Days Like That

by Helen Adams

"Do you ever have days when you just want to scream?"

Nathan and Chris looked up from the crossword puzzle they were sharing across the break room table, Chris reading the clues upside down but still managing to get more of the correct answers, much to his colleague's chagrin.

"Bad day, Ezra?" he asked absently.

An exasperated gesture signaled Ezra's feelings. "It's been abominable. Not one thing has been on time, working correctly, or helpful to me in any way, shape or form since five o'clock this morning; the deplorable hour at which I was forced to rise from my bed in order to meet a source; one who never even showed up! That would have been bad enough without it inspiring Buck, Vin and JD to spend all afternoon teasing me about having gone to meet my 'imaginary friend'. Sometimes I really am forced to wonder why I associate with those three."

Nathan growled, "I sympathize," as he glanced up from the crossword, glowering at the smirking Chris, who neatly filled another difficult word into the white squares of the puzzle without even turning the paper upright.

"Maybe you should just do it, Ezra" Josiah said, taking a sip from his freshly filled coffee cup.

Ezra frowned. "Do what?"

"Scream," he elaborated. "Letting your feelings out can be very therapeutic. Might make you feel a little better."

Sarcasm rolled off Ezra's tongue as he said, "And where would you suggest I go to do that?"

"Elevator's probably free," Chris grunted.

"There's always your car, long as the windows are closed," Josiah chuckled. "Just make sure the security guard isn't around or you might have some explaining to do."

Nathan grinned, getting into the spirit. "How about the roof? Go liven up the pigeon population."

A small snort of laughter met their suggestions, Ezra's tense shoulders relaxing a little at the friendly teasing. Suddenly, a devilish sparkle lit his eyes. "I do believe you gentlemen are on the right track, but I have a much better place in mind."

Leaving their puzzle and coffee behind, Josiah, Chris and Nathan curiously followed their friend back out to the bullpen, staying back so as not to draw attention to themselves as they watched him stealthily move up behind Buck and JD, who were bent over JD's computer. Vin glanced up from something he was writing but otherwise paid no attention.

Taking a deep breath, Ezra suddenly threw his head back, scrunched his eyes shut and bellowed, "AAAAAAUUGGGH!"

The result was a thing of beauty. Buck jumped like he'd been shot, falling over the still-seated JD, who yelped in spontaneous panic and tumbled out of his chair, landing right on top of the fallen Buck. Vin had scratched a long line of ink across his paper and clutched his desk, eyes wide and wild like he was wondering whether fight or flight would be the best option. Josiah, Nathan and Chris clutched the walls, doorframes and one another for support as they broke into howls of mirth.

"Shit, Ezra! What the hell was that?" Vin demanded.

"You about scared ten years off me!" Buck shouted, shoving JD out of his lap and scrambling to his feet. "What the hell is wrong with you, screamin' down the walls that way?"

JD looked rather admiring as he got up from the floor and brushed himself off. "Damn, Ezra, I would have bet money you couldn't make a noise like that if you were being killed!"

The southerner smirked and sat down at his desk. "Gentlemen, really. I have no idea what you're talking about."

"We all heard you," Vin shot back.

"It wasn't me," he said calmly.

Buck looked as if he were worrying over Ezra's sanity. "Well, then who do you think was makin' all that noise?"

"I heard nothing."

"Oh, c'mon, Ez!" JD protested. "You came in and started screaming like a lunatic!"

He blinked innocently. "Are you sure you weren't listening to my imaginary friend?"

They gaped at him, startled by the calm, serious question. Then JD started to laugh, quickly followed by Vin. Buck was the last to give in, but soon his booming guffaw was the loudest and heartiest of all.

Ezra grinned over at a still-snickering Josiah. "Thank you for your prescription, Mr. Sanchez. I feel a great deal better now."