a child, a child that was now an adult. He had never realised it could be so difficult. He tried to talk to Chris about it once but saw that it still hurt the man to talk about his son so he had refrained from continuing the subject. He would have to learn on his own, Ezra was no help at all.

"We're here." Chris announced as he eased the car to a stop in the short gravel driveway. "Who wants to do the talking?" Chris looked at Josiah, the man looked away from him. He turned to Ezra who was still looking out the window at something only he could see. Probably a card game Chris smiled. If there was one thing Ezra enjoyed in life it was a game of poker. And he was damn good at it. Each member of the team had learnt not to play with him the day after payday. "Okay, I suppose I'll have to do it as usual."

"You like meeting people Chris." Ezra spoke from the back.

"Both of you are coming with me." Chris got out out his car and shut the door behind him.

"After you Josiah." Ezra grinned.

Josiah and Ezra followed Chris up to the front door of the small wooden cottage. Each man quickly scanned the area that was within their sight. Josiah nudged Ezra's side and pointed out the pink flamingos that were standing behind a water fountain. Ezra rolled his eyes at the vision that lay next to them. A row of six white ducks.

"Good Lord." Ezra muttered.

"Amen to that brother." Josiah smiled at Ezra and was treated to a smile that showed the younger man's dimples.

The door opened revealing the widow of Mortimer Johnson. Ezra forced his mouth not to drop open. Josiah coughed into his hand to hide the chuckle that nearly escaped. Chris, as always, kept his cool.

"Mrs Johnson?" Chris asked. She nodded as she looked over his shoulder at Ezra. "I'm Chris Larabee. Scientific Paranormal Investigations. This is Josiah Sanchez," Chris nodded towards him but Mrs Johnson didn't follow his movement, "and this is Ezra Standish."

"Ezra huh? What a sweet name." Gertrude Johnson winked at Ezra Standish and ran her tongue over her lower lip.

Ezra blushed, more in embarrassment than anything else. Gertrude Johnson was not his type of woman. He didn't think that she was even Buck's type of woman. "Um . . . thank you Mrs Johnson."

"Call me Gertrude Ezra." She made sure the Southerner's name rolled off her tongue. "And such a sexy accent. What is it? French?"

"Southern." Ezra coughed and looked at Chris who had turned to look at him. Ezra wanted to wipe the smile off his face.

"Mrs Johnson . . . Gertrude. May we come in and ask you some questions about your husband's death." Chris asked her.

She scowled back at him. "I don't remember telling you to call me Gertrude."

"Sorry. Can we come in Mrs Johnson?" Chris repeated his request. He was going to love this. Ezra was never going to hear the end of it. French, ha!

Gertrude reached out with her hand. Ezra just stared at it and before he knew it the overly large woman grab his hand and pulled him forward over the threshold and into her house.

"I think our young friend may need protecting." Josiah smirked at Chris, he too was going to enjoy this. He knew Ezra needed a distraction even though he knew the Southerner wasn't going to enjoy it.

"Like hell." Chris chuckled. "He's on his own. I have a feeling that if we try to interfere, Gertrude would bite our heads off."

"I'll agree with you on that point. Shall we join the two love birds?" He used his arm to motion Chris forward.

Chris and Josiah followed Ezra and his abductor into the house. They couldn't help but stare at the porcelain objects that lined the walls and bookcases. It seemed that Mrs Johnson was an avid collector of pigs. They were everywhere. Mouths dropped open as they moved into the living area of the Johnson's home. The large sofa was pink. Cushions that were designed like pigs lined the ugly uncomfortable looking sofa. And right in the middle of it sat Ezra Standish. The pleading expression on his face was priceless.

"Would you like a cup of coffee Ezra? Piece of cheesecake perhaps? Biscuit maybe?" Gertrude waved Chris and Josiah towards the two empty chairs that sat opposite the couch.

"No thank you. I'm not that hungry. Really. We had lunch before we came here." Ezra shifted away from her but she moved quickly to close the gap.

"You didn't eat, remember Ezra." Chris felt Josiah hit him but he didn't care. He was enjoying himself too much.

"I'll make you something to eat sweetie." She ran her finger down Ezra's right cheek. "You’re too thin, we need to fatten you up a bit."

"No really. I'm, um, not hungry. Thank you, any, um, way." Ezra stuttered and tried to move further away from the woman.

She moved closer. "Perhaps tonight," she sucked on her finger, "you could come back for some home made cooking."

"We'll be working." Ezra moved and came up against the arm of the sofa.

He was trapped, he couldn't go any further. He made to get up but a beefy hand pulled him back down again. Gertrude shifted herself sideways, the sofa screamed in protest. She just managed to cross her right leg over her left and made sure that it rubbed against Ezra's legs. She lifted her breasts then hitched her short skirt up even higher. This movement revealed something that Chris and Josiah did not want to see.

"Ah, Mrs Johnson." Chris called to her while diverting his gaze. "Mrs Johnson!"

"What?!" She growled back.

"We would like to ask you some questions about your husband's death." Chris noticed that Ezra was actually beginning to shake within the vixen's grip.

"What do you want to know?" Gertrude began to play with Ezra's hair. She ignored his attempts of escape.

"We would like to know what happened." Chris told her.

"Mortimer took the dog for a walk in the woods, he usually goes a mile or so then comes back. He didn't come back at his usual time. I waited a bit longer then got the torch and went out looking for him. It didn't take me long to find him, I was about to turn back. I don't like walking much." She smiled at Ezra. "I prefer the horizontal position mostly." Ezra went pale. "Mortimer was lying on the ground and this thing was chewing on his throat. It was a wolf but it wasn't. It stood up and walked away, didn't run, just walked. It wasn't human I know that." She snuggled closer to Ezra hoping that he would at least put his arm around her.

"Did you see a face, anything that may have looked familiar to you?" Josiah asked her.

"No, the face was dark, like it was covered in hair, it was like his whole body was covered in hair."

"He wasn't wearing anything?" Chris continued with the questions.

"No." She fluttered her eyes at Ezra. "You have beautiful eyes Ezra. They're so green."

"Um, thank you." Ezra muttered and tried to smile. He couldn't, he was too embarrassed.

"Did you hear or see anything before or after?"

"Such as?"

"Strangers? Someone hanging around watching the place? Anyone apart from the sheriff or us questioning you about it? Anything that may have been out of the ordinary?" Chris asked.

"No." She put her hand on Ezra's thigh. He removed it. "Is there anything else?"

"If you think of anything that could help us please let us know." Chris stood up and Josiah followed his movements with his own.

"Certainly." She leaned into Ezra and began to whisper in his ear.

Ezra's eyes widened in horror. He physically pushed himself off the couch and out of her grip. Chris hadn't seen the smaller man move so fast in his life.

Josiah lent down towards her to offer her a card with a contact number. She swiped it away. She hadn't finished admiring the retreating Southerner's buttocks.

Ezra pushed the door open and stormed towards the car. He knew Chris and Josiah were going to hassle him about this. He would have to come up with a plan to divert their attention to something else. He heard the door open again.

"Good bye sweetie." Gertrude cooed.

Ezra waved his hand over his head then pulled his sunglasses from his pocket and put them on. He got into the car and slammed the door shut. He smiled as he pictured Chris wincing at the sound; he didn't like the doors of his dodge being slammed shut. He closed his eyes, in this moment of time, life sucked big time.
His countanence had never been a problem before. Women admired his features, they often stared at him from a distance, and some even had the courage to ask him out. But never had he been hit upon in such a way as he had just been by Gertrude Johnson. She had too much confidence and not enough common sense.
Chris made an obvious attempt to glare at Ezra then his car door but he couldn't help but laugh at the expression on Ezra's face. The Southerner was too shaken up by his experience to remember his famous poker face.

"You okay back there Ezra." Josiah didn't look at him, his own face was covered in amusement. His expression would only make the man angry.

"I would rather go up against a seven foot axe wielding maniac with my hands tied behind my back than deal with that . . . that . . . that . . . woman!" Ezra spat out. "I swear, if either of you tell anyone about this I will make sure you regret it until the day you die. And you of all people should know that I am quite capable of committing such an act!"

"Uh huh. Whatever you say sweetie." Chris goaded him.

"Aw hell!" Ezra groaned from the back seat. Chris grunted in surprise when Ezra's booted foot slammed into the back of his seat.

"Take it easy Ezra. You'll burst a blood vessel. What's Gertrude going to do then?" Josiah began to laugh, he couldn't help it. Chris joined him. It was a full five minutes before Chris was able to drive away from the home of Gertrude Johnson.

________________________________________

Lufkin Woods, one mile from the Johnson home - Thursday, 4:58pm

Chris parked the car next to the SPI equipment van. He saw that Buck and JD were already going over the murder scene. JD was taking photos while Buck was making notes. Their eyes were glued to the area around them. It took them a few minutes to realise that they had company.

Josiah stepped forward to look at the scene. The most obvious thing was the amount of blood that had soaked into the ground. The earth was dry, it must have drunk the blood greedily as it drained out of Mortimor Johnson's torn body. The area was darkened by the tree branches that hung over the area.
Buck looked up and nodded to Chris. "How did you go with Mrs Johnson?" he asked as he made his way to the new arrivals.

"Gave a description of a wolf. Said it walked away from the scene on two legs." Chris told him.

"Gertrude." Ezra said it with loving tenderness. "An amazing woman."

"Really?" Buck's interest in the woman was instantly sparked.

Josiah and Chris looked at each other in amazement. Ezra continued to elude their understanding of him.

"An amazing woman." Chris decided to play along to find out what Ezra was up to.

"Really?" Buck repeated but in a different tone. He was already beginning to work out a plan to visit the widow.

"She isn't a widow in mourning that's for sure." Josiah was also going to follow Chris' lead.

Ezra let out the breath he was holding. "Full bossomed, short skirt, very short. Red hair and a flawless complexion."

"And very friendly. Wasn't she Ezra?." Chris watched as Ezra managed to keep his poker face in place.

"Uh yeah." Ezra coughed. "Very friendly."

Chris Larabee looked at his friends. He was grateful to be a part of this group of men. They would never replace his true family but they helped to fill the hole that had been torn apart within his soul. The men who made up SPIT7 cared about each other - even Ezra, although he refused to show it - they would give their lives for each other. If one of them was in trouble, the others would go to hell and back to help them. Buck and JD were like brothers. Nathan and Josiah were respected friends. Chris and Vin were like twins who had been separated at birth. Ezra was the wayward son, the black sheep of the family. Each man had grabbed hold of the ex-criminal and was struggling to pull him into the family. The Southerner fought with everything he had to stop them from succeeding but they weren't willing to give up on him. Together, the seven men made a family.

"So what have you guys found." Chris changed the subject as he ducked under the police tape.

"The only interesting thing is the footsteps that lead into the woods. Bare feet and they're human." Buck pointed to his right. "They head in the direction of the Johnson place."

"Really." Ezra mimicked Buck's tone. "Maybe someone should be there tonight to protect the fair maiden."

"You volunteering Ezra?" Chris raised an eyebrow at him.

"Good Lord! No!" Ezra realised his mistake. "I mean . . . "

"I'll go." Buck rescued Ezra without knowing it. Even if it was only for a short period of time.

"God help you when he meets her." Josiah leaned over and muttered in Ezra's ear.

"Buck will stay with Mrs Johnson tonight then. The rest of us will stake out this area. Full moon tonight. Whoever it was might come back."

________________________________________

Several pairs of eyes stared out from within the oncoming darkness that was beginning to spread throughout the area. Huge trees were slowly filtering out the remaining sunlight. The red eyes sparkled with interest and hunger. Nostrils sniffed at the smell of human sweat and the remaining blood of their previous victim. The hunters of the night sat still and quiet, watching as their prey moved around with the awkwardness of the human form that they now lacked. Their ears were alert to any other predators that may enter their domain. Any that trespassed their home died quickly and painfully. Noises were made that only others of their own kind could know the meaning of the sounds. Heads lifted as their leader called for their attention. They moved silently and gathered around their leader. Their bodies trembled in anticipation of the kill.

"The young man next to the older one with grey hair. Bring him to me tonight. Do not harm him. If you do, you will die a slow painful death." Her eyes stared at the man who had his back to her. "Do you understand me?"

The small group who were no longer human nodded in understanding.

"Do what you want with the others, make sure their bodies will not be found." She hissed at them.

________________________________________

SPI Equipment Van - Thursday, 5:32pm

Ezra Standish pinched the area between his eyes with his right thumb and forefinger. It had, so far, not been a good day and he knew tomorrow was going to be even worse. Buck was going to head up to Gertrude Johnson's home later and once he found out what an 'amazing' woman she really was Buck was going to kill him. He didn't really mind the idea of death. His headache and dreams would finally end. Why in the hell did he take this job in the first place. Jail would have been preferable. No ghosts, aliens or monsters - and he didn't mean the kind in horror movies - there were plenty of monsters out there who were human. It was the kind of things they did to people that made them monsters.

He looked around the small group of men. Chris Larabee, was the leader of SPIT7. His rugged features made him look like a man who'd had a hard life. As far as Ezra knew, the man's life had been good, it was only after the death of his family that things had gone bad. He didn't know much about what had happened that day or since, only what Buck had told him and the others. Buck felt an explanation was required for the leader's mood swings, especially around the holidays. Chris always dressed in black, the man was still mourning his family’s death.

Vin Tanner. Now there was a man that was hard to understand. The light blue eyes were full of wisdom, something that was unusual for a man of twenty-seven. He didn't talk a lot, kept quiet most of the time, he only spoke when he needed to. But when he did talk, his words were worth listening too. Out of the six men, Vin was probably the only one who had a chance of understanding him. Both grew up without parents. Vin was fostered out to other families and even though he himself had a mother, she didn't raise him. He spent his time at expensive boarding schools or the homes of relatives who didn't want him there.

"You okay Ezra?" Nathan spoke to him from his left side.

"Just a bit of a headache." Ezra admitted then added to himself, I had a terrible experience this afternoon, an experience that I never want to go through again.

"You want something for it?"

"No, it's not that bad." Ezra smiled at him. "Thanks."

"Sure."

Nathan Jackson was a person who lived his ancestor's past. Ezra was born in the South, the part of the country that deals with slave trading before the civil war. For some reason Nathan had allowed that to judge him when they first met. The fact that he was an ex-criminal didn't help. The dark man always questioned his intentions. Nathan believed him to be selfish, greedy and self-serving. He couldn't be anymore wrong. But Ezra continued to show the side of his personality that his mother created. More to protect himself than anything else.

He looked away to find Josiah staring at him. The older man wanted their relationship to be different from the others. He felt that he needed someone to guide him onto the true path of life. Ezra already walked it. Josiah's idea of the true path was different to Ezra's. Life wasn't easy, it was full of obstacles that had to be dealt with. Ezra had learnt this the hard way.

He looked away from Josiah when he heard Buck and JD laugh at one of the younger man's jokes. They were like brothers. Two men who acted like they had known each other all their lives. Buck protected JD with a passion. It was an obsession that drove JD crazy, he had to constantly remind Buck that he wasn't a child that he was quite capable of taking care of himself. JD admired everyone in the group, including Ezra, who couldn't understand why. He wasn't the type of person that people would normally look up to. Ezra was grateful for the trust and admiration the younger man gave him and he returned it with vigor. He would never lie to JD or treat him like a child, he always listened to him and gave him help or advice when it was requested.

He knew why he had taken the job, it wasn't because of the threat Larabee had given him. It was a chance of redeeming himself, to have the opportunity to change into the man he wanted to be. After spending time with the group he also realised they had something that he wanted and needed. A Family. They were a family and treated each other as such. They were also firm friends. Both were something that he'd never had. But now he had a chance and was willing to do everything to keep it. He just had to learn how to be a friend, a member of a family. He knew they wanted to help him but he had to do it in his own time in his own way. Otherwise it wouldn't work, if they tried to force it onto him, he would turn and run. He just needed time. He had to learn to trust them so he could reveal the side of himself that he was afraid to show. He had to know that they wouldn't also turn away from him once they got to know the real Ezra Standish. That was what he feared most. He didn't want to loose them, he knew if he did, it would be because of the person he was or could be.

"Nathan. What did you find out?" Chris' powerful tone pulled Ezra from his thoughts.

Nathan opened the Johnson file and began to read the report. "This is the report on the initial examination of Johnson. Cause of death, he bled to death. His throat had been torn open, the jugular vein looks like it's been bitten right through. They're sending it to the lab along with the saliva and tissue samples. Won't have the results for a couple of weeks which is too long for us to wait." He took out another folder. This surprised everyone but Vin. "This is the autopsy on Curly Joe."

"Curly Joe?" Buck chuckled.

"Yes that's his real name." Nathan held up a photo. "Also bled to death. Throat torn out, jugular vein bitten right through. Bite marks were made by an animal, more than likely a wolf. Saliva though was human. Cause of death is the same for both men and the results of Johnson's autopsy would no doubt be the same."

"Two cases the same?" Chris asked.

"This one happened two years ago. August fourteen. Full moon that night." Nathan read from the report. "Dr Morgan had his assistant check for any other similar cases over the past seven years. There weren't anymore. Apparently a team from SPI investigated but came up with nothing."

"Think it might be a serial killer." JD leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees.

"If the attacker is human, maybe." Chris told the youngster. "JD I want you to check the SPI case file, see if they've got anything that might help us." Chris turned to Vin. "What about you Vin?"

"The witness report confirms what Gertrude Johnson told you. Husband took the dog for a walk, didn't come back so she went looking for him. Found him out there being eaten by what she claimed to be a walking wolf. Sheriff doesn't believe her."

"Did he mention the other case?" Josiah looked towards the second folder that Vin was holding.


"No but Nathan did. The Curly Joe case is still open, the killer hasn't been found. The murder was being committed when a hitchhiker surprised the culprit. It ran off into the woods on two legs but he claimed it was a wolf. The murder scene is one mile South of here. It was raining that night, it washed any evidence away from the scene."

"One mile South." Josiah frowned. "That particular position isn't far from the Johnson place."

"Coincidence." Buck wondered out loud.

"Good question, you can ask her if she remembers anything about it when you see her tonight." Chris smiled at him. Buck nodded in agreement. "Why don't we go get something to eat then come back and set up the equipment."

"I'm starving." JD announced.


________________________________________

Home of Gertrude Johnson - Thursday, 7:33pm

Buck licked his fingers then wiped his mustache, he spat on his hands and flattened his brown wavy hair. He straightened his jacket and undid one more button on his shirt. He placed his winning smile onto his features then rung the doorbell. He could hear the footsteps heading towards him, the sound stop. It was a few more seconds before the door was opened.

"Ezra! You came . . . " Gertrude stopped in mid sentence. She didn't even try to hide the disappointment on her face. "Who the hell are you?"

Buck closed his mouth. He had to, the woman expected him to speak. But the ladies man was speechless. It was something that didn't usually happen when he spoke to a woman. The full bosom was practically falling out of the tight fitting white see through top that she was wearing. The red hair was not natural, the dark roots were showing through. Buck swallowed the saliva that filled his mouth. His eyes drifted downwards towards the short skirt. Short was an understatement. But the worst of it was that she wasn't wearing stockings. The large legs were pale and dimpled with fatty deposits.

Ezra Standish! You are a dead man! And Chris and Josiah will be right behind you. Buck promised himself.

"Buck Wilmington. SPI." He flashed his ID at her. "Chris Larabee sent me here. Thought you might need someone to stay with you in case the person who killed your husband came back."

"Why didn't he send Ezra?" She wined.

"Ezra had another job to do. He'll come by tomorrow. I promise you." Buck smiled at the thought of revenge.

"Isn't Ezra sweet!" Gertrude's attitude changed. "Won't you come in."

Buck didn't want to go in but he didn't have a choice. "He won't be smelling so sweet when I'm finished with him!" Buck growled.

________________________________________

SPI Equipment Van, Lufkin Woods - Thursday, 11:18pm

Vin Tanner couldn't help but smile at JD's enthusiasm. He himself had lost that youthful feeling, and instead, gained the wisdom of age. He welcomed it but sometimes mourned the loss of his youth. It was at times like these that the mourning occurred. When he joined SPIT7, he knew he had found what he had lacked all his life and he had welcomed it with open arms. He was now a part of a family. The group of men were like brothers, even if one of them refused to become a part of it. But he knew that given time, Ezra Standish would also accept this close-knit family as his own.

Vin glanced at the Southerner quickly. He knew if he lingered in his scrutiny of the smaller man that Ezra would be aware of his light blue eyes staring at him. Vin knew something was wrong with Ezra. He was being trouble by something and as always, he refused to talk about it with the others. His intense green eyes sometimes gave away the fact that his mind was lingering on an unpleasant memory. Perhaps it had something to do with one of their previous cases. Vin had gotten the impression that Ezra had seen things when he worked undercover that the others did not. He decided that when this case was over he was going to get the ex-criminal alone and discuss what was troubling him. Even if he had to get him drunk to do it. But then again he did have access to certain drugs that could get the man to talk.

"Did you know that you had to burn a Werewolf instead of burying it because if you bury it the Werewolf will rise from it's grave as a Vampire." JD read the information off the Internet out loud.

"Just what we need." Ezra commented. "Abbott and Costello will be showing up next."

"Legend says that if you eat the brains or roasted flesh of a wolf you become a Werewolf."

"Didn't you have that for lunch Chris." Vin nudged him with his elbow.
Chris smiled and continued to read the Joe file that JD had downloaded for him. "There's not much here, nothing that will help us anyway."

"To kill a Werewolf you need a silver bullet or knife made from the silver of a melted crucifix." JD continued.

"Taken care of." Josiah told him seriously, as he patted his shoulder holster.

Everyone fell silent when the motion detector alerted them to someone or something's presence. JD leaned closer to the monitor as the singular form moved closer to the van.

"It's three hundred metres South coming towards us and it's large enough to be a man." JD reported.

"Let's go." Chris motioned to his men to follow.

Vin, Nathan and Josiah followed Chris towards the door. There was no need to check their portable equipment or weapons. They had done it numerous times since they started monitoring the woods. They were prepared to go up against man or beast.

"JD, keep us informed. If they start heading towards the Johnson place notify Buck then head up there to give him a hand." Chris ordered him.

"Will do." JD sounded slightly disappointed that he had to stay in the Van.

Ezra waited for the men to leave then closed and locked the door behind them. He had a bad feeling about what was going on. Something was going to happen and he knew it wasn't going to be good.

________________________________________

JD Dunne watched the monitors and saw what was happening, his young brown eyes quickly switched to the video monitors. There were four mounted in various positions outside the van. He looked at Ezra and saw that he was concentrating on what was happening with the other team members. He could see the handsome features creasing in fear and worry. He knew what Ezra was about to do. Even though the Southerner gave the appearance of not caring about the others, they all knew he did and that he wouldn't hesitate in giving his life to save one of theirs. They would all do the same for each other, even Ezra.

"Ezra! They're surrounding the van." JD warned him.

"And the others." Ezra added.

His quick mind was trying to come up with a plan. His eyes searched the equipment for something that he could use. His steady gaze stopped at the switches that controlled the lights outside the equipment van. He then remembered the emergency exit that led to the roof.

"JD. When I tell you to switch on the outside lights." Ezra collected two handguns and extra ammunition.

"I'm coming with you." JD stood up.

"No! You need to let the others in when the coast is clear." Ezra tucked the guns into the waistband of his loose fitting jeans. "When you get a chance, let Buck know what's happening."

"Be careful Ezra. Those things can bite." JD tried not to worry about the elusive con man.
Ezra engaged the lock and opened the emergency door. He used his arms to pull himself through. He looked back down and saw JD staring back at him. He could see the concern in the youngster's eyes and ignored it.

"How are the others doing JD?"

"I'd say they would only have seventy five seconds." he replied.

"Hit the lights when they have forty." Ezra closed the door without waiting for a reply. He knew JD would do as he was told. He was young but he was intelligent and loyal to the team and his friends, he would do what needed to be done to keep the others from being harmed.

________________________________________
Chris Larabee screamed in anger as he fired three rounds into the animal that was now heading towards him in midair. The creature, even though it looked more human than animal, had leaped out at him from the bushes. If it wasn't for the leader's quick reflexes, he would have been a dead man. His anger was aimed at himself, he thought he had it under control, he was wrong. He heard more movements behind him, he spun around with his gun at the ready but lowered it when he saw a clothed figure coming towards him. Vin joined him as he stared down at the body of the creature that had come close to killing him.

"We better keep going." Chris began to run again, they weren't far from the van now.

"Nathan and Josiah are right behind us." Vin told him as he ran.

Chris stopped, he knew the van was within shouting distance, he just wasn't able to see it clearly through the trees and the dark. The moon was full but at the moment it wasn't any help, it was hidden behind a small group of clouds. More footsteps were heard coming towards them. Both men turned to find Josiah and Nathan breathing deeply.

"There's a few of them in front of us. They seem to be just waiting." Chris looked around, something caught his eye but before he could focus on it, it was gone. "We've got to get to Ezra and JD."

"How?" Vin asked him. "According to the motion detector, we're surrounded and the van's surrounded."

"We need a plan." Chris didn't realise that Ezra had already come up with one.

The four men stood back to back ready to defend each other against the monstrosities that were preparing to attack. Vin opened fire when one moved towards him. While he was distracted dealing with it another ran at him. The animal jumped just as the security man saw him. The force of the animal knocked him backwards, he fell to the ground taking Chris with him. He had to drop his gun to grab the animal's throat before the large teeth tore his throat open. He heard a gunshot and felt the hot breath of the bullet as it passed his ear. He lost his grip on the animal as the force of the bullet threw it backwards.

"Thanks Chris." Vin picked up his gun. He was ready for the next attack but it didn't come.

Bright lights caught them all off guard, a split second later the men were firing at the creatures that were now visible to the human eye.





Part One | Part Two


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