Truth or Dare

by Firefox

Disclaimer: Not mine <sigh>. No infringement intended, no money made (forward all requests to Fat Chance Department) and litigation will only get you possession of a woman already possessed by these guys anyway…

Pairing: B/E

Warnings: This is a PWP, so don't look too hard for a plot, here (you'll only ruin your eyesight). It's far more slush than slash, but it still might offend some, so be warned! There’s enough treacle to drown in, and a pinch of angst to season.

Author's Notes: This piece of utterly nonsensical fluff is for my pard,, cyber-twin, good friend and fellow Buck-babe, Katy, for her birthday. I offer no excuses for it other than that <g>… Happy Birthday Twin!

My unreserved thanks (‘twas ever thus <g>) to the wonderful Joan and Sue for their generous and invaluable help with this little surprise, and Kurt is for LaraMee!

8 pm
JD's eager face fixed its best puppy-dog expression firmly on Buck. "Please? Please, please, please? I'll do it tomorrow, I swear!"

Buck frowned. "No! Hell, JD, it ain't that much to ask, is it? It's your turn to do the damn dishes. I cooked dinner - that's the deal - now stick to it."

"But Buffy's on in a minute… I'll miss it!"

"Stick a tape in the VCR if you're that worried."

"We're out of tapes. Machine ate the last one. Aww, come on, Buck, please?"

Buck's frown grew deeper. "Quit whinin', JD! Hell, the amount of time you've spent tryin' to wheedle outta this, you could've done it and forgot about it!"

JD realised he wasn't going to win this one. The puppy-dog look collapsed into resignation and with a flash of petulance, he almost threw the plate he was holding into the pile of dishes in the sink.

"And stop behavin' like a spoilt kid!" Buck snapped.

"Then stop behavin' like an overbearing father!" came the whip-fast retort.

"Shoot boy, if I was your father, you'd have better manners."

"What? Like yours, y'mean?" JD wheeled around, glaring. "Snarling and snapping and makin' a fuss about a few damn dishes!"

"You're the one makin' the fuss here, not me."

JD turned back to washing up. "I don't know what the hell's gotten into you, Buck," he complained over the noise of running water, "you're meaner than a grizzly with toothache just lately."

"Nothing has 'gotten into me'," Buck glowered at him, "you're just antsy because I'm makin' you stick to a deal - a deal that you agreed to!"

The clattering in the sink stopped, and JD turned around again. "What is it, Buck?" Serious brown eyes tried to zero in on Buck's glaring dark blue gaze, but Wilmington wouldn't, or couldn’t, meet the challenge. "I don't understand," JD stated simply, "you don't care about a few dirty dishes! Just lately you seem to pick holes in everything - me, this place, work, the others - everything! That's not you - that's not Buck Wilmington. You snap at everyone, find fault with everything… the guys keep asking me what's the matter with you and I don't know what to say to them." He lifted a plate onto the drainer, then turned around fully, ignoring the soapy water that dripped from his hands onto the floor. "I thought we were friends," he said.

Buck swallowed. "We are."

"Then why can't you talk to me? Whatever it is, Buck, just talk to me - how can I help you if I don't know what's going on?"

Buck's eyes narrowed, but the expression on his face was unreadable. "What's going on is that you made a deal to do the damn dishes… now do them!" With that he turned on his heel and stormed out of the kitchen, slamming the door behind him.

9 pm

Buck lay on top of his bed in the dark room, hands clasped behind his head, and stared at the ceiling. He could handle JD being mad at him, but he couldn't handle the kid's concern. He could cope when JD lost his temper, shouted or complained at his downright unreasonableness, but he couldn't cope when he thought about JD being worried, really worried, about him.

JD was right, of course. He didn't give a rat's ass about the dirty dishes, or anything else, except this God-awful mess he had got himself into.

He sighed, watching the arc of headlights from passing cars sweep across the ceiling above him. Cars. All going somewhere. Perhaps he could do that - get in the car and just go. Except that there seemed to be something in the Wilmington genes that prevented taking the logical course of action in any situation. Whatever the sensible, practical, normal way to handle something would be, you could bet your last cent that he would do the exact opposite.

He stared at the window, the shades open even though it was dark. It was raining again, the squiggles of raindrops chasing each other down the glass only to end up in the same puddle of water at the bottom, irrespective of which one had won. Like he felt. Racing headlong down some uncharted course, probably to end up in a mess he could not extricate himself from any more than the individual raindrop could separate itself from the puddle.

The lights of another passing car enlarged the shadow of the hard-backed chair across the room up onto the wall for a brief second or two as it passed. He looked at his jacket, hanging carelessly on the back of the chair frame. He could just see the white corner of the envelope sticking out from the inside pocket. The envelope had been sitting there, tucked into that pocket, for four days now. Waiting for him to make up his mind.

Tomorrow. He would give the damn envelope to Chris first thing in the morning, then it would be over. Done. Decision made. No more guesswork - everyone trying to work out what the hell was the matter with him. No more snapping at JD every time the kid drew breath. No more avoiding the guys in case he said something or, God forbid, did something, to make things worse than they already were.

No more ATF. No more Team 7. No more problem.

He would resign.

Hell, it was a miracle he hadn't been fired. Just thinking about the list of regulations he had broken was enough to bring him out in a cold sweat. And they weren't the little, inconsequential, nit-picking regulations that no-one gave a damn about anyway. Oh no, these were the real important, serious ones. The ones that dealt with loyalty, trust, respect for a colleague and bringing the department's name into disrepute. The 'thou shalt not under any circumstances…' chiselled-in-stone regulations.

Thou shalt not under any circumstances get blind, falling-down drunk whilst on federal government premises, even if it is your oldest friend's surprise birthday party.

Except that he had.

Thou shalt not under any circumstances then make a complete horse’s ass of oneself, and embarrass and outrage a colleague and friend to the extent that working with this person would then prove almost impossible.

Except that he had.

Thou shalt not under any circumstances screw up the best damn thing that has ever happened to you, career-wise, friends-wise and life-wise, simply because you can’t control yourself.

Except that he had.

Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, ever, at completely the wrong moment, fall for completely the wrong person.

Except that he had.

And now it was too late to do anything about it. The raindrop was already off and running down the window towards the messy puddle at the bottom.

He scrubbed his hand over his face and sighed again. It was time to end this. He had to take responsibility for his actions, and handing over that envelope was the first step towards that.

What the hell was JD going to think of him?

How does it feel to be the person responsible for breaking up Team 7, Wilmington? To be the one who blew apart the ATF’s pride and joy, the ‘Magnificent Seven’?

Shit. That was how it felt, but then that was how he felt about himself.

He closed his eyes, but realised almost instantly that that was a mistake. He was so damn tired he felt as if he could fall asleep standing up, but every time his eyelids drooped, all he could see was the expression of … hell, he didn’t even have a word for it – that expression. The one just before the fist had come flying in like a missile, and made painful, accurate contact with his jaw. His fingers pushed experimentally at what had been the target area. The pain was gone, just a faint sensitivity remained, a vague sensation of tenderness. It had been far less than he deserved.

What the hell was Chris, his oldest and most trusted friend, going to say when he saw that envelope?

He groaned softly. Larabee would be sure to demand an explanation, and Buck didn’t think he was going to be able to come up with anything even vaguely reasonable. Shit, he’d be lucky if Chris didn’t shoot him on the spot!

He was still amazed that Chris hadn’t found out. No, that wasn’t strictly true – he was amazed that Chris hadn’t been told. It spoke volumes of the strength and loyalty of one of his team that Larabee still had no idea what had happened. Every damn day since, Buck had slunk into the office, just waiting for Chris to burst through the door, glaring, his expression clearly demonstrating that Buck’s little secret was out and, therefore, so was Buck. Out of the team. Out of the ATF. The prospect hung over him like the sword of Damocles – waiting to fall. And it was all his fault.

How could he have been so incredibly, mind-numbingly stupid?

It had all seemed such a huge joke at the time. Not in the least dangerous or ill-advised, just a touch daring and… damn funny. He would never have believed that he could be that drunk. The most agonising part of it was that he hadn't been that drunk - if he had, his memory of it would have been fuzzy or missing altogether, but it wasn't. It was there in his head, in clear, stark detail. Every second of it, playing over and over……

Two weeks earlier...

"Travis is gonna have a conniption if we get caught partyin' in here," Nathan said seriously, looking hopefully into the plastic cup he held for more beer. He turned it upside down and a single drop fell onto the carpet.

"Nah he won't," Vin shook his head, "we're only having a little drink ta celebrate Chris's birthday - we ain't causin' no bother. 'Sides, no-one knows we're here!" He grinned and held a finger to his lips, "so shhhhh!"

They were all in Chris's office, with the blinds to the bullpen closed, sitting around the Team Leader's huge desk, in an untidy, comfortable circle. The remains of a birthday cake, several pizza boxes and a large collection of empty beer bottles littered the normally immaculate surface, interspersed with several pairs of crossed feet as the team relaxed with their feet up.

"Anyone care for a game?" Ezra produced a pack of cards.

"Now there's a good idea!" Buck smiled and winked. "But not poker. It's a party - why don't we play a party game?"

JD's somewhat bleary eyes looked slightly bemused. "Like what? Musical chairs? Twister?"

"Buck…" Chris's slightly slurred voice managed to get a distinct overtone of warning into that single word.

Buck waved his hand in dismissal. "Oh loosen up, Stud. It's your birthday! We're only havin' a bit of fun!" He looked around at the others, the grin widening all the time, "Who's for truth or dare?"

Ezra snorted. "Oh, how mature! I was under the impression that we were celebrating a birthday for someone who had actually made it through adolescence."

"Hell, Bucklin, I'll play," Vin said, leaning back in his chair. The others all looked astonished. For their normally reserved sharpshooter, that was an amazing statement.

"I'll play too," JD said cheerfully, "but only if I don't have to go first."

Buck banged his fist down on the table, making the bottles clatter. "We'll all play! Come on, this is a party after all!" He turned a wicked grin on Chris. "An' I think, since it's your party, Stud, you'd better go first… so - truth or dare?"

Chris narrowed his eyes, looking around the table at the expectant faces. A feral grin lifted one corner of his mouth. "Dare." A whoop of appreciation went up.

Buck thought for a moment, then smiled sweetly at his friend. "Telephone the Exotica Massage Parlour and book a session for tomorrow - the full treatment - an' you can't use a fictitious name," he said triumphantly.

"Good one, Bucklin," Vin said in agreement.

Chris removed his feet from the desk and reached for the telephone. "Anyone know the number?" he grinned.

"555-0749," Buck answered without a second's hesitation, grinning at the cheers that erupted around the table.

"Hello," Chris said silkily into the phone, then leaned back in his chair in a relaxed pose of complete nonchalance. "I’d like to book a session for tomorrow. Yeah, full treatment ... complete works ... Yep, that’s it, I guess you know just what I need ... My choice? Oh, I don’t know – redhead, maybe? You can? Great. Three o’clock’s fine, thanks. I’ll be there. The name’s Jackson, Nathan Jackson."

The outburst of laughter and cheers broadened Chris’s smile even more. All except Nathan, whose huge grin metamorphosed into a look of complete horror as Chris replaced the receiver.

"Well, the name I used was real enough," Chris said innocently, "you didn't actually say that I had to use my own name, now did you, Buck?"

"I am a dead man if Rain finds out," Nathan said solemnly.

Chris beamed at him wolfishly. "Don't piss me off and she never will," he said simply.

Buck looked around the table for his next victim. "Josiah?"

The big profiler's eyes glittered. "Why, truth of course," he said softly.

Buck thought again - this time for a little longer. "Okay," he said at last, eyes still sparkling, "an' remember, this is a game of honour, so you can't lie, okay?"

Josiah nodded sagely. "You have my word."

"You ever made love in a church?"

Five pairs of eyes widened expectantly. Josiah considered for a moment, idly tapping his 'tache with his index finger. He put his head on one side as if trying to remember. An expectant hush had fallen around the table.

"I don't suppose a graveyard counts, does it?" he said at last.

JD pulled a face. "That's gross!" he said with a shudder.

Josiah raised his eyebrows. "Not at all, John Dunne - it's dark, quiet, private, and who are you going to offend?"

Vin and Chris looked suitably impressed. "I guess it’s always the quiet ones," Vin said with a shake of his head.

"If the cemetery doesn't count then, sadly, I will have to confess that no, I haven't."

"There's time," Chris said with a wink.

Buck eyed his next victim. "Ezra!" he said, taking another swig from the beer bottle in his hand, "your turn. Truth or dare?"

Ezra squirmed a little. "This is a ridiculous way for seven adults to pass the time."

"Don't be such a sour-puss," Buck teased, "come on - truth or dare? Or do you have a yellow streak under that designer shirt?"

Ezra' green eyes clouded a little. "Oh, very well then. As I cannot begin to contemplate what horrors await me should I be foolish enough to opt for a dare, I suppose I must settle for the truth."

Buck considered for a moment. "When was the last time you kissed anyone?" he asked with a suggestive wink. "An' I ain't talking about your Ma, or schmoozing some mark when you're undercover - I'm talking about a real kiss - one o' them can’t help yourself, lip-lock knee-tremblers!"

Despite his best efforts to hide it, Ezra felt heat suffusing his face. He didn't actually turn red, but the discomfort was plain to see.

"And you can't lie, 'cos this is a game of honour," JD added unnecessarily.

"I really don't remember," Ezra said.

Buck made a sound like a quiz-show buzzer. "Wrong answer! Come on, Ezra, be honest for once! Tell the truth - it's what you chose!"

"I don’t know about the last one, but I sure remember the first … Mary Petersen… I was 13…" Josiah said dreamily.

Buck wagged a finger. "Not your question, bro. Hell, come on, Ezra - it ain't that hard to answer!"

Ezra's eyes darted from one expectant face to the next. He looked like a rabbit in a snake pit. "About two years ago," he said at last, very quietly, "I don't remember exactly, but that's an honest estimate."

There was a moment or two of complete silence.

"Shit, Ezra, you're working too hard, m'friend," Vin said quietly.

"Maybe you should've used Ezra's name for the session at Exotica," Josiah said, trying to ease the slightly uncomfortable pause, "sounds like he could use the relaxation."

Ezra looked uneasy. "I can assure you all that I am perfectly relaxed," he said, "or at least I will be when I return," and he headed out of the door towards the restrooms.

"If we're having a break, I oughtta make a quick call, too," Buck said, following Ezra.

Ezra held the restroom door open as Buck was only a step or two behind him. Buck couldn’t resist teasing Standish a little. It was rare for anyone to spot a chink in that normally smooth armour of wit and words and the beer had loosened Buck just enough that he couldn’t help himself. "No wonder you look so tense most of the time, Ez," he said quietly as they stepped inside the door, "you need to work on that little 'problem' of yours."

"I don't have a problem - little or otherwise! And my private life is my own affair!"

"Well of course it is! Hell, you're over 21 - what you choose to do with your love life is up to you… but I was kinda assumin' that you actually had a love-life… I mean, two years. Two years? That’s positively unhealthy!"

Ezra wheeled around. "It’s considerably more healthy than tom-catting around as you do!"

Buck’s eyes widened. "Just doin’ my bit to spread a little love and happiness in the world, Ez."

"By foisting yourself on anything that’s warm and still breathing?"

Buck refused to be goaded. "I’m used to others bein’ in awe of my talents," he teased, "and if you think that livin’ like a monk is good for ya…well, you coulda fooled me."

"A gnat with a lobotomy could fool you," Ezra snapped.

Buck took a step towards him. Ezra took a step back.

Buck advanced another step. "I mean, two years? Shit, Ezra, you'll have forgotten how to kiss at that rate!"

Green eyes flashed. "Unlike you, I find no necessity for constant praise of my prowess," Ezra said firmly, but his body language belied the tone of the words, "and my memory is still functioning perfectly. I have no problem with recall."

Buck took another step towards him, but Ezra had nowhere left to retreat to. He found himself with his back firmly up against the counter top of the row of sinks.

Buck was almost leaning on him now, grinning. "You sure?" he smiled wickedly, "I could always give you a few pointers…"

He hadn't meant to kiss him. He really hadn't. It just… happened. One second it was just a harmless bit of daring brinkmanship, no more than half-drunken teasing, and the next - somehow they had ended up in a clinch.

That was where it had all gone so horribly, terribly wrong.

Instead of pulling back quickly, with a suggestive wink and a quick remark of ‘that’s how it’s done’, Buck had found himself unable to stop and worse, much worse, not wanting to stop. Amazingly, he felt the tension flow out of Ezra’s body as they moved, relaxed, melded together and sank into the depths of a breath-stealing, bone-melting kiss.

A ‘lip-lock knee-trembler’ of monumental proportions.

Feeling as if he were drowning, knowing somewhere in the depths of his conscience that he should, must, stop this now but powerless to actually do anything about it, his heart began to pound and he felt electricity racing along his nerves and exploding in his head like fireworks. This shouldn’t feel like this, you shouldn’t be enjoying this, this is too good, much too good, his mind screamed at him, stop! Now! Before you lose it completely! But his body had other ideas, and they must have been as evident to Ezra as they were to himself.

It was only the need for oxygen that had separated them.

Aroused, breathless, confused, disoriented, the mischievous sparkle gone from his dark blue eyes and replaced with something deeper, Buck had been completely lost for words. He finally looked at Ezra’s face – flushed, green eyes flaring, and an expression of… what? fear, desire, loathing, lust, anger, need – hell, all of those and none of them.

The next second Ezra’s well-aimed fist had almost broken his jaw.

11 pm

Buck must have dozed off at some stage, because he woke with a start as a loud roll of thunder boomed overhead. Gritty-eyed and dry-mouthed, he sat up, suddenly aware that he was cold, the temperature had dropped when the storm proper had started, the gentle rain of earlier now coming down much harder, rattling against the window panes in windblown gusts.

Yawning and rubbing his eyes, he stood up, dimly aware of a pounding in his head and a strong desire for a hot drink.

JD had obviously gone to bed, the television was silent, the house in darkness and the kitchen deserted. He snapped on the light, feeling a pang of guilt at the cleared and cleaned counters and the neatly folded dishtowel – not a cup or glass in sight. He spooned instant coffee into the biggest mug he could find, resisting the temptation to add a generous dash of the whiskey he had stashed in the cupboard. He filled the mug with water then put it in the microwave to heat. He retrieved it when the timer buzzed its completion, the rich fragrance of the strong brew making his mouth water. Sipping at it, he winced slightly as the hot liquid scalded his tongue, but the rush of caffeine instantly made him feel warmer.

Carrying the steaming mug, he turned off the light and retreated back to the rumpled bed, where he sat in the darkness, listening to the rain and wondering how the hell he was going to fill the endless hours until morning.

It was pointless trying to get back to sleep, the strong coffee had more than defeated that notion, and the storm had scotched the idea of a walk.

Settling back against the headboard, he switched on the radio in an attempt to fill the emptiness with something – anything that would stop him thinking.

Loud, raucous rock music filled the room, so he twiddled the dial. Something classical – a violin and some other instrument he couldn’t identify was the next clear station, but classical music reminded him instantly of Ezra, so he kept turning. A voice, rich, mellow and soft, caught his attention.

"You’re listening to McKinley Around Midnight, on 96.8 FM, and this is Kurt McKinley, bringing you Denver night owls music and conversation to while away the witching hours."

The guy had the perfect voice for the job, Buck thought. A deep, comforting timbre that made you think he was the only person talking and you were the only one listening. He stopped turning the dial.

"Tonight we’re talking about honesty," McKinley purred, "how honest are you? Has your honesty cost you in the past? Have you ever kept quiet about something you shouldn’t? Call me here on 555 – 9680 and let me know."

Soft jazz music filtered from the radio, and Buck wondered how many others were wide awake out in the city, listening to Mr Velvet-Voice.

"We have another caller," McKinley interrupted the music, "this is Cally – good evening Cally, how can we help you?"

"Hi, Kurt," a young, female, slightly taut voice said softly. "I wondered if I should say anything to anyone… there’s this guy at work, and I know he’s stealing money from my boss, but I’m afraid if I say anything that no-one will believe me… I’ve only worked there a few months, and this guy, this guy who’s stealing, he’s been there for years… what should I do?"

"Tell your boss the truth," Buck said instantly.

"Well, Cally, it’s always hard when you’re in a new job, finding where you fit in with a new team of people, but I would say that you need to discuss it with your boss…"

Buck nodded in agreement. "Shop the thievin’ bastard," he said.

"… if you have no concrete proof it will be a difficult thing to do, but you need to show your boss that you respect the company and have his interests at heart…"

Buck listened, wondering how McKinley got this job. Being a late-night disc-jockey seemed like a pretty nice life, he thought idly, chatting to lonely young women who hung on your every word. Sure as hell beat chasing down perps with guns whose sole ambition seemed to be to shoot your legs out from under you. "Hello there – you’re listening to Bucklin Wilmington," he tried an experimental DJ-voice. He didn’t have Josiah’s natural vocal ability, but maybe it had potential. "Wilmington’s Moonlight Talk-in," he said to the empty room, "where a welcome is always waiting." Not bad. Not quite up to Kurt Velvet-Voice McKinley, but not a disaster.

"… another caller on the subject of honesty," McKinley’s voice registered over Buck’s daydreaming, "this is Elliott. Good evening, Elliott, what is your question for McKinley Around Midnight’s audience?"

"Good evening, Kurt," an unmistakably Southern accent said, "my problem is also centred around my working environment, but is a little more… delicate."

Guy sounds a bit like Ezra, Buck thought. Much stronger Georgia drawl, but similar.

"Sounds interesting – delicate, how, exactly? And how is your honesty being affected?"

"Well, I have reason to believe that a colleague may be… errr.. attracted to me, but I don’t know how to tell if the advances are genuine…"

Southerners and their pride, Buck thought with a shake of his head. Stubborn as mules – rather do anything than ask for help or ask for an answer.

"This person has made it obvious to you that they are attracted?"

"Not exactly – no."

This guy still sounded a bit like Ezra.

"Then what makes you believe in this attraction?"

"An ‘incident’ shall we say, occurred a short time ago, but it was difficult to decide if it was real, or if this person was simply joking… and it’s far too important to me for me to try and guess the motivations… what if I’m wrong? What if it was simply a joke? Should I be honest about how I feel and risk losing a friend? Or keep quiet and never know?"

Buck sat up straight. No. It couldn’t be. Could it? It surely did sound as if it could…

"And how do you feel about this ‘incident’ – about this person? Do you want it to be a joke, or do you want it to be serious?" McKinley asked gently.

Buck held his breath.

There seemed to be complete silence from the radio.

Buck’s pulse was pounding so loud he could almost hear it.

"I want it to be serious, more than I can ever remember wanting anything in my entire life."

The false, heavy Georgia drawl was gone. And now Buck Wilmington knew exactly who was on the telephone to Kurt McKinley.


The sudden loud banging on the front door caused Ezra to start violently, almost losing his grip on the crystal brandy snifter he was cradling in one hand. The noise was audible even above the now almost constant booming and crashing of the thunderstorm which seemed to have settled directly over his roof.

The banging continued - constant and insistent.

Ezra rose from the chair cautiously, taking the precaution of collecting his gun from the drawer where he always placed it for safe-keeping whilst indoors, and crept quietly into the hallway.

The light in the hallway was switched off, but Ezra could plainly see the sensor-activated porch light through the small glass window at the top of the door.

Intermittent lightning flashes and the growling thunderclaps gave the scene a ridiculously melodramatic air, Standish thought as he edged cautiously towards the door, flattening himself against the wall. "Who is it?" He shouted above the din, "Who’s there?"

The frantic knocking grew louder. Deciding that any surprise shots through the wood of the front door would probably have been fired by now, he peered cautiously through the spy hole in the centre of the door. The next second, he threw the door wide open.

"Mr Wilmington! You are absolutely soaked!"

Buck stood on the doorstep, gasping for air, his chest heaving so much with the effort of breathing that he couldn’t speak. He was soaked, his lightweight jacket and shirt sticking to him in sodden folds, the water running in rivulets from the ends of his hair, his moustache, and even his eyelashes, dripping in liquid diamonds where the overhead light caught it. He looked as if he had been half-drowned and then run a marathon.

"Are you alright?" Ezra asked cautiously, edging forward and placing a supporting arm around Buck’s shoulders. "What are you doing here? Where is your truck? Have you run all the way over here? Are you hurt? Has something happened?"

Buck, still gasping, ignored the questions. "Did… you… mean it?" he rasped, trying to ignore his thudding pulse and spinning head.

Ezra looked completely confused. "What?"

Buck stared at him, dark blue eyes trying to communicate where oxygen-starved throat could not.

Ezra looked confused. "What? I’m sorry, Buck, I have no idea…"

"McKinley," Buck gasped.

Ezra recoiled from Buck as if he had been stung, the concern in his eyes transforming instantly into guilt. "Oh God," he whispered at last, "oh, God…"

"Did you mean what you said?" Buck asked again, the effort of speaking a complete sentence making him weave dizzily and lean one arm against the wall for support.

Ezra stared at him, wearing that same expression - the one that Buck had been unable to translate two weeks ago and still couldn’t fathom. Fleetingly, Buck wondered if he was going to get another fist in the face, but Ezra didn’t lash out. This time, faced with a soaked, exhausted, bewildered Buck Wilmington, Ezra Standish did what he hadn’t been able to do two weeks previously. He told the truth. After what felt like years of silence, Ezra swallowed and then said clearly, "Yes – yes, I did."

A huge smile lit Buck’s features and, with an adrenalin-fuelled burst of energy, he levered himself off the wall, catching, turning and sweeping Ezra through the open front door and into the dark hallway, where he pinned him up against the wall, kicking the door closed behind them with a well-aimed foot.

"Buck! You are dripping all over my parquet!" Ezra protested with a laugh, as a soaking wet body pressed heavily onto his chest.

"Come on Ezra – time’s up – truth or dare?" Buck smiled into a pair of dancing green eyes.

Ezra didn’t answer. He couldn’t – he was concentrating too hard on re-learning how to kiss.

~The End~

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