By Sarah (winks7985)



Part 2


When Mendez left the office, Emilio hadn’t moved.  Ezra wasn’t even sure if the man breathed.  Then he leaned down towards Ezra’s chest and shoulder and did what he was trying to do earlier.  He started to smell the bleeding wounds as someone would smell a delicate flower.  He filled his nostrils with the smell and held his breath, capturing the smell deep in his lungs with his head tipped back in full rapture.


When the man looked back down at Ezra, the look in his eyes was one of the scariest things Ezra had ever seen.  He tried not to flinch at the look, and succeeded, but it took all the resolve he had. 


The two men stared at each other for a full minute.  Emilio took in the look on the gambler’s face and his work done on the upper torso, and spoke so quietly that Ezra’s breathing almost drowned out the man’s voice.


“You scared?”


“Go to Hell.”


“You smell scared.”


Christ, who the fuck was this guy? “You sir, are twisted.”


Emilio shifted and smiled down into the gambler’s face.  He leaned forward and rasped into Ezra’s ear, “You have no idea.”


“What did your mother do to you?” he drawled defiantly.  He was not going to show fear.  He was not going to show anything but defiance.  He would not let this creature break him.  God, when would he learn to shut his fucking mouth?


The look in Emilio’s eyes never faltered, but rage was added to the bloodlust.  Emilio flipped his knife in his hand so that the serrated part was now the star of the show.  He moved the knife down to the pinned man’s chest, and roughly cut open the buttons.  Then he took the serrated blade and cut—harshly, slowly, hard—into Ezra’s sternum. 


Ezra sucked his breaths and blew them out in rapid succession, trying to keep himself in control.  His legs came up instinctively trying to ward off the source of his pain.  All to no avail.


The blade ripped open the flesh on the bone, but again didn’t do enough damage to either cause him to bleed to death, or even, mercifully, to pass out.  He was doing a good job of controlling his reaction until Emilio stopped the blade, and without repositioning it, started to drag it back up along the groove it already made.  Ezra couldn’t control that scream.


Emilio smiled at the reaction of his prey.  He was like a cat toying with a mouse he never had any intention of eating.  He pulled the blade away from Ezra and Ezra panted heavily, trying to appease his abused body.  The blood pooled on his abdomen, just below the sternum.  As he continued to pant, the blood breeched whatever held the pool and ran down his side to the desk top. 


“See, now that wasn’t a nice thing to say.  Look what you made me do to you.”  The man never moved from hovering over Ezra’s prone position. 


Ezra felt himself getting weaker.  He was exhausted.  God, he hoped he passed out and just slipped away that way.  He felt tears start in his eyes. 


Emilio moved like lightening and was off of Ezra in a heartbeat.  Ezra found himself flipped like a pancake onto the desk top, bent at the waist, his legs now on the floor.  A big meaty paw held him down while the knife was dragged down his back in the same slow deliberate manner as was done on his chest.  Each of the serrations of the blade bit with intense pain and burning, and Ezra felt each one as they cascaded down his back, crossing the slice from earlier.  As he screamed, albeit weakly, the knife came to a rest at his bound hands now nestled in the small of his back.


Ezra cried.




“This guy can’t be this stupid,” Vin said.  


“Maybe just cocky,” replied Chris.


They all congregated near the warehouse district.  One of Vin’s snitches had pulled through for them after Vin had put the word out.  The snitch had said that there had been some activity down in this area, but didn’t really know what it was.  The snitch openly admitted that it could be nothing, but he still wanted to let Vin know.  There had been yelling he heard through a broken window, and there was a nice car parked nearby with no care to try and hide it.


“He parked the car in plain sight Chris.  Now, I ain’t complainin, but it don’t seem right.”


“I don’t care what seems right.  We’re getting the boys back.”


“That’s Marquez’s car Chris.  Tags just came back,” said JD.


“Let’s go.”




“No, you get him to stop now, or you can just go to hell,” Buck seethed.  He needed to see Ezra. 


Mendez was tired of this little game.  Fine.


“Emilio!” he yelled over his shoulder.  “Bring Mr. Richards out here.”




Emilio leaned over his prey, preparing his next move when he heard Mendez call for him.  He sighed in disappointment.  He leaned forward and whispered hoarsely in his prey’s ear, “We’re not done yet.”  The man was still struggling to get away from Emilio, his feet seeking purchase on the tile floor of the office. 


Taking out a little of his frustration at being stopped before he could really have fun, Emilio threw the other man as hard as he could towards the door to the office.  Ezra collided with the wall to the right of the open door and hit the floor in a heap, leaving another stain on the wall. 


Emilio straightened his suit and smoothed out the wrinkles in his jacket as he strode over to the man on the floor.  Ezra lay panting at Emilio’s feet, trying to curl up into himself as much as possible.  He never took his eyes off of Emilio as he approached.  That sickening look that Emilio had in his eyes earlier was still there, but was kept in check.  Now was business, and Emilio was a loyal employee. 


Emilio nudged the southerner with his foot, then leaned down and grabbed one of Ezra’s ankles and pulled him towards the door of the office.  Small rivulets of blood smeared on the floor as Ezra was moved.  Thankfully, he was on his side still and while uncomfortable, the open wounds were not abused any further by dragging across the concrete floor of the warehouse, even though his right arm would most likely suffer from road rash.




Like the obedient dog that he was, Emilio appeared several moments later dragging the Southerner on his side by one leg.  Ezra put up no resistance.  He looked dead.  Buck couldn’t take his eyes off of him.


Emilio brought his prey front and center, then unceremoniously dropped the leg and left Ezra lying there.


Buck looked across the floor at his partner, his friend.  Ezra lay on his right side, arms bound behind him with what Buck could only assume was duct tape, like his own bonds.  The side of Ezra’s forehead touched the ground, his neck at an obvious uncomfortable angle.  His face was covered in sweat.  He almost looks glossy, Buck thought.  Ezra’s once immaculate shirt was ripped in several places, and bloody as hell.  What did they do to you buddy? thought Buck.  Oddly enough, Ezra’s face wasn’t as marred as his disheveled apparel let on.  There was the obvious bruise to the right side of his cheek and eye, but he didn’t look like he had been beaten too badly.  His nose showed a dried trail of blood that tracked away towards the right side of his head which was leaning on the floor.


“Hoss?” Buck asked.  “Hey slick, you all right?”  There was no answer from Ezra.


Emilio moved to stand next to his boss and wiped the blood off his knife with a handkerchief.  After the knife was clean, he folded it closed and replaced it in his pocket.  Then he held the handkerchief to his own face and took a deep breath in.  He smiled at Buck.




“Listen,” said Vin.


“Sounded like someone screaming,” Josiah said and closed his eyes.


“Nathan, go out to the car and call in backup and make sure paramedics are on their way to this location.  There’s no service in between these buildings,” Chris ordered.  Nathan had started moving away before Chris finished speaking.


“JD, Josiah, go that way.  Vin with me.  Count of thirty, then go in.  Get them out of there.”  Guns drawn, the two pair made their way towards the two doors of the warehouse where the scream had come from.


On thirty, they entered.




“ATF! Don’t move!” bellowed Josiah.


The three captors stole a glance at each other, then all three reached for their guns.  Mullins was first down, taken out by a bullet from Chris’s gun.  Mendez’s hand didn’t even clear his jacket when Vin nailed him right in between the eyes.  Emilio was shot by both JD and Josiah, but still stood and tried to advance on the two agents on the floor in front of him.  Chris and Vin took shots at the same instant, sounding as one, and Emilio went down. 


“Clear!” Josiah and JD said.


“Clear!” said Chris.


Vin was already on the ground next to Buck and Ezra.  Buck was already trying to help Ezra even with his hands tied.  Vin cut him free of his bonds, then did the same for Ezra.  His own hand came back from freeing the Southerner covered in blood.


“Fuck me.  Buck, what happened?” Vin asked wide eyed as he looked from his hand to the gashes on Ezra’s back.


“That son of a bitch,” he nodded towards Emilio, “worked him over something bad.”


Ezra opened hooded eyes and looked from Buck’s face to Chris’s, then over to Josiah’s.  JD’s face came into focus for a fleeting moment, and Vin’s voice hovered from behind him.  “Ezra, it’s ok.  We gotcha.”


Ezra blew out his breath and sucked in a deep, long, cleansing one.  He was safe.  Buck was safe.  “Nathan?” Ezra asked. 


“On his way,” Chris said from right next to him.  Chris had come forward and squatted down when Ezra looked from each of their faces to the next.  He laid a hand on Ezra’s head as he spoke.  Ezra tried to pull away, but couldn’t get far. 


As he relaxed more, he seemed to slip into a semi-conscious state.


“Buck, what happened?” asked JD as he came up next to his friend on the floor.


“I don’t know… They separated us… he was screaming…” Buck broke off.  He composed himself as much as possible, and relayed what he knew had happened, from the last minute switch in location to Emilio dragging Ezra out by his leg and dropping him where he now lay.


Nathan arrived, saying the paramedics were pulling up as well.  PD was on scene.  Nathan ran his hands along the opened parts of Ezra’s shirt and Ezra hissed in pain.  “I’m sorry Ezra, I know it hurts, but I gotta look.”


He was met with no resistance when he opened Ezra’s shirt.  Ezra continued to lie on his side rather than roll to his back. 


Nathan thought he had seen a lot in his time.  He thought he could handle pretty much anything.  He was wrong.  He looked down at Ezra's bare chest and was amazed at what he saw.  Even though the blood was clotting up and didn’t really need to be immediately tended, he couldn’t stop from touching the wounds.


Ezra protested weakly and tried to slide away, but he was so tired.  When he had heard Josiah yell ATF, he almost wept with relief.  As it was, his body decided that he could relax, his friends were here and were going to take care of him.  He barely registered the sounds of the gunshots. 


“What did that?” asked Buck.  He hadn’t seen the extent of the damage until now.


“Maybe this.”  Vin came forward holding a knife one of the Police Officers had removed from Emilio’s body. 


Chris took the knife and opened it, careful not to let the Southerner see it.  The rage flared in his eyes when he saw the blade.  It was a custom made butterfly and razor sharp.  Only a sadist would have used this knife.  Chris stood and walked towards the body of Emilio.


Chris stopped next to the dead man and kicked him as hard as he could.  He then spat at the ground next to the body.  Nobody stopped him, nobody commented to him or about his actions, even the DPD.  They knew the leader of Team Seven was a formidable man, especially when it came to the safety of his own men.


Vin watched his leader open the knife and seethe.  He had opened it himself when the officer gave it to him and had similar thoughts about the man who used such a knife.  If he could have, Vin would have killed Emilio again.


Nathan, for once, was speechless.  There were no words for what he felt.  He felt enraged.  He felt vindictive.  He was so angry with the dead man laying nearby that it seemed almost irrational to him.  He continued to look at Ezra’s chest wounds, and realized that most of them were not life threatening.  They would have been intolerably painful, but wouldn’t kill him.  This made him even more angry at the dead man.


There was one wound though, on Ezra’s sternum, that looked deep and more painful than the rest.  There was also a matching one on his back that trailed down almost the entire length from the shoulder to the small of his back.


Nathan turned angry eyes back to the body that lay not ten feet away.


Vin rested a hand on Nathan’s shoulder.  “You cain’t kill him again Nathan.  He’s already done.”


Their eyes locked and Nathan nodded his head slightly.  Vin was right, The guy was dead.  Ezra was alive.  They had to see that it could have ended a lot worse.


Nathan returned his gaze to Ezra, who was looking right at him.  Almost through him.  “Hang on Ezra, paramedics will be here soon.”


“He was going to… continue… torturing me… with that… FUCKING knife!” Ezra spit out.  He closed his eyes and opened them immediately.  He looked over towards the body of Emilio.  “Get me… away… from him…”  He started to move away from the man, and six pairs of hands helped him in some way.  Some touched to lend support, some helped him weakly stand, others steadied him.


Buck, now able to stand and walk looked at the warehouse.  Where had it all gone so wrong? 


The paramedics loaded Ezra up on the ambulance.  They wanted Buck to go along as well, but he refused.  Josiah and Nathan both rode with Ezra so he wouldn’t be alone.  Plus neither man could stand to be in that warehouse knowing what their friend had gone through while incarcerated there.  Nathan still looked like he was going to blow.


Buck stood and watched the ambulance leave.  Once it had left his sight, he turned and went back inside the warehouse.  Knowing what had happened to himself, he walked towards where Ezra had been dragged from the office and dropped.  He stood staring at the floor where the southerner had been when the rest of the boys found them.  Buck’s hands were on his hips and his head bowed.  He looked defeated. 


There were smeared blood trails from where that bastard had dragged Ezra along the floor, and Buck couldn’t look away from them.  He felt so guilty.  He knew that there was nothing he could have done, but still he should have tried harder.  Something.


Vin and Chris both watched Buck, and JD looked as though he would go over and walk the path of destruction with him, but Chris put his hand on JD’s chest to stop him.


“Leave him JD.  He’s working it out in his own right. We’ll be here when he needs us.”


JD didn’t say anything.  He stood by Chris and Vin and watched as the mustached agent made his way across the warehouse to the wall where Emilio had first dragged Ezra.  He stared at the blood on the floor for a solid minute when he felt a hand on his shoulder.  Chris. 


“He’ll be ok Buck.”


“It shouldn’t have happened.”


“No, but it did.”


“Chris, when they separated us, Ezra had this look in his eyes, like he was sorry for screwing up.  Like he thought the whole thing was his fault.  It was heart breaking.”


Chris just watched as Buck paced and relived what Ezra had gone through at the wall, while at that same time he was being dragged in the other direction.


Buck looked up and past Chris’s shoulder towards the office.  He started towards it.


“Buck, don’t.”  Chris had been in there already, and Buck didn’t need to see that.  It was as if you could SEE the pain Ezra suffered in the blood smears around that office.


“I have to.”  He stood still for a minute.  He looked at his friends.  Vin turned and started towards the office with JD hanging back for a second.  Chris turned and put his arm on Buck, and all of them walked towards the office. 


Vin and JD stood inside the doorway off to the side, and Chris stayed next to Buck when he entered. 


What Buck saw took his breath away.  He had to look away from the desk initially, and his gaze settled on the bloody pattern on the sheet rock.  Ezra had to have been slammed against the wall at some point after his initial knife wounds to the front of him.  Buck walked over to the smear on the wall, then steadied himself to turn to the desk, now sitting askew in the middle of the room.


There were smears of blood all over it.  It had to be from the slice wound on Ezra’s back, but how?  Had they held him there?


“I don’t understand what happened to him?” he asked, more to Vin than to Chris.  Vin had a way of reading things and figuring out what happened.


Chris looked at Vin, a small nod encouraging him to tell Buck what they had discussed earlier.


“Best I can figger Bucklin is this: they threw him into the desk, bound his arms.  They got him to his feet and sliced his chest and belly.  Then he went into the wall.  I reckon that’s when he got the big nasty one on his back.  But they weren’t done.  I think they threw him on the desk onto his back…”  He paused, looking at Chris, asking if he should tell him the rest.


“Don’t look at him Vin, look at me.” Buck said.


Chris nodded and Vin continued.  “The blood on the top of the desk here,” he pointed to what only looked like a smear, like any of the others, “pooled longer that some of the rest.  You can see the outline of where the pool collected, even though it was disturbed after.  I think they held him down.  I actually think,” he paused, trying to soften the blow, “that that big feller straddled him while he worked on him.”


Buck’s eyes were wide with anger and also brimming with sadness as to what his friend had gone through.  “How do you know that?”


Vin pointed to another smear pattern equidistant from either side of the pool he pointed to earlier.  “I reckon those are knee marks.  That big feller had something dark on his knees after we shot him, I just didn’t figger it out till I saw this.”  Vin’s cool voice did not hide his anger.


“What else?” asked Buck.  He knew there was more.


“Them nasty cuts on his front and back, I think he was worked on in the front first, then he got flipped over,” he pointed to another smear and a gouge mark on the desk top, “before he worked that last one on his back.  There’s more blood here cuz the nasty one bled more.” 


At Buck’s questioning look at the gouge mark, Vin elaborated sadly, “Belt buckle dug into the desk.  He was fightin like hell.”  Buck looked upwards, fighting his emotions.


“Then he got knocked into this wall here,” Vin turned and pointed at the wall he and JD had been standing in front of.  The blood smears were larger in size on this wall.  There was also more blood on the floor and trail marks where Ezra had been dragged out the door.


“How can there be so much blood?” Buck almost whispered.


“Buck, he’s gonna be fine,” Chris assured his friend. 


Vin spoke solemnly, “It’s really not a lot of blood Buck.  I know that doesn’t make you feel better, but it’s true.”  Vin didn’t want to detail it out for him, but basically the blood had been smeared around, and it just looked like a lot of blood. 


Buck closed his eyes and tears slid down his cheek. 




After everything was cleaned up at the warehouse, the team rallied around their seventh at the hospital. 


Nathan was still seething anger at the dead Emilio, but he was calm enough to be able to tell everyone what was happening with Ezra.  The doctors had decided to keep him overnight just to be sure that no infection set in, and to replace some fluids.  They had called in a plastic surgeon to administer stitches to the two worst gashes, and even a couple of the not so bad ones were given tiny stitches by the plastic surgeon to minimize scarring.  Because the knife had been so sharp and cut so cleanly, he anticipated minimal scarring.  The two nasty ones would most likely end up as visible scars.


Ezra was resting, nursing the concussion he received when he was smacked against the wall.


“So he’ll be all right?” Chris asked.  The question was more so about his mental well being, rather than his physical.  The doctors had told them that he would recuperate physically.


“We’ll see Chris.  That’s a lot of shit for someone to take,” Nathan replied.


“He’ll be all right,” said Vin.   He’s too stubborn not to be.




Ezra woke feeling well rested.  His head still ached, but it was manageable.  He looked next to the bed, and there sat a wiry Texan. 


“Mornin’,” said Vin, a smile in his voice to match the one on his face.


“Ugh.  Where is everyone?” asked Ezra.


“Went to get some breakfast.  How you feeling?”


“Tired.  Sore.  Ready for my own bed.”


“I think Chris wants you to go out to the ranch with everyone…”


“I would rather not.”


Vin nodded.  “I understand.”  He paused for a moment, and looked drectly in Ezra’s eyes when he net spoke.  “Hey Ezra, you know I’m here if you ever do want to talk about it.”


“I know that Vin.  But I’m still sorting out what happened.”  He blew out a breath.  Why not? “That man had a look in his eyes Vin, that I have never seen the likes of and I hope to never see again.”


Vin nodded slightly, but didn’t say anything.


Ezra continued after a minute.  “I can deal with the pain, I can deal with the situation for the most part.  I can’t deal with the thought of that man.  I may go to hell for this, but I am truly glad he is dead.”


“Ezra, I got it pretty figured out what happened to ya.  I’ve seen that office.”


Ezra winced, thinking of that place. 


“What aren’t you saying Ezra.  What did he do that has you so thrown?”


Ezra considered for a minute whether or not to tell Vin what was on his mind.  He closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest.  He barely whispered, “He… smelled me.”  A look of disgust flashed on his face.


“What do you mean?” Vin asked in an equally low whisper.


“After he cut me, and he was on top of me, and Mendez was watching with a sick type of pride in his eyes,” he paused and looked up at Vin.  There were unshed tears in his eyes as he stared at the sharpshooter.  “He cut me and he leaned forward… he put his face near my chest, the blood,” he motioned with his hands, “and he… smelled me.  And the look he got in his eye then… Vin, I have never been so scared in all my life.”  He stared at Vin as the tears ran down his cheek.


Vin reached forward and put his hand on top of Ezra’s.  He didn’t say anything.  He didn’t need to.  Ezra just needed the support.  He just needed to say it and be heard.  No advice.  No suggestions.


The two sat there like that for what seemed like a long time.  Soon they heard Buck and JD jibing each other as they came down the hall with donuts.  Buck was arguing that Jelly was by far the superb donut.  JD swore Boston Crème was king.  Buck needed this distraction as much as any of them.  It was good to hear them laugh.


Vin looked at Ezra.  “You want to tell them?”


Ezra stiffened. 


“It will be easier if you do.  They’ll be here for you.”


Ezra looked directly at the tracker.  He asked his seriously, “If it were you… would you?”


Vin thought about it.  Yeah, it would be hard to talk about it for him, to admit to being more scared than ever in his life, but they were family.  They were who he trusted with his life.


Vin’s unwavering gaze confirmed his words.  “Yeah I would Ezra.”


Ezra nodded.  “Okay then.”  The other five came through the doors with coffee and donuts. 


Now was as good a time as ever.  Ezra took a couple of settling breaths. 


Chris caught Vin’s gaze.


Everything alright?


Yeah, just listen to him.


All the men settled around the room.  They waited for Ezra to begin, knowing that if they said anything, the man would clam up.  He needed something off his chest.


“I, uhh, wanted to talk to y’all about what happened.  I don’t want to cause any unnecessary worry, so I wanted to just come out and say it.”  He paused, and seemed to start to lose his nerve.  “I, uh, well…”


Vin leaned forward and put his hand on Ezra’s again, lending him strength.  “Ezra, start from the beginning.”


Ezra nodded.  And began at the beginning.  How they got blown by a phone call.  How he tried to talk their way out.  How he felt he had screwed up by not allowing them to have backup on a preliminary meeting.


“When they separated us, I was scared for Buck.  I was also scared for myself.  Sadly, at that point, I didn’t quite know what scared was.”


The rest of the men shifted uncomfortably in their seats while Ezra continued with his story.  About the sick pride in Mendez’s eyes, about the threats to Buck if he wouldn’t talk, how he felt they played him like a fiddle.  How, when the first slice of the knife came, followed by being slammed into the wall and hurled back onto the desk and straddled by that, that, man, made him think he wouldn’t get out of it.  And how that… fucker… had smelled him…


“Ah have nevah been more scared in mah life,” his accent thick with weariness and emotion.


“The handkerchief,” Buck said, almost to himself.


“The what?” Chris asked.


“After Emilio dragged you out of the office and dropped you, he took out a handkerchief and… wiped the knife clean.  He put the knife away, then held the handkerchief to his face.  I think he was smelling it.”


“What kind of man does that?” asked JD.


“A truly evil one, son,” replied Josiah.  “Truly evil.”


Silence reigned around the room, all men lost in their own thoughts.


“You all right Ezra?”  asked Nathan.


“I believe I will be.  I just feel more rattled than I’m used to.”


“We’ll get through it Ezra.  Together.”


“Of that Chris, I have no doubt.”


The End







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