Ezra followed the younger ATF agent to the garage elevator. He carried his duffel over one shoulder. McDermit had asked him if that was all he had? Standish merely nodded what else was important? The young man merely shrugged. ‘Hawkins was going to eat this guy alive’.

McDermit stepped out of the elevator at the fifth floor. Standish followed at his shoulder. The two men stood about the same height.

Standish took in his new surroundings. This would be his new world. Some how this office floor seemed foreboding. No laughter, no jokes emanated from the work place. In Denver Buck could always be heard or Josiah’s deep laugh or Chris’s soft but authoritative voice would cut through the din. In Denver there seemed a sense of kinship. The fifth floor of the NY Federal building appeared devoid of such camaraderie.

Shawn lead them past the collection of three desks. They were empty. He swore. The ATF agent checked his watch. It was 315pm they were late. Shit.

McDermit took a breath, bowed his head and pushed open the conference room door.

Hawkins was in mid sentence. He stopped and threw a condensing stare at the young intruder.
“Your late McDermit,” He tone offered no room for defense. Shawn offered none and took the reprimand silently.

Standish watched as the young agent took a deep breath before entering the conference room. He was nervous. JD had always been on edge when he had to face their leader. It seemed this young ATF agent was the same way.

Then the speaker turned on the young man. Ezra thought a bit to harshly. He would never allow anyone to do that to JD. Though JD was not with him today, this agent deserved the same considerations. Besides, Standish mused, he did not plan on staying in NY very long.

“My flight was delayed,” Standish spoke up. The lie easily slid off his tongue. The kid was right Hawkins was a jerk.

Samuel Hawkins eyed the newcomer. He immediately disliked him. Standish was everything the FBI reports claimed him to be, arrogant, mouthy, and of questionable character. He was perfect.
Hawkins would enjoyed breaking him down.

“Oh really Agent Standish?” The SAC replied in challenge.

Ezra entered the viper’s pit. He had nothing to lose. The man before him had signed his TDY and transfer. He had ripped Ezra from his home and dropped him here. Standish bristled at the thought, still being shuttled from home to home. Hawkins was a bastard just like Standish’s relatives. Using him for his talents and discarding him. Hadn’t Larabee and the others just done the same thing? Standish did not believe that not yet. Chris would contact him.

Standish merely raised an eyebrow offering the leader to call him on the lie.

Shawn stood quietly beside the southerner, hoping he was not standing to close. He did not want to be found guilty by association. The fool just took the SAC on head to head. The Redneck best be carrying a squirrel gun in his bag.

“You want to tell me why you were the only one late on your flight?” Hawkins leaned forward on his knuckles bracing his arms stiffly.

Standish wanted to laugh, JD had a more feral look than this clown. Ezra sighed and with a deep slow southern drawl lazily explained, “Y’all gut such a big airport, n’all, a country boy like me ken git abit turned around.”

McDermit would have laughed but the impending death of the man beside him kept him in check.

Hawkins stared at the southerner. This was not the way to start off. He needed this man to do his bidding if Sam was to pull off what he had in mind. He had to succeed to ensure his ascension up the Federal ladder. Ezra Standish was his stepping stone. Hawkins would get even, but not just yet.

Standish did not like the grin that was flashed at him. Hawkin’s came across as snake with Mr. Potato head smile.

“Please Mr. Standish have a seat,” Hawkins invited.

Ezra took a seat. Shawn sat beside him keeping the southerner between himself and his boss.

Hawkins gazed around the small room. Five men on his team. He lead five men, controlled five lives. It was a power he liked and he wanted more. The smart mouth southerner was going to pave the way.

“We are going after Henry Burkhardt,” Hawkins started.

Standish ignored him and opened the file in front of himself. Ezra cursed silently. He had just come off a three months of grueling undercover work. Each morning he had to wake up and remind himself of who he really was and who he truly worked for it had become a daily ritual. Ezra was not afraid of losing himself to the false persona he portrayed. He just wanted some down time. Not even two whole days have passed an already he was thrust back into the mix. Ezra was tired. He wanted to be called by his own name, wear his own cloths and answer the phone identifying his true self. It was not to be just yet.

Henry Burkhardt. Age: 50. Marital status: Widower---Wife and son killed in a car bomb 20 years ago. Immediate relatives: One brother younger, Patrick Conner Burkhardt - Police officer killed in as a bystander in a shooting. 2 years ago. No criminal record.

Ezra could not get past the colored picture. He had the same hazel eyes, the same set jaw line, the same authoritative air as Larabee. It could have been Chris’s uncle or better yet father.

“Standish your going under,” Hawkins met the raised green eyes. The man was cocky, but more importantly he was tired. Standish would make mistakes. Sam planned on capitalizing on those miscalculations. {All Hawkins had to do was keep Larabee from finding him.}

“I don’t care how you do it. This SOB has been running guns under ATF noses for over 30years now. He has managed to slip through all the nets the ATF has tried. Its my turn now and I’m going to nail him.” The SAC leaned over the table meeting each man’s gaze finally resting on the newcomer, “that understood?”

“Thought we were a team?” Ezra drawled out. Interesting how Hawkins used ‘I’ so much. The SAC was after glory, not criminals. Standish cringed people were going to get killed. He could not help but goad the man.

“We are,” Sam snarled out, “but you work under me.” He wanted to make that point very clear to the southern man. There would be no Larabee or legendary Magnificent Seven coming for him. Hawkins was the puppeteer and Standish just the marionette.

The conference fell quiet. The three larger agents watched the confrontation silently. Their leader was a difficult man ambitious enough to walk on anyone lower than himself. The trio had been in the business long enough to know the type. Standish had been hauled into their midst to be used and discarded. McDermit served no purpose other than to play ‘Go for’ for the others. The three older agents held their tongues, they would do their stint and as soon as they could they would seek different assignments. Until then they would not allow the growing hostilities between the new guy and their SAC to get them killed.

They knew the history on the Denver based agent and knew he carried the filth of corruption. His undercover record though highly successful only proved to those who sat across the table from him, that he was to much like the criminals he worked to bring down. Hawkins would use him as a fall guy.

Samuel Hawkins would use him, get Henry Burkhardt and toss the southerner away like so much trash. McDermit was on his own. He was a big boy he had better learn to whom he should make his allegiances. The three veteran officers watched the two younger ones across the table. There was trouble brewing and Hawkins would use it to his advantage. It did not matter to their leader who got caught in the cross hairs just as long as he bagged a collar. The trio did not intend on falling especially trying to protect a dirty cop and a kid.

Hawkins planned on bringing down one Henry Burkhardt ensuring his rise up the ATF political ladder and ingratiating himself further with Michael Tedeschi. Tedeschi and his three sons ran the second largest and second most profitable gun distribution business in New York. Second only to Henry Burkhardt.

Burkhardt was just an old man, no family, no more wife and son, no more little brother. Hawkins would take down the worn out fool and slip in closer to those who understood wealth and ambition. He would scratch Tedeschi’s back and the arms dealer would take care of Hawkin’s financial future.

Standish stared at the three older men across the table. They were not dependable. He could tell that right off. They did nothing to defend their youngest member. JD was a lucky kid, Ezra mused. Instead the three agents let the swirling anger go unanswered. They would let Hawkins run the kid out of the agency or worse yet may even let the kid get killed.

“Swanson will be you contact,” Hawkins continued either not noticing the unease in the room or ignoring it.

“I want agent McDermit,” Standish answered immediately. The kid might be young but he was willing to prove himself and would follow procedure, better yet he would listen to advice.

“I don’t care what you want,” Hawkins spit out. No one would defy his authority he controlled these men. They were his pawns to move as he saw fit and control their actions.

“Fine find yourself another undercover agent,” Ezra replied smoothly. He really had nothing to lose anymore, except maybe his life. If he were forced to work with one of the others across from him then he might even lose that precious commodity. Where was Nathan and Josiah when he needed them?


Standish pushed himself from the table. He would head back to Denver. He would wait for Chris to return. This would get straightened out or he would lose his job. Standish realized he did not care anymore. He belong to team 7 wanted to be apart of the fraternity that he had been stripped away from just yesterday.

McDermit bit his tongue. Standish wanted him to be the contact. The go between. He actually would serve a purpose other than getting coffee, chauffeuring people around and delivering stuff for the older men. The Redneck actually requested him. Hot damn, the Denver flunky was not so bad after all. Shawn watched with a cautious expression as the unperturbed Southerner just flung his ultimatum at the ‘boss’. Find someone new. Hell Hawkins could not get his hands on an undercover agent within the state. No one was willing to lend one of their agents to the slippery SOB. Shawn knew that Standish fell victim to some intrigue. There could be no other explanation as to why the undercover agent was in NewYork.

Hawkins watched in silent shock as the ATF agent pushed back from the table. He was leaving. Sam knew he could not pull off his scheme without the aid of an undercover agent. None were willing to work for him. Hawkins had been forced to search out of state. He had hit pay dirt in the form of Ezra Standish. With Larabee away Hawkins saw his opportunity.

Now that opportunity was walking out the door. Back to Denver no doubt. Everything would unravel. His plans started to spiral out of control before they even had a chance to start. The Bastard wanted McDermit, fine he could have the incompetent kid.

“Fine McDermit’s yours,” Hawkins answered a smile playing at his measly face. He would try and make it look like his idea. His plans would take a little twist but that was ok, things were not set in stone.

Shawn McDermit could not believe his ears. Haa! He was in, he was going to be the contact. Hot Damn! He owed Standish a drink. The guy was pretty slick.

Samuel Hawkins did not like being dictated to, not at all. He took control again.

Standish sat back down. His face neutral. He won this small round but not the pot. When he returned to Denver, when Chris called him back then he will have won the game. Until then he would put up with the tyrannical SAC.

“You better git into the organization without causing any unrest. Any trouble with local law enforcement and no one will pull your insubordinate butt out of the sling,” Hawkins bit out. He leaned across the table in an intimidating stance piercing the younger man with a cold stare.
“Is that clear?” Hawkins practically yelled. His voice vibrated off the walls.

Ezra raised one eyebrow and simply answered, “Crystal.” He hated New York.

McDermit followed Standish out of the conference room. Ezra tried to ignore the excited agent. How did Buck put up with JD?

Shawn shadowed the older agent to Standish’s new desk. Hawkins had taken Ezra’s cell phone and replaced it with a new one. The undercover agent sighed. He would have to try and contact Larabee again and give him the new number. Maybe he should try reaching Josiah or one of the others. No. It had not worked in Alanta. He had tried contacting friends back then only to be ignored and lied to. It had hurt back then and it would hurt now. He promised himself he would never fall into that trap again. Chris would deal with him straight on and though he might not like the outcome at least Larabee would be honest.

McDermit stayed glued to the southerners side the rest of the afternoon. Together they set up Ezra’s new computer. It was not very difficult but Shawn was determined to return the favor and Standish needed to get to know the kid. First thing he learned right off: McDermit did not like being referred to as the ‘Kid’.

They set up his e-mail. Ezra asked Shawn for a soda sending the kid on a menial chore. The southerner held a pang of guilt. McDermit obviously was trying to raise himself from the lowly position of ‘Go For’. Ezra needed his privacy. He sent mail to Chris, again requesting contact and leaving his new address and cell number. Larabee would respond.


Ezra followed the Kid out of the building. Thankfully Standish had convinced the younger agent that a walk would do them good. Get to know each other. Besides Ezra wanted to live to see another day. McDermit still reeling from the realization he actually played a key role in the up and coming case followed the older man’s lead. He would walk. They left the Buick in the concrete parking garage. The driving citizens of New York were safe for the time being.

Night had descended. Wind howled down some streets and by passing others. McDermit was a native and knew which streets to take which alleys one could cut across. Ezra nodded listening to the agent expound on his knowledge of the city and its avenues. Standish’s mind was preoccupied. How was he suppose to gain entrance into an organization as tight as Burkhardts without any snitches or contacts. How was he suppose to pull this off? Ezra figured he really would not have to worry about it. Chris would get in touch with him. Things would get settled one way or another. He would either be in Denver tomorrow or walking out on Hawkins. He felt bad for the agent beside him but Shawn should have recognized the need to cut and run earlier.

“You hungry?” McDermit asked. He knew Standish was not really listening to him. Hawkins really must have dealt him a blow. Shawn had been listening to the southerner’s stomach growl all afternoon. The other man did not seem to notice it.

Ezra was about to say ‘no’ then changed his mind. A sudden realization hit him. He had nowhere to stay. Hawkins had not set him up with anything. He did not even have clothes to change into tomorrow. Hawkins was keeping a tight rein on him. Fine. Standish did not care. Let him. Larabee would get in touch with Ezra and all would work out.

“Yes,” Ezra drawled out. He followed McDermit down another filthy ally around a corner and to a fast burger joint. Standish sighed, a sports bar. Figured he was strapped with a kid like JD with the eating habits of Tanner.

“I know the perfect place.” Shawn said excitedly trying to sound somewhat bored with the conversation, “Burkardht and his body guards frequent this place alot.” He cast a cautious glance at the southern man waiting for a disbelieving challenge. He found none. McDermit decided to continue though he really wished he would just shut his mouth and quit trying to impress this hillbilly. “I’ve been researching Burkhardt and his people since Hawkins started babbling about this case.” Still no reaction unless you count that annoying raised eyebrow. Darn Redneck seemed to tolerate his conversation, fine forget it, the backwater agent could dig up his own information. “Thought you might’ve wanted to know,” He finished lamely. McDermit became angry with himself why was he always trying to impress others?

Standish merely raised an inquisitive eyebrow. The kid did his homework. He definitely was the better choice for the contact. Ezra read McDermits facial expression and change in posture. His lack of communication was doing more damage than good. Time to remedy that problem, “It would appear I’ve picked the right contact man,” Ezra drawled out. Working with JD had given him some insights. A simple truthful compliment healed battered egos quicker than cool authoritative tolerance.

The glow of the city obscured any hint of stars or clouds or the moon. The icy winter wind cut through them. Standish followed the younger man into the bar. Hoping this day would come to an end. He needed to try and reach Chris.

The bar itself was not crowded. The young agent led them through the bar area to the dining room. The tables were heavy oak thickly shellacked. Thin light silverware was wrapped in paper napkins and the menu was written on the green paper place mats. Ezra moaned inwardly he had become associated with an individual who acted similar to JD, craved the foods of Tanner, and enjoyed an atmosphere that was slightly above Wilmington’s taste. God he missed Denver.

McDermit led them to a middle table. Standish sat facing the entrance to the room. Chris normally took that position watching the others backs. Tonight that responsibility fell on him. He was back to watching out for himself and now the ‘Kid’.

Ezra ignored the five o’clock crowd. His mind was a thousand miles away. Wondering what the others were thinking what they were doing. Buck, JD, Josiah and Nathan were probably at Inez’s enjoying an early beer and playing pool. Dunne was probably torturing the others with poor jokes. He checked his watch suddenly fascinated with the time piece. Denver would still be late afternoon, it would already be getting dark, probably snow again. It was always snowing in that forsaken city. He missed Denver.

McDermit watched the agent across from him. The southerner could be hard to read when he wanted to be left alone. Shawn understood the other’s need for privacy but was to young and brash to respect it. Then he thought of something.

“You’ve got no place to stay, do you?” Shawn asked. Hawkins was a jerk. He would let this guy stay on the street if he could get away with it.

“I’ll just get a hotel room,” Standish answered and then amended, “if you could just point me in the right direction.” A knot formed in his stomach. Gawd he was homeless again. He swore he would never be rousted from one place to another and be left alone with no home. Maude had done her best to keep a roof over his head but sometimes her efforts fell short,without her knowledge. He held some ire toward his mother, but loved her just the same. She at least taught him self reliance.

“Nah you can stay with me,” McDermit said. Shoot, the guy was new to the city no friends, no apparent family and their boss hated him. Shawn continued, “My older brother just moved out so there is an empty room your welcome to it.” The younger agent had been sad to see his older brother go, but maybe Standish would prove to be a good roommate. At least he was quiet.

Standish was about to balk at the idea. He did not take charity. He would not depend on others for his well being. Ezra held his tongue. Would Buck have refused JD if Dunne had made the same offer? Instead Buck had given JD a place to stay. Dunne took the empty room and in return those two had become inseparable. Like brothers, in all their glory.

Ezra did not want a brother, well not at this stage in his life. He was through with making ties to other people. He was finished with being used and discarded. He missed Denver.

“Thanks Mr. McDermit I appreciate it,” Ezra drawled out slowly not sure what possessed him to accept the invitation. Gawd he had become dependent on friendships. Please Mr. Larabee call.

“Shawn,” the younger agent returned. He had been surprised by the acceptance. For all intent and purpose it appeared as if the undercover agent was going to refuse.

The two men fell into an uneasy conversation both trying to feel each other out without digging to deeply. Neither one wanted to divulge to much information. Boundaries were tested and questioned. Barriers were broached but not crossed. Standish found McDermit to be an intelligent young man with ambitions fueled by youthful enthusiasm. So much like JD.

McDermit could not help but like the Redneck. The drawl was not so bad once you got past having to wait for him to finish a sentence. His mind was quicker than his speech that was evident. Shawn found himself easily coughing up information he did not want to but without ire. Standish just had away to get to you. Probably why he was the undercover agent. Shawn was sure he could learn a lot from this guy.

Ezra peered up from his beer watching the entrance. His eyes widened slightly in shock. Larabee. Standish blinked. The sudden elation he felt fell like a lead sinker in his belly. Not Larabee. Burkhardt. Ezra went back to his conversation with the younger agent and informed him of who just strolled through the door. The kid had was privy to some good information or better yet he knew where to dig. McDermit just became invaluable to this mission.

Henry Burkhardt was flanked by two very large men. Their heads seemed to sit on shoulders without the benefit of a necks. Designer suits stretched slightly across broad shoulders and bulging biceps. The henchmen were older than Standish himself. They were lifers. They had committed their lives to Burkhardt and would remain in his service until death. Ezra knew the kind. That kind of loyalty came with more than a heavy price. Those two flanking sentries would die protecting their ‘boss’ not out of money but loyalty and dedication.

A young boy held onto Burkhardt’s right hand. A sandy blonde haired boy who smiled a toothless grin. He pulled his tiny hand from the elderly man’s grasp. So many sights, so many sounds to be explored. The youngster did not want to be restrained. A young woman maybe late twenties with the same straw blond hair followed Burkhardt and the boy. Her actions and watchful eye pegged her as the mother. What was her relation to Burkhardt?

The young boy had managed to out pace the adults to the middle of the restaurant. Standish could not help but chuckle quietly. Kids always disrupted the odds, kept things interesting.

Then all hell broke loose.

One minute Standish sat across from McDermit. Then gunfire tore through the restaurant. People screamed and dove to the floor. Tables were over turned, food flew into the air drinks spilt and guns drawn.

Ezra watched as the mother made a daring lunge for her son. Her face full of terror. She landed to short. The child screamed and instinct caused him to crouch on the floor crying for his mother.

Standish without thinking dove from his seat and covered the child with his body.

The sound of bullets destroying glass, burying into wood, filled the air. People screamed. The bark of guns answered the unseen assailants. Standish wondered what happened to McDermit. Hopefully the kid had enough sense to keep his head down.

Then a heavy soled winter boot smashed into the side of Ezra’s head and all conscious thought was torn from him. The frantic owner never realized his boot collided with another person and continued unknowingly, toward safety.

McDermit hit the ground rolling gun drawn. He saw Standish cover the boy. Shawn circled around back through the kitchen and out into the street. The assailants had to be shooting from outside the restaurant. By the time Shawn hit the side walk with gun in hand the area fell into relative quiet. Sobs and curses filled the air. The wail of sirens descended on the small sports bar.

Henry Burkhardt was pulled from the floor by his body guard, Terry Guidino. André Mancini had his gun level searching for anything threatening. The older man laid a quiet restraining hand on the giant’s arm signaling he should holster his weapon. The wail of sirens filled the night. They needed to move.

Burkhardt noticed his young dinner guest. She crawled tears streaming down beautiful cheeks toward a body. Henry quickly went to her side.

“Cheryl?” He asked trying to get her attention.

“Bobby?” He implored when the frightened blue eyes met his. She pointed at the crumpled form of a man. Blood flowed from the man’s temple covering the left side of his face with blood. The mouth was slack and shallow breaths escaped.

Burkhardt searched and found a pulse. He rolled the man over freeing the trapped boy, “Bobby,” he smiled in relief. The toddler ignored the older man and ran for his mother. This was just way to much sound and commotion for the child. Henry watched the reunion between mother and son and felt the burn of guilt and sadness. Ohh Gawd how he missed lovely Laura and Troy.

A groan brought him back to the present. The younger man stirred.

“Easy son, just lay still,” Henry soothed. He had to get going but he wanted to thank the young man that saved his Godson. “Ambulance is coming,” Burkhardt comforted.

“Oh Gawd Chris,” Standish moaned moving listlessly. His blurry vision focused on the wavering hazel eyes. “Ohhh gawd noo ambulance, no cops, butt in a sling,” He murmured out remembering Hawkins warning but not why or who uttered it.

Burkhardt hesitated only a moment. The flashing of sirens filled the restaurant. He owed this young individual.

“Terry grab him,” He indicated to the sluggish man. Burkhardt stood up. André gently latched onto the older man’s arm and directed him toward the back of the building.

Terry bent down and hefted unknown man over his shoulder and followed Mancini and Burkhardt out the swinging kitchen doors.

+ + + + + + +

McDermit entered the small dining area just in time to see Burkhardt and his henchmen leave out the back way. Standish was draped over a shoulder like a sack of laundry. Shawn panicked for a moment. Then stopped himself from hollering out ATF! identifying himself and coming to the southerner’s rescue. Shawn realized the game had begun. His stomach knotted in anticipation. He would have to contact Hawkins.

+ + + + + + +

Henry Burkhardt stared at the owl eyed man who sat before him in the stretch limo. Standish’s head bobbed from his chest to upright back to his chest. The light green eyes were foggy and blood caked the left side of his head.

André drove the car calmly through New York traffic rush hour heading toward the suburbs. An hours drive on a quiet night. Tonight was anything but quiet.

Ezra tried to focus on the man in front of him. A car. They were in a car. Chris sat across from him. His head hurt. Where were the others? Did a bust go down wrong?

“Chris?” He rasped out. Standish could not keep his head upright and once again his chin struck his chest. He leaned heavily against the door jam.

Henry watched. Who was Chris? Better yet who was this young man that saved Little Bobby Fogle?

“Easy son, your gonna be alright,” Burkhardt whispered. Henry leaned forward and gently pushed the stranger against the seat. The young man behaved so much like Patrick. Patrick would have been about the same age. He would have pulled the same foolhardy stunt. Oh Gawd,Henry groaned inwardly. Not a day went by that he did not think of his baby brother.

Terry Guidino’s brown eyes met Andre’s in the rear view mirror. Concern and worry crossed the rugged features. Henry was seeing Patrick in a stranger. Not again. When would the old man realize that Patrick had been taken from him. Terry and André could protect him from the physical world but so many ghosts attacked their charge from the inside. They did not know how to fend off such unseen attacks. Instead they did their best. They would protect Henry and be patient make sure this young ‘savior’ was trustworthy with their boss’s heart. Otherwise they would kill him.

“Terry call Doc,” Henry spoke up calmly as if shootings were a daily event. Burkhardt listened half heartily as Guidino called Burkhardt’s personal physician.

“Sick” Standish weakly warned. Both Terry and Henry heard it but Ezra’s stomach reacted quicker. Mancini had never been thankful for dry heaves until now. There was very little mess.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah decided he would stop by Standish’s townhouse. He did not bother calling. If Ezra was sleeping then he would gripe and complain making everyone pay for the intrusion. Sanchez parked in front of the garage. He unfolded himself from his beat up suburban and peered through the garage window. The black Jag was still there. Ezra must just be catching up on some much needed sleep. Curiosity satisfied the large anthropologist headed home. Tomorrow he would call him and double check on his younger friend.

+ + + + + + +

Henry Burkhardt sat in the darkened room. The doctor had just left. He had recommended a hospital but Henry had refused. He would watch over the younger man himself. It was the least he could do in return. Henry leaned forward and replaced the blankets that the stranger had struggled against. Henry listened as youngster called out for ‘Chris’, warned Vin of someone behind him. He even went so far as to reach out for ‘Buck’. Henry had taken the outstretch hand and returned the grip. When the hand went slack and the demons rested Henry released the hand. So much like Patrick.

Terry was on the phone in the modern light oak decorated kitchen. André ran through the stranger’s pockets searching for ID or some hint of their guest’s identity. Nothing, but a short notice of transfer. Without talking about it both body guards knew something was amiss. They would wait and watch.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra woke with the worst headache of his life. He groaned. Something cool and wet mopped his forehead. Standish opened his eyes. He was lying in a bed under a quilt. The room was dark but the minimal light afforded through the cracks in the door allowed him to notice a form sitting by the bed.

“Chris?” He whispered out hoarsely. His mind was sluggish thoughts trickled in haphazardly.

“No son,” the voice responded. “Henry,” The elderly voice answered kindly.

“Henry?” The southern drawl murmured in askance, “Where’s Chris?” his voice was soft a tinge of fear lacing it. The disorientation and lack of memory played havoc with his resolve. Gawd his head hurt.

“Chris who?” Burkhardt asked leaning forward. He watched the struggling eyes blink and try to focus on the dark surroundings searching for answers. A fighter, so much like Patrick.

“Larabee, Chris Larabee,” Ezra answered wondering why the doctor did not go get Chris. Where was he?

Burkhardt watched the young man drift back to sleep muttering for a Larabee. Henry sat back in the chair steepling his fingers resting his elbows on the arms of the rocker. Chris Larabee? Why did that name ring a bell?


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