Points of Authority

by Twyla Jane

The disclaimer is and always will be I don’t own ‘em and never made a plug nickel off ‘em. Thanks to Mog for creating and opening up the ATF AU.I’ve added my own twist to the AU, which I completely blame Angela B and Mac Cready for allowing this to creep into my head. In this Alternate reality Ezra is 15 years old and the first in the “Points of Authority” series. 1/20/03

Big fat droplets of rain spattered against the sash, rivulets streamed down the glass in an intricate manner. The gray sky oddly illuminated the large casement window; the faint light cast through the wrought iron bars did little to disperse the heavy shadows that blanketed the room. Chris slowly blinked trying to clear his blurry vision and get a better fix on his surroundings bringing a hazy question to mind.

 Why am I on the floor?

 A gut-wrenching wave of nausea and pain assailed the bewildered man as he sat up abruptly halting the move. Tremors coursed through Larabee as he sagged back against the cool tile gasping. A smooth southern voice drawled out the shadows as consciousness threatened to slip from Chris’ grasp.

“An injudicious decision on your part sir, it might be in your best interest to refrain from any further movement.”

The softly spoken words triggered his memory causing him to hiss out an urgent question all the while desperately trying to not vomit. “Are you okay?”

“Considering the circumstances…” The speaker abruptly hushed Chris who had to strain to hear the faint sound of footsteps. “Seems we have company, it might be prudent for you to resume your reposed state.” There was a quiet shuffling across the floor followed by a sharp creak and a soft thump letting Larabee know he was alone again.


 His train of thought was addled at best but Chris had a vague recollection that his unseen companion had come and gone before. The bewildered man didn’t ponder those thoughts for long when the door slammed open. Trying to twist away from the blinding light that flooded the room sent Larabee over the edge sliding him abruptly into a pain free oblivion.


Watching from a cramped air duct fifteen year-old Ezra Standish held his breath and waited. He couldn’t see well, the louvers blocked his new vantage point but he could clearly hear the voices of two men waft up as one hovered over the prone blond.

“He still out?” Questioned bigger man standing back a few feet apparently having learned his lesson from their last encounter with the ATF agent watching as his cohort rolled senseless man onto his side.

“Wasn’t a second ago…” the smaller of the lumbering pair shrugged roughly pushing the unconscious Larabee onto his belly.

“Then better do as the boss said…”

The teen could hear the metal click of handcuffs as they locked into place. A moment later the room was plunged into darkness and the heavy door slammed shut.


Safe for the moment, Ezra let out a slow breath and allowed his head to rest against his hands trying to compose himself as fine tremors shook his body. Definitely not the way to start the day, the boy grimaced at the fleeting thought knowing he had already had worse days. Not wanting to mull over that particularly morose aspect of his young life, he cast it aside deciding instead to concentrate on what sounds he could hear.

Enough time had passed for the boy. He gently popped off the register and carefully wiggled out of his hiding place, hanging on to some nearby piping before quietly dropping to the floor. Quickly treading across the cold tile floor, Ezra knelt down and checked the older man’s pulse relieved to find a slow steady beat. Satisfied he resumed his former post and waited for Larabee to wake.

Thirteen and a half hours earlier…

Inside the Federal Building, Chris Larabee struggled to put his jacket without interrupting the conversation he was having on the phone. “No… No… No… As far as I am concerned it’s still a go…” He had the garment half on when his oldest of friends leaned on the doorframe and smiled. The tall mustached agent didn’t say a word when his boss glared at him he merely tapped his watch and waggled his eyebrows. Chris scowled at him before raising an index finger on his semi free hand indicating to give him a moment. Wilmington shrugged and disappeared back into the hall leaving Larabee to finish his conversation with A.D. Travis. “No sir, it’ll be addressed first thing Monday morning…no, I understand…you have a good weekend too.”The blond let out a sigh as he hung up the receiver thankful it was a short day as he slipped his other arm through his coat and followed Buck’s path out the door.


Across town a small russet haired teen stood at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change. Even to the casual eye the neatly attired young man seemed slightly over dressed for the cool early autumn weather in a thick wool coat and matching accessories. But the dip in the temperature had caused a chill to settle in Ezra Standish bones. The extra layer of clothing did little to warm him and at the moment his didn’t want to draw any unneeded attention. The light changed to a steady green, shifting his heavy backpack to a more comfortable position trying not to wince as dull twinge of pain pulled at his side when Ezra stepped off the curb and headed to other side of the street.


“Who are we picking up?” Chris asked as he wove his Dodge Ram around city bus.

“My cousin Lorraine and her kids…” JD prattled out as he nervously shifted in the passenger seat lightly fingering the canvas of his seatbelt. “Thanks again Chris…” The older man smiled normally Dunne would have turned to his room mate for assistance but he had offered his help when Wilmington’s truck failed to start up at the last moment inside the parking garage.

“No problem…”


With a whoosh he stepped away from the revolving glass door he didn’t stop to look around instead Ezra headed straight for the nearest eatery housed in the corner of the large bus terminal and ordered a modest meal. After paying the young man took his coffee and container of potato soup to a back table and sat down to wait out the time remaining before his bus departed well away from the milling crowds. Another forty minutes and he would leave Denver far behind. 


“JD, you go find your cousins I’ll park and meet you up on the concourse…” Larabee instructed as Dunne was climbing out of the Ram.

“In the food court…. The kids will probably be starving …” JD hopped down and added as he grabbed his jacket off the seat. His slightly embarrassed smile revealed that the young agent was hungry too. Chris quickly nodded in agreement and winced as truck’s door slammed shut. He took one last look at JD’s departing form before driving around the to find metered parking.


Ten minutes later Chris was striding across the depot scanning the throngs for JD on the way to the food court. The younger man was nowhere to be seen so he figured he might as well get a cup of coffee and get comfortable. He hadn’t even paid for it when a commotion began out of his line of sight somewhere off to the left. The sound of gunfire briefly silenced the area only to broken by a woman’s panicked scream.Instinct had the agent waving his fellow customers down to the floor while Larabee crouched and deftly pulled out his service weapon.

A dark heavyset man with wild looking red hair shuffled sideways into the eatery dragging along a petrified older woman, one arm was wrapped around her midsection the other held a pistol firmly under her pale bony chin. He immediately noticed Chris and growled out.

“Put yer weapon down.” Larabee conceded and relaxed his grip on the pistol letting the weapon dangle loosely from his index finger before setting it on the floor and sliding it towards the gunman, who promptly toed it into the wall as his two companions entered the luncheonette with guns drawn. If there was any doubt the red head was in charge it was quickly erased when he started barking out orders “Close the gawd damn security door b’fore the cops get any bright ideas…”

The sandy haired pock faced male hopped across the counter and hauled the cashier to his feet forcing her to open the register. A split second later he tossed the key to the door’s control switch his balding counter part allowing the man to engaged it. The motor droned briefly and the rolling steel shutter slid down and locked into place.


With everyone’s focus at the front, fifteen-year-old Ezra Standish decided it was an opportune moment to escape. The youngster quietly crept across the floor unnoticed by the participants of the unfolding drama at the front of the store. He had almost made it to back door when the strap of his backpack caught on the bus tray sending a pan full of dishes crashing to the floor drawing all eyes his way. Scrambling through the mess the teen dropped his pack and bolted just as someone shouted out.

“Get the little bastard…”

A loud pop sounded off as a slug ricocheted past his head failed to stop the boy’s flight another went off as clawed the rear door open briefly catching a glimpse of the scene he was leaving behind. A blond man was struggling with one of the gunman preventing the individual from continuing to fire in his direction. But as quick as that struggle began it was lost when his rescuer was clipped with a pistol grip, slipped boneless to the floor and was subjected to a flurry of kicks as the heavy metal door shut completely obscuring his view.Not wasting another second Ezra unbuckled his belt and slipped it off looping it around the door pull and the handrail wrapping it through twice before re-buckling. He flew down the stairs, stood for a second in the dim light before realizing his mistake the fire exit was chained shut. The only way out was the way he came in, he could hear the heavy thumps against the door upstairs and knowing he hadn’t a second to spare Ezra did the only thing he could, he hid.


A few minutes later pock face re-emerged from the cellar storeroom shaking his head. “That kid ain’t down there… place is sealed up tighter than a drum but he ain’t there…”

Wild hair barely contained his vehemence biting out his response as he angrily glared about the room. Causing the six conscious hostages to cringe as they cowered on the floor. “Better find out why, because if he got out the cops can get in and while yer at it take Hero down with ya.”The pock face grunted as he picked up Larabee, heaving him onto one shoulder before heading back towards the cellar. Upon reaching the stairs he let loose his hold allowing the oblivious ATF agent to plummet ass over teakettle down the steps.


The muffled blare of sirens were lost in a thunderous crash as pock face accidentally knocked over a storage unit sending its entire contents of cook pans and utensils skittering across the tiled floor. Amidst the din Ezra slunk further back into the air duct. Although no longer able to see he knew the man was pissed as a steady stream of expletives spewed out as a shout came from above.

“What the hell is going on?”

“Nothing…the kid ain’t down here man…” The growing frustration was evident to the teen as pock face yelled back unable to do anything else he waited.


The minutes slowly ticked by, the sweat was starting to drip down Ezra’s face and his arms were starting to go numb, as he lay trapped in cramped courts listening to every shuffle and scrap made fearing he would be discovered. Finally after what seemed an eternity the lights dimmed and he heard the door slam shut. Only then did he dare to illuminate his wristwatch. Noting the time Ezra let out a soft exasperated sigh, Lady Luck had been cruel, as she had dealt out his fate he had missed his bus, in turn making it the least of his worries. Knowing there were more pressing matters to attend the teenager started slowly flexing his hands working the circulation back into them. Satisfied they wouldn’t fail him, the boy slowly inched his way forward to check on the man that lay sprawled on the floor below.

Noting with a hammering heart that a small pool of blood had formed under Larabee’s head the young southerner tried in vain to rouse him from his stupor. After several unsuccessful attempts to wake the man Ezra set about stemming the flow of blood, making a crude pressure bandage from a dishcloth and a strip torn from the older man’s shirt. Once finished the teenager sat back on his heels and stared his hands, they were stained with dried blood. In the fading light disbelief etched his fine features, not exactly how he had planned for the afternoon to end. A low groan startled Ezra from his reverie, to watch with mute fascination as lashes fluttered and the eyes they revealed as they stared blankly up at him.

“Who are you?” the blonde’s raspy voice was tight with pain.

A small grin crept on his face. “Edward Sims.” But that smile quickly faded when it was apparent to the boy that although conscious the man’s mental faculties weren’t all there as he struggled with providing a name.


“Current circumstances prevent me from saying it’s a pleasure…” Ezra stopped mid sentence realizing that Mr. Larabee had lapsed back into oblivion, he checked the man’s pulse. Reassured by its steady beat turned his attention to the fire door and the rusted padlock threaded through heavy chain that held it securely in place.

Unaware somewhere above him, attempts at negotiations began.


A soft insistent scraping greeted Chris as he resurfaced in the waking world, every ache and every pain made itself known. His mind fuzzily tried to make some sense of where he was or more importantly what had happened to inflict such pain through out his body. The only comfort was something soft cushioned his aching head. After a long moment he managed to open his eyes enough to see although blurry the slight figure trying to manipulate something cast in heavy shadows leaving him to wonder how the person could see at all.

“You’re awake…”

The sound of metallic clinking continued as a quiet voice addressed him, though unable able to see clearly the injured man surmised the speaker was young. “What happened?”

“Reprobates overtook the cantina overhead.”

The response caused a hazy memory to flit through his brain… the kid with the backpack and only caught the tail end of the answer. “What?”

“Three gun wielding maniacs stormed the coffee hut.” The youth rephrased his words.

“I got to…” A sharp nauseating pain as he turned his head cut short Chris’ protest. “Oh god…” Raising a shaky hand only to have it intercepted by the young man as he quickly crossed the room and squatted down next to him. Larabee could only manage an irritated squint at the intrusion.

“I don’t believe your current condition will permit any further heroics and at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any other egress.”

A sidelong glance at the teen brought into focus what was pillowing his head. It was neatly folded and could see one of the large buttons. “Edward?”

“Yes Mr. Larabee?”

“Your coat?” Chris squinted as the young man slowly nodded and whispered. “Thank you.” Closing his eyes no longer able to wage the battle to stay awake.


Ezra watched Larabee’s chest rise and fall for a moment, in order to reassure himself, before stealing a glance at the illuminated digits on his wristwatch. It felt like an eternity had passed but in reality it had been just under four hours. The teen was about to tip toe across the storeroom when the upstairs door was opened and the lights were flipped on temporarily blinding him. Instinct took over and he dove towards what he hoped was the furnace, the colorful spots dancing through his field of vision caused the to miscalculate its proximity instead of skidding by loudly slammed into the side with rough hands grabbed at his flailing feet. The boy’s was abruptly halted a vise like grip that tightly held on to his left shoe. Ezra wrenched his leg up, his socking foot slid free of the shoe to burrow himself deep behind the furnace

It was the pock face man’s voice that lowly growled out at him. ”You little bastard…” While groping wildly into the tight space trying to latch on to him again, thick fingers lightly grazed the boy’s leg but failed to gain any sort of grip. “You gotta come outta there sometime and I’ll be waiting.”

“I’m sure that is high on your boss’ list of priorities somewhere between escaping and not getting shot and killed…”

“Shut up!” Pock face snapped out just as he smacked Ezra square the face with his own shoe. “Well kid you ain’t going anywhere either just remember I’ll be waiting.” The man disappeared from view. The teen stayed where he was for the moment safely wedged behind the old furnace, wiping at the blood that flowed steadily from his nose. Not for an instant regretting his decision to come to bus depot. He closed his eyes, tipped his head back, pinched his nose to slow and hopefully stop the nosebleed was once against plummeted into darkness.

There worse things in life than this

The old padlock was rusted its tumblers frozen in place, the knowledge that exit through the heavy door was no longer an option drove the slim teenager back into the air ducts. Two and a half hours had passed by Ezra felt he had to chance getting caught out in the open. Although he had crept out twice to check on Mr. Larabee, the man remained oblivious to any and all attempts to rouse him, a fact that frightened the boy. Prompting the renewed attempt to find away way out of the dark cellar.

In order the move with ease through the tight space Ezra shed his heavy sweater and remaining shoe inching his way through the ductwork to several dead ends. The only remaining route was blocked by a fan its metal blades rotating at high speed. But he could see by the light that flickered through what lay beyond was the main concourse. Tantalizingly close, but the whirring fan blades kept it beyond his reach and with no safe way to pass he would have to find another way.


The thin sheen of sweat combined with dust and grime smeared across his exposed skin not that Ezra could see in the low light but the sensation alone was driving him crazy. His nostrils were encrusted with dried blood that made his nose painfully itchy. His young body hurt, muscles burned and joints ached in a myriad of places. In short the teenager was miserable and exhausted afraid that he might fall asleep in the open he crept over checked on his unconscious companion one last time before squeezing into the tight space between the masonry and the furnace allowing Morpheus to claim him if only briefly.


Waking in the pitch black Larabee for a fleeting panicked second thought he was blind. A distant flash of light dully lit up the sky just outside the window dispelled that fear.The view outside was distorted by his position on the floor, it seemed odd and his muddled thoughts couldn’t exactly wrap around the reason why. Something was not right, something was wrong and it hurt his head when he tried to think. The cold seeped through up the hard tiled floor slowly stealing what little warmth his body could generate. Then he remembered he hadn’t been alone earlier, who that person had been eluded him as well as the answer to why he wasn’t home.But Chris’ grasp on those facts faded along with his hold on consciousness.

 The lack of noise woke him, the low drone that rumbled from the heating system had stopped, exactly how long ago Ezra wasn’t sure but the temperature had noticeably dropped. The chill that had settled over the room was almost unbearable. Shifting to a slightly more comfortable position, as if such a thing was possible wedged behind a furnace, the teen strained his hearing. All was quiet except for the raspy breathing coming from the center of the room. Ezra let out a low grunt as he climbed out. Every muscle in his body seemed to protest the move. Once free he padded across the cold tile floor to reassure himself that Larabee was no worse.

 At some point during the long night rain had begun to fall. Thunder rumbled off in the distance. Although heavily overcast the sky began to lighten, a sign of the approaching dawn. The boy managed a grim smile as his companion began to stir. As the man’s eyes slowly blinked open, confusion he felt was evident as he briefly furrowed a brow before he made a foolhardy attempt to sit up and failed trembling as he sagged back with a unhappy groan.

“An injudicious decision on your part sir, it might be in your best interest to refrain from any further movement.” A smirk played at his lips, the older man although slightly addled was tenacious ignoring his own discomfort and hissed out a question. “Are you okay?”

“Considering the circumstances…” The teen abruptly hushed Chris at the sound of faint footsteps. “Seems we have company, it might be prudent for you to resume your reposed state.” Once he was sure the injured man had complied he scuttled across the room disappearing into the cold air duct where he waited for their ‘visitors’ to leave.


Why the hand cuffs? Half a day had passed already so why bother securing the unconscious man now? Unless… Muffled shouting interrupted the boy’s thoughts. Ezra tensed laying his hand on Larabee’s shoulder when it was quickly followed by several rapid pops.

“Mr. Larabee I think it would be wise if you woke up now…” Roughly shaking the lax shoulder in his grip as he spoke. The effort failed. Mustering what little remained in his physical reserve the teen seized the collar of Larabee’s jacket and tugged. Grunting under his breath while sliding the much larger man across the tiled floor in short bursts, only moving several feet at a clip knowing full well he wouldn’t be able to cover the entire distance dragging the oblivious Mr. Larabee in one monumental go. Unwilling to ignore the muffled shots and panicked screams overhead the boy never let his gaze wander far from the dimly lit stairs as he began the attempt to maneuver Chris’ lean frame behind the furnace but never got the chance as heavy booted feet thundered down the steps. Flash light beams wildly bobbed out of sequence then shone brightly as they trained in on him, temporarily blinding his light deprived eyes.

“Hey kid told ya I get ya so why don’t ya be a smart boy and let go of Hero…” It was the voice of the pock-faced man.

Ezra released his hold on Larabee, without his support the man flopped over to one side with a sharp thud that caused the youth to visibly wince. A hand snaked out through the darkness behind the light and painfully latched onto his wrist hauling him roughly to his feet. “God damn I didn’t realize that you were this pretty boy… if I had me a little more time…” Pock face’s callused palm slowly caressed down the smooth pale face before resting at the nape of the boy’s neck.

“We don’t got time for that dumb ass.” Ezra didn’t recognize who was speaking so he assumed it was Wild hair but what he could tell was for sure the man wasn’t nearby. A sharp clang followed dull rattle gave away his position though driving home the reality there was no immediate egress from the cellar.A flood of obscenities filled the room, “Dammit, mother fucking god dammit… shit… shit… shit...” followed by several loud thunks as a heavy booted feet collided with the heavy metal door. For a split second the boy wondered why he had bothered leaving the safety his bed just as quickly remembering why, without intending too let out a sound that was half way between a snort and a chuckle.


Having his head wrenched back by a fistful of hair was the price Ezra paid for the indiscretion doing his best not to cringe feeling the hot breath and spittle as across his upturned face Pock-face spat out. “You think this is funny?” This time he had the sense to hold his tongue. Wild hair’s frustration with the chained door quickly overshadowed the vile cretin that held onto him as the man fired off a whole clip into the steel door setting off a agonizing din that caught his captor off guard. The boy almost managed to squirm free leaving pock-face barely clinging onto a fist full of his shirt.

“Oh no ya don’t… ” was grunted out just as a thin elbow solidly connected with the man’s hip. But Ezra’s flight was short lived a fraction of a second later he was knocked flat and firmly pinned to the floor. “You ain’t getting away from me that easy…come on git up…”

Forced to feet Pock face maintained excruciatingly painful hold on his hair, Ezra felt like it was going to be torn out with his scalp still intact.

 There was a dull thud then high pitched creak, and the clatter of the chain links slipping free of the heavy door as it swung open. Gray light flooded the cramped basement. An object came whizzing through the opening followed quickly by another. The teen didn’t have a chance to react as a series of rapid blue flashes briefly illuminated the cellar accompanied by a low hissing sound.

 Next thing Ezra knew he was lying out on the frigid cement trying desperately to control his breathing, unable to stop coughing. Afraid to open his eyes, they hurt. His lungs burned. Snot leaked freely from his nose. A rush of noise, the wail of sirens, police radios loudly squawking, besieged frazzled nerves causing his stomach to seize. Hands rolled Ezra onto his side as he suffered through a violent bout of dry heaves, there was little left in his system for his body to expel. When he was a through a nearby voice tried to soothe him, but he wanted nothing to do with it or the hands, and gamely fought to free himself but there were more hands holding him. Flailing feet connected causing the hands to lose their grip temporarily. Freedom was fleeting as he scrambled away into another set of hands that held him tight he felt a sharp pinch in his upper arm.Ezra’s strength fled, as did his tenuous grasp on consciousness.


The sterile smell greeted his waking mind, an unsteady hand drifted up to rub at the object irritating his nose.

“Hey better leave that alone…” A completely unfamiliar voice quietly scolded intercepting his fingers before they had a chance to make contact. He tried to jerk them free but failed to release the warm grip. “JD, go get the nurse.” The request obviously made of the other occupant of the room.

“Sure Buck.”

Quiet footsteps softly squeaked as they left the room.

“Want to tell me your name?”


“Nope, not ‘til ya tell me…”

The insistent questioning had his eyes fluttering open. A big dark haired mustached man hovered by his bedside and with intending he asked a question of his own.“Hospital?” The boy tugged finally his hand free, scratching at the I.V. in his other arm

“Yep… you remember what happened?”

A bewildering realization came to light and valiantly tried not to let on that he was clueless as his green blood shot eyes roved around the room settle on the still form in the adjacent bed. But apparently he had failed because the man chuckled. “ I guess not and don’t worry ‘bout Chris he’s got a hard head even though it’s a bit concussed right now. Doc’s says he should be waking up soon…. So what’s your name?”

“Ezra.”Without intending to his real name slipped out as his dizzily stared at the unconscious man. Any further questions by either party were halted as a uniformed nurse came in and began taking the teen’s vitals.


“Young man, please don’t do that…” The tired nurse admonished the youth continued effort to dislodge the imbedded needle. She grasped the hand attempting to undo the device, placing a pressure cuff on the youth’s upper arm.

“I want it out…” Ezra grumbled, even though he wasn’t quite sure how he ended up in the hospital at the particular moment he knew that he didn’t want to be there. Diverted his attention to the plastic tubing that fed oxygen into his nasal passages rubbing at it with free hand ignoring the fact that it punctured with another irritating device.

“Hun, how about we leave that alone and wait until we hear what Dr. Mc Piersen says?” As if on cue the physician walked in. A chuckle caused Ezra ‘s head to pop up it time to see ‘Buck’s’ departure.

 Wilmington stepped out into the hall he was trying to give Ezra ‘with no last name’ a bit of privacy as the medical staff poked and prodded him. A somber JD was leaning against the wall just outside the room.

“Hey Kid, how is you cousin Lorraine?” Buck inquired JD had spoken about almost nothing else in the few weeks except Lorraine, Jimmy and Little Michael’s impending arrival. The Kid was thrilled to have some family in town.

“She’s fine, just a little more excitement than she wanted her first day in Denver. Casey and Mizz Nettie were nice enough to help get her and the kids get settled into their new apartment.”

“Glad to here that.”Buck smiled as he looked at his friend as JD nervously fiddled with a loose button on his shirtsleeve, the big gregarious agent knew Dunne felt guilty about what had happened. But it was just bad luck and bad timing. Actually a faulty starter in his truck had spun off into a disastrous situation, that even famed psychic Madame Cleo couldn’t have seen coming. “This isn’t your fault ya know.”

“I know… it’s just…” The mop of dark hair obscured JD’s face as he softly stammered still insistently twisting the idle remnant of thread that still held the loose button in place.

“Change one thing and the outcome could have been worse.” Buck changed tactics and got a response as the kid’s head whipped up and stared at him wide-eyed.

“Huh?” JD was more than a little confused. Wilmington looked Dunne straight in the eye and carefully explained.

“From what I heard if Chris hadn’t been there that kid in there would have been in a world of hurt.”


A simple fact hadn’t escaped Ezra, despite his assurances to the well-meaning hospital personnel indicating otherwise, he hurt. His eyelids were swollen and irritated, the lingering metallic taste in his mouth and burning lungs all thanks to a bad reaction to the tear gas. Dr. Piersen was kind enough to point out that he had the makings of an impressive shiner, but he refused to remove the I.V. because he was still dehydrated. Spectacularly bruised he would be sore for a while. The teen was silently thankfully as his memory started to come back, that Buck, obviously a friend of Mr. Larabee, was not in the room when the doctor had him open the hospital jonny revealing a vivid purple and black boot print stamped across his upper spine into shoulder blade along with mottled bruising that decorated his ribcage.

The doctor said he was lucky to survive the ordeal at the bus station. Ezra simply didn’t correct him happy to be allowed to go back to sleep knowing that despite their best efforts he hadn’t given his full name.

 The low lights from the hall softly illuminated the room as the slight figure stiffly slid from his bed shuffled barefoot over to the closet. A silent ‘thank you’ was offered up as the youth awkwardly tugged the less than clean clothing off the hangers, not particularly happy about their fetid state but that they were at all. With somewhat stilted movements he slumped down into a chair trying rumpled clothing clutched in his lap attempting to pull his pants on withless than perfect dexterity. The task hampered further by the inexplicable growth of the distance between his hands and his feet. It hadn’t seemed that far when he had started but now they were painfully out of reach.Ezra sat quietly contemplating how to accomplish the feat when a raspy voice startled him from his thoughts.

“Hey…where you going?”

The boy’s head snapped up to see that Chris Larabee was looking at him. The man’s eyes were squinted barely open but he was indeed awake if not exactly alert. Hoping that perhaps a diversionary tactic would work he spoke. “Ah Mr. Larabee I trust you’re feeling better than the last time we spoke?”

But it seemed the ploy wasn’t going over because Larabee ignored his questioned and rasped out again. “Where you going?”

An unspoken response lingered on his lips ‘I have no idea anymore.’ He had been so sure before this fiasco, but now he was tired and it seemed that every muscle and every fiber of his body ached.

“No where.. just merely inspecting the damage inflicted on my attire.” Ezra was beginning to think that Mr. Larabee didn’t have both his oars in the water, a slight prevarication would do no harm.But the man insistently repeated the question.

“Where are you going?”

“Back to bed, Mr. Larabee.” Ezra allowed the garments to slip from his fingers and bit back a groan as he stood up, thinking what difference would one more day make and as much as the young man hated to admit he was not up to the rigors of traveling, finally giving into to his weariness as he stiffly climbed back into bed.

 The room’s only completely lucid occupant had gone unnoticed by the teenager watched on as the boy finally drifted off to sleep.

“Ya know Stud I think that boy’s got big troubles.”


“Yup, It’s me… you just shut those eyes. I’ll keep an eye the boy.” Buck leaned forward and grasped his arm.

His mind far too jumbled to argue, Chris gave up the feeble struggle to stay within the waking world.


The morning brought on an influx of visitors. The quiet easy going Vin Tanner was the first to cross over the threshold in the morning greeted by a sleepy Wilmington.

“Mornin’ Vin.”

“Mornin’ yerself, why don’t ya drag yer ass home and into bed.” Vin extended a hand to Buck who took it allowing himself to be pulled to his feet. Spending the night in the hard plastic chair had left his muscles sore and cramped. The weary mustached ladies man let out a yawn. Joints popped as he stretched his arms out above his head.

“Nah too late for that might be enough time to grab a quick shower, some coffee and a bite to eat before I head back into the office.”

“How is he?” Vin hadn’t taken his eyes off Larabee since he entered the room.

“Better, stubborn cuss woke up a few times last night more worried about the kid than himself. At least the last time he woke his brain was tracking a bit better.” Buck stood by the bed lightly grasping his long time friend’s hand. “I’m gonna go Stud, but don’t worry Junior’s here and he’ll watch over thing while I’m gone. You don’t have to worry about a thing.”

Although half asleep, Larabee’s head moved towards the sound of the familiar voice and mumbled something the other man could quite make out then repeated it in a slightly louder voice. “Hey Buck its Sunday go home.”

After Chris’ raspy comment Vin had no trouble hustling Buck out of the room.

 The lanky Texan’s visit came long before the sun the rose. A lopsided grin graced his face when Chris first stirred after Wilmington’s departure he leaned in close to talk to his friend. Pain filled eyes slowly blinked open and looked up at him.

“Hey Cowboy, ya sure know how to piss folk off.” The smirk never left Vin’s face as he spoke.

“Fuck you Tanner!”

“You ain’t my type.”

“Shut up…” Chris half-heartedly growled back. “Can’t ya see the kid’s sleeping?”

A remark, Tanner responded to with a snort then addressed the boy. “Kid don’t let Larabee bother you, he’s a bit crotchety when bad guys do the River Dance on his head.”

Even though Ezra had been feigning sleep, he hadn’t fooled the longhaired man for a second. He let out a small sigh but said nothing as he gave up the failed ruse and sat up trying to figure out what these men wanted from him.

The steady stream of visitors came as the morning wore on most came to see one groggy ATF agent wandering in as soon as the staff allowed them but an unwelcome few came to see a tightlipped fifteen year old. The first was a police officer, Officer Boese who came to take the boy’s statement, the youth now know as Ezra offered up little useful information. Simply stating that he had spent most of his time hidden in the cellar having not gotten a good look at the gunmen and simply did not answer any questions regarding information about himself or the whereabouts of his family. The boy’s placid face gave away nothing. Drifting in and out of sleep, long after his friends had returned to the office Chris lay in his bed silently observing the byplay. Though he thought Ezra’s behavior was odd he hadn’t said a word.

An older gentleman Mr. O’Dell from Social Services came later in the morning to inform Ezra, since the youth was unwilling to provide them with a name of a legal guardian or family member as a minor child his care had been temporarily signed over to the courts making him a ward of the state. Upon his release from the hospital later that day he would be placed into foster care.

As soon as O’Dell left the teen ’s shoulders sagged slightly, unaware that he was being watched. For the first time since the day started the occupants of the hospital room were alone. For a long moment Ezra “with no last name” looked so forlorn and pitifully lost until Chris lightly coughed and that disturbingly serene visage slipped into place on the youth’s pale face.

“Ezra… it is Ezra not Eddie Sims?” When the boy continued to stare blankly at the open door and opting not to respond to the question. Larabee continued on ignoring the throbbing in the base of his skull. “Kid, I may not remember a lot about happened at the bus station, but I do recall a few things one of them being you were not afraid. When three gun-toting jackasses took over the diner you remained calm and clearheaded. But now that’s over you are terrified. So scared that someone might find out who you are that you’d rather become a ward of the court than give up a name of a relative.” The fifteen year old neither flinched nor said a word instead remaining rigid as he sat staring out the door so Chris paused for a moment before speaking again. “I’m not going to ask you to trust me, all I ask is that you let me try to help you. Just think about it okay?”

The boy stiffly nodded.

Larabee sank back wincing as the painfully throbbing increased in tempo weary from being awake too long, the thought that followed him as he drifted off was extending the offer enough?

Listening as the man’s breathing finally steadied and slowed into the steady rhythm of sleep, Ezra knew he was out of options and had no other choice but take Mr. Larabee’s offer. Realizing that for the first time in years, he’d have to trust someone else in order to survive.