Getting Back To Good
by Leanne Grant
Author's Notes: This fic follows my two song fics and although I couldn't find a song for this one, it is much happier.
Back to: Don't Leave
Ezra woke up early on Monday feeling surprisingly refreshed. Much of Sunday had disappeared in an alcoholic haze but now he was ready to start plotting. With no idea what to say or do, he'd frozen like a rookie when Vin told him he was leaving. It was a contingency he'd never planned on. For the first year of their relationship he'd been mentally ready for the day Vin moved on. After the promises they exchanged on their anniversary he gradually adjusted to the idea of forever. Now forever was shot to hell.
He took a deep breath. Vin had promised him forever, they deserved forever, he would get around this fiasco. Think day to day. Get Vin back for today, hold onto him until tomorrow and work his way up to forever.
Whatever it was he done he was sure he could get Vin to forgive him. His Vin was the kindest, most gentle man in the world. Forgiveness should be a snap.
That didn't mean, of course, he would agree to come back. Vin could be awfully implacable about some things. Friendship though, he didn't think Vin would deny him that. It was essential for them to be able to work in Team Seven. So, friendship, he could build on that.
He would give it two or three months, say six weeks, to get back to a secure friendship. Then he would again ask Vin what he had done wrong. Purely in the spirit of research, one friend to another, so he wouldn't make the same mistake again. Yes, that would be perfect. Vin wouldn't be able to resist that plea.
Later actions were somewhat dictated by whatever his mistake had been, but he was confident he could fix it. No matter how painful the alternative was, nothing was as bad as losing Vin. So when he knew, he could, perhaps, laugh and say: that had annoyed him too, or that he'd wanted to change that, or do it differently. Maybe even ask Vin for help, his love had a hard time turning down requests for help.
Then he could suggest, maybe almost as a joke, that since the problem was no more they could get back together. Promise to just try dating, no pressure or nothing, for old times sake. Once he understood what he'd done wrong he should be able to worm his way back into Vin's affections eventually.
Buoyed up by hope, he eagerly began his day. Dressing carefully, after a through shower, he briefly wished men could wear make up, as nothing else would cover up the effects of Sunday's binge. On the other hand, subtle signs of distress such as shadowed, bloodshot eyes, would allow him to convey his sorrow without crowding Vin. Now was not the time to plead for forgiveness. It hurt to know Vin needed 'space' but if he needed it Ezra would see he got it. He would approach him carefully. Ask to be friends while projecting his inner misery.
That, he sadly admitted, would be easy. Keeping his pain from the philistines who never approved of their relationship was the difficulty. He would not allow his emotions to become a sideshow.
Carefully, discreetly, steadily, he'd get Vin back.
His plan settled, Ezra walked jauntily into the ATF building at just past nine o'clock. Before heading into the office, he checked his appearance in the bathroom, smoothing his hair and rubbing some colour into his cheeks. Satisfied he looked his best he slowly opened the door, prepared for the performance of his life.
He stopped in the doorway, surprised. Chaos had landed. Chris strode up and down the main aisle issuing orders. JD dodged around him as he crossed from his to Buck's desk, he appeared to be running two searches simultaneously. Buck hovered behind him, alternately exhorting and cursing. Both Josiah and Nathan were on the phones. Nathan's stiff back and sharp voice announced his anger. It was Josiah, though, that troubled Ezra. The profiler looked desperately worried. Ezra speeded up and then repeated his visual search of the room when he couldn't spot the man he was really looking for. Where was Vin?
Anxious to find out he took another step into the office.
"Mistah Lar-" Ezra bit off what he was about to say. Larabee had spun about on his toes and now stalked towards him, billowing fury.
Ezra, unsure what was going on, froze.
The first fist caught him high on his cheek, the second split his lip. Too shocked to defend himself, he crumpled to the ground. Raising his right hand to protect his face and pushing himself upright with his left, he looked up. Chris was being restrained by Buck and Nathan. And they didn't look too happy about doing so.
Ezra retreated until his back was to the wall. Leaning his aching head against it, he spat the bitter blood from his mouth.
"What the hell is going on?" he demanded thickly.
"What'd'ya think ya disloyal shit? How could you do that Vin?" Chris tore himself away from his restrainers and, as if unable to bear the sight of Ezra one moment longer, strode rapidly away from the group.
"Vin?" gurgled Ezra. He wasn't surprised he was blamed, even though it was Vin that had left. He even sympathised to an extent, but this violence seemed excessive. He knew Vin would not condone it, at least he hoped he hadn't. He couldn't. Where was he? "Vin?"
"He's gone, you shiftless bastard," growled Buck.
"Gone," said Ezra stupidly. How could fix this mess, if Vin wasn't here? If Vin had gone, how was he going to get him back? He had to find Vin. "Where?"
Buck spat. "Do you think we'd tell you?"
"We don't know," said Josiah from the sidelines.
"You hurt him so bad he's even run from his real friends."
"No," said Ezra. The floor dropped from beneath him. This couldn't be happening. Vin couldn't be gone.
Chris pushed Buck out of his way. Ezra straightened and braced himself. Chris sneered.
"We're wasting time on this trash." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder and the other four turned back to work. "Standish get yourself up and out. And stay out. Don't give me a reason to suspend you." Chris folded his arms and just watched as Ezra staggered to his feet and, one hand on the wall to steady himself, left.
He stopped off in the bathroom and applied a cold towel to his stinging face. He winced at his reflection. With a busted lip and a purple bruise spreading over his cheekbone, his appearance was shot to hell. He'd have to keep his head down if intended to escape the building unnoticed.
Carefully he made his way to the elevators. He felt too shaky to take the stairs. It wasn't the attack but the thought of never seeing Vin again that had his knees wobbling. The apparent loss of five friends barely registered, the devastation of Vin's leaving was all encompassing. They had become inconveniences he had to work around to find Vin.
He maintained his control until he reached the parking lot and the safety of his jag. Secure in the dark leather comfort, he placed his head in his hands and sobbed. He gave himself two minutes indulgence, then drew a deep breath and hiccupped down his tears. He rubbed his eyes with the sleeve of his jacket until he could more than a grimy blur and drove straight to the industrial park on the boundary of Purgatorio.
He owned a small warehouse there. He had used it twice as an emergency meet while undercover and maintained a small safe room tucked up under the eaves. Nobody knew about it but Vin, so he would be safe from any further vengeance from Team Seven while he contemplated his next move.
After seeing the jag safely bestowed and the alarms set, he relocated upstairs and collapsed on the bed. And promptly had a coughing fit at the cloud of dust that rose around him. It had been a while since he'd used this place. With Vin's apartment so near he'd gone to Vin instead. He wished Vin was with him now.
Ezra sighed and reached over his head to grab the pillow so he could wrap his arms around it. He rubbed his unbruised cheek against it while he planned what to do next.
Step one. Find Vin. Step two. Get him back. Simple. He tried not to wonder if Vin might not want to be found. He'd never thought Vin would leave the Seven. Dark emptiness lapped at the edge of his mind with the thought that Vin was gone forever. Concentrate Ezra, he coached himself, concentrate.
Concentrate on the basics. Step one. Find Vin.
Okay. Where would Vin go? He'd left the team; he'd know Larabee'd be on his tail. So none of his usual haunts. Camping? No. The weather was clear but cold, with winter on the way. Ezra could feel in his gut that Vin planned for a long absence. He'd probably taken all the stuff he removed from the condo. That meant a degree of permanency.
So not camping, nor a hotel for similar reasons. He'd have to ditch his jeep; Larabee probably had an APB out at this moment. So Vin would have reached his destination sometime Sunday, after he left the condo and before Larabee got his resignation today. That gave him a definable search area.
Unless he flew. Ezra snorted. Vin fly voluntarily? Not an option.
So probably still in the state. Vin might not be camping, but he would seek out his beloved wilderness.
The answer hit him hard and he bounced his head off the bed in frustration at his stupidity. Vin had his own hideouts, and he shared them with Ezra, just as Ezra had shared his with Vin.
Vin had a cabin hidden away in the mountains. Nobody else knew it existed. He'd found the remnants of a shack and built it up, buying land around it piecemeal. Ezra had provided the money to buy the small lake by the property. Not much of an investment but it was so peaceful. He wished they could have spent more time up there.
"No time like the present," he said aloud, almost excited at the prospect.
He dragged a canvas storage bag from under the bed and quickly changed into the sneakers, jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket he found there. The rest of the clothes went into a holdall. After Larabee calmed down he'd probably APB the jag so it behoved him to take alternative transportation. And he had just the thing. Tucked away at the back of the warehouse was a motorbike. Vin bought it for him as emergency transportation and taught him how to ride, aiming for maximum surprise and manoeuvrability. He'd loved those lessons.
He unwrapped the protective tarpaulin, stowed his bag in the pannier, and rolled the bike outside. After securing the warehouse, he strapped on his helmet (Vin insisted, even though he rarely wore one himself) and swung onto the bike. He could almost feel Vin's warmth against his back as arms circled his waist. A sense of calm enfolded him and he settled in for the long ride.
Shadows were lengthening when he turned onto Vin's track. He stopped and flipped up his visor. Fresh skid marks from Vin's truck were easily visible. His love was here. He nearly fell off the bike in relief. Soon, very soon, he would see Vin again.
Ezra wasn't all that surprised to find a rifle pointing at him as he pulled up. Vin had plenty of warning of his approach: the roar of the bike was loud in the stillness and the rutted track twisted and turned as it approached the cabin. He scrutinised him avidly. Vin's eyes were ice blue in a pale face and he looked even skinnier than usual. Ezra noted the changes but drank in the sight of his lover gratefully.
He contemplated forcing Vin to shoot him. That would definitely get him Vin's full attention. On the other hand Vin's hands seemed a little shaky. It would destroy Vin to seriously injure a friend. The thought made him sick.
He raised his hands away from his body for a beat and then removed his helmet.
Vin raised the rifle skyward and ran towards him.
"Ez! Are you okay? What happened? Is anyone following you?" He took Ezra's forearm in a tight grip.
Ezra struggled with temptation for a second time. The warmth and concern in Vin's eyes was a balm to his aching heart. He was desperate for it to continue. He bit his lip hard, couldn't lie to Vin, didn't even want too. He slumped in defeat.
"No one's following me," he admitted softly.
"Oh." Vin seemed to recollect himself and stepped back, disarming the rifle as he did so. "Oh. Why are you here?"
Again Ezra froze. His words deserted him as he tried to explain matters, to come up with a logical explanation. He opened his mouth and had to swallow to relieve its tightness.
"I, I." All the planned speeches fell out of his head and for once in his life, Ezra Standish was totally honest. "I don't want to live without you, please Vin, take me back." Vin flinched and Ezra, desperate, reduced his request to begging, "Let me stay, please."
Vin was silent. Ezra studied his face, forgetting to breathe in his fear.
Vin's face softened a little and he bobbed his head. "Okay. And dusk ain't far away. The mountains are too tricky to handle in the dark."
Ezra gave a great gasp of relief. He was here for the night at least.
"Thank you Vin, I," he reached out, only to drop his hand to his side when Vin retreated.
"Ya better get that bike into the shed it'll storm tonight."
"Sure." Ezra trudged around the cabin and stowed the bike. Inside he was frantically thinking up and then discarding plans. He had to find the words to convince Vin to take him back.
The cabin was small, just one main room with a bedroom at the back and a bathroom on the right. When Ezra opened the front door he found Vin leaning against the table in the kitchen corner. He looked up as Ezra shut the door behind him.
"Put some coffee on for ya. Should be done soon."
They stared at each. Ezra searched Vin's impenetrable face for clues, anxious not to say the wrong thing. Eventually Vin shook himself, straightened up and folded his arms.
"What are you doing here Ezra?"
"I want us to get back together."
"I thought we'd been through this?"
"No, you had your say, now it's my turn."
"Ezra, it's all been said."
"No! Whatever it was I did, I'll make it up to you. Just give me a chance and I'll fix it. Anything Vin, anything."
"Aw Ez. It ain't like that. You can't fix something that was always broke. We wanted different things and I couldn't live like that anymore."
"No we don't,' said Ezra. He wasn't quite sure what Vin was getting at, but he wanted as much as he could get. Surely Vin's desires were compatible with that?
"Ez, we do. It's okay, it's nobody's fault." The coffee maker pinged, they both ignored it.
"Yes it is, it's my fault, I did something wrong but I'll make better I promise."
"You can't give me what you don't have."
"Yes I can. Whatever you want, I'll get, steal it if I have to."
Vin stood up violently and attended to the coffee. His hands shook as he added the sugar. He didn't look up. "Ezra that's exactly what I'm getting at. I don't want things, I just want you."
"But you've got me." Ezra was genuinely puzzled.
"I got the bit of you that you let me see. Nothing else."
Vin continued inexorably, "You're never with me. Always on a case."
"Oh sure your body's around occasionally but your mind's permanently undercover. I never know what you're thinking. Oww, Goddamit." Vin had stirred the coffee too violently and slopped it over his hands.
Ezra reached to see the damage for himself "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Vin jerked his wrists from Ezra's hands. He stalked to sink and flicked the tap.
"Sorry," said Ezra. He turned away, using the cloth to mop up the spilled coffee. Setting the cup upright he poured some more coffee. Sniffing carefully, he smiled, "Um, French vanilla, my favourite."
Vin shrugged his shoulders, "It was left in the cupboard."
"It's nothing. You can take it with you when you leave."
Ezra stared at Vin's uncommunicative back and screwed up his courage.
"I don't want to leave you, Vin. Please. I don't have anywhere else to go." As he said it, he realised it was literally true. Without Vin there was no one and nowhere for him. Without Vin he had nothing.
"What no case?" Vin sneered. He turned off the tap and began to dry his hands, ignoring Ezra.
"No," said Ezra, unconsciously rubbing his bruised cheek with one hand. "Vin I do love you."
"So why'd you keep running away?" Vin still wasn't looking at him.
"I don't. You knew about the job before we became a couple."
"I kinda hoped you'd spend a bit more time with me."
"We promised Chris we wouldn't let our relationship affect things."
"A holiday once in a while wouldn't 'affect things'. Take our anniversary dinner." Vin twisted round to glare at him, his mouth twisted with emotion. "Or not. You weren't there."
"I know I hated to do that but it was an emergency and Chris promised two weeks vacation in return."
"What two week vacation?"
"I used it up in injury time. You went on that trail ride and then Chris assigned you to Team Four for that bust in Greeley."
"And when you never joined me camping the month before?"
"Judge Travis said he made a lot of allowances for me and it was that or my job."
"Of course you chose the job."
"I thought you loved the job?"
"I love you more."
Ezra beamed at the welcome confirmation, moving closer. "I love you too."
"But you love the job more," said Vin with resignation.
"No. Never." Ezra closed the distance between them trying to erase the mistake with his physical presence. "Never. There's nothing more than you."
"Uh-huh. So if I asked you to choose?"
"You every time," said Ezra instantly, taking Vin's hand in his.
Vin didn't look convinced. "Look Ezra, it's getting late, I'm tired, I'm gonna turn in. You can do whatever you like. If you decide to stay, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Okay," said Ezra, unwilling to push any more for fear Vin would withdraw further. He retreated into the kitchen corner and turned away to fix himself a sandwich, trying to give Vin as much privacy as he could in the tiny space.
He heard Vin shuffle across to the bathroom and back again. Then the bedroom door closed with finality. Ezra winced. It had been too much too hope that Vin would take him straight back, but he had hoped just the same.
He sat down and began to pick at his sandwich. Reviewing the information he had gained thoroughly, he realised things weren't as bad as he feared. It had never occurred to him that Vin was as frustrated with endless demands of the job as he was. Vin still loved and wanted him. Now he knew, he was staying right here by Vin's side. Wouldn't budge for anyone, Vin was stuck with him.
Encouraged, he threw the torn up remains of his sandwich in the bin and began to prepare for sleep. His cheerfulness faded, the fireplace was empty and the large sofa, so perfect for snuggling, felt cold and lonely. Vin had been lonely without him. That thought depressed him further. He'd missed Vin very badly at times, that Vin had suffered the same distress made his heart ache.
Ezra wedged himself against the back and pulled the throw down as a blanket. The wind picked up and he shivered. How could he make up for his neglect of Vin? If Vin had felt as isolated as he had on occasion it was going to be very hard.
Rain lashed the little cabin and it was a long time before Ezra fell asleep.
Vin woke up as the sunlight filtered through the shutters. It took him a minute to remember were he was and what had happened. Ezra was here and he couldn't help the surge of joy at the thought.
He wasn't sure what Ezra was doing here. Vin had written off their relationship as an unavoidable loss. He didn't believe Ezra would change and could only see an agonisingly prolonged end to their relationship. But he couldn't make himself hope that Ezra would leave today. The desire to have Ezra all to himself, for however few days, even if it was over and nothing was going to change, was irresistible.
His heart was already broken; a little more damage couldn't hurt too bad.
He cautiously peeked around the bedroom door and was unsurprised to see huddle on the sofa. Ezra never woke up early if he had the choice. Vin toyed with the idea of waking him up and sending him fishing for breakfast. Fishing, early in the cold, wet morning sure would stop his protestations of 'anything'.
Two things stopped him. One, he rather like Ezra promising him 'anything'. Two, when he walked around the sofa and got a good view of Ezra, he couldn't bear to wake him. His man was curled up as tightly as he could and a shiver trembled through him between breaths.
Vin ran to the bedroom and fetched the sinfully warm duvet Ezra had insisted they buy. He pulled the throw from Ezra, who didn't protest, just curled in impossibly tighter. He laid the duvet, still warm from his body heat, over him and carefully tucked it in. Ezra gave at small sniff, then a great sigh and slowly relaxed. The harsh frown lines smoothed back into his face until he looked like a little boy. Vin smoothed his chestnut hair with a gentle hand. Ezra whimpered, moving into the touch, whispering, "Vin." Vin's heart swelled with love and gladness that Ezra even sought him in his sleep.
"Sssh Ez, it's okay."
After quietly getting ready, Vin snuck out the house with a thermos of coffee and his fishing rod. Somebody had to catch breakfast.
Settling by the peaceful water sighed with pure pleasure. Reconnecting with the natural world soothed his soul the way nothing else could, apart from Ezra. His beautiful, charming, forever out of reach Ezra. Except Ezra was here, with him, wanting him. He replayed last night's conversation in his head. Ezra had surprised him when he said he had tried to spend time with him. The idea that Ezra had been lonely too was so tempting he wasn't sure he could believe it. Reality again started to take the appearance of his dreams.
Until he remembered the DeBoeck bust.
Vin firmly focused his mind on catching fish.
Returning to the cabin, he checked on Ezra. He was still sleeping peacefully, a faint smile gracing his lips. Vin smiled too.
"C'mon Ez, wakey, wakey."
"Ez." He placed one cold hand against Ezra's cheek.
"Hung-guh," snorted Ezra scrambling to sit up. Vin chuckled.
"Vi-i-i-n," moaned Ezra. He blinked and looked a little more awake. "Mr Tanner, that was not kind." His arms slid around Vin's waist and Vin found himself pulled down for a warm kiss. Too surprised to object, then too lost, Vin sank into the warm, wet, wonderful kiss.
It was Ezra who pulled back, pushed Vin away, "Oh God, I'm sorry Vin. I forgot. I'm sorry."
"Fine," growled Vin, mentally cursing Ezra's sudden attack of memory and morals. He had been perfectly happy where he was. Heaving himself upright, he stomped off to see to the fish.
"Sorry Vin," said Ezra, ducking his head, almost hiding behind the sofa. His contrition annoyed Vin even more for some reason. Taking a firm hold of his temper he said,
"It's okay. You better get dressed. The fish won't take long."
"I'm not hungry."
"You should be. I can see most of yesterday's sandwich in the bin."
"Dress up warm, I reckon we could take a walk after, okay?
"Sounds great." Ezra was squinting in the cracked mirror, trying to pat his hair into some sembalance of order.
"Give it up Ez, there's nobody here."
Vin felt warm and foolish at the same time, "I know that but I like your hair all ruffled."
Ezra's head snapped round, "You do? I didn't know that."
"'S nice when we're on our own like this. You look more... relaxed," said Vin, grinning.
"Really," Ezra grinned back.
And they lost several minutes like that, just grinning stupidly at each other.
Vin snapped back into the present when the frying pan began to spit. He quickly turned down the heat.
"Quit distracting me, Ez, go get washed up or something."
"Yes suh," Ezra threw him a snappy salute. Vin laughed and began to cook. While the fish fried he search thorough his heap of supplies for the slightly squashed bag of tomatoes. He'd bought them absentmindedly. Ezra loved them and he always picked some up for him when he went shopping. He found them in his grocery bags with no memory of buying them and couldn't bring himself to throw them out. Now he was glad. He cut the tomatoes in half and when the fish was done, fried them gently and added them to Ezra's plate.
With a flourish he presented the plate to Ezra.
"Why thank you," said Ezra, smiling up at him.
Ezra ate with his dainty precision and Vin finished long before him. Unable to sit and watch him, he dumped the washing up in the sink and dug out the thickly padded coat his thin-blooded lover left at the cabin permanently.
Finally Ezra stood up. Vin held his coat for him as he snuggled into it and quickly pulled on his own flannel jacket.
"Ready," confirmed Ezra. They walked around the rim of the hill until they reached their 'look-out'. The sat down together, just a few inches apart and for long moments said nothing. They had a clear view of the mountain falling away to a swift-flowing river. Only the faintest sounds from the rushing water reached their high position. The air was clear and cold. Vin felt the stillness wrap around his soul and silence his anxious mind.
"I missed this," said Ezra wistfully.
"Yes, missed you too."
"I sure missed you."
After a few moments Vin braced himself to ask a question. "Ez, about the Callisto sting?"
Ezra tensed. "Yes?"
"Oh don't play dumb. I was stuck in the surveillance van watching you seduce the guy."
"It worked. You and Chris wanted him bad."
Vin sighed. Callisto had been selling guns to the kids in Purgatorio. Three had been killed, which had infuriated him and one had been seven years old, sending Chris right into orbit.
"Ez, I know we wanted him caught but that was no reason to let him fuck you."
"You said you didn't mind when I slept with Rollins."
Vin swallowed at the thought of that horrible case. And psychopath Ezra had had to deal with.
"That's different. You chose to have sex with Callisto."
"I chose sex with Rollins."
"Or he'd a raped you anyway." Ezra shrugged his shoulders and Vin could see Ezra didn't recognise a difference between the two cases.
"I sorry Vin. I should've realised it upset you. After Rollins I just thought I was supposed to continue like before."
"You've done that before?"
Ezra curled in on himself, "Ye-us. My second case with the bureau. I thought you knew?"
"You never told me."
"Vin, it's in my file."
"It is?" Now that was a surprise.
"Yes. You didn't know. I guess- I guess I should've told you." Ezra had begun to slowly shuffle away. Vin reached out and hauled him back. "Sorry," muttered Ezra.
"Sssh Ez. It's okay. I guessed. The way you go all out on a case? It was a given." He slid his hand under Ezra's coat to stroke his back soothingly. "Just didn't think you'd have let it get on your file?"
"It was my second case, I was greener than JD."
Vin laughed, he'd bet Ez hadn't ever been that green. "Did you catch him?"
"Naturally," said Ezra smugly. "He was stealing children and selling them for adoption. We needed his records as well as a conviction."
"You got 'em?"
"Yes. He showed me his codes. Bastard thought he was doing a public service and kept perfect records. We managed to trace all the children.
"You seduced him?" Vin wasn't shocked at Ezra's actions. His love would do just about anything to successfully conclude a case. It was one of the things he admired about Ezra, his sheer stubborn determination. And with children involved, the perp was damn lucky Ez hadn't decided on straightforward torture.
"Yes, of course I was never officially involved. I was a horrified FBI agent who realised my lover was a kidnapper. Case made my name. I got known as an agent who'd do whatever was necessary. Came back to haunt me a couple of times."
"They forced you to do it again?"
"Brought pressure to bear. But I didn't mind. I refused to go after any freaks. And they agreed for the most part. A dead agent makes prosecution tricky and doesn't look good. It was an easier a way to prove myself than some of the stuff others did."
Ezra looked slightly sick and Vin bit his lip. That was his love; he'd take any sort of punishment provided nobody else was hurt. He didn't like the thought.
"Did they hurt you?"
"I said was careful." Vin's stomach lurched at the non-answer.
"Ezra," he snapped
Ezra studied his shoes, avoiding eye contact. Vin caught his chin turning his head until he could look into emerald green eyes. "Ez?"
"After we, uh, got together I couldn't, I mean it felt wrong to enjoy it, so I, I made sure they were rough."
Anger, fear and finally pain roiled through Vin, stealing his breath. His jealous possessiveness shrivelled leaving nothing but aching love. He pushed Ezra away from him so he could wrap his arms around himself and stop falling to pieces.
"Oh God Ez, don't ever, never ever..."
"Sorry so sorry," said Ezra and began to scramble away. Vin raised his head, saw the retreat and reached out, grabbing the edges of Ezra's coat and dragging his man back until Ezra rested against his chest.
"I'm sorry, Ez, I'm sorry."
Ezra pulled back a little until Vin could see his face. "What for?"
"For ever letting you think you had to do that."
"But you just said you didn't know?"
"I should have done. Should've said something. So I'm telling you now." He took Ezra's face firmly between his hands. He wanted to be absolutely clear. No more misunderstandings.
"Ezra, I never want you to plan on sleeping with a suspect again. Got that. And if, like Rollins, you feel you wont get a choice, please don't try and get hurt. Don't make them play rough. I don't care what it takes, you make sure you stay safe and come home."
"You wouldn't mind?"
"Course I'd mind, it'd mean I didn't protect you well enough. But nothing matters more than you coming home. You understand me Ez." He slid his hands down to shake Ezra's shoulders, "You always come home."
"I promise," whispered Ezra. He hid his face in the crook of Vin's neck and trembled. Vin cradled him in his arms, rocking gently and murmuring soft wordless comfort.
Eventually Ezra pulled a hand free and rubbed at his eyes. He sniffed, choked a little and finally looked at Vin.
"You truly don't mind? I mean you did mind, didn't you?"
"Yeah, I did." Ezra tried to retreat. "No Ez, everything's okay. I knew none of them meant anything to you but I wasn't sure if I meant anything to you. I thought maybe you were keeping me sweet as back- up, to use as an ally."
Ezra's eyes grew wide and shocked, his face turned ice white, "You thought...?"
"Only sometimes. When it seemed that the job came first. I thought I could never be as important to you as you are to me."
Vin couldn't stop his voice cracking. The idea had plagued him, eating away at his belief in Ezra and himself. Ezra turned in his arms, pushing back until Vin lay flat on the ground. He hovered over him, scattering kisses across his face.
"Love you," kiss, "Love you so much," kiss, "Nobody else," kiss, "Only you," kiss, "Forever and always," kiss, "Need you," kiss, "Adore you," kiss, "Love you." He sat back across Vin's thighs. One hand gently traced the line of his jaw. "You're my life."
Vin rolled over, taking Ezra with him and stared down at his beloved face.
"Love you, love you so damn much."
Vin scooped him up, pulling him onto his lap, pulling him as close as he possibly could.
"So what now?" he asked.
"Whatever you want," said Ezra. His head rested against Vin's chest, his body going limp as Vin stroked down his spine. Vin looked down at the blissfully closed eyes and his heart filled with tenderness at the trusting submission. Ezra, who trusted nobody, not even Chris totally, certainly not his mother, trusted him.
Vin realised it was trust that had been missing. He hadn't trusted Ezra, not with his whole heart. And his misunderstanding of the true situation had prevented Ezra from trusting him. Now everything had clicked into place leaving his mind and heart at peace.
"Oh Ez, my love, always mine." He ghosted his hand down Ezra's chest to rest on his belt buckle. Ezra rumbled a purr and arched back against him. He wriggled so Ezra sat between his legs, resting back against him. One hand worked across his chest, searching for the sensitive nipples hidden under the shirt. The other hand slid along the waistband caressing the soft skin. Ezra shuddered at the sensation and Vin slid his hand lower.
"V-i-i-n," moaned Ezra, rolling his head. Vin nibbled on the exposed neck enjoying Ezra's whimper. He stroked Ezra's hardening cock, running his thumb over the head. Shifting slightly so Ezra's thrusting hips would rock back against his own hardness, he slid his hand lower to fondle Ezra's balls. Scratching across his chest, he knew he'd reached his target when Ezra jerked. Returning to that spot he rubbed rough circles with his thumb at the same time he pumped Ezra's cock. Easy and gentle, it didn't take long to reach climax. Vin sucked on Ezra's neck as he tightened his hand around Ezra's cock.
With a soft gasp, Ezra came, forcefully pushing back against Vin, sending him over the edge. Vin's head flopped forwards and his limbs relaxed until Ezra was all that was holding him up. Gradually he sat a little straighter and held Ezra a little tighter.
He didn't want to move. Sitting there with Ezra safe and warm in his arms was as close to heaven as he could imagine. Then the wind picked up and he felt Ezra shiver and try to press even closer
"Come on Ez, up ya get."
"Merumph," mumbled Ezra, shaking his head.
"Upsy-daisy. Can't have you catching a chill." He manoeuvred until he could slide his arms under Ezra's and grip tightly. With a soft grunt of effort, he stood up, taking Ezra with him. The abrupt movement startled Ezra awake and he began to struggle.
"Sssh Ez." Ezra stilled.
"Yep, we gotta go indoors. It's getting cold."
"Kay. Cold bad." Obviously Ezra wasn't as awake as he'd thought. He continued hustling him towards home, remembering now that Ezra had hardly slept last night.
Inside the cabin he settled Ezra on the sofa and found them each a pair of sweat pants to replace their ruined jeans. He changed quickly and hurried back to check on Ezra. He was pleased to see him looking more alert.
"You awake now?"
"Define awake." He struggled out of the sofa and accepted the sweat pants. "Would you like hot chocolate?"
"Please. I'll get a fire going."
It didn't take long to start, then Vin added bigger logs and plied the bellows gently. He knew Ezra would fuss if he blew soot everywhere but was anxious to warm the cabin for him. Besides at some point he was hoping to get Ezra out of his clothes and, he grinned to himself, that wouldn't happen unless the temperature was close to tropical.
His mind flashed to the image of Ezra in bed with another man. This time the man was faceless and Ezra was younger, his face showing innocence now only visible in his sleep, his eyes glowing with promises. He charmed, ensnared and seduced. And when the captivated man slumbered, he opened his eyes and sat up. He wore his calculating game face and as he looked down at the sleeping man his lip twisted in disgust.
Vin watched the scene play out no longer feeling a knife twisting in his gut. No longer seeing his own face on the sleeping man that Ezra despised and tricked. He had the impression this was the last time he'd be troubled by such visions. Ezra trusted him. Ezra loved him. Ezra wanted to spend time with him, was willing to promise not just forever, but right now.
"Vin, are you all right? Vin?"
"What? Ez." Ezra nudged him again with his foot. He held a mug in each hand and his face was concerned.
"Sorry Ez, just drifted off. That my chocolate?"
"Yep." Vin accepted the cup eagerly, wrapping his hands around its heat, breathing in the rich sweet warmth. He sipped carefully.
"Marshmallows. Thank you."
"Pleasure, though how you can drink it that way..." Ezra shook his head mournfully.
Vin rolled his eyes.
"Come'n sit down."
"So what now?" asked Ezra.
"I'm happy here, but if you want to...?" Sitting together in front of a steadily growing fire, drinking cocoa, Ezra's free hand in his, Vin was back in heaven. But if Ezra wanted to do something, he could probably make himself move.
Ezra raised his hand, gently stroking one finger across Vin's mouth causing him to fall silent.
"My love, you misunderstood. I too could sit here forever." He sighed, "In truth I wish were possible. But when you spoke, outside." Ezra blushed, dipping his head before looking up determinedly, "What I mean is, it sounded like you intended us to go back?"
"I guess I did. Didn't really think about it. Been part of Team Seven so long I forgot I'd walked away."
"Ain't your fault."
"Was both of us. And Chris," said Vin, thinking how Chris had messed up their leaves. The ruined leaves that had broken both their hearts. He was gonna be having some serious words with the Cowboy.
A thought occurred to him. "You were surprised I didn't know about your past because it was in your file?"
"Yes. The briefing files Mr Larabee gave everyone about each other. You didn't read mine?"
"Didn't read anybodies. No time, way too much reading with all the new regs and stuff."
As he spoke, Vin came to a realisation. He was gonna kill Larabee. He knew the man had trouble with their relationship but he'd assumed it was latent homophobia surfacing on actually knowing a gay couple and was prepared to cut him some slack. But it wasn't. Larabee's objection was to Ezra. He'd judged Ezra and found him worthy of being used but unworthy of being loved.
Vin steamed. It annoyed him Larabee thought he could control his love life but he was enraged that the man could think so little of Ezra. He wondered what extra harassment Ezra had suffered in silence. Damn, he was gonna take Larabee apart.
Hearing Ezra take a deep breath, Vin focused back on the important person.
Another deep breath, "Would you like to read my file?"
Vin didn't have to consider his answer. "No. No I don't want to. It's all the past, all just words. I know you, that's all that matters to me."
"Really?" Ezra beamed.
"Really, know you, love you, trust you. Don't care about the rest." The light in Ezra's eyes made him feel twelve feet tall and ready to take on the world. He wrapped his arm around Ezra's shoulders and hugged him close.
Eventually Ezra said, "So what are we going to do?"
Vin sighed; he wanted to continue basking in the happiness he thought he'd lost. But he knew Ezra, his love wanted, no, needed to plan. He needed to calculate the risks, analyse every possible action and determine the ramifications of every outcome. It helped make him an excellent undercover agent but didn't allow for much relaxation.
"Do you want to go back?" he asked, willing to leave him the choice, able to understand if he refused.
Nearly rocking with indecision, Ezra studied him carefully, almost looking through him. Vin knew that expression. It meant Ezra was attempting to guess which way Vin wanted to jump so he could agree. It was his most frustrating habit. He snapped,
"Ezra, I ain't a mark, you don't got to agree with me. At least try for honesty."
Ezra cringed. "I like working undercover," he offered tentatively. . "Good. That wasn't so hard was it?"
Ezra shrank further away. Vin's heart contracted and he regained his temper in a rush.
"Aw love, I'm sorry." He held out his hand and Ezra took it cautiously. "I'm sorry Ezra. I didn't mean to shout. It just drives me nuts when you won't tell me what you're thinking." He tugged gently on Ezra's arm until he could slip his arm around Ezra's waist.
"Sorry," mumbled Ezra.
"No, I'm sorry. But Ez, I hate it when you use your con tricks on me."
"I apologise. I didn't realise I was. I just want you to be happy."
"I know Ezra. And I love you for it, but this is an important decision. We have to make it together. You have to be happy too. You're part of me Ez, I can't be happy if you're not."
Ezra looked surprised and a little puzzled. "I didn't think of it that way. I know I can't settle if you're not content but I hadn't thought you might feel the same way."
"Well I do. So you like undercover work?"
"Yes, also, I I prefer it when you're there." Ezra watched him anxiously; Vin could see him hoping he hadn't overstepped some boundary. Vin smiled and kissed him, trying to show approval and encouragement.
"That's good Ez. I enjoy going undercover with you. Now do you want to go back to the team? We could transfer, anyone would jump at the chance of employing you."
"Employing us," corrected Ezra, "But you love belonging to the team."
"I've already left."
"Mr Larabee'd take you back in a minute."
"I don't give a fuck for Larabee. I just realised what he's been playing at and I'm not pleased. I won't let you suffer his temper."
"But nothing. You are not his whipping boy. We can find a new team."
"I doubt anybody else would take as much care for your safety."
"Our safety. And we can go into private practice. We can do anything."
"I have to go back anyway. We could test the waters. See if Mr Larabee is willing to promise some time off together more regularly. I I'm afraid I would have to insist on that."
"Damn straight. No more vacations apart." And no more disapproval, thought Vin, you're my choice and if Larabee can't get that into his thick head, so be it. He would miss his friends, and it sounded like Ezra would too, but his love came first. Nobody would hurt or upset Ezra if he could help it. "Decision made."
Ezra nodded in agreement. His eyes grew unfocused as he began to plot.
"No scheming for you. You're too tired."
"I'm obviously going to have to distract you."
For a moment he thought Ezra was going to object, then he laughed. "I suppose it would be a shame to waste all the effort you put into that fire."
"I suppose it would be a shame to waste all the effort you put into that fire."
"You know me too damn well."
"That I do." Ezra couldn't help grinning. "I know you love me." And he did know. He believed it before but tucked away at the back of his mind was a gnawing anxiety. They'd never discussed his past and sometimes its unacknowledged presence was suffocatingly close. Now the memories were consigned to the past where they belonged and he and Vin were free.
He slid closer to Vin. "Wanna show me just how much you love me?"
"I could be persuaded." Vin was grinning too. Ezra had to stifle an attack of giggles he felt so ridiculously happy. He turned so he could straddle Vin's lap.
"Persuaded huh? Persuasive is my middle name."
Vin cackled. Ezra tried to kiss him but he was shaking too much. "Hey hold still," he caught his face between both hands. "Persuading coming up. Loook into my eyes, you are feeling verrry sleepy..." He held one finger in front of Vin's eyes, moving it back and forwards, while keeping his face as solemn as he could. Vin crossed his eyes, hiccupping with helpless laughter. Snapping his head forward he caught Ezra's finger, curling his tongue around, he sucked it into his mouth. Ezra gulped and tried to keep his voice steady as he continued his hypnotism spiel.
"...And now you are under my power."
Vin pulled back a little.
"Absolutely," he said and it sounded like a vow. Ezra heart turned over.
"Oh Vin, I do love you." He sat back, laughing at himself softly. "I can't seem to stop saying that."
"I can't hear it enough. Tell me again."
"I love you," Ezra sighed, unable to find words to justice to his feelings. He slipped into other languages, whispering slowly. "Ich liebe dich, te quiero, je t'adore, ti amo, s'agapo, te dashuroj, szeretlek te'ged, miluju te, ljubim te, ya tibieh lublue, ya tebe kokhayu."
No closer to his goal, Ezra settled on just trying to show Vin his devotion. He licked along Vin's jaw to sensitive spot just behind his ear. Sucking gently, he delighted in the breathless gasp. Vin's hands slid around to cup his ass, drawing him closer. He rolled his hips, rubbing their cocks together making them both shudder.
He gently licked Vin's lips before sliding his tongue inside. They kissed then, long and slow, as if they had all the time in world. Vin's hands glided under his shirt, caressing his warm skin. He ran his hands through Vin's hair, kneading the back of neck to elicit rumbling purrs.
Finally frustration at the limited contact forced them apart to struggle out of their restraining clothes. Free, Ezra plastered himself against Vin, clutching at warmth and love. He'd been so scared and he needed Vin so badly. Struggling, he fought to get closer, as if he could climb inside Vin. He wanted to be Vin's, only Vin's, forever.
Vin carefully toppled them onto the rug. Hands stroked soothingly down Ezra's back until he felt himself relax, then the fingers stroked lower. He jumped when one bold finger slid down the cleft of ass. Yanking his thoughts into order, he recalled one vital fact,
"Yeah," agreed Vin. Stretching out they made simultaneous grabs for their own jeans. They each pulled out a tube. "Great minds think alike, huh Ez?"
"Seems that way. I found this one hiding in the sofa. Hoped it was a good omen."
"Dug this out the bedside table. Was hoping too. Hoping you'd let me claim you as my own." The heat in Vin's fiercely tender eyes roared through Ezra like wildfire.
"Please my love. Make me yours, always yours."
"Always baby, always."
Vin pushed him gently until he lay back beneath him. Hovering above him, he just stared and Ezra blushed under the scrutiny.
"Vin," he whined and tried to tug Vin down to join him.
"Do you have any idea how gorgeous you are?" Ezra squirmed attempting to evade the eyes studying him. Vin continued, sounding almost breathless, "You're like a marble statue come warm and alive for me."
"Only for you."
"Good 'cause you're mine, all mine." He bent his head and Ezra could feel him kissing his way across his chest. Ezra reached for him but Vin shoved his hands away, positioning them above his head.
"Think you can leave them there?"
"I'll endeavour to do so."
"Good." Vin's smirk was positively wicked. Then his mouth returned to its kissing. Unable to do anything in return Ezra could only feel. The hot wet mouth worked it way down his body. His cock received one teasing slurp; before teeth and lips moved on to torment his inner thighs. Two slick fingers slid inside him, twisting and turning they searched for the magical spot.
"Oh damn! Vin! Please!"
"Found it," said Vin, and repeated the movement. Ezra shook as liquid fire surged through him to pool in his groin. Searing heat engulfed his cock as Vin took it in his mouth. The two fingers stroked his gland as Vin sucked him deeper. Ezra trembled as the heat and tension grew, driving him towards the edge.
A ruthless hand gripped his cock, stopping his tumble into ecstasy. Thrashing wildly, he desperately sought completion. Vin shifted away until the only touch was the tight hand. Slowly the need to come lessened and he was able to lay still. Vin stroked his heaving chest, gentling him further. A cushion from the couch raised his hips and Vin lifted one trembling leg onto his shoulder. Ezra hooked the other around his waist.
Ezra breathed out slowly as Vin gradually filled him. Tensing his ass muscles, he luxuriated into the hard, hot, pressure. Vin growled and sank all the way in.
"So good baby. My baby."
Vin pulled out and then tantalisingly slowly slid back.
"Please," begged Ezra. His surroundings were faded out until there was only Vin.
Vin's face alight with love and passion. Vin's hands gripping his hips, holding him for possession. Vin growling, "Mine," as he thrust home.
"Yours," he moaned and his back arched, seeking more of the cock loving him from the inside out.
"Mine," howled Vin.
Ezra's vision greyed out and there was only the sound of his blood pounding and friction stoking him higher and higher.
Touching the burning sky, he screamed as release ripped through him. Breath-stealing ecstasy dragged him under waves of brilliant darkness and everything faded to black.
He woke up an indefinite time later safely in Vin's arms. They were curled up in front of the fire, covered in the heavy duvet. Shifting he aimed to turn over so he could see Vin's face. Unfortunately the movement had Vin's eyes opening.
"Hey baby, you okay?"
"What do you say to a quick dinner and then an early night, well an early bed?"
Ezra twitched nervously behind Vin as he dug Larabee's keys out of his pocket. Waking early this morning they had decided there was no point delaying the confrontation. A quick call to ATF headquarters had confirmed what they suspected, the boys were holed up at Larabee's ranch. So here they were. Ezra swallowed, hard.
Vin held the door open for him. Stamping down his anxiety, straightening his cuffs and straightening his shoulders he walked inside.
Team Seven had obviously heard their arrival and had gathered in a loose circle about the door. Larabee lowered his gun, glowering menace.
"What the hell are you doing here?" He stormed forward and Ezra shrank back, his hands raised defensively.
Vin pushed past him and lashed out.
Larabee toppled to floor. He lay there, blinking in surprise. Ezra was beyond surprised. Shocked into stillness he could only stare. Vin had sounded annoyed with Mr Larabee but to strike out like this...
"Get up ya bastard, I owe ya at least another one."
"What do you think you're playing at Tanner?" Larabee pulled himself to his feet.
"Ya think I was goin' ta let ya get away with hittin' Ez." Ezra took a step back in surprise. How had Vin known that?
"He coming crying to you," sneered Larabee.
"Nope. I knew. He never said anythin' cause he don't lie to me. That's how I knew. Anyone else and he'd a told me." Vin struck again. Larabee know bore a darkening bruise and a split lip, whether by intention or chance (and Ezra was going for intention), in almost exactly the same spots as Ezra himself.
It scared him how well Vin knew him. He hadn't wanted to lie to Vin but had been equally reluctant to cause a rift between the two friends. His love thought a great deal of Christopher Larabee and he hadn't wanted to wreck that. And he refused to let Vin ruin his good intentions now.
"Vin, you should consider the consequences of your actions. Mr Larabee is your friend."
"Not if ain't your friend too. Well Cowboy?"
"Why are you bothering with him, he's little better than "
Vin hit him back handed. "Don't say it, don't even think it."
Larabee spat out a mix of blood and saliva "You're really asking for it Tanner."
"Anytime." Vin bounced on his toes.
Buck stepped in front of his oldest friend. "No Chris."
"Get outta my way Buck."
"Not until you start thinking straight."
"Hey Wilmington, he wants to fight, I'll give him one."
"Pipe down Junior. Chris think for just one minute. Vin'll kick your ass."
"I can take him."
"Maybe once. But you ain't getting any younger and Vin's one of the best I've seen. This won't be no friendly bout neither."
"You stick up for Ez like this?" demanded Vin. Ezra moaned silently. Vin appeared ready to take on the whole team. And while the sentiment was appreciated he was unlikely to win. All the same he moved slightly to Vin's left and tried to guess which of the others would react first.
Buck glared at them, "I'm gonna let that go for now because I know you're mad. But I wouldn't let Chris seriously hurt Ezra anymore than I'll let you hurt Chris."
Vin folded his arms, leaning back on his heels, "Could take you both."
Buck shook his head. Carefully he reached out and placed one large hand on Vin's shoulder.
"You just come for your pound of flesh, junior? Or was there something else?" The words were challenging but the tone was gentle. Vin's stance softened and Ezra moved next to him supportively.
"Was reckoning on maybe coming back." Vin offered the words tentatively; his gaze was fixed on Larabee.
Ezra was relieved to see their boss relax. The anger and tension flowed away so fast the man swayed slightly. He knew the majority of Larabee's anger was in reality fear, fear that Vin would leave. So he tried not to take the animosity personally. He had long ago decided it was better the fury fell on his own head so he couldn't really complain and did his best to ignore the ache it caused.
Vin was more than worth it.
Buck looked at Larabee, waiting to see if would take over the conversation, before continuing his mild interrogation.
"Coming back to Team Seven, for good?"
"Thinking 'bout it. If you agree to our conditions."
"Conditions?" hissed Larabee, suddenly finding his voice.
"Two. Firstly, I guess you know about Ezra's past, well that's what it is, past. I done far worse for much less noble reasons." Ezra stared. Vin thought he was noble? Vin continued speaking, the fierce protectiveness warming Ezra right down to his toes.
"And it will never be referred to again. Got it?"
"Good. Secondly, we want more time off, together."
"More time off!" sputtered Larabee, "You had three weeks off the month before last."
Ezra winced and Vin drew himself back to his full height.
"If you recall, Larabee, we had three weeks off because Ezra was loaned to Arizona ATF and you and Travis thought it would be a good time to get our annual leave out the way. I came back in the second week and helped out Team Four. Was going out my mind with nothing to do but worry about Ezra."
"You never said anything?"
"You told us not to let our relationship effect our work."
"Oh," said Chris, suddenly looking much more human. Ezra suspected Chris had been trying to ignore a relationship he disapproved of and never consciously realised they wanted and lacked time together. He found himself hoping things could improve and laid his hand on Vin's arm to try and calm him down. Vin raised the hand to his mouth and kissed it before clasping it tightly, lacing their fingers together.
"Now understand this. Ezra offered to come back and I couldn't quite bring myself to walk away. Don't make me regret that decision."
Chris slowly nodded his head.
Ezra leant thankfully against Vin.
The moment was becoming awkward when JD bounded forwards, beaming brightly.
"You guys are back. This is so cool." He flung his arms around Vin in a clumsy hug and then bounced on to Ezra. "Great to see you again." And clutched Ezra tightly. Ezra smiled and hugged him back. Under the cover of the other's boisterous welcome, he whispered,
"Owe you one JD, your 'innocent enthusiasm' has again been useful."
"Never try to con a con."
"Aw Ez." JD pouted, his eyes wide and pleading.
"I really am glad to see you Ez. Thank you for bringing him home."
"Thank you JD and I'm happy to see you too."
Then Josiah was sweeping him up in a bone-crunching bear hug and Ezra knew without doubt that he was in agreement with Vin. It would be hellishly hard to walk away from his friends, the family that was Team Seven. It was why he'd stuck it out before and would again. But he also knew that Vin meant more to him than anything and if Vin left, he would go too. He hoped their luck held and they wouldn't have to.
|Goodbye To You Index|
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