Late Night Decisions

by Sihn, Jr.

Ezra inwardly groaned when he heard Buck say, "JD and I are going to Inez's tonight. You guys wanna meet us there?"

Once again he saw everyone else agree to going, once again felt everyone's eyes land on him expectantly, and once again he came up with an excuse to politely put them down. Shaking his head he began his lie, "Alas, I am unable to attend tonight's festivities. I have quite the to-do list at home. Now that our current case has been concluded I believe it would be wise to catch up on my housework."

Ezra felt a slight twinge of regret that he wasn't going when he noticed the looks of disappointment cross the others' faces. The six men all answered with their usual 'that's too bad', 'maybe next time', and 'are you sure?'s. Ezra smiled while answering with his normal nod of his head as he walked out of the door.

As he was walking away he heard Nathan's last comment, "I don't know how much longer I can take him blowing us off like that. He wants to come with us I can tell. Anytime we get close he runs away and hides behind that damned mask of his."

Ezra felt himself cringe. They had him pinned. He ran away from people who got too close to him. He had hoped no one else had noticed, but apparently he couldn't hide that major part of his personality.

Ezra looked at his surroundings. He had come into the shabbiest, loneliest bar he could find, knowing that no one would be able to find him. The bar had that soon to be condemned look. He smiled as he realized he would probably have to bathe in Germ-X just to get rid of the many germs that probably were now roaming freely on his clothes. Shaking his head he thought bitterly, 'Ah, the places we end up in when in need of comfort.'

He drank the shot of tequila in front of him, enjoying the intense bite it had. He sighed and thought about all the things he wanted to do right now rather than be in this situation. Run. Escape. Leave the team. Leave Denver. Go assist Mother in whatever con she was soon to be starting. Drink himself into a stupor. Lose himself in the bottle.

Why did he did he run like this? What was he afraid of? Rejection? He had been rejected many times throughout his life and had learned to take it in stride. People thought he never allowed anyone close to him. They were wrong. He let people into his heart all the time; he just fought it with all he had. He failed every time though and paid for that mistake. People seemed to always be able to worm their way through his defenses and hurt him.

He waved at the bartender and nodded to his empty shot glass. The bartender smiled and poured him another shot. The bartender looked like she wanted to try and start a conversation with him but stopped after he smiled and politely shook his head 'no'.

He sipped at his drink. Look what happened last year while he was with the FBI. They hadn't all liked him and only a select few had trusted him, but he had never thought that anyone would turn on him like they did. Even the ones who had said they were friends had turned on him and believed the rumors told about him. Even then he had gone to a shabby little bar.

Now these six men had gotten through his walls and again he was in a bar trying to get rid of the nervous feeling he had. What should he do? Give them a chance and allow the probability of his getting hurt again? They told him over and over they wouldn't. All they asked for was a chance. Still, even after all the assurances he was afraid they would end up turning on him. He shouldn't be allowing them to do this. Become close to him.

They would see the real him and leave him. Leave him alone and broken. He had allowed few to see the real person. He would always hold himself apart from the others. He would be there, contributing to the teasing and joking, but never putting to much of his heart into it. He hid his true feelings from them. Not allowing them to see his loneliness and pain. When he felt as though the others were pushing on him to be part of their little group he would use anger and his words to get them to give him space. When he felt him get closer to the other six men he would hear a little voice in his head. 'They will do just like the FBI did. They will leave you out to dry. If you allow them in they will not like what they see.'

He knew the voice was right. Allowing them in would just cause more pain and unwanted emotions; but the other men made him feel like he was worth it. Maybe he should give it a try. Why should he? So he could have his heart torn to shreds when they realized he wasn't worth the effort? He signaled the bartender once again. "Darlin', would it be possible for me to borrow the phone? I would be much obliged and may I have a beer also?"

"Certainly, Hon, I'll go and get you the phone," she said as she passed him his beer before walking to the other end of the bar to help another customer.

He had gone home directly after work and left the Jag at his apartment. He knew he was going to be drinking and didn't want to worry about driving home. So he had called a cab and asked him to take him to his favorite bar. He had been driving around one night, going nowhere in particular. It wasn't close to where he lived and clear on the other side of town from The Saloon. He wasn't sure why he liked it. It definitely wasn't the selection of alcohol but he had enjoyed the first time he had been there. There weren't many people so he could drink in peace.

He was looking at his beer when the bartender came back with the phone. "Here ya go, sweetheart."

Ezra nodded his thanks and called the cab company. After hanging up he set the phone down and finished off his beer before waving once more for the bartender.

Putting on the same accent and smiled at her, "I know I must be awfully annoying. This will be the last time I'll be bothering' you tonight."

"No, you're no bother. Don't worry 'bout it," she said smiling back.

"If you would be so kind as to give me my tab and I will pay and be out of your hair," Ezra said as he watched the woman before him smile and go to the register.

"It'll be fifteen dollars, please."

Ezra smiled; reaching into his pocket he pulled out his billfold and pulled out a twenty. "Keep the change, darlin'."

Ezra stepped outside as he walked to the curb he looked at the stars. He had no clue what he was going to do. He was confused and disappointed that he was still coherent enough to have those kinds of thoughts. He was tired of dwelling on these unhappy matters but couldn't manage to stop himself from thinking about them.

Maybe this time will be different? Maybe if I give them a chance I won't get hurt? Maybe they'll like him for him? He snorted. 'Yeah, right, and Mr. Wilmington will become celibate,' he thought bitterly.

What was he to do? If he gave them a chance and they hurt him...he didn't think he could stand it. He didn't think he could leave his friends though...whoa, wait. Friends? When had he come to think of them as friends?

Yeah, they were different. They wouldn't leave him. They would stay by him just like they had after every case, during every bust, and they deserved to be given a chance just as he had been given. They had proven themselves time and time again. They stayed for two days and two nights when he had been shot in the chest after a bad bust. They hadn't left him alone. He had acted like it was a bother and wanted nothing more than to be alone, but in truth he actually enjoyed the feeling of being cared about.

They stood by him when his mother came to town. Buck and JD would be their normal selves. Rough housing with each other and trying to include him in it. If he left he would miss that. He would miss the friendly banter between himself and Vin. The man may be quiet natured but he had a devious mind. Vin and he had pulled numerous pranks together. He would definitely miss that. If he left he would miss the arguing with Nathan and the intelligent conversations they shared. He'd miss Josiah's sense of humor and round about way of telling him something important.

He was sure he would miss the fighting with Chris. The way they butted heads at least once a week. He was a constant challenge and Ezra loved to push his buttons. It was close to being his favorite hobby. There was something about the man that Ezra respected. He was the only one that gave him a second chance. Thinking back on it, he remembered that Chris had told him not to run out on him again. Would leaving be like running?

He was finally able to gain the trust and respect from six other men. Was he really going to just leave all that behind? No, he wasn't a complete fool. The friendship he had with these men had helped him. It had kept him from just packing up his things and leaving his job. He loved it but the thought of a repeat of the FBI wasn't something he wanted.

After getting to know the unique men he worked with, he knew that wouldn't happen. They wouldn't let it. They would stand by him no matter what.

He watched as the cab pulled up next to him. He stood and staggered slightly before getting in. Yeah, he'd stay. He'd stay here with his friends.