by Hombre

Notes: This is another sequel to Missing and Courage. Hope it is not one too many, if it is I don't wanna know! It will definitely be the last in this series anyway. Seem to have been suffering from sequelitis lately. If you haven't read either of the aforementioned stories it is probably best that you do before reading this, yadda, yadda, yadda. This is for Malantha.

Size: Approx 108K

Ezra whistled as he wandered back along the road to his house after taking Monroe for a walk. The dog was pulling on the leash eagerly and Ezra tried to curb his enthusiasm with a gentle tug and a word of warning.

"Monroe, calm down. I know you're looking forward to seeing the boys but you must be on your best behavior. I've been telling them how well-behaved you've been lately so don't show me up as a liar."

He reached his house and walked up the path as he searched his pockets for his keys. He went to put the appropriate key in the lock but saw that the door was slightly ajar. He frowned and studied the area near the lock intently. "Looks like it's been forced, Monroe. You'd better stay here. Now be quiet for once, will you?" he whispered.

The undercover agent tied the dog to a small bush and gave him a pat before drawing his gun. He pushed the door open with his fingertips and winced when the hinges squeaked loudly. Another job I should have done weeks ago and have been putting off. So much for trying to be quiet, he thought wryly. He stepped inside his house cautiously and stood quietly in the hallway as he listened intently. He thought he could hear movement upstairs but he couldn't be sure that was where the noise was definitely coming from.

He checked the kitchen first and heard the loud noise his shoes made on the tiled floor. God, I'd be no good as a thief, would I? He smiled to himself despite his anxiousness and continued checking all the rooms downstairs but he found nothing amiss. He took a deep breath and moved out into the hall again and slowly made his way upstairs. Ezra was careful to avoid the fourth step from the top because he knew it creaked loudly every time it was trodden on. The agent checked each room until he finally reached his own bedroom. He listened outside the door but could hear no noise from inside so he pushed the door open slowly and stepped inside quickly with gun outstretched. He frowned when he saw no one was there. The undercover agent walked into the center of the room and looked around with concentration. He could see that things had been disturbed but why only in this room and where was the intruder now? Perhaps he's been gone for ages and I was just imagining the noises I ! heard earlier. Anyway, there's no one here now. Ezra re-holstered his weapon and sighed with relief.

He turned back to the door to go and collect Monroe and saw a stocky man running toward him. Where the hell has he been hiding all this time? Ezra wondered. The agent had no time to react before the man bent low and caught him hard in the stomach with his shoulder. The air was forced from his lungs in a rush and Ezra found himself unable to breathe at all. His assailant didn't cease momentum for a moment as he grabbed Ezra round the waist, picked him up bodily and continued onwards. The agent knew he was heading toward the window but he was unable to stop the man moving. Ezra was still trying to fill his aching lungs with oxygen and hadn't the energy to fight back. Things had happened so fast that he'd been taken completely by surprise. He'd relaxed when he'd discovered his bedroom free of intruders and he now knew that had been a terrible mistake. He was jolted from his thoughts when he felt his back hit the glass with incredible force. He heard the pane crack and splinte! r under his weight and he felt a sharp pain in his side. Ezra tried to grab hold of the window frame as his attacker let go of him but he was not successful. He felt his fingers lose their tenuous grip and the next thing he knew he was looking up at the sky and feeling cold air blowing through his hair. The agent caught a brief glimpse of a face at the bedroom window as he looked upwards. He then hit a solid object with his legs and left side before finally landing on the concrete beneath his window with an almighty thud.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah drove up to Ezra's house and saw the front door standing wide open. He assumed Ezra had seen him coming and had left it open for him. He walked up the path and found Monroe's leash hanging from a bush but could see no sign of the dog. He picked up the leash and noticed it had been chewed through. It was still wet from the dog's mouth and Josiah frowned worriedly. It was unlike Ezra to leave his dog outside and the animal must have been there for some time to get to the stage of wanting to escape.

"Ezra? Are you there?" Josiah shouted as he hovered on the doorstep. The profiler eventually stepped inside the house after getting no reply and looked around downstairs but there was no sign of Ezra or Monroe at all. He went back to the front door and hesitated as he wondered what to do next. He was just going to close the door when he noticed the marks near the lock. He pulled out his gun and stopped to listen while his eyes swept the interior of the house and then the street outside.

He heard a dog start barking nearby but ignored the sound as he tried to detect any sign of human movement. He headed for the stairs when he heard no further sounds and climbed up to the next floor cautiously. After looking in the majority of rooms without success the profiler headed to the last room. He pushed open Ezra's bedroom door and noticed the sound of barking suddenly got louder. A blast of cold air met him and he shivered as he looked around the room and finally saw the broken window. The profiler frowned and hurried over to it and noticed blood on some of the glass fragments in the frame. He reached out and touched the viscous liquid and found it was fresh but drying rapidly. His attention was immediately drawn to the area directly below him as he heard the dog start barking again. He looked out and down and cursed as he saw Ezra spread-eagled on the concrete beneath the window with Monroe howling at his side. Josiah ran downstairs and went out into the kitchen bu! t found the back door locked. He searched frantically and found the key nearby and hurried out onto the porch. The big man saw Ezra lying on the ground to his left with a small pool of blood under him. Monroe was now whining and had his head and one paw lying on Ezra's chest.

"Shit! Ezra?" Josiah called as he hurried toward his colleague. He could see the glass scattered around and he took care as he walked over it, not wanting to kick bits toward his already injured friend. Monroe leapt up as soon as he got close and the dog approached him with bared teeth and a loud warning bark. The agent stopped short and the canine stood guard over his master's body and would not let him get any nearer. For some reason the profiler and the dog had never really hit it off. It had been a case of mutual loathing on sight. Josiah would be the first to admit he was not a dog lover but he usually got on with most canines he came into contact with. The fact that Monroe wouldn't even trust him now to approach his injured owner was something he hadn't counted on.

"Monroe. Come on, I need to help Ezra. You know me, don't ya?" the profiler pleaded but he could see his words were having no effect whatsoever. What do I do? he wondered anxiously.

He pulled out his phone and called for an ambulance to start with and then turned as he heard Vin shouting Ezra's name. Thank God. Monroe likes Vin, he thought to himself before yelling, "Vin? We're round the back. He's hurt."

Vin heard the profiler's frantic shout and ran round the side of the house to meet him. He drew up next to Josiah and took in the unwelcome scene as he asked angrily, "Why haven't you helped him?"

"I only just got here and I can't get Monroe to let me near him," Josiah snapped irritably. "I don't even know if Ezra's still alive, Vin. He musta fallen from up there." The profiler pointed up to the bedroom window.

"How?" Vin asked as he frowned and looked up to the bedroom. He then transferred his gaze back to the man on the ground worriedly. Hell of a fall, he thought to himself.

"How the hell should I know? Look, Vin, I don't mean to snap but time's awasting while we talk. Ezra needs help now."

"I'm sorry, Josiah. Look, I'll try and get Monroe away while you see to Ezra, okay? You've called an ambulance, have you?"

"Yeah. Did that first off. Are you ready to get hold of Monroe?"

Vin nodded his head and then put out his hands as he walked slowly toward the dog. He could hear the glass crunching under his sneakers the nearer he got to his friend's body. The sharpshooter saw blood splattered about on the ground and also the pool of red liquid under Ezra's back. He tried to ignore it and turned his attention back to the dog and said quietly, "Hey puppy. What happened to yer Dad, eh?"

Josiah couldn't help smiling as he heard Vin use the word puppy. He could hear Ezra's voice as plain as day saying, Mr. Tanner! Will you refrain from calling him that? He has a proper name. Please use it. You'll confuse him by calling him something else and he's hardly a puppy any more, is he? He's nearly a year old. That was precisely why Vin kept on calling him puppy because he knew it annoyed the hell out of the undercover agent. The dog usually came running no matter what he was called so Vin never took any notice of Ezra's rebuke. Josiah sighed as he looked at the injured agent and his protective dog and shook his head sadly.

Vin squatted down when he got fairly close and Monroe finally approached after growling and barking for a while. Vin got hold of his collar gently and pulled the dog away. Josiah made sure the animal was secure and then hurried over to take care of the undercover agent.

"Ezra?" Josiah knelt down and felt anxiously for a pulse. He found one but it was very faint and erratic. He checked his colleague over gently although he could see just by looking at his bent body that he had numerous broken bones. Josiah could see that a bone had actually broken through the skin in Ezra's left leg and it looked a bad injury.

Vin, meanwhile, checked Monroe for injuries and found cuts on his paws from where he'd been sitting in the glass next to Ezra. He locked the dog in the house to deal with later as there was no glass in the wounds he could see and they weren't bleeding too badly.

"How bad?" the sharpshooter asked as he hovered anxiously by Josiah's side.

"Real bad. He's in shock and I reckon he must be bleeding internally too. I don't wanna move him in case he's hurt his neck or back. He's got cuts to his head and I found a big gash on his side. There was blood on the window when I looked earlier so he musta cut it as he fell. Go and have another look inside will ya and see if you can tell what happened? I didn't stop to look properly when I saw him out the window."

Vin returned after a few minutes and said, "There's no way he coulda fallen accidentally. Looks like he disturbed an intruder 'cause his belongings have been messed with in the bedroom. Strange that they don't seem to have touched any other room though. I'd better tell Chris what's happened and stop the others from coming here."

Vin pulled out his phone and punched Chris's number in. He paced up and down impatiently as he waited for an answer. "Chris? Ezra's hurt bad. It looks like he was thrown out through his bedroom window while it was closed and he landed on the concrete below."

"Jesus Christ. Okay, I'll let the others know and meet you at the hospital as soon as I can."

Vin stood next to Josiah again and looked down at his injured friend. He thought the agent looked grey and lifeless. He lifted his head as he heard the ambulance approaching the house and he hurried round to the front to meet the paramedics. The sharpshooter returned quickly with two men in tow and they set to work treating their patient. They put a neck brace on gently and then moved him onto a backboard. His broken limbs were splinted and he was started on oxygen and an IV. They finally transferred him to the ambulance carefully and drove away with sirens blaring.

Josiah got in Vin's jeep after the sharpshooter had collected Monroe from the house and they hurried along behind. They reached the hospital to find Chris pacing up and down as he waited outside for them.

"What happened to him?" he asked sharply as soon as his two friends approached.

"I only know what I told you before, Chris. He couldn't have fallen from the window accidentally. It was smashed and would have taken some force to break it," Vin explained.

"Josiah?" the blond asked as he turned to the big man.

The profiler gave a full version of what he had discovered on his arrival at Ezra's house and his two companions listened in silence. He added angrily, "I ought to have realized something was wrong earlier. Monroe was barking non-stop and Ezra doesn't let him bark unnecessarily and he never leaves him on his own. That alone should've alerted me to the fact that something wasn't right."

"Don't blame yerself, Josiah. You found him in the end and did what you could for him. Did ya call the police?" Chris asked.

"Dammit. No, I'm sorry. I was so worried about Ezra that I only called an ambulance," the profiler apologized as he wiped a hand over his face in anguish.

"Alright, don't worry, that was the most important thing at the time. I'll call them now and get Buck to meet them at Ezra's house." Chris could see Josiah was very upset so he reached out a hand and patted his shoulder while giving an encouraging smile. The blond then pulled out his phone and talked for a while to both Buck and the police. He finally rang off and said to Josiah, "I haven't been able to contact Nate yet but Buck has promised to keep trying to get hold of him. Come on. Let's go inside and see what they can tell us about Ezra's condition."

Chris tried to get some information from someone at the nurses' station but they didn't have any news. He joined his friends in the waiting room and sat next to Josiah quietly and then waited for quite some time before a doctor walked into the room briskly.

"Mr. Larabee?"

Chris leapt up and approached the medic. Even though he could tell by the man's expression that it was bad news, he had to ask the question. "How is he?"

"In a critical condition and the next few hours will be crucial. He's got multiple breaks." He counted them off on his fingers as he relayed the details. "Both legs, quite a few ribs on his left side, his left shoulder blade, collar bone and wrist. His pelvis is broken in several places and he also has a fractured skull. There are quite a few cuts from the glass, some of which are very deep. We're just making sure there's no glass left in them."

"Fucking hell," Chris exclaimed angrily as he frowned and shook his head.

"He's got some internal bleeding too so we're gonna have to do some surgery to stop that and see what other damage he's done. He must have somehow hit the ground with his legs first because he's got impacted fractures in his left leg particularly. He's lucky to be alive with the injuries he's got and he's gonna be out of commission for quite some time, I'm afraid."

"Can we see him?" Josiah asked. He wanted to see his friend to put his mind at ease.

"Not yet. We've got to pin a lot of his breaks together and stop the internal bleeding. I'll come get you when we're through."

Chris sat down with a sigh and rubbed his face wearily. "He doesn't do things by halves, does he?"

"No, he sure don't. I'd better go and get Monroe sorted 'cause he'd got several cuts on his paws that probably need attention. Let me know if there's any change in Ezra's condition, won't ya?" Vin said as he disappeared out of the room.

Chris sat quietly in the waiting room for about thirty minutes before he got itchy feet, which must have been a record. The man was usually pacing within five. He rose from his chair and started wandering up and down by the window. He kept that up for about fifteen minutes and then walked outside to get some air. While he was there he decided to try and reach Nathan himself and his call was answered within a few rings. "Nate? Did Buck manage to get in touch with you about Ezra?"

"No. I've only just got in. I was just gonna get changed and head off to his house. Is something wrong?"

"Yeah, you could say that. We're at the hospital with him. Jesus, Nate. Josiah found him at home and it looks like he was thrown out his bedroom window. He's badly hurt. Can you come?"

"Shit. Have you seen him or do you know what injures he's got?" the medic enquired as he tried to remain calm.

"He's got multiple injuries. All I can say for the moment is that he's alive but I know Josiah was very worried about his condition when he found him. The doctor said the next few hours would determine things one way or the other."

"Okay. I'll be there as soon as I can. I've just gotta drop Rain off at a friends."

Chris ambled back inside after calling Buck to say he'd managed to contact Nathan. He looked around him as he walked through the hallways and thought, Seem to spend half my life here, either as a patient or with one of the guys. There must be a safer profession we can try. He reached the waiting room and saw Josiah was still where he'd left him. He sat down beside him again and tapped his shoulder to get his attention. "Any news?"

"No. I saw them take him up to the OR a little while ago and he looked pretty awful. I've never seen anyone so pale, Chris."

The blond nodded sadly and said, "Nate's coming. I got hold of him just now and told him everything. I'll be really glad when he gets here."

They waited half an hour before the medic arrived and the man disappeared straight away to see if he could get an update. He returned after fifteen minutes and sat down beside Chris.

"They're literally pinning him back together. His pelvis and left leg are the worst breaks. The leg is a mess from what I saw and they're not saying whether he'll regain full use of it."

"Shit. Look, I want a couple of us with him all the time until we know what really happened. I can't believe a burglar would have reacted with such force. Maybe knock him unconscious but not this." Before he could say any more there was the sound of running feet in the hallway and Buck and JD came hurrying in.

"Got some fingerprints from Ezra's bedroom. I asked forensics to process them as soon as possible and they said they'd ring if they got a match. Have you seen him yet?" Buck asked breathlessly.

"No. He's in the OR at the moment." Chris told them the list of his injuries.

"Jesus," Buck said as he sat down heavily on a chair. "Today started off so well too. Ought to have known it wouldn't last. Why did this have to happen to ruin everything?"

Josiah tried hard to keep his temper under control but he really felt like punching Buck. Not that he was particularly angry with the man or what he'd said but Josiah felt the need to let out some of the pain and frustration he was feeling. The only way he could see of achieving that satisfactorily was with physical violence. He knew he couldn't do that to his friend though so he contented himself with shouting at him instead. He stood up and hovered threateningly in front of the ladies' man as he yelled angrily, "This is the last thing Ezra needed to happen to him, Bucklin! He didn't do it on purpose and he certainly didn't deserve it."

"Did I say that he did, pard?" Buck asked quietly. It was unlike Josiah to be so irate and his displeasure had momentarily stopped Buck in his tracks. The forceful nature of the profiler's anger had the ladies' man standing up hurriedly in readiness to meet any challenge he made. He backed away across the room to put as much distance between the two of them as he could in an attempt to diffuse the situation. Josiah was usually the mediator in disputes, not an instigator of them. Buck tried to calm the man down by saying, "I just meant life has a way of bringing you down to earth with a bump when you think things are going great. Look, I'm sorry Josiah. Didn't mean to upset you."

Chris stood up quickly and placed himself between the two men when it looked as though the profiler wanted to take matters further. He pushed Josiah back and eventually persuaded him to sit down again. "Come on, Josiah. Leave it be. Buck didn't mean nothing by it."

Josiah rubbed a hand over his face and sighed without answering. Chris reached out a hand and patted his back and the profiler looked up with an apologetic smile. Chris raised an eyebrow in question and the big man nodded to say he was alright.

The men then settled back to wait for news of their injured colleague. After four hours the doctor returned looking tired. He wandered over to Chris and sat down next to him with a groan. He rubbed a hand round the back of his neck before yawning loudly.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude but it's been a very busy day. Mr. Standish has been moved to ICU. We've pinned all the bad breaks and managed to stop the internal bleeding but we had to remove his spleen because it was ruptured. As we treated him he went into cardiac arrest which was probably caused as a direct result of blood loss and shock. He's stable for the moment but we'll have to watch him for a while in case it happens again. We also discovered a bit of swelling around his spine but until it subsides we can't tell if it's caused any paralysis. I'm sorry it's not better news. Do you want to see him?"

"Chris? Take Josiah with you but let us know how he is. We won't leave until we've heard from you," Buck said as he digested what had been said.

The two men stood and followed the doctor along to Ezra's room. They entered quietly and automatically went to opposite sides of the bed. The same routine, time after time, Chris thought sadly.

A nurse was just finishing making the injured man comfortable. Ezra was attached to various machines to monitor his condition and he had an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth as well. Every piece of skin that Chris could see was discolored with developing bruises and all but one limb had a cast on it.

Prior to leaving the room, the nurse covered Ezra partially with a sheet but not before Chris had swept the man's body with his eyes, taking in every injury. He saw the taped pad covering the stomach wound where they'd removed his spleen and also the strapping round his broken ribs. "Shit, Ezra. Why can't you have somethin' simple wrong with you for a change? You've always gotta go to excess, ain't ya? Oh sorry, I forgot, 'simple' ain't in yer vocabulary, is it?" Chris smiled as he wondered what word Ezra would use instead. Something twice as long that was for sure.

The man on the bed did not move and his eyes remained closed. Josiah sat down and prayed quietly as he held Ezra's uninjured hand in his. Chris wiped the hair from his injured agent's brow, being careful not to touch the myriad of scalp wounds. He stayed for fifteen minutes and then went to see the rest of his men.

"How is he?" Buck asked as soon as he entered the room. The ladies' man stood anxiously with hands on hips as he waited for his friend's assessment.

"Unconscious and black and blue. Shouldn't think he's gonna wake up for a while, Bucklin. Why don't you go home and take over from us in the morning? There's nothing you can do here and I wanna make sure he's got company all the time."

"Sure. Vin came in and said he's taking Monroe home with him. I'll let him know what's going on. Do you want me to chase forensics up about the fingerprints?" Buck asked.

"Yeah. Page me when you hear from them."

"See ya tomorrow then," Buck said as the three men left.

Chris wandered back to Ezra's room and sat down wearily with a loud sigh. He looked across at the profiler and thought he looked a bit grim. He cast his mind back to the confrontation with Buck in the waiting room and he couldn't recall another occasion when Josiah had reacted so badly to a situation. "You okay, Josiah?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Just a bit shocked to find him hurt like that, Chris," Josiah said and he couldn't help the shiver that ran through his body as he remembered Ezra's battered body.

Chris noticed the man tremble and he asked anxiously, "Would you rather go home? I can get Buck to take you back if you don't feel up to staying."

"No. I'm okay. It just unsettled me, you know? I turned up at Ezra's house expecting to enjoy a good evening and then to find him like that really shook me. I won't feel any better at home on my own and I'll be much happier remaining here to watch over him. I'd really like to stay," Josiah said insistently.

"Okay. Whatever you want, Josiah. Do ya fancy a drink?" Chris asked as he studied the big man quietly.

"Whiskey?" the profiler replied with a sad smile on his lips.

"Can only run to hospital coffee, if ya can stand it," Chris replied with a grin.

"Okay. That'll have to do, I s'pose. Thanks, Chris."

The blond disappeared for a while and then returned with two steaming polystyrene cups. Josiah rose and took one with a grateful nod of his head. Chris took a sip from his own cup and screwed his face up in disgust. He looked as though he'd just sucked a raw lemon.

"God it never improves, does it?"

"It's wet and warm and that'll do me for the moment," the profiler said with a smile as he turned to look out the window.

"You're too easily pleased, Josiah, that's yer trouble," Chris complained.

"Gotta take what you can get in this life. If that includes poor coffee then so be it. Rather have to suffer that than be in Ezra's position at the moment."

Chris nodded in agreement and sat down next to his injured agent again. He put his drink to one side as he watched Ezra for any signs of returning consciousness. After a while his own eyelids grew heavy and he couldn't help letting his mind drift. He'd really been looking forward to relaxing with a nice meal at Ezra's, as Josiah had said, but that was not to be. They'd all had a busy week and could've done with some quality time together outside work. Instead they were back where they least liked to be. He shifted to get comfortable in the chair and fell asleep before he could stop himself. He started snoring softly and Josiah looked over at him and smiled. The profiler took hold of Ezra's hand again and stroked the back of it with his thumb continually as he watched over the unconscious undercover agent on his own.

Josiah watched the machines that stood next to the bed to pass the time. He looked at the screens for a while but when he felt himself becoming slightly hypnotised he changed activity and counted how many cracks there were in the ceiling instead. He sighed after losing count and checked that the undercover agent was still unconscious.

The only sounds in the room were the beeps and hums from the machines and Chris's snoring. Josiah stood and stretched to ease his aching body and then looked out the window again for a few minutes before returning to his vigil. He didn't want to fall asleep too in case Ezra woke so he looked in the drawer of the cabinet next to Ezra's bed and pulled out the Bible he found there. He sat down and flicked through a few pages to find the part he wanted. The big man felt the need of some spiritual guidance to get him through this nightmare and he turned to the Bible gratefully. The profiler eventually leant back in his chair and tried to concentrate on what he wanted to read.

Chris was still dozing but was started awake when he felt something vibrating in his pant's pocket. Jesus. I must change this pager for a non-vibrating one. Pleasant sensation but disappointing when you wake up to find yerself alone. He smiled and pulled the pager from his pocket and saw that Buck wanted him. He stood up and stretched before looking over at Josiah.

"I'm just gonna ring Buck," he said as he waved the pager in the air. The profiler looked up from his Bible reading and nodded.

The blond walked outside and wished he'd brought a coat with him. The nights were turning cold and he shivered involuntarily as the chill crept through the thin material of his shirt. He rubbed his hands up and down his arms to try and get warm before he found his cell and called his oldest friend. "Bucklin? Any news?"

"Yup. Thanks for calling, Chris. I thought you'd wanna know as soon as possible. The fingerprints belong to Paul Simmons."

"What!?" Chris ran his fingers through his hair in anguish and started pacing up and down, partly in anger and partly to keep warm.

"Thought that'd wake you up," Buck said with a hint of amusement in his tone although he knew it was no laughing matter.

"How the hell did he get Ezra's address?"

"God knows. How do ya wanna play this, pard?"

"Shit. ......I don't know Bucklin. I can't think straight at the moment. Paul was the last person I expected it to be. I'll get back to you when I've calmed down. The main thing is that Ezra's got us with him for protection." Chris's mind was in turmoil at the news and Buck thought he sounded distracted.

"Sure. I'll speak to you later. How is he?" the ladies' man asked.

"No change." Chris disconnected and watched as his breath made clouds in the cold air. He stood with hands on hips and head bowed, breathing deeply as he went back over what he'd just been told. As he thought about things, several questions came into his mind. He pulled out the phone again and punched in Buck's number. "It's me again. Forgot to ask the most obvious question of all. How come Paul's out?"

"He escaped during a jail transfer. Killed a guard while doing it too," Buck said angrily.

"Fucking hell! Why weren't we told? We coulda been on the alert if we'd known. After the threats he made to Ezra during the trial someone shoulda told us. How long's the bastard been out?"

"You're not gonna like this, Chris. Three weeks."

"Too right I don't like it. God, I'm gonna rattle some cages in the morning. That really pisses me off." He disconnected angrily and kicked the wall in frustration. He didn't feel the pain it created in his foot but he certainly would do later. He shivered as the cold air blew through his thin shirt again and he turned to go back inside.

He walked back upstairs rather than taking the elevator because he needed time to think. He didn't hurry and it took him quite some time to get back to Ezra's room. He looked at the injured man as he entered and then stood silently for a few minutes behind Josiah's chair as he stared out the window. The profiler could feel the anger emanating from his boss and he turned round and waited to hear what he had to say. By the look on the blond's face it must be something big.

Chris sighed, looked down at his sneakers and leant back against the wall before saying simply, "Paul Simmons."

Josiah stared at him in astonishment. "Jesus Christ. How? He was put away for years."

"He's been on the run for three weeks and no one bothered to tell us," Chris said as the anger he had experienced before resurfaced again.

"Ronnie's still inside, is he?" Josiah asked anxiously as he thought of Paul's partner.

"Shit. I didn't ask but I'll check later. I can't concentrate on anything at the moment," the blond said as he stood up straight and rubbed his eyes to try and clear his mind.

"What ya gonna do?"

"Don't know but our first priority is to keep Ezra safe," Chris said quietly as he looked worriedly at his injured agent.

"Perhaps Paul thinks he killed him and we won't see him again," Josiah said reasonably.

"Maybe but he'd only have to phone the hospital to find that he hadn't succeeded. Whatever happens I wanna get the sonofabitch back behind bars where he belongs," Chris said as he leant against the wall again.

"Well, if he's evaded capture for three weeks it won't be easy," the profiler warned.

The blond exchanged glances with the big man before replying, "I know. Look, I'll go and get Buck to check about Ronnie. You alright here or do ya need a break?"

"No, I'm fine. You go and do whatever you need."

Chris peeled himself off the wall wearily and headed out of the room as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Once he got outside the building, Chris pulled out his phone but it rang before he could punch in his friend's number.

"Larabee," he said as he placed the instrument against his ear.

"I hear Standish is still alive. Shame. I'll be back to finish him off. You look a bit cold in that shirt, Larabee. You should've brought a coat with you. Least we know Standish will be warm enough when I send him to Hell." The line went dead.

Chris stood staring at the phone, totally shocked. Goose bumps erupted over his body and he felt sick and shivery. He looked frantically around to see if he could spot Paul but he saw no sign of him. The man must have been watching nearby to mention about Chris being cold without a coat. The blond eventually recovered his composure and punched in Buck's number with a shaky hand and waited for quite some time before it was answered.

"Bucklin? Paul just called me on my cell. He knows Ezra's still alive and he says he's gonna kill him," he blurted out before Buck could speak.

"Shit. Are you alright? You sound a bit shaken," the ladies' man observed worriedly.

"Yeah, I am a bit. It just took me by surprise. He's here at the hospital somewhere and he musta been watching me 'cause he said that I must be cold without a coat on. I forgot to bring one with me. Shit, it gives you the creeps thinking yer being watched."

"Do you want us to come? If he's there now, do you think he'll attempt something?"

"I shouldn't think he'd warn us that he was around if he intended to act today. He probably just wanted to let his presence be felt and he succeeded, I can tell ya. How did he get my cell number? He must still have some contacts in the police to have got that and Ezra's address. Do some checks, will ya? I want his lines of communication cut." Chris paused to catch his breath and gather his thoughts and then said, "Look, what I really called for was to ask if Ronnie's still inside?"

"Yeah, I checked and I've got some more news too. The police got a witness who saw Paul near Ezra's house today. The witness lives almost opposite and Paul has been doing some building work for him over the last couple of days. The man said Paul was driving a flat- bed Ford but he didn't get a license plate number for it and it didn't have any distinguishing marks or lettering on it. I'll go and have a word with him if you like to see if I can help him remember something else."

"Be grateful if you would. Thanks, Buck. See ya in the morning."

"Wait a minute, Chris? Look, about Paul getting Ezra's address. Perhaps he just followed him home one day. He knew where he worked, didn't he? Ezra wouldn't have been looking for anything suspicious and the way they abducted him before just shows how good they were. Neither of us spotted them hanging about that day either," the mustached agent pointed out.

"Yeah, maybe, but that doesn't explain how he got my cell number. God, if only we'd known that he'd escaped, we mighta been able to have prevented what he did to Ez today," Chris said angrily.

"You're not gonna calm down any time soon, are ya, pard?" Buck asked sympathetically. He knew Chris was like a dog with a bone when something riled him. He wouldn't let up until he'd got satisfaction or had exacted retribution.

"No. I feel betrayed, I think, as well as very angry on Ezra's behalf. Everyone knew of the threats Paul made to him and it makes my blood boil just thinking about it........... Sorry Buck, I don't mean to rant on at you, it's not your fault. Guess I just need to let off some steam and you are the lucky recipient. I'll see ya tomorrow and thanks for listening," Chris said gratefully before disconnecting.

He went back to Ezra's room and updated Josiah. They stayed with the undercover agent all night until Buck and JD came to relieve them in the morning. Ezra hadn't stirred in all that time.

Buck took the seat that Chris had just vacated. "Do you realize that yesterday was a year to the day that Paul shot Ezra? I hope he's not gonna celebrate the anniversary in this fashion every year."

"Jesus Christ, you're right. How could I have forgotten?" Chris asked as he rubbed the back of his neck wearily.

"Other things on yer mind, pard. I only remembered when I looked back in the files last night. Go and get some rest. You both look shattered."


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