Birthday, Ezra Standish (ATF/AU)
by Julia Neal
Standish was tired. Very tired. And he knew that even the fact that today was
his birthday wouldn't change anything. He shook his head and turned in the
cramped quarters, trying to work the kinks out of his back and neck. Nothing
He looked up
through the hole above him and winced as raindrops began to fall. He sighed.
If anything can go wrong it will...
The thought made
him smile bitterly. It seemed that his entire life was destined to go wrong.
His career as an FBI agent had been a disaster. He'd just been getting
comfortable with things in Atlanta when someone decided that he had to go. His
'friends' were quick to desert him there; once they'd gotten what they'd
needed from him, they turned on him like wolves on a useless member of the
Except wolves are
He shook his head
to clear the memories away, but he wasn't sure how long he could push them
from his mind. The past was the past and was better off buried, but something
in him couldn't let it rest. Guilt. Resentment. Regret. It wasn't as if other
people hadn't done their best to make him feel terrible-- they had-- but
somehow he couldn't shake the feeling that it had all been his fault. And he
couldn't ignore the nagging feeling that he was a failure.
he said through gritted teeth. "I am not a failure. I'm not dead and I
have a new career."
But he sure felt
like one. Even the successes of his new team from the past nine months didn't
completely shake the feeling. The new team. The 'Magnificent' Seven of the
ATF. It should be 'The Magnificent Six and Ezra Standish,' he thought. All
he'd done was play rat and betray people; his teammates were the ones who put
the criminals behind bars. The only thing he could say was that no one was as
good as he was at his job. No one.
Well, it was something to be proud of, he supposed. The best at pretending to be a criminal and the best at betraying those who came to regard him as a friend. No wonder few people in the ATF wanted to know him.
But his teammates
The thought had
confused the hell out of him. These people wanted to be his friends-- in spite
of his reputation and his early efforts to keep them at a distance. To his
shock, he soon found himself breaking down the walls. He was still aloof and
professional most of the time, but he'd come to like them. Sure, he sometimes
knocked heads with them -- especially Chris Larabee -- but what were a few
arguments between friends?
Friends don't let petty arguments come between them. He grinned. Or practical
jokes... Or anything else, for that matter.
He winced as he
moved his leg. Only assignments and a big pile of rubble can come between
them. He ignored the pain and settled down again to wait. He knew his
teammates well enough by now that he was sure they'd come for him eventually.
All he had to do was sit there and wait. Just be patient, he thought calmly,
and they'll find you and dig you out. Just be patient.
He leaned back against the rocks. "Happy Birthday, Ezra Standish," he murmured. "I hope next year's isn't like today's." Still smiling at his joke, he turned his eyes toward the hole above him, noticing that something had blocked the rain from falling on his head.