Main Characters: Chris, Vin/Ezra
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, the Magnificent Seven do not belong to me. Not making any money from this either. But, for the love of the boys, I persevere. . .. And I also bow down to the creator of the ATF AU. Thank you.
A li'l' note from the author: My first slash fic! Okay, this isn't exactly a slash fic, but my first story with a slash pairing nonetheless. This story came about when I read somewhere that Chris had been more distraught by the fact Vin was about to run away with Charlotte than Mary getting some serious attention from whatever the dude's name is. I'm more of an Vin/ Ezra kind of person, so this is my take on Chris's reaction on regarding Vin/ Ezra relationship. I always appreciate feedback, it makes my day. And I would appreciate it more for this story. It's my first sort-of-slash-fic, so, pray, be gentle.
Webmaster Note: This story is slash. It contains references to same-sex partnerships. There is no explicit sex depicted.
Oh dear God, it was so easy.
All he had to do was to swing the two-by-four in his hand and the man in front of him collapsed, unconscious. Years spent as a Navy SEAL and law enforcement officer had enabled him to handle all sorts of objects as potential weapons. The piece of wood in his hand was designated to inflict as much hurt as possible when he picked it up.
And Ezra Standish never saw it coming.
The sickening crack Chris heard when the wood connected with Ezra skin and bones gave more satisfaction to Chris than he ever imagined possible.
How dare he?
How dare Ezra do this to me when I had put everything in line to save his ass from the vultures in Atlanta?
I should have just left him to mercy of the Fibbies in Atlanta.
Would have saved me a hell of a mess now.
Chris dropped the two-by-four by his side and stepped over the prone figure of Ezra. He turned him over using his feet, using the toe of his boots to tap the side of Ezra's face. Ezra did not respond.
Wonder if the son of a bitch is dead?
Even if he was, Chris was not done with the Southerner. Not by a long a shot. For all the misery Ezra had put Chris through, the 'illustrious team leader', as Ezra always addressed him, had a few more things planned for him.
Chris had a good thing going on in his life. Maybe not as good as when Sarah and Adam had been alive, but, close enough. For the first time, he had a family that truly would have gone through Hell and back with him and for him. He actually relished waking up in the morning and heading out for work. His best friend was a member in his team and, through this team; he had found a friend who is more of a soul mate than a friend. He found Vin Tanner.
Others had found it slightly unnerving that he and the Texan could communicate without speaking. A nod or just a look would speak volumes between the two men. If Buck had been his anchor, then Vin Tanner was undoubtedly Chris's right - hand man; the man who had understood Chris even without Chris speaking his mind to him.
And then, because everyone in the team, including Chris himself, thought they were not complete yet; Chris brought in Ezra Standish from the FBI offices in Atlanta. Standish had been hung out to dry, knowingly awaiting his execution that had been issued from those higher up who wanted to cover their own dirty tracks.
He would have died, if it was not for me.
Ungrateful son of a bitch.
Chris bent down and picked Ezra up. A small pool of blood had congealed where Ezra's head had been. Chris did not even give it another look as he heaved the smaller man into a fireman's carry. Bits of straw and dirt clung on Ezra's expensive designer jacket. Chris just shook his head, wondering what kind of a man would wear an Armani into the stables.
Of course, he hadn't been expecting to being hit from the back by me. . .
Just as Chris had never expected Standish to come to Denver and quickly claim the Texan for his own.
Chris had known from the three months Vin had been on the team that the Texan was gay. Not that Vin had hit on him or anything, but Chris just knew Vin swung the other way. The clues, of course, had been as obvious as Vin refusing all women who threw themselves at him, only to be rejected with a small smile and a shy blush. The less obvious ones had been the appreciative glances Chris had seen the Texan so casually bestow on some of the men they had seen. Of course, Vin downright admitting his sexuality had been a big help. Chris had been surprised then, but it had never changed the dynamics of their friendship. His best friend was, after all, Buck Wilmington, so nothing really surprised him anymore.
But he was surprised when he found out the new undercover agent was a bisexual.
Downright greedy, that's what they had called Ezra in Atlanta. Always needs to play on both sides.
Chris did not mind all that. What a man behind closed doors was his business. What he minded though, was how the Southerner had taken his best friend away from him.
Vin had been attracted to Ezra the moment he saw the Southerner walk into their office. The attraction had been mutual; Ezra hardly took his eyes off the Texan when they had been introduced. Chris had wondered then if it had been a mistake, but at that time, he was not worried at all. The team gelled together instantly in within six months, had become the top team on both sides of the Mississippi.
Chris Larabee sure knew how to pick 'em.
Look what's happened now.
Look what I have to do. Just to have a semblance of my life back again.
Chris had really liked the guy. He would not trust Standish with his money, but when his life was concerned, Chris had been glad numerous times that he had Ezra on his side. The Southerner's loyalty, as was with the rest of Team 7, could never be questioned. They were loyal to each other and to Chris. Ezra had known of the hell that he would have had to endure should he stayed on in Atlanta and made sure his actions, if not his words, spoke volumes of where his loyalties lay. He may do things a little differently, but it was exactly for Ezra's ability to think outside the box that prompted Chris to threaten, cajole and downright force Travis to bring Ezra Standish to Denver ATF.
Chris had never found a reason to regret his actions. . . until he found out about Vin and Ezra.
And I was not even the first to know.
To show his annoyance at this, he dumped Ezra's body rather carelessly on the work table he had prepped up just for today.
Ezra had gotten shot during one of their raids when one of the arms dealer got pissed off upon finding out the real identity of Ezra Stanton, southern gentlemen and part-time gun dealer. Ezra was shot twice, one bullet to his knees and another one just inches from his heart. Vin went ballistic went he saw Ezra collapsing to the ground and from his vantage point on top of a water tower took down the man who shot Ezra with a shot so precise that the coroners declared the entry hole perfectly between his eyes. Then, he had jumped sixteen feet to the ground, spraining his ankle in the process, as he ran towards Ezra. Vin would have done the same for any one of his team members, but to snarl at his team mates as they restrained him from rushing to Ezra, who was being administered first aid by the paramedics, had come as a surprise for all of them. He would have run behind the ambulance all the way to the hospital if Josiah had not hauled him into their van. Still, he had put up a struggle until Buck had grabbed him by the shoulder and told Vin they were ALL going to the hospital.
At first, Chris thought it was just Vin being concerned for a fellow member of the team. It was the first time any of them could seriously injured during the job, so all of them were pretty highly-strung, as well. Then, one by one they realized that Vin's concern for Ezra ran deeper than that. He had kept vigil in the ward and it was noticeable for everyone that he only fully relaxed when the doctor declared Ezra to be all right and was fighting the nurses who were trying to sedate him. That had brought a smile to Vin's face. He had stayed on at the hospital after the rest of them had left (only after each of them made sure the Southerner was okay). When Buck came back into Ezra's ward to look for his cell phone, he saw the Texan hugging Ezra tenderly and then kissing him. Buck was never one to go prying where it does not concern him. He just smiled and waved at them, deciding to get his cell phone later. Vin and Ezra called him into the ward and told Buck of their relationship, which had been in its second week that day. . .
When the others eventually found out about Vin and Ezra together, the team rallied together tighter than before. Vin and Ezra's relationship was never talked about in the office, not that the two of them gave any reasons for their lives to be discussed openly. It was a fiercely guarded secret that every one of them, Chris included, would have rather died than tell out. In a way, it made them closer than before. Vin and Ezra's relationship was just thought to be a natural progression of things among them.
But I never expected Standish to go hijacking my own best friend.
All those stuff me and Vin used to do. . .
Chris looked down at Ezra's body, disliking the man more and more. Soon, he will put an end to it.
And I will have my best friend back again.
Chris moved away from the worktable and towards the section of the stable wall where he has hung his heavy tools for mechanical work and carpentry. His eyes took in the shelving unit he and Vin built together. . .
Before Standish walked into the picture.
And now, Ezra keeps Vin busy most of the time.
Vin has no time for his best friend, the voice in Chris's head sounded shrill.
No, Chris was not jealous of Vin and Ezra. He loved them both, as brothers, but when it came to Vin; Chris laid his stake on him first. Vin was Chris's best friend before he became Ezra's boyfriend.
With that thought running over and over in his head, Chris reached out for the handsaw. Brand new and glistening.
Then, he picked up an axe lying on the floor near the shelving unit. It had not been used since winter (Vin had been the one who insisted on chopping the wood for Chris's fireplace) but its blade was still sharp. Satisfied with the tools he has chosen, Chris set to work, intending to finish up before Vin came back from riding with JD and Buck. Chris was supposed to go to, they had planned on riding out to the mountains beyond the ranch, but he had declined. He had told them he had paperwork to catch up on.
When the rest of them had left the ranch, Chris called Ezra. He told the southerner he needed some help with the computer in his home office. Ezra jumped into the Jag at once. He had been unpacking boxes in the new house he and Vin bought not two miles from Chris's ranch.
Practically neighbors now, but Vin rarely comes over to the ranch.
So what if they moved in just a week ago?
Standish was probably delaying the whole unpacking thing so that Vin would have. . .
He would not do that.
Great, another voice in my head. I don't need this now.
Of course not. You're going crazy very well on your own.
Standish deserves this.
What about Vin? He was the one who made the move on Ezra first.
Could not have made-the-move-on-Ezra if Ezra was not there.
Stop this. These men. . .Ezra is like a brother to you.
A brother would not take away his brother's happiness.
Tell that to yourself when you look at Vin.
The voices in his head kept arguing, but Chris found himself detached from it. . . from everything when he felt something warm against his hands. He looked down and saw red. Ezra began moaning. But Chris took care of that. He needed to work in silence. The voices in his head were gone now.
By the time he was finished, there was blood every where. Chris's clothes were soaked and sticking to his body. What was once Ezra Standish now lay in seventeen pieces scattered around the worktable. Chris leant against a post near the horses' stalls and looked at his afternoon's work. The axe was still in his hand. He was breathing heavily, but anyone looking at him from the back would only see a relaxed man leaning casually against a post.
Chris felt light-headed. It was over. The problem plaguing his life was over. Everything will all right again. he thought of asking Vin to go fishing with him tomorrow. It had been a stressful week.
Wait a minute, what about the mess?
Chris could not help hating Standish even more. The mess was there because of him. No Standish, no mess. Now, Chris would have to postpone the trip. Because cleaning up this mess was going to take a long time.
Chris tried not to sulk as he got to cleaning the mess. After all, his problems were over. There would be other weekends and other fishing trips. The thought made him want to hum, but Chris let the silence prevail. The gift for his euphoria for the calm silence.
As he worked, Chris's mind inevitably drifted back to Vin. He knew how much Ezra meant to Vin. Both were loners, not by choice, but by the life they had been force to lead. Both had deep rooted fear of abandonment; Vin was afraid of the people he loved dying, Ezra afraid being left behind. Both had burdens they carried as part of themselves and both never had the need for another in their lives. . .until they met each other. Vin helped Ezra overcome his fear of people walking out on him by sticking close to him, no matter what the situation was. Ezra helped Vin by keeping everyone safe, watching their backs when they were least expecting. There were deeper emotions involved, but the rest of the Seven, just knew Ezra and Vin were just meant to be. Chris, of course, had to know what it was.
God damn it, I don't love Vin like that. Just wanted to know what made Standish so interesting that Vin had forgotten, or was in the verge of forgetting his best friend.
So, Chris, quite forgetting that some men, himself included, never enjoyed discussing about their private lives, asked Vin casually about it one day.
They were in a stakeout in front of a house suspected to be the distributing center for bootleg liquor. They had been sitting in the car for three hours and saw no signs of life from the house. Chris sipped the last of his coffee and turned to Vin.
"Are you happy with him?" he asked. Not quite what he wanted to know, but it was a good start, or so Chris thought.
Vin arched an eyebrow, wondering if Chris was mad. Or an impostor. Chris Larabee was not the kind of man to ask these kind of questions. But then again, best friends do look out for each other, don't they?
Vin, never one to talk openly of his feelings, tried a different approach.
"Can I lie to you?" he asked, getting into the game he was setting up.
Chris laughed. "By all means," he allowed, not knowing where Vin was going with this.
Vin smiled and turned his gaze back to the house they were supposed to be keeping an eye on. He took a moment to collect his thoughts before he began.
"I absolutely hate bein' with Ezra. The sight of him makes me miserable. I hate the way his green eyes would light up, especially when he is thinkin' of mischief. I hate the way he makes me feel when he is in the same room as I am. I hate waking up with next to him. There are so many things I hate about him. And all these things make me miserable. I have never been more miserable in my life ever. . ."
"You make me miserable too, Vin," a familiar Southern voice came through softly from the earphones they were both wearing. Chris could have kicked himself for forgetting that he and Vin were both wired. But it had been a long day and both men, and the rest of the Seven, who had been listening in, did mind in the least bit. It was the only time Vin, and Ezra, had publicly talked about their relationship.
"And we are all miserable for the both of ya," Buck's voice cut through the momentary tension. The rest of them had laughed. . .
Except Chris. Whose misery was real and hurting. It was after the stakeout when Vin had left the office with Ezra that Chris realized what he must do. He decided to eliminate his misery. And everything will be all right again.
The blood on the floor had dried by the time Chris started cleaning it. Chris was on his knees scrubbing when a drop of water fell on the floor. That was when he realized what he had done.
"Oh God, Ezra!" his voice was choked. Hi vision blurred and Chris began crying, holding the blood-soaked rag to his face.
"What have I done?" he screamed, falling to his knees. "Oh God, what have I done?"
"He's your best friend. I don't think anyone else comes close understanding Vin the way you do."
They had been driving to the courthouse one morning when Ezra said this to Chris. Chris had looked at Ezra, wondering if waking up so early in the morning; it was barely nine, had wreaked havoc in Ezra's systems. But Ezra seemed sane enough. And earnest. He had probably been waiting for an opportunity to speak privately with Chris since he and Vin got together not a month ago.
"You share a connection with him that no one else comes close to sharing. You restored his faith in others again. You made him open up and accept the rest of us."
Chris smiled at Ezra's statement. It was ironic, actually, that the man who had wanted nothing more than the company of himself, would be the one to forge a family bond between seven men, each not dissimilar from the rest. Whether he liked it or not, Chris was the unifying factor. He formed the team. He created the family.
"You saved my life. You gave me a purpose and a new life here in Denver. And now, I have Vin."
Yes. Good for you, Standish.
"But that would not have been possible if it was not for you. . ."
"What are you really trying to say, Ezra?" Chris had asked.
Ezra thought for a moment, then he looked at Chris. "I'm trying to get you to pay for coffee." The smile on his face showed he was only joking. "Is it working?"
"Hardly," Chris's smile was genuine now. He understands the difficulty of opening up to someone. Ezra, the most intensely private person after Vin, must have had a hell of a time trying to say what he had said. "You did such a bad job at it, you're gonna buy coffee for the both of us!"
Chris could hear the sound of Ezra's laughter. And within himself, felt his own soul shattering.
There was just so much blood. Chris, wiping away his tears, tried cleaning up, but he only managed to move the blood around. And the blood kept pooling on the floor. The rag could not soak it up.
"I could never take Vin away from his best friend," Ezra said, the day he and Vin moved into their new house. "You are a good thing in his life. . ."
Chris was the one who was supposed to say these things to Ezra, not the other way around. And Chris should have supported their relationship, be more accepting of Ezra, as he had of Vin. He should have never. . .never. . .
"I'm so sorry, Ezra," Chris whispered, both hands palms down on the floor, Ezra's blood congealing around it. His tears fell on the blood, washing the red stains of his hands. He wished it was that easy to wash away all his guilt.
What am I gonna tell Vin?
What will Vin do?
He'll kill me.
Not because I killed his lover, but. . .because Ezra is one of us.
Hell, the rest of 'em will kill him too.
Or they'll just walk away from him. Which would be even worse.
"Chris?!" Vin's voice was at a distance. Chris could not see him, but his voice sounded far away. He was probably outside the stables.
"No, Vin! Don't come in here!"
"Cowboy?" the voice was getting nearer now.
Chris felt something touch his hand. When he looked, he saw it was Ezra's dismembered hand touching his forearm.
That was when he started screaming.
"Chris!" This time he heard both Vin and Ezra's voice. The grip of his forearm grew stronger.
"Chris, it's me Vin!"
Chris Larabee opened his eyes and found himself looking at a pair of blue concerned blue eyes. His breath halted. Vin was already in the stable. What was he. . .
Then, Ezra moved into his view.
"Nightmares, Chris?" Ezra asked, a small smile on his lips. His hand was on Chris's forearm.
Chris straightened himself up on the couch, where he must have dozed off. A quick glance to his watch showed him that it was late afternoon.
Just a dream.
Chris shook his head, trying to dislodge the image of blood from his head. A headache was forming, spreading from his neck to his skull.
Just a dream.
"You all right?' Vin asked this time.
"Bad dream, that's all," Chris said, getting up from his couch. Vin and Ezra watched their team leader as he walked towards the kitchen. "Probably caused by that chili you gave me. What the hell did you put in it, anyway?"
Vin grinned. "Ezra made it," he said, following Chris into the kitchen. Ezra was right behind him.
"Josiah gave me the recipe," Ezra defended himself.
"Wrote it out for you?" Chris enquired. He knew how possessive Josiah can be of his recipes.
"Gave me the website address," Ezra replied. "Looked authentic enough."
The silence that followed Ezra's admission lasted all of two seconds. Chris and Vin burst out laughing.
Just three men hangin' out.
The headache was almost gone now. But it returned full force when he saw Vin drop his hand over Ezra's.
"Josiah never shares his recipe with anyone, Ez," Vin told Ezra.
Chris never shares his best friend with anyone.
"I paid that man twenty dollars for it!" Vin laughed again when he saw the look on Ezra's face. Chris managed a smile.
You'll pay with your life, Standish.
The thought froze Chris. He looked at the two men in front of him. They would die for him and he knew he would do the same for them. Perhaps what they have was not conventional, but then again, nothing about Team 7 is conventional. Vin loved Ezra and Ezra loved Vin. That was all there was to it. Chris hardly figured in the equation. He brought them together and now they shared something else he could not be a part of.
Besides, he was not the kind of man to go hit someone on the back.
No. If Chris Larabee wanted someone dead, he would shoot him right between the eyes. Chris Larabee would not go skulking around in the stable, waiting for a chance. He would just draw his gun, aim and. . .
"Vin, the next time Ezra wants to cook, just shoot him, will ya?"
Vin laughed when heard Chris saying that. Ezra shook his head, deciding to concentrate on his beer.
"Can't do that," Vin said. "He's the one who knows how to use a computer. And he makes a mean lasagna."
"Well, that settles it," Chris replied. "I guess I'd have to shoot him!"
And with that, Chris Larabee took out his gun and shot Ezra right between the eyes. The bottle in his hands fell and Vin started screaming. . .
Chris woke up from his sleep with a start. He was breathing hard, despite the cool breeze from the window. He threw his covers back and got out of bed. The floorboards were chilly against his bare feet. He walked towards the window and looked out into the night. From a distance, he saw the lights that were Vin and Ezra's house.
The voices in his nightmares stayed silent. He knew it would. Everything was just a dream. Chris would never hurt the men he loved as his brothers. Chris would never hurt love.
Everything was just a dream. A nightmare within a nightmare.
He went back to bed, his mind clear. No guilt or burdens bearing him down. He had his team, his team had each other and Vin and Ezra had each other. It's a good thing to have someone to love. Chris smiled at that thought as he got into bed again.
A hand reached out and pulled Chris deep beneath the covers.
"Somethin' wrong?" the sleepy voice asked, as Chris snuggled closer towards the warmth of the other person in his bed.
"Everything's fine," Chris replied, entwining his hand with the other.
"Good," Buck replied and Chris's last thought before he drifted to sleep was how lucky he was. How lucky they all were.