Credits: Mirisch owns the Seven, I, unfortunately do not. Atalanta is of my creation. "Two Beds and a Coffee Machine" is done by Savage Garden. Much thanks to my wonderful beta Kerry, who gave much help and encouragement.
Back to: Survivor
"And she takes another step,
Slowly she opens the door,
Check that he sleeping,
Pick up all the broken glass and furniture on the floor…"
Chris' big black RAM truck came to a screeching halt in front of the residence of Ezra P. Standish, quickly followed by two other vehicles. As he jumped out of the truck and ran up the walkway, he was still mentally kicking himself about the entire situation. Knowing that the others were as well didn't ease his mind one bit. Chris was as worried about how Buck and JD were reacting as well. They had been pretty sore over the entire fiasco and had said some things that they were now regretting.
He glanced down at his diver's watch and saw that it was just past nine o'clock in the morning. 'Well, maybe Ezra might wake up halfway civilized, even though it is early for him.' He knocked sharply and waited for Ezra's angry face to appear to admonish him for waking him so early but no one appeared. Impatiently, the man in black knocked again, louder this time. Still the interior of the condo remained silent and unmoving.
He motioned to Vin to go around the side. "Josiah," he said. "Check the back and the garage. JD…JD!"
JD's head snapped up, "What?" he said confusedly.
"Get this door open. Now!"
"Yeah." The youngest member of the team said, walking over to the side of the stoop. He opened a small, well-concealed panel in the woodwork and started manipulating the contents inside. Seconds later, he closed the panel with a small smile. "After you," he said. Chris inserted his copy of Ezra's key into the lock and opened the door.
As the door swung open, they saw the house was stripped bare. The expensive furnishings that previously decorated the dwelling were gone. Not a single trace remained of the former occupant. Cautiously, they entered their friend's home and walked all over. There was nothing was left of Ezra, not even a hair. The six friends could barely believe their friend and brother was really gone.
"Been up half the night screaming,
Now its time to get away,
Pack up the kids in the car,
Another bruise to try and hide,
Another alibi to write…"
"I do wish you cease this moping," Maude Standish said to her son. " They did you a favor by showing that they never were your friends. You must remember that I told you that this would happen, Ezra." The southern lady stood glaring at the pale man seated before her. Turning the diamond ring around on her left ring finger, she let out a irritated sigh. "Ezra, listen to me. You must snap out of this ridiculous mood that you are in. Just think, now you can focus all your attention on your God-given talents and the darling Moira Le Marque."
"Oh, stop it, Mother!" Ezra replied exasperatedly.
"Well, all you have done for the past week is sit around here and pity yourself. I taught you better, boy. I taught you to hide your emotions and trust no one. But you broke that rule and now you're paying for it. Everyone wants something in this world. Nothing comes without a price."
"Are you quite finished?" Ezra replied dryly.
"For now," she said, coolly exiting the room.
Ezra walked over to the window, gazing out at the streets below. From the balcony, he thought he could almost see home. 'Home'. Now that was a funny word, especially coming from him. Before he joined Team Seven, the word always stuck in his throat. Now, it rolled off his tongue like Armani. A single tear made its way down his pallid cheek as he thought of how much he missed his family. He didn't want to be here, stuck in the City of Lights alone. He wanted to be in their midst once again. He wanted to be one of them - one of the seven brothers. Choking back a moan, he did something he hadn't done in a long time. He broke down and cried until there were no more tears to release.
"Another ditch in the road you keep moving,
Another stop sign, you keep moving on
And the years go by so fast,
Wonder how I ever made through…"
"So what do we do now, Chris?" Josiah asked of him.
"Find him!" he barked. "Does anyone know where Maude is this month?"
"Ezra mentioned that she was in Paris, I think," Vin added helpfully. "Probably working on some new victim."
"Get her on the phone. I want to talk to her. Maybe on some off chance she knows where he is."
Josiah flipped through his electronic rolodex and easily located the number that he needed. He switched the conference room telephone on speaker and dialed the international number. After several rings, the other line was finally answered by, what they all assumed to be, a maid.
"Yes," Larabee answered. "Is Maude Standish there?"
"Une moment, s'il vous plait," the young girl responded.
Moments later, the six anxious men heard an extension being picked up and a southern accent floating across the line. "What can I do for you, Mr. Larabee?" Maude asked in a cool voice.
"Mrs. Standish, do you know where Ezra is?" Chris asked impatiently. "It's important that we find him."
"Are you telling me that he has finally come to his senses and left that god awful position?" Maude smiled into the telephone, picturing the men's faces. She could just see the worry and darkness in their eyes. 'My, my, I think I deserve an Oscar for this performance!'
"No. I telling that he left and that we need to find him. Now do you know where he is or not." Chris' patience was at the end. He never could deal with this woman, even under the best of circumstances. He was always amazed at how Ezra managed to survive her.
"Mr. Larabee, I do not know where my son is but, if I hear from him. I'll be glad to pass your message on."
"Mrs. Standish …Maude, listen, it is very important that…"
"Good day, Mr. Larabee."
The dial tone buzzed loudly throughout the conference room. "I hate that woman!" Chris growled.
"I bet that she does know where Ezra is, but she's not saying." Buck said morosely.
"There are children to think of,
Baby's asleep in the backseat,
Wonder how they'll ever make it through this living nightmare,
But the mind is an amazing thing,
Full of candied dreams and new toys,"
"Good evening, other," Ezra said coolly as he entered the drawing room.
"Yes, it is, darlin' boy. It will only be you and I for dinner tonight. Georges has some pressing business to attend and must miss dining with us." Maude crossed the room to bring her son a tumbler with the whiskey he preferred. "Oh, by and by, your former associates contacted me this afternoon. They were attempting to discern your location. I informed them that I knew not of your current where-abouts but, if I heard from you I would pass the message on."
"What did they say?" Ezra asked, with a spark of interest lighting up his red-rimmed eyes.
"Only that they were looking for you. No doubt to lay waste to you again. Don't worry about it. They shall never hear from me that you are here," Maude said, with a reassuring pat on his arm. "Come now, let's eat."
"Did it ever occur to you that I might have wanted to speak with them, Mother?" Ezra replied heatedly.
"Oh yes. I'm certain that you wanted to talk to them. But you appeared to be otherwise occupied at the time. Off blubbering over your situation." Maude stopped directly in front of the distraught man, facing him with flashing eyes. "Please! I taught you better. I am the one who sacrificed and raised you, boy. I am the one who taught you and cared for you. Not them!"
"Taught me?" he forced out through clenched teeth. "Taught me! The only thing you taught me was how to cheat and con people so that you could further advance yourself in this world at the expense of others." Ezra gulped down a mouthful of the aged whiskey before continuing. "Cared for me? I was cared for better by the various headmasters at boarding school than by you! And as for raising me, if you consider sending me to boarding school year-round and passing me off to various relatives, raising me, then I suppose you did." He tossed back the remaining liquor and slammed the crystal down on the antique spindle table. "And, as for those six men, I found out what a family was supposed to be like from them. Maybe not what a perfect family is, but it was better than anything I had ever had in my entire lifetime!"
"How dare you!" Maude hissed, slapping Ezra across the face. "How dare you take all I have ever done for you and throw it back in my face. You can get out!"
"That's quite alright, Mother dear. I was just leaving."
"Be sure to take all of your things as well," Maude called out after his retreating form, "because you will not be welcomed back here!"
"I wouldn't want to come back here anyway," Ezra retorted over his shoulder. "Have a lovely time in Paris, Mother. Have a wonderful life!"
"And another cheap hotel, two beds and a coffee machine,
But there are groceries buy,
And she knows she'll have to go home."
"All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the white houses as you walked by but only the wet blackness of the street and the closed doors of the small shops…" ?Ernest Hemingway
Ezra felt just like Eponine from Cameron Macintosh's musical "Les Miserables" as he walked the streets alone and unloved. He only hoped that he wouldn't end up like her, bleeding her life away in the arms of the one she loved. A cold chill blew through him as the rain fell in sheets around him. It seemed to rain harder over him, as if he were under his own personal storm cloud.
As he stood on the roof overlooking the streets of Paris, Ezra knew in his heart that there was only one way to fix the mess that his life had become. He glanced at the street below, noticing how small the people were. It was peaceful up here on the rooftop, no sounds that anyone could hear…
He removed his gun from its protective casing and cradled it carefully in his hand, feeling the familiar weight and the coolness of the metal. He pulled the clip out, checked its contents, and snapped it back in place. Again, he looked out over the city, over the beauty that he would never see again. "Goodbye," he thought…
"Another ditch in the road, keep moving,
Another stop sign, you keep moving on,
And the years go by so fast,
Wonder how I ever made it through…"
The six were gathered at Chris' ranch for the weekend like usual; but the only difference was… everything. They lacked the one essential ingredient that made them and their family special. They needed the one man who was their undercover agent and brother to be whole once again. The heavy silence settled over the house, like a fog that never ended. The weather outside didn't improve the feeling either. The wind and rain lashed at the house, as if to remind them of that had occurred in what seemed such a long but, what was really a short, time ago. They were barely saying a word to one another. Nothing more than what was necessary.
Suddenly, the phone rang loud and angry, breaking the taunt silence. Chris grabbed the receiver, ceasing its cry. "Hello?" he said, frowning at the crackle in the line.
Maude Standish's imperialistic voice carried across the line spanning the distance, "Mr. Larabee?"
"Yes," he said with sudden interest. "Is something wrong?"
"I thought you should know," Maude began, "it's Ezra."
"What about Ezra?"
"He's gone." The distraught voice said, "Mr. Larabee, he's gone."
"What do you mean he's gone?" Larabee shouted.
"I mean he's…"
"Another bruise to try and hide,
Another alibi to write,
Another lonely highway in the black of night,
But there's hope the darkness,
You know you're gonna make it"
Chris stood staring at the dead phone in his hand. Mechanically, he replaced the receiver, standing frozen in place. The entire house was quiet, with only the sound of the rain drumming on the roof, echoing across the empty home.
Two tentative knocks sounded at the front door, carrying across the open space. Slowly, Chris trudged to the door and opened it wordlessly. A smile spread across his face and tears well up in his eyes. He quickly pulled a soaking wet, cold man into his warm embrace. One by one, the others rose from their seats to see what was going on. As if thinking as one, they realized that Ezra was finally home where he belonged. Tears fell unabashedly as the group surrounded their two brothers.
Reality settled back in as Nathan ordered Ezra to take a warm shower. After what seemed like hours, they headed towards the bedroom only to discover their prodigal friend sleeping on top of the bed. Each man took up their familiar position around the room to be near their brother and happily drifted off to sleep.
Chris leaned back against the headboard overlooking the others like a lion overseeing his pride. He was relieved to have his family back together once more. This time they would stay that way forever, if he had anything to do about it. No words were needed for Ezra's return and his acceptance of them all. The words that were left unsaid had said it all.
Ezra didn't need to open his eyes to see that his entire family was in the room with him. Nor did he need to look to see that Chris was keeping watch over them as they slept. 'Yes, Chris,' he thought, 'no words are needed at all…'
"Another ditch in the road, keep moving,
Another stop sign keep moving on,
And the years go by so fast,
Silent fortress built to last,
Wonder how I ever made it…"
If you enjoyed this story, we're sure that Zia would love to hear from you.
HOME | ZIA'S FIC | TITLES | AUTHORS | UNIVERSES
This website is maintained by Donna and Barb
with corrections and additions