By Sarah (winks7985)


Part 4


Between the two of them, Nathan and Rain managed to get Ezra settled on the couch and Rain covered him with the quilt he had wrapped himself in earlier. 


He was done.  Exhaustion was clear even on his slack face.


Nathan looked to Rain and tilted his head towards the kitchen.


Rain nodded and followed.


“It’s worse than you said,” she said softly as they each leaned on the countertop.


“Yeah it is,” he nodded.


“You have to tell the others about this.  About what we were discussing the other night.”


Nathan kept no secrets from Rain; he told her everything.  And the other night when Nathan had told her about the Holland case and how Ezra had almost been drowned, the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress had come up.  Nathan thought it was a possibility, even a probability.  Ezra was definitely having some sort of acute stress response, but short of him actually admitting he needed help, what could they do? 


“It’s a guess, Rain.  I can’t confirm it.”


“Well whatever,” she said as she looked through the doorway opening to their sleeping friend.  Looking back to Nathan, she pointed a finger behind her towards the living room as she spoke, “That’s not ok.  He is not ok.”


“You think I don’t know that?” Nathan snapped back quietly.  “Jesus Rain, he pulled a gun on me last night.”


Her mouth opened in shock, and she placed her hands on the counter edge behind her before she could even speak again.  “What?”


“Last night, after I dropped him off, I went back and went in to his house and he was in a daze.  He didn’t even know I was there until I touched him.  And he reacted by pulling his gun on me.”  Nathan blew out a long breath and ran one of his hands over his head. 


“Jesus, Nathan.”


“Yeah, I know.”


It was silent between them for a moment before she asked, “What do we do now?”


“What we should have done in the first place.  We don’t let him push us away.”




Ezra woke to the smell of coffee brewing.  He lay on his side, facing the back of a sofa and covered in a warm heavy quilt.  For a moment, he was relaxed and content.


Then a flash of panic.  Where am I?   He moved quickly in an awkward attempt to sit up, but found himself twisted in the quilt.


“Easy Ezra,” Nathan’s voice stated nearby.  The southerner rolled over onto his back and saw Nathan sitting on the loveseat, his elbows on his knees and his hands holding a cup of coffee.


“Nathan?” he asked groggily.  What was Nathan doing here?  Then he remembered.  He groaned.


“You want some coffee?” Nathan asked.


Standish blew out his breath.  “I should be going.  I didn’t mean to impose.”  He started to sit up, but stopped.  “I’m sorry,” he said, not looking at his friend.


“Nothing to be sorry about.  And you’re not going anywhere.  You don’t have a car here, remember?”


Ezra fell back flat on the sofa and huffed out his breath.


“So how about that coffee?” Nathan asked with a smile.


“Coffee would be good,” he said, rubbing his eyes tiredly as he tried to smother a yawn.


“I’ll be right back.”


Ezra kept his hands to his eyes and listened as Nathan walked away.  He listened to a cabinet open in the next room, and he heard coffee being poured.  He didn’t hear anyone else in the house, which he found to be strange.  He sighed and righted himself on the sofa, scrubbing his hands down his face as he came upright.


Nathan made sure to be loud enough in walking so that Ezra would hear him approach.  He walked back over to the loveseat and sat down, placing the mug on the table in front of the southerner.


“My thanks,” Ezra said, reaching for the cup and taking a tentative sip.


The two sat for a moment, just drinking coffee.


“What time is it?” Ezra finally asked.


“It’s a little after seven.  You’ve been asleep for almost nine and a half hours.”


“I’m sorry Nathan,” he began.


“What for?  You needed the sleep and you didn’t make a peep all night.”


Ezra looked at him questioningly, wondering how he would know that.  Then he noticed the other crumpled blanket on the loveseat. 


“You didn’t have to babysit me like some five-year-old,” he said apologetically.


“It wasn’t a bother, so stop apologizing.”  He sipped his coffee quietly.


“Where’s Rain?” Ezra asked.


“She’s workin’ nights.  She went in a little after midnight.  Even went in a little late.  Wanted to make sure you were situated, even though I told her I had it

covered.”  He smiled gently.




“Don’t apologize.”


Standish sighed quietly and nodded in acceptance. 


“You scared her last night Ezra,” Nathan said quietly as he looked into his coffee mug.


“I didn’t mean to cause anyone to—“


“You scared me too.”  He looked up and met the southerner’s gaze. 


Ezra’s surprise registered on his face, plainly enough for Nathan to see.


“What were you thinking?” asked Nathan, no reproach in his voice.  “You ditched all of us at the bar, and you left yourself without anything – phone, keys, wallet, hell even your jacket.  When we realized you were gone, we all panicked.”


Ezra let his head drop, and he gazed into his half-full mug of rapidly cooling coffee. 


“We all know you’re not doing well.  You’re not that good.”  The healer briefly smiled to himself.  “You can try, but we all know you.  Vin and I both saw the look on your face.  The panic.”


“I had to get out of there,” he said quietly, not looking up from his cup.


“I know.”


He looked up at the healer.  “I don’t know why I came here.”


“Neither do I, but I can’t tell you how glad I am that you did.”


Ezra placed his cup onto the coffee table.  “So what happens now?”


“Now, we get ready for work.”


“Do the others know?”


“Only that you spent the night here.  We were all out looking for you, Ezra.  I had to tell them where you ended up.  Wouldn’t be fair otherwise.”


“Did Rain… tell you?”


Nathan nodded.  “She did.  She’s worried about you.”


Standish scrubbed his face with both of his hands again.  “Do we tell the others?”  He was looking for guidance.


“That’s up to you.  If you think it’s easier if they know, then yes, we should tell them.  If you don’t want to, then we won’t.”


“I don’t have anything left for this,” he said quietly as he rested his forehead in his hands.  He was tired, and there was no way he could deal with all of his friends knowing he was so… broken.  He couldn’t keep up the façade anymore.  “No.”


“Ok Ezra,” Nathan agreed.  He leaned forward and clasped his hands together.  “Rain has a friend that deals with this kind of thing.  He’s a psychiatrist.  She’s going to make a few phone calls today during her break at work, and she’s going to set you up with him.  It will not go in your file, unless you think it should.”


“No.”  His answer was immediate.


“That’s kind of what I figured.  There’s one more thing, Ezra.”  He waited until he was sure he had the southerner’s attention.  When Ezra looked up from his hands, Nathan spoke plainly.  “We have to tell Chris.”  He waited a moment for a reaction, but when it came it was not the one he expected. 


Standish reluctantly nodded his agreement.


“No details, unless you want to.  I won’t tell him anything.  Neither will Rain.  Everything that happened here, that was said between us, stays between us.  But as the leader of this team, he needs to know.”


Ezra took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, considering all that had been said.  He looked up into Nathan’s face and asked in a whisper, “Will you go with me?” 


Nathan smiled gently.  “Yeah.  I will.”


Ezra nodded.  Now they had a plan.


“Finish your coffee.  We have to get going soon.”


“I need to swing by my house before work.  I need a change of clothes.”


“I already planned on it.”  Nathan smiled at his friend as he got up to bring his coffee mug back out to the kitchen.




After a brief stop at Ezra’s condo, the pair made it to work by eight A.M.  Chris and Vin’s cars were already there, but no one else had shown up yet.


The two walked to the elevator in the parking garage and took it up to their floor.


Vin sat at his desk eating some sort of donut, but it was mostly unidentifiable at this point.  The Texan had an odd way of eating things that mangled their appearances, but he insisted that his method lined up the best bite for last.


“Mornin’, boys,” he spoke up around a bite.


“Mornin’, Vin.  Chris in his office?” Nathan asked.


“Think so.  Everything all right?”


“Everything’s fine,” said Ezra.  “And I wanted to apologize for last night.”  He stuck his hand out to his friend.


Vin nodded and shook the hand in front of him without hesitation.  “Apology accepted.”  


Ezra smiled a half smile and headed for Chris’s office, Nathan walking beside him.  Vin watched them go, feeling a concern grow in his chest.  Nathan turned and looked back at him when they got to the doorway and nodded back at the sharpshooter, assuring him that everything was all right.


Nathan closed the door as he and Ezra entered Chris’s office.




A half an hour later when Josiah arrived, Vin told him who was in Chris’s office, and Josiah nodded somberly. 


Forty three minutes after the door shut, it opened and Nathan and Ezra came out.  They both went to their desks and sat down, getting themselves set up for the day.

Buck and JD were the last to arrive, rolling in at five minutes to nine.


Greetings were exchanged, and Ezra waited until everyone was settled with their first coffees of the day.


“Gentlemen,” he said, clearing his throat.  He waited until he was sure he had everyone’s attention.  “I wish to apologize for last night.”  He paused slightly before continuing.  “I let my liquor get away from me.  I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and it hit me harder than I had anticipated.  My foul mood and worse behavior was the result.  It’s no excuse, but I do wish to apologize for my actions.”  He felt awkward in making his statement, knowing that it was a half truth at best.  And he knew that they would all see the apology for what it really was – a smokescreen.


It was silent for a moment after Ezra had spoken, then Buck spoke up.  “No worries, Ezra,” he said with a smile. 


“It’s all good,” JD agreed quickly.  They had all been frantic last night, but obviously wanted to put it behind them as quickly as possible and return to normal..


“Nothing to apologize for,” Josiah intoned from his desk.  “We’ve all done it before.”


“Some more than others,” Vin joked, throwing a crumpled up piece of paper at JD.


“Come on, one time!” JD protested.


“You do have a nice singin’ voice, JD,” Buck said through a huge grin.


“Ugh.  You guys suck.  You remember everything,” Dunne groused.


Chuckles answered him. 




Halfway through the day, Nathan came into the bullpen and walked over to Ezra’s desk.  Bending down so only Ezra would hear him, he slid a piece of paper to him and said, “Tomorrow afternoon, four o’clock.”


Ezra looked down at the paper.  Rain had made her calls.




From that moment on, the day went by at a snail’s pace.  Reports from the Holland bust had to be filled out, Ezra had to submit paperwork from the doctor at Mercy General confirming that the bump on his head would not impede his ability to work…  basically, it was a paperwork catch-up day.


Then at about three o’clock, Travis came into their bullpen area and smiled tightly in greeting to them all on his way into Chris’s office.  He didn’t shut the door as he went inside, so by all signs it wasn’t a dire emergency.  However, no one missed Chris’s audible groan, even from this distance. 


The two men strode out of the office and into the bullpen a couple of minutes later.


“Guys,” Chris said.  He looked perturbed, maybe even annoyed, but not really angry.  “We are going to be assisting on an extraction tomorrow.”


“A what?” Buck asked.


Travis spoke up, taking over the conversation.  “The DEA has asked for our help in extracting one of their undercover agents from the assignment he’s on right now.”


“Has his cover been blown?” Ezra immediately asked.


“No, but the DEA wants to discontinue their investigation at this point in time,” Travis stated.


“So why not just have the guy come in?” asked Vin.


“They want to maintain his cover on the off chance they can use it again in the future,” Travis explained.


“So they’re arresting him?” Ezra asked knowingly.


Travis nodded.  “More or less.”


“So why do they want us to cover them?” asked Josiah. 


“Probably some sort of inter-agency team spirit campaign,” Nathan snarked.


Chris stepped in.  “Because we’re on the periphery of this one, and they want to keep us in the loop.  They’re actually trying to do us a courtesy on this.”  He paused and looked at his agents’ confused faces.


“Who is it?” asked JD.




Vin looked over to the southerner, then back to Chris and said, “Are they taking Carlyle in the arrest?”


“No,” Travis supplied.  “It will be a small deal with the UC and at most two others from Carlyle’s organization.”


“Because of the gun connection,” Chris said, continuing the explanation, “and the fact that we’ve been dancing around him for a while, they wanted to include us.  Specifically our team.”


“So are we just going along for the ride?” Buck droned.


Chris winced a little in apology.  “Yeah.  That about sums it up.”


Groans followed his words.


“In the spirit of inter-agency cooperation,” Travis said, “I agreed.  But I told them they would owe us one.  And that never hurts.”


“Hell,” Vin said.  “At least it gets us out of the office.”


“Fresh air,” Josiah said with a half smile.


“Exercise,” smiled Nathan.


“When is this supposed to occur?” asked Ezra.


“Tomorrow, ten A.M.,” Travis said. 


“Make yourselves familiar with the case.  We don’t want any surprises,” Chris said as he started back towards his office.


“Gentlemen,” Travis said in parting as he started for the door.




PART 1 / PART 2 / PART 3 / PART 5




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