Title: Analyze This
Author: Celeste
Rating: PG
Main Characters: (Seven)
Genre: Humor (Yes, lame in some parts but hey, what can I do?)
Universe: (ATF/AU)
Summary: Team 7 is dissected… or does the dissecting, whichever way you want to look
at it…
Feedback: (yes!) keviesprincess@netscape.net
Disclaimer: The boys aren't mine. *Sigh* I like to pretend they are sometimes. But then
again, I've always had an overactive imagination. The ATF Universe isn't my creation
either, and I'd like to take the chance and thank Mog for letting the rest of us play in her
world. ? I created Dr. Preston, but he's boring, so I don't think it matters that much. As
for the title, I apologize to the movie, but I really couldn't think of anything original.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Ker, and Skye (and the rest of LA) for looking at this in
advance to tell me if it sucked or not. *G* They all pass the "inflating Celeste's ego" test.
Thanks so much ladies!!! As for the rest of this monster, we'll see if my muse gets
inspired to write the rest. :P This is just trial, I suppose…
Distribution: Ask and ye shall receive.
Dedication: This is for Greta and Laura, cause they can ALWAYS get me to laugh.
They're completely ridiculous, and I love them for it!!

**(From the Notes of Dr. Samuel F. Preston)

The ATF and one, AD Orin Travis, have both graciously convinced the United States
Government to fund a project in which the bureau's top three teams in the nation are to
be studied and analyzed. I have been assigned to oversee this project. Our goal is to
dissect the dynamics of each team and their individual members to see if we can
determine the reason for their superiority. If successful, our data will be used as a basis
on which future government teams will be developed for maximum potential.

From April 5th-April 10th, 2001, I met with the third leading team in the nation, headed by
Daniel Freemond in Washington D.C. in my office. In their team I saw a militaristic
sense of professionalism and respect as well as high regard for personal honor. Each
individual was tuned finely to obey their particular morals and ethics as well as respect
the methods and authority of their superiors.

On May 20th-May 25th, 2001, I had my session here in Denver with the second most
successful team in the ATF, lead by Jason Lieu in San Francisco, California. In his team
I noted many similarities with Mister Freemond's team. Personal honor and
professionalism were of the utmost importance. Each individual was 100% serious about
their jobs and in their relationships to one another. When I met with them, they were
courteous and respectful to me and to each other.

Today, on June 18th, 2001, I begin my five-day study of the number one ranked team in
the entire nation, headed by Chris Larabee in Denver, Colorado. I am very excited about
this particular interview, as I have seen the team's record. Their success rate is almost as
high as the previous teams' records combined. If their characteristics are consistent with
my previous findings, I believe we will be successful in acquiring our "formula" for the
perfect team. The session with these remarkable men is to begin in 15 minutes. I look
forward to talking with and dissecting these extraordinary individuals. Before we begin, I
would like to once again, thank the ATF and AD Travis for this rare opportunity to study
such complex subjects and at the same time, perform a great service to my country. **

Part One: Single Word Associations

**9:30 AM, Mon., June 18th, 2001

(From the notes of Dr. Samuel F. Preston)

Agent Larabee's team has arrived, slightly late for their session, but ready to begin. I
suggested that we start with the one on one interviews first so that I may get a feel for my
subjects, but they all seemed rather uncomfortable at that. Actually, Mister Wilmington's
exact words were, ""Are you nuts?" They obviously draw confidence, and a certain
degree of comfort, from being in close proximity to one another in a foreign environment.
I find that I get more answers if my subjects are comfortable from the very beginning, so I
suggested we do a group activity to start off with.

The single word association game is a wonderful exercise in defining an individual's
relationship with another, and fun at that. The rules are simple, we are to single out one
person from the group and have everyone else state one, and only one, word that they
think best describes that person. This will get them to share their feelings with one
another and give them a chance to speak honestly to one another without digging too
deep. Hopefully, they will enjoy this exercise and open up as we begin to delve into
deeper issues later on. Let the study begin!!! **

One Word That Describes Chris

Vin looked around the room. "Uh… just one?" he asked after a period of silence amongst
those present.

The psychologist nodded. "Just one, nothing more. Now, why don't we go clockwise
from Mister Wilmington? I have it here that he has known Mister Larabee the longest,"
the man smiled from under his glasses as he spoke, and motioned to a statement on his
clipboard with the eraser of his pencil.

Buck eased back in his armchair gingerly, as if thinking the wrong thing about his
volatile friend could physically hurt him. In many ways, it probably would.
"Well…Chris… Chris is…" He paused to think a little longer, his voice trailing off
thoughtfully. "…ornery," he finished after a minute or so, very proud of his answer.

The other five groaned. "Damn it Buck, you took mine," JD groused the older man, as he
glared at him.

"Mine too."

"Me too."

"That was mine first."

"I'm quite certain it was mine long before it was yours, Mister Tanner."

Chris glared at them all, effectively shutting them up about their damn 'ornery'
comments. He was not ornery. He glared harder to prove it. The psychologist took a hasty
note, eyes never leaving his fascinating subjects. They were a psychologists dream, so
far. "Um, Mister Sanchez, please continue. One word that describes Mister Larabee."

Josiah steepled his large hands and leaned back in the armchair, crossing his legs at the
ankles. He was silent for several moments. The psychologist looked at him, pausing in
his mad scribbling at the sudden quiet. "Mister Sanchez?" he prompted, urging the older
man with several hand gestures.


Vin's furrowed his brow, trying to dissect the new word and add it to his ever-growing
vocabulary. After a second, the tracker's eyebrow's jumped with surprise. "What? Josiah,
you sayin' Chris keeps from doin'…"

Ezra sighed. "Not 'abstinent,' Mister Tanner, 'obstinate'." Vin just looked confused.
"Obstinate means stubborn, Vin," the southerner explained patiently.

Understanding dawned on the tracker, and he suddenly burst out laughing.

"What's so funny?" JD inquired before he could stop himself.

Vin guffawed a second longer before fighting for breath so he could speak in-between
chuckles. "I knew…I knew… Chris weren't gettin' any… but it surprised the hell outta
me… a second ago… when I thought it was by…by… choice!!!! Whew!!" He laughed

Buck snorted, laughing deeply himself. "Hell, Vin… you don't need a damn shrink to
prove you're messed up. We just gotta listen to where that mind of yours takes us!"

The others joined in laughing, except for Chris, who's glare caused the psychiatrist to
look in the opposite direction completely, taking his notepad and his pencil with him.
"Enough!!" the team supervisor growled. "I'm not ornery, an' I'm not abstinent OR

"Um, yes, we really should continue. Mister Jackson, why don't you go next?"

Nate bit his bottom lip to keep from laughing again about Vin's comment on Chris's
private life. He wanted to continue, and get their little session over with as soon as
possible. "He's, well, he's protective." He cringed after he said it, because he knew what
was coming next.

"Ain't that right now, Papa Bear?" Buck nudged Chris beside him, who shot a look of
death at his older friend for using the much-hated nickname outside the office. Vin and
Ezra made growling animal noises to articulate, both safely on the other side of the circle,
away from Chris's immediate reach, unlike Buck. The lady's man grunted when Chris
smacked him.

The psychologist, intrigued by the peculiar nickname, wrote it down hastily and circled it
at the top of the paper, for further research. Everyone read Chris's **'I'll get you all for
this'** look, but chose to ignore it. "Ah, Mister Standish, would you please go next?"
The undercover agent pulled out his deck of cards and began to shuffle it absently as he
pondered the question, or rather, if it was worth answering truthfully, knowing he could
possibly die very shortly after. Ezra didn't have to think long about it. He grinned his
Cheshire grin and pulled another ace out of his mental sleeve. "Mister Larabee is quite,

There was complete silence. Chris furrowed his brow. "What? What the hell does
**THAT** mean?"

Ezra shrugged. "I think it would be a bit unfair if I had to explain myself when everyone
else was allowed to follow the "one word and one word only rule," don't you agree,
Mister Preston?" Standish turned and looked at the psychologist expectantly.

The man with the glasses pondered the question for a moment, tapping his pencil eraser
against his chin as he thought. The psychiatrist had no idea he had been analyzed by the
cunning undercover agent, and found lacking. Ezra knew exactly how the man was going
to answer. "Yes, I suppose it would be unfair. But, please, in the future, use words you
think your teammates and I will be able to understand Mister Standish. This is a group
effort, after all." He smiled brightly after finishing his statement. Chris wondered how
Dr. Preston would look with a black eye and perhaps, some missing teeth. As far as
Larabee was concerned, the he was definitely in now way, 'irascible,' or whatever.
Taking a pen out of his pocket, Chris hastily wrote the word, spelling it phonetically, on
the back of his hand. He'd look it up later, and then he'd make Standish pay for whatever
it was that the man had said.

"Mister Tanner, would you like to go next?"

"Hell no, but I suppose I ain't got a choice now do I, Doc?"

"Well, I suppose not, under the circumstances… but uh…we can always skip you and
come back later, if you're feeling uncomfortable right now."

"Uh yeah. I'm uncomfortable. Go on and describe Chris first, JD… I'll think of

Ezra grinned, proud. Yes, he'd taught Vin how to do that convincingly, or so he liked to

JD shot Vin a dirty look, "But, Doc, he's just foolin' with ya! Vin ain't really
uncomfortable," the youngest tried to stall, but the doctor would have none of that.

"C'mon now young man, the Judge told me you'd be the least reluctant to express
yourself emotionally."

JD's nose wrinkled before he could stop it. Did the man just say what he think he said?
Emotional expression? The thought made the kid cringe physically in his chair. Why did
everyone always think he was the emotionally weak one? Dunne sighed. It was the hair,
wasn't it? That was it. That had been the final straw. The moment they got out of here, he
was going to get a haircut, preferably something army style.

"Son, are you gonna say somethin' or you gonna jest sit there movin' your eyebrows
back'n forth all day?" Buck prompted smugly, knowing what was going on in his
roommate's head. His tone promised teasing for it later, **'emotion expression'** and

JD took the time to glare at Buck, absently rubbing his left brow with his hand as he did
so. The youngest then returned his attention to the exercise at hand. He searched for
something inoffensive to say. "Chris is… well, Chris is…" JD panicked, looking at the
already murderous expression in his boss's eyes. Maybe if Buck hadn't made that 'Papa
Bear' comment earlier JD would have been okay, but the Team 7 leader was all worked
up now. "Chris is… old?" JD said the first thing that he could think of that might not be
as bad as he thought. The youngster realized his mistake the moment the word left his
mouth. His eyes threatened to bulge out of his head as began squirming, looking for
something to say that might explain his comment. "I mean… not old… um… well, not in
an **old** old way, but in a normal, old…er, wise way? Like experience and
wisdom…and stuff?" he finished the statement off with a question, making it sound weak
and frightened, which, not surprisingly, was exactly how he felt right about now. "Um…
you look great for your age Chris."

The others all covered their faces with their hands and groaned into them. The vein in
Chris's forehead started to throb. "Now Mister Dunne, only one word. Old it is," the
psychiatrist chastised, before writing down what JD had said.

Dunne shrunk in his chair and tried to seem very small and innocent. He was naïve;
maybe Chris would still buy that. JD Dunne was still young and naïve. Chancing a glance
at Chris, JD knew he was dead, youthful innocence be damned. Larabee would go on a
murderous rampage. JD knew this because, now, there was a certain calm in Chris's
expression. The kind of relaxed look the blonde man tended to get right after he justified
killing someone, in his mind.

"Now… Mister Tanner, we're back to you. Do you think you're ready to go?"

Vin was still reluctant, especially after JD's fubble, but by the way Preston was looking
at him, the sniper knew he wouldn't be able to stall more than he already had. He
wondered if he should say something nice about Chris and save his hide. Of course, nice
and Chris weren't words he would normally associate with each other, but he still liked
the man all the same. He looked at Chris from the corner of his eye. He could escape
death right now, or he could join the ranks of the doomed as a marked man. Vin looked at
them and checked them off mentally. Buck was a goner. Ezra was as well, once Chris
figured out whatever it was that he had said. JD was definitely dead, and Josiah was,
maybe. Nate seemed to be the only one that was safe from Larabee's wrath. Tanner
chuckled to himself. One of them surviving was good enough odds for him. He slouched
comfortably in his chair and sipped his water once before looking at Dr. Preston. "Slow."

Everyone looked up at the word, stunned by Tanner's boldness. Was he attempting
suicide by provocation? It was definitely possible, and that had definitely been the way to
go about it.

"On the draw, that is," Vin described lazily, knowing the comment had confused the
doctor. "Not the stupid kinda slow or anything." Preston nodded, realizing what Vin was
saying, and wrote a note in his leather-bound journal.

Everyone immediately forgot JD's 'old' comment when they heard that one. They all
stared at Vin incredulously. "Slow draw? Why exactly, do you say that, Mister Tanner?"
Ezra asked, decidedly uncomfortable with what he was learning about his friends during
this little session. He had had no idea that Vin Tanner was openly suicidal.

"Guess cuz it's gotta do with that 'old' thing JD was talkin' bout," Vin shrugged
nonchalantly, though his eyes gleamed mischief, and a dare, to the others. He was never
one to be cowardly, nor was he ever one to pass up the chance to tease his best friend in
front of strangers.

Chris's eyebrow twitched as he smiled a predatory smile in return to Vin's daring grin.
The leader subconsciously drew back his jacket, revealing his empty holster. He would
show Vin **'slow draw'** back at the office, the second he got his firearm back on.

One Word That Describes Buck

"Now, let's go around the circle again, and this time, everyone tell me one word that
describes Mister Wilmington."

Buck grinned broadly. "Hope you fellas know lots of synonyms for charming, daring,
handsome, and smart," the scoundrel announced boisterously.

JD rolled his eyes. "Synonyms mean the same thing, Buck."

"I know that, kid," Buck retorted resentfully.

"Well then ya shoulda said antonyms," JD snorted.

Buck looked at Vin expectantly. Sighing at the indignation of it all, the tracker reached
over and cuffed the kid on the back of the head because Wilmington couldn't reach that

"Hey!!" JD yelped, his hands flying to his head protectively as he glared at Vin. "What
the hell was that for?"

Vin shrugged and pointed at Buck. "Callin' in a favor kid. Tweren't nothin' personal."

"Sure it wasn't," JD responded before pulling the bill lower on his baseball cap so it
covered his eyes. "Bullies."

Fascinated, the psychologist paused to write down some more notes regarding that
peculiar byplay between Vin, Buck and JD before moving on. "Mister Sanchez, please
start the exercise."

Uncomplaining, Josiah tilted his head slightly to the left and quirked an eye heavenward
as he thought. "Well, Brother Buck is… loud."

Buck's moustache twitched comically at the comment. "Loud? What the hell does that
mean, Josiah!?" the scoundrel grunted, taking slight offense at the comment. Beside him,
Chris cleaned out his ear, having to sit next to Buck as the man raved about how 'quiet'
he was. "That really the best ya could come up with?" Chris cringed at the noise level. "I
saw that. Very funny, pard," Wilmington grumbled, having seen Chris's action and small
smile at his expense. "I'm glad this is so amusin'," the lady's man huffed.

The rest of the others chortled. "Relax Mister Wilmington, you've already proven Mister
Sanchez's point," Ezra drawled wickedly, though he didn't look up from his cards.

Buck glared at the gambler before indicating to Vin with a tilt of his chin. Sighing, Vin
reached over and unceremoniously smacked Ezra upside the head. Ezra's head shot up,
and he looked at Vin, bewildered. "Mister Tanner, did you just…" he was too surprised
to finish the question.

Vin shrugged. "Lost a bet. Tweren't nothin' personal."

Ezra glared at Buck instead of Vin, and indicated to Chris with his eyes. Chris sighed,
reached over, and smacked Buck hard upside the head. Wilmington yelped. "Ow! Damn
it, Chris, what the fuck was that for?!"

Chris glared at Ezra. "Lost a bet. Wasn't anything personal," he explained wearily.

Doctor Preston wrote down a series of notes involving physical retaliation and possible
intense psychological trauma during the early youth. "Um, boys, can we please keep
going? Mister Jackson?"

Nathan looked at Buck, and decided he was far enough from Vin that he wouldn't get
smacked upside the head if push came to shove. "Well, he can be…lewd."

"Whatever happened to just plain, 'romantic'?" Buck whined, glaring out from under a
bushy brow at the ex-medic. Nathan shrugged helplessly.

"Now Mister Wilmington, I distinctly remember a comment you made about havin' your
mouth meet Inez's. How very romantic," Ezra drawled, sarcasm oozing from every word.

Buck looked shocked. "She told you 'bout that, huh?"


"I ain't lewd."

"Lewd was putting it mildly." Wilmington growled before he looked at Vin. Tanner
returned Buck's stare irritably, but went ahead and smacked Ezra once again. This time
Ezra smacked him back, equally as annoyed with Tanner as he was with Wilmington.

"Hey! I said it tweren't nothin' personal!!" Vin yelped, rubbing his head sorely.

Ezra smiled. "That wasn't anything personal either, Mister Tanner."

"Oh. Well, just so we're clear, Ez."

"I merely gave it to you for safekeeping. Please pass it along to Mister Wilmington when
you get the chance."

"Sure thing."

The psychologist jotted down another note about Standish's uncanny ability to verbally
placate, and Tanner's occasional "off the wall-ness," for lack of a better word. "All right,
um… Mister Standish, would you care to go next?"

"Libidinous," Ezra stated without missing a beat.

"What in the hell does that…"

"I thought we specified a rule, Mister Standish. Please try to use words everyone can

"Now, Doctor Preston, is it really my fault if I made an assumption that was incorrect? I
truly believed they all knew the meaning of the word. I can't possibly be blamed for my

"No, I suppose you can't be blamed for that," the psychologist replied, though he had a
distinct feeling he was being played. Standish however, looked completely innocent.
Usually, the doctor could discern foul play from his patients through body language and
facial expressions, but there was nothing he could see that told him Ezra was pulling a
fast one on him. He shrugged mentally and wrote himself another note under Ezra's

"Snake," Buck grumbled. The scoundrel pulled a pen out of his pants pocket and a
wadded up piece of paper. He hastily scribbled the word 'libidinous' on it, taking care to
spell it as best he could. That damn southerner would get his, later.

"All right, Mister Tanner, would you go next?"

Vin crinkled his nose slightly at the thought, but didn't stall this time. "Cheater."

Wilmington's jaw dropped. "WHAT? Now, you **KNOW** I won that bet fair and
square, Junior!!!"

"Don't know it fer certain," Tanner drawled back, still stinging after the loss.

"Now c'mon boy, you were the one that bet on the 'Sixers! That was you cheatin'
yourself, not me cheatin' ya."

Vin grew indignant. "But, I only made that bet after ya kept remindin' me bout Shaq's
free throws!!"

"I also said the damn man was more'n 7 feet tall!!" Buck fired back in his defense.

"Still don't count," Vin responded evenly.

Buck looked at Vin expectantly after a minute. Tanner almost exploded. "You can't be
serious, Bucklin!!!"

"Oh, I'm dead serious, Junior."

Vin glared daggers at the older man, before remembering that his word was an important
part of who he was. He reached around himself with his right hand, rather precariously,
and somehow managed to smack himself in the head.

"That was undignified."

"Ezra, shut up."

"Gentlemen please, this is taking much longer than necessary. Mister Dunne, please go

"About Buck? Buck's just plain overprotective."

Chris and Ezra started to make clucking noises from their seats at JD's unintentional cue.
Vin joined the two, grinning broadly the entire time. Josiah and Nathan shook their heads
but couldn't quite subdue their smiles. JD looked u p at the ceiling, trying to avoid
Buck's glare. Though Wilmington's was not as potent as Larabee's, it was still slightly
unnerving at times. Ezra, Vin, and Chris however, continued with the chicken sounds.
Buck could not fathom slapping Chris upside the head; so instead, he turned to Vin and
nodded for the umpteenth time that day. Sighing dramatically at the unspoken
instructions, the young tracker whapped himself on the head, once again.

"Uh, I meant Ez there, Junior, but I guess that works too." Buck decided that was revenge
enough, for now.

"Gentlemen! Please! We need to move on!! Mister Larabee, go next."

"Buck? Ole Buck's horny, plain and simple."

Everyone waited for Buck to get indignant. When nothing came they all looked at Chris's
oldest friend inquisitively. "What? It's true, ain't it?" the scoundrel admitted, shrugging

"Let me get this straight. Mister Larabee gets away with, 'horny' while I am in dire
straights on your list for, 'libidinous'?"

"Ha!! I **KNEW** it had something to do with that!!" Wilmington pointed an
accusatory finger at Ezra.

"I said nothing of the sort. I was merely using an example, I…"
Buck looked at Vin before Ezra could slither out of the hole he had put himself in.


"Mister Tanner, please!!!" *SMACK*

"OW!! Hell, Ez! I already told ya, it weren't nuthin' personal!!!!" *SMACK*

"Goddamn it! Then what exactly, was that last one for, Vin?! *SMACK*

"That one was just fer bein' an ass!" *SMACK*

"Well then, I return in like!!" *SMACK* "Infact, I return the favor DOUBLY!"

Dr. Preston wrote some more notes on his disturbing finds.


One Word That Describes Josiah

"Mister Sanchez, would you like to go next?" Doctor Preston asked once Vin and Ezra
had been settled and told they were not to hit each other out of spite for the duration of
the session.

"You really want me to answer that question, doc?" the preacher's son asked, seriously.

"Um…no. Please begin the exercise if you would, Mister Jackson."

"Well this is easy. Josiah's steady."

"Thank you, brother Nate."

"What'dya mean steady? You don't remember that brawl last week in the bar?" Buck
questioned, unbelieving of what Nathan was saying. "Lemme tell ya doc, he ain't as
steady as he looks. One minute ole Josiah here was sittin' sippin' his beer, then Parson
came over and made some comment 'bout his mama jokingly, 'n the next, Parson's layin'
unconscious in the middle of the street an' The Saloon's window is broke."

"Well, well, it looks like someone is attempting to undermine the others' positive
qualities to make himself feel better about his own, previous round, tsk tsk."

"Fuck you, Ezra."

"I'm afraid I must decline your offer, Mister Wilmington, as my interests obviously don't
coincide with yours…"

"Vin, if ya'd be so kind."


"Mister Tanner! Is that really absolutely necessary?!"

"Ain't nothin' personal Ezra."

"So you keep saying."

"Well maybe if you'd keep your damn fool mouth shut!" Buck stated, looking directly at

"Mister Larabee, if **you** would be so kind?"


"Ow!!! Damn it Chris! I don't believe you're takin' orders from that lil weasel!"

"And I don't believe Vin's takin' shit from an old skirt chaser like you. Besides, it wasn't
anything personal," Chris responded after having smacked his oldest friend good.

"So ya keep tellin' me." Buck rubbed his head.

"Okay, I admit, it IS sort of fun."

"I **KNEW** it!"

"**GENTLEMEN**!!!" Preston was beginning to lose his patience, and the slight rise in
pitch and volume in his voice showed it. "Mister Standish, please go."


The psychologist was growing annoyed with Ezra's little game. "Mister Standish."


"**Mister** Standish…"






"Please, **MISTER STANDISH**! You know the rules!!"

Ezra sighed. "Josiah sho' is smart," the gambler drawled, with an exaggerated hillbilly
accent. After a second, he wrinkled his nose. "That was utterly degrading Mister Preston.
For a psychologist, I find your vocabulary extensively lacking. I recommend a good
Oxford Thesaurus and the Wall Street Journal."

Preston tried to ignore him. "I didn't say MY vocabulary was lacking per say, Mister

"Then you're quite obviously undermining the intelligence of my teammates. I take great
offense at that conjecture."

"I was just assuming that they didn't understand what you were saying to them," Preston
explained, almost contrite at his outburst at Ezra. Almost.

"Mister Sanchez, what does 'ursine' mean?" Ezra asked, expectantly.

"I do believe it means bear like, Brother Ezra."

"And Pietistic?"








"Thank you." Ezra leaned back in his chair, looking at the doctor expectantly, after
proving his point.

Preston sighed. "I apologize for jumping to conclusions, Mister Standish."

"And I trust it won't happen in the future?" Ezra asked, as if he had finished scolding a
mischievous child.

"Yes, of course."

"Good. You may resume, doctor."

"Thank you, Mister Standish.

"You're very welcome." Ezra couldn't quite keep the smug tone from his voice at the last
statement, and the psychiatrist suddenly felt very suspicious. Had his patient just… no…
HE was the psychologist, after all, wasn't he?

"Er… let's continue then. Mister Tanner, please describe Mister Sanchez."


"Um, Mister Tanner, I think your teammate already used that one."

"No he didn't. Last one he used was Perspicuous. Josiah said that meant intelligent. So I
went the other way'n I say he's capacious. That means large. Ezra didn't say that."

Preston was tempted to throttle both Tanner and Standish at this point, but he reminded
himself that he was a professional, and that this, was only a slight setback. Instead, he
attempted to dissect the validity of Vin's statement. It was true, Standish had settled for
Perspicuous in the end, and the psychoanalyst didn't really feel like coming under the
team's scrutiny for assuming Tanner hadn't had the slightest idea what capacious had
meant at the beginning of the conversation. He sighed. "All right then. Mister Dunne?"


"Mister Dunne… oh, never mind. Mister Larabee?"


Preston sighed and wrote three or four nasty notes on the side of his pad, to calm himself
down a bit. "Mister Wilmington, your turn."


"You already said that for Mister Larabee."

"But, you said we couldn't repeat each other."

"Yes, I did."

"I was repeating myself."

Preston growled. "All right! Here are the rules gentlemen! No repeating each other. No
repeating yourselves. No using words that no one else understands. No splicing words
together. Are we clear?"

"Doctor Preston, please get a hold of yourself. A man in your position should always be
in possession of his faculties. I find it utterly repulsive that someone of your extensive
training loses control so easily."

"I apologize for that Mister Standish but…" Preston stopped halfway through his apology
and gave Ezra an irate look. "May we continue?"

"My teammates and I would be happy to oblige, once you've collected yourself."

"Thank you…" he stopped again. "Mister Standish, must you always play mind games?"
he asked, exasperated.

"Verbally attacking my character is rather childish for a man of your education, don't you
think, Doctor?"

The psychologist sighed, and decided to ignore Standish's attempt to undermine his
authority. "All right. Moving on…"

One Word That Describes Nathan

"…Mister Jackson, it's your turn. Mister Standish, please begin."

Nathan groaned inwardly, one half expecting Ezra to use another one of his outlandish
words and the other half expecting him to break a different rule completely. He wasn't
disappointed, as usual.

"Holier-than-thou," Ezra replied with a smirk.

"Now Ezra, I thought ya couldn't put a whole buncha words together," Vin warned,
looking from the undercover agent to the psychiatrist.

"Oh no, that was a fine answer, Mister Tanner."

Vin wrinkled a brow. "Well I'm confused. First off, ya'll say we can't splice words
together. You made a big show about how we can't do this, can't say that, can't try this,
and puttin' words together was part of that list. Then Ezra goes and breaks the rule, but
you say that's all right. What kind of loony are you?" Tanner demanded of Preston.

"Well in this case the splicing was correct because…"
"Wait, wait, wait, so… we **can** do that?"

"No, Mister Tanner, I don't think you understand this concept altogether. You see…"

"Wait a second now, Dr. Preston… are you suggesting that Vin is stupid?" Ezra asked,
with every ounce of indignance he could muster. Chris glared at the doctor for emphasis,
doing very well to hide his grin.

The doctor panicked at Ezra's accusation. "NO! No, of course not. Mister Tanner's
question merely implied that he didn't understand the concept."

"I believe that's incorrect, Doctor. Mister Tanner obviously asked about the rules, not
the concept in general. I feel that making an assumption about whether or not he has the
capability to grasp a certain 'concept' is demeaning and rude. You should apologize to
my teammate immediately."

"But, Mister Standish, he had no idea that the term you used was commonplace."

Ezra sighed. "Again with the assumptions Doctor, really. I would think such a thing was
below someone of your position. Mister Tanner specifically stated that you had
mentioned we weren't to put words together in any form for our answers. He did not in
anyway ask you to explain the concept of my answer to him because he did not
understand it. Nor did he question the fact that my answer might be "commonplace". He
stated quite clearly, that you had stated that all words of that NATURE were not to be put
into use in the exercise. However, retracted your rule a moment later and then criticized
Vin's intelligence for questioning you on it. Not only are you insulting him, but you are
also being a hypocrite, and I will not tolerate that sort of treatment towards my friends or
me. I demand an apology." Ezra sat back and crossed his arms, looking as flippant and
indignant as ever.

Preston sighed. There was perhaps, a **hint** of truth in Standish's accusation. The
psychologist leaned back in his chair and looked straight at Vin.

Vin smiled, like he hadn't caught Ezra's tirade in the first place. "Sure, Doc. It's fine."

"Now, can we please get on with the exercise?"

"Of course," Ezra replied amiably, as if he hadn't gone on a ten-minute speech criticizing
the Doctor's methods.

"Mister Tanner?"

"On Nate? Er…Nate's…touchy."


"What other kinda touchy is there?" Vin shrugged. Nathan looked wounded, but he could
hardly deny the fact that it was true.

"I know I'm going back on my own rules again, but I just don't know enough about you
gentlemen to decipher that sort of response. What do you mean by 'touchy'?"

Vin cringed. "Aw hell, you're gonna make me talk and ya didn't make any one else do
none. That ain't fair. Can't I just change my answer?"

"I promise it's not to just ridicule you, Mister Tanner. I simply want to know what you
mean by that. If I were to describe you in a word that was French per say, it would still be
one word but no one would understand it's meaning."

"Again with the assumptions Doctor. I speak French fluently."

"It was an example, Mister Standish."

"I'm sure it was."

"Are you undermining my integrity?"

"I agreed with you, didn't I?"

"Well yes, but your tone implied something rather sarcastic."

"Your own implications and accusations are only serving to offend me, doctor. I was very
well, agreeing with you. I suggest that in the future, you keep such insulting thoughts to
yourself, as they are obviously not constructive in any way to our working relationship."

"Yes, I think that would be for the best. If we all could work on improving our
relationship, that is."

"Now doc, you tryin' to tell us something?"

Preston blinked owlishly. "I thought I did tell you something, Mister Wilmington."

"Oh, I see," Buck winked. "Sorry doc, but for the most part I know these guys don't
swing that way. Ain't real professional of ya to ask any of us to have a relationship with
ya in the middle of a session, either."

"What? No! No, I wasn't alluding to **THAT** form of relationship, Mister

"Sure ya were, doc."

"No! I have no interest in any of you gentlemen in that manner; let's get that out right
away. Now please, we have to continue. What sort of 'touchy' did you mean, Mister

Vin reached over and poked the psychiatrist in the ribs. "**That** kinda touchy."

"He physically assaults you?"

Vin looked incredulous. "I barely touched you! I mean that Nate's always pokin' and
proddin' at ya when you're hurt, 's all."

"It's his job," Preston stated, brows furrowed as he tried to decipher the hidden message
from Vin's inner psyche at his words.

"Yeah, and it describes him. That's what ya told us to do. Nate's touchy."

Preston sighed and wrote down more notes. "Fine, fine…whatever you say. I suppose
**YOU'D** be the expert."

"That is what you instructed us to do. You never said that we were to specifically
describe anything emotional, and I for one, don't find your sarcasm endearing, doctor."

The psychologist looked at Standish, and realized, as much as it pained him to do so, that
the undercover agent was right. He was the doctor damn it, and **he** was the one that
was supposed to be in control of the situation, not getting snippy and defensive with some
bad results. He tried to be chipper. "Mister Dunne, your turn."

"Nathan's threatening."

"In an imposing sense?"

"In the sense that he threatens you."

"He actually…threatens you with physical harm?"

"Yeah, all the time," JD said, waving a hand dismissively. Nathan groaned and leaned
back into his chair heavily, eyes trained heavenward.

"What sort of threats, exactly?"

"Ah, you know, his aren't as bad as Chris or Buck's, but he did threaten to hog tie me to
the hospital bed and make the staff feed me lima beans all week."

All of Team 7 made a face at that. Those damn hospital lima beans. Preston counted to
ten in his head. This was all too surreal. He hadn't had such a demanding group of
subjects since the case study on adopted, upper middle class, only children. Taking his
glasses off of his head and pulling out a handkerchief, he started to clean them, rather
fastidiously. "I see. Mister Jackson threatens you with the horror of…lima beans."

JD nodded. "Ain't nothin' worse in the world, doc. Specially **hospital** lima beans."
The kid shivered involuntarily.

Preston wrote down a few more notes, growing irritated. His tolerance only went so far,
and they had surpassed it at Mister Wilmington's comment about Shaq. This was not
going well at all. He sighed and took a deep breath. "Mister Larabee, your turn."


Ezra snorted. "Hardly, Mister Larabee."

"He ain't shot your smart ass yet has he, Ezra? I figure that takes a lot of patience."

"Then I expect to have my body ridden with bullets the moment you regain hold of your
firearm, Mister Larabee, if it's a matter of patience."

"Well, my patience is just about worn out anyway."

"You ever have it in the first place, Cowboy?" Vin asked, as if it were a genuine

"Smart Asses. That's what I've got. I've got a bunch of smart ass sons 'a bitches."

"Yes, I've noticed that as well," Preston chimed in, before he could stop himself.

No sooner had he said it, he felt the infamous 'Larabee Death Glare' on him. "You shut
your mouth. I didn't give you permission to talk. And if you ever call my men sons of
bitches again, I'll shoot you myself."

Preston bit his bottom lip and swallowed heavily, nodding his head. Then he bent down
and wrote a note to himself about Larabee's hunger for absolute control/power, as well as
a note on the possibility of the man being a homicide risk. "Can we…" his voice
squeaked, and he had to take a moment to regain his senses before he spoke again. "Can
we continue then?"

Chris sat down, glaring daggers at the smaller man, but conceded to go on. "Nate's level-

"There you go with the word splicing again!" Vin interrupted.

"It's two words that make up one term," Preston explained, trying to explain the concept
to the young man without insulting Standish's pride again.

"So if I'da said Chris is full of shit that would have counted as one word?"


"Why not?"

"Because, well, as apposed to Mister Standish's 'holier-than-thou' and Mister Larabee's
'level-headed,' which are phrases used very often, 'full of shit' isn't a properly coined
phrase and…"

"It's three words, just like Ezra's. And I hear it all the time. Hell, I hear it more than his
'holier-than-thou' thing."

"He has a point," Josiah conceded.

The doctor sighed. "One of you has to understand this…" He looked beseechingly at each
of the men gathered in the circle. He was met with complete silence, perhaps a couple of
blinks and one or two outright yawns. "Or not." He wrote himself a note on the margin of
his paper, underlining it several times. "Let's just move on then shall we, boys? I will tell
you if an answer is inappropriate when we come across one."

Ezra looked from Josiah to the doctor. "That sounded tyrannical."

"In what sense?" Josiah asked, looking at the younger man thoughtfully.

"The doctor has decided to alter the rules as he sees fit for any future answers."

Josiah shrugged. "Some seek power in any form they can get it, brother."

"We'll discuss the merits of my tyranny after we've finished the exercise. Mister
Wilmington, please go."

"Nate's… well, he's…um… pragmatic?"

Everyone looked at Buck in surprise, and even slight admiration. JD rolled his eyes and
slouched further into his chair. "Word of the day calendar," the kid explained, staring at
the ceiling in abject boredom.

Realization dawned, and Ezra laughed. "I'm sorry gentlemen… what a twilight zone
experience. I had thought Mister Wilmington used 'pragmatic' correctly, off the top of
his head. Word of the day calendar indeed."

Buck shot the southerner a dirty look and nodded at Vin.


"OW! Hell Ezra! I didn't even hit you first that time!!!"

Ezra smirked, having gotten to Vin before the sniper could hit him. "It was a preemptive

Preston sighed wistfully and crossed out the line on his paper that said Standish was of
sound mind.

One Word That Describes Ezra

"Oh this ought ta be good," Buck chuckled, looking at Vin expectantly.

"Ezra's violent," Vin began.

"You hit me first on all occasions but one, Mister Tanner."

"Yeah, but I **told** ya it weren't nothing personal."

"If it makes you feel any better then Vin, you can hit Mister Wilmington as many times
as I've hit you and consider us even."

Vin looked slightly confused, but then realized what Ezra meant. "Okay."

"Now wait a minute there, Junior, ya still lost that bet."

"Only 'cause you cheated."

"I did **not** cheat!!"

"I hafta admit, betting against the Lakers was sorta dumb, Vin," JD started. "I mean, the
Sixers? Yeah right!"

"They got to the finals, didn't they?"

"Like they had a chance from there on out," Nathan snorted. Vin shot him a look.

"Ya'll ain't helpin' my case any. Buck's still a cheater."

"Vin. Hit yourself."

Tanner glowered at Wilmington. "What if I don't wanna?"

"Then you're a double-crossing liar whose word ain't worth what a man scrapes offa the
bottom of his shoe."

Vin sighed, glaring first at Buck, then at Chris and Ezra, who both looked quite amused
with the proceedings. He reached around and hit himself after a fierce internal debate
with himself. *SMACK* "Ow, damn it."

"Are we through, gentleman? Can we **please** get on with it?" Everyone looked at the
psychiatrist, whose eye was beginning to twitch as he tried to write down more notes in
his book. "Mister Dunne, please go."

"Ezra's… talkative."

Ezra couldn't deny that, so he shrugged at let the boys move on. "Ezra's verbose."

"Mister Larabee, didn't Mister Dunne suggest that very thing just a moment ago?"

"JD said he was talkative, which is defined by having a disposition to talk. I said he was
verbose, which is using an excessive number of words. The definitions are obviously

Ezra looked approvingly at Chris. The leader's eyes sparkled. "Had to put
dictionary.com to lots of use when after I had to start readin' your reports, Standish,"
Larabee explained. "Did you guys know there's a million fuckin' ways to say, 'I agree'?
It's enough to drive someone nuts. Or crazy, insane, two cards short of a deck, nuts, zany,
no longer in possession of one's faculties, cracked, maniacal, non compos mentis,
incoherent, off one's rocker, psychotic …" He laughed then, and the tone of it greatly
unnerved the doctor. The other six men in the room looked amused.

"Um…yes. Moving on, Mister Wilmington?"


Preston sighed. "Yes, I suppose if he's talkative and verbose, he'd be longwinded as well.
Mister Sanchez?"


"Yes, that too, I should have known. Mister Jackson?"


Ezra's eyes laughed. "I suppose those word power novels I bought for each of you last
Christmas did some good. You did know what all those words meant, did you not,
Doctor? I apologize in advance if my compatriots broke your rule yet again."

"Yes, Mister Standish, I know that all those words meant the same thing," the
psychologist sighed, more weary now than he had ever been in his life.

Ezra looked wounded. "Then you did misunderstand. While Mister Larabee so
graciously provided the definitions for talkative versus verbose, I feel I must state that the
other words used by my teammates were quite different. The differences were subtle
however; which gives you a slight excuse for missing them." The doctor made to stop
him, but Ezra would have none of that. He shook his head and put a palm up to halt the
man's advance. "Please, let me explain. Longwinded is defined as using or containing too
many words, which is slightly more wordy than verbose itself. Magniloquent on the other
hand, is defined as lofty and extravagant in speech, which isn't so much the amount of
speech itself but the means in which it is used. Pleonastic is defined as using more words
than are required to express an idea. It comes from the Late Latin root, **pleonasmus**
which in turn, is from the Greek, **pleonasmos**, from **pleonazein**, meaning, **to
be excessive**…"

"Ezra, shut up," Buck groaned before the man could get too involved with his Latin and

Standish, ruffled at having been interrupted, nodded in Larabee's direction.

"Ow! **HELL**, Chris!"

"Was that succinct enough for you, Mister Wilmington?"

"Yeah, thanks Ezra."


"Mister Tanner! You do have some control over your own actions, were you aware of


"Damn, quit it Ezra! Just go over and have Chris smack Buck will ya? He made me do it
in the first place. My head's ringin'!" *SMACK*

"Well perhaps you should have thought of that **before** you wagered your services,
whatever they may be, to Mister Wilmington. I honestly thought I taught you better than
that." *SMACK*

"Ow, ow, **ow**!! Now c'mon Ez, you were the one that said sometimes betting on the
under dog worked out!"

"I'm afraid that the underdog I was talking about then wasn't quite as low down as the
Sixers, Mister Tanner."

Vin sighed, still clutching his head protectively. "You're right. That was a stupid bet.
Buck **conned** me!"

"Ezra taught me how ta con, so he's basically smackin' himself," Buck replied, quite
satisfied with himself.

Unable, for once, to argue, Ezra retaliated with a single finger salute with one hand, his
sore head clutched with the other.

One Word That Describes Vin

"Please begin this round, Mister Dunne. We're almost through, I promise," Preston
begged, noting that the men were getting edgy in their seats.

"You want me to describe Vin? That's easy. Simple."

"Oh, what a relief. Go on then, Mister Dunne."

"I did."

"Er, excuse me?"


"Oh, yes. Um…in what sense, exactly? A mental sense?"

"There you go thinkin' Vin's stupid again," Chris growled. Vin looked hurt.

"Now doc, don't let the accent fool ya," Buck added, in Tanner's defense. "Or the fact
that he's from Texas."

"No, I was merely asking Mister Dunne a question. What did you mean by simple?"

"You know, for a 'one word and one word only' answer, you're sure making us talk a
lot," JD grumbled. "It's just, he don't like things too complicated. He prefers it easy like
and stuff. Natural, or something."

"You could have just said easy-going in the first place, kid," Buck groused.

"Well, why don't you then, Buck?" JD shot back.

Buck looked thoughtful. "You know what? Don't mind if I do. I call, no one else use

Preston sighed for the umpteenth time that day. "Can we continue gentlemen, or are we
going to call the rest of our responses?"

"I'd like to call all possible answers beginning with the letters A-J."

"Shut up, Ezra."

"Well, the doctor **did** ask." The southerner paused for a beat, then feigned
realization. "Oh excuse **me**, was that actually more of his inappropriate sarcasm?"

"And you're sayin' yours is appropriate?"

"I am one of the 'subjects' Mister Jackson, I'm supposed to be obnoxious. The
psychologist on the other hand, should be expected to control the situation and remain

"He has a point, Nate. I mean, whenever he's workin' a case you don't see Ez reach over
and give the gun boss a Wet Willie. Or make fun of his weight."

"Odd way of going about it, but thank you for the support, Mister Dunne."

"He made fun of that one guy's shirt once," Vin pointed out.

"It was a hideous shirt," Ezra replied in self-defense.

"But it was unprofessional," Vin countered.

"It was brown with orange stripes, Mister Tanner."

"Point taken. He was askin' for that one."

"Thank you."

"Can we get on with it, gentlemen? Mister Larabee?"

Chris looked at Vin. "He's dead."

Preston's brow furrowed. "Is that really appropriate?"

Vin laughed. "Ya sure you're fast enough ta take me, cowboy?"

"Reckon you're dead if I am."

Preston leaned over towards JD. "Is he always like that?" he asked the youngest member,
realizing that both Tanner and Larabee were ignoring him.

"Chris or Vin?"


"Yeah, they're pretty much always that way."

"He won't, actually, shoot Mister Tanner, will he?"

"Hopefully not."

The doctor's eyes bugged slightly. "Hopefully?"

"If Buck gets back in time to hide his gun," JD added, trying not to break into a smile
and give himself away. Apparently, those small undercover assignments with Ezra were
paying off.

The psychologist coughed, rather unsubtly, in an attempt to regain the men's attention.
"Mister Wilmington?"

"Vin? Vin's a sucker."

Tanner looked wounded. "Hey! You conned me! You **admitted** to conning me! It
wasn't my fault I lost."

Buck grinned and motioned to Vin. The younger man looked surprise. "What?
**Why**?" he exclaimed, thoroughly confused. After a little more prompting from Buck,
Tanner sighed. "Fine." *SMACK*

JD yelped. "What the heck was that for, Vin?!"

"You were just at the wrong place at the wrong time, Mister Dunne. Mister Wilmington
just wanted to assert his power over Vin once again. Rather juvenile of him, don't you


Ezra winced when Vin hit him again at Buck's bidding. "Mister Wilmington, did it ever
occur to you that you could say something **witty** or perhaps even slightly
**intelligent** in retaliation, instead of getting your **henchman** to do your dirty
work for you?" Standish asked, irate and hurting. Nathan sighed and dug around in the
shoulder bag he had taken to carrying around, finding one of the many aspirin bottles he
carried and tossed it to Ezra. "Thank you, Mister Jackson."

"I ain't a henchman!" Vin stated in self-defense. "Is it really my fault if I got worked
over by some con man?"

"Yes," everyone responded as one.

"Really, one would think you'd know by now," Ezra added, opening his water bottle and
taking a drink after popping two aspirin in his mouth. "You and I have been working
together for 3 years."

Vin, hurt, looked at Buck and ignored Ezra. "And whatever happened to, 'easy-going?"

"I changed my mind. But, that one's still mine. I want dibs later."

"For who? JD?" Vin drawled. "Yeah, he's REAL easy-going."

"Look, boys, we're running out of time. Could we please, just finish this? No more
ridiculing each other? No more smacking?"

Ezra nearly choked on his water. "No ridiculing?" he asked, incredulously. What was he
supposed to say for the rest of the day, in that case?

Buck looked despondent. "No more smacking? Well, hell, this ain't going to be any fun."

"It's a psychological study, Mister Wilmington, it wasn't supposed to be fun in the first
place," Ezra responded.

"Hey! What did the doc say about ridiculing?"

"I wasn't ridiculing. I was pointing out the obvious."

"Well, none of that either."

"You aren't the one with the fancy leather notepad, Mister Wilmington. Everyone knows
it's the only thing that grants the owner any respect in this situation and ergo, the person
with the pad makes the rules. Mister Preston can decide whether or not there will be
anymore pointing of the obvious."

Preston looked wounded. "Mister Standish, there is no call for that sort of…"

"Ridicule?" Buck finished for the doctor, still glaring at Ezra.

"Enough!! Ezra, shut up. Buck, shut up and wipe that look off your face. We hurry this
up, we can leave. Alive. I want out of here before I lose it and kill you all."

Buck's jaw snapped shut and Ezra tried to look as dignified as possible after Chris'
tirade. "Is there a rule against any further snappishness?" Ezra asked before he could help

"Yes. No more snapping. No more threatening, no more griping, whining, or
unnecessary sarcasm and no more undermining my authority during the rest of this study.
Now, let's move on. Mister Jackson."

"Vin is injury prone."

"Hey! That's two words. And I am not."

"He's right about this one doctor, those are two separate words."

"Well I think it works fine. Like I explained earlier, gentlemen? Remember?"

"But it doesn't have the dash!" JD pressed. "Doesn't it need the dash, like in "easy-
going," or something like that?"

"I already called dibs on that, JD!!"

"Well, I called 'dibs' on any answers from A-J but Mister Jackson still used injury

"Shut up, Ezra."

"I feel it works, Mister Dunne, can we just leave it at that?" Preston sighed.

"Fine. Make the **rest** of us follow the rules," JD said back, bored and annoyed.

"I told you it was tyranny, Mister Dunne."

"Mister Standish, kindly shut up."

"You don't tell my men to shut up!!" Larabee snapped at Preston.

"Looks like you pissed on Chris's tree, doc," Vin laughed. Preston seemed to be the only
one confused by that comment.

"Come again, Mister Tanner?" he asked, almost dropping his pencil.

Vin shook his head. "You know… marked his tree? Invading his territory?"


"Geesh, even Ezra understood that one."

"My apologies for not understanding your ridiculous analogy."

"It wasn't ridiculous," Josiah defended Vin. "Actually, I think it had a lot of basis."

"Thank you, Josiah," Vin said, nodding in thanks to the older man for his support.

"And we thought there weren't gonna be anymore sarcasm," Nathan added, looking
disapprovingly at Preston. The doctor wondered if these men knew how small they could
make a man feel by looking at him alone.

"Let's get on with it," Chris growled, getting tired. "And you don't say anything to my
men I don't approve of, Preston. No threats, no sarcasm, no name-calling. Only I can do

"Told ya that ya pissed on his tree," Vin chuckled, looking at the stricken doctor.

"Um… my apologies, Mister Larabee. Go ahead, Mister Sanchez."


"Hey!!" Buck protested, pointing at Sanchez. "I called!"

"Then you changed your mind," Josiah said, shrugging in response. Vin wondered if he
wasn't the most easy-going of the bunch after all.

"It's not like you could have used it for JD anyway, Buck," Nathan stated, trying to
placate his friend.

"Hey! I can be easy-going! I'm very easy-going. It's my middle name. Is everyone
implying that I'm uptight?"

"If the shoe fits…"

"Shut up, Ezra," JD grumbled, glaring.

Preston ignored the sideshow to the best of his ability. "Mister Jackson? Your turn."

"Vin's a whiner."

"What? I am not! Ya'll just poke around too much, Nate. I never whine! I complain once
in a while, but I ain't ever sounded like JD."

"Hey! I don't whine!" JD protested, trying to glare hard at Vin. Buck laughed out loud.

"Well if'n that ain't the kicked puppy look, then I don't know what is, JD."

"Shut up, Buck."

"Boys, please…" The doctor buried his face in his hands. "We really just need to go
around the circle one more time."

"One and 1/7th more times," Josiah corrected, motioning to Ezra, who had a particularly
thoughtful look on his face regarding his word for Vin.

"Ah yes, Mister Standish, how could I forget? Are you ready sir?"

Ezra had his cards out, and was shuffling them idly, a look of intense concentration on his
face. After a second or so, he drew a random card from the lot and flipped it over.
Reading it, he sighed and slid it back in amongst the others. "Cantankerous," he said after
another minute.

Vin snorted. "That's just another way of sayin' ornery."

Ezra shrugged. "I was in a debate as to whether waspish or churlish was better for you,
Mister Tanner. Because I couldn't decide, I assigned each card a word, and the card I
chose ended up being cantankerous."

"You know fifty two words for ornery?" Vin asked, impressed.

Ezra shook his head. "68, actually, but I eliminated the more obvious ones. I wouldn't
want to insult anyone by simplifying my vocabulary just for them." He looked over
towards Preston, and smiled his most sincere smile. The doctor couldn't help but feel like
he was being mocked. He didn't say anything however, because he really didn't want to
incur another one of Ezra Standish's Harvard-law-quality tirades.

One Word That Describes JD

"Well boys, we've approached the homestretch. The last time around for Mister Dunne,
and we will conclude our session for the day."

Buck threw up his hands, and in a gospel-esque fashion, and asked if he could, "get a
hallelujah," or something to that effect. Chris glared at him, but the mustached agent only
grinned back.

The doctor ignored them both. "It's been a long, long morning, but I trust this will go
smoothly if everyone cooperates. Shall we begin? Mister Larabee, please start."


"Hey! I'm almost 25!!" JD protested.

Chris shrugged. "I'm 36, and I'm old?"

JD ducked. "So, you haven't forgotten that, huh?"

"Nope." Chris popped the "p" exaggeratedly, and JD began to worry about making that
mistake again.

"Mister Wilmington?"


Preston sighed. "Mister Wilmington, you don't HAVE to use the phrase just because you
reserved it earlier. And Mister Sanchez already used it."

"Well I called it. So Josiah can just go all the way back to Vin and think up another
word." Buck crossed his arms defiantly. Suddenly, a realization hit him. He leaned
forward in his chair, looking at Preston suspiciously. "Hey, what if I really think he's

"Your teammates clearly said earlier that…"

"Oh, so now YOU'RE callin' JD uptight?" Buck asked, staring at the doctor expectantly,
waiting for an explanation. "You don't even know him."

"No, no, I wasn't saying that. What I was saying is…"

"Well if he's not easy-going, then what is he?"

"**I'm** not supposed to describe him to you! I barely know him, Mister Wilmington."

"Yet you're implying that he's uptight. You claim to not know him yet you immediately
dismiss the possibility that he is easy-going."

"Mister Standish! You know very well what I mean!"

"What someone means and what someone says are more often than not, two completely
different things. Enlighten me doctor, and please do say what you mean. If young Mister
Dunne isn't easy-going, then he must be…" Ezra trailed off, motioning with a hand for
Preston to finish the statement.

The doctor sputtered. "This exercise isn't for me, gentlemen."

"Avoiding the question isn't endearing your practicing technique to the rest of us, Mister

Chris groaned and rubbed his temples. If Ezra had his way he'd dismantle the doctor
piece by piece verbally, and leave the man a sobbing, shivering, murmuring pile on the
floor, in the middle of the room, within the hour. As much as Chris enjoyed seeing his
undercover agent tear down on occasion, he was tired of sitting in his damned armchair
and more importantly, he wanted lunch. "Who's hungry?" the supervisor asked, his face
still under his hands. Everyone turned from their debate on the doctor's insinuations and
raised their hands. "Well if we don't get on with this, you're all gonna starve. So move!!"

JD, horrified at the prospect of going so long without food that they wasted away before
dropping dead, sat silent, and waited for his comrades to finish, his urging them to hurry.

"Hungry," Josiah stated, instantly.

Preston sighed. "Well, yes, I suppose that describes him…" He scribbled the word down
rather hard, snapping his pencil tip straight off as he did. Then he laughed. It really was
quite ridiculous. Use one word to describe your teammate. Someone said hungry. Next,
someone would say tired, and then someone else would say weary, or possibly dogged.
Then, someone else would follow through and say JD was anxious, and when the doctor
would ask them to elaborate, they would answer, "because he wants to eat," just to smite
him. "Hungry indeed. Mister Jackson?"


Preston, resigned, tossed his pencil over his shoulder and shut his notepad. "Didn't you
say that already, Mister Jackson?"

"I said Vin was injury prone." For his part, Nathan looked completely confused as to
where Preston's sudden animosity was coming from.

"Yes, injury prone and accident-prone are **very** different things," the psychiatrist

"Well, injury is defined as damage or harm done to or suffered by a person or thing while
an accident is an unexpected and undesirable event. So rather, an injury may be the result
of an accident, but an accident is not the same thing as an injury…"

"Yes, thank you, Mister Standish. Your vocabulary is very impressive."

"Whereas yours is so obviously lacking. Out of curiosity, how did you do on the verbal
portion of your SAT, Doctor Preston? You couldn't have taken it so long ago…"

"If you're implying that I'm too young to be a man of my position, I assure you Mister
Standish, I'm older than I look."

"Now, doctor, I'm insulted again by your hurtful accusations. I was just asking a
question, out of curiosity. It has nothing to do with the fact that you're barely old enough
to shave."

Preston sighed. "710. And yes, I shave. Shall we move on then?" he asked, brusquely.
"Mister Standish, surprise, surprise, it's your turn to talk some more."

"Mister Dunne? Well…vires acquirit eundo."

"Mister Standish, this time I can practically guarantee that no one understood that."

Josiah grinned. "He gains strength as he goes," the older man translated. "Latin is such a
simple language, isn't it, Brother Standish?"

"Like a cave drawing our ancestors etched onto walls using sticks and rocks, Mister

Preston ignored them and made a motion in Nathan's direction. Without question, the
medic dug into his bag and produced an aspirin bottle, shaking it to test how many were
left before tossing it to the psychologist. "Yes, thank you, Mister Jackson. Mister Tanner,
please finish us up for the day."


Preston barked in laughter. "Yes, he would be, wouldn't he? And I, well, I have a
headache. What do you think Mister Jackson, would 7or 8 aspirin be a fair amount?"

Buck leaned over to whisper to Chris as they watched their psychologist ram a handful of
pills into his mouth. "You think we already broke him, after jest one day?"

Chris shrugged. "I don't remember the odds Ezra gave us this morning."

Buck pulled a card out of his back pocket and looked at it. "Huh. Says here that Ezra
figured Preston would at least pull through till day two."

"Guess we were expecting too much."

"Guess so."

TBC (maybe… where oh where has my musie gone?)