- Character Bashing
- No Beta
- Alternate Universe
The team walked in to ATF Agent Ezra Standish packing the last of his things into a box while speaking quietly to Team Six’s lead agent, Devin Martin.
“What the hell is this shit?” Agent Chris Larrabee demanded taking in the scene. Agents Buck Wilmington, Josiah Sanchez, Vin Tanner, J.D. Dunne, and Nathan Jackson all filed in behind him to see what was going on. “Are you going somewhere, Ez?”
“For the last time, Mr. Larrabee, my name is Ezra. And yes, I am going somewhere. Somewhere that is not here, as a matter of fact. Judge Travis is aware and has agreed that my accumulative available vacation and sick days will go towards my two weeks notice since my new position requires my immediate attendance.” Slipping the cover over the box, Ezra placed his jacket on it and began the tedious job of double checking the drawers of his desk and the surrounding area. Thankfully, his home was already packed and being moved, so there was no chance of his coworkers being a problem there, but there was a chance of them having taken his items here in the workplace so he would need to keep talking while inspecting the the whole space. This was getting tiresome already. There was a reason he had asked Mr. Martin to accompany him while he completed these tasks.
“And no, Mr. Wilmington, you do not need to know where I’m going. My new position is classified, as in none of your business,” Ezra put in before Buck could interject. Buck’s jaw snapped shut with a huff.
“Now, son –” Josiah began with a disappointed tone.
“Mr. Sanchez,” Ezra snapped off while grabbing a mug of his from the kitchen area, “also for the last time, I am not your son. How many times do I have to say that? Do you have so little respect for me and my wishes that you continue to address me so? Is it so hard to just stop calling me something which I am not? I am not your son. I was never your son. I have never viewed you as a father figure. Are we clear?”
“Aren’t you being a little harsh, Ez?” J.D. butted in. And there was yet another person who didn’t respect Ezra in the least. Well, if he wanted to be included so bad, why not explain why he wasn’t being in the least bit harsh. Well, why not let them all know why he wasn’t happy with any of them?
“I might as well explain exactly how each of you haven’t respected me, why I have no compunctions of leaving this team so abruptly and why Judge Travis agreed so readily. Note that Mr. Jackson there hasn’t said a word because he cannot wait for me to be out that door, he hates me so much.”
“Now, wait a moment, don’t –” Nathan started to protest weakly.
“Do not pretend to give a damn, Mr. Jackson. It will not do you a bit a good.” Ezra stared Nathan down until he settled, being sure to keep his temper in check. “Each of you have made no secret as to your feelings about me, your disdain for me and your upset at having me placed on your team. Oh, sure, you were overjoyed at having an excellent undercover at your disposal, and you being able to use my contacts when needed. But when it came down to it, even though you said you believe me about not being a dirty FBI agent it was only lip service. You really thought I took bribes and crossed the line.” Ezra paused a moment and looked them all in the eye, Agent Martin at his back in support.
“Do not attempt to deny this, as every other agent in this building has heard you speak about it. You were not very discreet in your theorizing about my financial status. In a gross invasion of privacy, Mr. Dunne has taken it upon himself — most likely at the direction of Mr. Wilmington — to hack into my bank accounts multiple times over the last few years to see what I have spent my money on, if I have made any purchases or have come into any mysterious monies, or maybe opened any new accounts.
“Don’t look so surprised, young man, I am not without my own skills. I have put alerts on them and have known each and every time you went in to look around. Despite the fact that there has been absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing, you kept going back to look.” Ezra ignored J.D. and Buck’s brief looks of guilt and moved on.
“Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Jackson both automatically assume that I have crossed over to the marks’ side and turned against the agency whenever something does not go according to plan without any evidence to support it. Mr. Sanchez simply because of some misguided notion about my upbringing, and Mr. Jackson due to assumptions based on my placed of birth and accent. Yes, Mr. Jackson, reverse racism is actually a thing and your projection of your own personal issues upon my person are most certainly not appreciated. Let’s take those one at a time.”
“Now, wait a –” Nathan began.
“Please, Mr. Jackson, allow me to explain. I have allowed you to spew your nonsense enough over the years, I believe it is my turn to speak. Finally.”
“Let me be plain, since you have all made it clear that my ‘fancy talk’–” Ezra used finger quotes while speaking, and let a bit of his disdain show through while putting yet another of his belongings into his box, this time some of his fountain pens that had gone missing (and he had pointedly asked after) found on Josiah’s desk — “is too much for some — if not all — of you. When the assassin was in town, you all pushed your distrust on me, without any proof, deciding that I would take the money and run.
“Yet, when it was Mr. Sanchez who was having the actual problems, and handed me the currency to safe keep, you decided I was the, quote/unquote ‘bad guy’. You deemed me as such right up until I saved the Judge. My status as a ‘good guy’ held right up until the next situation in which something didn’t go according to plan. Time and time again I am thrust into the role of devil and never do I get an apology for it. I am simply expected to forgive you all for it.
“Let’s move on to despite being informed of the fact that my mother is indeed a con artist multiple times, you all decided that I was telling tales and fell for every lie that fell from her lips. You betrayed me in every way possible when she came around. You had all promised to help me invest in something I had shared was a dream of mine, and then you took back your promise of assistance to instead help my dear mother stab me in the back. ”
Ezra opened his mouth to continue his diatribe, and then stopped. Looking around the room, he could see that he wasn’t getting through to these men at all. They just had the same look as always, as if they had done nothing wrong. The brief looks of guilt disappeared into the ether never to be seen again, and instead anger was in their place, and directed towards him.
Ezra put the cover on his box of belongings and hefted it up in his arms. “Suffice it to say, I have done my best by you all, and have received your least in return. I will not waste my breath with words that will fall of deaf ears. I can see that nothing I will say at the moment will get through these thick skulls that sit before me, and so I will depart and begin my new life. I cannot trust my life to people that think so ill of me, and will not live my life in such a way, always worried that this will be the time you let me fall. I wish you luck in the future, and goodbye.” Without even a glance over his shoulder, Ezra Patrick Standish waltzed calmly right out of the office of ATF Team Seven and towards the elevator, shaking his head minutely at the Judge on his passing.
Judge Travis blocked the doorway so that no one could follow his former employee and Agent Martin. With a look of deep disappointment, he addressed the team, “If I hear — and do not think for one moment that I will not hear — that you have continued to pry into finances or hound people for information about him or his new position, it will cost you yours. I am embarrassed that my people have acted like such children.”
The Judge took another look around the room, noting that now — but not before — now these men were looking uncomfortable and upset. Was it only because their boss was calling them out? “I went and stuck my neck out finding you the best undercover man there was, and there you all go treating him like completely shit.”
“Now, sir, there was all those rumors about him being dirty –” Nathan began, but was cut off by his superior — a very angry superior.
“Now you listen here — all of you listen up. Had any of you been paying attention over the last week, you would have learned that the man responsible for that whole fiasco over at the FBI was finally caught. Everything that Ezra was blamed for, all the leaked information, the money, everything — they found the man who really did and framed Ezra for it. It’s been all over the building, for Christ’s sake! How could none of you know that your own team mate’s name has been cleared once and for all?”
Shaking his head in resignation, Judge Travis gave up trying to reason with a bunch if stubborn idiots.
“I don’t have time for this. Larrabee, seeing as your team doesn’t have the wherewithal to take care of the team members it does have, you aren’t getting any new ones for quite a while. You’ll have to make do with your current setup.”
Chris opened his mouth to protest, but shut it again at the look from his supervisor. The man in black respected his boss too much to go against him, and so he kept his council and seat for the moment.
“Vin,” the quiet member looked up at being addressed, “I need to see you in my office on an unrelated matter. It’s why I came in on my way up to my office, so walk with me for a bit.”
Judge Travis waited until they were behind closed doors and checked that his computer was off, phone unplugged, and also that his cellphone was off before speaking. At the curious look from his agent, he simply explained, “Agent Standish advised me to do so.”
“Ah, that makes sense.”
“Does it really?” Travis asked, getting comfortable in his chair. “I thought I might have to explain more about such bizarre behavior.”
Vin dithered about for a moment before seemingly making a decision to trust his superior and speak his mind. “Considering the conversation we just had down there, I wouldn’t put it past Chris or Buck to order J.D. to try and listen in on what’s going on in here. I left my cell phone down there, so I don’t have to worry about them trying mine to listen in on.” At the Judge’s surprised look, Vin continued. “I know you might be a little shocked at what looks like me snitching, but I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for a bit, as the team has been turning into something I’m not too comfortable with for a while. It seems to me that they are leaning towards crossing that line a little too much and I just can’t go with that. I don’t want to be that man, and I am afraid that if I stay with them, we will be. They might be good men, but together, I think it’s dangerous. And what we did to Ezra, it’s just not right.”
Vin looked down at his hands, guilt all over his body language and face. “We did wrong by him, and we all owe him our lives plenty of times over. Nobody said thank you, nobody said please or whathaveyou. We reap what we sow. We were always doing – what did he call them? Double, uh –”
“Yeah, them things. We did them all the time to him.”
“Then why did you not speak up for him?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. There’s something about Chris that just doesn’t let you go against him.” Vin looked like a young boy as he spoke, and it showed his true age, that of mid twenties.
“Do you need me to transfer you to another team, son?” The Judge asked kindly. He had the option of giving him the letter from Ezra, but at the shake of the head from the man upon leaving, it seemed that Ezra had decided against giving this man some final words. Maybe at a later date, then. At the moment, Vin really needed to get away from the apparently toxic atmosphere of Team 7.
“Yes, please. Actually, I’d like to go into training, if you don’t mind. I’ve been noticing a lot of sloppy work and it would make me feel better to know we’re sending people out with the right information and training, sir.”
That made the Judge very happy; he didn’t want to lose Vin and this would give the young man a chance to recuperate and find himself again away from the other men, and also a chance to grow up a bit more. “Then let’s do that. I’ll place Agent Bradshaw on 7 so they aren’t completely short handed, but that’s it.”
Ezra managed to ditch any tails that might have latched onto him via Wilmington or Larrabee’s networks of contacts, thanks to O’Neill. He couldn’t wait to see his new home in Colorado Springs. Even though it wasn’t so far from his old home, it would be a new start with a new group of people. This would be a group of people he would not have to pretend with, he could use all his faculties, all his skills, and there would be, hopefully, no one waiting to stab him the back or treat him as a burden.