Education in an Elevator

by Stubby

Excuses: As I said in my first fic, I’m a Brit so I apologise for any non US spelling – heck I even had to change the title of this one, I was going to call it ‘Lessons in a Lift’ until it was pointed out to me that you Americans call them elevators…

Thanks to Julia for nagging and beta-ing and thanks to Mog for creating the ATF sand pit us to play in.

Feedback always appreciated.

Disclaimer: They’re not mine, no profit made, please don’t sue.

Somewhere in the Denver Court House
"C’mon Ezra, wake up, please."

It was the fear in Vin’s voice that finally penetrated Ezra’s befuddled brain. Fear was not something he was used to hearing from the younger agent. Ezra slowly and painfully fought his way back to consciousness. Where was he? The elevator, they were in the elevator he remembered. There had been a loud explosion, the elevator had lurched, then fallen. He remembered Vin calling his name, a heavy weight falling on him, then – nothing. Good Lord! He was trapped in an elevator, trapped in an elevator with Vin - Vin, possibly the most claustrophobic person known to man. Suddenly understanding Vin’s fear Ezra’s eyes snapped open and he tried to sit up, moaning as pain shot through his head and arm.

"Hey Ez, you’re awake!" The relief in Vin’s voice quickly turned to concern as the undercover agent tried to move. "Take it easy Ezra. You’ve got a nasty knock on your head an’ I think you might of broken your arm."

"I believe you are correct in your assumption Mr Tanner." Ezra looked around the dim interior of the elevator, the only lighting coming from a single emergency light. "In fact I believe my head injury must be quite severe as I appear to be hearing things."

"What?" Vin’s eyes clouded in confusion and then realisation dawned. "Nah, that’s just the elevator music, it's still playin’. It's been driving me nuts."

"Why on earth is that infernal muzak still playing when the rest of this contraption has broken down?"

"I dunno Ez. I reckon someone, somewhere must really hate us. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t the same tune over and over again."

Ezra sighed, then winced as he tried to change position slightly. "So what brought us to this unfortunate circumstance?"

"I’m not sure exactly. I think it coulda been a bomb. The elevator dropped real sudden and I kinda fell on you." Vin had the sense to look slightly abashed at this. "Anyway I think we’re stuck between floors. I can’t get the doors open and I’ve tried shouting but no one answers. We’re trapped" Ezra could hear the fear creeping back into his friend’s voice as Vin started to think about their situation. His eyes grew wide his breathing accelerated.

"Now Mr Tanner," Ezra reassured. "There is no need to concern yourself. I’m sure it will not be long before someone in authority arrives and effects our emancipation."

"What?" Vin asked, happy to be distracted from his dark and frightening thoughts.

"I said that some one will get us out of here soon."

"Oh." Vin paused for a moment, thinking, then he asked. "Why do you use all them long words Ez?"

"Well if one has the knowledge I believe it should be utilised," Ezra explained.

"Do you think you could teach me some Ez?"

"Some what?"

"Some of them fancy words. I reckon if I had the knowledge maybe I could use some of them too."

"Sure Vin." Ezra smiled, realising his friend’s desperate need to keep his mind off the situation and the need to keep his own mind off the stabbing pain in his head and arm. "Shall we start at A?"

+ + + + + + +

They had progressed through "abnegation", "abjuration" and "abstemious" and were just about to move on to "accoutrement" when Ezra had a thought. He rather wished he hadn’t as it only made his head pound even harder and he wasn’t particularly keen on drawing Vin’s attention back to their predicament. The younger man was only just hanging in there as it was. Unfortunately it just wasn’t the sort of thought that could be ignored.

"Vin, I don’t wish to seem patronising," Ezra began "but I couldn’t help wondering whether you have attempted to use your phone to summon assistance."

"It was the first thing I did." Vin paused. "Well, the second actually. I tried battering the doors down with my hands first." He looked ruefully at Ezra, holding up his bruised and battered fists.

Ezra winced in sympathy. "I assume that your attempt at communication met with no success."

"Well, I’ve left my phone back at the office. I forgot to take it out my jacket when I changed into this monkey suit." He shrugged his shoulders and indicated the suit he’d put on to attend the trial.

"I should have my phone around here somewhere." Ezra began carefully digging around in his pockets, an awkward procedure with only one good arm. He stopped his efforts when Vin sadly held out a crumpled ruin that had once been Ezra’s top-of-the-range mobile phone.

"I thought of that too," Vin explained "But I guess you landed on it." Vin suddenly climbed to his feet, unable to sit still any longer. He began to pace as well as the enclosed space would allow him.

"Where is everybody? Why hasn’t anyone come to get us out?"

"Well if there was a bomb, there might be a lot of people worse off than us. I’m sure we will be extracted from this predicament in the fullness of time."

"I can’t stand this. Waiting, doing nothin’, trapped…" Vin continued his frantic pacing, stopping only to bang his fists against the elevator doors.

"Vin come and sit down" Ezra urged, raising his voice in an attempt to get through to his distraught friend. "You’re making the elevator lurch which can’t be good for the elevator and definitely isn’t good for my arm and your pacing is making me dizzy."

"I’m sorry Ez." Vin slumped down into a corner and sat in a dejected silence.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra listened to another three repetitions of "The Girl from Ipanema" before he couldn’t stand it anymore. "If I had my gun I’d shoot the speaker," he commented, glaring at the offending control panel.

Vin looked up. "You’d be charged with damaging public property as well as carrying a firearm in a public building," he noted.

"It’d be worth it. If I have to listen to this much longer I’m going to lose my mind."

"That’ll make two of us."

"Why don’t we resume our attempts to improve your vocabulary?" Ezra suggested. " Then one of us at least will gain something from this hideous experience."

"That’s not true Ez. We’ve both gained. You’ve ‘gained’ a broken arm and a concussion," Vin pointed out.

"I was thinking more in terms of ‘positive’ gains Mr Tanner. So where were we up to?"

"Accootyments?" Vin offered, scooting over to where Ezra was propped up.

+ + + + + + +

They continued through the alphabet for sometime and had reached the letter "I". Ezra had explained the meaning of "ignoramus", "inauspicious" and "inclement" and Vin was now sitting waiting for Ezra to come up with the next word. Suddenly the undercover agent flinched then groaned. Vin instantly sat up and leaned over his friend.

"What’s wrong Ezra? Is your arm hurtin’ bad?"

"No Mr Tanner, I just realised that I have started to hum that godforsaken piece of music. I fear it’s going to be stuck in my head for all eternity."

"I don’t think I can take this much longer either," Vin noted, climbing to his feet and padding over to the glowing control panel by the elevator doors. "I’ll see if I can get it to stop. I should be able to get the cover off this thing with my keys." He hunted around his pockets while staring thoughtfully at the buttons in front of him.

"Are you sure this is wise?" Ezra asked. "As you said before, we’re damaging public property."

"We’ll lie," Vin decided "We can tell ‘em it was damaged when the elevator fell."

"That’s pretty thin."

"We’re loyal law enforcement agents, of course they’ll believe us," Vin asserted confidently, "And even if they don’t it’ll be worth it." He turned his attention back to the control panel.



"What do you think this button with the picture of a bell on it is for?"

"I expect" Ezra replied slowly "that it is the alarm button. Do you mean to tell me that you haven’t pressed the alarm button Mr Tanner?"

"I didn’t think of it," Vin confessed.

Ezra sighed deeply. "Might I suggest you try it now then?"

Vin pressed the button and a loud bell began ringing, filling the elevator with sound.

"Well somebody should hear that soon," Ezra shouted over the noise of the alarm as Vin sat back down beside him. "We will be out of here in no time."

After five minutes Vin looked up. "We’re still here."

"I am well aware of that fact," Ezra replied.

"Eh? I didn’t catch that. This alarm’s really loud."

"Excuse me? I’m sorry you’re going to have to speak up, I can’t hear over the alarm," Ezra shouted.

Vin leaned over and yelled in Ezra’s ear "I SAID THIS ALARM’S REALLY LOUD".

Ezra winced, his eyes screwing shut in pain. "Please Mr Tanner, I have a concussion…" He sighed, "I think maybe the alarm was a bad idea."

Vin grinned. "At least it drowns out the music," he shouted back, lowering his voice slightly.

"I’m really not sure this is an improvement."

The ATF Office

Everyone looked up in surprise as JD burst into the office, returning early and empty handed from the donut run.

"Hey, where’s my donuts?" Buck demanded.

"Sorry I forgot," JD gasped out breathlessly.

"Forgot? You’d better have a good reason for forgetting." The large man always got cranky when he was hungry.

"They had the radio on in the coffee shop. The news report just said there’d been an explosion at the court house."

"Shit! Vin and Ezra." Buck jumped up and headed to Chris’ office. Nathan grimly started checking through his medical bag. Josiah picked up his phone and started dialling. JD settled for pacing nervously and chewing on his nails.

Several minutes later Chris strode into the main office, Buck following behind.

"Okay guys, listen up" Chris began, "this is what I’ve found out so far. The bomb exploded in the basement of the building about an hour ago. There were a number of casualties but luckily none are serious. Several people are trapped in the parking lot and there is an elevator full of school children stuck between floors. The building has been evacuated and no one is unaccounted for."

"So where’s Vin and Ezra?" JD blurted the question they’d all wanted to ask.

"Apparently they finished giving evidence 30 minutes before the bomb went off. It was assumed that they’d left the building."

"Well they obviously haven’t or they’d be here," Buck stated angrily.

"Maybe they’re helping with the rescue attempts," Nathan suggested.

"The chief fire officer says not and they’d have phoned in," Chris reasoned. "None of you have heard from them this morning have you?"

Everyone shook their heads. Josiah looked up from the phone. I can’t get an answer on Ezra’s mobile" he reported. "I’m just trying Vin’s."

A shrill ringing startled the five men. Buck looked around then sighed, walking over to Vin’s desk and pulling the ringing phone out from Vin’s battered coat pocket.

"Okay," Chris decided, "Let’s go…"

Back at the elevator

"I do believe this is hell," Ezra moaned. Vin had given up sitting down and was pacing up and down again, too restless to keep still any longer. They’d gone back to learning more words, shouting over the ever-ringing alarm, getting to "malodorous" and "manifestation" before Ezra had declared he couldn’t carry on any longer. His head was hurting too much and he was unable to concentrate enough to come up with new words.

"You ain’t wrong Ez," Vin agreed, "if I had my gun I’d probably have shot myself by now."

"Well if you would stop pacing for a moment I believe I have the solution to our problem. Come and help me take my shoe off."

"What?" Vin stopped looking at his companion in total confusion. "Your malodorous feet ain’t gonna help Ez."

"While I’m glad to see you are remembering our lessons, I must point out that my feet are not smelly. If you help me take my shoe off I will be able to use it to batter you to death with, thus putting you out of your misery."

"That’d be great Ezra," Vin grinned "but what about you, I couldn’t leave you alone to face this ringing forever."

"Have no fear Mr Tanner, I have that contingency planned for nyself as well. After I have killed you I plan to use the shoe-lace to hang myself."

Vin burst out laughing. "You’ve thought of everything Ez."

"I always like to have a plan Vin."

"Well I’ve got a better one," the sharpshooter declared. "How about we take our shoes off and stuff our socks in our ears?"

"I think I would rather be discovered dead than rescued whilst wearing my socks in my ears." Ezra paused. "Then again, desperate times must result in desperate measures…"

"Is that a yes?"

"Yes. Come on, let’s get this over with." Vin knelt down and started untying Ezra’s shoelaces.

+ + + + + + +

"Sheesh, Chris sure was mad," JD observed.

"Yeah well, you know he gets a tiny bit overprotective where Vin’s concerned," Buck replied as they jogged down the lobby to check the elevators in the South wing. Josiah, Chris and Nathan had headed off in the other direction. Chris had been furious to find that there hadn’t been a thorough search for his men once he’d reported them missing. He’d then discovered that not all the elevators had been checked. The rescue services had got as far as the central elevator when they’d discovered a class of hysterical school children were trapped. With no-one else thought to be missing the rescue operation had centred around the one elevator and nobody had thought to check on the others.

"Can you hear something?" JD asked

"Yeah, sounds like a bell ringing. Come on." The two men ran around the corner, then braked as they came across the elevator.

"It’s the alarm. It must be them."

"Probably." Buck got out his phone and speed dialled Chris. "Looks like they’re stuck around the third floor", he noted looking at the panel to the side of the door. He explained the situation to Chris and hung up." C’mon JD we’ll meet them up there.

+ + + + + + +

Moments later a slightly out of breath Buck and JD arrived on the third floor to find Josiah prying at the elevator door with a crowbar.

"Where’d you get that?" Buck asked.

"I ‘borrowed’ it from one of the rescue workers." Chris smiled, "I figured it might come in handy."

"Is it them?" JD wanted to know.

"We’re not sure. The alarm’s been set off but no-one answers when we shout." Chris’s smile disappeared as he thought of the possible reasons for a lack of a reply.

"They might not be able to hear us over the alarm bell."

"Or Vin might have killed Ezra," Nathan suggested.

"Or Ezra might have talked Vin to death," JD added.

"Ezra sure ain’t the person I’d want to be stuck in an elevator with," Buck agreed.

"I’m not sure I’d want to be stuck in an elevator with Vin," Nathan countered, "You know what he’s like in enclosed spaces, he’ll be pacing up and down like a caged tiger."

"Brothers," Josiah called impatiently from where he was working on the doors "I could do with a hand here, I’ve nearly got the doors open."

Chris, Buck and Nathan jumped in to help Josiah in his efforts to prise open the doors. "Thank you" the older man gasped as they slowly forced the doors open,

JD, unable to see past his larger colleagues hopped up and down trying to get a glimpse of the elevator. "Are they there? Can you see them?"

"The elevator’s just below us," Chris explained "I’ll see if I can get the hatch open." He jumped lightly down onto the top of the elevator, nodding his thanks as Josiah tossed the crowbar down to him.

"Vin, Ezra, are you in there?" Chris shouted. Once again there was no reply. He looked up at the others. "I’m going to be a bit annoyed if this thing is empty," he commented to nobody in particular, before attacking the hatch with the crowbar.

After a short period of cursing and banging Chris finally managed to lever open the elevator hatch. Chris peered into the darkness, holding his breath for fear of what he might find, but nothing could have prepared him for the sight he was faced with…

Vin and Ezra sat squinting up at him, their eyes blinking against the unaccustomed light. They had taken their shoes off and they had their socks stuffed in their ears. With a heavy heart, Chris came to the conclusion that his friends hadn’t been able to cope with the confinement. They had gone completely insane.

"It's about time you got here," Ezra grumbled, his steadily increasing headache robbing him of his usual vocabulary.

"We were wondering when you would arrive to extricate us from this execrable situation," Vin added, shouting to be heard.

Chris nearly fell down into the elevator in shock. He looked back up to the others to see if they had heard the same thing he had.

"Oh my gosh!" JD was amazed "It's just like a science-fiction movie, they’ve swapped bodies!"

"Let’s just get them out," Nathan shouted down to Chris. "Are they hurt at all?"

"Hey Guys," Chris yelled down to his trapped friends. "Are you okay?"

"I’m fine Chris," Vin yelled back, "but I think Nathan should come and take a look at Ezra, he’s a bit dented."

Nathan sighed, he should have known his two friends wouldn’t have escaped injury. The two of them couldn’t even get a coffee without getting themselves hurt. He picked up his medical bag and after allowing Chris up, he climbed down into the elevator.

"Where you hurt?" he asked, kneeling down beside Ezra.

"Pardon?" the undercover agent shouted back.

"We are can’t hear too good," Vin explained. "This alarm’s been ringing for ages."

"It is very loud," Nathan agreed. "It’s already given me a headache."

"Do you want to borrow some socks?" Vin offered helpfully.

"He’s not having mine," Ezra yelled, bringing his good arm up to protect the socks jammed into his ears. "I need them, I’ve got concussion!"

"He hit his head pretty bad," Vin confirmed, "And he broke his arm too."

"How’d he manage that?" the ex-medic wondered as he groped around his bag for some splints.

"Well, I fell when the elevator dropped," Vin explained,

"And Ezra broke your fall," Nathan finished for him.

"Yeah, Ezra got compacted between me an’ the floor."


"Yeah, squashed."

"I know what it means," Nathan said, "It’s just not the kind of word you usually use."

"Oh Ez has been teaching me," Vin explained grinning. "We needed something to do."

"Ah." Understanding dawned on Nathan. "So you’re going to start talking like our long winded friend here?"

"I resent that!" Ezra complained. "And who are you calling long winded? Get on with fixing my arm, that ringing’s not getting any quieter!"

In a matter of minutes Nathan had finished splinting Ezra’s arm and had secured it against his chest.

"Okay," he yelled up to where the others were hovering, "Two slightly deaf and stir crazy ATF agents coming up!"

With a large amount of pushing and shoving, combined with a constant barrage of complaints from Ezra the undercover agent was unceremoniously bundled up through the hatch. Seconds later Vin climbed up beside him, almost shouting with delight at finally being out of the elevator and in space again, even if the space was rather full of his worried companions.

"Okay folks," Chris called, ending the reunion, "let’s get them checked out at the hospital."

"Chris, I’m fine," Vin complained loudly, "I emerged unscathed from this escapade."

"You can’t be fine if you’re talking like that," Chris argued "You’re going to the hospital and we’re going to get that thesaurus you’ve swallowed surgically removed."

The next morning at Four Corners General Hospital

Chris was surprised to see Vin’s battered Jeep in the hospital car-park as he pulled up in the Bronco. He figured Vin would have wanted to spend his day off walking in the hills, or just plain walking anywhere outside. The doctor had confirmed that apart from a couple of bruises Vin was fine and could go straight home. Chris had told him to take today off to get over his ordeal and for once Vin hadn’t argued too much. Ezra on the other hand had been kept in overnight for observation on his concussion. The woozy agent had protested loudly about this, but his arguments were undermined by the fact that his was so far out of it that he hadn’t even noticed he still had his socks stuffed in his ears.

+ + + + + + +

Humming cheerfully to himself Chris walked into Ezra’s private room.

"I see I’m not the only one to be suffering from the after effects of yesterday’s mishap," Ezra commented.


"You’re humming that godforsaken tune!"

Ezra was right. Chris realised he was humming ‘The Girl From Ipenema."

"That’s all your fault Vin," he accused his friend who was sitting on a chair next to Ezra’s bed, "You were singing it all the way to the hospital last night."

"Sorry Chris. I couldn’t help it, it was like being brainwashed," Vin explained "I think I’ll be hearing it forever."

"I don’t think yesterday could have been any worse," Ezra moaned.

"Now that’s where you are wrong," his boss cheerfully informed him. "You could have been stuck in the elevator with twelve screaming eight year olds like that poor teacher. He was a gibbering wreck by the time they got him out of the other elevator."

Both Vin and Ezra shuddered at the thought, they’d had a lucky escape after all.

"So what are you up to?" Chris asked Vin, gesturing at the notebook and pen he was holding.

"Well, you were so impressed by my improved vocabulary." Vin grinned, "I decided I’d better write down all the new words I’ve learned so I can use ‘em in my reports. I’ve got loads of really good ones, do you want to see ‘em?"

"Ah no thanks." Chris’s heart dropped into his boots. His friends would soon get over yesterday’s events. Ezra’s head and arm would heal, Vin would recover from the trauma of being trapped in a small space. He realised that he was the one who was going to suffer from the long-term effects of yesterday. It was bad enough trying to translate Ezra’s reports and now Vin was going to start using those ten-dollar words too! Chris sighed, running his hands through his hair as Vin proudly read out some of his new vocabulary.

"Abscond, duplicitous, commensurate, flagellation, hypochondria, pusillanimous….."

The End

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