The next morning, Ezra wasn't even sure what day it was as everything was
starting to blend together. He again found himself standing in the
center of Larabee's office. This was getting monotonous, he absently
thought. The Spanish inquisition then flashed in his mind. He
looked over his shoulder to see Vin and Buck standing in the doorway.
He knew something was up, it was like having spidey sense as the hairs on
the back of his neck started to prickle. Chris seemed even more intense
than usual, if that was possible.
Chris sat on the corner of his desk his arms crossed. He gazed sternly
at the weary and suspicious agent. He knew what he was about to say
would not be well received, but he wasn't sure how Ezra would react.
"I'm pulling you off this mission," he blurted out.
Ezra frowned and cocked his head slightly, not sure he understood
correctly. He gave a sardonic sideways glance at Vin and Buck,
feeling slightly betrayed. "And may I inquire as to the reason?"
He barely hid the anger, which laced his steady voice.
"You need to get your head on straight," Chris explained. "I think
you should take some of your vacation time, maybe go and talk..."
"You can't force me to take a vacation!" Ezra interrupted, his agitated
expression fled, replaced with a threatening glare that almost matched Chris's
infamous stare. Buck and Vin both thought the room had cooled several
degrees and stepped forward, not sure what to expect from their friend.
"No, but I can suspend you," Chris countered. He didn't know what was
wrong, but he was not about to allow Ezra to risk his life and the lives
"For what reason?" Ezra asked.
"I'll think of something," Chris coolly replied, he didn't like the way things
were going. Ezra looked ready to explode at any moment. It was
too bad that Chris didn't see that moment coming.
"Well, let me give you a reason, Mr. Larabee," Ezra snarled.
Chris never saw it coming and was totally surprised when he found himself
sitting on the floor rubbing his jaw. Vin grabbed the enraged undercover,
forcing his arms behind his back as Buck stepped in front of Chris, knowing
how volatile his old friend could be.
"Get him out of my sight!" Chris growled.
Vin began to drag the furious southerner toward the door. Ezra wrestled
free and strode out the door with Vin right on his heels. He was going
to provide interference for anyone who had the misfortune of falling into
the enraged agent's path.
Buck offered his hand to the blond leader. "You better pull him out
of that hole he's in, before I bury him in it," Chris said to Buck as he
pulled him to his feet.
Buck came out of Chris's office, closing the door after him. "Where
is he?" Buck asked Vin as he peered into Ezra's empty cubicle.
Vin nodded toward the stairs. "He grabbed his coat and took the stairs,
figured I'd let him cool down then go after him," he explained.
JD exited the elevator a perplexed look on his boyish face. "Hey, what's
up with Ezra? He didn't even say hi when I passed him in the Lobby."
"I'll go and talk with him," Buck answered, grabbing his coat and heading
toward the stairs. He had an idea where the troubled agent might be
Vin and JD regarded each other, feeling suddenly left out. Something
was going on with Ezra. They both were surprised by Buck's offer to
go and talk to the southerner. The two men were as different as night
and day, but for some reason Buck seemed to want to help.
Buck entered the small pub, which the guys had aptly named 'The Saloon'.
The small cozy bar had a western motif, and was run by a very beautiful,
dark-haired Senorita. It was Team 7's favorite Friday night hangout,
though Ezra had only recently started joining them on that weekly ritual.
The sound of the door banging closed brought up the dark eyes of Inez, who
was feigning wiping down the bar. If not for the present situation,
Buck would again be trying to woo the Mexican beauty with his myriad of
one-liners and animal magnetism. He shook himself, breaking his one-track
mind off the beautiful woman and focusing on the problem at hand, namely
straightening out Ezra before Chris killed him.
Inez had silently watched as Ezra came storming in. She had left the
front door unlocked after returning from depositing yesterday's receipts.
Ezra had then laid his credit card down and through gritted teeth asked for
a bottle of whiskey. Inez hesitated about giving him a whole bottle
in the middle of the afternoon, until she looked into his blazing green eyes
and relented. Ezra grabbed a glass and downed three shots quickly,
before finally taking a deep breath.
"Are you okay, Senor Standish?" Inez asked, reaching out and placing a delicate
hand over his. He pulled his hand unexpectedly away, then turned and
walked over to a corner table carrying the bottle with him. She hoped the
others were coming soon. Inez had never seen the look that now reined
over the urbane agent's face. He always appeared so easygoing and in
control. Now, it looked like a battle was being waged inside, and the
causalities were showing on his face. If no one showed up in the next
thirty minutes she was going to call Chris Larabee.
Inez was genuinely relieved when Buck entered, and nodded toward the corner
table with a worried gaze on her face.
Buck chewed on his bottom lip and sauntered over to the table, not waiting
or expecting an invite he slid into the opposite side. Ezra ignored
him for the moment, downing another shot. The liquor burned going down
his throat, exploding with a warmth he wished would burn away the gut wrenching
turmoil he was experiencing. He couldn't think straight anymore.
His sleep-deprived mind was no longer able to hold onto a coherent thought,
but it continued to relive the terror of his childhood. It was like
watching a bad movie over and over again, unable to walk out.
"That won't help," Buck calmly said, trying to start a conversation.
Ezra peered up at him with glazed eyes and downed another shot. "Leave
me alone, Mr. Wilmington," he quietly sneered.
Buck slouched down in the pew type seat. He put his hand in his coat
pocket feeling the small pouch of powder that Nathan had given him.
It was something to help Ezra sleep if he could get him to take it.
The way Ezra looked right now he was ready to just pour it down the southerner's
throat. "I don't know what's eating at you, but I know it's something
you can't handle alone."
Ezra arched a sandy eyebrow. He knew the magnanimous man was not stupid,
but he had always thought Buck was about as deep as a spring rain puddle.
The extent of Buck's interests were women, work and women, all of which he
"You know nothing," Ezra threateningly drawled. He didn't want anyone
invading his privacy and especially not this shameful part of his past.
He lifted the shot, then stopped before it reached his lips. His hand
shook slightly as he rested it back on the table. Despair fell over
him, grabbing his soul and sucking the life from him. He'd hardly eaten
in three days, and the lack of food in his stomach was allowing the full
effects of the alcohol to race through his system. He already could
feel the headache starting behind his eyes.
Buck stood and stepped up beside him. He reached down into Ezra's coat
pocket and removed his keys. "C'mon pard, let me take you home."
Buck grasped the inebriated agent by the forearm and hauled him to his
feet. He expected a fight, and was surprised when he didn't get one.
Buck nodded toward Inez as he led the now compliant agent out the door.
Ezra allowed himself to be led to Buck's truck and placed in the passenger
seat. It was easier then trying to get his mind to obey commands at
the moment. He felt so drained. How could a memory of something
that happened eighteen years ago affect him this way? He had spent
his whole life keeping his emotions in check, now he was being flooded with
feelings he couldn't even understand or control. His wall of indifference
was crumbling away.
Ezra just stared out the passenger window. The scenery rushed past
his unseeing green eyes.
When Buck pulled into a parking spot Ezra got out before the engine was even
turned off. He watched the unsteady agent walk to his door and start
searching in his pockets for his keys. Buck smiled as he removed Ezra's
keys from his pocket and exited the truck.
Buck stepped in front of his bewildered friend and opened the door.
Ezra glared as he pushed past the cocky agent and entered the apartment.
He threw his jacket over a nearby chair, and stopped in the middle of the
room when he heard the door close. He turned to see Buck standing on
the small oval rug in front of the door.
"I appreciate you driving me home, Mr. Wilmington, if you're expecting a
"I don't expect anything," Buck answered, slightly annoyed at the obvious
insult. He knew that Ezra was just trying to push him away. "Chris
would have killed me if I let you drive drunk."
Ezra smirked slightly and shrugged. "Well, I no longer need your services,
so you should go back to the office before we both get in trouble for being
"Oh, I think I have something more important to do right now." Buck
removed his jacket and threw it over Ezra's, announcing his intention.
"I don't need a baby-sitter," Ezra sneered.
Buck stepped forward. "Well, that's debatable pard. I don't know
what's going on with you, but something is tearing you apart." The
look he had seen before, the one that reminded him so much of Chris was still
there. When Chris lost his family, the spark within him went out, leaving
him dead inside. Ezra had that same dead look in his eyes.
"It is nothing that concerns you," Ezra growled, making his way over to his
small wet bar.
Buck shook his head. He knew this wasn't going to be easy. He would
have to push some buttons until he found the right one, which shouldn't be
to hard for him. "I don't understand you. You had the best of
everything, the best schooling, and the best training. You traveled
all over the world. You have more family than any of us." Buck
stopped, allowing his words to hang and stared at the man, searching for
a reaction. Ezra stared blankly back at him from behind the bar.
Realization struck Buck like a slap to the face--something he was well acquainted
with. It was like someone peeling away the mask to reveal the true
man underneath. Buck's face scrunched in understanding. "Your life's
a con isn't it?" he asked. "This whole I'm fine, everything is wonderful
in my life is the biggest bunch of bull hockey. You hide inside that
egotistical attitude like some damn suit of armor."
Ezra arched an eyebrow at the suddenly perceptive agent. He had definitely
underestimated the gregarious agent. There was definitely more to Buck Wilmington
than the mere scoundrel he portrayed. Buck probably even carried his
own demons behind that carefree visage he held.
Buck saw he was on the right path. He knew he could be playing a dangerous
game, for one thing Ezra still carried his gun. "You want to know why no
one likes you? It's because you push them all away. You go out
of your way to make people hate you, not giving anyone a chance to get to
know you," Buck stated with a bit of an edge to his voice as he stepped closer
to the silently seething agent.
"You know nothing," Ezra scowled, his voice low, his green eyes burning with
the anger that was building within. "I was passed from one relative
to the next because my mother didn't want to deal with me."
"Well, pard, we all have are hard luck stories. Hell, my mother was
a prostitute for god's sake. Now, she loved me and took care of me
just fine, but what kind of life is that for a boy to grow up in? Things
turned out okay I found six brothers who I trust with my life and care about."
Buck was on a roll. He had a hard time believing that Ezra's life was
anything more than some minor inconveniences and teenage rebellion.
If he had known the truth, maybe he wouldn't have pushed like he was.
He was going to get a glimpse of the true man behind the mask. The
only problem was, he didn't realize what he was going to learn.
"Maybe you need to start thinking about what you have and stop playing the
'poor me, my mother left me at relatives or plush boarding school' bullshit,
cause buddy we're all getting pretty tired of it."
Ezra stepped out from behind the bar and stepped up toe to toe with the taller
agent. "Get out!"
"Damnit Ezra, what's wrong!" Buck yelled, finally reaching his breaking point
with the enigmatic man. "We're all tired of your smug attitude.
We're all misfits, all have demons that haunt us, but we've found a reason
to live, and a family. You keep pushing everyone away, one day you
just may get what you want, maybe what you deserve! You should have
just kept running when you ran out on us that first time!"
Buck was stunned when he was slammed against the wall, nailed with a forearm
to his throat. His head cracked the glass on a solitary picture of
a Ghost town, which hung on the wall. The forearm that pinned him against
the wall began to apply pressure.
"You really want to know, Mr. Wilmington?" Ezra menacingly whispered.
Every angry gasp filled the air between them with the stale odor of
whiskey. Ezra's heart was pounding so hard it felt like the whole room
For a moment Buck wasn't sure he wanted to know. Something in Ezra's
eyes scared the shit out of him, but he slowly nodded his head. He
had started this; he would finish it.
A grim smile slowly lifted the corners of Ezra's lips. "You're right, I wasn't
well received by my relatives. I was a bastard; they tolerated me at
best, all except my Uncle Wallace." Ezra paused as his arm shook under
A faint smile came to Buck's face as he thought that at least Ezra had someone
who cared about him. That was until Ezra spoke the next words.
Ezra leaned closer into Buck, bringing his mouth to the man's ear.
"My Uncle loved little boys," he lecherously breathed.
Confusion and trepidation vied for position on Buck's mustached face.
His heart went cold as it comprehended the meaning of the words. The
confused grin stayed a moment on Buck's face until the words finally
registered. Then the horror of understanding caused his eyes to widen
and his jaw to drop in shock. He looked into Ezra's green orbs seeing
the pain of truth.
When the words left Ezra's mouth they seemed to take whatever remaining strength
he had. He slowly released his hold on Buck and took a step back.
He felt heavy, like his whole body was moving through mud. The adrenaline
rush of anger and fear had wiped away any remnants of alcohol in his
system. He couldn't look up, didn't want to see what was in Buck's
eyes; be it pity, regret or understanding. He stood silently, feeling
a bit like a sideshow freak on display. He turned and grabbed his coat,
heading for the door.
The words had shocked Buck and it took a moment for him to compose himself,
and realize that Ezra was leaving. Just as he was about to step out
the door Buck calmly called out, "Running away?" He knew this was what
had triggered the undercover agent before, but it was the only thing he could
think of to stop him.
Ezra stopped, dropping his head so his chin rested on his chest. "Low
blow, Buck," he murmured, knowing the ladies man was using it to stop him.
Ezra turned slowly around and stepped back inside. He dropped his coat
back on the chair and glared pointedly at the man, who had managed to break
down a door he had kept locked for years. It wasn't overly hard, but
no one else had cared enough to try. Ezra went over to the overstuffed
chair and flopped down into it.
Buck stood silent for a moment not sure how to continue, or if he even
should. He'd never experienced anything like this, not even through
someone else, until now. He wished that Josiah was here. The
religious man would know what to say. He never in his wildest dreams
thought something like this was the cause of Ezra's torment. He wiped
his hand over his face and sat down on the sofa. He looked at Ezra's
closed eyes and for a moment thought he might be asleep then he watched as
he took a deep breath. "You want to talk about it?" Buck finally
managed to ask, after swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat.
Ezra's forehead creased as if he was considering this request. "I had
a dog I loved," he began, keeping his eyes closed. He couldn't stop
the words that for years had desperately wanted and needed to be heard.
"My uncle threatened that he'd kill it if I told anyone. He used to
take me to the back room and force me to do things I barely understood."
Ezra paused and swallowed.
"How old were you?"
Buck saw the tears that escaped from Ezra's closed eyes and run down his
cheek. "After four months I couldn't take it anymore. I gave up the dog,
and threatened my uncle that I would tell if he didn't leave me alone.
I no longer had anything he could hold over me. He couldn't threaten
me with my life I didn't care anymore. So instead, he beat me bad enough
to put me in the hospital for a week."
"How did he explain that?" Buck asked, wiping his own tears from his face.
"Told everyone some bullies beat me."
"They believed him, even your mother?"
Ezra smiled at Buck's astonishment. "Yeah, though I think mother suspected
something, since I never again stayed with that uncle." Ezra snorted
"I swore I'd never care about anything or anyone again. I wouldn't let anyone
make me a victim or have such a hold over me."
"In all these years you've never told a soul?" Buck asked.
Ezra slowly shook his head and opened his green eyes. The sadness they
held almost broke Buck's heart. He thought he could almost see that
scared little boy inside.
"No one until now," Ezra replied, looking away. He didn't want pity;
he just wanted to get back in control. "I just need time to lock it
away and get control again," Ezra explained, trying to sound confident,
but not really pulling it off. He didn't know what Buck was thinking
of him. He wasn't sure he wanted to know.
How could someone keep something like that buried inside for eighteen
years? They couldn't, Ezra was proof of that. The thought slid
into Buck's mind like a ship sliding into its berth.
"That won't work," Buck emphatically stated, causing Ezra's eyes to look
up at him. "Believe me, I know from watching Chris. It'll always
be there to haunt you just below the surface, waiting for something else
to trigger it. You have to find a way to deal with it."
"This is the only way I know how to deal with it," Ezra answered, bringing
his hands up to his temples and rubbing.
Buck abruptly stood and walked into the kitchen and started rummaging
around. "Where's that fancy tea you keep," he called out.
"In the canister next to the fridge," Ezra wearily replied, wondering why
he was asking, but not having the energy to find out.
Ezra heard the beep of the microwave, and a few moments later Buck came out
holding a steaming cup of herbal tea and a piece of toast. He had slipped
the medicine that Nathan had given him into it.
Ezra took the tea and looked down into the amber liquid then back up into
Buck's guilty face. "Nathan give you something to put in this?"
"Ah..no, well," Buck stammered knowing he was busted. A smile came
to his face as he watched Ezra drink it anyway.
Buck had already decided to stay, a little worried about Ezra's state of
mind and what he might do. They didn't talk anymore, both realizing
they were comfortable with the silence. Buck noticed that Ezra's green
eyes still looked lost, but some of the fear seemed to have abated.
The medicine Nathan had given soon forced Ezra to bed. Buck sat up
for awhile going over all that was said and trying to consider what to do
next. He woke early and checked on the southerner, noticing that he
hadn't moved an inch all night. Buck left quietly, letting Ezra continue
his healing sleep.
Buck was stretched out in Chris's office on his leather couch when the ATF
leader entered. He opened one brown eye to look up at his long time
friend and boss, who stared down at him.
"Ay, Chris," he yawned.
Chris could see that his impetuous friend hadn't slept well. He went
over to his desk and sat down in his chair as Buck slowly sat up and
Buck rubbed at blood-shot eyes then turned his attention to the blond leader,
who was waiting patiently for an explanation.
Chris leaned back in his chair lacing his fingers behind his head.
"So, what happened?"
"Pard, you ain't going to believe this." He had decided that he would
tell Chris what had transpired. Maybe together they could get Ezra
the help he needed.
Buck related the events of the previous evening, and with each word watched
Chris's face pale then darken.
"This is eating him up from the inside," Buck finally said, ending his
story. "He can't handle it alone anymore."
Chris was trying to absorb what Buck had just told him. Ezra always
came across as self-assured and in control, and normally he was, but his
easygoing demeanor was also hiding a terrible secret. Chris was all
too familiar with hiding pain behind a mask of indifference. His own
demons almost chewed him up and swallowed him whole. It was only because
of men like Buck that he managed to get his life back together and end the
threat of that terror ripping him apart.
"What about having Ezra meet with one of the agency shrinks, you know the
ones who deal with job related stress?" Buck asked, breaking Chris
from his reverie.
"This is more than just stress, and anyway what if they come to the conclusion
he's unfit for duty. No, we have to get him help, but quietly," Chris
explained, pulling out his worn leather wallet and removing a small, equally
worn card from it. He stared at the name and number on the card.
It had been a while since he had needed this person but if anyone could help
Ezra he could.
Buck and Chris left the office only to be stopped by a wall of four slightly
annoyed and imposing men, all with arms crossed and brows knitted in confusion
"We don't know what's going on, but we're helpin'," Vin emphatically spoke
for all of them.
Ezra had just exited the shower and put on a pair of beige drawstring
pants. The medicine that Nathan had given him had actually helped him
get a good night sleep, and he had to admit, maybe telling Buck had also
helped. In the shower he even started to reconsider Chris's earlier
advice about taking a vacation. The doorbell rang and Ezra continued
to towel dry his hair as he made his way to the door. He smiled the
first real smile in days, thinking it was probably Buck checking up on him.
Ezra opened the door, barely having time to register who it was when a baseball
bat struck a glancing blow to his head, opening a cut above his eye.
He fell against the side wall, but managed to stay on his feet. His
hand going to his head trying to staunch the flow of blood. His assailant
stepped into the apartment, and drove the end of the bat into his stomach,
sending him to his knees gasping for the breath that was driven from his
lungs. He had one arm wrapped around his gut while the other held him
off the floor. Ezra managed to look up and see Mr. Flemming, the man
he had beat into intensive care. He still sported the bruises on his
face and two black eyes.
"Remember me? This will teach you to mind your own business," Flemming snarled
as he raised the bat.
The wooden club cracked down across Ezra's shoulders and drove him to the
floor, bright white spots danced in front of his vision in sync. He
rolled over onto his side. The blood from his head running into his
eyes and down his face. He tried to focus on something, anything, but even
the oriental rug he laid on seemed to be shifting. His left arm was
numb, his fingers already going cold. He was also finding it hard to
take a deep breath. He watched as Flemming's booted feet walked passed
"You cost me my son, you meddling sonofabitch. I'm going to teach you
a lesson about minding your own business."
Ezra could hear the man ranting, but couldn't make out the words, they seemed
to fall off as soon as they left his mouth. The booted foot nudged
him slightly, and Ezra clenched his teeth to hold in the groan.
More voices suddenly joined the jumbled mix, and Ezra felt the vibrations
of trampling feet rushing by him. Something crashed to the floor.
He felt someone's hand on his head, then felt himself being gently forced
over onto his back. He groaned as his stomach was forced to stretch
out. His arm was bumped and he hissed and closed his eyes tight.
"Call an ambulance!" Definitely Nathan's anxious voice, it was the
first voice he could discern through the fog of his mind.
Chris and the others had pulled into the parking lot and were walking up
the path toward Ezra's apartment. Vin and Chris were in front and stopped
when they saw the open door to Ezra's apartment. They drew their weapons,
causing the others to follow suit. They peered inside to see Flemming
raising a bat, preparing to land another blow, probably a fatal one to their
prone friend. Vin tackled the crazed neighbor, taking them both down
to the floor. They slid into a small table, which held a tiffany lamp,
one Vin hoped Ezra wasn't too fond of.
Vin hauled the smaller man up and landed two solid punches to his mid-section,
just for his own personal pleasure, then threw him roughly against the wall
and handcuffed him.
Josiah held Buck back, having to take the mustached agent's gun. He
figured Vin could do enough damage for the both of them.
Chris knelt down beside Nathan, who was trying to assess Ezra's injuries.
The ex-medic held a washcloth to the undercover agent's head.
For his part, Ezra stared owlishly up at the two men, who seemed to hover
way above him.
"I think he has some broken ribs and a definite concussion." Nathan
grabbed Ezra's chin. "Ezra, can you hear me?" Nathan held up
two fingers in front of his friend's bewildered face. "How many, Ez,
c'mon." Ezra blinked slowly, but was unable to communicate and his
eyes slowly slid closed. He could hear his friends' panicked voices
fill the room.
God, he hated that smell. He knew where he was just by the smell. He
slowly tried to open his eyes and tried to say something, hoping someone
was nearby. The words came out mumbled and raspy, but they got someone's
attention. He felt his head lifted and a cup of water brought to his
mouth. After a couple sips he was laid back down. A cool cloth
mopped his brow and face. He looked into the concern visage of Chris
"How you doing?" Chris asked.
"Oh, just dandy," Ezra groggily replied, trying not to laugh at his own
sarcasm. He reached up and felt the bandaged wrapped around his
head. "How long this time?"
Chris had to smile. "Two days. You had a bad concussion, broken ribs
and a broken arm."
"Where are the others?" Ezra asked as he looked around the dimly lit and
sterile hospital room.
"I sent them out to get something to eat. The doc said you would be
coming around soon," Chris replied. "I wanted to speak with you alone."
Ezra looked up into the rugged, stoic face of the man he had come to respect
more than anyone he had ever known. Chris's face could maintain an
impassive façade, second only to Vin, but his vibrant blue eyes were
a different story.
"You know?" Ezra asked with a resigned sigh.
"Yeah, Buck told me."
"No, that's up to you."
Ezra sunk deeper into the pillow closing his eyes. He had never told
a soul in eighteen years, now two other people knew his secret shame. Would
they still respect him? He was afraid how the others would treat him
if they found out that he had been sexually molested as a child. He
didn't want pity or to be treated like a victim. Ezra opened his eyes
and looked up, directly into the eyes of understanding. How could he
have ever thought any different. He trusted these men with his life,
maybe it was time to trust them with his heart.
Chris pulled the card out of his shirt pocket and stared at it. "Buck
pulled me out of my grief after my wife and son were killed, but this man
helped me deal with my anger and guilt." Chris handed the card to Ezra.
"Doctor Vasquez, psychologist," Ezra read as he held the white card
between his fingers. He looked up at Chris and arched a sandy brow.
"A shrink?" He asked with a skeptical smile. "He helped you?"
Chris smiled. "Yeah, if you had hit me ten years ago I would have shot
you," he plainly stated with a faintly amused smile on his face.
A quirky grin came to the southerner's bruised face. "Definite improvement
Chris never thought he'd miss the southerner's smart-ass remarks, but they
were now music to his ears. The sober expression returned to Chris's
face. "We'll help you get through this, but you have to take the first
step yourself," Chris explained.
"I suppose it is time to put my demons to rest for good," Ezra admitted.
Chris could see that Ezra was growing tired.
"You rest, we'll be by to see you in the morning."
"Chris, remind me to thank Mr. Wilmington, I think I owe him my life."
"You and me both, pard."
Ezra's eyes fell shut and his breathing evened out as he fell asleep.
Chris patted the younger agent on the shoulder and walked out the door.
Having a family had its share of problems, especially when the family was
made up of seven rather dysfunctional, strong-willed and fervently charged
men. Chris looked down the hall seeing the five other members of his
eclectic family coming toward him. He smiled to himself he wouldn't
have it any other way.