TITLE: Counting down to 72
CHALLENGE: March 2001
RATING: PG-13 Angst, oh my yes!
ARCHIVE: Yes, Please
SPOILERS :I don't think so
NOTES: I'm doing this for Jean, Never Forgotten... It's probably longer than intended, but it's Ezra!
EMAIL: marmaeve@aros.net

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!


Counting down to 72

Ezra Standish shifted wearily in the bed. He wished that he could turn over, but that wasn't possible. The noise from the corridor increased, indicating that it was shift change. Through the half blinds on his window he could see the nurses, a by now familiar group, give way to new faces. A murmur of voices, soft and unintelligible, told him that they were receiving the "briefing" about their new charges.

Especially him.

He watched for a while, mentally cataloging each new face, trying to detect what each one's personality was like. It was a challenge to keep his mind occupied.

9 hours and counting.

One of the new nurses, a redhead, poked her head in the room.

"Mr. Dawson?" She gave him a gentle smile, full of condescension. He hated her already.

"Yes", Ezra replied dully. Maybe, if he didn't converse with her overmuch, she'd go away. No such luck.

"It's about supper time. Would you like something to eat?". She raised a red eyebrow.

Although he was hungry, the thought of all the "adjustments" that had to be made had him quietly shaking his head "no".

"Are you sure? According to the charts you haven't eaten much. You really do need to keep your strength up." Ezra hated the forced cheerfulness of her voice.

"No, thank you." He replied, concentrating on the odd flower pattern on her scrubs. "I'm not really hungry."

With a sigh she left.

12 hours and counting.

He had counted the ceiling tiles, itemized the odds and ends in the room, debated the color scheme, and finally decided that the designer had absolutely no concept of taste.

14 hours and counting.

One wall had a thin crack in it. Ezra amused himself for a few minutes following the crack with his eyes, trying to determine where it led. It went around the door and out. 'Anywhere but here,' he thought.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes and wished for sleep.

20 hours and counting.

"Mr. Dawson?" Came a voice. Damn, he'd finally fallen asleep and here was some idiot here to wake him up. With a grimace he opened his eyes.

"Yes?" he grunted, not feeling like using his massive vocabulary. All he wanted to do was sleep; Sleep would make the time go faster. Soon he could go home, IF he still had one.

"Mr. Dawson?" That insistent voice repeated. He looked at the speaker. She was a tiny thing, dark haired and severely dressed. Trying to look ‘Professional’ his mind analyzed. It wasn't very successful, she looked like a child playing dress-up with her mother's clothes.

Far too young for this.

A stern pout had replaced her "calm" face, rather reminding him of JD. JD had a tendency to try to look serious when he wanted the team to listen to him. It rarely worked the way he wanted it to, more often it made his teammates laugh. Well, the team except for Ezra. He wouldn't laugh at the "Kid". He'd been there himself, trying to make 'Older and Wiser' agents listen to him. It hadn't worked for him, but if JD pulled that face, he'd listen.

"Mr. Dawson?" he jumped, the woman had come directly up and was speaking to him from a bout three inches from his face. Her pout had become an all-out frown.

"Yes? What?" his vocabulary was definitely deserting him. Must be the drugs, Ezra frowned.

"I'm Doctor Cousins." she said. "Are you able to understand me?"

"Doctor, I'm neither a 2 year old, nor deaf or stupid, in spite of these medications you people insist on putting in the IV." He snapped with a bit of the normal "Ezra" coming through. Ezra put a slight smile on it, because he wasn't the normal "Ezra" and needed to remember it. Allen Dawson wasn't a grumpy person... just ask all the lowlifes he "hung" with. With a slightly more sardonic smile he looked up at his frowning doctor.

She glared at him.

"You may not be a 2 year old, but you're acting like one." she growled.

"That's rather an odd way to approach a patient in my position, Doctor. Tell me is it some new form of treatment?" Yes, the normal "Ezra" was trying and apparently succeeding in gaining control of his drugged out mind. "I'm not sure it's effective. Is it a form of reverse Psychology? Will this be beneficial or have I merely offended your sensibilities?" Ezra found himself suddenly grinning a ‘Tanner Grin’. Damn, whatever they were giving him was definitely affecting his judgement.

Whatever Doctor Cousins intended to say was sidetracked by a nurse bursting into the room.

"I've got to go tend to some people who are really sick." She growled and stormed off. Ezra laughed after her, even high on meds he could still get a resident's goat.

25 hours and counting.

The air conditioning kicked on, making him wish that he could pull up his blankets. However that, like eating, required "Adjustments" and although baiting nurses was normally a hobby, he wasn't feeling up to it. For a while he stared at the light blue blanket, almost willing it to move. If Nathan were here, he'd be swathed in more blankets than he wanted. Though Nathan seemed to hate him, he took pretty good care of him...Not only him, but his team as well.

It had come as a surprise, this new team. Ezra had never expected to be part of anything like it ever again. Old feelings that he thought long dead had re-emerged making it hard to maintain his distance.

And distance he had to keep, it did no good to get caught up in this team's lives, he'd be sent away soon enough. Probably after this fiasco.

27 hours and counting.

Ezra's assigned physician came and went, a sad eyed old man desperately worried about his strange patient. It had almost reduced Ezra to laughter, sad mocking laughter, but laughter to know that "Dawson" was the one who was "sick", but he couldn't tell them that. Oh the joys of undercover work.

32 hours and counting.

A voice that sounded suspiciously like Buck's woke him from a light doze. For a minute, Ezra thought rescue was here, but no it was only a housekeeper. Didn't even look like him, he sighed. He wished for that voice. Buck had scared the daylights out of him the first time they met. That voice was so like... so like Jack's voice, and the behavior was so familiar, it made Ezra wish that he could be more open to these men. But now, even after a year, it just wasn't possible. Secrets, secrets he had told Mr. Larabee, were what he carried.

Secrets would keep him apart from his teammates, permanently

38 hours and counting.

The air conditioner kicked on again, and he was freezing. If he could reach the button, he'd call for a nurse. The call button was out of his reach.

Out of his reach, like his team. Purposely he thought. Carver, the SAC here in Idaho Falls, had asked for, demanded really, his presence almost as if he was a trained seal. It hadn't mattered that Team Seven had something big that they were working on. It hadn't mattered that Chris Larabee had complained and glared his way up the chain of command. SAC Carver had gone to Muhulland, who overruled AD Travis. He'd even gotten Special Agent Mills involved. Once the M&M's were involved, Ezra knew he had no chance of getting out of this one. In fact, he was sure that he probably wouldn't be walking away from this one.

He had been very nearly right.

Ezra had kept his suspicions to himself. Mills hated him, that he knew, and would have no problem causing trouble for the other members of his team.

He wasn't about to let that happen. Not to this team, Team Seven, not again! Not Ever!

Tensing up with anger, he felt rather than saw someone in the room.

His head snapped up with a jerk. It was a tossup who was more agitated, himself or the young nurse's aide.

44 hours and counting.


The left restraint was making him itch. The only way to scratch it was to rub back and forth hoping friction would do the trick.

The only trick it did was bring a nurse and an orderly to drug him into insensibility. Oh well, he thought, at least it wasn't as bad as the 5 hour panic attack when he was brought in. They'd put him in restraints almost immediately. Oh how he hated hospitals.

It would be over soon.

50 hours and counting.

The incident with the restraints brought the old Doctor, Doctor Previns, back to talk to him. Drowsy with meds and more than a little irritated, Ezra said a few things that he wished he could take back. Dr. Previns added them to his notes.

Ezra cursed, but silently. He did not want to stay here any longer than he had to.

54 hours and counting.

Another shift change and the redheaded nurse came back in. Ezra bit his tongue and allowed her to "assist" him, under the watchful eye of a burly orderly, with a meal. At this point he wasn't sure if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Looking at the gelatinous mass, he wasn't sure it mattered.

57 hours and counting.

They had backed off his dosage. Apparently eating was a good sign, Ezra grimaced. The next time, no there wasn't going to be a next time...

58 hours and counting.

A loud bang from outside had him reaching for the gun that he no longer had. It irritated him to be without a weapon, too many things going "bump" in his life and far too often. He might indulge his teammates’s jokes about ‘Trouble Magnets’ but Ezra Standish had very GOOD reason to be paranoid.

After all, paranoia had saved him, many times...even if it put him in this situation.

60 hours and counting.

Ezra spent a little time trying to determine what day it was. He'd been under for three weeks from the time he left Denver. Three weeks plus four days locked in a stinking little room, then twelve hours in the cramped trunk of a car... A revolting, smelly, trash filled trunk. He'd spent most of the time trying to breathe while sweat-glued to an "Object"...If Buck still had one of those things in his Condo, Ezra was going to make sure it didn't stay there. It was disgusting, especially when it was all you could smell because you were stuck to it.

Buck would grumble, but they were teammates and he'd put up with it. Might subject Ezra to a practical joke or two. It would be worth it though. He was sure that he'd have nightmares, once he was off the medication they were giving him here.

But he'd been sidetracked, and by Buck's condo of all things. How long? he asked himself, trying to get back on track. After a little internal math, he figured it was the 23rd, no 25th. The 25th. His birthday. He would be spending his birthday in the hospital. Oh the Irony of it. He was spending his birthday in the hospital, Undercover, as of all things an attempted Suicide!

And what was more, he was spending it alone... His team didn't know where he was. Carver must be laughing his head off.

Then again, maybe not. Not even Team Seven knew when his real birthday was. They all thought he was born in May. The 6 of May to be precise. How charming of SAC Mills to alter his "Jacket" to make his birthday the anniversary of his father's murder.

Another little secret, another little knife in the gut, that just couldn't be corrected.

Ezra hoped that Mills was getting a good laugh out of his situation. He had no intention of allowing his personal abyss to swallow him, if only to deny Mills and his old "Mentor" Westerfield, much less "Gordie" who would pay to watch his pain.

He was not going to self destruct.

64 hours and counting.

The shift changed again, some new nurses some now familiar ones. The redhead dropped back in to see if he needed anything.

If he needed anything! Ezra grumbled. He needed his team. They would have backed him. They would have arrested the subjects, not gone tearing off with the evidence...leaving the evidence gatherer to the tender mercies of his "victims".

It had been a close thing. The criminals had nearly killed him. The local agents had made it clear that they hoped that he would be.

It was pure "Sarcasm of the Universe" that he'd been forced to fake a suicide attempt for a startled beat cop to save his life.

Having no ID or back up meant a trip to the hospital, under a mental health watch.

He sometimes wondered if Josiah's God was more of a devil.

66 hours and counting.

Ezra fell into a light doze. He was uncertain of himself. The drugs in his system were leeching out, but he still felt tired and emotionally restless. Sleep would allow him to regain control.

Control was sadly lacking in his life, after all he'd let six men under his barricades. Six men, whom he wished for right now, wished for as a birthday wish for a forgotten ‘Undercover’ agent. He wished that his past would leave him alone so that he could be one with those six men.

But that wouldn't happen, not for him.

He'd always be stuck; A ton of "Classified" documents hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles, a false shadow on his character that he couldn't ever lift, and a hopelessness that it took a fake suicide to reveal...

He wanted to watch JD grow up from a ‘Kid’, to create situations to cause a ‘Tanner Grin’, to hear Nathan fuss like a wet hen, to listen to Buck's tall tales and remember Jack's, to 'suffer' the ‘Larabee Glare’, and to debate Josiah's God and the Devil. It wasn't possible. He had to accept that. His secrets would always keep him outside his teammates's circle. Always an outsider, It wouldn't be wise to risk anything more than that.

70 hours and counting.

The meds had made his sleep deeper than he intended, and the corridor lights were dimming in another artificial night. Dozing, Ezra berated himself over the time he wasted wishing for his team. One look at this incident and they'd 'kick him to the curb', he was certain. After all, no one knew his secrets and because of them no one wanted him, not for keeps. Even after a year with Team Seven, he knew that he was on Probation. It was exhausting. A little more sleep, that's what he needed, just a little more.

The undercover agent slept deeply not even noticing old Doctor Previns, still sitting in the shadows of his room. Scribbling down, word for word, the tired agent's ramblings, Previns frowned.

72 hours.

Ezra Standish lay sound asleep under the thin blue blanket and bound in restraints. The exhaustion, of holding his feelings in check and keeping up the role he was stuck in, had taken it's toll.

The redheaded nurse, on duty again, gently tucked a second blanket around her sleeping patient. With a slight frown of worry, she quietly slipped out of the room.

78 hours.

The small hospital room was made smaller by the addition of several chairs, chairs filled with what one nurse called "darkly dangerous but handsome men." They had stormed into the ward, led by an angry looking man in black.

Doctor Previns had met them and led them first into the family waiting room. Loud voices had made several of the staff skittish, but it was obvious that these men cared for Mr."Dawson".

After an hour in the waiting room, the old Doctor had led the strange assortment of men into the patient's room. A young resident, Doctor Cousins, had complained but was silenced by a glare from the moody black clad man.

Buck had cursed like an old sailor at seeing Ezra in restraints. Vin didn't bother cursing, he just grabbed hold and unbuckled, untied and un-velcroed everything he could reach. JD looked frightened at the sight of his teammate lying so still, but Buck put an arm around him and they sat down to wait.

Nathan frowned at the air conditioner and after a couple of minutes of pacing, went out and got two more blankets from a cheerful redheaded nurse.

Chris Larabee leaned against the wall with his arms folded and watched his sleeping agent. He frowned at the obvious bruising and signs of imprisonment. Once Standish was well enough to leave, he'd be having a little "talk" with the local AD about a certain SAC.

Josiah leaned over and brushed an errant curl out of Standish's face. He loved the younger man like a son and this situation had him alternately worried and wanting to do a little "Old Testament" on certain individuals, criminal and agent alike.

Ezra was safe, that's all that mattered, each of Team Seven told themselves. Then Josiah picked up a forgotten notepad lying nearby and began to read Dr. Previns's notes...