by Jean Williams

Sadly Jean is no longer with us, but we're sure her daughter, Jenn, would love to hear from you if you enjoy this story

Disclaimer: Ah, if only they were mine, but, alas, they're not. Unfortunately, the privilege of ownership of "The Magnificent Seven" characters belongs to the Mirisch Corp., Trilogy, and MGM, and no infringement on the copyrights held by them is intended. I merely wish to dust the boys off occasionally and bring them out to play for the entertainment of those of us who still miss them dearly.
Author's Note: This little piece of fluff was in answer to a challenge posted to the BrigaDears list with a few revisions made here and there. The challenge was to write a fic that contained the following sentence: "Ezra knew something was wrong the second he opened his eyes. He stared at the ceiling for a moment, trying to figure out what it was..." There was a stipulation of no excessive violence, so since my favorite method of dealing with Ezra was denied, my warped sense of humor took over instead, and I proceeded to torture our poor gambler in a rather unique way.
Warning: Don't expect much, that way you won't be disappointed. <g> This ficlet was a desperate attempt to break through nearly a year long writer's block, so it's not up to my usual standards. But it served its purpose and got the words flowing for me again, which means more to me than I can say.
Completed: July 4, 2002

Ezra knew something was wrong the second he opened his eyes. He stared at the ceiling for a moment, trying to figure out what it was, but the sudden realization that his head was on the verge of exploding, and the rapidly growing threat of an explosion of another kind coming from his stomach, forced him to close them again.

Panting softly, Ezra was finally able to push back the pain and nausea enough to get his alcohol befogged brain functioning again, and made another attempt at puzzling out what had brought him to such a sorry state. It took several minutes, but slowly, bit by bit, his memories of the previous evening returned.

He and the other members of Team 7 had finished a case, written and turned in each of their reports, and as per usual, retired to Inez's tavern to unwind. He'd eaten a light supper, and then recalled playing pool with JD and Nathan... and winning, of course.

Ezra frowned. Things became a bit hazy after that. He recalled Buck suggesting some kind of drinking game and everyone agreeing to participate, but try as he might, he couldn't come up with the details of the competition.

He was fairly certain he'd lost though. A high tolerance for alcohol was something he'd never been able to develop, since drinking oneself into oblivion was not exactly recommended behavior for someone who made their living as an undercover agent. At least, not if he wanted to stay alive.

Ezra gave up trying to remember the rest of the evening. He was sure if he'd lost an excessive amount of money or made too big a fool of himself, the others would eagerly supply the details as soon as he got to work. For now, he was just going to concentrate on getting himself out of the bed and into the bathroom for a handful of aspirin, several glasses of water, and... he sniffed delicately... a much needed shower.

As Ezra lay there, trying to get enough control over his churning stomach to get up, the uneasy feeling he'd had upon awakening returned full force. He remembered staring up at the--

Ezra's bloodshot eyes suddenly flew open, and he struggled to try and bring the rectangular object taped to the ceiling into focus. It was a photograph... a photograph of....

What the hell....

Ezra rubbed his eyes and blinked several times, trying to change what he was seeing.

They didn't. They couldn't have.

Pushing himself up onto his elbows, Ezra gingerly pulled back the dark green sheet covering his body. A deep scarlet flush of anger and embarrassment immediately climbed up his neck and into his face, and he groaned loudly as he realized that Wilmington and Tanner had gotten him... and gotten him good.

He'd been concentrating so hard on his physical discomforts and trying to remember last night, that he hadn't even noticed his state of undress... or semi-undress.

Reaching up and untangling the strings tied loosely around his neck, Ezra pulled away a giant bib and a lace-trimmed bonnet. Swearing softly, he tossed them over the side of the bed and proceeded to remove the other... garments... his so-called friends had seen fit to dress him in.

Ezra's face flamed an even brighter red as he thought about them fitting him with the adult-sized, snow white diaper that was wrapped snugly around his hips and between his legs. Muttering promises of revenge, he carefully unfastened the large blue safety pin and hurled it and the diaper off into a corner, followed closely by a pair of pale blue booties. He also violently emptied his bed of everything else that Buck and Vin had apparently thought a well-cared-for baby required... including a soft, dark brown teddy bear, a big plastic baby bottle, a rattle, and a pacifier.

Ezra sat in the middle of the bed, knees pulled up to his chest and head resting in his hands, as he attempted to put things in perspective and get control of his anger.

After a few moments of deep breathing and contemplation, he finally was able to admit to himself that he probably had had it coming. Perhaps he'd gone just a wee bit too far with his last round of practical jokes. JD laughingly swore that Buck was still having nightmares after the blind date Ezra had arranged for him with a very-well disguised transvestite, someone he'd met while undercover during one of the team's more colorful cases. (Francine had told Ezra afterward that it was the most fun he'd had in ages.) And JD said Buck woke him up almost every night with shouts of "Jesus God, put the damn dress back on!"

And assuming from the deadly glares he kept receiving from Vin every time he checked his email, the sharpshooter was still receiving answers to the requests for a date that Ezra had sent out from Vin's computer to all the females in the building.

Ezra chuckled as he scrubbed his hands up over his face and through his hair. The saying was definitely true... paybacks are a bitch, and he'd definitely deserved this one.

Keeping his movements slow and deliberate in deference to his still-pounding head and flip-flopping stomach, Ezra pushed himself slowly off the bed. He braced one hand against the headboard and stood with his eyes closed, swaying slightly, as his body fought against his suddenly upright position.

When his sense of balance had finally leveled out, Ezra opened his eyes and... froze.

"Good Lord...."

Ezra stared open-mouthed at the picture gallery that now adorned the wall behind his bed. Photographs in all shapes and sizes, showing him dressed in all his 'infant glory' in a variety of mortifying positions, were plastered across the entire wall. They had evidently posed him with all his new 'toys' in every conceivable scenario they could think of.

There were several of him curled up on his side with his thumb tucked in his mouth and his teddy bear clutched tightly against his chest. Some of him sprawled across the bed with the bottle in one hand and the rattle in the other, a silly intoxicated grin plastered across his face. And, to his utter humiliation, even a few showing him propped up in Buck's arms as Vin shoveled a spoonful of what appeared to be baby food into his waiting mouth.

Centered directly in the middle of his co-workers handiwork was thumb-tacked a sheet of his own personal stationery. Leaning closer, Ezra finally managed to read the message that was scrawled across the paper.




Ezra's face drained of all color, and he began to shake as he finished reading. All thoughts of work fled from his mind, and he slowly crawled back into bed, curled up into a tight ball of misery, and pulled the covers up over his head.

Silence reigned for several minutes, and then a soft mumbling began drifting out from under the sheets.

"I swear I'm goin' to kill them. Slowly and painfully... with them screamin' for mercy. As sure as my name is Ezra Payton Standish, they will die. They must die...."


Back at the office, the two cohorts in crime were just finishing decorating Ezra and Vin's cubicle with the pictures. Both men shivered as they simultaneously felt a cold chill creep suddenly up their spines.

Vin grinned at Buck. "He's awake."


Sadly Jean is no longer with us, but we're sure her daughter, Jenn, would love to hear from you if you enjoyed this story.


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