azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Lenny Hoskins and Team 7 v's Ezra Standish
Rating: PG
Warnings: Strong Language.
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
AU: ATF
Main Characters: Ezra, the guys and Lenny Hoskins.
Summary: Someone has invited Lenny Hoskins to join the team for a three day weekend holiday.
Disclaimers: The guys are owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp.
Notes: Lenny Hoskins is my creation.
Spoilers: None
Status: Complete
Total Word Count: 17,585



Chris Larabee, the leader of the unruly ATF outfit known as The Magnificent Seven was sitting back in his leather chair enjoying the peace and quiet of the office, not only the office, but his office. The ignoramus' were out there but he had warned them of physical violence if they interrupted his mood. They would pay dearly if his mood changed. Even Ezra had taken heed of the warning and that man lived to piss Chris off.
The blinds were open. The sun, taking advantage of it, lit up the office on the seventh floor of the building. It even flowed around the handsome features of Chris Larabee. The natural sunlight took ten years off his face, erasing the strain of mourning for his dead family and the stress of leading six unbearable assholes that drove him almost to the point of insanity. Only God and Chris Larabee knew what kept him walking on the straight path of normality.

His feet were crossed and resting on the desk. A steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee made by Josiah sat in his right hand. A thin cigar, the smoke filling the room like a shroud, was held in his left hand. If only it was like this all the time.

The door slowly opened. The intruder too afraid to open it fully looked inside. A neat cropping of chestnut hair appeared first, and then the pale skin, intelligent green eyes were asking the question concerning admittance.

"No." Chris simply answered. He took another sip of the wonderful coffee then a long drag on the cigar. The nicotine was pulled into his lungs; thank goodness, he didn't do this often enough to get lung cancer, but then again you didn't have to smoke to get that fateful illness.

The door continued to open; Ezra Standish stepped into the room, and before Chris could politely tell him to fuck off the phone rang. Chris wasn’t worried, this day wasn't going to be a bad day, it couldn't start out so good only to be ruined.

The right hand put the cigar down and picked up the phone. "This is Chris Larabee, how may I help you!" He even said it with a smile.

Ezra raised an eyebrow in surprise. Maybe the bad news wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

"Chris, it's--"

"Vin unless this is important, I don't want to know about it." he warned him in a threatening tone.

"Of course it's important it's--"

"Hang on a sec Vin, there's someone on the other line."

"Chr--" Vin's voice was cut off.

"Chris Larabee."

"Chris it's, he's--"

"What do you want Buck?" he watched as Ezra found a seat and sat down. There was a smug look on the Southerner's face. Chris frowned then went back to the conversation.

"It's Ho--"

"Hang on Buck, 'nother caller." After the peace and quiet, everyone wanted him.

"Larabee!"

"Better hide Chris, he's--"

"Josiah, if this is joke, I'm going to kill someone."

"No joke Mr Larabee." Lenny Hoskins stepped into the office and sat down next to Ezra. “And I see you still haven’t learnt to listen to people.”

Chris jumped up, both from the shock of seeing an asshole walk unannounced into his office, the man didn't even knock, and the coffee that just spilt all over his jeans. Damn it. He threw the cup into the bin and stormed out of the office.

"Why didn't any of you bastards warn me?" Chris yelled out to them.

"What?" Vin's mouth fell open. When Chris had put him on hold, he'd hung up and decided to warn him in person. Hoskins beat him to the office. "I phoned you to tell you but you put me on hold!" Vin was totally gob smacked.

"Yeah right, likely story Tanner. Next time you warn me!" Chris turned to Buck who threw his hands up in the air. "I suppose you were trying to tell me on the phone as well. Josiah too. Well you didn't try hard enough. The bastard is in my office now. Why didn’t you just physically stop him? How could you have let him get so far knowing how I feel about him? How the hell am I going to get rid of him, I can't . . . " he stopped and turned around. The slow movements told the group of men that were watching that someone was about to die.

Ezra tried to hide his smirk when Chris came back into the office. He had heard the conversation outside the office, it was difficult not to hear the yelling.

"You low down, good-for-nothin' son-of-a-bitch!" Chris growled in a low voice. "You knew he was coming Standish, you came in here to watch the show didn't you. Bastard!" "And Ezra told me that you'd be happy to see me." Lenny's handsome face held a look of disappointment. "I'm hurting, right here." he tapped his chest with his fist.

"Well I'm not happy and you know I'm not!" Chris glared down at him. "Get the hell out of my office, you scheming piece of shit!"

"Don't you want to know what I want?" Lenny wasn't in the least bit surprised at the polite request.

"I was talking to Ezra."

"Oh . . . " Ezra groaned.

"He stays, he's the reason I'm here." Lenny smiled.

"What the hell did you do this time!"

"I think it's time I left." Ezra got up and began to sneak towards the exit. The yellow streak he swore he never had, suddenly appeared.

"You sit down." Lenny grabbed the lapels of Ezra's jacket and pulled him back down into his seat. His eyes never strayed from Chris' face. "This was your idea remember."

"Actually I don't. If I recall you said something about wanting to . . . "

"No I didn't." Lenny growled at him.

"Yes you did!"

"No I didn't, now respect your elders. You know they're always right!"

"Elder is right," Ezra muttered under his breath, "by at least thirty years.”

“Shut up.” Hoskins growled at him.

“Dido.” Chris added.

"Why do I get myself into these things."

"Because you're stupid." Lenny told him.

Ezra just nodded and slumped down in his chair. Yep, he was stupid, he would have to be to come in here when he knew Lenny was coming. Why did he do something so stupid? He wish he knew. He had known what Chris' reaction would be. If he survived this, he would be a very lucky man.

"I came to visit with Ezra this weekend, but apparently he's now going up to your cabin for the weekend and, well, you see, I didn't want to stay at his place on my own so Ezra thought that . . . "

"I didn't think." Ezra's head was turned away from the two men, his hand covered his mouth.

Lenny ignored him. "maybe you would allow me to come along. So it wouldn't be a wasted trip . . . so to speak." he smiled.

"Ezra can stay here." Chris didn't suggest it, he demanded it.

"And not include him in this family outing." Lenny enjoyed the anger and guilt that flashed across Larabee's face. "I mean after what happened you did say he was family and that he was going to go on your weekend trips." he knew he had him but why he had allowed Ezra to talk him into this he didn't know.

"Fine, but I hate the idea. And I'm only doing it for Ezra!" Chris had to accept it, what choice did he have after what Hoskin's just said. He knew how Ezra would feel if he didn't allow either of them to come with them. Why he allowed them to talk him into this he didn't know.

"I knew you would see it Ezra's way." Lenny stood up and walked to the door. "My stuff is in the car, Ezra said you would agree. I'll just hang around the office shall I, get reacquainted with the guys."

“You can say it Lenny, Chris won’t mind.” Ezra smiled up at his friend.

Lenny nodded in agreement. “Assholes, I’ll go out and reacquaint myself with the assholes.”

Of the seven members of Team 7, there was only one who liked Lenny Hoskins, the other six hated him with a passion just like Larabee but they put up with him because of Ezra. They knew that Hoskins and Standish were close friends and they didn't want Ezra to choose between them because deep down they knew he would choose Hoskins. It would be a tough decision for him though.

Chris waited until the man's back was turned. He then pulled his gun from his shoulder holster and aimed for the area between the back of the shoulders. He wouldn't kill him quickly. Suffering is what he wanted to see. The trigger was pulled without hesitation and the FBI agent's body jerked then fell to the floor. Chris stepped forward and . . .

Lenny walked out of the room with a knowing smile on his face. The men that created a human tunnel for him to proceed through held open mouths and wide eyes. "I'm going to get some extra things for the First Aid Kit." Nathan Jackson announced to his friends.

"I'll help you, you're going to need some extra hands to carry it all." Josiah Sanchez nodded and ran after him.

"What are we going to do?" Buck Wilmington first looked at Vin then at JD Dunne. They both shrugged.
Not that they could say anything anyway, both of their mouths were still open. "He's going to ruin the whole weekend."

"Aw hell." Vin spoke.

"We gonna stand here all day?" JD asked them.

"Aw hell." Vin repeated.

"We'll take that as a no." Buck and JD both grabbed an arm and lead the shocked Texan away.

Ezra was trying to sneak away. Maybe he could get past his boss while he had that dreamlike expression on his face.

"This is your fault Standish." Chris broke himself out of the trance he had fallen into. He had enjoyed the picture for a moment but snapped out of it. "Why in the hell did you invite him along?"

"I didn't . . . " Ezra stammered, "he invited himself along. I told him on the phone last week that I was busy. He came anyway . . . what am I supposed to do." It wasn't all the truth.

"You could have told him no!" Chris moved forward and slammed the office door closed. If someone was going to pay for this, it was going to be this Southern bastard.

"You try saying no to him!" Ezra growled back.

"He’s supposed to be your friend and that means listening to YOU!" he finished the sentence with a yell that was heard throughout the office.

"No it doesn't!" Ezra disagreed with him.

"Yes it does." Chris retorted.

"Are you my friend?"

Chris frowned. The sneaky son-of-a-bitch was up to something. "Yes." the tone was suspicious and so was the body language.

"Do you listen to me?" the Southerner raised an eyebrow that he knew would annoy his boss and friend.

"GET OUT!"

Ezra ran from the office and flinched when the door was slammed shut a second time. "We'll that went well." he smiled and adjusted his jacket then made his way to his office whistling softly under his breath.

________________________________________

The eight men had split into two groups for the rest of the afternoon. Lenny had insisted that Ezra stay with him while the others were grouped together in Chris’ office, trying to work out a way to cancel the weekend without hurting Ezra’s feelings. Their excuses included; well they included; there was the idea where they were going to, well they were going to . . . They changed their mind and instead decided on, it was something that would . . . No, that wasn’t going to work either. Then they thought of something brilliant.

They would just . . . no they couldn’t kill him, that would hurt Ezra’s feelings, but what if they killed Ezra, that would only hurt Lenny’s feelings and they didn’t really care about what he felt. Then again, they would be upset over Ezra’s death. What if they weighed how they would feel over his death, over how they would feel spending three days with Lenny Hoskins. Decision made, Ezra had to die.

How were they going kill him, and who was going to kill him. It was also decided that they would hire a contract killer because neither of them had the heart to do it. They also realised they didn’t have the money to hire one. They weren’t cheap. They were going to have to take him with them, there was nothing else they could do. If Ezra Standish died in a boating or hunting accident, then so be it. At least then, they would never see Lenny Hoskins again and that was the important thing.

________________________________________

They made their way down to the ATF parking garage underneath the building. Two cars had been assigned to take the group of men. Chris’ dodge and Josiah’s run down vehicle - they no longer recognised what it was. As soon as the elevator doors opened, the race was on. Nathan, Buck, JD and Vin ran for Josiah’s car. Vin yelled in frustration when Buck tripped him up just as they reached it. Buck and JD, practically dove into the back seat while Nathan jumped into the front.

“Fucking bastard!” Vin yelled at Buck. “You tripped me up on purpose just so you wouldn’t have to ride with that . . . that . . . irritating shit-head.”

“Yep.” Buck smiled at the downed man and slammed the car door shut.

“Sounds like Mr Tanner doesn’t want to ride with you Mr Larabee.” Ezra commented as he walked behind Chris; out of striking distance of course.

“You’re going to die before this weekend is over Standish.” Chris warned him.

“I think I’ve already died and gone to hell.” Ezra complained. “I don’t know why I allowed either of you to talk me into this.”

“I didn’t!” Chris and Lenny spoke together.

Chris stopped and glared at Hoskins. “Looks like you’re riding with me.”

“An honour Chris, I assure you.”

“Ezra, you’re also . . . where the hell did he go?”

Ezra, the coward that he sometimes is, tried to sneak into Josiah’s vehicle. Chris ran after him and literally dragged him by the ear to the dodge and threw him into the front passenger seat where he could watch him.

“That’s where you’re going to stay Standish, and don’t you dare throw up in my car!” it was a threat that Ezra heard clearly but decided to ignore.

“You know I get motion sickness if I’m not driving.”

“You’re not driving.”

“Then I’m going to throw up in your car.”

“You do and I’ll rub your face in it.”

Ezra turned to look over his seat at Lenny who had slipped unnoticed into the back seat. “Lenny, are you going to allow him to talk to me like that.”

“I think you can handle this on your own Ezra, you don’t need me.”

“You were the one who decided to come along, not me, so you should be going out of your way to protect me!”

“I think I’m going to be spending all my time protecting myself Ezra so you can go to hell.”

Chris smiled, Lenny and Ezra felt threatened, that’s the way it should be, it ‘d make the weekend easier for the rest of the team.

All three men jumped when a grumbling Vin Tanner crawled into the back seat and slammed the door shut. He then proceeded to go as low as he could and buckled his seat belt.

“I’m not talking to anyone, especially him,” he pointed at Lenny, “or the idiot in the front seat, so don’t even bother saying anything to me.”

“Okay.” Chris shrugged.

“Fine by me.” Lenny smiled at him.

“Mr Tanner,” Ezra turned in his seat, “did you remember to go to the toilet first? Because you need to with that incontinence problem you have.”

“You’re going to die on this trip Ezra, I’ll make sure of that.” Vin growled at him.

“Lenny!” Ezra whined.

“I already told you to go to hell! This is your fault Ezra, I don’t know why I let you talk me into this.”

“I didn’t.”

“Sickness pills. Do you have any?” Chris was sick of this already, he just wanted to leave.

“No.”

Chris growled through clenched teeth and pulled his cell phone from his pocket. He pressed a speed dial button and waited a few seconds.

“Why haven’t we left yet?” was the answer he received on the other end.

“Nathan, have you got any motion sickness pills in your bag?” Chris ignored the question.

“Chris, I have everything from band aids to embalming fluid.” Nathan explained. He even had to bring a second bag to carry everything.

“You have embalming fluid in your doctor’s kit?” Chris asked as he looked over his shoulder and smiled at Lenny, who raised an eyebrow in return. “Why would you be carrying embalming fluid?”

“Thought it might come in handy . . . you know . . . when Ezra, somewhat dies.”

Chris turned his eyes to take in Ezra’s innocent expression and smiled at the undercover agent. “You’re right there Nathan,” Chris winked at Ezra, “it will come in handy to have embalming fluid, but right now a motion sickness pill will have to do because I don’t want him throwing up in my car.”

“Sure, send him back . . . “

“No way in hell, he’ll disappear on me and I’ll never be able to exact my revenge on the little bastard.”

Chris was still smiling at Ezra, mostly because of the hint of fear that had appeared in the green eyes staring back at him.

“Wouldn’t it be better if he disappeared, Hoskins might go looking for him, and they both might get lost.”

“Now there’s another point. I’ll send him back for one.” Chris hung up without waiting for a reply. “Go and see Nathan.”

“What for?” Ezra narrowed his eyes at the man who sat across from him.

“Just do it!” Chris growled through clenched teeth.

Ezra glanced at Vin, then Lenny. He opened the door and got out of the car. He faced Chris, smiled, and slammed the door as hard as he could.

“Son-of-a-bitch.”

“You got that right Larabee.” Lenny agreed.

“It’s about the only thing we agree on Hoskins.”

“That and Ezra.” Lenny nodded. “This was his idea you know . . . to bring me along. He knew you wouldn’t say no, that there would still be too much guilt for you to refuse him.”

“I’m gonna kill him.”

The door opened and Ezra got back into his seat.

“Slam it and I swear to God Ezra, I’ll hit you so hard, you’ll be unconscious for the entire trip.”

“You wouldn’t.” Ezra told him.

“Try me.” Chris dared him.

Ezra couldn’t help himself, he slammed the door.

Chris let fly with a powerful right that slammed into Ezra’s jaw. Chris didn’t even flinch when he heard the undercover agent’s head hit the side window.

“Don’t ever push me Ezra Standish, you won’t win.”

“At least the trip will be more peaceful.” Lenny smiled as he gazed at the back of his young friend’s head that was now lying against the window.

“Only if you shut up!” Vin retorted. He didn’t give a shit about what Chris had done either.

“I thought you weren’t talking?” Chris eyed him in the rear-view mirror.

“I’m not!”

“Then shut up.” Chris started the engine, then after a second thought, he leant over Ezra’s slumped form and buckled him into his seat belt. “Let’s get this nightmare started shall we.”

________________________________________

Ow, ow, ow, ow! He actually hit me. The son-of-a-bitch hit me. Ezra could tell by the way his jaw hurt, even the side of his head hurt. Ow! His head bounced against the window when Larabee drove over a pothole. Ezra assumed that Chris had been doing that through the entire trip. That man could be a real bastard sometimes, well most of the time, okay, all of the time.

“OW!” Ezra voiced when his head hit the window again.

“You shouldn’t be leaning against the window then, should you!” Chris yelled back at him.

“You hit me.”

“I told you not to slam the door.”

“And you know, telling me not do something, makes me do it.” the Southerner protested.

“So it’s my fault then is it.” Chris gripped the steering harder.

“Yes.” was the simple answer.

“Shut up Ezra . . . just shut the fuck up!” Chris warned him.

Ezra folded his arms and used his eyes to familiarise himself with the area they were in. The trees that lined the road told him they were still a few hours from Chris’ ranch.

“Are we there yet?” Ezra asked innocently.

“No.” Chris growled through gritted teeth.

“How much longer until we arrive?”

“At least three hours.”

“That long huh?”

“Yes.”

“So what have you guys been doing to pass the time?” when he didn’t get an answer from Chris, he shifted in his seat to look at Vin and his good friend Lenny. They weren’t going to answer him either, they were too busy staring daggers at him. “Oh, it’s been like that has it?” still no answers.

“We’ve had a peaceful trip so far and we would like it to stay that way.” Chris finally answered.

“Are you suggesting that I talk too much?”

“Yes.” three voices spoke together.”

“What is this? Pick on Ezra Standish day?”

“Try Ezra Standish weekend.” Chris smiled and took a quick glance at his undercover agent.

“This wasn’t my idea Chris. Lenny suggested it, and when I said no, he made me do it, said that you wouldn’t say no because of what happened with . . . you know.” Ezra slumped down in his seat.

“Hoskins said it was your idea.”

“He’s lying.”

“Hoskins?” Chris was ready to kill someone and it was only three hours into the long weekend.

“Ezra’s lying.” Hoskins shrugged.

“That’s a lie.” Ezra protested. “Who are you going to believe Chris? Me, you’ve known me for six months now or him,” he pointed his thumb to the back seat, “someone you would kill if God gave you permission.”

“And how many times have you lied during those six months Ezra?”

“In a court of law you wouldn’t be allowed to do that.” Ezra told him.

“Do what?” Chris hated it when the Southerner was too smart for his own good.

“Bring up my past, the case would be thrown out of court. Therefore, you lost and I don’t have to answer the question. And! I am now noted as being innocent as you weren't able to convict me because you didn’t make a strong enough case against me. Chris, I really hope you don’t work like this in the ATF, too many criminals would be let back onto the streets.”

“You Ezra Standish are talking through your anus.”

“Worth a try.” Ezra shrugged.

“Are you through?” Chris glanced at him to give him a warning glare.

“With what?”

“With being an anus that seems to have pro-lapsed.”

Ezra had no idea what to say to that. He didn’t even think Chris had it in him to come up with such a thing.

“Did you know that Coca-Cola was originally green?” Ezra asked the three men.

Absolute silence, except for the grinding of teeth.

“Polar bears are left-handed. Did you know that Vin?”

“No Ezra I didn’t and I would have preferred it if you hadn’t told me.” Vin spoke calmly and softly.

“If one synchronised swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown too?”

Lenny leaned forward, reached around the seat and slapped Ezra across the side of the head.

“Ow! What did you do that for?”

“Because you’re being a pain in the ass. What the hell is wrong with you today?” Lenny practically yelled at him. “You sick, or just sick in the head? You seem to be going out of your way to piss everyone off. Is there a reason for that, or do you just have a death wish?”

“This was you’re idea Chris, I don’t know why I allowed you to talk me into this.” Ezra wore a pouting expression.

“What the hell are you talking about!” Chris thought about slamming on the brakes and pulling the . . . the . . . the undercover agent from the car and beating the crap out of him.

“This trip was your idea, if you hadn’t arranged it this it wouldn’t be happening.”

“The hell it is! You’re not going to blame me for any of this.” Chris warned him.

“Well, it’s not my fault, you organised this trip, and it’s not my fault that Lenny decided to come along. You could have told him no.”

“Not another word Ezra, not another word. If you say anything, I will hit you again. And you know I will.”

Ezra looked at Chris. He shifted his jaw into an awkward position causing it to hurt. The pain reminded him that Chris had carried out his last threat without remorse. That was fine, he could make payback. This trip was going to be a failure because of Chris and Lenny. They were going to make his life miserable by arguing with each other, probably to the point where it would end with a violent disagreement. He didn’t want that, he wanted to keep both men as friends. He had decided that the best thing to do was to make them both angry at him, that way, they wouldn’t be angry at each other.

Ezra opened his mouth to say something, closed it, and then smiled when another idea came to him. He would wait for half an hour or so then begin the next step to bringing Lenny and this group of men together.

________________________________________

“Mr Larabee.”

“Yes Ezra.” Chris didn’t look at him, instead his mind began to search for an idea of what Ezra might be up to.

“I feel ill.”

“You feel ill.” Chris shook his head in disbelief. “How can you feel ill when Nathan gave you something that’s supposed to stop you from being sick.”

“You have to take one every three hours and it’s been three hours and forty two minutes. Now I feel ill, and I believe, I may even throw up.”

“Why didn’t you tell me before you started to get sick.”

“You told me not to say another word, if I did, you would hit me.” Ezra repeated Chris’ warning.

“Son-of-a-bitch!” Chris slammed on the brakes, not caring whether or not Josiah hit the back end of his car.”Get out! Now!”

“You have parked in the middle of the road.” Ezra observed.

“All the better to have someone run you down Ezra.” Lenny spoke from the back.

“Great friends you guys are.” Ezra retorted as he made his way out of the car. He then ran face first into Josiah’s chest.

“What’s wrong now?” the larger man stood over Ezra.

“Chris needed a break, you know how old he’s getting, can’t sit for long periods of time. And Vin, well, that incontinence problem, he needs a toilet break.” Ezra explained and for some reason managed to smile at the same time.

“Then why are they still sitting in the car?”

“Beats me.” the Southerner shrugged and walked around Josiah so he could move off the road before someone ran him over.

Josiah watched him then turned back around. He opened the door and leaned over so he could look into the car. He chuckled when he saw the expression on Chris’ face.

“You getting out or what?”

“What.” Chris retorted.

“What? What as in what did I say or what as in you’re doing what.”

“I’m doing what.”

“Ezra said that you needed a break and Vin’s needs a toilet break.”

“Ezra wants to die.” Chris explained.

Lenny got out of the car and stretched his back. “Ezra said he was going to throw up.”

“Oh,” Josiah turned around and began the search for the Southerner. He found him sitting cross-legged on the side of the road. “Doesn’t look like he’s throwing up to me.”

Chris leaned over the passenger seat and looked towards where Josiah was pointing. “I’m going to kill him.”

“Before or after me.” Lenny asked him.

“Before.” Chris followed Lenny’s lead and got out of the car. “Vin! Move the car.”

Vin hesitantly removed himself from the car and did as he was told. Ezra Standish was going to pay for a weekend that had turned bad as soon as Lenny Hoskins had showed up.

Chris attempted to walk faster than Lenny without actually running. He realised that Hoskins was doing the same thing. The ‘before or after me’ had been a serious statement that both men were willing to fight over. Both men reached Ezra at the same time. They glared down at the man who was sitting cross-legged on the side of the road.

“Something wrong gentlemen?” Ezra enjoyed the sight of seeing the two men he respected the most in life wearing the same expression, and the look wasn’t aimed at each other, it was aimed at him. This was what he wanted.

“Thought you were going to throw up.”

“You said you were sick.”

“Are you sick or not?”

“Or are you just lying through your teeth again.”

“Tell me the truth, are you sick or not.”

“Because if you’re not, then you’re going to be.”

“Do I have to force you to say something.”

“You don’t look sick to me.”

“You look quite healthy from what I can see.”

Ezra’s eyes just managed to move from one friend to the next as each one spoke in turn. His eyes widened when they finally stopped questioning him.

“Well?” asked Josiah. He was looking forward to hearing what Ezra had to say.

“I was . . . I said I felt ill . . . not . . . I am certainly not . . . not . . . what are you going to do to achieve that
Mr Larabee . . . no, I can’t get a word in . . . I didn’t say I was . . . depends on how you look at me.”

“What?”

“I said . . . “

“I heard what you said!” Chris now stood with his hands on his hips. “What I want to know is, what the hell are you talking about?”

“I was merely answering your questions.” Ezra raised an eyebrow at him.

Chris hated that. “Are you going to throw up or not?”

“No, that’s passed.”

Lenny stood with his arms crossed. “Then why are you just sitting there?”

“Well, I can hardly get up with three men hovering over me now can I.”

“Josiah,” Chris held his anger back, “you’re with us. Ezra, you can drive Josiah’s car.”

Ezra was left on the side of the road while the three men returned to Chris’ car, which sped off as soon as the doors were closing. The Southerner sighed. On the good side, Chris didn’t kick Lenny out of the car before he left. Ezra wondered if Chris even realised that Lenny was in the back seat. He looked over his shoulder and smiled slightly at Nathan who was staring back at him.

“That went well.” Ezra stood up and brushed himself off as he prepared for another confrontation.

“What just happened there?” Buck asked from his position in the back seat of Josiah’s car.

“Beats me.” JD shrugged.


Nathan was watching Ezra carefully for any indications of motion sickness. It would be the only explanation as to why Chris left him behind. But it didn’t explain why he had taken the driver of this car and not one of its passengers; but he wasn’t about to complain, he rather it was Josiah that was going to suffer the rest of the trip and not him.

Ezra’s face disappeared as he reached the door but Nathan continued to watch as the Southerner opened the door and got into the driver’s seat. The features seemed to be perfectly calm and slightly tanned. No paleness or sweating. Ezra looked fine to Nathan.

“What happened out there?” Nathan repeated Buck’s question.

“Mr Larabee was pissing me off with useless titbits of information that I didn’t need to know.” Ezra growled as he turned the ignition on. “I told him so and I was delegated to this vehicle.”

“Something wrong with being in this vehicle Ezra?” JD piped up from the back.

“You mean apart from the poor conversation, idiotic music and lessons given in morals . . . not really.”

“What’d you mean by poor conversation?” Buck yelled.

“There’s nothing idiotic about the music we listen to.” JD added.

“And I only give lessons because you need them.” Nathan retorted.

“What do you plan on talking about for the next three hours Mr Wilmington?” Ezra searched the rear-view mirror for any on-coming cars and when there wasn’t any, he pulled out onto the road.

“Well, I’ve been tellin’ Nathan and JD here about my latest conquest and . . . “

“Exactly, not only a poor but also a stupid and mentally boring conversation.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t Chris that was getting pissed off?” Nathan asked.

“Are you calling me a liar, Mr Jackson?”

“Don’t I always.” the ex-EMT couldn’t help but smile at the smug bastard that sat opposite him.

“Yes you do and may I tell you that it’s quite an irritating habit.”

“I habit that I just can’t seem to break.” Nathan conceded the point.

“A habit, that one day, may be broken with physical force.”

“Are you threatening me Ezra?” Nathan looked at the undercover agent’s profile.

“Yes.”

Nathan had no intention of continuing the conversation. Ezra hadn’t meant what he’d said. Anger was fuelling the conversation. Silence filled the car as the threat hung in the air.

“There’s nothing wrong with my music.” JD complained again.

“You can’t understand it, it’s always too loud and the lyrics are stupid.”


“The only reason you don’t like our music is . . . is . . . is because you don’t like it.” JD nodded his head and crossed his arms.

“Good one JD.” Buck elbowed him.

JD nodded his head again as if he was thanking Buck for the compliment he thought he had just received.

“A stupid point JD.” Ezra deflated JD’s ego with four words. “Of course I don’t like it.”

JD mumbled something that Ezra didn’t catch. He leaned to his left and removed the cd from the CD player.

“You see this,” Ezra lifted the cd above his shoulder so the two men in the back could see it, “would I do
this if I liked your music.” Ezra threw the cd out the window.

“Uh Ezra, that was Josiah’s new cd.” JD glanced sideways at Buck.

“He’s not going to like what you just did with his new cd.” Buck was smiling from ear to ear.

“I don’t care what he likes and what he doesn’t like.” Ezra shrugged his shoulders. “It was probably full of religious crap anyway.”

“He’s not going to be happy Ezra.” Nathan assured him.

“So, are you going to give me one of your lessons now Nathan?”

“I might.”

“If you do, I’m going to stop this car, drag you out of it and kick your black ass all over the road.” Ezra hoped that Nathan didn’t call his bluff, he didn’t want to hit Nathan, and he didn’t want to hit anyone. The only way he would resort to physical force is if it was the only option he had left.

“Black ass?” Nathan glared at Ezra.

“Yes, your black ass.” Ezra repeated without taking his eyes off the road.

“I’m going to let that ride Ezra, but if you talk to me like that again, I’ll take you up on that threat.”

“Is that a promise Nathan?” Ezra glanced at his passenger and smiled wickedly at Nathan.

“Fuck you Ezra.” Nathan retorted.

Ezra smiled inwardly. Why was it so easy to make these men angry at him.


________________________________________

Ezra got out of the vehicle and smiled at the sight before him. Chris, Lenny and Vin stood in front of the steps that led up to Chris’ cabin. To any other person, it would have looked as though the men were waiting for someone. A someone that they wanted to kill and kill slowly. The Southerner decided that he was going to go all the way, he was enjoying himself too much. The idea that Chris and Lenny being in the same car without him made the physical reprimands worth it. He won’t get angry and he won’t get petty. He was just going to enjoy himself and in the end, the rest of the seven were going to be friends with Lenny.

The Southerner got out of the car and purposely walked up to Josiah, who was leaning against the dodge with Ezra’s bag at his feet. Ezra picked it up and whispered something to him then began to make his way to the others.

“Buck!” Josiah boomed at the top of his lungs. “That was a new cd that you threw away! I only bought that last week!”

“What?” Buck took a step back and glared at Ezra. “I didn’t do it. Ezra threw it out the window. He said he didn’t want to listen to your religious crap.” he pointed a finger at Ezra. “Ask Nathan and JD if you don’t believe me.”

“Ezra . . . “ Josiah caught up to the ex-con and spun him around to face him.

“Yes Josiah.” Ezra was wearing an innocent expression on his face.

“Did you throw my new cd away?” Josiah was calm, well he was trying to stay calm.

“Now why would I want to throw your new cd away?”

“Perhaps you could tell me that.” the larger man put his hands on his hips and moved closer in attempt to threaten the smaller man.

“Now if someone else had done it, I would say it was because they didn’t want to listen to what you call music, because it’s frightening nonsense that only encourages people to carry out ritualistic killings.”

“This is you you’re talking about isn’t it!” Josiah growled at the innocent face in front of him. Although he felt closer to Ezra than he did to the others, it didn’t stop him from wanting to beat the crap out of him to teach him a lesson. And at the moment, he was very close to doing just that.

“You see, if you played your cd backwards, you’d hear instructions that tell you how to do a ritualistic killing using a dog or is god, I’m still not sure yet, it could be running forward as well as backwards.”
Josiah was speechless, too angry to talk. This unfortunately gave Ezra the opportunity to continue talking.
“It’s madness, it’s dreadful music . . . it’s grotesque, hideous, horrid, monstrous, repellent, repulsive and crude. It’s gothic, that’s what it is and I don’t want it anywhere near me.”

“Are you finished?”

“Why? Do you want me to go on?” Ezra raised an eyebrow.

“That’s why you threw it out the window?”

“No, I threw it out the window because Buck told me too.”

“Like hell I did.” Buck protested. “Chris!”

“What do you want me to do? I already hit him once and it doesn’t seem to have done any good.”

“You hit him.” Nathan smiled.

“Yeah I did, he was pissing me off!”

“He said you were pissing him off . . . “ Nathan shook his head in amusement, this was going to be a very long weekend.

“Why you good-for-nothin’ son-of-a-bitch!” Chris moved forward but was stopped by Josiah’s large hand.

“If you don’t mind Chris,” Josiah continued to stare at Ezra who was smiling back at him, “I haven’t finished with him yet.”

Ezra’s smiled dropped and his eyebrows moved towards the heavens. “But I have done nothing wrong Josiah.”

“Why are you lying Ezra.”

“To cover my back of course, why else would I lie.”

“I want you to apologise and when we get back to town, you’re going to buy me a new cd.”

“I will not apologise for ridding the world of that dreadful music and I will not waste my money buying another one, only to have it thrown out of the window.”

“Ezra.” Josiah growled with impatience.

“Lenny!” Ezra called over his shoulder to his friend.

“Yes Ezra.” Lenny had been watching the scene play out before him. He was filled with confusion as to why Ezra was behaving like he was. He was also angry because Ezra was embarrassing the crap out of him.

“You will please tell this giant oaf to stop making demands for me to do things that I don’t want to do.” Ezra kindly asked him.

“No.”

“May I ask why not?” Ezra glanced over his shoulder and noticed that Lenny had joined Chris’ side.

“Because you’re going to do what Josiah asked you to do.”

“And that is?”

“That’s it!” Lenny stormed forward and grabbed Ezra’s left arm. The FBI agent began to drag his young friend down towards the lake. He intended to have a private talk with Ezra but he was surprised when Chris Larabee began to follow them.

“This conversation is a private one Mr Larabee.” Lenny spoke without stopping.

“You sure? Thought you might need some help.” Chris continued to follow the two men.

This time Lenny stopped and turned around. “You want to help me?”

“Yeah . . . I know what a lying, sneaky bastard Ezra can be. It might be easier with two of us questioning him rather than one.”

Lenny had to think for a moment. Was this a trick or did Larabee really want to help. He glanced at Ezra and saw the small smile that played with his lips.

“I think I’m going to need all the help I can get.”

“Then let’s get on with it shall we.”

“Are we going fishing Mr Larabee?” Ezra smiled to the man who had taken his right arm.

“No Ezra, we’re not.”

“Swimming perhaps?”

“No.”

“You and Lenny aren’t going to have an argument are you?”

“No.”

“You’re not really one for conversation are you Mr Larabee.” before Chris could reply, Ezra turned to Lenny and smiled at the angry expression his friend wore. “Lenny, did you know that Mr Larabee wears ladies underwear. Pink ones to be exact.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Lenny pulled Ezra to a stop and stepped in front of him. “Why are you acting like this?”

“I’m not acting like anything. This is my normal self,” Ezra turned to Chris, “isn’t it Mr Larabee?”

“If you want to call, being an aggravating asshole who is attempting to piss his friends off enough to want to kill him, then yes, you’re being normal.”

“See, Mr Larabee agrees with me.” Ezra smiled smugly at Lenny Hoskins.

“That’s not what he said Ezra.”

“Are you calling Chris a liar Lenny?”

“He didn’t call me a liar Ezra, he called you one.” Chris retorted and shoved Ezra away from him. “Why are you doing this? Is it payback for making you come? Or are you mad that Lenny came with us.”

“I’m not mad. Lenny here, forced himself upon this expedition and you’re the one who agreed to allow him to come. It had nothing to do with me. None of this was my idea. I don’t know why I let either of you talk me into this.”

“First of all,” Lenny pointed a finger against the Southerner’s forehead, “I didn’t force this on anyone, and secondly it was all your idea.”

“Now it is you who are lying.” Ezra leaned against the finger and stared into Lenny’s pale blue eyes.

“Are you sick?” Lenny pulled his finger away and replaced it with the palm of his hand. “Is that what’s wrong with you?” Ezra’s forehead felt fine, there was no heat emanating from his skin.

“Maybe you’ve got a tumour and it’s causing you to act this way?” Chris suggested.

“If only, because if I did, I wouldn’t have to be here listening to this childish conversation with two men who think they are my parents.”

“Who do you want to be Lenny. Dad or mum?”

Ezra felt something click inside. It felt good to listen to these two men talk to each other in a civilised manner without any anger.

“With my short hair, I think I should be the dad. Besides, I’ve known him longer and I’d feel more comfortable belting the crap out of him.”

The younger man raised an eyebrow and stepped away from the two men.

“You’ve got a point there. But Lenny, would I have to wear a dress?”

“You’d look quite cute in a dress . . . damn, look whom I’m talking to.”

“I ain’t shaving my legs for anyone!”

Ezra took two more steps then turned around and began to walk back to the cabin. He had taken six more steps before Lenny and Chris noticed that he was gone.

“EZRA!” They both yelled then ran after him.

Ezra looked over his shoulder and saw them coming. He bolted. There was nothing else he could do. Maybe if he hid behind Nathan, the ex-medic might protect. When he got closer to the group of men, he saw that they were beginning to create a human wall to stop him. Ezra slid to a halt but still managed to slide into Nathan.

“Um, Nathan, would you care to help me?”

“You want my black ass to help you?” Nathan glared down at the undercover agent.

“If you would be so kind.”

“No.” Nathan folded his arms.

“No?”

“This black ass said no.”

“Oh . . . even though they threatened to beat me senseless.”

“They did that?” Josiah stepped forward.

“Well no, not exactly.” Ezra shrugged.

“You’re lying again, aren’t you.”

“No.”

“Ezra I’m going to . . . “

“Yes I’m lying.”

“Why?” Josiah didn’t look at Chris and Lenny as they came to a stop behind Ezra.

“Because I can, and, I’m good at it.”

“Just answer why Ezra.” Lenny spoke up from behind him.

“Why what?”

Lenny whacked him across the back of the head. “You know what!”

“No I don’t know what.”

“Then you can stay out here until you figure it out.” Chris told him.

“You want me to stay out here?” Ezra turned to face Chris.

“Yes.”

“And figure it out?”

“Yes.”

“Out here in the cold . . . “

“It isn’t cold Ezra.”

“In the rain . . . “

“It isn’t raining! For Christ sake Ezra! Stop acting like a fucking four year old.”

“And snow.” Ezra continued.

Chris pushed his way past Ezra and didn’t even blink when he heard the exaggerated cry of pain when Ezra fell to the ground. He continued on into the house where he was going to have a strong drink or two.

Ezra watched from his position on the ground as the others followed Chris into the house. He felt a twinge of disappointment when Lenny shook his head at him. He looked away and found something interesting on the dirt floor.

“So far so good.” Ezra muttered to himself when the front door of the cabin slammed shut. “But now what.”





Part One | Part Two


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