by KellyA


*****Part 9

Everyone stared in dismay at the motionless body in front of them.  Casey buried her head in JD's shoulder, as he stared wide-eye at what had just taken place.  Him and Ezra had just been starting to develop a friendship.  Ezra had been giving him pointers on being a good undercover agent.  Tears streamed down Mary's distraught face, she had had her own reservations about the solitary undercover, but he had slowly weaseled his way into her heart. 

Nathan stared hard trying to see any indication of life.  Vin and Buck's eyes glistened with unshed tears, guilt strangling their hearts.  They were free and should have done something, even if it meant their lives.  The two men stared at their lifeless partner and friend and knew they'd never forgive themselves, but they would avenge him, of that he could be sure.

Larabee glared at the man, who he believed had just killed his agent, his friend.  "You're a dead man," Chris menacingly growled.  He vigorously worked on his ropes as he swore revenge for Ezra. 

Josiah's head rested on his knees, he couldn't look at the unmoving form of the man he had only recently started growing close to.  He had learned something about Ezra a couple weeks ago, purely by accident.  A payroll clerk had come up to the office looking for Ezra.  She couldn't find him and ran into Josiah asking if he could help her.  She needed Ezra's AFT ID number to process the paperwork he had filled out earlier.  Josiah got a look at that paperwork.  Ezra had made Denver's Children's Hospital his life insurance beneficiary, in the event of his death.

Larabee passed the knife to Nathan who was still staring at the still form trying to will some kind of movement.

"Okay, let's get this over with!" Peter yelled, breaking the grief-stricken silence of the room. 

Gunther and Hawkins left, but returned moments later with a can of gasoline.   Larabee watched as the two men tore down the heavy drapes and doused them with gasoline.

Peter Nichols' approached Chris, causing Nathan to stop cutting.  He knelt down so he was eye to eye with the ATF leader.  "You see Larabee, I figured since my brothers died in that warehouse fire that it's only fitting that you die the same way.  What goes around comes around," he chortled.  He looked over at Ezra.  "At least one of your agents will be in hell to greet you."

"You are one sick mother fucker," Chris dryly replied, glaring at the demented man.  Chris' stormy blue eyes started to unnerve Peter and he stood and turned away. 

Nathan passed the knife to Josiah.

John stepped up alongside his brother.  "Peter, what about the women they had nothing to do with our brothers or ma's death?"

Peter looked over at the two women who sat huddled between Vin and JD.  He didn't like the idea of killing women, especially the young one.  He licked his lips as his eyes traveled over her lithe body.  However, he couldn't afford to let them go either.  "Sorry bro, victims of war."  Peter's eyes locked on Casey's shivering form and he strode up to her.  JD tried to get in front of her, but Peter just shoved him aside and grabbed Casey by the arm.  

"Leave her alone, Nichols," Chris sneered.

"Haven't you done enough by killing Ezra," Mary said.

Peter ignored them as he ran his hand through Casey's soft hair and yanked her close when she tried to pull away.  "Maybe we'll take you with us, and if you please me I might let you live."

"I'd...rather...stay here...and die," Casey stammered, not sure where the sudden courage had come from to allow her to utter these few words.

"As you wish...pity."  Peter stood and walked away.

Josiah finally cut through his bindings and passed the knife back to Nathan knowing the man was an expert knife thrower and would make good use of the small weapon.  Chris looked down the line meeting Josiah's blue-gray eyes; he gave him a curt nod.  Chris leaned back against the wall and waited for his opportunity, he knew the others would wait for his signal. 

The six agents watched as Hawkins and Gunther finished with their work.  Peter stood in front of them holding a gun loosely at his side with Michael standing to his right.  John stood over by the bar on the other side of the room.  He wanted to stop this, but now with the death of an agent he knew it was too late.

Hawkins pulled out some matches and looked toward his boss.

"Well gentlemen, it's been a pleasure spending Thanksgiving with you, can't remember when I've had so much fun."  Peter nodded to Hawkins who dropped the lit match onto some newspaper.

Peter watched as the fire grew then turned his attention to the blond leader who was struggling to stand.  "Now, Mr. Larabee, let's go out with some measure of dignity shall we?"  Peter was amused by this last gasp attempt at saving his men.

Chris came forward keeping his hands behind his back.  Peter was just about to raise his gun and shoot the approaching agent when Chris' hands came out from behind his back.  He grabbed Peter by the arm and spun around behind him keeping his hold on the gun and throwing his other arm around the sadistic man's throat.  Chris raised the gun still in Peter's hand and shot Michael with it. 

Smoke was beginning to fill the house as Josiah, Vin and Buck jumped up charged Hawkins and Gunther, who were momentarily confused by what was happening.  Gunther began to raise his gun, but stopped when he felt the knife sticking out of his chest.  His gun fell to the floor followed by his dead body, the knife having punctured his heart. 

Vin tackled Hawkins, sending them both to the floor.  The two men scrappled for the loose weapon, until Buck's booted foot came down on Hawkins hand, breaking a couple of his fingers.  Buck picked up the gun and stuck it into Hawkin's face never wanting to shoot a man so badly in his life.

John Nichols dropped his gun and readily gave up coughing and choking from the smoke.  Sanchez, seeing that John was no longer a threat raced over to a closet where he knew Chris kept a fire extinguisher.  Vin was already running around opening windows as Buck kept a gun trained on Hawkins and John.  Josiah and Nathan quickly put out the fire and all the gasoline soaked material was thrown outside.

"Buck! Damn it, someone untie me!"  JD yelled as he fought with his bonds.  Josiah came up to the young agent smiling.  "Why am I always the one left behind?"  Dunne fumed as Josiah removed his bindings. 

Josiah looked over his shoulder at Chris, who still held a gun to Peter Nichols' head, trying very hard not to pull the trigger.  Vin materialized beside his friend and slowly took the gun from his hand.  He then ushered Peter over to his brother and Hawkins.  Vin and Buck tied the three men and left them forgotten on the floor.

They all then looked over at Nathan, who was standing over Ezra afraid to check for something that wasn't there.

*****Part 10

Nathan slowly knelt down beside the motionless form and put his fingers to his neck, bowing his head.  It seemed like forever, but it was only a couple seconds. Nathan's head came up revealing a faint smile on his face.  "He's alive."  The relief in his voice riding on a whisper of disbelief.

JD untied Casey and Mary and the three joined the others around the injured southerner.  Nathan and Josiah carefully turned Ezra over.  There was a large pool of blood down by his leg, but the bleeding had eased somewhat.  Nathan opened Ezra's shirt seeing the already dark, purplish-black bruising that covered half his stomach.  He pressed gently on his side and stomach feeling two broken ribs.  He reached up and peeled back and eyelid, and then checked his breathing.  He couldn't stand to look at the blacken shirt of his shoulder.

"Lord, he's in a bad way," the ex-medic whispered.

Chris turned to Buck.  "Buck, go and check the vehicles see if any of them are salvageable."

Everyone had noticed that the snow that had been falling all afternoon had turned into a blizzard, which was being swallowed by the now surrounding darkness.  Josiah went to the kitchen and grabbed the phone finding it dead.  He pulled out his cell phone and tried to call out discovering that Chris' place existed in one of those dead zones that telephone waves found impossible to broach.

Buck came rushing back inside, stomping his feet and rubbing his hands together to try and warm up.  "They shot out all the tires on all the vehicles, even the truck that Ezra brought up." 

Chris started pacing the living room.

"Well, at least I'll get one of you," Peter laughed. 

Chris lunged at the psychopath, putting his hands around his throat and squeezing.  He watched as Peter's brown eyes started to bulge out of his head.

"Think he's had enough, Josiah?" Vin calmly asked, watching as Chris slowly squeezed the life out of the sadistic man.  They both knew Chris wouldn't stop until he killed him.

"Yeah, I think the fear of God is in him now, Brother Vin."

Josiah and Vin grabbed their unrestrained leader and friend and pulled him off the now gasping and choking man.

Chris pulled out of Josiah and Vin's hold and turned worried eyes toward Ezra's pale features.  He watched as Mary bathed his face with a cool cloth and Nathan wrapped his leg.

"Hey, what about my snowmobile that I left here?" Vin asked Chris encouragingly.  Chris bowed his head then raised it again. 

"It was in the shed."

"Ah shit, I hadn't even finished paying it off."

"Wait, how did Nichols' get here?" Chris asked.

"I didn't see any other vehicles outside," Buck exclaimed.

Chris looked out at the darkness and knew they were stuck for the night. He couldn't risk the others.  "First thing in the morning, you and Vin go and try and find their vehicles."

Chris went over to Nathan and knelt down beside him.  "How is he?"

"Not good."

"Let's put him in my room.  He'll be more comfortable," Chris suggested.  "You have to do what you can for him.  We can't get him out of here until morning, it's too dangerous."  Nathan nodded his understanding.

"JD, go to my truck and get my medical kit."

"Vin, you need to stay and watch them and if any of them move shoot them," Chris instructed.  Vin smiled at the thought and glared at the three men daring any of them to move.

Nathan and Josiah carefully lifted Ezra's limp body and carried him into Chris' bedroom.  Buck pulled back the covers on the bed and Ezra was laid gently down.  JD raced into the room carrying a small backpack, which he handed to Nathan. 

"Okay I need water and bandages,"  Nathan instructed.  Buck left to get the water as Chris went down the hall to a closet and pulled out a couple sheets, tearing them into strips.  Nathan started cutting away Ezra's pant's leg so he could examine the bullet wound.  "I think I can get the bullet out, it didn't go to deep."  He moved up to the burned shoulder, carefully peeling the shirt back. He grimaced at the burn, it didn't cover a large area, but there was material stuck to it that would have to be removed.  

Josiah sat on the other side of the bed holding the unconscious agent's hand.  He couldn't take his eyes off the younger man's pale face.  For a moment Josiah felt the long forgotten pangs of paternal love. 

Nathan rummaged through his bag pulling out a tube of salve, tweezers and a scalpel.  He moved up to Ezra's head and felt the dried blood mixed in his brown hair.

Nathan took a deep breath.  'Okay, one thing at a time,' he thought to himself.  He couldn't let the multiple injuries overwhelm him.  "Okay Josiah, Buck, I need you to hold him down while I get the bullet, hopefully he won't wake up." 

Josiah held down Ezra's uninjured shoulder as Buck took hold of the injured leg at the ankle.  Chris, Mary, Casey and JD stood nearby incase they were needed or Nathan needed something else. 

Chris stared down at his enigmatic agent.  In the beginning, he had wondered if the roguish agent would ever fit in.   Now, he looked upon a friend who had probably saved all their lives.  Nathan was able to quickly remove the bullet.  He cleaned and wrapped the wound wiping his hand across his sweating brow.  He moved up to the shoulder, and using the tweezers carefully started removing bits of cloth.   Buck had to look away as he realized it was more than fabric that Nathan was peeling away.  Ezra started to stir and both Josiah and Buck strengthen their hold until he quieted. 

When Nate believed he had thoroughly cleaned out the wound, he coated it with ointment then placed a piece of gauze over it to keep it clean.  Nathan then looked more closely at Ezra's side.  He was afraid that there might be internal injuries, but didn't voice his fears.  There was nothing they could do for him right now.

Sanchez carefully turned his unconscious friend over onto his side for Nate could check the head wound.  Nathan found a deep laceration on the side of his skull.  He cleaned it the best he could and wrapped a bandage around Ezra's head.  It was two hours before Nathan could finally relax, releasing a weary breath as he fell into a chair, not sure if his efforts were enough to save his friend.  Josiah laid a blanket over Ezra's pale form and sat on the bedside, pushing the younger man's brown hair away from his eyes.  Ezra's breathing was shallow, and Josiah had to lay a hand on his chest just so he could tell he was still breathing.

Vin stood off to the side as Buck had relieved him of his watch over the prisoners an hour ago.  The guilt the two men shared was palpable.  Chris stood in the corner, having helped Mary and Casey to settle into one of the spare bedrooms.  He glanced over to Vin, seeing the abiding sadness in his blue eyes, not knowing what he could say to make things easier for the sharpshooter.

JD was on the floor in the corner of the room, someone having thrown a blanket over his sleeping form.  Nathan's eyes were closed and his head rested on his shoulder.


Josiah hadn't moved from Ezra's side all night.  He felt Ezra's head roll to the side and looked down to see eyelids flutter.  "Ezra, can you hear me?"  Everyone jumped and surrounded the bed when they heard Josiah's smooth voice.  Nathan's dark eyes snapped open and he leaned forward in the chair.

Ezra's green eyes opened only to reveal the confusion and pain he was in.

"Ezra?"  Nathan quietly asked, placing a large hand on the southerner's pale forehead and feeling the rising fever within.

Ezra blinked a couple times.  He was numb, but slowly things were beginning to hurt.  He looked around, seeing Nathan at his side and Josiah sitting next to him.  Chris, JD and Vin were at the foot of the bed.  He licked his lips and answered, 

"What'" he slowly gasped out.

"You, you crazy southerner," Nathan good-naturedly admonished, releasing some of the tension that had built up inside him.  Ezra grimaced and tried to rise causing a searing pain to rip through his middle.  Josiah and Nathan held him down.  "Easy Ez, just ride it out."  The undercover agent seemed to pale even more right before everyone's eyes.   Nathan looked over his shoulder with worried eyes at Chris.

"Did...we...catch...the bad....guys?"

"Yeah, thanks to you," Chris replied moving up alongside the bed.  He saw how just talking was tiring out the wounded agent.  Lord, he couldn't survive losing someone else, someone he cared about.  He watched as Ezra smiled then his eyes closed.  Nathan checked his pulse and his pupils.  "He's got a concussion, we'll have to wake him every couple hours."

*****Part 11

It was a long night for everyone as they all took turns administering to their injured friend.  Tremors shook through Ezra's weakened body causing pain to flare up in his leg, shoulder and head.   Nightmares took hold of his fevered mind, causing him to thrash and struggle under the restraining hands of his friends.  His fever continued to grow with the coming dawn. 

Larabee entered the slowly brightening room carrying a tray of food for Nathan; his heart skipped a beat as he saw the ex-medic and Josiah leaning over Ezra's body.

"What's wrong?" Chris asked, his voice low with fear and worry.  Nathan turned somber dark eyes toward the blond leader.  Chris then heard the ragged breathing from the man on the bed.

"I think he has internal injuries, his stomach is rigid, and his fever has gotten worse.  I can't even wake him.  We have to get him to a hospital."

Chris abruptly left the bedroom at the sound of twin engines outside, and went out to the living room to be met by Vin and Buck.  "You were right Chris, they had snow mobile's just over the rise," Vin explained.  The two men had left at the first sign of sunlight; it took a little over half an hour to find the six snow mobiles.

"Good, we have to get Ezra off this mountain and to a hospital as soon as possible."  Chris headed back into the bedroom with Vin and Buck right behind him.  "Nathan, could Ezra withstand a trip down the mountain on a snow mobile?"

"He should be laid flat, and he would have to be kept warm.  But there really isn't much choice, if we don't get him to a hospital in the next few hours he'll die."

Chris turned back to Buck and Vin.  "There's a toboggan in the barn, we'll attach it to the back of the snowmobile.  Vin, you'll have to take him down, you're the most experienced with driving those things."

"I'm going to," Nathan interjected the tone of his voice keeping Chris or the others from arguing.  Josiah picked up the phone in the kitchen relieved to get a dial tone.  He dialed the emergency number he knew by heart and demanded a med copter.

Within fifteen minutes, Ezra was cocooned within several blankets and strapped down to the toboggan.  Nathan was going to straddle him to keep the sled steady.  Vin started up the engine, preparing to leave. 

"The chopper will meet you in this clearing just south of I70," Josiah was explaining to Vin, showing him a map and tracing his finger down the ridge to the freeway.  "It should only take you about thirty minutes to get there."

Vin studied the map then nodded his head.

Chris approached his friends.  "You two be careful I don't want any more of my agents in the hospital."  The sharpshooter saw the fear and worry in his friend's blue eyes.  Chris was like a mother hen with six enthusiastic sons, who were always trying to please. 

"Don't worry, we'll get him there in time," he assured.

Chris patted Vin on the shoulder and waved as they drove off, hoping it wouldn't be the last time he saw his maverick agent. 

Buck came up alongside Chris, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder.  "He's to stubborn to die and to damn lucky."


The air was crisp and clean reviving the sleep deprived agents.  New snow glittered, sparkled, and moved aside as Vin plowed through it.  He was probably going a little faster than was deemed safe, but something was telling him that Ezra didn't have a lot of time.  He maneuvered cautiously around fallen trees and rocks as he made his way down the mountain.  Nathan was about to tell Vin to slow down until he looked down at Ezra then he just hoped they reached the rendezvous point soon.  They reached the clearing in time to hear the distant thud-thud of rotors.  Vin shielded his eyes and looked up seeing the copter coming from the east.  

Nathan followed his fellow agent's eyes skyward.  Then a feeling came over him bringing his dark face back down to Ezra's slack features.  He swore as he realized that the undercover agent was no longer breathing.

"He's not breathing!"  Nathan cried out, jumping to the side; he gave Ezra five quick breaths.  He felt for a pulse, which he found, but it was growing weak.

Vin stared down in object fear, and then ran out to the clearing waving his arms wildly.   He met the copter as it landed and told the medics that the injured man wasn't breathing.  The medics and Vin raced over to where Nathan was still giving Ezra breaths.  He quickly moved aside as the medics took over.  Nathan recognized one of the medics as Martin Henderson and the two nodded in greeting.  Martin tilted Ezra's head back and inserted a tube down his throat.  "Okay, we have him intubated,"  Henderson said as he squeezed the bag forcing air into Ezra's unresponsive lungs.  The other medic quickly administered an IV.  They all grabbed the toboggan and carried it to the waiting chopper. 

Nathan flew with Ezra to the hospital as Vin made arrangements for the police to meet him at Chris' place.

****Part 12

A couple hours later five haggard looking men charged through the emergency doors of Denver Medical hospital.  Josiah went to the front desk as the rest headed to the waiting room. 

Nathan looked up at the sound of footsteps and saw four worried faces staring down at him, everyone afraid to ask.

"He's in surgery. I haven't heard a thing," he finally answered their silent question.  Josiah entered and sat down shaking his head before anyone could even ask.  They all grabbed a seat and prepared to wait, something they were getting way too much practice at. 

Vin had told them that Ezra had stopped breathing.  Chris had fully expected to enter the hospital only to be told that his seventh man was dead.  The relief that surged through him caused his last reserve of strength to slip away and he fell heavily into a chair.

The six men rotated from the chairs to the window sills to the front desk waiting for word; coffee grew cold and tempers grew short.

"What is taking so damn long? It's been over three hours."  Buck hollered his dark hair stood almost straight up from running his fingers through it.  Over the past hour, he was unable to sit down and now rivaled JD in nervous energy.

"Take it easy, Buck," Chris murmured.  He had been staring at the same spot on the wall for the past hour and was only broken from his scrutiny by Buck's outburst.

Everyone had noticed that Vin hadn't said a word since arriving at the hospital.  He had remained sitting on the window sill staring out into the slush covered city streets, watching life moving and continuing all around, it didn't seem fair.

A middle-aged, blond-haired Doctor entered the waiting room to see three men sprawled out on the floor asleep and three others staring at him.  A darkly dressed man approached. 

Dr. Feldman was new to the hospital, but had been told all about the Magnificent 7 and knew immediately who it was that now stood before him.

"Mr. Larabee? I'm doctor Feldman," he began.  The agent looked tired and worn, but still held a threatening demeanor.

"How is he?" Chris curtly asked not in the mood for pleasantries.

The question sparked awareness in the rest of the agents and soon Dr. Feldman found himself surrounded by six equally formidable men.  He had laughed when told how intimidating these men could be and thought it just an exaggeration.  He didn't think that anymore.  He had to swallow the sudden nervous lump in his throat. He was just glad he wasn't telling these men that their friend was dead.

"Ah, well, he made it through surgery.  He had extensive injuries.  Though someone did a good job fixing his leg and the burn on his shoulder," the doctor praised.

Everyone turned to look gratefully at Nathan, who bowed his head in sudden embarrassment.

"He has a severe concussion and lost a lot of blood through internal injuries, but he should be alright with lots of rest," the doctor explained.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the doctor saw the clouds of dread lift from each and every one of the men in front of him, he also saw their concern.

"Can we see him?"  Josiah eagerly asked.

"Well, he's going to be unconscious for quite awhile," the doctor began.

"Can we see him?" Chris repeated, his tone calm, but his eyes showed what answer he expected to receive.

"Ah...sure just give us a few minutes to settle him into a room," Dr. Feldman answered.


All six of the men crowded into the room shocked at how pale and lifeless Ezra appeared.  They all grabbed space and settled in.  The doctor completed his checks and watched in amazement at the camaraderie these men shared.

Ezra remained unconscious for the next twenty-four hours the only sign of life being the annoying beep of the heart monitor.  The only time anyone left was for food or personal reasons.  But when the seventh member of their team started showing signs of waking up all were present.

"C'mon Ez, I know you're in there," Buck prodded.  He had heard the soft groan and leaned over to see the undercover agent's eyes flutter.

Vin and Chris were on the other side of the bed.  "C'mon pard we're all waiting for you, and you know how much Chris hates to be kept waiting," Vin nicely chided, receiving a nudge in the ribs by the blond leader.

Standish's green eyes slowly opened, but everything was a blur of colors.  He squeezed them shut and then tried again.  This time the colors started to coalescent until he could make out the six men surrounding his bed.   He tried to talk, but found he could only produce a hoarse rasping sound; his throat was raw and sore.  Chris placed his hand under Ezra's head and raised it as Josiah brought a glass of water to his lips.  The cool water was nectar going down his parched throat.

"You're going to be okay, Ez," Nathan soothed, realizing how much his death would have affected him, would have affected everyone.


Two days later Ezra had improved immensely and was sitting up in bed.  He was alone at the moment and wondering where everyone had gone.  They had all been there this morning.  The doctor had checked him over, but refused to release him for at least another forty-eight hours.  Ezra turned to the sound of boots and Josiah's baritone laugh.

He looked up and smiled as all six of his friends, and Casey and Mary, entered the room, all carrying some type of covered dish.  An orderly followed behind with a folding table, which he set up in the middle of the room.

"What's all this?" Ezra asked, raising a sandy eyebrow, and putting down the book he was reading.

"Well, since we all missed out on Thanksgiving dinner, and you are probably getting tired of hospital food, we decided to have Thanksgiving right here," Nathan explained as everyone set up the food and started dishing it out.

A plate was handed to Ezra who stared down at it then raised grateful green eyes to meet his friends--his family.   A smile drew across his face revealing his dimples.  "I knew this was going to be a memorable Thanksgiving!"