Main characters: Ezra/Vin
Disclaimer: I wish I owned them, then they would still be on!
Warnings: Some violence.
This is my first attempt at slash so any feedback would be appreciated. No Beta so any mistakes are mine! I own em!
Im not gay. Oh sure Ive noticed if men are dressed nice, are handsome. But that doesnt make me gay.
And yes Ive enjoyed a mans company. Guys hang out all the time.
He was snapped out of his musings as Vin walked by his desk. Vin in his worn jeans that hung low on his firm, flat STOP IT!
Ezra looked back at his computer screen. His report that he had started an hour ago still just contained the date and the title. What was wrong with him? You didnt just turn gay did you? Something that snuck up on you and grabbed you overnight?
He shook his head smiling ruefully to himself. He glance up and saw Vin walking back down the hall and when Vin saw him smile, he smiled that half smile of his back at Ezra. Ezra felt his stomach dropped and his heart speed up. He felt the blush crawl up his face as he quickly looked back at his computer screen.
What are you thinking Ezra? What is the matter with you? Get a grip man! Hmm a grip. Yes hed like to grip Vins - Ezra leaped out of his chair and headed for the break room.
Vin and Chris were leaning against the counter, coffee cups in hand. Vin was laughing at something Chris had just said, Chris grinning broadly. Ezra felt a rush of jealously and a desire to tell Chris to get the hell away from his man! He forced himself to smile and said,
Afternoon gentlemen. Dont let me interrupt. Just needed some caffeine to assist me in my report.
Ezra headed for the coffeepot, not looking at either man.
Dont hurry off Ez. Vin said in his soft Texan drawl. Chris here was just telling me about his run in with some drunk that wandered in on a bust he was making.
Carry on, Ezra said, filling his cup and hurrying to the door. I have a report to get back to.
Vin watched Ezra leave with a wistful look on his face and then turned back to Chris as he resumed his story.
Ezra forced himself to focus on his report. He was doing all right until he heard Vins quiet voice behind him.
Hey Ez, its almost lunch. Care to head down to Inezs with me?
Ezra felt his heart speeding up. Lunch with Vin? Should he?
Why sure Mr. Tanner, that would be fine. He saved his report and stood up to grab his coat. Vin was standing behind him with a wide smile on his face. Full wattage shining right at Ezra. He stopped, paused and then looked down as he retrieved his coat from the rack. Maybe this wasnt so smart. But he was a con man wasnt he? Use to hiding his feelings and playing a part?
Ill drive if you dont mind Ezra. Vin said as he headed for the elevator. You dont mind the jeep do you?
Certainly not. Ezra quickly said. He hated that jeep. Well not the jeep itself. Its dilapidated appearance yes. But it was Vins so how could he say no?
Vin grinned shyly. I know it aint much. But its mine and Im comfortable in it.
Ezra smiled back at him. Thats what is important Mr. Tanner. He clapped his hand on Vins shoulder and felt a shock as he touched him. He could feel the warmth of Vins skin through his flannel shirt. He quickly pulled his hand back.
The ride to Inezs Saloon was quiet which wasnt surprising since Vin hardly spoke. But Ezra didnt mind. He used the time to give himself a pep talk. He was really letting this, infatuation, get out of hand. That is all it was. A stray thought that had taken a life of its own. All he needed to do was take control of his mind. Stop this insane line of thought.
Ezra turned to look at Vin. He hadnt realized he was speaking to him. Yes?
Where were ya? Vin asked with a smile. I asked you twice about that movie you were talking about seeing? Have ya gone yet?
Oh, no Mr. Tanner I havent. Ezra pulled himself back to the present. I havent made the time.
Well, Vin glanced from the road to look quickly at Ezra and then away. How about we go together? Ive been thinking on it and would like to see it.
Ezras mouth fell open and he snapped it shut. A date with Vin? No, he told himself, not a date! But him and Vin out together all alone?
Why that would be lovely. Ezra said.
Great, Vin said smiling broadly. Its a date.
Ezras heart started to pound loudly.
They soon arrived at the saloon, which was crowded for lunch. Inez knew the entire Laramie team and usually tried to keep a booth open for them. They were in luck today as it was still open. Ezra sat on one side of the U shaped booth and Vin on the other. As they looked at the menus they heard a familiar voice.
Lookie here fellas! Vin and Ezra have saved us a table! Ezra groaned as he heard Buck Wilmingtons booming voice across the room. He looked up to see Buck, J.D, Nathan and Josiah heading straight for them. So much for his quiet lunch alone with Vin. The guys started crowding into the booth from both sides and they were forced to the middle where Ezra was now sitting closely beside Vin.
Sorry. Ezra said as he was squashed up close to Vin.
Fine by me. Vin said, again smiling that little half smile Ezra had come to love.
What? What did you just say Ezra Standish? Love? Ezra was beginning to wonder if he was going to just up and have a heart attack. All these heart palpitations. They couldnt be healthy. Maybe he needed to ask Nathan about that.
Lunch was a blur. Ezra was only aware of eating because he saw his hands moving towards his mouth. The only thing he was aware of was the heat from Vins thigh were it pressed against his and the tightness he felt in his pants.
Ready to go Ez? Vin said placing a hand on Ezras arm. He jumped.
Huh? Oh yes Mr. Tanner I am ready to depart. He scooted toward the end of the booth, Vin still right beside him.
The ride back was also a blur. He could still feel the warmth of Vin sitting beside him. He was positive it radiated from across the bucket seats.
Later that afternoon Ezra was beginning to compose himself when he felt a warm breath in his ear.
Ezra, could you help me with this Excel file? You know Im all thumbs when it comes to reports. Vin leaned over Ezras shoulder.
Ezra almost fell out of the chair but luckily Vin was standing so close the chair didnt tip.
Sorry pard didnt mean to startle you. Vin was now chuckling in his ear.
Not at all Mr. Tanner. He leaped from his chair and followed Vin back to his desk. He started to stand behind Vins chair but he could smell Vins cologne, Quorum, the Christmas present he had given Vin when they drew names. He hastily grabbed a chair and pulled it up beside Vin. He spent an hour helping showing Vin the short cuts around the Excel program, their hands brushing occasionally. Ezra felt sick with adrenaline when he finally stood up.
There, well I hope that helps some Mr. Tanner.
Why dont you try calling me Vin? Vin smiled a lazy smile at him. Ezra could feel his stomach flip.
Uh, why sure Mr., uh well Vin. Ezra flashed a quick grimace. If youll excuse me. And he dashed down the hall to the mens room.
He splashed water on his face and looked at himself in the mirror.
Ezra I am disappointed in you. He tried out his mothers voice on himself. A sure cure to snap him out of this stupor. But it didnt help. He glanced at his watch. 4pm. Only one hour left. Hell he could do two hours. No problem.
He glanced out of the restroom door. No one in sight. He eased down the hall and to his desk. Coast was clear. Maybe hed see if Chris would let him leave a little early. He printed up his report and headed for Chris office. He could hear the rest of the guys in the break room. Chris dead ahead in his office.
Mr. Larabee, here is that report I promised. Ezra knocked as he entered. Chris looked up with a slight frown but held out his hand for the report.
Thanks Ezra. He looked back down towards his desk.
Yes? Chris looked up again. He was mildly concerned at the look on Ezras face. He looked pale.
Why yes Mr. Larabee I was just wondering if would be allowable for me to leave a few minutes early this evening. Ezra looked at Chris and then inspected his shoes.
Hmm Chris thought. Something isnt right. But he knew prying didnt work on Ezra.
Sure. Head on out. And dont bother being on time in the morning. Chris smirked at Ezra. Ezra was never on time.
Thank you, sir. He mumbled and headed toward the door.
Sir? Now Chris knew something was wrong. Ezra didnt sir anyone. He watched Ezra hurry back to his desk.
Ezra had just turned off his computer and was pulling on his coat when Vin walked up.
Why yes Mr. Tanner, Ive feeling a bit indisposed.
Im fine, perhaps something I had at lunch. Perhaps an overdose of nerves?
Hope you feel better Ez. Looking forward to that movie. He grinned shyly.
As I am Mr. Tanner. Ezra mumbled gave his signature gesture of tipping his hat and left.
Vin sighed. What was wrong with him? Hed developed this powerful urge to be around Ezra. He liked Ezra, sure but it was different. He found himself unconsciously following Ezra around. It was he was a magnet and Vin was metal shavings. And when Ezra wasnt around Vin thought of things to tell him or hed see something and think Ezra would like that. And when Ezra turned those green eyes on him and gave him that dimpled smile Vins stomach lurched and other other parts stirred. Vin blushed. But he wasnt that way!
Vin jumped. He turned from his desk.
Were heading for Inezs. You ready? Buck stood with his coat in his hand.
Yeah. Im coming.
+ + + + + + +
Vin was on his fourth beer. He sat gloomily at the table. JD, Buck, Chris and Nathan were playing pool. Josiah was at the bar talking to Inez. Vin glanced around at all the people laughing and drinking, while he sat wishing Ezra was here and worrying that he did. Sure he noticed good-looking men before but hed never been interested. Was he interested in Ezra? Just thinking that made butterflies flutter in his stomach.
You okay Vin? Josiah pulled out a chair.
Can I help?
Vin looked at him and back at his beer. He liked Josiah. He was easy to talk to and never was one to judge a man.
Thinking about love.
Love. Josiah said in his deep rumbling voice and sighed wistfully.
Powerful thing. Wars have started over it, ships sunk, people died. When its right it is the most wonderful thing. Make you able to move mountains. He smiled widely at Vin.
And when it aint? Vin kept his eyes on his beer.
Josiah looked at Vin. He wasnt a profiler for nothing. He studied people. Hed noticed Vin seeking out Ezras company and hed seen the looks both gave each other when they thought no one else noticed. Hell he didnt think they noticed.
Love is a beautiful thing Vin. If its true and pure how can it be wrong? What is love Vin?
Vin glanced up at him.
Josiah continued, Love is caring for someone. Wanting the best for him. Thinking of them before yourself or anyone else.
Vin nodded. Josiah ..
Vin. Josiah! Come over here and watch this. JD ran up to the table.
Sure JD. Josiah smiled.
Josiah..Thanks. Vin said as he got up.
Anytime son. Anytime.
+ + + + + + +
Chris pulled into the garage and stopped. He looked at his watch. He looked at the clock in his truck. 7:00 AM. So what the hell was Ezra Standish going here?
Good morning Mr. Larabee. Ezra sat at his desk, a venti mocha in hand.
Something you wanna talk about?
Me? Why no. Just want to catch up on some work.
Chris eyed him suspiciously. He could see the dark smudges under those green eyes. Eyes that showed nothing as usual.
Doors always open.
Thank you Chris. He turned back to his computer.
Chris headed for the break room to make coffee. Something was up and he planned to get to the bottom of it.
The rest of the team wandered in as usual. Josiah glanced over at Ezra, hard at work at his desk. He stopped beside him.
We missed you last night Ezra.
Thank you for saying so Josiah.
Josiah patted him on the shoulder and headed for his own desk.
Hey Ez. Feeling better? Vin noticed the dark circles under Ezras eyes too.
Im fine Mr. Tanner. Thank you for asking.
Glad to hear it. He smiled and laid his hand on Ezras back.
+ + + + + + +
Later Ezra noticed Josiah head for the break room. He paused then followed.
Ezra. Join me in a cup of coffee?
That depends on who made it.
Josiah smiled. I did.
Then by all means. He smiled too and poured himself a cup.
Mr. Sanchez. Ezra stopped wondering exactly he wanted to ask. Do I look gay?
Yes Brother Ezra?
How. He stopped again. How do you know if you care for someone?
Josiah smiled slightly to himself. Finally he thought.
Well, you get a warm feeling when think about them. You want to be near them.
Ezra was silent, nodding slightly. And if they care for you?
Sometimes its a look. A smile. Of course they want to be near you too.
But how do you know? Ezra gave him a stricken look.
You have to have faith Ezra and take a chance.
Ezra smiled weakly. Thank you Josiah.
The rest of the day past uneventful. Ezra kept glancing at the clock then at him watch. Vin had spent most of the day in meetings with Chris over a new case that was developing. Finally at around 3:30 PM Vin was back at his desk.
Vin looked up from the file he was studying.
I, I was wondering if you would like to accompany me to that movie tonight? Shit, was he blushing? Please God NO.
Vin broke into a wide smile. Yeah.
Good. Ezra smiled. Perhaps dinner afterward?
Yeah. Geez couldnt he say anything but yeah? I mean Id like that a lot.
Fine. Ill check the times. Ezra smiled again and headed for the break room to find the newspaper.
A date, Vin thought, He was going on a date with Ezra.
A date, Ezra thought. He had asked Vin on a date.
Even if he doesnt know it, they both thought.
+ + + + + + +
It was a few minutes till 5.
The movie starts at 6 Mr. Tanner if that is acceptable.
Thats fine Ez. Im ready.
You fellas heading for the saloon? Buck had stuck his head around the corner.
Nah were going to a movie.
A movie? Buck sounded interested. Both men groaned silently to themselves.
Are you ready Buck? Josiah had appeared behind him. You owe me a game of pool.
Thats right! I beat your butt last night preacher man!
And I plan to do the same to you Brother Buck.
Ezra and Vin sent a grateful smile to Josiah.
+ + + + + + +
How about some refreshments Mr. Tanner? Ezra stood in front of the snack bar.
Vin. Ezra smiled. Vins stomach lurched. That dimpled smile directed at him and Ezra saying his name.
Vin was sprawled out in his seat, his knee touching Ezras. He swore he could feel the heat up his leg and to his groin. Should he move?
Ezra hadnt moved his leg. He guessed that was a good sign.
+ + + + + + +
That shoot out was bogus.
It was a movie Vin.
I know but two guys shooting it out with all those bad guys and not one scratch.
That one did get hit over the head.
Kinda reminded me of Buck and JD>
You mean all the bickering? Ezra laughed. Yes that did sound like our Mr. Wilmington.
Hey Ez, want to head over to the saloon? Grab a beer?
That sounds like a plan Mr., uh Vin.
Ezra smiled as they left the restaurant and headed toward his jag. This had been a delightful evening.
Vin grinned as he led the way to the car. This date was going great.
Hey! Buck yelled. Look who it is.
What movie did you see? JD waved to Inez to bring more beer.
Bad Boys II. Vin said grinning.
Bad boy, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Buck and JD sang.
I told you. Vin grinned looking over at Ezra.
Yes you were quite right Mr. Tanner.
What? JD and Buck said together and everyone laughed.
Mr. Tanner remarked how you and Mr. Wilmington could play the lead parts in that movie.
Yeah, Buck smiled. And Im Mike Lawry, the ladies man.
Nah, Im the young single guy. JD piped up. You are the old married guy!
+ + + + + + +
Hows that Ez?
I think you have it Vin. Bank it lightly off that side.
Vin grinned to himself. He liked it when Ezra called him Vin. Especially when they were alone. Made it more special.
Wait till I try that move on Josiah. He wont know what hit him.
Ezra smiled and clapped a hand on Vins back. I assure you the game will be yours.
He lightly rubbed his hand along the flannel of Vins shirt. Who would have thought that the feel of flannel would be so provocative. Shirt?
I almost forgot. Ezra exclaimed. I left the packages we got in the car. They had spent Saturday afternoon shopping.
Hurry back Ez Vin flashed him a brilliant smile.
Ezra blushed and gave his salute.
+ + + + + + +
Bubba and his cronies shared a look. Theyd seen these two in here last night. Sashaying around. Seen them flirting and blushing like schoolgirls. It just wont right. Bubba smiled and nodded and they headed outside.
Ezra leaned into the back seat. Where was that bag?
Hey fellas. Whadda we have here?
Ezra groaned. Just what he needed. Drunks.
May I help you gentleman?
Listen to that Bubba. Sounds like a fairy.
We dont like homos around here fairy boy.
The other snickered.
Ill be sure to pass that along if I see any. Ezra closed the door to the car and prepared himself.
They laughed. Well give you the message first.
Two of them grabbed Ezra by the arms. Bubba hit him in the stomach, knocking all the air out of him. Ezra managed to kick one of them before he was pinned against the car.
Lets take our party out back. With an uppercut to Ezras jaw the four men then drug him to the alley behind the bar.
Ezra knew the beating didnt take days but it sure as hell felt like it. Someone smashed a bottle upside his head. He uttered not a word during the deliberate pounding, only an occasional grunt. His attackers unfortunately were not silent. He wanted to tell them to shut up and get on with it but his split lip made talking difficult.
Your girlfriend wont think youre so purty now. They laughed. With that long hair he sure looks like a girl. And if you tell anyone who did this well do the same to him. Might even take him out and get to know him real good.
As Ezra felt himself blacking out his final thought was it was about damn time.
+ + + + + + +
Vin. JD hollered as the team all came in.
Vin turned around. He had been concentrating so hard on practicing his pool shots that he hadnt realized how much time had passed. He glanced at the clock over the bar. About 20 minutes had gone by since Ezra went outside.
Hey did you see Ezra outside?
The guys exchanged looks.
No. Buck said.
I saw his car, in his usual spot. Nathan smiled.
He went out about 20 minutes ago to get something. He didnt have a coat on.
Lets go. Chris led the way.
From a distance everything looked fine. Ezra liked to park on the far end of the lot. A utility pole sat to the left of the car. As they got closer they noticed the shattered windshield. The headlights had been knocked out. The drivers side door was dented, the paint scratched. Three tires had been slashed.
What the hell? JD sounded scared.
Wheres Ez? Vins voice was soft.
The men quickly looked around the outside of the car. The doors were locked.
I see blood. Nathan pointed near the drivers door.
Spread out. Chris barked.
Buck was heading towards the back for the bar when he heard a moan.
Over here! He yelled and moved towards the dumpsters. He saw feet sticking out from behind the dumpster.
Call an ambulance! Ez? He said softly. Its okay pard. Were here. He squeezed his long body behind the dumpster. He could see Ezra covered in blood and trash from the little light. He started tossing the trash aside as the others ran up.
Oh my god! JD froze.
Vin tried to reach Ezra but his body was wedged between the dumpster and the wall. Buck was straddling him.
Guys help me move this. Josiah grabbed one corner. Chris, JD and Vin moved to help. Nathan moved behind it with Buck.
Anybody got a light?
Got one in my car Nate. Josiah ran back to get it.
Ezra? Vin reached out a hand to touch Ezras face. He moaned and stirred.
Suddenly Ezra was illuminated and they all gasped. Ezras face and chest were covered with blood. One eye was swollen completely shut, the other half way. His lip was split. Numerous cuts and bruises covered his face, making him almost unrecognizable.
Oh Ez. Vins voice was just a whisper.
Hang in there son. Josiahs voice rumbled, fear and anger making it tight.
Soon the area was lit by red and blue lights. Vin rode in the ambulance with Ezra. Chris stayed to talk to the police. He sent Buck back to the bar to see if anyone had seen anything. The rest rode in Josiahs car to the hospital.
They found Vin in the waiting room. A familiar place for Team Seven.
Any word? Nathan led the others. Vin looked up, worry and fear etched on his face. He opened his mouth but then shook his head. He lowered his face back into his hands.
Josiah laid a hand on Vins shoulder. Hell be fine Vin.
A half-hour later found the waiting room crowded with six prowling men. They took turns pacing and sitting.
Nathan looked up as a doctor approached.
Dr. Mitchell was very familiar with the six men in front of him. He could tell in a glance they were all on edge and wanted the news short and sweet.
Hes going to be fine. He has a concussion. Several broke ribs. His jaw is fractured; weve wired it. Hes still unconscious.
How long? Nathan was the only one to speak so far. Being their medical expert, most from lots of experience on his teammates, they let him do the talking.
Can we see him? Chris had stepped forward.
Yes, they are moving him to room 320.
The familiar ritual began. Extra chairs were brought into the room. The men paced and places shifted. Each took a turn sitting by Ezra. Quiet voices whispered for Ezra to come back to them.
Vin was sitting by Ezra a few hours later when the first signs showed that their seventh was returning. Vin heard a soft moan.
Everyone gathered around the head of the bed.
Were all here son. Josiah reached out and placed a hand on Ezras leg.
Ezra could hear voices. He knew something was wrong. What was it? There was something he was supposed to remember. He felt a hand touch him. Pain. He remembered pain.
No. He murmured. Stop. He jerked his leg away.
Its okay Ez. Were here. Youre okay. Vin leaned closer.
Ezra knew that voice. But something nagged at him. Something wrong.
Rest Ezra. Chris moved closer to the bed. Weve got your back.
Mr. Larabee. Ezra knew that voice too and knew it was safe. He fell back into the black.
+ + + + + + +
Are you back with us Brother?
Ezras eyes fluttered. He could only open one eye. He tried to turn his head and grunted. Josiahs face came into view above him.
Let me tell the others you are back.
No. Ezra mumbled. Why couldnt he talk? His face hurt, his jaw was killing him.
Josiah leaned back over the bed. Your jaw is broken, its wired shut. You have a concussion, some broken ribs. He leaned closer. Lots of contusions. What happened son?
Josiah placed his hand on Ezras arm. He was surprised to see a tear run down his cheek. He rubbed his thumb lightly across Ezras face.
The door burst opened.
Hey Josiah. Is he awake yet? JD came in followed by Buck.
Josiah saw Ezras poker face slip back into place.
JD keep it down. Nathan came in behind him, followed by the rest. Josiah smiled down at Ezra and patted his arm again.
Ez youre awake. Vin smiled.
What happened Ezra? Chris moved closer to the bed.
Fight. Ezra mumbled. Josiah gave him a small drink of water.
Chris grinned slightly. We figured that one out Ez.
Car. Said I was in his spot.
Chris glanced at Josiah and then back to the others.
Someone beat you up because they said you parked in their spot? Chris spoke slowly.
Ezra nodded and then winced.
Need something for pain Ezra? Nathan had stepped closer to the bed.
Ezra said yes so softly that they had to read his lips.
Nathan nodded and stepped out into the hall.
Hey pard you just rest. Well stay with you. Buck moved over to pat his leg.
Ill stay. Yall can go on home. Vin moved to stand where Ezra could see him.
No! Ezra tried to sit up and groaned. The room started to spin.
Dont want you here. He tried to speak plainly, which was tough with his jaw shut.
No. Vin looked at Ezra then to Chris. No, I want to stay.
Ezra glared at him. Cant you do damn thing I ask? Ezra slurred.
The nurse came in at that point, needle in hand.
Mr. Standish needs his rest. She injected something into his IV.
Everyone out. Chris herded them all towards the door. You too Vin.
Josiah? Ezra called softly.
Chris looked back at Josiah and nodded as he closed the door.
Im right here son. He sat back down and pulled his chair close. He held Ezras hand in his.
Ezra sighed. Some damn good drugs. He felt light and tingly. He sighed again. If he could only feel this way forever.
Anything. Josiah said.
Consider it a confessional. Josiah smiled.
Ezra tried to smile past his swollen lips. Part of his brain told him to shut up, but the drug filled part wouldnt listen. And he told Josiah everything. He stopped frequently. Josiah giving him sips of water. Part was physical pain, part emotional and the drugs were taking his under. Josiah held his hand tightly.
Dont want Vin near me. Ezra finally said. His eye almost closed. Not hurt.
Vin can take care of himself and we can take care of both of you.
No. Ezra said. He was fading fast. Fool.
Rest now Ezra. Ill be here when you wake up.
And Ezra was gone.
+ + + + + + +
If there was one thing that Chris wasnt that was stupid. He knew that lame story Ezra came up with was a bold face lie. He figured Ezra would have done better if hed had a chance to think on it some but luckily they had been there when he woke up.
Nothing. Inez said she thought she saw some fellas leave after Ezra but she aint sure. No body there say anything.
Lets head back and double check. I want to know what the hell happened tonight.
The men divided between Josiahs car and Chris truck. Vin rode with Chris. More quiet than usual. Chris knew something more was going on but he didnt know what.
I dont know Chris. We got there around 4. Played some pool. Ezra was showing me some pool shots. Then he remembered hed left a bag in his car. Wed been out shopping. He went to get it. He stopped.
Its all my fault! I should have gone out with him. I should have checked on him sooner.
Its not your fault. Ezras a big boy. Not that he cant find trouble blind folded.
Its not his fault! Chris was surprised by the anger in Vins voice.
Take it easy Vin. I was just kidding. You know how Ezra is.
Vin fumed. I aint takin it easy. Youre always blamin him for shit that aint his fault.
Vin stared out the passenger window. Chris glanced at him and shook his head. This night just got better and better.
+ + + + + + +
Chris sent everyone else home and headed back inside the bar. It was almost closing time anyway. Then it hit him. Why hadnt he thought of it before? Only a few months ago Ezra had talked Inez into getting a video security system. But the cameras werent noticeable and he had forgotten all about it.
Senor Chris? How is Ezra?
Hes going to be fine Inez. Busted up some. Hey did you have the security system going tonight?
Her eyes widened and she brought her hand to her mouth. I forgot. Yes, I changed the tape every shift as Ezra suggested. I did not think of it when Senor Buck came in.
Senor Chris. Senor Buck. Chris thought. She sounds just like Ezra. Like adding Mister kept a man at a distance. He blinked. Was that it? He had just figured part of Ezra calling them Mister was his fancy ways and part to annoy them. But was he really just keeping them at arms length? He knew it was hard to get close to Ezra but he hadnt thought of this aspect.
What? Chris came back from his thoughts.
I said I will get you the tape for tonight. And she disappeared back into the office.
Chris was left with his pondering. If this was due to someone who knew Ezra then they probably either knew or had seen the rest of the team. And if it was someone who just saw Ezra that night, as unlikely as that was, it still might be smarter to get someone else to help out.
Here you are Senor Chris. Inez handed a videocassette across the bar. I hope this helps. Tell Ezra I hope he feels better soon.
I will. He held up the tape. And thanks.
Chris headed back out to his truck and pulled out his cell phone. He knew it was late but he knew his friend from Team 5 would still be awake. He had just sat in the drivers seat when the phone was answered.
Whats up Chris?
Chris hesitated and then grinned. Damn caller ID. Was he the only one who didnt look at it?
Tony, hows it going?
Got a little undercover work I need help with.
Go on. Tony leaned back in his recliner, clicking the television to mute.
Chris quickly explained the evening and his suspicions on his men being made.
Want me to kick some ass?
Not yet, Chris said laughing. Im gonna have some possible photos. I was hoping you could stop by Inezs tomorrow, sniff around some.
No problem Chris. You know I like that southern S.O.B.
He has that effect on people. Chris laughed again. Ill call you tomorrow and let you know about those pictures.
+ + + + + + +
Vin walked over to the tow truck that was hooking up Ezras car.
Hey. He nodded to the driver. I need to get the personal effects out before you take off.
The driver looked like he was going to refuse and Vin dug out his wallet and flashed his ATF ID.
Go ahead. The man handed him the keys.
Vin opened the drivers door. Ezra didnt keep much in his car but Vin wanted to get the shopping bag of things they had gotten that afternoon. He found it under the passenger seat where he had put it. He checked inside and saw everything was there. Then he grabbed Ezras Starbuck thermal mug and his extra pair of sunglasses. He looked in the glove compartment but there was nothing inside but manuals and maps. He glanced in the back. Nothing.
He popped the trunk. He grabbed the bag and closed the drivers door as he got out. He opened the trunk but again saw nothing he needed to take. He pulled Ezras spare keys off the ring and handed the car key back to the tow truck driver.
You ready Vin? Nathan came up to the car.
Yeah I got everything. Thanks for the ride home Nate.
They headed back to Nathans car. Vin was lost in his own guilt as the drove to Purgatory. Nathan pulled up in front of Vins building.
Its a good thing you werent there Vin.
Vins head snapped up. What?
Good thing you werent involved in whatever trouble Ezra was in.
You think this was Ezras fault? Vins voice when angry got quieter and his voice now was almost a whisper.
Well you know how he is. Nathan looked surprised. He didnt understand the animosity he felt coming from Vin.
Yeah I know how he is. Vin opened the door. He leaned back in as he stood by the curb. Obviously you dont. He slammed the door and stalked to his apartment.
Nathan shook his head and drove off.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra woke with a start. He glanced around and at first didnt know where he was, and then he could see he was in a hospital room. Hed been having a nightmare of the beating but in the dream the men had Vin too and Vin had pleaded with him to help. He had jerked awake as they drug Vin off.
Ezra glanced to his left and instantly regretted it. His neck muscles felt as tight as piano wire. Thank God that eye was the one not swollen shut. But he didnt really have to look. He recognized the snores echoing through the room as belonging to Josiah Sanchez. He tried to grin but it hurt too much. His head pounded someone was trying to bash his brains out with a sledgehammer. But that pain was vying for first place with his jaw. The rest of his body shouted out their views on pain too.
He felt around with his hands and found the call button with his right one. Sure he thought. Put it on the side I cant see out of. He pressed the button and waited.
A strip of light appeared as the door opened. The nurse quietly came to the side of the bed. Josiah was stretched out in 2 chairs near the foot.
Are you okay Mr. Standish?
Pain. Ezra mumbled.
Ill be right back. She turned to leave but Ezra put out a hand.
She smiled and poured some water in a cup from the bedside pitcher. She tilted the plastic straw and held it to Ezras mouth. He took a few deep drinks.
Let me move this tray up for you. She added more water to the cup and placed it on the tray. She moved it to the left side of the bed and raised it so he could easily reach it.
Ill go get that pain medicine for you. She hurried out.
Ezra raised the head of his bed a little more and reached for the water. His hand shook but he was able to get a drink without spilling it. He placed it back on the tray and moved it a little further down.
He couldnt believe the way this night had transpired. 24 hours ago he had been having a wonderful evening with Vin. Vin. He sighed. He should have known everything he touched turned to shit. Hadnt Maude told him that often enough? If anything happened to Vin he would never forgive himself. He doubted anything would have become of this what? Hope? Dream? If by some slim chance would ever be attracted to men, he doubted it would be him, Ezra Standish. Vin had a closer relationship with Chris. He would just have to stay away from Vin. Who knew what those lunatics would do? He would find those men himself.
The nurse came back in. Josiah still snored from his chair. She looked over at him as she injected the medicine into the IV bag.
How can you sleep through that?
She smiled and patted his arm. Pleasant dreams.
Ezra closed his eyes. He was hoping he wouldnt dream.
+ + + + + + +
Vin hadnt slept at all. He headed into the hospital at 7 AM. He headed first to the coffee shop on the first floor and then up to Ezras room. He heard Josiahs snores before he got to the door and softly pushed it open. He grinned. He hoped Ezra had managed to get some sleep.
He placed the coffee carrier with two paper cups and Ezras mug on the tray. He nudged Josiahs leg.
Josiah gave a grunt and opened his eyes.
Morning Josiah. Vin said quietly. Brought you some coffee.
Josiah smiled and stood up. He stretched his long body and could feel the bones pop back into place.
You are a good man Vin. He took the coffee Vin handed him.
Ill stay with Ez if you wanna get somethin to eat.
Josiah glanced at Ezra. He was still sleeping peacefully.
Vin, Ezras been through a lot. Be patient with him.
Vin smiled shyly. Plan to.
Josiah raised his cup. Think Ill go find some breakfast to go with this.
Vin pulled a chair up by the head of Ezras bed. He frowned looking down at him. Ezras face was more discolored and swollen. One eye completely closed and the other also puffy. His lip was swollen and split. He reached out and took Ezras hand in his. He rubbed his thumb along Ezras knuckles. Very little bruising. So Ezra hadnt been able to fight back much.
Vin blinked back tears. If only he had gone with him or went to check on him. Damn it they had been having such a great time. He looked up at Ezra as he heard a soft moan.
Ez? You awake?
Ezra blinked his eye several times trying to focus.
Vin squeezed his hand. Yeah its me.
Ezra tried to sit up but groaned.
Wait. Let me raise the bed some. Vin reached over and pushed the bed control, raising the head of the bed.
Ez. Ezra. Im sorry. I should have gone out with you. He took hold of Ezras hand again. Im sorry.
Ezra waved his other hand. Not fault. Jesus this drove him crazy. How can a man whose life is about words now be reduced to syllables? And how was he to think when Vin was holding his hand?
Well we can talk about that later. I got your stuff out of the car. Its at my place. I brought you cup, stopped and got you coffee. He reached over and pointed to the cups on the tray.
Ezra was confused. Why had Vin removed his stuff from his car?
The wrecker had to take your car. Didnt you know?
Ezra closed his eye. Shit not his car. He loved that car!
Im sorry, I thought you knew.
Ezra waved his hand again. Dont tell.
How about some coffee?
Ezra smiled and Vin grabbed the thermal cup. He moved it towards Ezras mouth and Ezra reached his right hand up to steady it. His left still firmly held in Vins left hand. Their hands touched as Ezra took a drink. He looked up into Vins smiling face and bright blue eyes.
And the door opened as Josiahs voice drifted in.
Shit. Vin muttered as he let go of Ezras hand. Ezra squeezed the hand the still held on to the cup.
Brother Ezra. I hope youre awake as a mob is following me.
Hey pard! Bucks voice boomed across the room. God, you look like shit! Least your car made it out better than you.
Chris and Vin shot a warning look at Buck who frowned.
Yeah good thing Vin wont with you with the trouble you get yourself in.
Ezra dropped his hand from the coffee cup. Yes. Good.
I told you, you aint got on cause to be blaming Ezra for what happened. Vin stood up and glared at Nathan, slamming the cup on the table.
Ezra put out his hand and lightly touched Vins. Vin turned toward him and paused looking at him.
No, I aint shuttin up. Im tired of folks piling shit on you.
Enough. Chris calm voice cut through the tension.
Ezra reached out for the coffee and Vin turned back towards him.
Here, let me get that. He raised the bed a fraction more and handed the cup to Ezra.
Ezra mouthed thanks to him as he took it. Vin could see the pain on Ezras face and he knew it wasnt just physical.
Ill go get the nurse to bring you something. He headed towards the door not looking at the others.
See if you can find JD. Buck said exasperated. He was right behind me. He smiled. Hes got something for ya Ezra.
Vin stormed down the hall and saw JD getting off the elevator.
Vin. Ezra awake? Vin nodded. Good, I stopped and got him a card in the gift shop. You coming back?
Yeah JD, gonna find the nurse. He continued down the hall.
JD frowned wondering what Vin was mad about and then headed the opposite way down the hall to Ezras room.
Vin found the nurse and told her Ezra need some pain medicine. She smiled and nodded. Vin walked further down the hall towards the window. God he was pissed. He ran his hands through his hair trying to calm down. He had never really noticed before how often Ezra was blamed. Anyone else in Ezras shoes and the guys would be all supportive and sympathetic. But one mention of Ezras name and it was oh well he brings it on himself. He clenched his fists. And Ezra telling him to calm down. Like it was okay for Nathan to say that crap about Ezra getting him in trouble.
He paused. But Ezra hadnt said anything. Funny but I knew exactly what he meant. All he did was touch me and that look on his face and in that puffy slit of an eye. He smiled. Yeah he had flashes of understanding with Chris; people were always ragging them about it, but not with Ezra. Ezra kept that poker face on and walled up. Well, well. Mr. Standish had a crack in that wall. And feeling better he headed back to the room.
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