Curiosity Nearly Killed the Cat

by Hombre

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3

Buck headed back to the office after leaving the hospital and rummaged through everything on Ezra´s desk. There was no sign of the files and he cursed. On the off chance he looked on Ezra´s computer to see what he had looked at last. He called up the information and read it through thoroughly. He leant back in his chair and sighed despairingly when he´d finished.

He picked up the phone and called Maude. “Does the name Ben Groening mean anything to you?”

“Yes, he´s one of my business partners and the biggest suspect in the swindle. Why?”

“It looks as though Ezra found he had a criminal record. The man posing as Ezra´s father is actually Ben´s father and they work together ripping people off. Maybe Simon was after the files you sent Ezra ‘cause they ain´t at the office. They´ve gotta be trying to hide the evidence but how did they know Ezra had copies?”

“I don´t know. I´ve been very careful since I discovered the monetary discrepancies.”

“Don´t worry, Maude. We´ll get to the bottom of it. If I send you a photo of Simon, can you let me know if you know him too?”

“Sure. Can you fax it now?”

“Yeah.” Buck sent the photo off and waited patiently for an answer.

“Mr. Wilmington, are you still there?”

“Yeah, I´m here.”

“I do know him as well but under another name. I went out with him years ago, I´m ashamed to say. He was very creepy and I didn´t date him long. There was something nasty about him. I know Ezra asked me about him earlier but he just didn´t ring a bell at that time, well he wouldn´t under a different name, would he? Seeing his picture though has brought it all back and I can also now see the resemblance with Ben. If only I´d seen this before, I could have stopped Ezra seeing him. That odious man´s one of the few men I dated that I never slept with, so there´s no way he could´ve been Ezra´s father. Have you heard any news about Ezra´s condition?” Maude asked anxiously.

“There was no change last time I phoned. I know it ain´t easy for you at the moment but thanks for all you´ve told me. It´s been really helpful. Least it explains how Simon knew so much about your background.” He disconnected the call and phoned Chris to update him as well.

“Good work, Bucklin. It´s good to know who we´re dealing with. Print off what you´ve got and we´ll look through it. Do what you can to track the bastards down and I´ll speak to you later.”

+ + + + + + +

Nathan had to wait anxiously until mid-morning the following day before Ezra stirred. He rose immediately when he saw the undercover agent move.

“Hey, Ez? Can you hear me?” he asked as he patted Ezra´s hand in the hope of getting some response.

The undercover agent opened his eyes but Nathan could tell he wasn´t fully conscious. The medic went out and found a doctor and the man checked Ezra over and looked at his fingers. They looked a more healthy color and Nathan smiled as he was given the news.

Josiah arrived at the hospital to relieve the medic at noon and Ezra drifted in and out of consciousness throughout the profiler´s stay. The undercover agent finally woke for a very short time the next morning. Josiah was still with him and he stood and took his friend´s hand in his when he saw him open his eyes wide.

“Hello, Ezra. Just relax. You´re safe, son.”

Ezra swiveled his eyes toward the big man and stared at him with a beseeching look on his face. He naturally tried to talk to his friend and got slightly panicky as he nearly choked because of the tube down his throat. The action made his chest hurt and he felt out of breath and nauseous.

Josiah winced in sympathy when he saw the pain showing on Ezra´s face and the profiler said calmly, “It´s okay, Ezra. You´re on a ventilator so you´ve got a tube down your throat. Just relax your tongue and throat and don´t fight it.” He watched as his friend calmed down slightly but Ezra still stared at Josiah anxiously.

“You thinking about Vin?” Josiah asked as he finally worked out why Ezra wouldn´t calm down.

The undercover agent nodded slightly and Josiah patted his hand. “He´s gonna be fine. They just kept him in for a bit ‘cause he was quite shocked but he went home with Chris yesterday. Don´t you fret. I ‘spect he´ll be in to see you shortly and then you can see for yerself that he´s alright.”

Ezra closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep as Josiah patted his hand again and the two men were left on their own until the evening when Buck arrived with Vin to take over. Chris had tried to persuade the sharpshooter to rest more but the longhaired man insisted he was alright. Now that the doctor had finally allowed more than one person to sit with the undercover agent, Vin had badgered Chris until he agreed to let Buck take him to the hospital when he took over from Josiah. Buck promised Chris that he would keep a close eye on the young man but he knew it would do Vin good to see Ezra. The blue-eyed man had been continually asking about the undercover agent and getting increasingly agitated when his friends wouldn´t give him a proper answer. Chris realized that denying Vin access to his friend was doing more harm than good so he gave in and let the man go.

Before Vin was collected though, Chris knew he had to tell him about Ezra´s condition so he sat his friend down and told him everything. Vin was understandably very upset and blamed himself for not taking proper care of his friend but Chris finally managed to convince the man that he couldn´t have done any more to help Ezra. By the time Buck arrived the sharpshooter had regained some of his composure and was stating his determination to catch the men who had injured his friend. Buck left all the information he had on the pair of swindlers with Chris to look through while he was free but the ladies´ man took one picture with him to the hospital. Before Buck left, Chris made him promise once more that he would take good care of the young man while he was with him and Buck and Vin finally left the ranch to arrive at the hospital half an hour late.

“Sorry, we´re late, Josiah. Chris was doin´ his nannying routine. Anybody would think I´d been put in charge of Britain´s Crown Jewels instead of just ol´ Vin here,” Buck said as he put a friendly arm round Vin´s neck playfully. The ladies´ man looked at the man in the bed and asked, “He wake up yet?”

“Just for a minute or so. He asked after you Vin in a manner of speaking.”

“Was he alright?” the sharpshooter asked anxiously as he walked to the side of the bed and took the man´s hand in his. He cringed when he saw Ezra´s face and he carefully stroked the only piece of skin on his cheek that wasn´t bruised.

“In a lot of pain but I´m not sure he was really with it when he woke though. He´s been slipping in and out of consciousness all the time I´ve been here. The doctors are certainly more hopeful about his survival and although he´s not out of the woods yet by any means they think he´s improving quite well.”

“Why didn´t you all tell me he was close to dying?” Vin asked quietly as he looked at his injured friend.

“Chris didn´t want you upset anymore than you were, pard. You were in a bad way the other day and Chris was worried about ya. You were upset enough this morning when Chris brought you up to speed, weren´t you? Do you really think you could have coped with that information before now?” Buck asked seriously.

“No. I s´pose not Bucklin but I just wish I´d known.”

“Well, it looks as though he´s gonna pull through so there´s no need to fret. Ezra´s as tough as old boots and I´m sure he´ll be fine.”

“Are you okay, Vin? Do you feel better?” the profiler asked while he looked the young man up and down critically.

“Yeah. Haven´t had much sleep over the last couple of nights though. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was Ezra lying in the street with blood all around him,” Vin admitted. “Any news on his arm by the way?”

“Not really. The doctor was coming back later to look at it again, I think. He seemed a bit more hopeful when he checked it while Nate was here though. Nate said he´s got better color in his fingers than when he first saw him so we´ll just have to hope for the best. Anyway how have you been getting on with finding the truck, Buck?” Josiah asked.

“Chris and JD have gone off to check a lead. They had a report of an abandoned truck and we really hope it´s the right one this time. It makes you wonder how many abandoned vehicles there are in this city. I think we´ve found the majority of them ourselves, I can tell ya,” Buck said with a rueful smile.

Vin smiled sourly and said, “Haven´t had any luck on tracking Simon down either so I´ve been told but I bet he´s long gone. Gonna be real hard on Ez knowing the man was a fraud. He was really upset before so God knows how he´s gonna react now after what´s happened.”

“Yeah. He´d just started to believe Simon might have been his father. I think he was even coming round to the idea of a DNA test.”

“Wonder what would have happened if Ezra had agreed to that straight away? That woulda blown Simon´s scheme right outta the water.”

“He probably brought the subject up at the beginning in order to put Ezra off. Lucky for him it did but I dare say he had a contingency plan if Ez agreed,” Josiah observed quietly.

“Bastard,” Buck snarled.

Josiah stood and stretched and said, “I´ll leave you to it then but I´ll see ya at some point. Let me know when Ezra wakes up properly and I´ll come in and see him. He may wanna talk.”

“Sure thing. See ya later, pard.”

Vin sat down by Ezra´s side while still keeping a hold on his hand and Buck watched him intently. He knew the man was still very upset about what had happened but he was certainly much better than he had been. Buck sighed and pulled the sheet of paper that he´d brought with him out of his pocket and walked round to stand next to Vin.

“Vin? Can you look at this for me? I wanted to show it to you earlier but Chris wouldn´t let me.”

“Sure, what ya got?”

“This is a picture of Simon´s son Ben. I haven´t been able to track him down either but he´s definitely involved in all of this. Do you know if he was in the truck when it hit Ez?”

Vin took the photo and gasped. “I don´t know but I can tell you where I definitely did see him. There was a maintenance man in the hallway outside the office two days ago when Ez found out about Simon´s true identity. I nearly ran into him. It was him Buck, I swear it.”

“Did he hear what you were talking about?”

“Must have. Ezra weren´t being too quiet about it all.”

“Shit. He musta stolen the files from Ezra´s desk when you left that day then. We ain´t got no proof of his fraud at Maude´s business although the fact that he´s disappeared, coupled with what Simon´s done is proof enough for me. I tried accessing their bank accounts but there sure ain´t the amount of money in them that Maude says is missing. Can´t trace their overseas accounts for love nor money either.”

“Wait a minute. Ez told me he´d made another copy of everything in case things went bad. He didn´t tell me where he put them though,” Vin suddenly said.

“Good ol´ Ez. He´s way too sneaky, ain´t he? Let´s just hope he put them somewhere safe,” Buck said as he looked at the injured man anxiously.

+ + + + + + +

Chris and JD finally found the truck they were looking for after a few false starts. Although the license plate had been removed they were positive it was the correct vehicle. The hood was badly dented and there were tiny traces of blood on the top and the back too. There were two spotlights on the top of the truck and the blond wondered whether they had caused the damage to Ezra´s arm. Chris cursed in disgust as he imagined what had happened to his agent. JD, meanwhile, called in forensics and the vehicle was checked thoroughly for clues. It appeared that the truck had been wiped clean of prints but the job hadn´t been done quite well enough. Forensics found one usable fingerprint and JD went back to their office to start running the print through the database to find a match.

It was now nearly dawn so Chris diverted to the hospital to take over from Buck. He wandered up to Ezra´s room and wondered how the man was as he walked along the hallway.

“Hey, Buck. How is he?” the blond asked softly as he ambled into the room and flicked a quick look at the sleeping injured man.

“Been asleep the whole time. He woke for a minute while Josiah was here though. They seem to think they might remove him from the ventilator soon which is good news. How did you get on with the truck?” the ladies´ man asked equally quietly.

“JD´s just checking a fingerprint to be sure but there´s no doubt in my mind that it´s the right one. You could see where it hit Ez ‘cause there was almost an imprint of his body on the hood.”

As the men continued exchanging information Ezra stirred and opened his eyes. Chris moved so he was beside the man and he smiled when Ezra focussed his eyes on him. “Ezra? Good to see ya, buddy. Do ya feel okay?”

The undercover agent shook his head but then smiled as he saw Vin standing next to Chris. “I owe ya one, Ezra,” the sharpshooter said gratefully as he took his friend´s hand in his just as the man fell asleep again.

+ + + + + + +

Nathan and Josiah turned up to relieve the two men at noon and Chris then drove Vin back to the office. They hurried up to see Buck and found him still searching the computer feverishly.

“Have you had any rest, Buck? You look like you need matches to keep yer eyes open,” Chris commented as he studied his friend anxiously.

“I´ll catch up on some when I go to the hospital later this afternoon. What I´m doing now is more important than sleeping,” the ladies´ man said as he stifled a yawn.

“Found out anything new?” Vin asked.

“No. Hit a brick wall. Think I´ve learnt everything there is to know, which ain´t much, but I´ll keep at it. How was Ez?”

“In a lot of pain and he´s still not totally conscious. He´s waking more often but he´s really not aware of what´s going on all the time. Sometimes he seems really lucid and then the next time he wakes he´s out of it again. We´ll just have to see how it goes.” Chris sighed and then asked, “Are you staying here then?”

Buck nodded his head and said, “Yeah. I´ll keep digging about Simon and Ben but as I said I´m fast running out of options. I´ll see you at the hospital tomorrow or ring if I do find something important.”

“Get some rest like you promised,” the blond ordered. “I need you alert and not joining Ezra in the hospital ‘cause yer exhausted.”

Buck smiled and saluted as Vin and Chris left to catch up on some sleep of their own. Before they could leave the building though, a traffic cop intercepted them.

“Are you the guys whose friend was involved in the hit and run felony?”

“Yeah. You got something?” Vin asked eagerly.

“Think so. I just saw the truck in the pound and recognized it immediately ‘cause I gave it a ticket last week.”

“Where and why?” Chris asked, his interest piqued.

“It was parked outside a house in town. I got the address somewhere.” The man patted his pockets and found a slip of paper with the details noted on it. He handed it to Chris. “There ya go. It was late at night when I caught him. Most of the lights on the vehicle weren´t working and he was parked in a no parking zone.”

“Did he say why he was there?” Vin inquired.

“Said he lived there and had just unloaded some heavy boxes. Saw some piled near the house but I gave him the ticket anyway and got him to move the truck. He swore and was a bit aggressive which is why I remembered the truck.”

“Thanks for telling us. This is great. Gives us somewhere to start anyway.” Chris patted the man´s shoulder and smiled broadly.

“Let´s go and check it out now,” Vin said.

“Okay.” The two men left the office and drove to the address they´d been given.

Chris walked up to the front door and knocked loudly while Vin peered through the window and saw the room was empty of furniture. Chris received no answer to his knock and he went to join Vin as he checked round the outside of the property.

“Looks deserted to me, Chris. He´s long gone which isn´t really surprising, all things considered. He musta got scared.”

“Dammit. Let´s ask the neighbors and see if anyone´s seen him.”

The two men visited every house in the street and Vin came up trumps. One neighbor had seen Simon that morning in a new truck. The sharpshooter got as much detail about it as he could, which wasn´t much, and radioed the information through to get an APB put out on the vehicle. He hurried to meet up with Chris and told him what he´d learned.

“Great. Let´s get back to the office and do some more checking.”

“Can we divert to my apartment and pick up some clothes? I need a change of socks and seeing as I´ve gotta stay with you until this is over I need a few other things too.”

Chris smiled and he drove to Vin´s apartment block and waited downstairs while his friend collected what he wanted. Vin hurried upstairs and unlocked his apartment door and gasped at the sight that greeted him. The place was trashed and he walked into each room to find the same trail of devastation. He ran back down to Chris and climbed into the front seat.

“Get round to Ezra´s,” he ordered breathlessly.

“What? Why?”

“My apartment´s been searched and trashed. Bet they´re looking for the spare set of files that Ezra had.”

“Shit. Shoulda thought of that before but we didn´t know where to start looking.” Chris drove as fast as he could and pulled up outside Ezra´s house noisily.

The two men hurried up the path and Chris used the spare key he had to get in. They entered and saw that Ezra´s house was indeed in the same state as Vin´s apartment. Vin turned to head back out to the Ram and saw a man running away down the road.

“Chris? It´s Ben.” The sharpshooter took off after the man on foot while Chris got in the Ram and drove after the pair of running men.

Vin was gaining with every stride and finally threw himself at his quarry and caught the man round the knees. They fell to the ground heavily and Vin kept a good hold on his prisoner. Chris came to a screeching halt beside the two struggling men and added his weight to the battle. They got Ben pinned to the ground and then Chris pulled the man upright and slammed him down on the Ram´s hood, face first.

“You´re under arrest, you fucking bastard. Where´s yer father?” Chris asked angrily as he secured the man´s hands behind his back.

“What the hell you talking about? I ain´t done nothing,” the young man replied as he tried to sound innocent.

“We know who you are Ben so don´t act like you don´t know what I´m talking about. Do you wanna take the rap for attempted murder? If ya don´t, you´d better tell us where Simon is.” Chris pulled the man upright again before turning him round and throwing him back against the side of the Ram. “You tell me what I want to know pronto or you´ll likely regret it.”

“He went to Tanner´s apartment to look for the files,” the man gasped out.

“Where was he gonna meet ya after that?” Chris asked as he increased the pressure on the man´s throat.

“He didn´t say. He was gonna phone me to give me new instructions if he couldn´t find them there.”

Vin pulled out his phone and tried to call Buck at the hospital to see if Ezra was awake but neither he nor JD could be found.

“We´ll go ourselves,” the blond said irritably. “I need to know where those files are as soon as possible. I want them so we all know where they are.” Chris held Ben while Vin called Josiah to come and collect him for questioning. When they´d offloaded their prisoner the two men set off for the hospital and hurried up to Ezra´s room to discover that he was indeed awake but alone.

“Where the hell´s Bucklin gone?” Chris asked angrily.

“The doctors asked him to leave while they checked me over. I think he went to the john and JD went home to catch up on some sleep,” Ezra replied.

Chris looked at the man and didn´t want to upset him by telling him about the state of his house at the moment. He smiled instead and took a seat by the bed but scowled when Vin interrupted him before he could ask the all-important question. When the blond looked back at the whole affair later though he would be eternally grateful for that interruption.

“Yer looking better, Ez. Thanks again for pushing me outta the way,” Vin said from the doorway where he leant against the doorframe.

“Think nothing of it. You didn´t hurt yourself too much?”

“No. A few bruises but that´s all. It was the sight of your arm that gave me the heebie- jeebies. How´s it feel?”



“Just feels surplus to requirements at the moment. Feels like I´ve got a log strapped to my chest. It´s sort of in a state of limbo. It´s there but it isn´t. Oh dear, that was an unfortunate turn of phrase wasn´t it? Limb….limbo… Do you get my meaning?”

Vin laughed. It was good to see Ezra in good spirits. “I get the picture, Ez but I sure don´t know how you can joke about it.”

“It´s much better in the long run than being miserable. I´ve been down that road once too often in the past and I swore that I would not to let things get to me again in that way. I think you´ll agree that looking on the bright side of life is certainly better than getting slapped on the side of the head.”

“That´s true,” Vin agreed thoughtfully.

Ezra laughed softly so as not to hurt his chest, “Shall we test my theory out?”

“Na. Maybe not. I don´t wanna have to hit an injured man,” Vin laughed.

Vin suddenly felt himself shoved in the middle of the back and he stumbled forwards. Chris rose hurriedly as Vin caught his balance and turned to face his attacker. Simon entered the room quickly and put a chair under the door handle after he´d closed it so no one else could get in. He kept the two agents covered with his gun and then walked round the room and closed all the blinds. He moved to the side of the bed when he´d finished and put a silencer on the gun and held it to Ezra´s head. The undercover agent stayed completely still and silent as he felt the gun butt against his temple.

“Just hold on, Simon. There´s no need for more hurting,” Vin said as he held out his hands in front of him.

“There won´t be if you do as yer told. Well, this is all very nice, isn´t it? Family and friends reunited. Hello, son,” he said to Ezra. Simon laughed as he saw the hurt look on the undercover agent´s face.

“We know everything, Simon. I´ve got the files in my possession if that´s what yer after. Ezra don´t know where they are now,” Chris bluffed, knowing why the man was really here. The blond made moves toward the man but Simon saw him and turned the gun toward him instead.

“I wouldn´t if I were you,” Simon said as he waved the gun threateningly. “Don´t make me kill you.”

“Why pose as my father?” Ezra interrupted from the bed.

“It seemed the best way to get close to you. I needed to get the files back without you knowing who´d done it and I didn´t think you would have suspected me. I had to steal the files before you had a chance to look at them properly. We got the ones from the office but then Ben overheard you tell Vin about the spare set you´d made so I knew we had to kill the two of you before you could tell anyone else of its existence.”

“You failed miserably,” Ezra said in a defiant tone.

Chris interrupted and said. “You miscalculated big time if you think we´re just gonna hand over the files without a fight. There are seven men who know about them now. Are you gonna kill us all?”

“No but I´d think carefully before you get too cocky, Larabee. I´ll take you as my hostage so I get what I want and I think you can say I have the upper hand at the moment.” To prove his point he turned the gun nonchalantly on Vin and shot him. Simon turned straight back to Chris as if he´d done nothing more than flick a bit of dirt off his sleeve.

The sharpshooter collapsed on the floor at Chris´s feet as he clutched his side. The blond flicked a quick look at Vin and the two men´s eyes met briefly.

“You don´t think you´re just gonna walk out of here unchallenged, do ya?” Chris asked as he turned his attention back to the aggressor.

“I got in without any bother, didn´t I? I´ve just gotta conclude business here without any more interruptions and I´ll be gone. With you as my security of course.”

“You´re guilty of attempted murder, you bastard, and I ain´t gonna let you get away with it,” Chris snarled. The blond could tell that Simon had lost all sense of reality. He wasn´t being logical in his actions at all and his thoughts were confirmed by the man´s next statement.

“You´ve got no evidence that I was driving the truck at the time of the accident. Once I have the files in my possession you won´t have any evidence about Ben and the supposed fraud either. We´re free and clear,” Simon said defiantly.

“You´re digging yerself into a deeper hole every time you open yer mouth, Simon. You´re forgetting that you shot Vin right in front of me. That was attempted murder too and sorry to disappoint you even further, but Ben´s already been caught and is currently spilling his guts to one of my agents. You´ll be behind bars before nightfall.”

Simon looked furious and moved toward the blond threateningly.

Buck, meanwhile, returned from the john and saw the closed blinds and door and he frowned worriedly. He hoped it didn´t mean bad news about Ezra. He saw one of the doctors who had asked him to leave earlier and he stopped the man anxiously.

“Have you finished? Is everything okay with Ez only the doors and blinds are closed. He´s not on his own, is he? I specifically asked you not to leave him alone.”

“Don´t worry, he was fine and he´s not alone. I saw two of your friends go in just after we left and they were joined by someone I hadn´t seen before.”

“Is this him?” Buck showed him the photo of Ben.

“No, but there is a slight resemblance.”

“Okay thanks, doc. Could you clear the hallway? There might be trouble brewing.”

The doctor studied the tall man suspiciously but he did as he was told. The ladies´ man flattened himself against the wall outside Ezra´s room and peeked through a gap in the blinds. He frowned anxiously when he spotted Simon and saw the gun in the man´s hand. What the hell is going on in there? Buck continued watching and could see Simon move to stand near the door. The tall agent looked around him and saw a chair in the hallway nearby. He picked it up and walked back to the door quietly. He checked his target was still in the same position and then threw the chair through a window to the right of Simon.

Inside the room, the occupants jumped as there was a shattering of glass and Chris ducked instinctively as he heard another shot fired. He looked up and saw what had happened. The window to the right of the door had been smashed and a chair was now tangled in the blind that had fallen to the floor. Simon had turned toward the sound so Chris took advantage and kicked out at the gun. He managed to knock it from the man´s hand and he grabbed it off the floor before Simon could react. He then sent a punch to the man´s face and knocked him backward. Buck acted quickly and reached in through the smashed window and grabbed the man so he couldn´t retaliate.

Chris handcuffed the man and then led him to the door roughly. He pulled the chair away from the handle and let Buck in. He passed the prisoner to the ladies´ man to take care of and then knelt down quickly next to Vin to see how badly hurt he was. He peeled the man´s hand away from his side and saw the wound. It was still bleeding profusely and the sharpshooter groaned in pain at the movement. Vin clamped his hand back over it and Chris rose as a doctor arrived to deal with the new injury. Buck, meanwhile, manhandled Simon outside to be dealt with.

The doctor began treating Vin´s injuries and said. “Bullet went straight through but we need to stop the bleeding.” He called for a gurney and the sharpshooter was lifted onto it carefully and then whisked away for surgery.

“Are you okay?” Chris asked Ezra anxiously as he turned to look at the bedridden man.

“Yes. I´ll be alright. You´d better go and wait for news of Vin.”

“I can do that here as well as anywhere else and I don´t want to leave you on your own,” Chris said as he took as seat by his friend´s bed to wait for news of his other agent.

Ezra raised his hand and rubbed his eyes as he sighed deeply.

“Are you sure you´re okay?” the blond asked anxiously as he studied his friend and thought he looked a bit pale and shocked.

“Yes. Only frayed my already shattered nerves a bit more.”

Chris patted his arm and smiled as he turned round when Josiah and Nathan hurried into the room. Buck had called them to say what had happened and the two men had rushed to the hospital to see if they could help. The two new arrivals found some chairs and settled in to wait for news of Vin.

The doctor arrived back after a few hours and informed them that the sharpshooter was going to be fine. Chris disappeared to see him while Josiah and Nathan stayed to keep an eye on Ezra who had fallen asleep once more.

The blond entered Vin´s room. “Hey, cowboy. Just can´t stand Ezra having all the attention, is that it?”

“I´d´ve had all the attention rather than Ezra suffer what he has,” Vin replied quietly. “He´s alright is he?”

“Yeah. No worse off than he was before thankfully although he looked a bit pale.”

“Least we´re all still alive to tell the tale. Thank God Buck came back when he did,” Vin said with a sigh.

“Yeah. His timings getting as good as yours,” Chris said with a grin.

+ + + + + + +

Chris wandered back to see Ezra. He took a seat by the bed again and looked at his friend seriously. “It´s a good job I didn´t ask this question earlier when we first arrived or else Simon would have found out what he needed to know without even entering the room. What did you do with the spare files you had, Ezra? The set you had at the office has gone and Vin seemed to think you´d made copies.”

“Yes, I did. I put them in Monroe´s basket at home.”

“Was that wise?” the blond asked with a smile.

“Monroe doesn´t let anyone near his bed other than me. He´s very possessive in that respect.”

“You don´t leave him in the house on his own though. He wasn´t here when we visited earlier and I didn´t see the basket either,” Chris said anxiously.

“No, he stays with my neighbor when I´m not there so his basket is with her at the moment and the files were definitely still in it last time I checked. JD told her I wouldn´t be around to look after Monroe for a while and she kindly agreed that the dog could stay with her until I was released. He´ll probably come back weighing substantially more than when I last saw him because she spoils him rotten.”

“Josiah? Can you go and pick the files up?” Chris asked with a smile on his lips.

“Monroe don´t like me, Chris. Remember the trouble I encountered last time I had to deal with him? I think Nate ought to go instead,” the profiler suggested sheepishly.

“Coward,” the medic said as he laughed and rose to carry out Chris´s order.

“Is Mr. Tanner well?” Ezra asked as Chris turned back toward him again.

“Yeah, he´ll be okay. Just in a bit of pain.”

“I should have given Simon short shift when I first met him.” Ezra smiled at Chris, “I should have been more pertinent and followed my head instead of my heart. I won´t make the same mistake again.”

“How do you feel anyway?”

“About the whole parent thing, you mean? Well, I admit I am upset at being played for a fool because I really ought to have known better. I was a trifle disappointed that he wasn´t my father but now I think about it, I´m glad there´s just Maude and me again. It´s rather a relief and I´ve come to the conclusion that I don´t want a father anyway. Having a mother like mine is more than enough for any son to handle. I hope she just picks her lovers with more care in the future.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Chris said as he patted Ezra´s arm. “Perhaps she´ll be celibate from now on.”

“I hardly think so, Mr. Larabee. That would be like trying to keep a fish out of water,” Ezra replied with a broad grin.

The End

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