From: C.A.Critchell <>

To: <>

Subject: [Mag7Challenge] Magnification Challenge April 2001: Figure of Speech

Date: Thursday, June 12, 2003 3:11 AM

The April 2001 Challenge: offered by Jean Genie

For this challenge I'm going to give you the title and three key words (which must appear at some stage in the story); from there it's up to you. It should be short, no more than 3000 words, but can be about any or all of the seven in which ever AU you choose, provided you have permission to write in it. The title is: FIGURE OF SPEECH. The key words are: chiseler, harass and furtive.

TITLE: Figure of Speech

CHALLENGE: April 2001


MAJOR CHARACTERS: Josiah, Nathan, Ezra


ARCHIVE: Yes, Please

SPOILERS: Not that I'm aware of...

NOTES: a Sequel to Counting down to 72



Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven belongs to Mirsch Entertainment Inc., with all rights and privileges thereof. This work is a work of fanfiction, for the amusement of the author and fandom who have nothing else to do since they aren’t making any more episodes of the show. No money or other renumeration has exchanged hands, this is just for fun, guys!


Figure of Speech

Josiah Sanchez tried for a poker face. He didn't really manage it, but he tried all the same. He came up with the so called "Sphinx" look. Vin Tanner caught the look from over at his desk and immediately became alert. Chris Larabee, their boss, caught the look as he was passing, shook his head as he went into his office, and closed the door with a definite thump.

Around the corner, Buck Wilmington and JD Dunne whispered and plotted away from their co-workers. They gave Josiah a furtive look as they came into the office common area. He just knew that they were going to create a "Situation". Hoping that they knew better than to harass Ezra, he sat back down and applied himself to reading the Doctor's notes in his hand. There it was again, that comment. Josiah frowned thinking about it.

He was interrupted by Nathan Jackson, the team Medic, who came out of the break-room cursing quietly. For such a gentle man, he certainly knew a lot of swearwords. Nathan calmed a little and said.

"That idiot from the supply room is a chiseler! I wish the Judge hadn't insisted that he stock our break-room. The nitwit only buys the most junky garbage he can find. It isn't that it's the cheapest either. You can get good coffee at Costco or Sam's for less than he's spending for this swill.

It's even worse than Vin's!" Nathan's grumbles reached the sharpshooter, who favored him with a solid stare that promised reprisals.

Josiah listened with half an ear to Nathan's commentary. The rest of his attention was further divided between the notes, the plotting pair, and the almost invisible undercover agent in the corner. Buck and JD were being transparent with their plotting, but Ezra didn't seem to even pay them or any of the others a moment's attention. He didn't seem to, but Josiah was sure that he was aware of them all.

Since returning from a brutal case in Idaho Falls, the young undercover agent had been frighteningly quiet. Usually verbose and loud, Ezra Standish had gone from a practical joker to a still and silent man. He watched his team with more than a trace of apprehension, these days. The only thing that seemed to remain of the "Arrogant, Damn Fool Southerner" was his tendency to come in to work late, but he wasn't as late as usual. He seemed to be trying not to gain their attention in any way, positive or negative. Once again that comment from the notes ran through Josiah's head. Frowning he considered the changes in the younger agent. It had been hard for him out there all alone. None of them had been allowed to go with him to back him up and the locals had wanted him gone as in "permanently". Ezra had been forced to fake a suicide attempt to escape the criminals when Carver's team abandoned him. He'd been stuck in the Psych ward for 70 hours before the doctor had found out enough to call Chris Larabee. The comment in the notes registered again and this time Josiah underlined it.

To say that Larabee had been angry about the situation was a gross understatement of the case. Their volatile leader had rushed them up to Idaho Falls and stormed into the hospital with all the all the finesse of Sherman's Georgia trip. It had impressed Josiah that, no matter how angry Chris had been, the "Man in Black" hadn't taken it out on Standish. No, Chris had been extremely gentle with his agent, even before he read Dr. Previns's notes.

Dr. Previns's notes in his hand, now there was a ticking time bomb. Josiah hadn't wanted to let Chris read them, as a Psychologist he felt it had been a violation of his professional ethics, but the notes were about "Allen Dawson" not Ezra Standish and as such were part of the case. Chris had kept most of the personal information out of the official report, using only enough to exonerate his agent and punish SAC Carver and his team for leaving Ezra high and dry...

It had been nasty. SAC Carver was not without support, even here in Denver. Special Agent Guy Royal had been especially loud in his opinion that "Standish had got what he deserved". However, the videotapes, showing Ezra being held prisoner while Carver's team took off with the evidence spoke volumes. They spoke them loud and clear. Carver had abandoned an agent, and no matter what that agent's checkered past was, the Federal Government didn't tolerate such behavior.

So much for the "thin blue line", Josiah grimaced. Some of the other agents had blamed Ezra for Carver's fall, wanting to believe it was Team Seven's "dirty" agent rather than a heavily decorated SAC. Other agents in the building had been appalled and the resulting protective feelings towards Ezra had ended up in name calling and some rather childish behavior.

Speaking of Children, Josiah thought. His head snapped up at a sound from the other side of the office.

Buck and JD were still up to whatever it was. They were whispering back and forth over the computer.

Every couple of minutes JD would look something up in the battered dictionary that always seemed to end up on his desk.

Knowing that Buck had gone through that dictionary and underlined, later highlighting, every single word that referred to "Sex", Josiah let out a weary sigh. At the desk next to him, Nathan Jackson looked up and frowned at the situation.

"What are those two up to?" he growled. "I swear, they get into more hijinks than a box full of puppies. They ain't got the sense of puppies either!" When stressed, something that happened often with the straightlaced Nathan, he tended to slip into slang. Josiah grimaced and made a mental note to distract Nathan from anything having to do with Ezra. If the medic was stressed he tended to 'let loose' on all the little nitpicky things that annoyed him. Ezra was usually at the top of that list.

Nathan was a little, well Josiah thought to himself, be honest a lot anal retentive. The little things that most people ignored or lived with drove Nathan crazy. Since Josiah was assigned to the team as it's profiler, he'd had to make profiles on each of them. Because of it, he knew every one of Nathan's little "quirks". Ezra's past was like lint on a favorite sweater to Nathan. He couldn't resist picking at it.

Currently Nathan's big "concern" was to see Dr. Previns's notes. Josiah winced, garnering a stare from Nathan and a curious look from Vin. Nathan wanted to see the notes in case..., Josiah left it blank. Somehow Nathan thought that knowing how Ezra thought would help him treat him more effectively when injured. That would seem a normally reasonable idea, but with Team Seven? Normal had nothing to do with it.

A fortuitous phone call tied up Nathan's attention, so Josiah risked a look at the young man at the corner desk. Ezra was pale but composed. He was working away at his reports, keyboard clattering.

The undercover agent looked neither left nor right or up or down. His eyes seemed glued to the monitor.

Josiah returned to the task at hand. The doctor's notes had been fairly disturbing. Previns was old school, but caring. He'd sat there for about 20 desperate hours listening and recording Ezra's drugged ramblings. It had taken two days just to get Ezra to talk, and only then when he was dazed and confused by the medication. Apparently Ezra had been unaware that he was speaking at all. Doctor Previns had recorded an horrendous amount of internal dialogue, mostly Ezra's concerns about being sent away...

The notations about Ezra's paranoia he skipped over, as an undercover operative paranoia was a given. However, the notations about secrets kept drawing his gaze. How could someone so young have so many unknown but destructive secrets. He did some quick calculations in his head, Ezra was 33 years old. That still seemed young to his 55.

The ringing of Ezra's phone startled Josiah out of his concentration. Several months ago, as a prank, Buck and JD had exchanged Ezra's phone's ringer for one that played music, loudly. Chris had demanded that they leave it as punishment. Today it played Beethoven. The Ninth, Josiah decided, or the ‘Pastorale’. Ezra answered the phone without looking up from his computer.

"Hello?" he said, concentration on the screen made him forget to modulate his southern accent.

After a moment, his face scrunched up in disbelief. "No" he said firmly to the phone and hung it up with a resounding thwack. He returned his attention to the monitor, but the scowl remained.

At lunch time Josiah watched Vin gently remind Ezra to eat something. Somehow the easygoing sharpshooter could get Ezra to do things without giving offense. He wished he could do so well. Josiah's feelings toward the younger man were very paternal and it caused the occasional problem when Standish felt closed in.

A note about Ezra's father caught his eye. He hadn't known that the man had been murdered. To be truthful, Josiah hadn't thought about Ezra having a father at all. Ezra's mother, Maude was well known to the team. Most of the others disliked her, he found her an interesting puzzle and a fine figure of a woman. She'd married so many times that it took an hour just to remember the names of each of Ezra's stepfathers. He hadn't thought about the man, perhaps Ezra was offended by his teasing; Missing his father because he was murdered might very well cause him to be upset when Josiah teasingly called him "Son". Something to consider.

It chilled him to think that Ezra's secrets were so very dark, but even more so that shadowy people had the power to alter Ezra's file and history seemingly at a whim. That was frightening to ponder on. Every conspiracy theory he'd ever heard seemed to pale in comparison to what he was reading.

He glanced back down to the notes. There it was again. Doctor Previns had taken the trouble of repeating the comment, not once or twice but several times. What the heck did he mean by it?

A quiet discussion, so much unlike the usual boisterous attitude of the team, was going on behind him. Vin was concerned with the small quantity of food that Ezra brought with him for lunch. Ezra's behavior changes didn't need to include little appetite. The southerner rarely ate much anyway. It just seemed more pronounced now.

The sharpshooter had been successful, he was taking Ezra out of the Federal Building and to lunch.

Buck and JD weren't going out, but left for the garage. Whatever they were up to required attention. Nathan buzzed out to have a meal with the lovely but busy resident he was dating. Chris, having been an ostrich all day, opted for a meal with the fiery Mary Travis. What they were up to Josiah didn't want to consider.

Shortly he had the office to himself. Since no one was there to overhear, Josiah placed a call to Idaho Falls. Dr. Previns was in-house and willing to talk about Ezra. Finally after a long discussion about the still unknown secrets, Josiah got up the nerve to ask the old Psychologist about the repeated comment. He laid out his concerns, unwilling to ignore anything that might help the younger man get back to "Normal".

Doctor Previns heard him out, gently prodding him to see new ways of looking at the notes. But he laughed, and Josiah grimaced when the old doctor explained that the comment didn't mean anything so drastic. Josiah should have expected something like this, it was highly understandable. After all he'd been up for more than 20 hours listening to Ezra, the comment wasn't important it was only a figure of speech.