Disclaimer: I disclaim! I disclaim! De plane! De plane! Whoops, wrong show. Don't own Mag 7, but did create this setting to place the characters in.
AU: NYC AU
PARTS: One – 8 pages, TNR, 11 point font, normal margins
ARCHIVE: wherever you like.
NOTES: Answering my own silly challenge: "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, a scaffolding on the side of a skyscraper, a ledge on the side of rock face, you name it, so long as it is a long drop 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 as well. 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! (The use of Cadbury, founded 1839, gets a gold star.)"
DESCRIPTION: Ezra and Vin chasing down an informant/witness and the foolish things people do when they're not thinking.
Ezra skidded to a stop, his mouth opening in surprise as he watched Vin leap without hesitation off the warehouse roof and onto the boat's stern after the fleeing informant. The informant twisted around as he got back to his feet, his expression equally as astonished to see the former bounty hunter make the same desperate leap as him. Scrambling across the slick poop deck, made wet by an early April shower, the informant slid down the ladder to the main deck and jumped over bits of coiled rope and other machinery. Vin mimicked him almost step for step, though his moves were more fluid and less hurried.
Ezra glanced up once at the overhanging sky, then, moving a few steps back on the metal roof of the warehouse, took a running leap to land on the boat's stern just as Vin and the informant had.
For a brief moment, he flew, legs pumping open air as he tried to remember his long jump training in school. He came painfully back to earth as he impacted wood, rope and various other very hard things that one finds lying about on a sailing boat – hurt a damn sight more than sand.
"Gah...ow," he grumbled, getting to his feet on the poop deck. Grimacing as a sharp pain lanced up his leg and into his back, he tried to figure out where the informant thought he could run too.
The ship – an old fashioned sailing boat with three masts called the Fool's Errand – was facing out to sea. On three sides, there was nothing but water. If the informant kept running, he would end up having to jump into the East River. Surely he wasn't that crazy.
Ezra's eyes widened as he realized that, no, he wasn't that crazy...he was crazier.
The informant had reached the center mast and glanced up it for only a second before running to the side to jump up onto the rope ladder. Quickly, the man started climbing.
Vin skidded to a halt and turned around to look at Ezra. The lawyer shrugged, and looked around where he was standing for another means up. Vin, meanwhile, followed the man to the ropes and starting making his way up after him.
Not far away, Buck's jeep pulled into the Brooklyn pier, scaring the hell out of the longshoremen and Port Authority officers as he skidded off the main road over to the dockside. Nathan rolled down the rain speckled window and peered up at each ship they passed while Buck checked out the warehouses. Where the hell were they?
Ezra tested a rope that connected the crow's nest at the top of the center mast with the stern. Shaking his head and wondering whether or not he himself was crazier than the informant, he gripped the rope and swung his legs up. In moments, he was shimmying upwards, every so often stopping to see how far up the other two had gotten. From the looks of it, they were about halfway. If he hurried, he might be able to beat them to the top. Steeling his resolve, he started pulling himself along even faster, hand over hand.
The informant slipped several times on the wet ropes, his feet falling through the holes in his haste. Vin was more methodical, climbing as if he did this sort of thing everyday.
The informant yelled in pain suddenly as he slipped again fell sideways, the rope ladder swaying with him. Vin gripped the ropes tightly as they swayed, just trying to hang on, for a moment understanding why some people were so terrified of heights. Hearing them falter, Ezra stopped where he was only a few feet from the top and watched as the informant's legs flailed about trying to get their hold on the ropes again. Frowning, the lawyer hastened his progress yet again.
In just another moment, Ezra was at the top, the rope he had been climbing being attached to a metal ring just above the crow's nest platform. Letting go with his legs, he swung himself onto the platform and pressed his back against the mast. He felt another rope that ran down the length of the mast, and he gripped the slick coil in his right hand.
The misty rain dusted his face, and he wiped his eyes with a wet sleeve.
That was dumb, he thought inanely, as it had made his face feel even wetter than before.
When he looked again, he saw the hand of the informant gripping the platform's edge, and the lawyer smiled. Still gripping the rope with his right hand, he reached out with his left just as the informant's head appeared over the edge.
"Need a hand?" he asked politely.
The informant's eyes widened, his mouth opening in an "o."
"Come on, Mr. Kingman," Ezra continued. "You'll be all right. The police will protect you, and we need your testimony. Please."
"Easy for you to say, lawyer!" Kingman yelled back, ignoring Ezra's hand and climbing the rest of the way up. "It's not your neck on the line!" he snapped, warily watching the other man from the edge of the platform. Vin stopped on the rope ladder just below the top, listening.
The boat tipped gently to the right, and the informant gave a faint squeal as his shoes slipped on the slick wood and he fell into Ezra. The lawyer grabbed his arm with his free hand to stabilize him.
"Look, I'll push you back in the direction of the rope ladder. Vin will head down first, then you, and I'll follow. Sound logical? I mean, where were you planning on going anyway?"
Kingman shook his head, "Down the other side."
"Ah," Ezra nodded. Logical. For a crazy man. "Listen, we're not going to let you go. A woman's life is on the line here. Your testimony will get her off."
"And get me killed when I tell who really did pull that job," Kingman muttered.
"The police will protect you."
"Personally, at this point in time, Mr. Kingman, I don't see as you have many options."
The informant snorted, then he smiled. "Fine, whatever you say," he agreed, backing out of Ezra's grip. He turned around and looked across at downtown Manhattan, the bulk of it hidden behind fog, his hand snaking across his chest to his belt.
"Knife!" Vin yelled suddenly from below, seeing the glint of the metal just as Kingman pulled it out. Ezra let go of his rope as the informant spun around to slash at him, the lawyer forced to jump backwards. Poorly timed, his feet slipped as the boat tipped in the same direction, and, for a brief moment, he felt completely weightless as he feet slipped off the edge of the tiny platform at a strange angle. His hands both reached out, and he rejoiced at the feeling of another coarse rope stretched out along the yardarm of the tallest sail just under his left fingers.
"Ezra!" Vin yelled as the lawyer fell, his heart leaping into his throat as he saw Ezra grab at the rope on the way down. The lawyer swung hard against the sail's arm, and he winced at the audible crack he heard. But Ezra held on somehow, despite the agony of feeling his arm dislocate.
The informant's laughter only lasted a moment before he realized his impromptu slash had sent him barreling forward in the same direction as Ezra. Falling forward off the platform with a scream, his own arms flailed wide seeking purchase.
Ezra somehow caught him with his right hand, grabbing at Kingman's chocolate colored leather jacket. The leather held and the informant swung into Ezra's legs, dropping his knife in the process. Wrapping his arms around the lawyer's legs, Kingman held on for dear life as Ezra let go of his jacket to get his other hand around the rope along the yardarm.
"Hang on!" Vin yelled, scrambling up onto the platform after them. He ignored Ezra's annoyed look at the obvious statement as he made his way to the yardarm and, using another rope for balance, stepped gingerly out onto it. The arm tipped precariously, imbalanced, and the informant squealed as Ezra's hands slipped down the wet rope closer to the end of the yardarm. The lawyer gritted his teeth at the burning, but didn't make a sound.
"Okay, okay, bad idea," Vin said quickly, backing up onto the platform again. Looking around, he hoped to find some loose rope or a winch or something that could help them.
"Ho! Up above!" Yelled a voice from below. Vin's face lit up with renewed hope and he leaned over the perch to see Buck and Nathan standing on the deck below.
"I need rope!" he yelled back. "And get help! These guys fall, it's not going to be a soft landing!"
Nathan saluted and ran back down the ship to the gangplank near the stern. Port Authority cops had chased them in, and were clearly trying to decide whether Nathan was friend or foe as he ran down the plank towards them, waving his arms like a madman. Several raised their guns to point at him.
Ezra hissed in pain, his fingers beginning to numb.
"Coming up!" Buck yelled. He had picked up a coil of rope and placed it over his shoulders. Then he jumped up onto the rope ladder and started to climb. Vin, meanwhile, was testing the strength of the winch he had found located above the nest. He frowned to find that the rope was firmly attached somewhere below.
Suddenly, it came free. Vin almost lost his precarious footing as it came loose in his hand, but quick hands soon found purchase again as the boat tipped in the other direction. Looking down over the edge of the platform, he saw that two longshoremen were standing at the base of the mast, waving up at him. One was attaching something to the rope at the bottom, then indicated to Vin to let go of the rope. The apprentice detective did so, and watched as the two men started quickly pulling the rope so that whatever they had tied to it was quickly being brought upwards.
Vin grinned to see that it was a couple of safety belts.
"Just hang on, Ez. Help's a-coming!"
Ezra was too tired to respond, his eyes tightly shut. Kingman, however, gave a faint moan.
In a few moments, Buck had reached the top and was securing his rope to the main mast. Throwing the end of the edge, he looked at Vin and frowned.
Vin was already ahead of him, securing a safety belt in place around his waist. He quickly outlined his plan to Buck and Ezra, ignoring the plaintive cries of the informant as he whined about wanting to wait for the FDNY.
"You want to live to see your next birthday, Kingman, you'll shut the hell up," Vin growled at him. Knotting the rope that Buck had thrown over to the clasp on his belt he pointed to the two longshoreman to gather it up and pull. They both did, pulling the rope at an angle away from the nest.
Buck patted Vin on the back as the bounty hunter sat down on the platform, then allowed himself to fall off, the other safety belt hanging off his shoulder.
The rope tightened, and he swallowed. Gripping it tightly in his right hand, he indicated to the longshoremen to keep pulling him outwards. The did so, moving themselves down the deck towards the stern again. Nathan and a couple of officers joined them, helping to give Vin more angle as he found himself being slowly pulled towards Ezra. The lawyer still had one eye pinched close, but the other was open slightly, watching as Vin got closer.
Vin slipped down the rope slightly, and, with a single prayer, he let go of the rope with his hand to get to the loose belt on his shoulder. Wishing he could save Ezra first, he reached Kingman and told him to keep still. The informant nodded faintly and tried to keep still as Vin wound the belt around his waist and secured it. Turning to look behind him then, he indicated to Buck to throw the rope that was fastened to the winch.
The detective did as he was told, tossing the thick cord over. Vin caught it neatly in one hand, then proceeded to knot it around the clasp on Kingman's belt.
"Okay, let go of Ezra and onto me," he said. "Slow movements."
Kingman was shaking as he let go with one arm to reach over and grab Vin's arm. Then, with a scared bleat, he let go the other and grabbed Vin.
The four men securing Vin's line grunted at the extra weight, but held on.
Slowly, they walked back down the deck until Vin and Kingman were both level with the central mast.
Three other Port Authority officers were ready with the end of the rope attached to Kingman via the winch. The gave it slack as Vin instructed Kingman to let go. The informant looked up at Vin with terrified eyes and shook his head.
"Let go of me," the apprentice detective growled, "Or for the life of me, I'll untie that know and watch you drop! We don't have time for this."
Kingman looked at his face, as if testing his sincerity, and, slowly nodded. Shutting his eyes, he took two deep breaths, then let go.
Down below, the three officers held tightly to the suddenly tight rope, and gently started to lower Kingman down. In moments, the informant was on the ground, crying as he was cuffed. One of the officers undid the belt around his waste, connected it to the rope, and quickly sent it upwards again.
Vin, meanwhile, had yelled for Nathan and the others to pull him over to Ezra. The lawyer had been relieved at the loss of the extra weight, but his fingers had also reached a point where they were numb with the wet and cold. He wasn't even all that sure he had fingers anymore, except that his arms still ached and he hadn't fallen yet.
But what if they let go?
It was a horrible feeling, not being in control, not knowing whether you could even trust your own hands to keep holding on.
His eyes, heretofore shut, opened suddenly as Vin touched his arm.
"Hold on," the former bounty hunter said, "I'll get you down." Ezra just nodded, now unable to take his eyes from his friend.
"Buck!" Vin yelled, "Throw the belt!"
The detective took a deep breath and tossed it, blowing air out of his cheeks as Vin caught it easily. The apprentice nodded his thanks, then turned and slipping down the rope slightly, got into a position to secure it around Ezra's waist. Ezra's ice green eyes never blinked as he watched. Vin wasn't even sure that the lawyer still breathed.
"I can't feel my fingers," Ezra whispered suddenly, startling Vin a little. The apprentice detective looked up, met his eyes, and nodded.
"It'll be okay," he promised. Turning around again, he called for the rope. Buck tossed it.
Working quickly, Vin tied the rope to the clasp and smiled.
"Okay...let go the rope and grab onto me."
Ezra nodded, then, furrowing his brow, he looked up and stared at his hands. They didn't move.
"They...I can't...," the lawyer's lower lip trembled slightly as he looked back at Vin.
Vin frowned, seeing the problem. Ezra had a death grip on the rope, and his dislocated shoulder wasn't helping matters.
"Okay, not a problem," the apprentice detective promised. Moving very carefully, he reached down and pulled up the jeans cuff on his right trouser leg to reveal his boots. Reaching inside the leather to the hidden sheath, he pulled out a short knife. Ezra's eyes widened.
"You're....you're not going to cut my fingers off!" he gasped, his mind no longer thinking clearly.
Vin gave him a look, "Jesus, Ezra, no. I'm cutting the rope you're hanging onto. Christ, what a mind you have sometimes." Pulling himself up on the rope, he reached up and felt the thick corded rope. Pressing his knife against it, he started to saw.
After about thirty seconds, he gave up. Disgusted, he stopped and looked back at Ezra. The lawyer was still watching him with a desperate expression. Vin gave him an apologetic look.
"Rope's tougher than hell. It'd take me a day and a half to cut through it with this," he held up the knife. With a slight shrug, he slowly replaced it into his boot. Ezra groaned.
"Now what?" Buck demanded, seeing their predicament.
"I don't know! You think of something for a change!" Vin yelled back, his tone angry because of his failure. Ezra shut his eyes again. Buck frowned, then smiled. Leaning over the platform, he looked for Nathan.
"Nate!" he yelled, "Ezra's fingers are stuck! Death grip! Any ideas?"
"Nice pass, Buck," Vin muttered, rolling his eyes slightly.
The part time clinic doctor looked surprised at the question, then shrugged. "I don't know. Massage them, maybe? Get the feeling back?"
Vin sighed, then looked at Ezra. "Okay, but don't think I'm going to do this regular." Pulling himself up on his rope again, he reached a hand up and started rubbing Ezra's fingers. After a while, he gave up and just started to pry them off. Slowly, very slowly, they gave.
First Ezra's left hand....the lawyer gasped in pain as the dislocated arm fell lifelessly to his side....Then his right....The three officers holding onto Ezra's rope grunted at the sudden weight, unable to stop the man's sudden lurch as he swayed in the direction the unyielding mast.
In the same second, Vin reached out and grabbed Ezra's right arm, stopping him just before he slammed into the wood. The lawyer gasped, trying to stop his trembling as Vin steadied him on the rope.
Several uniformed officers and longshoreman clapped.
"You all right?" Vin asked, looking at Ezra who was now trying to snake his right hand around to grip the rope. The lawyer nodded, annoyed at his still unresponsive fingers.
"Next time," he promised softly, "I'll just wait at the bottom."
"Not sure why you didn't this time, actually," Vin admitted, smiling a little. "I mean, where else was Kingman going to go, but down the other side? You could have just met him down there."
Ezra's eyes opened, and he glared at the former bounty hunter. "Thanks Vin," he snarled. "I needed to hear that right now."
Vin just grinned, happy to see Ezra responding properly to him again.
Gently, steadily, both men were lowered to the ground.
Buck and another officer drove Kingman to the nearest station, while Nathan spent the better part of an hour trying to explain to the Port Authority, the Brooklyn police, the longshoremen's union, the ship's owners and various others just what the hell had happened.
A paramedic was checking out Ezra for the tenth time, insisting that he should really go to the hospital to get his hands, his shoulder and his twisted ankle seen too. She couldn't understand why he didn't want to go in the ambulance with them. After repeated attempts to convince him it would be best, she gave up, made him sign a waiver, and stomped off. Ezra smiled, and pressed his hands tighter around the mug of Cadbury's cocoa in his hand and shifted deeper into the blanket around his shoulders.
The ship was owned by an English couple – the Cadbury's in the food locker was a given.
Vin sat down next to him, also garbed in a blanket and nudged him in the side. Ezra frowned as it almost made him lose some of the cocoa.
"How come you didn't want to go to the hospital?" Vin asked. "That shoulder has to be killing you. Plus, I always thought you loved the attention."
Ezra just smiled in response and looked over at where Nathan was still trying to talk his way out of several citations and a bill for damages to the ship.
Vin shook his head and took a sip of his own cocoa. Ezra stiffened next to him, and he noticed the lawyer was now grinning and staring out at the dock.
A limousine had pulled up.
Vin's jaw dropped.
"Want a ride?" Ezra asked, standing up gingerly and putting the crutch the paramedic had given him under his good arm.
"When did you....?" Vin asked, amazed.
"Cell phones are wonderful things, Mr. Tanner, and I happen to have this one programmed in just for times like these. Now, I repeat, want a ride?"
Vin just grinned, and stood up next to him.
Nathan placed a hand to his head, the headache beating louder in his skull than ever. As yet another Port Authority person showed up, this one informing him that she was a legal intern and demanding the story again, he looked around for help.
And found himself alone.
"Hey!" he yelled at the departing limo, as Ezra waved at him from the window. "Bastards!"