by MAC

Disclaimer: I don't own them, or the show they rode in on. I wrote this for fun, and no profit is made from it.
Archive: Starwinder's, You Want Fries With That?, and The All-Ezra FanFic Archive --- all others, please ask.
Summary: A pass, a miss, and a catch.
Warnings: Slash content, nothing very explicit
Author's Note: This one is tough on Buck, sorry.
Completed: 6 March 2004
Feedback: gentlerainfall@yahoo.com welcomes comments

It couldn't be helped. He kept telling himself that as he scrubbed viciously at the saucepan with the hardened crust-ring. He'd already dumped the sauce down the food disposal, along with the fish, the salad, and the vegetable casserole. He'd drunk the entire bottle of wine. Seemed a shame to waste it and it was open.

He paused to scrub, as well, at one weepy eye angrily. Damn it! He *knew* better than to start depending upon others. To start making plans that included others. One other. HIM. Ezra kicked himself mentally and then kicked the nearby stool literally. It flew away and rattled against the refrigerator door before crashing to the floor with a rather satisfying crack and thump. A smile, bitter though it was, cracked Ezra's lips apart briefly. So much for reading other people. So much for his so-called God-given talents.

Mother would despair. He shrugged. That felt good, so he did it again but much more violently, before spinning on one foot to heave his wash sponge at the far wall. It smacked hard, water and suds splatting out, then dripping and streaking down on neighboring walls and surfaces. That felt good too. He automatically reached for something more to throw. The wine glass fit nicely into his hand and he wrenched his arm back like a big league pitcher --- and paused.

Damn. Common sense said he really didn't need to deal with broken glass. He sighed and lowered the goblet to the drain board, turning back to the sink. He hung over it, both hands clenching the rim and he straightened his arms stiffly and half-raised himself from the floor. For a few beats, Ezra hung there. Then he closed his eyes and blew out from rounded lips, hard. Took in a deep breath and let it out in a scouring, cleansing second blown out lungful of air.

Never mind. He let himself back down on to his feet and released the porcelain rim. It had just been a casual invitation. He'd made the offer of a home-cooked meal and HE had accepted. They'd set the night and time. No mention was made of anyone else. It was just to be the two of them. He'd walked on air all week. Run to three different grocery stores, two specialty delicatessens, and one wine seller. He'd polished the crystal, actually opened a packing crate to get out his good Rosenthal china.

A laugh leaked out. Self-depreciating. Stupid, stupid, stupid. With a burning gut, he ever so gently placed the last freshly washed plate on to the drying rack. With great concentration, he reset each plate, saucer, dish - just so. Nothing touching so that everything would drain without marring. His fingers, adept at so much, were stiff and unresponsive, almost clumsy. He bit his lip, never noticing the pain or dribble of blood down his chin. There. Just right. He stood back, shaking, a thrumming kind of tremor. He could feel his skin flushing all over. It actually was burning, too, so hot with the flush of embarrassment that he thought he might go up in a flash of flame at any moment.

The telephone rang in the front room.

He froze. His heart started pounding hard, he could feel it knocking against his rib cage, trying to get out. With tottering steps, he made his way into the other room. Collapsed next to the shrilling instrument and laid a careful hand upon it. Swallowed. Hard. Answer it. Maybe it's HIM. Maybe something happened. Something bad. Oh, god!

Ezra snatched up the phone. "Standish." It came out sharply. Amazing, really. He listened.

He dropped the instrument of torment back into its cradle and stared at it malignantly. Hated thing. Forgotten. He'd been forgotten. Well, until now, hours too late. Yes, it was a good movie and HE had been waiting to see it for some time. Yes, that made sense. And, his choice of companion. Well, no one could dispute that. Best friends. Yes, made perfect sense. After all, their dinner engagement had been a casual thing between lesser friends.

Ezra stared at the telephone bleakly. Never again. No, he wouldn't be opening himself up to pain like this again. It hurt too damn much. He gasped suddenly, his breath stolen in a stab of pain. Hands curled into fists on his knees as he sat there primly beside that vicious, callous black instrument.

He could hear the ticking of the anniversary clock over his mantle, just across the room. It sounded loud in the silence. No, not quite silence. There was an out of sync drip coming from the kitchen faucet. Drip, tick, tick, drip, drip, tick, drip.

Ezra blinked. His eyes felt boiled, vision fading into a black tunnel as he sat there. Like a stone.

Drip, drip, tick, drip, tick-tock, drip. Knock, knock, drip, tick. Knock?

Light re-entered the tunnel, expanding until he could see the room again, noticed the beige linen cloth askew on his dining table, half-dragged off as he'd finally decided to clear the table several hours ago.

He looked up. He'd been sitting here oblivious for hours. It was nearly three in the morning. Knock, knock. Louder now.

HE wouldn't be there. HE'd phoned already with his apologies, cheerful. It had been a very good movie.

With a half-lifted arm, a motion of indifference and listlessness, Ezra tried to wave away the intrusion. Knock, knock.

Bother. Who would bother with him? At any time? At three in the morning?

Trudging to the door, Ezra could feel the floorboards sucking the energy out of him, right through the soles of his stockinged-feet. His shoes lay abandoned where he'd kicked them off, somewhere back in the kitchen.

He pressed ten fingers hard against the dark oak front door panels. Knock, knock. "Go away," he whispered to the intruder. Silence met his directive.

He waited. Gone. Turned. Knock, knock. Not hard, not soft, just demanding. He was too tired to fight off any demands. Swung back around, let one hand fall to the doorknob. If it was someone with a gun, he would welcome the bullet.


Shit. He looks like absolute shit. Chris stood and stared at his hapless friend. Damn Buck anyway. How could he not see the love in Ezra's eyes, the excitement? Chris hadn't meant to overhear the invitation, oh, so casually given and accepted. But he'd been hard-pressed not to see Ezra's anticipation afterwards.

Then, to run into Buck and JD tonight, at the opening of the fantasy flic they'd all heard so much about. He'd stopped and stared then too. Wasn't tonight the night that Buck was going to dinner with Ezra? Wasn't it tonight? He wanted to ask, but it was not generally known that the men had a date. Date? Well, that's how Chris had viewed it. And how he figured Ezra had. Just as they were all climbing to their feet after the last scene, Buck had slapped his forehead and cursed. Forgot. He'd forgotten. Pulled out his cell phone.

Hadn't even tried to keep it quiet. Couldn't. Not over all the noise of the folks traipsing out of the theater. And JD kept tossing popcorn at Buck's head. The man had been ducking the barrage with a grin while talking to someone. Saying he was sorry. He forgot. Forgot. Forgot about his date with Ezra. Chris had wanted to punch his old friend's lights out. Shit, he'd wanted to tear the fucking phone out of his hand and beat him senseless with it.

Instead, he'd left. Driven around for nearly two hours before coming to a decision. If Buck had wanted a chance with Ezra, he'd just tossed it down the toilet. Chris was certain now that Buck had no idea of what Ezra was offering. A home-cooked meal? No, Ezra was offering --- a lot more than that. Chris had pulled over next to a bar that was still open, intent on going in and drinking away the bad taste in his mouth.

Thinking about Ezra. And Buck. Without Buck. Ezra alone in his condo. Fuck. Chris wrenched the wheel of the Ram and ran up over the curb, two weaving patrons cursing him loudly as they staggered back in fright from the black metal monster that nearly mowed them down as they left their neighborhood bar.

"I'm not Buck."

Ezra stood there, flat-footed, in the entry, and stared blankly at Larabee who filled his front doorway at three in the morning. No, no, you are not Buck.

"But, I'd like to come in."

Ezra nodded slowly. And let Chris into his heart.


If you enjoyed this story, we're sure that MAC would love to hear from you.


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