by Hombre

Notes: Boys not mine dammit but at least I can play with them once in a while. They may not be returned to cyberspace in the pristine condition that they started in but that's life! Paul Simmons is a character from a few of my fics, just in case you wonder who he is when he is mentioned. All the boys are in this at some point, mostly from about quarter way through, and one person, in particular, encounters a bit of trouble with our favorite undercover agent. My stories tend to be quite formulaic with happy endings but that is about to change! No don't panic, I'm not killing anyone off. If you enjoy this I would love to hear from you. I'm feeling a tad lonesome.

"Larabee," Chris said automatically when he answered the phone on his desk as he carried on working. He'd answered it so many times in the past that his hand now knew exactly where to reach without him even having to look up.

"This is Mercy Hospital," a young woman's voice announced in his ear.

Jeez. What now? Chris asked himself as he put down his pen with a sigh and rubbed his eyes with a thumb and forefinger. He'd hoped for an interruption-free day but it looked as though he wasn't going to get his wish. The blond raised his head and looked at the outer office's occupants and realized that the call could be about any one of four men. Buck and Nathan were already sat at their desks working hard so which one of the others was injured this time?

"Do you know a Mr. Ezra Standish?" the woman asked, interrupting his musings.

"Yes I do. What's happened?" Chris supposed it was about Ezra's turn to be hurt or sick next. He'd managed to steer clear of trouble recently while everyone else had been affected, sometimes more than once, by an illness or injury.

"He's been in a car wreck. He asked me to let you know," the prim voice continued.

"Is he alright?" Stupid question, Larabee. He wouldn't be in the hospital if he was alright but he must at least be conscious to have asked her to call, he reasoned.

"He's still being treated. I'm sorry I don't have any news about his condition."

"Okay, I'll come now and find out how he is for myself. Thanks for letting me know." He wiped a hand over his face after disconnecting and then stood up slowly and wandered out into the other office. "Buck? Ez has been in an MVA. I'm gonna go to the hospital to see what's what. Can you hold the fort while I'm gone?"

"Sure. How is he?"

"Don't know, Bucklin," the blond admitted with a slight shrug before turning his attention to Nathan. "Can you come with me, Nate?"

"Yeah, of course."

The two men hurried off and went straight to the Emergency Room on arrival. They were told to sit and wait while a member of the medical staff who was treating Ezra was found. After half an hour a nurse appeared and escorted them to Ezra's room but didn't really give them much information about his condition.

"Hey Ez. Are you okay? What happened?" Chris asked as he looked at his agent seriously. The man had a deep cut to his head but otherwise looked in one piece except his skin looked slightly flushed. The blond narrowed his eyes but couldn't make out the expression on his friend's face.

"I don't know. I didn't see who hit me from first to last because it was all so sudden. One minute I was driving on a virtually clear road...... and the next I woke up here." Ezra stopped to get his breath back. "I don't understand...don't understand," he continued haltingly as he got a lump in his throat.

Ever since Ezra had been given an injection earlier he'd felt unwell. Okay not particularly sick but not totally well either. He couldn't quite explain how he was feeling but he knew he didn't like the sensation one bit. It was more his mental health that was affected rather than his physical self. He was unsettled and panicky but that didn't really cover the symptoms at all. In danger, that's how I feel, but why? I'm safe in the hospital, aren't I? Why should I feel threatened? Ezra started fidgeting and almost gasped with each breath he inhaled as he questioned his condition. He felt as if he was rapidly losing control for no reason.

Chris reached out and took one of Ezra's hands in his when he saw he was getting upset. "It's alright, Ez. Yer still in one piece so don't fret."

"How bad was yer car damaged?" Nathan asked.

"Ruined so they say." Ezra's face crumpled as he suddenly sobbed. It was more in reaction to how he was feeling rather than knowing the extent of the damage to his beloved car though. He just hadn't been able to stop himself crying and he felt embarrassed at his lack of control.

Chris patted his hand and tried to comfort him but the agent wouldn't settle down and got increasingly upset. Nathan eventually ducked out of the room and saw the nurse that they had spoken with earlier. She checked Ezra quickly and then went to find a doctor when she had no success in calming him either.

Chris sat on the bed and put an arm round the undercover agent's shoulders. "Hey, hey, come on, Ez," the blond said with a worried frown. "There's nothing to worry about. Do you feel alright?"

"Can't explain it," Ezra mumbled through the tears. "I don't know."

A young doctor arrived and gave Ezra a quick examination after Chris had moved aside. "Mr. Standish, I'm going to give you a sedative, alright? I just need to calm you down. I think I'll keep you in overnight but you've got no permanent injury so there's nothing to worry about. You're just suffering from shock. I will be here until you're released so I'll keep an eye on you." As he talked he stuck another syringe in Ezra's arm and emptied the contents.

When he'd gone, Chris sat on the bed again and drew the injured man gently toward him. Ezra slowly got quieter and calmer and eventually fell asleep against the blond's shoulder. Chris sat with him for an hour and then asked Nathan if he could stay with Ezra so Chris could collect some supplies for the undercover agent ready for his release in the morning. The blond arranged that he would then come back after work to relieve the medic so he could stay the night with his friend.

Chris went back to the office after collecting some clothes from Ezra's house and as soon as he set foot in the room, he found himself surrounded by four impatient men all firing questions at him. He stood still and waited for them to stop talking of their own accord before he said, "He's being kept in overnight but other than a cut on his head he's alright. He's pretty upset because of the shock and I'm going back to stay the night. I just came back to finish up here and tell you how he is. Nate's gonna sit with him until I get back 'cause we didn't feel we wanted to leave him on his own at the moment."

"What happened to him?" Buck asked with a concerned frown.

"He doesn't know. He says he didn't even see who hit him." Chris sighed and then said thoughtfully, "Perhaps you could try and find that out, JD. Find out who dealt with the accident and see what the other driver had to say."

"Sure, I can do that." The youngster went to follow his boss's orders while Chris wandered into his own office to try and finish the seemingly ever-growing pile of work on his desk.

He looked up when JD knocked on his door a short while later and he beckoned the kid in. "Chris? The other driver didn't stop apparently. The police have got several descriptions of the vehicle and they're working through those at the moment. They've only got a partial car tag to go on though so don't hold yer breath. They also said they ain't giving the case priority 'cause no one was killed or badly hurt."

"Shit. Thanks, kid. Keep in contact with them anyway, will ya? Let me know if they find out who it was," Chris instructed. "I'll be at the hospital tonight remember if they get a breakthrough."

"Okay. If not, I'll see ya tomorrow and update you then."

Chris looked at his watch and decided he'd done enough work. Not that he'd actually done much because he was finding it hard to concentrate anyway. He stood and picked up the bag containing Ezra's clothes and set off back to the hospital to relieve Nathan. He wandered along to the injured man's room and saw the medic reading a magazine and Ezra still fast asleep. "Hey Nate. Everything alright?" he whispered.

"Yeah. He's been asleep the whole time although he's been muttering and seems very unsettled."

"Okay, I'll take over. Thanks for staying and I'll see you in the morning at work." Chris sat down after Nathan had gone and pulled out the newspaper he'd brought with him.

As for Ezra, he was experiencing very unpleasant dreams. In them, he was being chased and no matter how fast he ran he didn't seem to be making any progress. Every road he turned into either became a dead- end or came to an abrupt halt hanging over a chasm. He'd then suddenly find himself back at the beginning of the dream again. So he'd change tactic and hide behind cars to try and shake off his pursuers but the vehicles suddenly disappeared leaving him exposed. He seemed to be able to control his dreams partly but just when he thought he was safe something happened to put him in danger again. He had a feeling of total panic and impending doom and after a particularly frightening episode he woke with a cry and sat bolt upright in bed.

Chris hastily got to his feet and put a hand on each of his friend's shoulders to stop the man rising out of bed. "It's alright, Ez. Just a bad dream. You're perfectly safe," the blond assured him softly.

Ezra gasped and looked around worriedly before finally settling his gaze back on Chris. He wiped a hand across his sweaty brow and sighed loudly as his pounding heart slowly settled. He put a hand to his chest and breathed deeply as he tried to relax. "I'm sorry."

"You feel okay?" Chris inquired as he continued studying his friend while rubbing his arm comfortingly.

"Yes fine. Can't remember what I was dreaming about now but it must have been rather an eventful one."

"Well, lay down and catch up on some more sleep if you can. Still a few hours to go before you're released. I'm here so nothin' bad will happen to you, okay?"

The undercover agent lay back on the pillows and closed his eyes but he didn't really feel like sleeping again because he felt too uptight. Ezra heard Chris rustling the newspaper so he feigned sleep until he felt his shoulder being shaken and his name being called. He opened his eyes and saw Chris leaning over him with a welcoming smile.

"You can go once the doctor has checked you over, Ez," the blond informed him.

The doctor appeared almost straight away and studied the dark- haired man carefully as he asked a few questions. He then turned to the blond and asked, "I assume there weren't any problems as you didn't call me and he seemed fine when I checked during the night. Did he sleep straight through?"

"No. He had a bad dream and he was tossing and turning most of the night," the blond confessed.

"I'll just give him a small dose of sedative and if you can make sure he goes to bed again when he gets home. He's still a bit shocked and he needs rest but he's alright to be released." The doctor turned back to Ezra and injected him once more.

After Ezra'd got dressed the blond took him out to the Ram and put him in the front seat and belted him in. Chris climbed in and started the motor as he said, "I'll take you out to the ranch and stay with you today."

Ezra disagreed immediately, "No, I want to go home. I'm alright, just feel a bit drunk. I'll go to bed like he said and I would really rather be on my own."

Chris tried to persuade him otherwise but the undercover agent insisted he wanted to be alone and got quite angry when Chris disagreed. The blond reluctantly dropped the man off and waited until he had disappeared inside the house safely. Chris didn't like leaving him on his own but he also didn't want to upset the man unnecessarily by disobeying his wishes. The blond sighed resignedly and set off to work.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra stood just inside the door after entering his home and leant back against it with a sigh. He still felt peculiar so decided to go straight to bed as ordered in the hope of sleeping it off.

When he woke again it was dark. How long have I been asleep? He switched on the bedside light and looked at his watch and saw it was midnight exactly. He turned out the light again and stared at the shadows dancing on the wall in the faint glow from the streetlamp. As he looked, the flickering images changed and turned into recognizable shapes. He frowned as a man's outline appeared and it looked as if it was staring straight at him. The shadow seemed to actually step off the wall into the room and it appeared three-dimensional and very real. The undercover agent continued staring at it worriedly and the shape's arm suddenly moved and pointed a finger toward him. Ezra pulled the sheet up further toward his face and felt his heart pounding in alarm. The shadow then changed shape to become a gun and the agent flinched as he thought he heard a shot. He gasped and came out in a cold sweat as he wiped a shaking hand over his face. Am I dreaming? What the hell did I eat to caus!  e these visions?

When he looked back at the wall again, the only shadows there were the ones he expected to see. The outlines of the trees that grew in his front yard swayed back and forth across the expanse and he sighed. Overactive imagination after the accident, I expect that's what it is.

He finally managed to get to sleep again but woke the next morning not in the least bit refreshed. He got up and went to get a drink of water from the bathroom after getting dressed. He put his hand on the faucet and frowned as he heard a voice in his head. No. Don't drink the water, it's poisoned. Bottled water only. Do you understand? He stood still, not quite understanding what was going on. He turned the faucet on and the voice yelled, Listen to me! Don't drink the water. It will kill you. Ezra removed his hand from the faucet after turning the flow off and decided to obey the unconscious instruction. He went to the kitchen and automatically opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of spring water. He didn't remember buying it but he must have done seeing as it was there. He shrugged and took a sip anyway before making breakfast. While he was cleaning up after his meal he heard a knock at the door and opened it to find Josiah on the doorstep.

"Hello, Ezra. How do you feel? Did ya sleep okay?" the big man asked as he looked at his friend seriously. The undercover agent's eyes were puffy and he looked a bit uneasy and upset.

Don't trust him. You can't trust him. Ezra shook his head as the voice spoke in his head again. He stared at Josiah and frowned in confusion. He's going to kill you. He's not your friend. Ezra poked his ears and took a deep breath. Where is the voice coming from? he wondered as he looked around curiously.

"Ezra? Are you alright?" Josiah asked insistently as he continued watching his friend.


Josiah frowned at the dual answer so he tried again to get a proper response to his question. "Are you coming to work? I thought I'd give you a lift, if you are, seeing as you haven't got a car. Are you up to coming in or are you taking another day off to get over things?"

"I think I'll stay home today, thank you all the same, Mr. Sanchez." Ezra stood stock-still and watched Josiah warily as the voice in his head continued talking in the background.

The profiler was a bit unsettled by the intense scrutiny he was receiving. He thought Ezra looked distracted and a bit flushed but he assumed the man was just anxious after his unexplained accident.

The voice in Ezra's head grew loud again. Don't trust any of them but don't let them know that you know they want to kill you. Ezra looked around as if he expected to see someone standing nearby talking to him. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head in an attempt to get rid of the voice but it continued talking nonstop.

The profiler decided to keep in contact with Ezra throughout the day to see how he was getting on because Josiah was slightly worried at the man's behavior. "I'll stop by tonight to see how you are then, okay? Or do you want me to stay with you now?" Josiah suggested in the hope of getting a positive response.

"No, I'll be alright on my own. I'm just tired and a bit nauseous so I think I'll go back to bed," Ezra said in an effort to get rid of the big man.

"I'll phone at lunchtime to see how you're getting on then but call me if you want some company or you don't feel well."

Ezra nodded and closed the door quickly leaving Josiah stranded on the doorstep. Josiah stood and frowned for a minute before wandering back to his truck. He thought the undercover agent must be feeling poorly if he didn't even invite him in for a minute. Ezra usually asked visitors in even if he was sick because he enjoyed the sympathy and the company that they provided. He very rarely spent any time alone because he was so gregarious. The profiler climbed in his truck, started the motor and drove to work but he wasn't a happy man.

Ezra, meanwhile, headed back to bed because he really did still feel dizzy and sick. What worried him most of all, however, was the voice he kept hearing in his head. That combined with the visions he had seen during the night made his stomach churn. It worried him to feel unwell but he didn't want to confide in anyone about it. He didn't want to give his friends cause to lavish him with even more attention by telling them about his experiences and he was beginning to realize he didn't trust them. Why that should be though, he didn't know. He sighed and hoped that he would feel better after a good sleep. The undercover agent climbed into bed after getting undressed and drinking nearly a bottle of his water. He lay and listened to the sounds out in the street and eventually drifted off to sleep.

The troubled agent had another bad dream almost straight away. In it, he was walking along a cliff top with Vin as the two men talked companionably. Suddenly Vin held out both hands and pushed Ezra toward the ledge. Ezra couldn't catch his balance and he felt himself stepping off the edge and falling a long way to hit the rocks at the bottom hard. The undercover agent's body actually jerked violently in the bed as he imagined himself hitting the ground. He woke with a start to find his heart pounding and his legs twitching. He sat up with a cry and put a hand to his mouth as he shook uncontrollably and came out in a cold sweat. The sensation of falling and the actual impact had been so vivid that he could hardly believe he was sat safely in a soft bed.

He jumped as his phone started ringing seemingly twice as loud as normal. He looked at it worriedly but eventually reached out a hand and picked it up.

"They're trying to kill you," the male voice on the other end said before he could speak.

"Kill me? Who?" Ezra asked in confusion as he clutched the phone tightly in his fist and darted his eyes around the room.

"Look out the window and find out. Do you see him?"

Ezra crawled out of bed and pulled back the drapes. He studied the street carefully and saw several people. "Who do you mean? Which one?"

"In the car."

Ezra moved his eyes to the only car that was parked nearby and he saw, with horror, that the occupant closely resembled Chris. He squinted and stared at the driver nervously. As he watched, the man inside met his eyes before driving away at speed. Was it Chris? Can't be though 'cause he doesn't drive a red Cadillac, Ezra thought as he shook his head.

"Did you see him?" the voice asked insistently in his ear.


"Does he look familiar?"

"He looks like Chris," Ezra said out loud as he continued staring at the place where the car had been parked.

"So now you know. He can't be trusted. None of your friends can."

"It can't have been Chris. I don't understand," Ezra babbled as the line went dead.

Ezra put down the phone and looked out the window again to see the red car drive by once more. The blond driver looked directly at him before disappearing into the distance. Ezra sat down as his heart began pounding again and he shivered in fear. He picked up his bottle of water from the nightstand and took a couple of quick sips to try and calm his nerves. Was it Chris? he asked himself again.

He lay back in bed but couldn't settle so he got up and dressed quickly before going downstairs. As he reached the bottom of the stairs he had a feeling that he either wasn't alone or was being watched. His skin erupted in goose bumps and he hurried into the living room for sanctuary.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah, meanwhile, had arrived at work and he went through to see Chris. He knocked on the blond's office door and walked inside when Chris beckoned him in. "Chris? Ezra won't be in today. I went to see how he was but he thought he'd take another day to recover properly."

"Fine. He seemed alright though, did he?" Chris asked as he flicked a quick look at the tall man, his mind elsewhere.

Josiah hesitated. Should I say anything or am I just reading more into the situation than need be? He'd never been so unsure of himself.

"Josiah?" Chris queried when the man didn't answer.

The big man shrugged his shoulders and sighed. "I didn't see him for very long so I can't really say how he was. I said I'd phone at lunchtime and pop in to see him on the way home as well. I'm sure he'll be fine," the profiler replied before wandering back to his desk.

+ + + + + + +

It was nearly midday and Ezra was lying on the couch staring into space. His mind was in turmoil and he felt sick and on edge. He flinched as the phone by his side suddenly began ringing again for about the fiftieth time. He turned his eyes toward it and let it ring for quite some time before he eventually picked it up nervously.

"Yes?" he said tentatively.

"Hello Ezra. It's Josiah. Are you alright? You took a long time to answer."

"Yes, thank you. I'm still in bed," Ezra lied as he wiped his sweaty brow with a shaking hand.

"I didn't wake you, did I?" Josiah asked worriedly.

"No." Ezra's eyes flicked around the room as the voice in his head started talking again. He got up quickly and began pacing the room and as he passed the window he looked out and saw the familiar red car outside. "Go away! Leave me alone!" he pleaded as he jumped back out of view.

Josiah heard the unhappy voice on the other end of the line and his heart leapt in alarm. "Ezra? What's the matter?"

Ezra, in turn, heard the distant voice on his phone and put it back to his ear again after frowning in confusion. "What? Who is this?"

"It's Josiah, Ezra. Do you remember?"

Ezra put a hand to his head and shivered. What is the matter with me? he wondered as he rubbed his brow irritably. He sighed and said to the profiler, "Oh yes, of course it is. I'm sorry, you've just caught me at a bad time."

"Are you really alright? Do you want me to come?" Josiah asked anxiously.

" I just keep having bad dreams. I'm sorry, they just unsettle me and I can't concentrate on anything for quite some time afterwards. I'll be alright in a minute."

Josiah frowned and said, "I'll come in tonight after work then and see how you are, alright?"

"Yes, whatever," Ezra said as he put the phone down without even saying good-bye. He sat down in the nearest chair and put his head in his hands as he drew his legs up onto the seat behind him. He just didn't know what to do. He was feeling so many different things all at once he thought he was going mad. He felt anxious, nauseous, angry, frightened and dizzy.

Back in the office, Josiah put the phone down and stared into space. He transferred his gaze to Nathan and was on the verge of talking to the medic when Chris called the man away.

"Josiah? Are you alright, pard? You look a bit preoccupied," Buck commented from nearby.

"Yeah, I'm okay but I'm just a bit worried about Ezra. He seems to be having a hard time getting over the accident."

"What's up with him?" Buck asked as he stopped what he was doing so he could give his full attention to the profiler.

"Says he's having nightmares. He just seems very anxious but it's something more than that too. I can't put my finger on it or put it into words though."

"Well, he's bound to be upset about what happened, pard. That's perfectly natural and it only happened the day before yesterday remember. He wasn't hurt bad but he was shocked and lost his car don't forget. Sounds pretty normal behavior to me."

"I s'pose," Josiah said quietly. Maybe Buck was right. I'm just being oversensitive.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra was getting more uptight as the day passed. He couldn't settle to anything because he kept seeing strange visions. Sounds seemed extra loud and the colors of some objects kept changing as he stared at them. It was very disconcerting and he was never sure whether he'd been asleep and dreamt it all or whether what he was seeing was real. Things that had once seemed so safe now terrified him. His house had become both a refuge and a prison.

The day passed slowly for him and after a period of receiving nonstop, frightening phone calls and seeing weird things he felt he needed to get out. He picked up his keys and hurried to the door in a panic. He stepped out into the yard and took a deep calming breath before setting off away from the house. He had no plan about where he was going and he just walked where his feet took him.

He stared at the sidewalk as he walked and when he turned a sharp corner he bumped into someone. He looked up to apologize and gasped as he saw it was the blond who had been parked outside his house earlier. He really did look exactly like Chris. Ezra turned and ran for all he was worth continually looking back over his shoulder to make sure the man didn't follow. He somehow managed to find his way back home and he slammed the door shut behind him and stood leaning against it while he tried to catch his breath. He looked around the room as the walls suddenly seemed to be closing in on him and he tried to find some means of escape. He looked up and the ceiling appeared to be just inches from his head so he dropped to the floor with his arms held over his head as he screamed in terror. After lying quivering for well over a minute he finally opened his eyes and looked around him to find the room was back to normal. He stayed where he was, unable to understand what had just happ!  ened. Suddenly he got to his feet and ran to the kitchen where he threw up violently in the sink. He wiped his mouth and leant against the sink for support until he'd recovered his composure. He splashed his face with water and sat down as he began shaking once more. He really didn't know how much longer he could cope with his experiences.

He wandered upstairs after a while and along to his bedroom where he slumped on the bed with a sigh. He picked up the bottle of water he kept on the nightstand and finished the contents thirstily. He then found his gun and held it tightly in both hands as he lay down. Despite his panic he fell asleep quite quickly but slipped straight into another nightmare. In the dream he was being chased by his friends but he couldn't shake them off. He found a room where he thought he might be safe and he hurried inside and locked the door behind him. He heard the sound of fists being pounded on the door and Josiah's voice shouting loudly. Ezra woke with a start to find someone actually knocking hard on his own front door. Somehow his conscious and unconscious mind had merged to bring reality into his dreams.

Ezra stood up rapidly in fear and looked out the window cautiously and saw Josiah standing on the doorstep. He put his gun under his shirt in the small of his back and then took a quick sip from his water bottle. The undercover agent looked at his watch and then hurried to the door and opened it a crack and eyed Josiah warily.

"What do you want?" he blurted out as he stared at the big man.

"I said I'd come and see how you were, remember? Do you need anything?"

Ezra shut the door without answering and stood just inside as his eyes flicked round the interior of his house. What should I do? Do I let him in or not?

Josiah was taken aback when the door was just shut in his face. He thought Ezra had seemed very uptight and Josiah wondered what was wrong with him. It seemed the man was still acting in the same way as in the morning and that was totally out of character. Josiah knocked the door again and waited impatiently for the undercover agent to open it. "Ezra? Are you alright?" he called loudly when the door remained firmly shut.

Ezra heard the call and finally decided to ask Josiah in because it seemed the only way to get rid of him. He had a feeling the profiler might stay on the doorstep until he found out what was wrong if he didn't. As Ezra stood at the front door though the voice in his head began talking again. Be careful. Don't trust him. Take note of what I tell you or you may regret it. Ezra gasped and spun round in alarm. He put his hands over his ears and closed his eyes as the voice continued talking and he eventually shouted, "Just shut up. I'll do...... I'll do whatever you say."

He reopened his eyes after a minute had passed and opened the door to try and escape the mysterious voice once and for all. He ran straight into Josiah's chest and yelped as he looked up in alarm. He'd totally forgotten that the man was still there. Josiah put out a hand as he studied the frightened-looking man intently and the profiler could see that Ezra was very upset and worried. He'd heard the man shouting inside and wondered what had been going on.

"Ezra? What's the matter, son? I heard you shouting," Josiah said quietly as he watched Ezra minutely.

Ezra fixed him with a penetrating stare as if he was looking into his very soul. "It was nothing. Um.......Um...... Are you coming in? I was going to ask you in. Yes........ yes....come in," he stuttered.

"Sure thanks, Ez." The profiler walked inside and followed Ezra into the living room. He couldn't make out Ezra's behavior at all. The profiler shrugged as he sat down and hoped he would be able to find out a bit more now.

Ezra fidgeted and looked around him worriedly as he perched on the edge of a chair opposite Josiah. He kept glancing round the room worriedly but wouldn't look at Josiah at all.

"Are you okay, Ez?" the profiler asked eventually in the awkward silence that had descended.

"What? Yes, just thinking." Ezra's eyes darted about as if he was looking for something but when he saw Josiah was still watching him he settled his gaze on the floor.

"Are you coming to work tomorrow? The boys were all asking about you." Josiah narrowed his eyes as he studied his friend. Getting the man to talk was like trying to get blood from a stone, which was extremely unusual. Ezra quite often talked nonstop whether anyone was listening or not.

"Oh, yes. I'll come. I'm sorry.......I'm sorry. I can't think," Ezra stuttered once more.

"It's alright. You don't need to apologize. Do you want Nate to come and see you? He might be able to help," Josiah said as he stood and crouched down in front of the man. He put out a hand and gently placed it on Ezra's arm.

"No, I don't want him! I'm alright.........I'm perfectly alright," Ezra shouted and shook off Josiah's hand. He raised his own hand to his face where a look of panic was plain to see.

Josiah noticed his expression and asked, "Ez? You okay, son? Tell me what's troublin' you."

"Nothing. I told you I'm fine," Ezra replied quietly as he tried to get his pounding heart and rapid breathing to settle. The profiler's presence was stifling him and he suddenly felt the need of solitude.

Josiah stayed on the floor in front of the man but didn't attempt to touch him again. "If you don't want Nate to come, that's okay. It was only a thought. Have you had anything to eat today?" the profiler asked softly in an attempt to get the man talking about anything at all.

"Yes, thank you. Look, I really am rather tired. Would you mind leaving?" Ezra asked as he stood rapidly and hurried toward the door.

Josiah didn't particularly want to leave the man on his own but he couldn't exactly make Ezra let him stay. Maybe it was just a passing phase and Ezra had only been acting this way for one day after all. Well, in truth I've only really seen him for less than half an hour. Is that long enough to make a judgement about Ezra's wellbeing? Josiah wondered. The big man really didn't quite know what to do for the best but he decided he would definitely do something tomorrow if Ezra hadn't improved. "I'll come and pick you up in the morning for work but phone me if you aren't well enough, won't you?" Josiah said.

"Yes, thank you. Good-bye," Ezra said as he closed the door behind the profiler.

Once the reluctant Josiah had finally gone the phone began ringing constantly again. Ezra picked it up once but was met with silence at the other end. He could hear the person breathing but they didn't speak.

"Hello?" he said cautiously but only heard the continued breathing.

Suddenly the voice said, "I'm watching you. Just remember that. You're never totally on your own."

"Leave me alone, just leave me alone!" Ezra shouted as he threw the phone across the room and put his hands over his ears.

He sat in the living room all night, too scared to leave, with just a bottle of water and his gun for company. The strange calls he had been receiving combined with the way he felt and the voice he heard in his head made him feel very insecure. It all felt like a dream and he was beginning to realize that the fine line between reality and fantasy was becoming less defined. He sat on the chair sideways with one hand held to his head and the other balled in his lap clutching his gun. He looked as though he was trying to find refuge in the chair but at the same time he appeared highly uncomfortable. The phone rang repeatedly and when he did pluck up the courage to answer it he was either met with silence or the familiar voice warning him about this friends. His heart leapt every time he heard a strange noise and by the morning he was a nervous wreck.


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