The April 2002 Challenge: offered by Meg Tipper
Some, one or all of the boys are on the edge -- not figuratively, literally. It can be the edge of a cliff, the roof of a building, the scaffolding on a skyscraper, a ledge on the side of a rock face -- you name it, so long as it is a long way down. They can be standing, dangling, falling, climbing, whatever works. How you get them there, and get them out of it, is entirely up to you. I only have one other little caveat. You must use one, some or all of the following words in the story: birthday, chocolate, shower and fool. It is April after all. Any universe, any style. Good Luck!
'Come in or I'll come out there and get you.' Nathan had been trying without success for ten minutes now and he knew that he wasn't going to be able to get him inside without help. But he wasn't going to leave him to go and get that help.
Nathan was about to try again when he was pushed aside. He watched helplessly as Chris leaned out the window and spoke to the man on the ledge. 'Get your good-for-nothin'-stubborn-pain-in-the-ass in here before I come out there and get you!'
'Try it Larabee and I'll kick your ass.'
Chris came back into the room and glared at Nathan. 'What did he just say?'
'You don't know what happened Chris.' Nathan glared back because when it came to the health of his friends he would stand up against anything and that included Chris Larabee.
'Then why don't you tell me and make it quick because we haven't got all day!'
Nathan didn't mind being partnered with Ezra. The undercover agent was more than trust worthy when it came to watching another team member's back. It was a shame though that he didn't watch his own back the way he did the others. Nathan knew he was going to have to make sure that Ezra didn't take any unnecessary risks.
It was a small job; check the building for any hidden caches of alcohol and report back. Simple? They thought so.
'Get on with it Nathan, I know this part. I was there remember,' said Chris.
Nathan scowled then continued his explanation with one eye on Chris and the other on the man sitting on the ledge of the eleventh floor of an abandoned building.
Nathan followed Ezra up the stairs to the tenth floor. It was their job to search the upper three floors while the rest of the team covered the remaining floors. Even though they wanted this to end quickly, they had no intention of splitting up and taking a floor each. Things weren't done that way, not with this team. The members of Team Seven had a way of attracting trouble when they were on their own. It was even known to happen when two of the seven were put together to do a job; that was why Vin and Ezra were no longer partnered together.
'May as well start at the top and work our way down.' Nathan suggested.
'The sooner this is over the sooner I can get this aching body under a shower to rid it of the filth that covers it.' Ezra answered.
Team Seven had already searched two other buildings and this was going to be the last one. They were all looking forward to going home, cleaning up and going down to the regular bar for a drink.
'Can't you just say that you need a shower instead of using those fool words?'
'I need a shower.' Ezra mimicked Nathan's tone.
Nathan shook his head and they continued up the stairwell. The sound of a door closing above them caused them to stop.
'We have company.' Ezra stated the obvious.
Both men became instantly alert and moved silently up towards the door. Ezra used his hand to indicate that Nathan open the door while he checked the immediate area after entering the eleventh floor. Nathan nodded in agreement then silently counted down from three. He opened the door and backed Ezra up when the agent somersaulted through the door and landed on one knee with his gun arm in position ready to fire if needed.
The hall reached out into the distance then took a left turn. It was lined with rubbish and closed doors that were covered with graffiti. They were going to have to check the rooms one by one. If the dust was as thick in this building as it had been in the others then they would be able to see tracks on the dust covered floor but it wasn't going to be their lucky day.
They were checking the sixth room when it happened. It was Ezra's turn to open the door. Nathan glanced left and right to make sure the hallway was still clear then faced Ezra again. Just as Ezra was about to grip the door handle the door burst open and two men, one larger than Josiah came out of the room. The larger one lifted Ezra and threw him against the opposite wall.
The second man went for Nathan. Out of the corner of his eye Nathan saw a dazed Ezra being thrown back into the room and out of his sight. This was something that he didn't like and he knew Ezra wouldn't like it either, not that the Southerner would be worried about himself. No his concern was no doubt aimed at his partner.
Nathan concentrated on his own predicament and fought with his life to keep his gun. He knew Ezra had lost his when he hit the wall but luckily his opponent hadn't noticed. Nathan saw an opening and threw his knee into the man's groin. When he doubled over in pain, Nathan used the butt of his gun to send him to the floor where he stayed without any protest. He then handcuffed him and was ready to leave him for someone else so he could go check on his partner.
Glass shattered from within the room Ezra was in and Nathan hesitated for a split second before running into the room with his gun at the ready but it was empty. There was no sign of Ezra or the man who had attacked him.
Nathan yelled at the top of his lungs. 'Ezra!'
He ran to the window and smashed out the remaining glass then stuck his upper body out of the opening to see Ezra Standish, who was just out of his reach, struggling to get back onto the ledge but held his breath when he was afraid that Ezra wasn't going to make it. Nathan thanked the lord when Ezra finally made it. The ex-medics eyes saw that Ezra was bleeding from a nasty wound on his right temple.
'Ezra! You okay?' Nathan wanted to climb out onto the ledge so he could help Ezra get back inside but his body was too big. Ezra was smaller and he was only just managing to fit on the ledge. So instead he reached out a hand and frowned when Ezra moved away from it when he should be grabbing a hold of it.
How the hell he had gotten himself into this situation he didn't know. All he knew was that his head hurt and something was dripping into his right eye almost blinding his vision. He was also hanging off the ledge of a building and it was a long way to the bottom. He refused to look at the man he had seen lying on the sidewalk that was surrounded by law enforcement vehicles. Ezra pulled himself skyward and lifted his leg to hook it over the ledge and used his strength to pull himself to safety.
Ezra sat on the ledge and allowed his legs to hang over it. He reached up and touched his face and his fingers came away wet with blood. He had no idea of how it had gotten there. Was it his or did it belong to the man that had fallen to his death. Think. He had to think.
'Ezra! You okay?'
He saw the hand that was reaching for him and for some reason that even he couldn't explain, moved away from it.
'I don't know.' Ezra's stare returned to hand but he had answered the questioning voice. 'I seem to be bleeding.'
'Did you hit your head?'
'I'm not sure. I think . . . I don't know.'
Nathan frowned and said. 'Do you remember who you are and what happened?'
'I know who I am and who you are Nathan. I'm just not sure what I did to put myself in this predicament. I'm confused about how I got here.'
'Come inside Ezra and I'll fix you up,' said Nathan.
'I'm not sure if I want to Nathan.'
'What do you mean you're not sure you want to?' Nathan was surprised by the answer.
'If I come in you'll take me to the hospital.'
'You need to go to the hospital Ezra. That cut is going to need stitches.'
'I'm not coming in if I have to go to the hospital,' said Ezra.
'Okay, come in and I won't take you.' Nathan compromised because he knew how much Ezra disliked hospitals and the people who staffed them. 'I can stitch the wound up for you.'
'You Mr. Jackson are lying.' Ezra leaned his head against the wall and enjoyed the cool breeze that brushed across his face.
When Ezra moved his head back Nathan noticed the open window on the other side of Ezra. He may be able to get someone to get to Ezra via that window while he had him distracted. 'No I'm not Ezra. I wouldn't lie to you.'
'I like it out here, it's nice.' Ezra closed his eyes and continued to enjoy the beautiful weather the afternoon offered.
'Do you feel like you need to throw up? Feel dizzy at all because if you do there's a chance you could fall and kill yourself.'
'No, no and I'm not going to fall. It's too nice a day to die.'
'Tell that to the guy that did fall.' Nathan growled at him. It wasn't the time or place for Ezra to be stubborn. 'This isn't time for this Ezra.'
'There's always time,' said Ezra.
'You're hurt and in danger of falling. You have to come in now!'
'Come in or I'll come out there and get you.'
'That's where you came in and tried to force Ezra to come inside by verbally abusing him.' Nathan turned his full attention back to Ezra. 'You treat him like a dog sometimes Chris, you think all you have to do is yell at him and he'll come running. It's about time you learnt to treat him like a human being!'
'I'll let that go for now Nathan, I know you're angry.' Chris knew Nathan had every right to be angry. He had stormed recklessly into a situation he knew nothing about and made it worse but he wasn't going to admit that in front of Ezra. If the Southerner remembered anything about what was happening it would be that Chris Larabee had admitted that he was wrong and had apologised to two of his men, Nathan Jackson and Ezra Standish. He would never hear the end of it. 'What do you want me to do?'
'I saw a window on the other side of Ezra which must be in the other room. You might be able to grab Ezra and bring him in when he gets close enough to it. I'll keep talking to him and whatever you do Chris, don't let him see you.'
'You think he'll jump?'
'He's confused but he won't jump. He'll get into a position where we won't be able to get to him.'
'Give me a couple of minutes to get into place.' Chris turned and ran from the room.
Nathan waited then positioned himself so he was sitting on the window ledge while the upper half of his body was leaning out of the window towards Ezra.
His head was beginning to cause him serious pain. Maybe he had hit it. Ezra frowned and rubbed his forehead and swore when his fingers reached the open wound. He glanced sideways looking for Nathan but he couldn't see him. They had left him alone.
There was no answer but a few seconds later Nathan was half hanging out of the window.
'How are you doing Ezra? You ready to come in yet?'
'No. My head hurts.' Ezra kept his palm against his forehead.
'I can give you something for that.' Nathan hoped the pain Ezra was feeling would send him inside looking for something to relieve it.
'Can't you give me something now? I don't want to come in. I like it out here. I think I might stay here and watch the sun set. I like watching the sun set but I don't get to see it so often these days. I work too hard Nathan; you have to get Mr. Hardass to give me some time off.'
'Chris should give all of us some time off. If you come in I can talk to him, get you a few days off. You can watch the sun go down at home.'
Ezra lowered his hand and stared up at the sun and saw that it was already beginning to set. 'No thank you Nathan, I'm fine right here. The view is beautiful. Can you see it?'
'Yes I can.' Nathan had to admit that it was a beautiful sight and if he weren't so worried about Ezra falling he would sit and enjoy the view with him. 'Why don't you come in anyway? Maybe we can watch it from the roof.' He edged himself a bit closer and a hidden smile broke out under his features when Ezra inched away from him closer to the window where Chris was waiting.
'No, Chris wouldn't let me do that. He'd force me to go to the hospital and I don't like hospitals. He knows that and yet he still insists that I go. The man doesn't listen to me.'
'I know Ezra but it's usually for your own good. You need to go and get taken care of when you're hurt but this time I can do it for you. You don't have to go to a hospital.'
Ezra turned his head to stare at Nathan. 'Is that something you can promise?'
'Yes it is.' Nathan knew he had the skill as an ex-medic to take care of Ezra's injury and to watch for any sign of concussion but he didn't think Ezra was suffering from a concussion. Ezra was confused and if he stayed that way for more than twenty-four hours then he would have to take him in to get a CT Scan.
'I'll think about it,' Ezra said.
Nathan leaned even closer. Just a few more feet and they had him. 'Don't take to long thinking about it, you might end up on the cement pavement before you make a decision.'
'I'm not going to fall!' Without realizing it Ezra used his hands to shift his butt over and away from Nathan. Something grabbed him and he jumped in surprise almost causing him to fall from his safe haven. He was being pulled from the ledge and a quick glance to his right told him that it was Chris Larabee and he knew that Chris would take him to the hospital. 'Nathan, help me!' Ezra fought the man who had a strong grip on him. He then saw a pair of dark hands helping his enemy and realised that Nathan had changed sides.
'Come on Ezra, you'll be safe now.' Chris told him as he pulled his agent into the room. 'We'll get you to a hospital and they'll take care of you.'
'He's not going to the hospital Chris.' Nathan was surprised at how quickly Ezra stopped struggling when he heard those words. 'I'm taking him back to his place and I'll take care of him there.'
Chris looked from Ezra who was now sitting on the floor with his back against the wall to Nathan was kneeling in front of him. 'You can't Nathan. There has to be something wrong when he wants to stay out on a ledge to watch a sun set instead of coming inside where it's safe.'
'I promised him that he wasn't going and I plan on keeping that promise.'
'Nathan . . .'
'Let's go Ezra.'
'Damn it Nathan, at least you could let me help.' Chris put his arms under Ezra's and helped Nathan to lift him up then they began to walk to the door. 'Tell me what you need and I'll meet you at Ezra's'
'He's a nice man Nathan. I always told you that but you never believe me. Perhaps you will now.' Ezra was smiling at Chris.
'Yes perhaps you will.' Chris growled but he didn't know if it was Ezra or Nathan he should be growling at.