By Beth ©

Foster Brothers AU (Ezra)

Notes: The May 2004 Challenge (the Word Challenge): offered by Lady Catherine
Write a story in which the boys discover the magic in a word or words- for better or for worse.  Now, I don't mean that they have to sit around and have an English discussion about the meaning of a word.  It could be a discussion or a feeling or a realization or a memory or anything.  This challenge is in celebration of the magic of the written or spoken word!

Please send comments and suggestions to artwriter@operamail.com

It hadn't meant much at first, not like it did now. The yearning in his heart caused his eyes to water, and his chin to quiver. He couldn't help it, the pain too fresh in his mind, and the scarring too deep in his chest to forget. He sat forward in his seat, trying to be strong - the obedient boy. His mother sat beside him, looking beautiful, like a princess without a crown. She kept her eyes forward on the glass between the limo driver and herself.

Ezra looked to his left, and out the window that had framed the faces of his brothers as one by one they lost the race with the car...losing the race with him. He brought his hand up to his eyes and wiped the tears away, wanting so badly to disappear. He couldn't surrender to calling Maude by her station - mother, at least not yet. He wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to do it. In his heart he felt as though she'd lost the title, like a boxing champ loses his belt.

Ezra sighed and rested his head against the door, feeling the leather on his warm skin. He wanted to go back, and while he sat there he dreamed about Maude turning to look at him and saying, "Goodbye...run back to those that love you...run home".

But she wouldn't.

That wasn't Maude's way.

"We'll have to go shopping when we get home," Maude said, finding her voice. "You'll need some good clothes. Franko and I have decided to put you in a private school, you'll board there and they require uniforms - don't worry they're not harsh. I've already looked at them and they're quite fashionable..."

Ezra heard but didn't listen as the words escaped her mouth like water over a bathtub. Who cared where they went...they didn't mean anything, they were just words.

"The home Franko built is rather nice..."

Home, there was a word with a multitude of meanings. A home was more than a house with beautiful furniture, antiques, and elegant artwork. Maude spoke of a house, nothing more, and nothing less. A home implied love, there wasn't any love at Franko's house. A home meant family...Ezra's family was home...not at Franko's. A home was filled with memories...memories that Ezra would have to brand into his mind...it was his memories that would lead him home.

"It's filled with the most beautiful furniture, and he has original Degas paintings on the walls..."

JD carving his initials into his bed-frame caused Ezra to smile. Buck supergluing the decorative panel back onto the old rocking chair after he'd hit it with his basketball, rushed Ezra's mind. And Chris, forever tripping over the old coffee table in the family room. And the pictures - not classic paintings by famous artists, but family pictures of seven boys and two loving parents; pictures of birthday parties, and Christmas morning. Memories on 3x5 inch glossy paper that were stored in the top drawer of Evie's china cabinet...kept unharmed and in her home.

"You'll have your own room..."

He didn't need his own room...what was the point if he was going to going to boarding school? Besides, he hadn't minded sharing a room with JD and Buck. It was funny to watch them banter; JD hanging over the side of his bunk, poking Buck in the head. And then there were the times that Buck would tie JD to the bed by pulling his blankets tight.

"We have a maid and a cook..."

Evie had been more than that...she'd made wonderful meals, making sure they were all stuffed before they went to bed, and making sure they never went without. She cleaned, stitched, and was homework monitor. She did more things than any normal person could do. She was a mom, without the title. Ezra sighed...he should have called her mom at least once...just to let her know she'd meant something to him. Mom: a simple word with a world full of meaning.

"The home is surrounded by a hundred and fifty acres of prime farm land and..." she turned to look at him, her eyes wide and expressive, "...you'll start riding lessons on your very own quarter horse."

Ezra smiled, but he returned his look out the window. He knew how to ride, and he had his own horse. Granted his little, fourteen-one hand welsh cross wasn't a purebred, but he was suffice. With big feet and dabble gray coloring, he made Ezra smile and giggle while they rode together on the 45 acres belonging to Orin and Evie...

"You'll start piano, violin, and voice lessons immediately..."

Ezra rolled his eyes. Evie never ordered, she asked, but when she asked there was a tone in her voice that held a power over him and the others, a power that caused most of them to say yes when they really meant no way in hell. For some reason though, none of them never really minded when they had to try something new.

"It's going to be wonderful having you home..."

Ezra sighed and watched the traffic pass him by. Home, it was a lot more than a house...and a little less than the world.

The End!

Not really, but then this is me writing...Society's Child is next.