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At first Buck could not say for sure what made him suspicious or wary. After all his attention, like all the other men´s, was completely taken by the scantily clad young women who were parading in and out of the swimming pool. Then he realized that there were a few men who seemed a bit disinterested in the parade of tanned bodies. That seemed odd enough to the teenager so he started paying a bit more attention to the men´s actions. He would never be able to pinpoint what exactly made him come to the sudden conclusion that these men were cops. He could only guess that he had actually learned something after all the time of being around Clint and his fellow officers.
Buck watched the two men who were loitering by the pool but paying no attention to the activities and he instinctively knew that their presence there did not bode well for Ezra and the others playing poker upstairs. He did not waste time second-guessing himself, but simply acted knowing that if he was wrong he could deal with the consequences of that later. But if he was right and did not act, the consequences would be unbearable.
Not wanting to attract the attention of the men he now thought of as cops, Buck stood from the lounge chair he had been sitting on and strolled slowly over to the hotel entrance. He spoke to a couple of girls along the way, not only to not raise the cops´ suspicions but also because it was simply his nature and he could not help himself. Even though the girls showed some interest in him, he did manage to stay on track and make his way inside the hotel. He saw a few people in the hotel lobby and forced himself to stay inconspicuous since he had to think that the cops might have someone inside the hotel as well. Buck felt a little silly and paranoid but would still rather err on the side of caution. He had a feeling that the cops would not be so interested in just a bit of gambling, so he had to wonder what would have them out here.
He waited impatiently for the elevator, but managed a few friendly smiles for the other people who stepped inside with him. The junior held back a growl of frustration when he saw the number of floor buttons light up between him and his goal of the fifteenth floor. But there was nothing he could do, but wait impatiently as the elevator stopped at the various floors and dropped off the passengers one by one. Images of Ezra being caught up in a raid and hauled of to jail kept filling his head as he waited for the elevator doors to close shut after each stop. And as the elevator traveled between floors, Buck imaged himself desperately trying to explain things to Ezra´s mother and his own. Then he imagined himself having to deal with the father and son combo of Larabee´s and he could not help but desperately push the fifteenth floor button in the hopes that somehow that could get him to Ezra faster and help him avoid facing that situation.
Finally arriving at his floor, Buck squeezed himself though the elevator doors as soon as they opened wide enough to fit his lanky form through. Since no one else exited with him and the hallway was empty, he sprinted down to room 1517. He paused for a second to listen at the door, just in case he was too late. His brown wrinkled with confusion when he heard bursts of laughter coming from within.
The teenager rapped loudly on the door as he listened to the uninhibited nature of Ezra´s distinctive laughter. It was weird to hear the southerner laughing so uncontrollably. It was so out of character for Ezra especially considering that he was playing poker and probably wagering large sums of money. That was when everything snapped into place for Buck and he slammed the palm of his hand against his forehead for not seeing the obvious sooner. These college age guys were not just going to sit around playing poker without drinking alcohol as well. What Buck could not believe was that from the sounds of things Ezra had done some imbibing as well.
After a moment, in which Buck was sure he was checked out through the peephole, the door finally opened to allow him inside the room. His blue eyes immediately centered on where Ezra sat at the table. The southerner grinned sloppily as he looked up at Buck and waved. The junior took in the sight of the empty beer bottles in front of Ezra and groaned.
Not wanting to waste time he just blurted out, Look, I could be wrong, but I think this place is about to start crawling with cops. One of the poker players looked up from the table, his eyes darting back and forth in fear at those words. That gave Buck all the confirmation he needed that the cops were after someone in the room. As one the other players began to scramble and gather up what was left of their cash so that they could clear out.
Ezra watched the flurry of activity and scowled over at Buck. Why´re you making everyone leave? he slurred. He did at least have the presence of mind to scoop his winnings close to his chest and protect it from the hands of the other players.
Buck walked around the table and with a shake of his head grabbed Ezra under his arms, pulling him to his feet. The southerner immediately began a litany of protests as he clung even tighter to his money. Cursing under his breath, Buck released his hold on Ezra temporarily letting the younger teen fall back into his seat. He avoided Ezra´s swatting hands and gathered all the money and stuffed it into his own pockets, promising to give it back to the southerner once they made it back to their hotel. Ezra stood up, swaying heavily and demanded his money back now. Buck only grabbed him again and began hustling him out of the door.
Let me go! the southerner demanded, his accent thickened under his drunken slur.
Trust me, Ezra, you don´t want to stay in there. It´s about to be crawling with cops who aren´t gonna be too pleased to find you drinking and playing poker, Buck responded as he stopped in the hallway, wondering if he should risk the elevator or stairs. Trying to think like Clint and police procedure, Buck realized that it would probably be best to avoid both of those exits. That meant that he and Ezra had to look like they did not belong to the room. A flash of inspiration struck him and he pulled Ezra back into the hotel room.
I thought I didn´t want to be in here? the sophomore protested.
I just need to get something. I´ll be back in a second. He released his hold on Ezra and ran to the bathroom. Grabbing a couple of the larger towels he rushed back out and swept Ezra back out into the hallway. He half dragged the younger teen to the set of rooms that were furthest away from the elevators and stairs. Hoping that none of the guests in the rooms would decide to either leave their rooms or return, Buck stopped in the small alcove that made up the rooms´ entranceway.
Okay, here´s the plan. Take the towel and wrap it around you so it looks like we´ve been down at the pool. I don´t think the cops will suspect a couple of teenagers being in that poker game, so if they stop us we´ll just tell em we forgot our keycard downstairs at the pool and have to go get em. Buck was pleased when Ezra actually took the towel from him and did as instructed.
That pleased feeling ended when the southerner simply wrapped the towel around his waist without removing his shirt or rolling up his pants. You´re gonna have to take it off, Buck said pulling at Ezra´s shirt. The sophomore pushed Buck´s hands away and nodded.
Seeing that Ezra was actually removing his shirt, Buck bent and removed his shoes and socks. Fortunately the towel was large enough that no one could see that he had shorts on underneath. He turned around to see that Ezra was ready as well, though he was a bit unsteady on his feet. Grabbing his arm, Buck again started them down the hallway.
Finding a trash can near the elevators, Buck threw his shoes and shirt inside. He hated doing it, but he knew it would not be believable if they were caught wandering around holding their shirts and shoes. He motioned for Ezra to do the same and was surprised when the sophomore readily complied. I don´t like those shoes, Ezra admitted to Buck in a conspiratorial whisper that could be heard down the hallway. Mother bought me those shoes and the pants. Didn´t like those either. I will miss the shirt though. He sighed heavily and sagged a bit against the wall.
Buck had not been paying much attention to Ezra as he pushed the down button. But the word pants had him turning to the southerner, shock filling his blue eyes. Did you say pants? Did you just throw your pants away, Ezra?
You told me to take them off. I told you to take your shirt off! You could have rolled your pants up to hide em under the towel. Buck paused and squinted his eyes shut as he felt a headache coming on. He stopped himself from asking if Ezra had left his underwear on because he did not want to know the answer.
The elevator arrived then, full of the same men that Buck had seen back at the pool. Buck said a quick prayer that they would not remember seeing him earlier and that they would not notice Ezra´s inebriated state. Moving Ezra out of the way of the exiting men, he hoped to keep their attention off him. He need not have worried. The cops were too intent on their bust to pay any attention to two teenagers going for a swim.
Ezra giggled as Buck pushed him into the elevator making him stumble back against the wall. What made you think you could drink? the older teen growled as he pushed the lobby floor button and then the door close button.
What makes you think you´re a poet? Ezra laughed even harder at his own joke at Buck´s inadvertent rhyme.
Come on, Ezra, we´re not out of the woods yet. You got to pull yourself together.
The southerner straightened up somewhat, but his laughter still shook his lean frame.
Buck sighed. You can´t be doing these kinds of things without the rest of us there to look out for you, Ezra. Course you cain´t understand these things when you´re sober, so I don´t know why I´m trying to tell ya now.
You told me to loosen up! Ezra threw his arms up in the air waving them and throwing himself off balance. ´Go wild!´ That´s what you told me.
I meant with the people you can trust! Not with those guys that you don´t even know! The elevator came to a stop before Buck could ask how it was that Ezra could do that with them and yet still remain so aloof with the six of his good friends. But the older teen would remind himself to ask that a bit later.
The elevator doors opened to a relatively empty lobby, but Buck was still cautious as he led the sophomore out through the front exit instead of heading for the outside pool. Fortunately no one paid the two teenagers much attention. But he knew that they were still a long way from being home free. He was going to have to find some way to get some clothes for both of them so that they could catch a cab back to their hotel. And once there he would have to pray that they could make it into their room before their mothers caught them. But he really was not too worried about that last part since the game had broken up earlier than expected they were actually ahead of schedule.
At Ezra´s prompting, Buck had assisted him in getting their mothers to go out for the night. Not that it had been too difficult to convince Maude and Beatrice that they needed a night out on the town. Apparently the two women had finished up all their work on their novel, except for the one detail of the novel´s name. They simply could not agree upon a title. Ezra and Buck had lost track of the number of titles that the two women had tossed back and forth in hopes of finding something they could agree on. So after the last discussion ended with both women growing frustrated, Ezra had smoothly stated that they were trying too hard and that they needed to take a break from working on the novel. Maude had seemed to have a little bit of trepidation about the suggestion as if she had some suspicions regarding her son´s ulterior motives. But she never had a chance to voice them as Beatrice eagerly and enthusiastically began suggesting things that the two women could do that Friday night. Maude had tossed her son a calculating look to which he responded with a grin and raised eyebrows but his mother had said nothing.
Buck could only imagine what Maude would have to say if she could see her son now. Ezra leaned heavily on him as they walked out of the hotel and quickly moved down the street. Buck was not too worried about where they were heading, he just wanted to put some distance between them and the police at the hotel. After traveling a couple of blocks and enduring Ezra´s constant protests, the older teen let the southerner sit down at an empty bus stop bench.
First thing we got to do is get us some clothes, so we don´t attract too much attention, Buck stated as he scrubbed his hands through his thick, curly hair and gazed around at the busy street around them. He removed the towel from around his waist and threw it down on the bench next to Ezra.
Well, why´d you make me throw my clothes away if now you say we got to get some more? Ezra demanded. He looked over at Buck´s discarded towel and stood up.
Seeing that Ezra was about to remove his own towel, Buck grabbed his hands and stopped him. Oh no, you don´t! We´re trying to NOT attract attention, remember? Now keep that on!
You made me throw my clothes away, Ezra continued to stress with a bit of a pout.
I thought you were just throwing away your shirt and shoes. I didn´t tell you take off your pants or throw them away.
You told me to take it off, was the petulant response.
Meaning your shirt, not your pants! When Ezra appeared to be about to continue arguing, Buck shook his head and added, Look, I´m not gonna argue with you about it. It´s done and now we´ve got to deal with it. Looking up and down the street and not finding any immediate answers, the junior looked down a the seated sophomore and asked, What were you thinking, Ezra? I would think that the last thing you would risk is getting drunk when you´re playing poker for money.
I´m not drunk!
That was the final straw for Buck. He raised his voice, allowing his anger and disappointment to show. Well then I´d really like to hear you explain why you are sitting at a bus stop wearing a towel because you threw your pants away!
The younger man looked up at Buck, his eyes wide as his drunken state stripped away his usual ability to hide his emotions. I didn´t mean to drink so much! I just didn´t have anywhere to pour it.
Except down your throat! Buck accused, the normally genial teenager employed sarcasm to demonstrate just how upset he was with the sophomore.
But I couldn´t let them think I couldn´t drink! Ezra whined in protest.
Buck rolled his eyes as he sat down on the bench next to the southerner. I never thought I´d hear Ezra Standish worry about what other people think of him!
But I´m just like everyone else. The words were spoken softly, almost wistfully as if there were a part of Ezra that truly wished those words were true.
Buck nodded wisely, his anger dwindling away as he realized that he was having the most open conversation he´d ever had with Ezra. I guess you´re right. You just hide it better than most.
The southerner leaned toward Buck, his eyes shifting around as if he were about to reveal a great secret and did not want anyone else to overhear. Sometimes if I hide it good enough, I can almost make myself believe that I don´t feel the hurt either. A self-satisfied grin swept over Ezra´s face as he fell back into the bench, tilting his head skyward as if he were very pleased with himself.
Buck was not sure what made him feel worse, the fact that Ezra felt the need to hide away his hurt or the fact that it took him being drunk to trust his friend with that information. Added to his dismay for his friend was the guilt that Buck felt for having not recognized that some of the times when the southerner was acting as if he were unaffected by things that he was really hurting inside. The junior wished that Josiah were there with them so that he could get some guidance from the senior. Josiah seemed to have a natural affinity for people and understood why they were the way they were. Maybe he could figure Ezra out a bit better than he could.
Deciding that there was not much he could say to Ezra´s admission that the sophomore would actually remember or consider, Buck stood up and again looked up and down the streets. This time his eyes caught sight of a souvenir store that just might have what they needed. His only problem now was what to do with Ezra as he tried to buy them clothes and shoes. He looked back down at the southerner who had curled up on the bench as if he had absolutely no problem with just sleeping where he lay.
Buck knew it would be much easier to go into the store without dragging the drunk sophomore with him, but he also knew it was much too risky to leave Ezra there. For all he knew, the crazy southerner just might decide to get on a bus if one stopped there and Buck could only imagine the depth of trouble he would be in when he had to try and explain that one to both their mothers. With a heavy, put upon sigh, the quarterback grabbed hold of one of Ezra´s shoulders and hauled the younger boy back into a sitting position.
No time for snoring now, Ezra. We got to get us some clothes and make it back to our hotel. Then you can sleep it off.
I do not snore! he protested as he futilely slapped at Buck´s hands on him as the bigger teen pulled him all the way up to his feet.
Whatever you say, Hoss, but I bet you´ll be snoring tonight.
Hah! was the only immediate response the inebriated teen could make. Then after several seconds and sleepy blinks, he added an accusation, You´re the one who snores!
Yeah like that´s a news flash! Buck chuckled. He grabbed Ezra´s shoulder and propelled him toward the store.
With Ezra leaning heavily on him and stumbling constantly it took Buck a lot longer to walk down the block than he had thought. Perseverance paid off as he finally pushed upon the glass door and muscled Ezra inside. His feeling of accomplishment faded quickly as they were greeted by a harsh, raspy voice, Hey! Can´t you read?
Buck looked over at the direction that the voice came from and met the cold eyes of the older man behind the counter. With a toss of his chin the man directed the teenager´s attention to a posted sign that read, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.
A groan of frustration escaped Buck´s lips. But that´s what I need to buy! he protested as he pointed over to the racks of touristy T-shirts and the bin of flip-flop sandals.
The older man laughed but there was no real mirth in it. Well isn´t that ironic?
Come on, Mister! Buck pleaded.
Sorry, rules are rules! Now get out of my store before your friend pukes all over the place!
I´m not going to puke! Ezra objected loudly. Then in a slightly lower tone asked, Does puke mean the same thing as vomit?
Yes, it does! The older teen snapped back. Now shut up! It´s all your fault that we´re in this mess anyway!
It was your bright idea to throw away our shoes and shirts. So I think it´s your fault that we don´t have shoes and shirts and this man won´t let us buy new shoes and shirts because he will not provide service to people without shoes or shirts. Ezra considered his own words for a minute. You know, he´s right. It is very ironic. He giggled as he leaned a bit more heavily against Buck.
Yeah, well if you weren´t drunk, I bet you could have talked him into letting us buy the clothes, the older teen hissed in his ear as he turned them around to exit the store.
I bet I could have, too! Why don´t you just charm him into letting us buy the clothes?
Buck released his hold on Ezra once they were out of the store and allowed the sophomore to drop down to the sidewalk. The Buck charm only works on women! he stated angrily but Ezra was unimpressed.
He waved one hand dismissively as he used the other to prop himself up to a sitting position. You give yourself too much credit. Your charms don´t work on either sex.
Shows what you know. I´ve made out just fine on this Spring Break. And by making out, I mean
Ezra rolled his eyes. I know what you mean! Spare me the details. Or else I really might puke.
Well the sooner I can get us some clothes, the sooner we can head back to the hotel. And I don´t see anywhere else that we can buy some clothes nearby.
Can´t we just go back to the hotel like this? Ezra gestured down to his towel draped form.
Buck glanced down at Ezra and then immediately averted his eyes. Fix your towel there, Hoss! He had just learned the answer to the question of whether or not the sophomore had left his underwear on. Buck was relieved to learn that the answer was that he had but dismayed to have seen that sprawled out as he was on the sidewalk, with one leg bent at the knee and the other stretched out in front of him, Ezra had still managed to expose way more than what Buck ever wanted to see.
The southerner grinned lopsidedly as he readjusted the towel so that it fully covered him again. The junior just shook his head. No we can´t just get on a bus or catch a taxi without our clothes. He sunk down so that he, too, was sitting on the sidewalk next to Ezra.
Well why don´t you ask those people to buy us some clothes? They´ve got shoes and shirts so they can buy shoes and shirts for us.
Buck looked to where he pointed and saw a couple of obvious tourists heading for the store. Ezra leaned into him, And they´re women, Buck!
The older teen pushed him away. I can see that, Ezra. Prepare to watch the ol´ Buck charm in action. He scrambled to his feet, frowning in annoyance as Ezra giggled.
Excuse me, ladies! Buck flashed them his most genial smile. Can I please ask you for a favor?
Both of the elderly women regarded him and Ezra warily, especially as Ezra kept pulling on the leg of Buck´s shorts and whispering loudly, Ask them. Ask them.
Still grinning at the ladies, Buck slapped Ezra´s hand hard enough to make the younger teen yelp and pout as he moved away from the quarterback. Without missing a beat, Buck continued, I´m sure you´ve noticed that we don´t have shoes or shirts
And he doesn´t have any pants, one of the ladies pointed out.
Buck glanced back down and rolled his eyes in dismay. Ezra! he ground out between his clenched teeth. Your towel! He hoped that the ladies had not gotten the full show that he had.
The southerner giggled again as he grinned sheepishly. I beg your pardon, ladies, he stated as politely as possible through his drunken slur.
Is he alright? the first lady asked, concern filling her blue eyes.
Yes, ma´am, he´s just fine. He just got into something he shouldn´t have, Buck answered quickly.
The second lady had leaned down toward Ezra and she blinked hard as she stood back up quickly, waving her hand in front of her face. Like what? A brewery?
Buck laughed nervously still managing to keep his grin affixed to his face. No, ma´am, not a brewery exactly. But I won´t lie to you. He has been drinking
You let this sweet little boy drink alcohol? the first woman scolded as she looked from Buck down to Ezra. The southerner smiled back at her, flashing his dimples.
Now see here, Buck sputtered, but then quickly regained control of himself as the two women turned indignant glares at him. He gulped before continuing, I didn´t let him drink the alcohol. I never would have gone down to the pool if I had thought that
Oh so you left him alone so you could go down to the pool and check out all the hot young girls in their thong bikinis didn´t you?
Yes, ma´am Buck shook his heard vehemently. I mean, no! He took a deep breath to get himself back under control. It´s a very long story. Right now I just want to get us home
But the mean man inside won´t let us buy shoes and shirts because we don´t have shoes and shirts, Ezra threw in, blinking his large green eyes up at the elderly women. Both of them visibly melted under his gaze as they both cooed, Awwwww!
Buck gritted his teeth again at the way Ezra was easily manipulating the two women, but he knew that the southerner playing on the ladies´ sympathies just might be what they needed. Yeah, we tried to go inside the store but the clerk told us to get out since we didn´t have any shoes or shirts and that meant no service. So would you two ladies please do us a favor? I have money. I just need you to go inside and buy us a couple of T- shirts and some sandals. Just so we can get back to our hotel.
The two ladies looked from the two boys to each other and considered Buck´s request. Finally coming to a decision they nodded and one of them asked. What sizes do you need? You look like an extra large and your friend might be a medium. But let me see your feet.
Ezra! Put your leg down! Buck yelled with a wince as the southerner lifted up one foot to show the ladies his foot and ended up flashing his underwear again.
We better see if we can find him some shorts as well, one of the ladies laughed.
Thank you, ma´am, you don´t know how much I would appreciate that, Buck stated as he pulled out a few of the bills that he had shoved into his pockets. He handed the ladies a couple of twenties. They gave him a look when they saw the amount of money he still had, but neither said a word. Instead they simply walked into the store with the promise that they would be right back.
That´s my money!
Ezra, we need the clothes and you can spare the forty bucks.
But it´s my money!
Yeah, well it´s in my pockets. So if you want it back when we get to the hotel, you´re gonna shut up and just sit there until we get some clothes and can then get a cab back to the hotel.
Ezra exhaled sharply, folded his arms over his chest and pouted, but he did not say another word. Buck enjoyed the peace and quiet as he paced back and forth wishing that the ladies would hurry up. Impatient he peeked into the store and saw one of the ladies rummaging through the T-shirt rack while the other seemed to be lecturing the clerk. The junior groaned and ran his hand through his thick hair. After pacing around for another few minutes he finally sank down to sit next to Ezra. He checked his watch and relaxed a little bit when he realized that they still had plenty of time to get back before their mothers returned.
The ladies finally exited from the store with a large bag filled with their purchases. Buck stood up and pulled Ezra up with him. I can´t thank you enough, ladies.
One of them smiled and reached up to pinch Buck´s cheek. You´re very welcome, young man.
The other handed over the bag of clothing and started to hand over the change but Buck shook his head. No, ma´am, please keep it as our thanks.
The tall teenager elbowed Ezra as the southerner complained, That´s my money you´re giving away.
Don´t listen to him. Really we want you to have it.
Thank you very much. Now you boys be sure to go straight home after this.
Oh, yes, ma´am, Buck answered. We´re definitely going straight home.
She patted his cheek one more time and then grabbed a hold of Ezra´s cheek and playfully pinched his as well. Oh, I´d just love to pop off this dimple and keep it in my pocket!
When she finally released his cheek, Ezra raised his hand and rubbed at his burning cheek. That just left his other cheek open for the other woman to grab and do the same thing. Buck laughed until she turned her attention to him. With a few more admonishments to go straight home the ladies then left laughing as they said that they hoped the boys liked their selections and kept the shirts to remember them by.
Buck pulled out the white T-shirts with the bright red lettering that red, My grandma went to Florida for Spring Break and all I got was this lousy T-shirt! The junior burst out laughing as he handed the smaller of the two shirts over to Ezra. He laughed all the harder when he saw the brightly colored, Hawaiian print board shorts that the ladies had also bought for Ezra to wear.
Here, put these on! He handed the shorts to the southerner who stood blinking at them in surprise. He looked up at Buck as if to protest but the older teen just shook his head menacingly. Don´t even think about it, Ezra. I don´t want to hear one complaint out of your mouth. You just have to wear them until we can get back into the hotel. Then you can burn them for all I care.
Still the stubborn southern mouth opened, but Buck cut him off again. I said I don´t want to hear it and I mean it! Now turn around there and put em on under your towel and I´ll stand here and block you. The junior felt a little smug as Ezra actually complied, pulling on the shorts and shirt. Buck put his own T-shirt on and then pulled apart the two pairs of flip-flop sandals. He tossed his own on the ground and slipped his feet into them and was surprised that they were pretty close to the size he would need, his toes and heel just hung off a little bit. Ezra´s on the other hand were too big for his feet. Buck had to laugh again when the younger teen took a couple of steps and nearly tripped.
Sputtering in an apoplectic fit, the drunken teen hopped around in a circle and tore off the flip-flops. He held them in one hand and brandished them at Buck, I´m not wearing these. He prepared to throw them away but the junior grabbed his arm and wrestled the shoes from him.
You can walk around barefoot if you want to! But you´re not throwing these away! You can carry them just in case you have to put them on so we can catch a cab. He handed the flip- flops back to Ezra by slapping them into the smaller teen´s chest. Ezra winced and doubled over a bit, but he took the shoes and held them in his hand. He tried the same pitiful look on Buck that had worked so well on the older ladies, but the junior just snorted contemptuously. Oh don´t even try that on me! And don´t think that I´m gonna care one little bit if you cut your foot while we´re walking around! Now, come on!
The southerner sighed heavily as he followed after the junior who strode away angrily. Then seeing that he was quickly being left behind he called out, Buck! He was ignored at first so Ezra tried his best to walk faster, but his drunken state and tenderfoot attempts to tread lightly only made him fall even further behind.
Buck had almost reached the street corner where he knew they had a better chance of catching a cab when he realized that Ezra was no longer right behind him.
I ain´t about to play games with you, Ezra, now come on! Buck yelled, standing with his hands on his hips.
You´re walking too fast, Ezra griped as he continued walking gingerly.
Rolling his eyes and running a hand through his thick hair, Buck prayed for the strength that would get them the next hundred feet or so and into a cab and then on their way home. Now he could finally sympathize with Chris and just how easily Ezra always seemed to get under the senior´s skin. Taking several deep breaths Buck waited for Ezra to catch up to him. Reining in his impatience he then walked slowly enough that they stayed together until they made it to the street corner. The southerner immediately slid back down onto the bus bench while Buck began scanning the streets for any hint of a cab.
It did not take as long as he feared it might before a cab finally pulled over for them. Once back at the hotel Buck did not allow himself to relax until he had finally gotten Ezra up into their suite and sent the younger teen off to take a shower. He got a few protests there as the southerner just wanted to climb into bed and go to sleep. But Buck was in no mood for it and his threats were convincing enough to send him stumbling to the shower as quickly as he could.
Once he threw himself down into the couch Buck was not sure he would ever get himself back up. But after several long moments when Ezra did not emerge from the bathroom, the lanky teen threw his head back on the couch and roared, Don´t make me have to go in there! Because you will definitely regret it! He was rewarded with the sound of the shower being turned off and, after a few more long minutes, the bathroom door opening and the sophomore exiting and going straight into their shared bedroom. With heavier sigh, Buck dragged himself off the couch and went to make sure that Ezra had actually made it into his bed.
He chuckled warmly when he found Ezra lying face down on his bed, his feet hanging off the edge as if he had simply walked to the bed and fallen face first into it. Buck rolled him over and pulled down the sheets and covers. He then rolled Ezra back over and covered him. He was surprised when a smile crept across the younger teen´s face. Thank you, Buck, he drawled thickly but with heartfelt sentiment trying to express gratitude for all that the junior had done for him that evening.
Buck grinned, reached out and pressed his hand on Ezra´s head and warmly ruffled his still wet hair, insuring that the younger teen would have the worst case of bedhead ever seen. You´re welcome, Ez, he smiled after eliciting a groan and protest from him. Just promise me you´ll never do something as stupid as that again.
One pale green eye peeled itself open, but just barely. I swear that I will never touch another beer again as long as I live.
I´m gonna hold you to that, Buck laughed as he did not fail to notice that the southerner still had sense enough to be specific and limit his boycott to beer. Ezra always left himself a loophole. Now go to sleep. Morning ain´t gonna be fun.
Garnering the energy to throw his arms up, Ezra covered his face with the covers and groaned. Don´t remind me, he pleaded.
Buck barked out a laugh as he started to exit the room to take his own shower and then get rid of the incriminating evidence of their clothes. Suddenly remembering the money in his pockets he pulled it out and placed it in Ezra´s dresser drawer. He started out again only to be stopped by a muffled, yet somehow still smug voice, Oh and, Buck, you called me Ez. You just lost our bet.
The junior´s head dropped to his chest in defeat as he groaned. Grabbing a pillow from his own bed he tossed it onto Ezra´s still covered head. With my luck you won´t remember anything else from this night, but that!
The wiggling of the pillow was all the evidence Buck needed to know that Ezra was nodding his agreement. Shaking his head he strode out of the room and purposefully slammed the door shut behind him. Somewhere beneath the pillow, the covers, and the sheets Ezra winced and whispered, Ouch! He curled up on his side and fell into a deep sleep, the pillow still managing to remain balanced there on his head.
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