Haunting Lovers

by Turtle

Main Character: Ezra/Vin

Universe: ATF

Genre: slash Ezra/Vin

This was originally published in the zine My Seducer 2 and I would like to thank Lumina for her patience and effort, it made this a better story.

This is dedicated to Kathleen, who gave me the idea.

It had been a long day, and I was looking forward to going home, kicking off my boots, and having a cold beer. I must have been deep in thought about that because I didn't hear JD talking to me, didn't realize a thing until he put his hand on my shoulder.

"Sorry Vin, thought you heard me." I must have jumped. "You have a call on line 2, a Sharon, says she's your realtor?"

Damn, I'd forgotten I had an appointment. Too late to back out now.

"Sharon, this is Vin."

"Just curious if you wanted me to pick you up, or if you just wanted to meet me at the first house?"

"Why don't I meet you?" She gave me the address. "I'll see you there at 6:30." I hung up the phone to find JD still standing there, just looking at me. "What?"

"A realtor?"

"Yeah, I figured since I was making a decent wage that maybe I should invest some of it. Figured I'd find some place that needed fixin' up. Get it back into shape and sell it for a profit."

"Before you can do that, Tanner, you have to find somebody stupid enough to lend you the money and scrape up enough for a down payment. Maybe they'd take that piece of crap you drive."

Halston... God, I hated that man. It wasn't as if he was such a great undercover operative, anyhow.

"Halston, ain't you got someplace else to be?" Chris quietly asked. Halston turned around, took one look at Chris's glare and headed for the door. "Maybe I need to start looking for another agent." Chris was pinching the bridge of his nose, a sure sign he was stressed. "Look, about what Halston said. If you need someone to cosign a loan, you know all you have to do is ask."

"I'm fine, Chris. I got it covered. Got a bit saved up, and I already talked to the loan people at the Credit Union."

"Do you have enough saved up for a down payment? 'Cuz, if not, I've got some saved up I could loan you."

Now JD was trying to look out for me. Why do they think I'm so poor?

"Guys, thanks, but no thanks. I've got almost two hundred thou in savings. Figured I'd take out the loan for the cost only and use my savings for fix-up money." I looked up to see both Chris's and JD's mouths hanging open. "What? Didja think I was a bounty hunter out of the goodness of my heart? I made good money. Sure, I gave some away, but I put a lot of it in savings."

"So why do you drive that crappy jeep?"

"'Cuz I like it, JD. I 'pose I'll have ta buy a truck though, 'specially if I'll be haulin' things. Maybe one with a topper. JD, why don't you check out trucks for me, see what's out there and how much?" I looked at my watch. "I gotta go now if I'm gonna meet Sharon on time." I grabbed my coat and headed out, leaving Chris and JD still looking shocked.

I hit McDonald's drive-thru and ate as I drove, managing to get to the first house just before Sharon. We got busy house hunting.


We had just left the sixth one. Nothing so far. A couple I had shot down without stepping foot in them because they needed too much work.

"I have one house left, and to be honest, it's much, much older than you wanted."

"How old?"

"It was built in the late 1800's, so it's over a hundred years old."

"Might as well give it a look-see." I followed her to a small town outside Denver, an area with older homes. At the top of a hill on a big chunk of land stood this old house, big, bold and imposing, the kind of house they just don't make anymore.

"It was built by a man named Ezra Standish. He owned a saloon at one time. The story I've heard is that he was a con man and gambler originally. He moved here and became one of the original lawmen for the town of Four Corners. The house is very large, as you can tell. It has fourteen bedrooms, seven bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, library/study, sun room, and a private office off the master suite."

"He musta had one hell of a family!"

"None at all. Never married, had no children. When he died, he left everything to a friend -- Inez Recillos. The house and the land are semi-tied up in a trust of sorts. The house can't be torn down unless it's deemed 'unsafe' by local building codes. As long as the house is standing, none of the land can be sold or subdivided. Shall we go in?"

The bedrooms were small by today's standards, even the master, but the detail and craftsmanship were beautiful.

"Very little has been done inside. The kitchen was redone last in the early 60's, as you can tell by the charming avocado green color scheme. All the plumbing and electricity were completely redone by the last owner. He'd had plans to rip out walls and turn it into a club. He sold out before any of that happened. Said the house hated him."

"The house hated him?"

"There have been rumors of the house being haunted, but no one has ever seen a ghost. Personally, I'm glad he never got the chance to tear the house apart. That would have been a sin."

"That's for sure." I kept looking around and finally realized what was nagging at my brain. "Did this guy have a thing for the number seven? The number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, even the stairs... I noticed each section has seven steps and railings. Was this guy nuts?"

"It's worse than that. If you add up the number of rooms or windows, they're both divisible by seven. If you look closely at things, you'll find the number associated with everything. He was a gambler, true, but I understand it's because of the original seven lawmen. The house was designed so that each man had a bedroom, plus one for their families, Mr. Standish included."

"What happened to them?"

"I don't know, but the local historical society might. What do you think of the house?"

"I want to have someone come check it out for structural problems. If that looks good, I want it. I figure I can combine two bedrooms and a bathroom to make six suites, and enlarge the master suite and bathroom. Maybe put in a bathroom on the main floor."

"Did I forget to mention the powder room?"

"Powder room?"

"It has a sink and toilet stool. He insisted it couldn't have anything more or else--"

"Else it would have been bathroom number eight. Sneaky fella, wasn't he? I'll have someone come look it over, and I'll get back to you as soon as I hear from them." We shook hands and I walked out to the jeep, looked back at the house, and knew it was meant to be mine.


Less than a month later, I had moved into my new home. A friend had checked the house and told me everything was good but the roof, so I'd hired him to replace it and I was set. JD had researched trucks for me and downloaded it to my laptop, so I was looking through it all. I'd already decided on a Dodge Ram like Chris's. If that truck could live through the seven of us, then it would be more than tough enough for me. I'd decided to go with a single cab though; didn't plan on hauling around many passengers.

That left the decision of color. My choices were black, gray, blue, red and green. Not black; too much like Chris. Didn't much care for the shade of blue, so that left gray, green or red. I pulled up the pictures of the various colors. "Red, gray or green? Not the gray, so that leaves red or green." Man, I was starting to talk to myself.

//Pick the red.//

My head snapped up, and I reached for my gun. I could have sworn I'd heard a voice. I checked the house. Everything was locked up, and the alarm system was set. "Now I'm hearin' things." I sat back down in front of the computer and thought about my choices again. "Green would be good."

//Pick the red.//

Man, I was hearing voices again.

//I like red. Get the red one.//

I looked around, but didn't see anyone. Chris was always tellin' me I was crazy; if'n I kept hearing voices I was gonna start believin' him.

I picked up the telephone, called the dealership, and got ahold of the salesman I'd been working with. "John? Vin Tanner. Decided on the Dodge we'd been discussin', single cab. Color? I think green."

//I really prefer red. It's my favorite color. Get red.//

Damn it, now the voice had a Southern accent. Only I would hear imaginary Southern voices.

"John, on second thought, make that red. Next week? Great! See you then."

//Excellent decision. Green is good, but red is better!//

"That's it! I'm crackin'. I'm goin' ta bed." I shut off the lights and headed for the second floor. My first job was going to be the master suite on the third floor, so I was in one of the spare bedrooms. I opened the door, and just before I entered, I heard that voice again.

//Pleasant dreams, Mr. Tanner.//


I got up early and started in on the master suite. Figured that I could take the small bedroom next to it, and use part of it to expand the bathroom and the rest to expand the bedroom. One thing I didn't need to worry about was closet space. It had a huge walk-in closet that I'd never even come close to filling, something I didn't even know they had back then. "All I can figure out is that Mr. Standish musta been a clotheshorse."

//Appearances are everything, Mr. Tanner.//

"You'd think the voices in my head could at least call me by my first name."

//We haven't been properly introduced, Mr. Tanner.//

"I wonder if insanity runs in my family?" I shook my head and got back to work.

By the time I decided to take a break, it was lunchtime. I really needed to go buy some groceries later, but for now, I'd see what food was available locally. Drove into the center of the small town and found a nice deli. While I was eating, I noticed the building across the street. Four Corners Historical Society was what the sign read. I took it as an omen. When I'd finished eating, I wandered on over.

"May I help you, young man?"

"Ma'am, I was just curious if anyone knew anything 'bout my house?"

"Where do you live?"

"Sorry, ma'am. The realtor said the house used to belong to some guy named Ezra Standish."

"You've bought the Standish house? What are your plans for it?"

"Fix it up and probably resell. My realtor thought you might know something about Mr. Standish."

"Oh yes, Ezra was quite the gentleman. Do you have some time?" I nodded, and she ushered me back to an office. "Help yourself to some coffee. I'll be right back."

I poured a cup and was looking at the pictures on display, when she returned with an armload of things. "Why don't you join me here at the table, and I'll show you what I can. By the way, my name is Katherine Potter." We shook hands and both settled in a chair.

She showed me pictures of the house down through the years, told me the names of some of the owners, and about some of the workers involved in the building of it. She showed me a picture of a man in his early thirties, very well dressed and smiling brightly, showing off a gold tooth.

"Mr. Standish originally was a professional cardsharp and confidence man. He became a lawman and business owner, loved and respected until his death."

"What happened to him?"

"To answer that I have to tell you about the Magnificent Seven, as they were called. Seven men hired to protect the town and territory. They were badly needed."

She pulled out an old photograph, and I stopped breathing for a minute. It was us, Team 7, minus Halston and adding Standish! This was too weird!

"Can you tell me a little bit about each man, and what happened to them?"

"This was Chris Larabee. He was a hired gunslinger and one of the fastest, they say. He lost his family in a fire set deliberately. He died several years after that picture was taken. He rescued several children from a burning building set by the same woman responsible for the deaths of his family. Both Chris and the woman perished in the fire. The older gentleman was Josiah Sanchez. He'd been a priest who turned his back on the church, but never God. He died from an epidemic at a local Indian reservation. He was there helping the sick along with..." She pointed to a tall black man. I knew the name she was going to say. "Nathan Jackson. He was a healer of sorts. He'd been a slave and had learned his trade during the war. He and his fiancée, Rain, both perished, along with Josiah, who incidentally was the town's first minister.

This just kept getting weirder by the minute.

"This gentleman was Buck Wilmington. He was quite the ladies' man it seems. Out of all the seven, he's the only one who left behind any children. He'd fathered a son with Inez Recillos, the woman Ezra left his estate to."

"Did they ever get married?"

"No, Señorita Recillos was a very independent lady. They say when Buck died though, she almost followed him to the grave. Their son, John Daniel, was all that stopped her."

"What happened to Buck?"

"He was killed in a shootout with some bank robbers. The young man next to Buck was JD Dunne. That's who John Wilmington Recillos was named after. He'd come out west after his mother died. He was the only one of the seven to marry. Well, obviously Chris had been married, but JD was the only one to marry while working here. He lost his wife, Casey Wells Dunne, in childbirth. The baby boy she'd been carrying was stillborn. He left town, joined the Texas Rangers and was killed soon after."

We were down to the last two men: Ezra and me.

"This gentleman was Vin Tanner. Oh my, the same name, and you even resemble him. Is he a relative?"

"Not that I know, ma'am. I'm from Texas so probably not."

"Anyhow, Vin and Ezra were quite the scandal for awhile. Vin had been a bounty hunter and was killed for the bounty on his own head. Tragically, they proved him innocent of the original charges after he'd been killed."

"Ma'am? You said something about a scandal?"

"Oh, yes! Homosexuality, or more correctly in their case, bisexuality was looked on badly back then."


"I say bisexuality because each of the men had had at least one known relationship with a woman. When they openly declared their love for each other and started sharing a home, people were shocked. It faded, and they were soon accepted back into town life. Ezra had just finished building the house when Chris died. A few years later, Buck died and then JD. Soon after, Josiah and Nathan passed on. They had lived in their home together almost ten years when Vin was murdered. Ezra died soon after of consumption, an illness he'd been battling for years. I think he died of a broken heart. He'd lost his friends, family, and the man he loved. He had no reason to go on. When he died, he left the saloon, the house, everything he owned to Inez. She lived in the house briefly, before selling everything and returning to Mexico with her son. She married a man by the name of Raphael Cordova de Martinez. He had known Buck apparently, swore an oath that he would look after Inez. Their story is so heroic, but also so sad." She shook herself, as if waking from a dream. "Does that answer a few of your questions?"

"Yes, ma'am. Thank you for your time."


"Beg yer pardon?"

"Look in your attic. I don't believe anyone has ever looked there for Ezra's things. Of course that could be because they can't find the entrance. We know there's an attic, but no one has ever located the stairs or entrance to it. If you ever find it, we'd love to know what's up there. We'd also take anything you'd want to give up. We're always looking for donations."

"I'll keep that in mind, ma'am. Thanks again for your time." I wondered how'd she take it if I told her that the Magnificent Seven had come back to protect the territory again. Figured she'd think I was totally insane and have me committed. Of course, I wasn't sayin' anything 'bout the fact that I might be needin' a long vacation. First, voices in my head, and now my team lived in the past. A lot of weird crap was goin' on. Well, all I knew was thinkin' on it wasn't gonna do me any good, might as well head back to the house.

I decided to stop and buy some groceries before I headed home. Got everything unloaded and went out to the living room, grabbing the phone as I went by. I'd taken a few weeks off, but I still wanted to check in. I called Chris's house, but there was no answer. I called his cell phone. "The customer you are calling is not available at this time." I was starting to worry. I called JD's cell -- same message as Chris's. I called Josiah's cell, and I heard a ring.


"Josiah, what's goin' on?"

//I knew a Josiah.//

Silence on the other end of the line.

"Sanchez! Damn it, Josiah talk to me! Where's Chris 'n JD?"

//Josiah Sanchez? Chris? JD?//

"Bust went bad. Halston fucked up, and JD and Chris got caught in the backlash."

"That's it. I'm gonna kill that sonofabitch. You tell Halston that!"

"Too late. He's already dead. Car bomb. Chris and JD caught the edge of the explosion."

"How are they? I'm on my way!"

"Pard, keep yer shirt on and stay put."

I felt relief at hearing Chris's voice. "Goddamnit, Larabee, don't scare me like that. How's JD?"

//Larabee? Chris Larabee? JD... Dunne?//

"He's okay -- mild concussion. Hold on, here he is now."

"Vin? Everything's fine. We're all fine. Well, 'cept for Halston. Didn't like the guy, but I didn't wish him dead either."

"I'm just glad you're okay. Tell Buck to look after you. Is Nathan gonna keep an eye on Chris?"

"Yeah. Doc says we can't go back to work until Monday, then desk duty for another week. Could I come out and visit? Check out your new house?"

"Sure thing, kid. Bring Glarabee with you. You can watch me work and keep me entertained. I got the dish hooked up so you can watch TV on the new set." I could hear Nathan lecturing them in the background.

"Chris says how 'bout Thursday? We'll bring lunch."

"Sounds good. Go easy on Buck, and tell Chris not to give Nathan too much crap." I hung up and sighed in relief.

//Pardon me, Mr. Tanner?//

There was that damn voice again. "Hello, who's there? Show yerself."

//My name is Ezra P. Standish. I'd show myself if I could. The best I can offer is this.//

I felt cool air on my head and hair. "Who are you?"

//I've already told you who I am, or rather who I was.//

"Ezra Standish died a hundred years ago."

//Yes, I know, believe me. I was there. It wasn't very pleasant.//

"So, what happened? Why are you still here?"

//Hell if I know. May I ask you a question, Mr. Tanner?//

"Vin. Least you could do if yer hauntin' me is call me Vin."

//Vin. Please call me Ezra. When you were speaking to that thing, you mentioned some names.//

"That thing is called a telephone. I was talkin' to my team. I'm with the ATF, Team 7."


"Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. We're a federal agency. Anyhow, my team, Team 7, consists of myself, Vin Tanner -- sharpshooter, weapons expert and practical jokes." I could hear laughter. "JD Dunne -- surveillance and computers."

//Surveillance and computers?//

"Surveillance means watchin' and listenin' to the bad guys with electronic things. Computers... I just know how to use them; I don't know how they work."

//Tsk, tsk. You should always know and understand all of your equipment. Your life might depend on it someday.//

"Now I'm gettin' a lecture from a know-it-all ghost! Next man is Buck Wilmington -- explosives, ladies' man and all-around good guy."

//Chris's oldest and dearest friend.//

"Yeah, that he is. Next up is Josiah Sanchez -- profiling and preaching. Before you ask, a profiler tries to figure out how a bad guy thinks. Nathan Jackson -- EMT and health lecturer. That stands for Emergency Medical Technician."

//Not a doctor, still?//

"Naw. Had to quit; not enough money for med school. Rain, his girlfriend, told him he could go back and she'd support them, but he says he's got the best of both worlds. Being a cop and still gettin' ta patch us up."


"Last, but not least, is our team leader, Chris Larabee. He was a Navy Seal, which means he was the best the military had. Came home, became a cop, married Sarah, and they had Adam. About five years ago, Sarah and Adam were murdered."

//Ella Gaines.//

"Yeah, it took some time, but we finally proved she was responsible. She was convicted and sentenced to death. Glad ta see that one go."


"He's our-- He was our latest undercover operative. Nobody liked him much. We wanted him transferred out, but not dead. An undercover op is... Well, like you sorta. Half con man, half gambler. You have to make the bad guys believe you're someone you ain't, so you can get the evidence to prove they're bad guys." I started yawning. "Look, can you watch TV?"


"Look at that big, black square. Can you see moving pictures now?" I turned on the TV.

//Oh my god! What is that?//

"Television. I'll turn it to the all-news station, and you can get caught up with the world while I'm sleeping. You don't need to sleep, do you?"

//No. Run along, Vin. I'll be fine. Pleasant dreams.//

As I was going up the stairs, I caught a glimpse of something cloudy from the corner of my eye. When I looked, there was nothing there. Bedtime for Tanner.


Morning came early; not too bright, though. It was dark and gloomy. I went to work tearing out walls in the master suite and hauling trash out to the dumpster. I was taking a break when a cloud of smoke came into the room. "Ezra?"

//Vin, how did you know I was here?//

"I can see ya. Well, not you, but a smoky, cloudy shape. How was the TV?"

//Educational, and terribly frightening. The world has certainly changed a great deal, but not always for the better.//

"It's a lot more violent now."

//Not true. It was a very violent world in my time. People shot people for no more reason than to prove they could. However, we didn't kill thousands of people with one bomb, and people were more honest. We had fewer criminals.//

"Tell me about yer Vin."

//He looked like you. You would have been friends, I believe. He was quiet. He could say more with a single look than I could with a hundred words. He leaned all the time. He had to. If he stood straight for very long his back would ache badly. He could barely read, yet he wrote the most beautiful poetry. Vin was the kind of person that you would trust with everything you owned and everybody you loved. Me they'd trust with their wives, but not their wallets.//

"Think maybe yer bein' a little hard on yerself?"

//That's what Vin used to say. He was... he was my complement. I had strengths where he had weaknesses, and vice versa. Neither of us was very trusting where our hearts were concerned, though. He must have told me he loved me at least a hundred times before I believed him. When I told him I loved him back, he said I didn't need to say that just to make him happy. It took at least a hundred I love you's back before he believed it. He was on the way home with a telegram saying they'd proven his innocence in Tascosa, when he was killed for a bounty that no longer existed.//

"I'm sorry."

//So am I.//

It was quiet as we both thought over things that he'd said.

//What are your plans for my house?//

"My house now, Ezra. I'm gonna combine that second bedroom with the bedroom and bathroom, to expand both of them. Then I plan to do the same to the other rooms, so when I finish, I'll have seven suites instead of fourteen bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

//After you've finished fixing it up?//

"Originally, I planned to sell it, but now it's startin' ta feel like home. Ain't never had a real home, least not one of my own. I kinda like the feelin'." I started knocking down the wall again, when I ran into some unexpected support beams. "Hell, this wasn't 'posed ta be here."

//Isn't it marked on the blueprints?//

"Prob'ly, but who knows where they are."

//They used to be in the attic. I have no idea where they were moved to from there.//

"If they were in the attic, then they're prob'ly still there. Katherine Potter, down at the Historical Society, said no one has ever found the entrance to the attic."

//Potter... I wonder if she's any relation to Gloria...//


//Sorry, just a thought. It's not as if I hid the entrance to the attic, you know.//

"Ya didn't?"

He started laughing, and for a brief moment, I saw a figure. I could see right through him, but it was a man's figure and not just a smoky blob.

//No, I did not. Yes, the entrance to the attic is hidden, but I am not responsible for that. Vin is.//

"You're tellin' me that Vin arranged to hide the entrance and stairs? Why and how?"

//He wanted someplace to hide, someplace he could be alone. We had windows installed so he could sit and look out and not be bothered. As to how... He, Chris and Josiah did the work themselves. The regular workmen never saw them do it, so no one had any idea where it was located.//

"Where is it located?"

//Ezra's folly.//

"Beg yer pardon?"

//Ezra's folly. That's what Vin used to call my closet. He could never understand the folly of, as he put it, 'Buildin' a room jist fer clothes.'//

I headed for the closet. I heard Ezra's voice right behind me.

//Stop at the entrance so your toes are even with the door. Take three steps forward and stretch up with your hand. You should feel a dip. When you do, push on it.//

I did what he said, heard a click, then saw a section of the ceiling drop several inches. I reached up and pulled, but no use.

//Oh dear. Apparently not being used in over a hundred years has made it stick.//

"Guess we'll have to work on it some."

//Vin, that tele-phone thing is making noise.//

I hurried down the stairs, but I was too late. I checked the machine. It was Chris; call him ASAP.

"Hey, cowboy."

"Don't call me cowboy, cowboy. Listen, I know this is real short notice, but we just learned they're having Halston's funeral at 4:00. We kinda planned on attending, as a team if possible."

I looked at my watch. "I'll take a quick shower, change, and be on my way. Where we meetin'?"

"At Buck and JD's. Figured afterwards we'd stop for dinner and a beer at the Saloon."

"See ya there, then." I turned and almost ran into Ezra. He was starting to look less like a blob and more like, well, himself.

//Is there a problem?//

"Nah, Halston's funeral. Gotta shower and go. Guess I'd better wear a suit. Too bad ya can't pick one out for me. I ain't got much fashion sense." I headed into the bathroom, showered, shaved, washed my hair, brushed my teeth and hair. Finally, I couldn't stall any longer. I had to go and find clothes to wear. It isn't that I don't have suits. I only wear them for undercover. I let someone else tell me what goes with what.

I left the bathroom to find a black suit laid out on my bed with a pale blue shirt, blue-gray tie, black socks and dress shoes.

//You have some very nice clothes, Vin. Of course, most of your clothes are like what you were wearing. I'm assuming you're no more comfortable dressing up than my Vin was.//

"How'd you do that? Nevermind. Thank you."

//You're welcome.//

I got dressed and was heading for the door when I had a thought. "Ezra, come with me," and I headed next door. I'd set up my desktop computer in there; eventually, it would go up to the office. I dialed up the Internet and set out a book. "This tells you a little bit about the Internet and how it works. I've connected up, and if you can move clothes then you can use a mouse," I pointed to it, "and the keyboard. I'm not sure when I'll be home, but this should keep you busy." I watched the pages of the book start flipping before I headed out.


By the time I got to Buck and JD's, everyone else was already there. I got a little teasing from Buck about how good I looked, before we loaded up in Chris's and Nathan's vehicles to head for the funeral. I hate funerals, but I felt like a fake at this one. I didn't like the man, and I'd wanted him out of my life. Be careful what you wish for...

We headed for the Saloon afterwards, and Buck was teasing me about living in Four Corners just as Inez was bringing our food. "Four Corners? My family was from there."

"I thought yer family was from Mexico?" Buck asked.

"We are, but one of my grandmothers, several times removed, ran away from Mexico and an arranged marriage, and ended up in Four Corners. She met and fell in love with one of the lawmen there. He had the exact same name as you, Buck. He fathered her son, John Daniel, before his death."

Buck remarked, "Nah, couldn't have been. I'm a one of a kind model, darlin'."

"Where are you living, Vin?"

"In Ezra Standish's old house."

"Ezra is the reason I own this tavern. When he died, he left everything to my ancestor, who invested wisely when she returned to Mexico. When I decided to buy this place, my grandmother gave me the money. She said it was fitting. The money had come from a saloon and was going back to one. Actually, Vin, the special you're eating was concocted by the original Inez for Ezra. He didn't care for beans, so one day, she invented that dish and called it the Gambler's Special. It's a specialty of my family."

I looked at my plate and smiled. "Guess he had good taste."

She smiled back and headed for the bar.

It got quiet as we all dug in and ate. We'd just finished when my cell phone rang. It was John telling me that my truck would be ready to pick up in the morning.

"Chris, you 'n JD still coming out tomorrow?"

"Yep. Want us ta bring yer truck?"

"Yep." I told John my boss would be by to pick up the truck, gave him Chris's name and description, and hung up. "Paperwork's all been signed. All you gotta do is pick it up. Don't forget lunch when ya come."

"What sounds good?"

"Sushi." Chris glared at me for a few moments. I knew I'd never get away with that, but I had to try. "Any kinda Oriental's good."

"God, Vin, how can you eat that crap? It ain't even been cooked. Yech!" JD grimaced at the thought. "What we gonna do tomorrow?"

"Glad ya reminded me. Would ya bring some WD-40 with ya? We're gonna unstick some stairs and explore my attic."

"Sounds interesting. Better than staring at the TV or listening to Buck belch."

Buck swatted him across the top of his head. "You 'bout ready, Vin? I think the kid here needs some sleep, if'n he's gonna be any help to ya tomorrow."

We paid our bills, left a tip, and Chris took us to Buck's where I got my jeep and headed home.

When I got there, I looked into the spare bedroom to find the computer working away. The person sitting in front of it was busy reading. I say person, because by this time, it was very obviously a male figure. "I'm home, honey." I watched him jump.

//You scared me. I didn't hear you come in.//

"Sorry. Ya learnin' a lot?"

//Yes. I'm even learning how computers work.// He gave me a pointed look. //I'm learning about hacking right now. Apparently, you can break into someone's computer. It's fascinatin'.//

"You'd have ta talk ta JD 'bout that. He's our resident hacker. Hey, I had something for dinner you like. It's called the Gambler's Special. The recipe's been handed down through the years. Apparently my Inez Recillos is the granddaughter a few times down the line of your Inez Recillos."

//Inez originally was going to call it 'Ezra con carne' because there were no beans in it. Vin, however, told her the only person sampling Ezra with meat would be him. She grew rather embarrassed and decided to call it the Gambler's Special.//

"Sounds like Vin had a wicked sense of humor."

//He did. He always saw the humor in things. He said it was better to laugh than cry. He was very special. Tell me, is there someone special in your life, a lady friend, perhaps?//

"Nope. No girlfriend, no boyfriend neither. Guess I'm still lookin' fer Ms. or Mr. Right. I'm bisexual, or as Josiah put it, 'I have no gender bias.' Even so, there haven't been too many people in my life. I'm gonna head to bed. Chris 'n JD will here tomorrow with my new red truck. Thought we'd check out the attic. Good night, Ezra."

//Good night, Vin. Pleasant dreams.//


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