Seven Dwarfs

by Squeakypeep

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Part 3/7

Disclaimer: Not Mine blah blah..No profit..blah blah….You've heard it all before and others are more eloquent than I.

Rating: Language a bit harsh in places. Slushy, romantic, suggestive.

Acknowlegements: Mog's Universe, apologies to anyone whose toes I've stamped on - I've read so many fics I can't recall who belongs to whom. Angel belongs to me and this is my first fic - go easy. I'm Irish so Texas speak was a challenge and I have a UK spellchecker - you have been warned. I still have to have the American jokes in these fics explained to me!

Warning: OFC If you don't like the boys getting hitched this Series is not for you. Think M7 meets Mills and Boon!

Comments: - be nice.

Ezra's Story

Ezra Standish regarded the scene before him with a mixture of horror and disgust.

Unmoving on the dirty warehouse floor, the bleeding bodies seemed at one with the broken crates and rusty pipes amongst which they lay. The four black-masked terrorists stood frozen, wisps of smoke rising from their weapons, adding to the dust particles dancing in the air. From his position at the shooters' left he had a panoramic view of the carnage and fervently wished he'd elected to go fishing with the rest of his team this weekend, rather than stay in town and be stood-up by his mother. Mosquitoes and leeches might actually be an improvement.

He took a step back as a group of noisy school children, accompanied by a stern-faced nun, passed across his field of vision. Sighing heavily, he decided to cut his losses and head home. Perhaps he would rent the new Harry Potter video or indulge himself with another viewing of 'The Magnificent Seven'. Anything was preferable to what he'd seen here this afternoon.

Exiting the Museum of Contemporary Art he leapt cat-like down the front steps. He deftly avoided treading on any of the teenagers lounging around on the sandstone, in the manner of students everywhere, and headed for the Jag.

The next thing he knew he was flat on his back on the unforgiving concrete, his mouth working as he tried to get the air back into his lungs.

From her spectator's position in a sidewalk café across the street, Keziah McCormac watched the accident, knowing what was going to happen but powerless to prevent it. She was dodging moving vehicles before the victim hit the ground.

The slim, well-dressed man had stood out because he did just that. He stood out. Amid the scruffy adolescent boys and giggling young girls he'd appeared as a shark among minnows. The misfit captured her attention instantly and she'd wondered at how comfortable he appeared in the suit despite the current heat wave.

Admiring his fancy footwork as he danced down the steps she had realized he'd not seen the kids on roller-blades messing about on the sidewalk and she'd known, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a collision was immanent. Seemingly in slow motion, she'd seen the blur that was the skater slam into the unsuspecting man just as he descended the final stair. The bodies had bounced, each arching backwards in the direction from which they'd come. Ouch.

Reaching the wheeled perpetrator first she scanned him quickly, noting the awkwardly angled arms and the large bump on his bleached head. He was conscious and foul-mouthed. Checking for anything she may have missed and instructing someone to call 911, she moved onto the shark.

Ezra's dazed green eyes opened and shut in synchrony with his mouth. Finally drawing in a ragged breath he watched the dancing black dots fade to grey until only two remained. He blinked again, squinting in attempt to clear his vision, but the two grey orbs were steady. It finally dawned on him that they were eyes. Dark, storm-cloud grey eyes. With the thought that that was an exceedingly improbable color, he heard voices emerging through the rushing in his ears.

'Sir, can you hear me? Sir?' Cool, clinical hands skimmed over his skull and progressed down his abdomen and limbs. 'Sir? Are you hurt anywhere else?' The hands returned to the back of his head.

'Madam, I cannot perceive a sufficient reason to shout, my hearing is perfectly sound. In response to your querulous inquiry, I would speculate that the condition of my apparel is, in all likelihood, inferior to that of my health.' Grey-eyes blinked.

'Mmmm.' Pressing a hand on his shoulder she turned to the approaching paramedic. 'This one seems OK, Jeff, probably just a light concussion but take him in and get him checked anyway.' Receiving a nod she moved away.

As Ezra pushed himself dizzily into a sitting position he was treated to the view of a slender back sashaying towards the other casualty. At least he thought it sashayed. The swaying might have been in his head since everything else also tipped alarmingly.

'Right then, Sir. Where does it hurt?' The medic thumped his bag, with unnecessary zeal Ezra thought, onto the ground near his now seated patient and finally looked at him. 'Oh shit. Standish. We'd heard you boys were going to be some other ER's headache this weekend. Why'd it have to be you?'

'You echo my thoughts, Parish. Your bedside manner, customarily appalling, has plummeted to new and uncharted depths. Attend your other patient and allow me a moment in which to recuperate and we will be able to part company without further recrimination.'

'Mouth's still working then Standish? I know better than to take you if you don't want to go, 'specially if the others aren't here to keep you in line. Guess you're free to be on your way then. Have a nice day.' He picked up the offensive bag and walked off.

Ezra watched as the kid was hitched onto a gurney and towed towards the waiting ambulance. Two uniforms approached with Grey-eyes and Parish. They were arguing.

'He won't go Doc. No point in trying to make him.' A murmured response. 'That's right, legally he has to agree. He's well known in the ER, ma'am. Famous for his disappearing acts. No point in fighting it.'

Grey eyes met green. Ezra was standing unsteadily. He realized then how tiny she was, probably no more than five-one and a hundred pounds soaking wet. Slim but curvy, nice dress, bet there's a label on that, probably Versace or maybe… his thoughts were interrupted when she spoke.

'Mr... Standish?' she looked to the paramedic for confirmation, 'Jeff tells me you are refusing to attend the ER. Is that correct?'

English. Her tones were clipped and he'd spent enough time in London himself to recognise the Aristocratic pronunciation. She had what they termed 'a plum in her mouth'.

He nodded and winced.

'Refusing medical treatment against advice is your prerogative, Mr Standish. How are you planning to leave?' She saw him glance at the car parked at the kerb. A Jag. Figures. Matches the suit. She turned to the uniformed cops. 'Officers, as a licensed medical professional, I am officially advising Mr Standish that he is in no fit condition to drive.'

He knew immediately what she was doing. Having 'officially' informed him, with witnesses, of his inability to handle a vehicle, they could arrest him on traffic offences if he tried to drive it away.

'Very clever Doctor. You are a refreshingly worthy adversary. I, however, am not so easily cowed and wish to reaffirm that I will not be gracing your haloed halls with my presence. Gentlemen, I will arrange for my car to be collected and take a cab to my destination. I will leave you my card, should you require any clarification concerning this incident.' Reaching into his pocket he withdrew his wallet, extracted a card and handed it to the officer closest to him.

Kezzie smiled. This guy was good. She dismissed the hovering Paramedic who took off for the ambulance.

'Gentlemen, you know where to find me if you need to get in touch. Thank you.' The officers turned away and cleared the curious crowds.

'Very smooth Doctor. If you will excuse me, I must procure transport.' Ezra said the words but made no move to act upon them. He just stood and looked at her. To go with the storm clouds she had blacker than midnight hair in long loose ringlets which framed her face and cascaded down her back. Her skin was whiter than seemed possible and she had a small nose and a pink mouth. More than pretty. She reminded him of the heroine in that annoying feature cartoon with the singing midgets. What was it called? Oh yes. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He wondered vaguely which dwarf he was. Chris was Grumpy…Nathan was Doc… She was talking again.

'Alternatively, Mr Standish, you could allow me to drive you home.' He frowned and she continued, 'It would my pleasure to spend a few minutes with a piece of England.' She indicated the Jag.

He considered this. No-one touched his car. It would save him the bother of having it collected. No-one touched his car. He really did have a headache. No-one touched his car.

'How do you drive?'

She grinned, lighting up the storm-clouds. Gotcha. 'Like a Londoner, Mr Standish, like a Londoner.'

'I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with London, Doctor and I am not reassured.' Even as he said the words he removed the keys from his Jacket pocket and handed them over.

'That's taxis Mr Standish. Do you need assistance?' He shook his head and winced again as he climbed into the passenger side. He had to remember not to do that.

They eased gracefully into the moving traffic. She appeared to know what she was doing. He relaxed slightly and closed his eyes.

'Don't go to sleep.'

'I am allowing a stranger control of my vehicle, madam, I assure you I will not succumb.' She smiled.

'Where to?'

He directed her through the streets and in no time they were outside his townhouse. Allowing her to escort him inside he sank onto the leather couch waving in the direction of the kitchen when she asked for Paracetemol. Finally the banging of doors stopped only to be followed by the slam of the refrigerator door before she re-emerged with tablets in one hand and a mineral water in the other. Checking to see he actually swallowed the medication she glanced around the airy living room.

'Did you just arrive in Denver, or did you move locally?' At the raised eyebrow she indicated the sealed packing boxes in the corner of the room.

'I've lived here for four years.' Oh.


'Your continued presence is unnecessary, Doctor. I will not go to sleep for two hours, I will not drink alcohol and I will call for assistance if I encounter any nausea, double vision, intense pain or lack of clarity.'

'Been here before have you?'

'More times than I care to recall.'

'Mmmm.' They regarded each other in silence. 'Do you want me to leave?'

I don't think I do. He needed to think about the implications of that.

'No. Stay.'

'Good. I have no other plans. I'm Keziah McCormac, but I only answer to 'Kezzie'' She held out her hand.

'Keziah. Please, call me Ezra. I am honored to make your acquaintance my dear.'

Oh Lord. Ezra and Keziah. Vin would have a field day. EZ and KEZ or worse EZZY and KEZZIE. He wanted to laugh but his head hurt.

ATF Offices - July 10th Monday 10.30am

'Ez you're late.'

'Thank you for stating the obvious Mr Tanner. Good morning to you too.' Ezra eased down behind his desk and placed his Frappuchino on the mat with careful deliberation.

'What the hell happened to you? Your Mother?'

'Good morning Mr Larabee. No, my mother gifted me with her absence. She improves. My discomfort is the result of an unfortunate collision with a roller-blading youth in possession of a questionable vocabulary. If I may pre-empt your inquiry Mr Jackson, I have consulted a physician who informed me I had a mild concussion and bruising. Put succinctly, I'm fine.'

'Ya went to the Doctor?' Nathan was alarmed at this, Standish had to be hurting. He hated the medical profession and doctors in particular. On close acquaintance the feeling was usually mutual.

'Not precisely, no. The youth required assistance from our City's fine paramedics and I was fortunate enough to be checked by a Doctor at the scene.' Ezra changed the subject to avoid talking about the young lady with whom he had a date scheduled for the next evening and asked 'How were the fish? Elusive as ever Mr Wilmington?'

'Hey, I'll have you know I landed the biggest catch of the weekend, Ez.'

'JD don't count Bucklin.'

An argument ensued and Ezra sank back in his chair and watched the antics of his family. He'd been without them for three days but it seemed longer. What a great feeling.

'Ya miss us Ez?' Tanner.

'No.' Everyone laughed at the blatant lie. They'd missed him too. It had been hard work but Standish was as much a brother as each of the others. He just hated to admit it. Appearance was everything. The Standish Creed or rather the Maude Creed. Ezra was forming his own lately.

The shrill ring of the phone interrupted the banter. Chris' expression spoke volumes. Back to work.

Reception Mercy General - Tuesday 7pm

He hadn't fully comprehended the implications of 'Pick me up at work' when he'd agreed to it on Sunday evening but as the dawning look of horror crossed the face of the head nurse it was painfully clear that this was not the best idea.

'We haven't got them. Any of them. I promise.' Helen was alarmed when she saw Standish step through the automatic doors. She checked the incoming units. Nothing. 'Mr Standish….'

'That is excellent news, Mrs Daniels. However, in this instance I am not seeking my comrades. Perhaps you would be kind enough to tell me where I might locate a Doctor McCormac?' At her disbelieving, 'Kezzie?' he was discomforted enough to issue an explanation. 'I need to consult the Doctor regarding further treatment…' He tailed off at her bemused look.

'Ah, yes. Of course.' She waved to the elevator bank 'seventh floor, to the right.' He nodded thanks and turned away. Her call of 'Paediatric Department' gave him pause but he didn't acknowledge it outwardly. That explained the expression.

He sighed as the door closed on the metal box. Miss McCormac had destroyed his credibility with one strike. He hoped it was worth it. No, he knew it was worth it. He'd met his intellectual match.

Nice packaging too.

They'd spent the weekend talking of everything but work. They had the same taste in clothes, food and movies. Whilst he preferred classical music to her soft rock, they were familiar enough to be able to discuss their opposite's choices. They read the same literature and spent a happy couple of hours drinking cognac and quoting obscure passages, trying to catch each other out. It had taken a while but he'd won eventually.

They had the same inclination to pull practical jokes. That one could prove dangerous.

Discovering an evenly matched aptitude for languages they'd played anything-goes scrabble. Between them they'd managed 14 different languages until she'd claimed he'd cheated with the Anglicised spelling of Arabic words and retaliated in Mandarin Chinese. He'd announced he see her Chinese and raise it by a Russian. They'd had to abandon the game as a draw when she'd used Gaelic and they'd been unable to check it on the internet. Ezra shook his head. There was no way that was a word. It wasn't even pronounceable.

The 'ping' and 'swish' announced his arrival on the seventh floor and he headed down the corridor. He could hear soft music. He listened carefully, trying to identify the tune.

Stopping at the nurses' station he addressed his earlier question to a nurse labelled 'Sylvia'. There were numerous small figures in rainbow pajamas shuffling around, some towing portable IV's. Others stared blankly at cartoons on elevated TVs.

'Mr Standish?' Receiving his confirmation the nurse in the teddy-covered smock directed him to a familiar yellow plastic chair across the hall. 'Kezzie said to tell you she was sorry but that she was running late and would be quick as she could, asked if you'd wait. Coffee?' Another thing he was too familiar with, hospital coffee. Asking for a glass of water he headed to the chair she'd indicated. She returned quickly, proffering his drink. Paper cup. Of course. He thanked her but she didn't get the hint. Glancing up he asked, 'does everyone call her that?'

'Oh yeah. We don't go on titles up here. Makes the kids nervous. Most of 'em have met too many in our profession not to be cautious.'

'Karma Chameleon, Culture Club. British, 1983.' He identified the song not realizing he'd spoken aloud until she answered.

'Yeah. That'd be Kezzie.' She inclined her head and he followed her. Around the corner, away from the ward was a darkened playroom. Looking through the wall of one-way glass he saw her through his own reflection. She was dressed for their date in a shimmering silver sheath, her hair piled on the top of her head. Her feet were bare. Clutching a tousled haired child of about 18 months against her shoulder she was swaying to the music. The song started again.

'What is she doing?'

'That's Ethan. He's nearly due another pain shot but we can't give it to him for another hour. If she dances he stays happy and we can make it without too much trauma. It has to be HER and it has to be THAT song. I hate it. Don't know how she sticks it.'

Ezra watched with a lump in his throat. He wanted that. All of it. The fierce need scared him. He walked away and sat back in the chair to wait. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his cards.

She finally appeared 40 minutes later, handing the now fractious toddler to a waiting nurse.

No Ezra. Maybe he didn't come. Raising her eyebrows to Sylvia she got a smile and a nod toward the ward.

Edging down the row of glass fronted cubicles she stopped. No kids. Where was everyone? A sudden burst of noise had her poking her head round a doorway halfway down on the right.

A curious assortment of children were gathered around Ezra who'd discarded his jacket over a convenient IV and was chatting animatedly as his busy fingers pulled cards out of ears, casts and pajamas. She watched for a full five minutes, amazed at the dancing deck. Eventually he noticed her, as did some of the kids who whined for 'just one more trick'.

Smiling at the look of childish enjoyment behind the green eyes she shooed the patients back to their beds. Her date watched the operation with his mouth hanging open.

'Lights-out was twenty minutes ago. I'll be in deep trouble if you aren't all asleep in 2 minutes. My head's going to be rolling down these corridors any time now. You'll be able to use it for football,'

'SOCCER! Shit get it right Kezzie!'

'Catch that mouth, Hunter, it's escaped again. Justin that's an IV stand not a skateboard, dismount now. No, Alex, you did it last night, it's Debby's turn to get the lights. Don't give me that look, you know it won't work. Ricky please ask your brothers not to write obscenities on your cast and No, I'm not going to explain what it means so nobody ask. You'll be visiting my office if I hear it aloud and don't teach it to the little ones, it's not cute when they say it either. Light Debby. Good job kid. Hop up into your bunk, there you go. Everyone set? Night then. I'd better get glowing reports in the morning, Gang. No excuses.'

Kezzie led him to an office which proclaimed 'Keziah McCormac, Consultant Paediatrician' in gold letters on the door. Collecting her bag and high heels she set off again towards the exit.

In the elevator Ezra stared at her in admiration. 'You have a flair for command, Sugah. I think you'd even give my boss a run for his money.'

'I think your accent just went further South, Mr Standish. Did you just call me Sugah?' He was saved from answering when they reached the ground floor.

Conference Room, Team 7 Offices - Early September Thursday 9am

'OK Ezra, all set?'

'Naturally I am adequately prepared for our endeavour, Mr Larabee. Is everything in readiness from your perspective?' Standish understood Chris wasn't questioning his research, rather that he was worried.

'Yep.' 'Be careful out there. Don't take stupid risks Ez, or I'll shoot you myself and it won't be pretty.'

'I would expect no less Mr Larabee.' With a tip of his imaginary hat, the undercover agent was gone.

'Relax, Dad. Little Bro' knows what he's doing.' Chris shot a glare at Buck who ducked his head.

'Yeah, Pa. Ya know he's the best sneak in the house.' The glare moved to Tanner who didn't react. Vin knew, as did the others, that Chris was always edgy when one of them was out of his protective circle. An edgy Larabee was not a happy prospect. They tried to lighten the atmosphere.

'He'll be OK Brother, I feel it.'

'That's the raw chillis Buck made ya eat when you lost the 'vein' bet yesterday...' JD trailed off as said vein leapt back into action. 'Guess I lose today huh?'

'S'Ok Cowboy. Be no time afore he's back ta tyin' us all in verbal knots with that damn smug look on his face. I knows ya gets twitchy if ya cain't threaten ta shoot him at least twice a day, Ya'll jest have ta practice on JD.'


'Come on Junior. You get dad's 'I'll shoot ya myself' talk more often than the kid does an' your desk is closer.'

'Do not.'

'Do so.'

Chris called time out. 'Right Ladies, let's go over it all again… Josiah? You start.'

'FBI inform us that devices capable of carrying weapons grade plutonium are being sought on behalf of a buyer from the Middle East…'

Chris sighed. Ezra's history with the FBI always gave him belly cramps when they were forced to work together. Standish was one of his brothers and he'd protect him to his last breath but he was unpopular in the FBI and they'd stuffed him more than once. He'd better not get caught in the crossfire again.

Mercy General - Paediatrics Department

Kezzie looked at the bouquet on her desk again, fingering the embossed card.

Miss you already, E.

She understood that he had to go undercover but she didn't have to like it. She thought back to the previous evening and wished she'd had the courage to ask him to stay. What am I thinking? I've only known him two months. But… Oh God, if something went wrong…

Ever the consummate Gentleman, he'd made no effort to take the carefully controlled intimacy in her living room to the next stage. He'd sat back at one point, holding her draped over his lap and looked into her eyes. Whatever he'd seen there made him smile wryly and disentangle himself before taking his leave.

As the Jag purred to life he'd laughed at her 'What did I do?' expression and winked at her. 'Never attempt to deceive me, Sugah, for you are refreshingly transparent. You have no secrets.' That was a scary thought.

At a knock on her door she turned her attention back to her job.

Chris Larabee's Ranch - 30 September 8pm

Collecting his mail from the box at the end of the drive, Chris made his way into the kitchen. Pulling a beer from the fridge and throwing his keys on the counter, he sorted the envelopes. Bill, bill, circular, bill, 'You may already have won ONE MILLION DOLLARS' (trashcan), bill. Wait, this was interesting.

The envelope contained a single sheet of notepaper headed 'Simpson Contractors, Inc.'. Unscheduled contact from Ezra through a secure private channel. He glanced at the message.

Dear Sir,

In response to your complaint regarding significant construction problems, we have carried out a survey on your property (address), and are pleased to report our findings below.

Cause: bad pipes to the larger property bordering the above address.
Conclusion: not currently at risk of causing further subsidence.
Proposed action: To be advised.

We will contact you shortly with a proposal and will issue a Quotation for our services at that time. In the meantime, please use the Guest Bathroom.

Faithfully yours,

Ernest P Simpson

Chris was on the phone before he finished reading. 'Vin, we're going to the CDC. Call the others. I'll pick you up as I pass.'

Grabbing his keys he headed out, collecting his second-in-command on the way past the cabin.

An hour later six grim faced agents sat in Buck and JD's living room while the leader told them what he knew.

'I got a message from Ezra. There's a leak. Our Big Brothers are dirty.'

'Plumbing - leak. Got that. Larger property - Bigger than us. OK. I'm following that. Bordering?'

'One of our neighbours, kid. The Feds. Bastards.'

'OK. Got it. No further subsidence - his cover is holding at the moment. Guest Bathroom?'

'Change your pipes, Brother JD. Normal channels are not secure.'

'When did you set up this line of communication Chris?'

'It's not the first leak, Nathan. I needed to know he could contact me privately if necessary. JD hit the keyboard. Find out what everyone knows and when they knew it. Josiah, Buck, background checks. Vin, Nathan, check out our players and find out if any have been busted by the feds before. I'm going to see Travis. Stay off the phones, boys, these are big guns.' He left and the others split up to their appointed tasks. Ezra may think he was still safe but they were going to have to go some to make sure he stayed that way.

Not for the first time Chris wished his undercover operative was not quite so independent.

October 8 Friday 6pm

Standish had missed three scheduled contacts. Chris was snapping at everyone, JD and Buck's bickering was bordering on a brawl and Vin had retreated completely into his shell. Worst of all they'd found zilch. They had done hours of research and had nothing to show for it. Their FBI counterparts were making a nuisance of themselves, hanging around every desk, getting in the way.

Chris's eyes met those of his profiler who in turn shook his head, indicating the deteriorating group.

'That's it. Pack up your stuff guys, we're heading for the ranch.' Looking at the most senior Special Agent lounging in his office he added, 'your boys are not invited.'

Wordlessly, team 7 picked up files and disks and shut down the office.

Somewhere in Denver - 9.45 pm

Everything hurt. He'd been worked over pretty thoroughly. Perhaps 'pretty' wasn't a suitable adjective he mused, searching for an alternative. His brain definitely wasn't functioning on all cylinders. He had to keep moving. Someone was after him. Someone. He couldn't remember the details. He just knew he needed to be safe. Home. He'd go home. A vision of grey eyes and thick sooty lashes filled his mind. He smiled. Home.

Kezzie's Suburban Redbrick - 11.20pm

She sipped at the wine before returning it to the table. Burying herself in the novel she curled her toes into the blanket on the back porch swing. She was vaguely aware of the crickets calling their final songs of the season and she shivered. It was getting too cold for this.

Picking up her glass and book she abandoned the swing and made to go inside. Movement in her peripheral vision had her turning back and surveying the dark recesses of the garden.


'Hello Sugah.'

'Ezra? Where are you? I can't see you. What are you doing?'

'Ahm admirin' the constellations Sugah. What you doin'?' The accent was so thick she almost had to ask him to repeat himself. He sounded drunk.

'Ezra Standish are you steamed?'

'Steamed? Ah think not. Ah may be slightly overdone but Ah was grilled not steamed.' This was punctuated by a chuckle and a gasp. Worriedly she followed the disembodied voice.

'Ezra! Christ almighty! What the hell happened to you?' She knelt down beside him and checked him over. Multiple contusions, ribs broken, left shoulder dislocated. Sticky blood down his right side. She covered him with the blanket.

'Stay still Darling, I'm going to call 911.' She made to leave but he grabbed her wrist in a surprisingly strong grip.


'Ezra, let me go, you need a hospital. I won't be long I promise.'

'No. Can't. Dangerous. Have t' hide. Help me, Sugah.'

'Jesus Babe. Are you sure? Can I call anyone? Your Boss?'

'Not secure. Need t' hide. Inside. Sleep.'

'Shit. OK Darling, whatever you want.'

Painfully, they made their way into the house. Depositing him on the daybed in the den she closed the curtains and locked up, collecting her medical bag and returning to his side.

Over the next few hours she cleaned and stitched him. Apologising profusely she reset his shoulder. She left him only briefly to visit a local pharmacy for antibiotics. Settling down on the floor she waited.

Ezra remained unconscious for four days. His fever peaked during the fourth night and in the morning his eyes were open.

Lifting his right hand he brushed the hair away from her face. She slept upright, leaning against the mattress from her position on a cot on the floor. She had dark shadows under her eyes. Her lids fluttered.

'Hey Sugah.' His voice was scratchy.

'Ezra! Hello Darling. Wait.' She saw him attempt to talk and got a juice carton with a straw, helping him to drink. 'Better?'

'Infinitely. How long?' She held up 4 fingers. 'I need you to do something for me. I need to contact my team, quietly, no-one must know you are connected to me, you understand?' She nodded, wide eyed. He sounded like James Bond.

'I have a disk,' he lifted the blanket to find the CD he'd strapped to his thigh only to find that, with the exception of the bandages round his ribs, he was completely nude. He raised his eyebrow at her. 'Not exactly what I had in mind when I considered getting naked with you Sugah.'

Kezzie grinned as he tried to cover his embarrassment. 'I am a Doctor, Ezra, relax, I've seen it all before.' The raised brow nearly disappeared into his untidy hair. 'Yes well, never mind that. Were you looking for this?' She held up the disk.

'Mmmm.' He reached for it.

'Now I know you're embarrassed. You've gone past single syllables and resorted to non words.'


'I need to contact my team,' he started again, 'If I can suggest you call Vin's wife and ask her to meet you in a professional capacity, perhaps get her to bring Vin with her. She's expecting a baby if that helps. Don't give any details on the phone. Keep it impersonal. She and I had a private discourse concerning names. If you can get that into the conversation inconspicuously she may know you are a message from me. I suggested 'Demon' may be an appropriate moniker for the infant since she's 'Angel'.' This speech tired him out and he collapsed against the pillow.

'You'll be OK here by yourself? I'll leave your meds, drinks and the phone handy. Bathroom is across the hall.' Be good. I'll be as quick as I can. Page me if you need anything. Bye Babe.' She kissed him softly and his eyes closed.

Agent Angelina Tanner's Office - 10.10am

Angel picked up the phone on the first ring. 'Tanner'.

'Good morning Dr Tanner. My name is Dr Keziah McCormac, I'm calling from Mercy General Paediatrics Department. I wonder if I could have a moment of your time? Thank you. I understand from my colleagues at Four Corners that you are expecting a baby? Congratulations. We are discussing the human body with some of the children here, trying to familiarize them with medical procedures, and it occurred to me that, as a Doctor yourself, perhaps you wouldn't mind having a chat with the Kids regarding pregnancy?'

This was weird. However, having known Team 7 for a year nothing surprised her anymore. She wondered at Four Corners relaying personal information though. Thinking about the time she would be able to spend with the children Angel agreed.

'Have you decided on a name yet? Oh, I see. Plenty of time then. Perhaps your husband would like to come along and visit with the children, if he's not too busy? Could we make it today? - we are here whenever you are available. Great. Look after the little Demon. I'm looking forward to meeting you. Bye now.'

Angel stared at the disconnected phone in her hand. A name? Demon?


She needed to talk to Vin. She took off at a run.

Team 7 Office - 10.30 am

Angel breathlessly greeted everyone as she arrived in the Bullpen. They all looked tense and tired. A couple of FBI Agents loitered about making the place look even more cluttered than usual.

'Well if you ain't a sight for sore eyes Mrs Tanner. Come to put some light into our dark days have ya?'

'Hello Buck. Just checking up on Papa. Hey Hotshot.' Giving her husband a brief kiss she set herself down on the missing undercover agent's chair. 'How's it going? Any news?' She picked up the cards that were resting on the top of Ezra's computer terminal and began fingering them absently.

Sighing heavily Vin swung back on his chair and raked his hands through already untidy hair. 'Nah. Beginnin' ta think this is it, Sweetheart.' Angel didn't like the defeated look in his blue eyes. She glanced around the office. They all wore it.

Chris was standing in his office doorway watching them. He looked even more somber and remote than usual, if that was possible.

'I'm Sorry Vin. I know you were hoping to have had good news by now.' She threw the cards down on his desk, scattering them across the files that were strewn over it. He and Chris both focussed on the single card turned face up.

The Ace of Spades.

Nothing changed outwardly but the defeated look was gone and they stared at her. Your move.

'How about you and me take a little outing this afternoon? Might raise our spirits, take your mind of it for a bit.'

Vin played the hand she dealt him, staying in character. 'What kinda 'outing'?'

'Had a call from the Paediatric Department at Mercy. They need someone to do a 'baby in the tummy' talk with the kids and being a doctor and filling the other criteria, they asked me. So, you want to come along and entertain some sick kids, Papa-to-be?'

'Kids? Angel, I don't know nuthin' about kids.' Push it some more, can't be seen to give in too easy.

Heads came up around the office as Buck, JD, Josiah and Nathan caught on to the blatant lie. They all knew how much personal time Tanner invested with the kids in Purgatorio. Something was going down.

'Precisely. You need the practice and you need to think about something other that your missing colleague. Can you spare him Chris?'

'Can we all come?' JD

'Sounds like fun.' Buck

'I could do with a distraction, my head's buzzing.' Nathan

The team knew instinctively something was up, although the FBI watchdogs lurking around didn't seem to notice. Everyone wanted in.

'Well boys I think we could all do with a couple of hours off to get our heads together. Angel, talk to the hospital and get back to me. If it's Ok with them I'll clear it with Travis.' Chris left the Tanners to complete their visit privately. Outwardly serene, inside his heart started to beat again. Contact. Standish was still with them.

Paediatrics Ward - Mercy General 3.30pm

'Strike 2 Hunter. One more dirty word and I'll have you bathed so deep in disinfectant you'll still be able to taste it at Christmas. Justin, don't surf on that gurney please, or I'll be piecing your other arm together and the only casts left are pink. Marie-Louise you have to share the pencils and I see you still haven't drunk all your water. Do it now. Debby play nicely with Eric. Eric? Why is Eric here? He's supposed to be in Physio. SYLVIA!' A small dark elf in a lab coat came barrelling up to the nurses' station. Giving the assembled group a quick glance she focussed on the solitary woman. 'Angel? Great. Just give me a minute will you?' They all exchanged glances at her accent.

'Sylvia, check with Physio and see why Eric hasn't been collected. Ethan needs his Nappy… diaper… changed and Justin needs a keeper, see if Hunter can keep him out of trouble.'

'Angel? Gentlemen? Please follow me to my office and I'll fill you in. There are subjects that need to be avoided at all costs when dealing with the Kids. Please refer to yourselves at all times by your first names and do not under any circumstances use any medical titles, it freaks out the little ones.' She ended the monologue as she shut the door.

Holding up her hands as all the mouths opened at once, Kezzie indicated they should sit. 'Welcome to the madhouse, I'm Kezzie. This will be quicker if I just tell you what I know but first let's see who we have here. Angel, Vin, Chris, Nathan, Josiah and the terrible twins.' She looked for and received confirmation from each of them.

'Hmmm. The descriptions I received were very accurate.'

'They always are.' Chris regarded the elf who stared straight back. 'How do we know you are genuine? You're not from around here are you?'

She snorted inelegantly. 'Hmmm. I see your point. Well let me see if I can convince you. Vin. I'm sorry if this puts you in the mire but… I know who applied for all Chris's free Viagra samples.'

Vin choked and was glared at by Chris. 'It was his idea Cowboy.'

Nathan stepped forward. 'Doctor… I mean Kezzie, how is he?'

'He's been better. I've patched him up best I could under the circumstances but I would like him scanned and X-rayed. He turned up in my garden with concussion, a shallow stab wound on the right side and the lower two ribs probably broken on the left. He had a dislocated left shoulder and badly beaten hands along with multiple bruising and some minor lacerations. I would say his face is under there somewhere but if he hadn't opened his mouth I wouldn't have recognised him. He's been out with a fever for four days, he only came around this morning. Only things he said when he appeared was not to call emergency, that contacting you would be too risky and that he wanted to sleep.'

'Ez, always wants to sleep.' To their disappointment the Doc didn't respond to the enquiring looks.

'You know each other before or did he just get lucky?'

'We met a few months ago when he was felled by a wheeled teenager.'

'I remember.' When no more information was forthcoming Chris asked 'Can we see him?'

'He's at my house and I don't have set visiting hours. If you can get in and out without risking his safety, sure. JD I have something for you.' She fished out the disk and handed it to the techno whiz. 'Don't look at me I have no idea what's on it. I'm not used to all this subterfuge. He has a copy at the house. You are welcome to use my laptop it's in the bag.'

There was a call from outside. 'Kezzie, you're needed in the labor ward, they've got a premie coming.'

'We'd better get out of here before the kids come find us. As to that, keep it simple, if you get stuck baffle them with big words.'

'Buck doesn't know any, or if he does you're gonna need a barrel of disinfectant to bathe him deep!' JD got a cuff on the head for his trouble. He picked up the laptop and set off to find himself somewhere to work.

Everyone except Chris left the office, smiling. He looked at Kezzie. 'Thank you.'

'I didn't do it for you.'

'Exactly.' The black-clad blond winked and followed his friends to chat to the kids. He found he was looking forward to something for the first time since the whole fiasco started, thanks to a small English dynamo.

Kezzie's House - 6.30 pm

Ezra was lying exactly where she'd left him. The room was tidy except for a couple of books tossed on the floor. He appeared to be asleep but his eyes opened as soon as she stepped into the room.

Kezzie took the hand he extended towards her and was pulled down. He let go of her hand and slipped his behind her head. Touching the corner of her mouth with his tongue he demanded and was given access. He nibbled her lower lip before releasing her.

'Good evening, Snow White.'

'I think I prefer Sugah. Hello Ezra, how are you feeling?'

'I would assume that I am recuperating at an appropriate pace. How did you fare with your clandestine assignment? Have I been welcomed back from the chilly embrace of the sanctified dead?'

'My, you are feeling better. I've missed that impressive vocabulary. Just as well you're getting back your usual verbosity since you are shortly to have visitors.' Laughing at his horrified look she produced a collection of boxes and bags from designer shops. 'I thought perhaps you might like to freshen up before we are descended upon. You will find all you need in here. Can you manage by yourself or do you want me to scrub your back?'

'Are you propositioning me Mademoiselle?' Ezra grinned at her, the dimples appearing in the battered face.

'Later, Babe. You have until about 8pm but they were really keen so they may be early. Call me if you need anything and don't get the stitches wet.'

'Oh, I nearly forgot. Vin sent this.' She handed him a small handgun. Ezra smiled. Trust Mr Tanner to think of that.