by Angela B

Disclaimer: I do not nor will I ever own the rights to these characters.

The end of the workday had finally arrived and Ezra headed for his car thinking about the drink waiting for him at home. Buck’s muttering voice penetrated his thoughts, scanning the garage he finally spotted the irritated man. It became quickly apparent that Buck’s vehicle for some reason or another was refusing to start. It, also, became apparent to the undercover agent that since he had been the last one leaving from the office it would be up to him to give the man a ride. Ezra sighed, just what he didn’t need he thought.

Driving the sleek jag through the section of town that he and his passenger lived in, Ezra swiped a hand over his tired eyes. He was thankful that for once the gregarious man was silent, he didn’t feel like holding up his end of a conversation. Ezra stopped at the routine stoplight and waited for it to turn green. Finally the light changed. As he went through it he heard a loud noise and felt the car jerk violently. The sound of rubber thumbing the pavement immediately confirmed his fear of a flat tire. He really hoped that Buck would not make any snide remarks he just wasn’t in the mood. As he turned the corner looking for a place to pull over his heart lurched at the only option. There it was, his siren’s call. All it really was was an abandoned bar with a large empty parking lot. It was the parking lot that seemed to always beckon him.

"Pull in there," Buck advised, pointing to the empty lot. Ezra could not detect any humor or any sign in his voice that the man was put out.

Ezra couldn’t exactly say no and merely nodded his head. His fear had materialized. He had always been afraid to stop here, never knowing if he would have the strength not to follow the calling that haunted him from this particular spot.

Ever since he could remember he would have these spells when passing a specific locale where he felt an inner calling to just walk away from wherever he was living at that moment and disappear. After he began driving the same urge would hit, park the car and walk off. It seemed funny to the man at times. No matter what city, state or country he happened to be living in there would always be one spot that would trigger this response. Here in Denver it was this parking lot.

Sometimes the urge to just drive into, park, get out and walk away became so intense it took everything he had not to actually go through with it. Over the years he had always been able to muster the will power to keep driving and pass the spot that he imagined would bring ease to his troubles, though sometimes it was mighty hard.

As he pulled into the run down parking lot his mind wandered, his actions becoming automatic. When he was a kid he used to hide every penny he could get his hands on. By the time he was eleven he had secreted away over five hundred dollars. Never spending it, the money helped calm down those urges a little. The money gave him the security of knowing if he did ever run away he would not be penniless or limited to the other ways normal runaways lived. After he was grown for some reason he still kept a stash hidden in case of emergencies. "One must always be prepared", his mother had taught him early in life.

"Ezra, pop the trunk," Buck asked for the third time. The agent came back to reality with guilt written on his face.

"You ok, Ez?" Concern was clearly showing on the older agent’s face.

"Yes, Mr. Wilmington I am perfectly well. I thought for a moment I spotted moment inside the abandoned building." Ezra explained as he crawled out from behind the wheel. Trying to cover up his mental absence.

Walking to the back of the car he joined the other man who had began removing the tire and jack and offered his assistance.

Buck looked at the driver and shook his head, "Nah, I know how debasing menial labor is to ya," laughing out loud to show he was joking and had no intentions of being mean.

Buck had looked up in time to see the strained expression on his friend’s face, "Won’t take but a minute to get this changed."

Ezra stepped out of the way and walked halfway across the parking lot towards the abandoned building. He pondered the reason why had he always felt the need to escape from wherever he was? Why the desperate need to vanish from the face of the earth. As a person who’s mind never shut down he had created thousands of scenarios over the years of how he would accomplish the feat of vanishing from wherever he was, but of course he never carried the action out. He couldn’t stop analyzing his need to vanish. He wasn’t so dumb not to know it was in all likelihood connected to his childhood, more specifically the lack of one. The constant instability and the fact that no one really cared if he was around or not probably had a lot to do with the battle he waged on a regular basis

As he stood there like a statue his mind drifted. He began thinking about the six men he had been working with for nearly four years now.

Josiah was the oldest one of the group. He had come out of his early retirement strictly to work with this team. The profiler had began the irratating habit of calling him son. No matter how many times Ezra had categorically denied this parental claim the man had continued to use that moniker until now it no longer bothered the young agent. Indeed the reverse had been occurring lately, the undercover agent would worry if the man didn’t refer to him in that way. Ezra sighed deeply wondering when that change in process had occurred.

The agent shifted his thoughts to Nathan, resident medic and procreations officer. Ezra readily admitted the two had not hit it off well to begin with, far from it. Over the last three years, though, the two had managed to get over their differences and had established a very good working relationship. That was until the undercover agent received an injury, then the co-worker disappeared and the medic and nursemaid appeared. Ezra realized that no matter how many times they fought over his well-being and health, or lack of in some cases, Nathan had continued to always to be there to tend to him. For that Ezra would eternally be grateful, but would never be able to admit it.

The next two he thought of was Buck and JD. Ezra had never had the opportunity to work with two more juvenile men and enjoy it as he did those two. JD had the youth and enthusiasm that he, himself, had never felt or lived. Now he got to live that life vicariously through the younger agent. Buck was like an overgrown kid playing agent, a really good agent. The older agent had treated the undercover agent with skepticism at first. Ezra accepted this as normal and had gone about doing his job. After it became clear to the jovial man that Ezra really was good at his job the man had made it his mission in life to teach him how to be ‘one of the boys’. Ezra shuddered at the thought. Being ‘one of the boys’ had meant having them invade his living quarters to watch the Sunday afternoon game once they found out he had a big screen TV. It also, meant learning about NASCAR and a variety of other ‘guy’ stuff. Ezra smiled, he had to give the man credit - Buck was persistent.

The undercover agent turned his musings over to the man who sat opposite of him at work, with his trademark grin. This was the man that had most puzzled the brown-haired agent. Vin had simply refused to take no for an answer. After three months of repeatedly asking Ezra to go to the Saloon with them for drinks Ezra had finally given in if for no other reason than to get the man off his back. He had expected the longhaired Texan to brag or something, but the man had just simply let him be. Ezra realized what he most enjoyed about this man was his straightforwardness. He didn’t hide from the truth or try to sugar coat it. He, too, had lived a life the others had not and understood the need to distance oneself from others. He also, understood one couldn’t live that way and enjoy life. He had set out to incorporate Ezra into their group and make him part of their family. Ezra laughed to himself the man had grit that’s for sure.

That left one person, Chris Larabee. The team leader made no bones about who was in charge when he was around. Between his temper and that glare of his he was widely known about and feared by the other agents. The man was even feared by some, ‘heck’ Ezra corrected ‘a lot’ of the higher ups. When he had first met the man dressed in black back in Atlanta he knew instantly this was a man of integrity. Him and the leader had locked horns more times than he cared to remember, but in the end when it was over he still had a job and the man still trusted him to perform that job well. As he stood there in the middle of the lot he realized there wasn’t to many things he wouldn’t do for the man if he asked him to. Of course Chris didn’t need to know that.

Ezra felt a presence and jumped a little when he realized he was shoulder to shoulder with Buck. Sometime during his wondering the other agent had fixed the tire and Ezra could guess had probably called out to him. When he didn’t respond Buck had come to retrieve him.

"Car's ready," Buck simply stated. Ezra could easily read the underlying question. ‘Are you?

Ezra smiled, showing his dimples that made him look so young, "Of course, Mr. Wilmington." He turned his head and stared towards the car. " I am deeply grateful for your mechanical abilities. Thank You."

A heavy feeling felt like it had been lifted from his shoulders. "I sincerely appreciate your kindness in repairing the flat tire. I hope it wasn’t to hard?"

"Nah, nothing to it." The jovial man replied, slipping an arm around the slender shoulders of his friend and wondered what Ezra had been staring so hard at.

Ezra looked over at the gregarious man, the old urge to keep walking had been felt, but surprisingly it hadn’t been as commanding as Ezra had feared it would have been. The young agent stood there staring at the building and open lot behind it. Many days in the past the need to park and walk through that lot and beyond had been so strong it had taken everything not to follow through with it and today that scream to leave and been quelled down to a silent whispering. He instinctively knew the cause, because today he realized he had six good reasons to stay.

The two men walked back to the car and climbed in. Buck waited for the driver to crank the engine up. He took note of the small scrunch of Ezra’s left eye indicating Ezra seemed to be thinking on something. Finally a small nod of the head indicated he had reached a decision.

Turning sideways in his seat he looked at the Buck. Clearing his voice he looked down momentarily then back up. "If you are not otherwise occupied tonight, Wilmington, I have purchased a good brand of spirits that is chilling in my refrigerator and I was good to make a casserole for supper if you would care to join me."

Buck stared into the two expectant green eyes that were locked onto him, "Sounds real nice, Ez. I’d like that."

Ezra smiled and turned back to the front. Turning the ignition over he once again glanced out at the open lot. This time there was not even a whisper of calling.


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