A Love To Remember

by Kimber

The room was quiet except for the sounds of various machines. One man, Ezra Standish, undercover agent for the Denver ATF, was sitting at the bedside of his lover. Vin Tanner, sharpshooter for the Denver ATF, was critically wounded and not expected to live. They had become aware of each other's feelings for one another one year ago. Since that time, they had formed a loving bond unlike anything either man had experienced before.

The bust was supposed to be an easy one, something the team normally could have done with their eyes closed. But, something went wrong and here they were holding a vigil over their downed agent. No one could leave his bedside; they wanted to be there for Vin and for Ezra. The others knew that the southerner would not be able to handle losing his partner, not after having just found him.

Buck and JD were sleeping on the floor, Buck sitting up in the corner with JD's head on his lap. Josiah was given the thin pallet that was brought in for Ezra to sleep on. The southerner would not move from his lover's bedside. Nathan, the groups' medic, was lying next to Josiah on the floor. Chris sat where he could observe all of his men, in case he was needed.

Standish's tears fell as he watched his lover fight for his life; he struggled with himself to keep the emotions hidden from view. Ezra wanted to be strong for Vin and crying or losing control would show he was weak. He could remember this time last year when his Texan had told him for the first time, "I love ya, Ez."

That seemed so long ago as he now looked at his lover being kept alive by machines. A bullet had pierced his chest collapsing his right lung three days ago. The surgery had been rough on him and the others; they knew that Vin was fighting for his life. They had lost him several times in the trauma room before they had gotten him ready for the operating room.

The doctors did not hold much hope of the man surviving and were surprised that he had lived this long. Ezra stayed by his side, refusing to give up hope; his Vin would not leave him. He looked around and noticed everyone was asleep, that is, everyone but Chris. Mr. Larabee believed as he did, that Vin would come out of this.

Ezra thought back to one year ago today and smiled. It was the first time in his life he knew without a doubt someone loved HIM. He let the warm memories take over.

Ezra knew he was attracted to one Vin Tanner from the time they had met. He fought that attraction with everything he could think of, but it was a losing battle. Lately, his secret love was acting distant and sad; even making one Chris Larabee worried about he young sharpshooter. Ezra needed to do something special for his secret love for Valentine's Day. He thought to himself that he would not get caught; he was too discreet for something like that to happen.

Then it hit him what he could do for Vin. He could be his secret admirer. The plan was perfect, everything was taken care of, and all things were in place. Ezra smiled, knowing he would have a front row seat to watch it all. It would distract Vin from his current worries, even if only for a day.

Ezra came into the office early with the excuse that he was working on a cover assignment. He just wanted to be there when Vin came in to work. It had taken several days to set everything up, and he did not want to miss anything.

The elevator opened and Standish knew without having to look up that Vin was the one coming off the elevator. He never had to look around to see if Vin was around; he felt the man's presence whenever he was near.

The team's sharpshooter walked over to his desk with a smile on his face. The smile touched the man's eyes and made the blue orbs shine like deep sapphires. Ezra noticed the card and candy in Vin's hands and frowned. It was not what he had left for the man; someone else is wooing his secret love. A feeling of jealousy overcame Ezra, causing him to stand and walk to the break room. Vin followed calling his name.

"Hey, Ez! Look what Miss Nettie gave me," Vin smiled as he held out the card and candy.

"How nice, Mr. Tanner, Ezra felt a sudden sense of relief.

Miss Nettie was old enough to be Vin's mother, or grandmother, these days. He knew that she would not be any competition for him on this special day. The only thing wrong with the picture was that Vin would not be showing his gifts to someone saying, "Look what Ezra got me."

"Did ya get anythin' for Valentine's Day?" Vin asked.


"Ya can share my box of candy. It has one of them chocolate covered cherries ya like," Vin offered.

"Thank you," Ezra said as he took the offered confection.

Tanner smiled and returned to his desk. Standish was about to follow when Buck slipped in he break room and smiled.

"So, did Vin find his present yet?" Buck grinned

"Mr. Tanner? Present?" Ezra looked confused.

"Ez, ole buddy, I watched ya come in early and place the card and gift in his desk." Buck crossed his arms and leaned on the counter.

"Mr. Wilmington…"

"Ezra, the name is Buck. That's the price for my silence." Buck chuckled as he walked out to the break room.

The southerner was shocked into silence, not only was he busted, now he was being blackmailed. He did not know what to do, and he was not (I think that is what you intended here, right?) sure Buck would keep his secret. He would have to talk with the scoundrel further later in the day, but right now he hoped he had not missed Vin finding his presents.

"WOW!" Vin cried.

"What now, Jr?" Buck asked, as he looked over and winked at Ezra.

"Look, I have a secret admirer." Vin grinned, as he held up the spyglass. "I always wanted one of these."

"Well, looks like you have one now." Buck smiled, as he noticed the look on Vin's face, and wagged his eyebrows at Ezra. "Any clue who it could be?"

Ezra glared at the ladies' man and coughed. He did not want Buck spoiling his day. 'I do believe I will have to persuade Buck to be quiet.' Ezra looked back toward the younger man, to watch as Vin carefully examined his gift and then looked at the card again.

"What's the card say, Jr?" Buck asked.

"Just a hallmark signed your secret admirer. Nothin' written in it to give me a clue who to thank." Vin frowned.

"Vin, that's what secret admirer's do. They don't want you to know, it's part of the mystery," Buck laughed.

"I'd still like to know who to thank. You see anybody funny lurkin' around here this mornin'," Vin asked.

"Not me, Jr. Ask Ez here, he was in before me this morning'." Buck offered.

"Ez, ya hear or see anyone strange around here this mornin'?" Vin asked.

"No, Mr. Tanner, I did not," Ezra replied, as he made it look like he was deep into his work on the computer. 'Please do not come over and see the worthless information floating on my screen.'

The southerner thanked Josiah's God that no one had showed up at the office during this time. With Josiah and Nathan having court today they would not be in the office. JD had taken the day off, having made special plans for his lady, Casey. Chris was tied up downtown in a leader's meeting with the Judge. One of the men, if not all of them, would have picked up on Buck's innuendoes and made his life hell.

Ezra kept working on his fake report and research, avoiding contact with Vin. He felt like everything was falling apart and did not want to give anything away. He was not sure how far Buck was going to go with his knowledge, and it made him very uncomfortable. 'Whatever made me think I could pull this off? I must be mad.'

The elevator doors opened with a ping and out came a florist, carrying a colorful western cactus. The deliveryman came into their office and called a name.

"I have a delivery here for Vin Tanner," The man announced to the three men.

"I'm Vin Tanner."

"Here you go, sir. Enjoy." The man smiled as he handed the plant to Vin.

"Candy, card, flowers of sorts, and a spy glass, you made out on this day," Buck smiled, as he again looked over at Ezra.

Throughout the day Vin would look from the cactus to the spyglass and smile softly. The smile touched Ezra's heart and made him the happiest he had ever been. He refused to let thoughts of Vin rejecting the gifts, if he knew whom they were from, enter into his happy thoughts.

Buck had left work a few hours ago, saying he was going to help Chris out of a jam. Seems the ladies' man's talents were needed to persuade a certain female clerk to give Chris a permit to build a new barn on his ranch, something about red tape and Buck's magnetism needed to cut it. With none of the others coming to the office that day, it left Vin and Ezra alone.

Vin had been on the phone several times throughout the day. He asked Ezra to help him with writing his reports, and had asked him what his plans were for that night. The fact that he had none surprised the young man.

"Ya ain't goin' out?" Vin asked.

"No, Mr. Tanner, I am not going out tonight," Ezra replied.

"Why not, don't you have a sweetheart?" Vin asked.

"Mr. Tanner I think my...never mind." Standish blushed as he returned back to his computer screen.

"Well, I gotta go. Goin' ta go over to Miss Nettie's for dinner." Vin smiled as he gathered his gifts and left.

Ezra smiled sadly as the elevator closed, hiding his beloved's face. He would give the man some time before he ventured out of the office. He just wished he knew what it was like to be surprised and loved.

Standish slowly walked to his car, not feeling the need to rush home to his empty, lonely condo. In is 32 years of life he had never felt as alone as he did at this moment in time. He could not help but believe that he'd made the worst mistake in his life, and now Buck knew it.

The drive home was like pulling a tooth at the dentist, slow and painful. The traffic was too easy to maneuver, nothing too intricate to help take his mind off the events of the day. He played Vin's day again and again in his head. The whispered phone calls and smiles as the sharpshooter hung up. Vin's dreamy stares out the window, and the faraway look in his eyes, made Ezra wonder where his thoughts might lay.

Ezra sighed as he pulled into the driveway. He looked at the place he called home and wanted to cry. He was so tired of living alone, with no one that loved him to come home too. Determinedly he shook himself out of his depressed thoughts and walked to the door.

The first thing Ezra noticed as he walked into the condo was the aroma of something that made his mouth water. The second thing he noticed was his usually bare dining table was decorated for entertaining. The red candles burned softly offering the only light in the room. The crystal glasses sparkled in the soft glow.

"Surprise!" a soft whispered voice called out.

"What, I mean how?" Ezra whispered.

There, standing in the kitchen door stood the most beautiful sight Ezra had ever seen. Vin was there smiling at him and holding two glasses of wine. The candlelight enhanced the golden glow of his already tanned skin, golden skin that was more precious to him than all the money in the world.

"Is it that important? I guess it is, for ya." Vin smiled, as he walked toward him, handing him the glass of wine.

"Mr. Tanner, why are you here?" Ezra asked as he took the wine.

Their fingers touched and neither man could let go of the glass. The southerner looked into the eyes of his true love and noticed a softness he had never seen there before. He wondered what the look Vin was giving him was all about. Ezra's mind could not fathom the meaning without opening himself up to the hurt it might bring.

"Ezra…" Vin whispered, as he leaned forward and brushed his lips against the southerner's softly. Vin took the other wineglass he was holding and took a sip. He then turned the glass with the part that had touched his lips and offered it to Ezra. "Drink with me," Vin again whispered.

Ezra's mouth could not resist the temptation, and he placed his lips where Vin's lips had been on the glass. Tanner tipped the glass slowly letting his love drink some of the contents. He then brought the glass back to his own lips and finished the wine. Then both glasses were taken by Vin and placed on the table.

"Mr. Tanner…" Ezra started to say.

"It's Vin, Ezra," he softly reprimanded, as the man tried to pull away from him.

Vin pulled Standish into his arms and up against his body and smiled. Ezra could not move as the warm content feeling of being in Vin's arms washed all thoughts of escaping out of his mind. He felt like he was home at last.

"Vin…" Ezra tried to continue, but Vin kissed him, not wanting words right now.

Ezra could not refuse, and in fact returned the kiss. The kiss was exploratory in nature, each man seeing what the other tasted like. Tongues took turns at mapping out and tasting the other's mouth.

"Thank you for the spy glass," Vin whispered, as he ended the kiss and pressed his forehead against his lover's.

"Vin, how did you know it was me?" Ezra asked, as he again tried to pull away.

The thought that this was just a payment for the spyglass made him uncomfortable. The last thing he needed was to have Vin feeling obligated to him for a gift.

"Would you be mad if I told you someone who knew I cared about you told me?"

"You care about me?" Ezra could not hide the shock in his voice.

"Yeah, I think I might even be in love with ya."

"Love me?" Ezra whispered.

"Only you, Ez." Vin vowed.

"Are you sure, Vin? I mean absolutely sure?"

"Yep! I want a chance for us to find out. I want ta court ya, woo ya, and then make you mine."

Ezra felt like the sun had come out, and his life was now looking worth living. He was going to find out what it felt like to be loved. "Then court, woo, and claim to your heart's content, my Mr. Tanner." Ezra smiled, as he pulled the man down for a soul- searching kiss.

The kiss seemed to last forever, almost making the two lovers forget the courting and wooing. Ezra finally pulled out of the kiss, but not out of Vin's embrace. "Vin…I think we had better check on dinner," Standish chuckled.

"I think you're right."

"Vin, I hope you don't mind me asking, but how did you get all of this done?"

"Buck helped."

"So, it was Buck you were on the phone with on and off since he left?"

"You don't mind do ya? Chris helped as well."


"Ez, Chris has known I had feelin's for ya since the day we met."

"That Mr. Tanner will be another discussion at another date."

"Ez, don't be mad."

"I'm not mad at you, Vin, but at myself. How could I have missed your feelings for me for so long?"

"'Cause I didn't want ya to know. Chris knows me like I know him; we are brothers of the soul."

"So, Buck and Chris helped you to arrange all of this. Do any of the others know anything about us?"

"No, it will be up to us to tell them."

"Can we have some time together first, to see where this courtship goes?" Ezra asked hopefully.

"Yes, since I think we will have all the time in the world," Vin promised.

Ezra smiled as Vin's body directed him to the dining room chair. The sensuous sway of the man's hips drove the southerner to distraction, and Vin's hands guiding his hips to sit in the chair nearly drove him over the edge. His lips were taken softly in a brief kiss before his love returned to the kitchen. This left Ezra alone to silently thank Buck for being so observant a friend.

Vin continued the courtship by waiting on Ezra, anticipating everything he would need during dinner. Ezra, being uncomfortable at first with being waited on, had tried to assist. Vin would not let him lift a finger to help, explaining this was his gift to Ezra.

"I'm givin' you a gift from the heart, my heart. From this day forward Ezra you will know you are loved."

Standish noticed the sincerity in Vin's gift and did nothing to interfere. He would not do anything to hurt his beloved on purpose ever again. Ezra sat back and let Vin show how much he loved him and felt treasured for the first time in his life.

After dinner Vin allowed him to help with the clean up, having a dishwasher was a wonderful thing. They worked so well together no words were needed as they each completed their tasks.

With the clean up completed, Vin took Ezra and led him over to the overstuffed chair in the living room. A fire was burning in the fireplace, giving a warm glow to the room. Tanner sat and pulled his partner down with him, the chair big enough for them to sit close but comfortable together.

"I just want to be close to you for a while." Vin smiled, as he guided their bodies in a comfortable position, placing Ezra's head on his shoulder.

"This feels so good. There are no words out there to describe this feeling," Ezra sighed.

"Yeah there is Ezra," Vin stated.

"The fire that burns in this room is nothing compared to the fire that burns in my soul for you. I have traveled a lifetime searching for what I needed to feel this heat. I have found it in the most peculiar place, for I feel it when I look upon your face. I could live a thousand life-times but never feel the fire as warm and bright as right now with you," Vin stated.

"Vin, that is beautiful."

"So are you."

They continued to sit in silence letting the moment etch itself deep into their memories. They sat like that for hours just letting the fire warm them, inside and out. Before long it was time for Vin to go home.

"I love you, Ezra P. Standish," Vin smiled.

"I love you, Vincent Tanner," Standish smiled back.

They kissed at the door, savoring the moment. Ezra wanted so much to just grab Vin's hand and lead him toward the bedroom, but this was Vin's way of making sure they took it slow and did it right. He had to agree; it was wonderful being courted and wooed.

The sudden blaring and beeps intruded in Ezra's sweet memories. At first he was dazed and could not remember where he was. He had not realized that he had fallen asleep, but the jostling of his body as hands were pulling him out of the chair and frantic voices were calling, "CODE BLUE, SICU ROOM SIX, CODE BLUE," brought him suddenly crashing back into the present.

"NO!" Ezra screamed, as he fought the hands pulling him back.

"Ezra, come on we have to let them do their job," Josiah begged, as he tried to get the younger man to move away from Vin's bedside.

"Josiah, let me go," Ezra growled, as he began to fight to break free.

Buck and JD pulled Chris towards the door as the nurses and doctors rushed in with their equipment, and shouted orders for them to leave. Chris pushed Buck away, yelling that he was not leaving. "Fuck off! I'm staying right here."

Nathan moved to assist Josiah with Ezra when he saw the southern fool fight to remain in the room and thought to himself how selfish Standish was being.

"Let me go, I promise not to interfere. PLEASE! I have to stay," Ezra pleaded, still pushing Josiah and Nathan away and refusing to leave.

Chris heard the begging and felt pain in their friend's voice. The urge to protect and comfort the man brought him back to reality. Ezra needed him now because he understood his pain and fear.

"Buck, Ezra needs us. I'm fine for now, let's get him outta here," Chris informed his oldest friend.

Buck looked closely and saw that the ATF leader was back in control. The concern in Larabee's eyes as they darted between him, Ezra, and Vin was lucid and determined. Chris was now determined to be there for the younger man who had become a valued friend.

Everything happened very fast as they converged together and managed to get Ezra out of Vin's room. The doctors and nurses continued to work on their friend, trying to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. Nathan had seen the monitor and knew that the injured man's heart had stopped and the code team was working to bring Vin back.

Dr. Henry, the surgical chief resident in charge of Mr. Tanner's care, prayed he would not be telling this group of men of their comrade's death. He, for one, did not want to see the devastation of one particular member. Dr. Henry had been on call when they brought the downed agent in to the shock trauma unit. He'd been the one to take him to surgery, to tell his teammates his chances, and to watch as they taught him what it truly meant to be a doctor.

The love this group of men, especially Ezra, had for this man touched his heart and left his soul wanting. He wanted someone to love him as deeply and to believe in him without reservation. It gave him the incentive not to let go, to use all the skills and resources that were available to him.

The others were able to pull Ezra out into the hall before he broke away. His angry glare hid nothing as he stared the five men down, five men he had thought to be his friends.

"I would not have gotten in the way," Ezra firmly stated.

"Ez, ya didn't need to be in there," Nathan replied.

"YES… I… DID!" the southerner snarled back.

"Son-" Josiah started, only for Ezra to interrupt.

"Mr. Sanchez, I am not your SON!" Standish growled.

"Ezra-" Chris started, and he was cut off as well.

"I don't need your shit either," Ezra spit out.

The five men looked closely at their friend and co-worker of two years. The use of profanity alerted them to how close Ezra was to losing it.

"Ez…" J.D. whispered, as tears fell down his face.

"Mr. Dunne, I needed, no I need to be in there. He needs to know I'm there for him," Ezra stated, as he started toward the door to Vin's room.

"Ezra, you cannot go in there." Chris moved to stand in front of his undercover agent, and friend.

"Mr. Larabee, I have to be there. You of all people should understand my need to be there. Could they have dragged you out of Sarah's or Adam's room?" Ezra's eyes pleaded for Chris to understand and help him.

Chris's first reaction was to strike out and punch Ezra in the mouth. The pain from the possibility of losing his friend, mixed with the resurfacing of the grief of losing his family, played havoc on his sanity. Then it struck him that he was in the position that Buck was in just five years back.

Ezra looked at the men's faces, pleading for them to understand him. He could not believe that they did not comprehend the urgency of his need to be with Vin if he should not make it. The feeling of overwhelming failure that he was not going to be able to keep his promise to Vin pulled the rug out from under his feet.

"You don't understand. We'd promised each other to be there for one another 'til the end. If anything happened to either of us, the other would be there to say good-bye," Ezra revealed, as his self-control shattered.

Ezra fell to his knees as his world collapsed. The sobs shook his body as the pain became unbearable. He could not respond to the arms that encircled him and pulled him close. The southerner was so caught up in the sorrow and guilt of not keeping his promise to Vin that he tuned out everything around him. He did not feel the arms or hear the voice trying to offer comfort.

Chris had dropped down to his knees in front of the broken man and had taken him in to his arms, telling Ezra as he rocked him back and forth in his arms, the reasons why they could not let him stay in the room.

"Ezra, we're sorry. Vin would understand, I promise. He would expect us not to let you be there right now. He would expect me to be right here holding you. Vin would not want you to bear so much pain and guilt," Chris pleaded.

Josiah, Buck, JD, and Nathan stood around the two men on their knees, shielding them as much as possible from prying eyes, while Chris held Ezra as he cried. They wanted to give the men as much privacy as they could out in the open hallway outside of Vin's room. Most of the staff was in the sharpshooter's room, but the others continued to take care of other ill patients.

It suddenly hit Chris that he was doing for Ezra what Buck had done for him. Chris prayed Ezra's love of his life would not be taken from the southerner, as Sarah had been taken from him. Chris looked up and met his best friend's eyes and smiled sadly. The look of understanding that radiated from Buck's eyes made him mouth the words, "Thank you."

Buck could not hold the tears back as he flashed back to the time when Chris found out about Sarah and Adam. He understood what Chris was implying, and he replied as silently with, "Your welcome." Buck saw the tears running down the JD's face and pulled young man into a brotherly hug.

"Don't worry, JD. Jr. will pull through this, you just wait and see," Buck stated, as he consoled his friend.

"I hope you're right Buck. 'Cause if you're not, Ezra will be lost to us," JD mumbled.

Josiah watched his boy as grief over took him. He looked at Chris as he rocked Ezra in the hallway and knew they needed to find somewhere more private. The knowledge that he would lose his boy if Vin died sent a chill deep into his heart. He prayed to the good Lord for his guidance and his intervention to keep such a thing from happening. He refused to believe that God would let Ezra suffer such a devastating loss. The boy's painful life experiences were too much already in such a short life span.

Nathan could no longer fight back the tears as he watched Standish fall to his knees. 'Til this moment he never believed Ezra loved Vin as much as he was seeing demonstrated now. He knew without a doubt that he would be doing the same thing if it was Rain in Vin's place.

Nathan did the only thing he could; he went inside Vin's room to see what was going on. He wanted to see if it was not too late to bring Ezra back into the room, to give the man the opportunity they all would want if it was their loved one. The opportunity to be there to say good-bye, if given the chance.

Nurse Henderson watched as security came to the floor. Nurse Gates, the charge nurse, had called them when Mr. Standish began to be uncooperative about leaving Mr. Tanner's room. She watched how the man broke down in the hall and wanted so much to help him. She took it upon herself to run interference with security, since Nurse Gates was in with Mr. Tanner.

"Gentlemen, can I help you?" She smiled at the security officers, Mr. Sims and Mr. Collins.

"Miss Henderson, we were called up here for a disturbance," Mr. Collins replied.

"It's okay, we are taking care of it," Miss Henderson sternly replied.

"What do you call that?" Mr. Sims asked, as he pointed to the men gathered in the hallway.

"Mr. Tanner, the critically injured ATF agent, has just taken a turn for the worse," she sadly informed the officers.

"Damn! Let us know if there is anything we can do," Mr. Collins offered.

"I will. I just want to go and help his fellow officers to a more private place to wait." Nurse Henderson turned and had started toward the men, when she noticed the older gentleman smiling at her. She could see the tears falling freely down the man's face.

"Hi, my name is Miss Henderson. I'm one of the nurses here and would like to offer you the use of our break room. It would give you and your friends some privacy," she said softly.

"Your first name is Maggie, is it not?" Josiah smiled, as he offered his hand. "My name is Josiah, Josiah Sanchez."

"Yes, I'm Maggie." Maggie smiled, feeling his blue eyes touch her soul.

"I would like it if you would call me Josiah. I would very much like to take you up on the offer of the break room. That is, if it's no inconvenience to the other staff members?" the preacher responded.

"It would not be a bother. Please, come with me and we will get everyone settled. There is a coffee machine in the room and plenty of sitting space. A phone is there if you need to call anyone. Don't worry; you won't be an inconvenience to the majority of the people here. The others, well they can be dealt with," Maggie stated, followed by a wink.

Josiah was taken by the large blue eyes of one Maggie Henderson. He would do nothing about his attraction now, but when Ezra was settled, he would. He nodded, then returned to his friends and informed them of Maggie's offer.

Moving Ezra into the break room took both Chris and Josiah to lift him to his feet and guide the shell of a man there. It scared Josiah to see the lack of emotion now coming from the young man.

Buck led JD into the room, knowing the younger man was reliving his mother's illness and passing. The ladies' man looked toward Vin's room where Nathan had disappeared to about ten minutes or so ago. 'Seems like an eternity, the last couple days,' he thought.

"Where is Nathan?" Chris asked.

"He's in the room with Jr., checking up on him. He'll be back real soon," Buck whispered and looked at Ezra at the same time.

Ezra had blocked them out a long time ago. The feelings of betrayal, abandonment, and failure overwhelmed him into a state of shock. The voices just mumbled; his body was just there to be placed somewhere out of the way. Without Vin, he was nothing.

Buck recognized the look, having seen it before when Chris blocked out everything after Sarah and Adam's deaths. The only difference was he did not think they would be able to save Ezra from himself. Ezra did not know how to use his friends and draw on their strength, having had none 'til now. He would run from the pain and withdraw back behind that wall that Vin had helped break down. No, their friend would not stay with them and risk being hurt like this again.

Nathan watched as orders were shouted out and medical procedures were done. Dr. Henry recognized the ATF medic and waved him over. "Mr. Jackson, it would seem the chest tube had come out. It caused the lung to collapse, which shifted air over and placed pressure on the heart causing it to stop, but we have gotten his heart beating again. We placed in a new chest tube, and now we are just working at getting Mr. Tanner more comfortable. It was touch and go, but I think he is going to be fine. As long as no infection develops he should recover. We just don't know if there are any severe head injuries that may have come from the fall, or if there will be any serious effects for the periods of being without oxygen. The CT scan done yesterday showed that there was swelling. I would like to repeat it tomorrow as long as he continues to stabilize," Dr Henry explained, offering a smile of relief.

"Can Ezra come back in?" Nathan asked.

"Yes, please let him come back. I would like to talk with him if I may?" Dr. Henry asked.

"Certainly, please talk with him. I also have a favor to ask," the medic asked with a slight pleading in his tone.

"Go ahead and ask."

"If Vin has another crisis, I want Ezra to be allowed to stay. It seems they promised each other to be together 'til the end, to say good-bye," Nathan whispered, as he looked over at Vin and smiled, relieved that the man was still alive.

"I do not see problem with that, as long as he understands that he has to let us do our job. That is what I wanted to talk with him about anyway," the doctor explained.

Both men looked at each other and smiled. Nathan's respect for this man before him grew significantly. He was going to turn out to be a good bedside, people doctor yet. Nathan's impression of the good doctor was not a good one when they had first met. He thought the man to be a typical, cocky, pain in the ass, surgeon. The events over the last couple days, especially today, had changed that characterization of the man standing before him now.

Ezra silently chastised himself for losing control. The others must think of him as being weak and selfish. He could not help but wonder how disgusted Vin would have been at his behavior. His mother, she would disown him if she ever found out about his embarrassing emotional display.

The southerner could hear mumbled voices, and he felt hands touch and direct him somewhere. It did not matter now, especially if Vin was lost to him forever. Nothing would ever matter again. He tuned out the voices; he did not want to hear someone tell him his lover had died. Ezra could not face the fact that he broke his promise to be there. In his heart he knew that Vin would have been there for him.

The inner struggle was on for Ezra to regain his composure and to become strong again. He did not want to lean on the others or accept their pity for him. He needed his Vin, 'My Vin, I need you like a wild flower needs the rain to help it flourish and grow. Without you as my rain, I will surely curl up and die.' Ezra crawled deeper into himself seeking comfort in the memories of happier times with his Vin Tanner, who was very much alive.

Standish sat back and smiled as he watched the sun set. He and Vin had been seriously seeing each other for a month now. Tanner definitely put his all into courting and wooing him, but the tracker had yet to claim him like he had promised to do. Ezra was sure that tonight was the night that everything was going to change. Vin had kept dropping hints throughout the day, as if he was preparing his lover for the act.

"Seems like today is a special day," The tracker had said that more than a few times through out the day. The look in those blue eyes had been intense each time, possessive. The kiss Vin had given him in the Jag, before going to his jeep, was a clear promise of something more to come. That something had Ezra at that moment praying for the man's swift arrival, so his new life with Vin would start.

With today being Friday, the plans were to the start off the weekend with dinner at Ezra's tonight. They would then watch a few movies and relax together. It was the best way to start a weekend off, in the words of one Vin Tanner.

Ezra looked at the time and knew Vin would be there any minute. He looked over the dining table making sure everything was in place. He decided to light the candles and dim the lights, before going into the kitchen to check on dinner.

Standish walked into the kitchen to check on the special dinner he was preparing for Vin. He had made Vin's favorite dish of toasted ravioli with a meat sauce, green beans, and cheesy garlic bread. Ezra had been able to get the recipe for the ravioli's from Mario, who was the chef at their favorite restaurant, Bella's.

Ezra had just finished taking the bread out of the oven when the doorbell rang. His heart started to race from the excitement of seeing Vin again. 'I know tonight is the night. By tomorrow morning I will fully belong, heart, body, and soul to one Vin Tanner.' Ezra gave the kitchen and dining table one last glance to make sure everything was perfect, before going to answer the door.

The sensual smile on Vin's lips as his eyes raked Ezra's body increased Ezra's heart rate, causing it to race even faster. Standish returned the look with a radiant smile of his own that reached his desire filled eyes. 'Yes, tonight is the night he will claim me as his.'

Vin walked up to Ezra and claimed him with a sweet, soul-searching kiss. The feeling of love that radiated in the kiss shot though his body, like a flash of lightening hitting a tree, swift, fast and electrifying. He felt like he was being drawn deep into Vin's body as his lover slipped his tongue inside his welcoming mouth.

Standish could not bring himself to even think of breaking the kiss of a lifetime. Vin slowly pulled away, occasionally nibbling at his lover's lower lip.

"Ez, ya taste so good. God, I've missed ya," Vin purred as he brushed past Ezra to get into the house.

"Vin, we've just left work two hours ago." The southerner chuckled as he watched Tanner walk into the kitchen to drop off the bags he had brought.

"Ez, I miss ya when we're only a room apart." Vin turned and smiled at Ezra as he followed him into the kitchen.

"I feel the same way," Ezra replied. His curiosity got the better of him as he looked at the bag Vin was carrying. "Did you bring dessert?"

"Nope, it's already here." Vin smiled and started to unload the bags and put the items away. The beer went in the fridge, and the chips and other snack items went in the cupboard. "But, I did bring something to top it with." He smiled as he picked up the can of whip cream out of the bag.

"What is for dessert?" Ezra frowned, trying to remember what could possibly be topped off with whip cream.



Vin raked his eyes up and down Ezra's body with a hungry look in his eyes. "Yeah, you. I think that whipped cream would look good on ya and taste great." When their eyes met there was no mistaking the desire in Vin's face. "Yep, I can't wait for dessert. Ya see, it's somethin' I've been craving for a long time now. But, I can be a good boy and wait 'til after dinner."

The thought of being covered in whipped cream as his lover's dessert had Ezra shocked and unable to respond at first. No one had ever made him feel like Vin made him feel at this moment. He felt for the first time in his life that he was desired, wanted, loved, and special.

Ezra shook himself out of his shocked state and walked over to where Vin was standing, took the can of whipped cream and shook it gently. He smiled as he took off the cap after stroking the lid a few times. The effects of his seduction were not lost on Ezra; he noticed how Vin's breathing quickened and how his eyes had dilated.

Ezra lifted the can as his index finger stroked up and down the nozzle slowly, his tongue peaked out and licked his lips in anticipation of his treat. A gentle squeeze of the nozzle allowed the white cream to enter his mouth. He watched as Tanner's fascination with his actions intensified, a groan escaping Vin's throat as the cream filled his lover's mouth.

"Ez-" Vin started to say.

Ezra pulled Vin into a slow and intoxicating kiss that neither man dominated. They shared the promise of loving each other and of being together at last in the sweet connection of their souls.

Standish slowly broke the kiss but continued to clean the cream from his lover's lips. Vin then returned the favor as they smiled at the bond that this kiss had formed. There was no way either man would turn back now; they were mated for life.

"Just thought I would give you a small taste of what you are in store for," Ezra whispered as his green eyes smiled at his life mate.

Vin moved to kiss Ezra again and groaned when his partner managed to place the table between them. The southerner watched as his lover started to calculate his capture.

"Dinner first, then dessert. I spent too much time making this especially for you. Now, go and sit down and I will bring it out," Ezra instructed his paramour.

"Rather have you," Vin smiled wickedly, wagging his eyebrows.

"You have me; I'm yours for as long as you will have me," Ezra promised.

"Then be prepared to be amazed for the rest of your life, fancy man," Vin winked, as he turned to leave the kitchen.

"Your fancy man."

"Yeah, and don't ya forget it. Together 'til the end, forever," Vin replied from the dining room.

Ezra then fixed their plates and took Vin's surprise out to him. The look on his partner's face was priceless when he set the meal before him. Ezra took the seat across from the love of his life. The candlelight brought a soft glow to Vin's skin that made him even more handsome, if that was possible.

"I hope you like it. I'm sure it is not up to par with Mario's, but I did use his recipe," Ezra smiled.

Vin's smile was all Ezra needed to know he had chosen correctly. "Ya cooked this for me?"

"Yes, I cooked this just for you."

"Ezra, nobody has ever done anything special for me like this before." Tanner glanced at him, and Standish could see the child that was a part of Vin looking back at him. He felt like he had just presented Vin with the best gift of all time.

"I wanted this night to be special for us, for you. Something we would remember on our 25th anniversary and reminisce about the night we first made love," Ezra whispered.

"Ya made this for me and ya think we will be together in 25 years. Have I told ya today that I love ya?" Vin's eyes misted with tears of happiness as he looked at Ezra from across the table.

"Not in words. But, I'm beginning to realize that I don't need the words to know how you feel about me…about us," Ezra smiled.

Vin appeared to enjoy his meal. For Ezra dinner had been just perfect, not because he had made it, but because he sat there and shared it with Vin. They continued to eat in silence, which did not bother either of them at all.

"That was really good," Vin grinned.

"I'm glad you liked it," Ezra stated as he stood to start to clean up the table.

"What about dessert?" Vin whispered.

Ezra smiled at the mischief lurking in Vin's eyes as he asked that question. He was uncertain to how they should proceed; should they just go right to bed or watch a movie first. Standish had never been in a loving relationship before, let alone having someone promise to stay in his life forever.

Vin must have noticed his indecision. The sharpshooter stood and helped take everything back to the kitchen. Ezra opened the refrigerator and pulled out a large container. "I have something you like for dessert." He smiled as he opened the container.

Vin's smile widened as he noticed the peach cobbler nestled there. "Ya tryin' to fatten me up?" he chuckled.

"Really, I think with what you have consumed in your lifetime you should have accomplished that task on your own. You are one of the lucky ones that has a metabolism comparable to the speed of light and sound," Ezra teased.

"Huh?" Vin questioned.

"The food does not stick around long enough to turn into fat and, as you say, fatten you up." His green eyes sparkled as he laughed.

"I can think of some fun ways to work the calories off for you." Vin winked as he turned to get the saucers and forks for the cobbler.

Ezra smiled as he brought the container over onto the counter. It amazed him what Vin could eat and not gain a pound. Then thoughts of Vin's innuendoes of ways to burn off calories made him wonder if he would be exercised often. Just the thought brought a smile to his face.

"What ya smilin' about?" Vin asked.



"Yes, you."

"Good, you make me happy too," Vin stated as he cut the cobbler. He placed an extra large piece on one plate. "Share with me," was all he said as he took the fork with a piece of cobbler on it and offered it to Ezra, who opened his mouth and accepted the sweet treat given to him.

Vin then sauntered toward the living room with a come-hither sway. "What do ya want to watch? I brought Animal House and Killer Tomatoes," he smiled secretly.

"You brought only those movies?" Ezra frowned.

"Well, we could watch the movies or you can dance with me?" Vin offered as he held up a CD after he placed the cobbler on the coffee table.

"And what pray tell did you bring us to dance to? Wait, I know, the theme to Gilligan's Island. No, then it must be' Mama, don't let you babies grow up to be cowboys," Ezra grinned. "Don't you want to finish your cobbler first?"


Tanner walked over to the stereo and placed in the disk he had held up. As the soft tune of Faith Hill's, "Breathe," came softly out of the speaker, Vin walked over and held out his hand towards him. Ezra placed his hand in Vin's and allowed himself to be pulled closer to his lover's body. He relaxed and let his body move with Vin's to the tempo of the music, allowing the words to flow around them.

I can feel the magic floating in the air
Being with you gets me that way
I watch the sunlight dance across your face
And I've never been this swept away
All my thoughts seem to settle on the breeze
When I'm lying wrapped up in your arms
The whole world just fades away
The only thing I hear is the beating of your heart

'Cause I can feel you breathe
It's washing over me
Suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove
Baby all we need is just be
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe

In a way I know my heart is waking up
As the walls come tumbling down
I'm closer than I've ever felt before
And I know
And you know
There's no need for words right now

'Cause I can feel you breathe
It's washing over me
Suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove
Baby all we need is just to be
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe

I can feel the magic floating in the air
Being with you gets me that way.

No words needed to be spoken as Vin's lips claimed his. The kiss held both the promise of a future together and a love just finding out it's potential. Ezra responded to the kiss by pulling Vin closer giving him unconditional control of where this kiss would lead.

The need for air finally separated the lovers' lips. Vin's forehead rested on his lover's as he whispered gently, "Are ya sure you are ready?"

"Yes, I'm ready for this," Ezra answered, knowing Vin was asking if he was ready for a full commitment to their relationship.

"There will be no going back, no regrets," Vin stated.

"I will have no regrets," Ezra replied as he pulled away.

Ezra held out his hand to his lover to be and said, "Come with me." He could not stop a smile from breaking through as Vin placed his hand in partner's. The trust implied in that act was breath taking to say the least.

Ezra slowly led Vin to the bedroom, trying not to think about this being his first time to be completely with a man. He knew he could trust Vin not to hurt him. He was just worried that, with his lack of knowledge, he wouldn't be able to satisfy him.

"Don't worry, we will take it slow. Learn what we each like to do and to have done to us," Vin whispered as he pulled Ezra into his arms. They continued to kiss, slowly undressing each other and exploring the alluring skin previously hidden underneath the cloth.

Ezra barely noticed that Vin had taken something out of his pocket and tossed it on the mattress; he felt like he was on fire with each touch to his body. Vin moved him toward the bed, using his body to guide his lover there. At times their erections would brush against each other, causing each man to groan their need for more.

Ezra felt like he had floated down onto the covers. He moaned at the warm touch of Vin's body as he covered his like a blanket that felt wonderfully erotic. Skin against skin felt exotic and more pleasurable than anything he had felt before.

Lips nibbled, sucked, fondled, and aroused places he had never known could feel such ecstasy before. Then Vin's hand searched for something on the bed.

"Yes," Vin moaned when he found what he was looking for.

Ezra watched as Vin opened the small bottle of oil and rubbed some on his fingers. He watched as Vin swallowed his shaft, unable to keep from crying out his lover's name due to the pleasure that it brought him.

"OH, VIN…so good, it feels so good."

He felt Vin's finger gently prodded his opening, then it slipped slowly up inside. The burning feeling as the invader stretched him for the first time was forgotten as the suction on his cock increased. Vin continued to slip the moistened finger in and out slowly, allowing time for Ezra to adjust.

Ezra felt himself meeting the thrust of Vin's finger wanting more. The slight burn as the second finger joined the first lasted far less than when the first finger had entered his body. Then a third finger entered the foreplay, causing Ezra to whimper loudly. Vin stopped and looked up to make sure his lover was okay.

"Don't stop, please don't stop," Ezra begged as he thrust against the fingers.

"Roll over and get up on your knees," Vin instructed as he pulled out his fingers.

Ezra did as instructed, raising himself up on his hands and knees. He had read enough books on the subject of male sex to know that Vin was ready to take him.

Standish was shocked when he felt the moist tongue move over his entrance. He was even more shocked when he felt the erotic feeling it gave him to have it enter his body over and over again. Never before had anyone ever offered him such pleasure, especially before their own.

"Vin! NOW!"

Ezra moaned as Vin's tongue pulled out, and his lips started to trail up his back. Tanner's left hand held him in place, while his right hand guided his cock to his partner's loosened opening. Vin's left hand then drifted around to Ezra's hardened member and started to stroke him.

"It burns the first time, but it gets much better," Vin stated as he pushed his cock through the virgin hole's opening.

Ezra felt the burning pain as Vin entered his body. He held still, trusting Vin to help him through this.

"Just hold still and adjust to me. Then we will enjoy being bonded together, I promise ya," Vin vowed.

Ezra felt the strokes on his penis and concentrated on the pleasure, letting his body become accustomed to Vin. As the burning subsided, the pain was replaced with the want of something more, as he started to move back against Vin's erection.

"Are ya ready for more?" Vin asked, his voice raspy from the held back lust for his partner.

"Yes," Ezra moaned.

Vin then entered his lover's body all the way. Ezra could feel the control Vin was using to keep from just fucking him there and then. "VIN!" Ezra moaned loudly as he found his prostate.

"Found your pleasure spot did we?" Vin chuckled as he began to slowly thrust in and out, making sure he hit the little nub over and over again.

Soon both men were lost in the passion. There was no more pain for Ezra, only extreme pleasure as Vin continued to make him beg for more. Vin increased the pumping of Ezra's erection in time with his thrusts 'til both men found their release together, as one.

Standish felt the bed shift as Vin crawled up beside him and moved to take Ezra into his arms. Both men were out of breath and wanted nothing more than to hold each other.

"I love ya, Ez."

"I love you, Vin."

"No regrets?"

"Most definitely no regrets here," Ezra moaned.

"Will be sore for a few days, but we will still be able to pleasure each other."

"I trust you to show me," Ezra yawned.

"Yep, plus a little, learn as we go." Vin chuckled as the pulled the blanket up over them.

"I think I'm ready for a nap," Standish yawned again.

"You're gonna need one," Vin replied as he lightly kissed Ezra before sleep claimed him.

Josiah watched as Ezra sat perfectly still, his eyes closed, lost in his own little world. He had been afraid something like this would happen to the younger man if Vin were seriously harmed in any way. He prayed to God they would be able to bring Ezra back to them if Vin did not pull through today. The ex-priest looked up as Nathan and Dr. Henry entered the room.

Nathan and Dr. Henry entered the nurse's break room to bring word of Vin's survival. Nathan just wished he had better news of Vin's prognosis. The first thing Nathan noticed was the empty look on Standish's face. Nothing showed on the undercover agent's face, not even the man's poker face. Ezra's eyes appeared dull and lifeless.

Chris walked straight up to Nathan, wanting to be told something, anything. The waiting was killing them all slowly, Ezra most of all. "Nathan, just tell us straight," Chris demanded, unable to ask the question directly, 'is Vin dead?'

"Chris, Vin is okay for now. As long as no further complications arise, he should make it," Nathan stated, but something in his voice placed the others in the room on alert, except for Ezra. The southerner had yet to acknowledge anyone's presence.

"Mr. Larabee, the only other thing we are unsure of is whether the head injury and periods of possible lack of oxygen will cause Mr. Tanner to be mentally impaired or not, " Dr. Henry explained, because he did not want to offer them a sense of false hope. The young man was far from being out of the woods yet. "We will know more if and when Mr. Tanner wakes up."

"Brain damage, is that what you are implying?" Josiah asked as he continued to observe Ezra's lack of response to the news being shared.

Buck and JD looked at each other. Neither man knew how to respond to Ezra's unemotional response to Nathan's good news, and now to Dr. Henry's bad news. Neither Ezra's facial expression, nor his body language, acknowledged the men's presence or the information that was being given.

Chris bowed his head and thought about what Dr. Henry had just told them. "What are his chances of waking up normal?" Chris asked.

"Truly, I'm not sure. The Neurology team will be further evaluating Mr. Tanner. We will no longer be medicating Mr. Tanner to sedate him. We want him to try to wake up on his own. But, if at anytime he appears to be in pain, we will medicate him for it. The only time we will need to heavily sedate him is if he fights any of the treatment that is needed, such as his breathing tube or his IV's for example," Dr. Henry informed the friends and teammates of his patient.

What worried him was Mr. Standish's lack of participation in the discussion of Mr. Tanner's care. Usually, it was he that would question everything they planned to do and the reasoning behind it. Dr. Henry walked over and knelt in front of Ezra.

"Mr. Standish, can you hear me? MR. STANDISH! Do you understand what Mr. Jackson and I just said?" Dr. Henry frowned. "How long has he been like this?" he asked, as he continued to observe Ezra for any sign of recognition.

"Since we brought him in this room," JD answered.

Chris noticed for the first time how Standish had not responded to Dr. Henry's questions. The lack of Ezra's response scared him. No matter what, the undercover agent was always alert to his surroundings. Chris looked at Buck for an answer as to what to do. 'You did it for me Buck, what can we do for Ezra?'

Josiah knew what he had to do. He just did not know how the others would respond to his therapy. The ex-priest stood and walked over toward Ezra. He gently pulled Dr. Henry aside. "Excuse me for a moment, Dr. Henry. Now, son, this will hurt me as much as it will hurt you," Josiah stated. "Just remember Ezra, I'm doing this to bring you back to us, before we lose you forever."

Five men stood shocked, as Josiah drew back his hand and slapped Ezra across the face. The noise of skin hitting skin echoed in the otherwise quiet room.

"WHAT THE HELL!" Chris yelled, as he moved to stop Josiah, only to be held back by Nathan and Dr. Henry.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Josiah stated, "I refuse to sit and do nothing while Ezra retreats deeper into himself."

Ezra felt safe and warm in his memories of Vin and their first night together. The periods through the night they would wake up and take turns pleasuring each other with their lips and hands. He had learned a few new things that he had not read about in the books that he had acquired to educate himself about same sex partners. He relived the wonderful feeling of waking up in Vin's arms that morning and hearing his lover whisper close to his ear, "Good morning, sunshine."

Then the voices started to intrude, voices that did not belong in this memory. 'Go away, leave me alone,' Ezra told the unwanted voices in his head. Suddenly, a sharp pain registered somewhere in his cortex, 'but where?'

Josiah watched as Ezra's facial muscles twitched. "Ezra, Ezra, wake up now. Vin needs you son. You have to wake up and keep your promise to Vin."

The other men prayed that Josiah had done the right thing. They gasped as Josiah raised his hand again, as if to strike the gambler a second time.

"Mr. Sanchez, I heard you the first time. I'm sure it was a sound heard through out this obnoxious institution." Ezra opened his eyes and glared at Josiah.

Ezra's hostile stare lasted only a few seconds as he noticed the presence of Nathan and Dr. Henry. He wondered when they had come into the room. "Mr. Jackson, Dr. Henry, what news do you have concerning Vin?" Ezra had heard something about Vin needing him, meaning he must still be alive.

Ezra listened to Dr. Henry's assessment of Tanner's condition as told earlier to the others, unbeknownst to him. Standish felt like something was not right, but could not place a finger on what it could be. 'I will try and figure it out later. Right now I need to concentrate on what I can do for Vin.' The poker face was in place as he processed the meaning of what Dr. Henry was telling him concerning Vin's prognosis.

"I wish to stay with him at all times. It is very important that I stay 'til he leaves here on his own or…by means of the alternatives you have cautioned my about," Ezra's voiced sternly, expecting no compromise or interference to his request.

"Mr. Standish, as long as you do not prevent us in anyway from doing our job, you can stay at ALL times," Dr. Henry promised.

"Could you be so kind as to place that as an order on his chart. I do not wish to leave something as important as this to chance," Ezra asked.

"Certainly, I will write it when I leave here," Dr. Henry promised, as he silently prayed, 'I just hope there never comes a time for it to be needed.'

"Thank you, Dr. Henry. I appreciate the extra time you have taken with this request," Ezra stated as he held out his hand.

"You don't have to thank me for doing my job, but…you are most welcome. I just wish it was for a different reason," Dr. Henry replied, as he shook the man's hand.

"Yes, I agree," Ezra sadly smiled.

"Well, I have to go and check on my other patients and see if Neurology is here. Please, you have my pager number; page me if you have any questions or concerns," the doctor offered.

"We will, and again thank you," Ezra replied.

Ezra watched as the doctor walked out the door. Now was the time of realism, the time to face the others and hear how weak and selfish he was. The young agent bowed his head feeling a headache starting right behind is left eye.

"Ezra-" Josiah started.

"Please, Mr. Sanchez, first I wish to apologize for my behavior."

"Ezra, you have nothing to apologize for." Josiah replied.

"Yes, I do. I was selfish and thought of myself in Vin's room earlier. Then here in this room I thought of myself first. I let my mind travel and missed Dr. Henry coming in to inform us of Vin's health," Ezra sighed.

Nathan looked at Ezra, thinking the man was up to something. But, all he could see was the sincerity in the man's face. The southern cuss really thought he had done something wrong in his agonizing grief over Vin's close call with death.

"Ezra, I'm not sure I would have acted any different if it was Rain," Nathan stated in an attempt to reassure Standish he had done nothing wrong.

"But, it is my fault he is there in the first place. It should be me, not him, in that bed fighting for my life," Ezra growled.

Nathan looked at the others as he realized the true reason for Ezra's road to a nervous breakdown. The undercover agent was taking responsibility for Vin's injury.

"Ezra, would you have pushed Vin out of the way of a speeding bullet meant for him, if given the chance? Would you risk your life to save him?" Josiah asked.

"YES!" Ezra shouted.

"So, Vin cannot do the same for you?" Buck asked.

"It is not the same," Ezra mumbled.

"What did you say?" Chris asked, not believing what he'd just heard. "Why is it not the same?"

"Because, Mr. Larabee, it is not the same," Ezra growled. He could not believe that he needed to explain to these men that he was expendable. They needed Vin and the sharpshooter needed them, more than either of them needed him. Ezra had yet to look any of the men in the eyes.

"Ezra, look at me," Chris growled in return.

Chris now realized Vin was not lying when he'd told him of the southerner's poor self-esteem. The sharpshooter had tried to explain that the southerner's cockiness was just a defense mechanism to prevent anyone from getting close to him.

Ezra refused to look at Chris. He did not want to see the disgust and blame in his team leader's eyes. Chris had been the one to give him a second chance, and he was sure there would not be a third.

"Ezra, you did nothing wrong. Vin did nothing wrong. He did for you what you would have done for him, that is to protect the other from harm, no matter the risk," Buck stated, letting the younger man know he did not blame him for Vin's injury.

"Ezra, if I would have been in Vin's place, I would have done the same thing. We are family, and that is what family does for one another. I think we just have to work a little harder in making you believe you are a part of this family," Chris stated as he walked up to Ezra.

"Mr. Larabee-" Ezra started.

"It's Chris, and by the way this is Josiah, JD, Buck, and Nathan," Chris glared, before breaking into a small smile.

"You are not alone in this Ezra. We will be there for you and Vin. We will be here for each other as well, because we care about you," Josiah smiled.

Ezra looked up and around at the faces of his associates as they tried to tell him about being family. He scrutinized the five men closely, looking for anything that would tell him that they were lying. But, all he could see was a deep concern for him. "Mr. Lar-. I mean Chris… You do not think that Vin is hurt because of me, that I'm not at fault?" Ezra asked unable to hide the shock.

"Nope, none. The only one responsible is the one that pulled the trigger. You took care of the bastard with a single shot between the eyes," Chris replied.

"Ezra, Vin covered your back. If he had not done so, it would be you we were here praying and worrying over. Then Vin would be hovering over you and feeling guilty because he had not done his job of covering your back," Josiah stated. He wanted Ezra to realize that he had done nothing wrong.

"So, you are telling me none of you men feel that Vin's injury was my fault," Standish asked in disbelief.

"NO!" Five men yelled at once.

Ezra blurted out, "But, I'm the expendable one." The undercover agent never knew what hit him as Chris punched him square in the jaw. Ezra did not feel the impact of his fall to the floor, shocked as he was by Chris's reaction to his words.

"Don't ever let me hear you say something so asinine again. DO YOU HEAR ME? Chris bellowed.

"Ezra, none of us are expendable over the other." Nathan walked over and held his hand out offering assistance to the downed southerner. "And I don't what to hear you say that again, or I will be the one knockin' your ass to the ground."

Ezra looked at the men's faces as he reached and accepted Nathan's help up off the floor. The thought of being physically assaulted for thinking he was not worthy enough was a new concept for him. He had always been hit and beaten for trying to belong, or for just being there.

"I'm sorry Ezra, but for you to think you are not important to us, to me, well it pisses me off to no end," Chris growled. "You are a part of this unit, a part of this group of misfits that have come to be a family unit."

"Brothers to the end would be a way to describe it, I think," Buck smiled, then winked at Standish.

"Ezra, it will take time. You will come to see that you are an important person to all of us, not just as a great undercover agent and teammate, but as a true friend as well," Josiah smiled.

Ezra looked around dazed at what he was hearing, as well as still a little shaken from the personal message delivered by Chris. The southerner did not realize at first his hand was still encased by Nathan's. When he finally got back to looking at Nathan, he realized they were still connected in the form of a handshake. The southerner's eyes drifted down and took in the sight of Nathan's hand still firmly gripping his. "Thank you, Mr. Jackson." Ezra smiled as he returned the grip and shook the man's hand.

Nathan smiled as he noticed Ezra's smile and felt the grip on his hand tighten as the southerner shook his hand. Now everything Josiah had told him in the past about Ezra's feelings of not being good enough made sense to him. The cockiness was a cover to keep people from getting too close and, Standish's fear of rejection was evaded by rejecting others first. It was now clear that Ezra had never known the true meaning of friendship or how it felt to know that someone would cover his back and be there for him.

"We may disagree on many things Ezra, but I will never not be your friend. Being friends does not mean you have to always get along. Just be there when they need you, or vice versa." Nathan winked just before he ended the handshake.

Ezra watched as Nathan smiled and walked toward the door, but before he could reply JD came up and held out his hand. "Ezra, I'm happy to call you my friend. You have always treated me like an adult, unlike a few of the other of our more mature associates in this room." JD winked as he took his friend's hand and firmly gripped it. "I would miss ya a whole lot if something took you away from us, Ez."

Ezra watched as JD's eyes filled with tears. He returned the handshake with the same intensity offered, bringing a smile to their youngest member's face. "As I would miss you Mr…I mean JD," Ezra smiled.

JD smiled as he joined Nathan by the door and Buck took his place. Buck smiled his easygoing grin and then shook his head. He had not always liked Ezra, and he still didn't trust him one drop. But, things that Josiah pointed out along the way had started to make him see the southerner in a different light. That light made him see how much the man worked at making people stay away from him. He still could not believe how Vin Tanner and Josiah Sanchez had seen the real man behind the costume he wore for protection. All he knew was that he was glad that they did, for Ezra was a man he was proud to call brother. "Ez, ya are one walkin' messed up individual, but aren't we all in one way or another. Misfits are what we are. Guess that is why we belong together and don't let anyone ever tell ya different. WE ARE FAMILY." Buck stressed the last as he took Ezra's hand and firmly shook it. "I'm proud to call you brother, Brother."

Ezra watched as Buck nodded to emphasize his words and then joined JD and Nathan by the door. The big man's words touched his heart and made him feel special. "Thank you, Buck. I'm just as proud to call you my Brother as well."

Chris came up and looked at Standish and glared, but the smile on his lips told Ezra it was for show. They looked at each other for awhile before Larabee took the southerner in to a brief hug. As he pulled away, he held out his hand for Ezra to take.

Ezra could see the fight Chris was having with keeping his emotions in check. He had never thought their infamous leader would come to think of him as one of his own. Never had he thought himself worthy enough to stand up the to the Larabee standards.

"I'm not sorry I hit you. To say I was would be a lie. Just don't ever underestimate your worth to me or the others again," Chris stated. Ezra looked at Chris as he took the man's hand. The handshake was firm and held the promise of friendship Ezra had thought would never be available to him.

"Chris, I accept your apology. But I also reserve the right to return said favor in the future if needed." Standish smiled as he returned the handshake.

"I will try and remember that. Might have to work on my avoidance of incoming objects technique for future reference." Chris chuckled as the released Ezra's hand and joined the others.

Josiah looked at the men standing by the door and then pointedly directed his gaze to the door. Nathan understood the gesture and indicated to the others they needed to leave and give Ezra and Josiah some private time.

Ezra watched the silent communication between Josiah and one or more of the others now standing behind him. He was sure it was Nathan that the profiler had gestured to. The thought that Josiah wanted time alone with him warmed him and at the same time made him nervous.

Josiah watched the door as it closed, before looking back at the man he had come to love as a son. It did not matter if he was hardheaded, cocky, a maverick that took too many chances with his life, or that he was gay. All that mattered was that stubborn southern fool stayed alive, became less hardheaded, less cocky, and took fewer chances with his life. "Ezra, you are more important to me than anything on this earth. I know you don't want to hear this, but I have to tell you. I love you like a son. I had a son once; he only lived for a couple hours, but it was long enough for him to claim a piece of my heart that aches for him everyday. I will be here for you 'til the day I die." Josiah smiled as he opened his arms to Ezra, letting him make the choice to be hugged.

Ezra looked at Josiah and realized he was giving him the option of being hugged or not, that Josiah would love him no more or no less even if he chose not to step into the man's embrace. "Josiah, I don't know what it is like to have a father, let alone to be a son. I'm afraid I will disappoint you," Ezra whispered. He had always deep down wished Josiah had been his father. The southerner had wondered often how different his life would have been if that would have happened. Even if it was not Josiah, per say, but a father figure in his mold.

"Ezra, you would never disappoint me. I have seen your faults as well as your redeeming qualities. All they tell me is that you're just as human as the rest of us. Life is a lesson that we are constantly learning, and it's how we use what we learn that makes us the people we are today and in the future," Josiah smiled, never dropping his arms.

"Maybe some time you can tell me about your son?" Ezra asked.

"I would love to tell you about Zachary Micah Sanchez one day," Josiah replied still keeping his arms open.

Ezra looked deeply into the blue eyes of the preacher/profiler/parental advisor of their little group. He looked for any signs that what Josiah was telling him was a lie. Deep down he knew that the man would never lie to him, but some insecurities was hard to overcome. In his life too many people had broken their vows to love and care for him, and thus made it hard for him to trust those that promised to do so now.

"What I'm telling you is true and will last a lifetime. I will not go back on my word, to do so would break my heart," Josiah softly promised.

Ezra felt the pull to walk into the welcoming arms of his fantasy come true. He had wanted all his life to have one of his parents accept him, to love him, and to hold him. The southerner knew if he allowed Josiah to hug him the commitment to being in a father and son relationship would take hold. Vin had told him through out their relationship that Josiah held him in a special light. If he accepted Josiah as his father figure, Vin as his lover and life mate, and the others as his brothers then his family would be complete. With this in mind, Ezra walked toward the gentle giant of a man he would now consider a major figure in his life.

Josiah smiled as Ezra stepped toward him and into his open arms, and the big man wrapped them around his surrogate son and pulled him tightly against his body. The preacher's smiled widened as he felt the southerner relax into his hug. "Welcome home son," Josiah whispered.

"Thank you," Ezra replied as he wrapped his arms around Josiah and returned the offer of commitment to their new relationship. Ezra did not know why he started crying, just that the tears had started coming. Soon the tears flowed faster and he began to shake from the sobs now escaping his body.

"It's okay Ezra. Just let it out, and you will feel so much better after, I promise." Josiah held on tightly as his boy's body trembled.

Standish was not sure how long he cried on Josiah's shoulder. At first he was embarrassed and again thought of himself as being weak.

"It is a strong man that allows another to share in their burdens," Josiah stated. "It doesn't make us weak to share our grief with another person, especially a family member."

"Josiah, you really do know what to say. I'm happy you decided to denounce your vows, not because of religious purposes mind you, but because I would not have met you any other way." Ezra smiled as he pulled gently out of Josiah's embrace.

"God works in mysterious ways, Ezra. Could be I was meant to do his work here," Josiah smiled.

"Well, let me give thanks to God for such a wonderful act of insight," Ezra chuckled.

"Son, you wouldn't be mocking me and God, now, would you?" Josiah laughed knowing Ezra was just talking now to help get himself together.

"Why, Josiah, what would give you that assumption?" Ezra gasped with an over dramatized expression. "Would you care to join me in checking on Vin? I'm feeling like I have abandoned him with thinking about myself instead of him."

"Ezra, you will be able to concentrate solely on Vin now. What good would you be to Vin if the guilt was still eating at you? He will just be sorry he missed the fireworks between you and Chris." Josiah laughed as Ezra rubbed his jaw. "You will have to tell him how you got that bruise on your jaw."

"If I'm lucky, he will think it is from the bust and not ask a thing about it," Ezra replied.

"Oh, I don't think so. I'm can think of at least two people who would feel obligated to tell Vin how Chris accosted you. One because he felt it was his duty, the other just to start some mischief," the preacher explained.

"I can figure out Buck as the mischievous one, but who would feel it was his duty?" Ezra frowned.

"JD. Seems Vin made the young man promise to tell him anything one of us did to you." Josiah smiled at the shocked expression on Ezra's face.

"Vin did that. But, whatever for?" Ezra asked softly.

"Because, Ezra, you are important to him. He is like a wolf; he mates for life and protects that mate any and every way he can," Josiah informed the southerner as he placed his hand on his shoulder. "JD did it because he wanted to, and he enjoyed making life hell for Chris, Buck, and Nathan. Don't let that boy fool you, he likes to play the brother in the middle."

Ezra laughed at what Josiah was telling him. Vin watched his back, as he promised he would, but he could not believe he missed all of this going on around him. He would have to watch what he did in front of young Mr. Dunne in the future.

"Let's go and see Vin now," Ezra stated, then froze as his hand touched the doorknob. "Josiah, I can't lose him. It would be the death of me and all that I hold dear not to have him in my life to share it with me. It might even make life not worth…living."

Josiah heard the desperate plea in the young man's voice. He wished he could just snap his fingers and make everything okay again, but it was not in his power to do so. "Ezra, be strong, and know that you are not alone. We will be there no matter what happens."

"Will you be able to handle me and my grief if Vin dies?" Ezra asked.

"I will fight you if necessary to make sure you stay with us, if that is what you are asking," Josiah growled.

"I'm not sure if I would want to live," Ezra sighed.

"I will make you want to live. If I have to wrestle you down and keep you there 'til you come to your senses I will do so. I will not abandon you for any reason," Josiah firmly stated.

"Thank you," Ezra replied.

The two men left the room with an understanding that if Vin died the younger man would most likely try and end his own life too and the other would do everything in his power to prevent such act from happening. The fact that Ezra had told Josiah of such thoughts was a test. Standish trusted Josiah enough to tell him what his grief might push him to do, and to accept Josiah's pledge to him that he would protect him from himself, until he would be able to think about living again.


Chris looked at the young man fighting for his life. Vin had become an important member of his new family, the little brother he'd always wish he had. To watch him now lying there helpless, with nothing he could do to make him better, brought back painful memories of losing Sarah and Adam.

"Vin you can't give up. You can't leave us, especially Ezra and me. Ezra will be lost without you, and I'm not sure if we will be able to save him from himself. I know we will all do everything possible, especially Josiah," Chris whispered to his injured friend. Larabee kept a look out for Ezra to come in and join them, hoping Josiah would be able to get through to the young man. The last thing Vin would have wanted was to have his life mate do something stupid if anything happened to him. Chris did not think that Ezra would or could hold so much guilt over something that was not his fault. 'Well, not by most everyone else's standards.'

The ATF leader of team seven had volunteered to sit by Vin and wait for Standish while JD and Buck went for food. Nathan was involved with the Neurology people discussing their findings. Chris smiled as he remembered finding out about Vin and Ezra's relationship. Buck had called and told him to meet him at the under cover agent's condo. At first he was shocked when Buck had told him that Ezra had a thing for sharpshooter. He'd know for a long time of Tanner's feelings for the green-eyed southerner, but he never thought Standish would share them. He laughed as Buck told him about the spyglass and how he told Vin about it. Then he listened to Buck describe the phone calls to Vin to discuss what to do and what he wanted to do to surprise Ezra. It reminded him of how Buck used to help Sarah to surprise him as well.

"Cowboy, that Buck is one special friend. I knew he was a good friend, the best, but with you getting hurt and seeing Ezra go through what he has, it has made me realize just how special Buck really is." Chris kept talking to his best friend, wanting him to know he was not alone.

"Don't worry; I will be there for Ez, if you cannot be. I will not let him drift and become the angry, empty, pitiful man I almost became," Chris promised.


Ezra and Josiah walked into the room and noticed how silent it was except the beeps and swoosh sound of the respirator helping Vin to breath. Ezra looked to see if Nathan was around, wanting to hear what the specialist had to say. He noticed Chris sitting close to Vin's head and saw him whispering to unconscious man.

Chris looked up and smiled as Ezra walked toward the other side of the bed. The southerner nodded and smiled back as he took the other chair and then took Vin's hand into his.

"Cowboy, Ez is here. I'm going to go and drag Josiah for a cup of coffee and let you two have some quiet time together." Chris winked at Standish as he squeezed Vin's shoulder.

Ezra smiled as Chris grabbed Josiah and pulled him out the door, leaving him alone with Vin for the first time since the shooting. "Well, seems we have some time to ourselves. First and foremost Mr. Tanner, and yes I'm calling you Mr. Tanner until you awaken from this visit with Morpheus and tell me to stop," Ezra told his lover as he stroked the warm but unresponsive hand gripped in his.

"You do remember that this is our anniversary of being together today. I had such wonderful plans for us. This was to be a day to be remembered involving more pleasurable adventures than me watching you sleep. But, in my heart so far it is a much better day than it could have been earlier. You could have been lost to me forever, meaning I would have lost it all." Ezra's voice broke as tears fell down his face.

"Lover, I will be here with you for as long as you are allowed to be with me on this earth. I thank God for everyday I have spent with you, and I pray to God that he will give me more memories and adventures with you. I want us be to together forever and let anyone who knows us say, "They had a love to remember." Forever Vin, remember you promised forever." Ezra smiled as he kissed Vin's palm and then pulled it up and rubbed his cheek against the freshly kissed skin.

Ezra was not sure how long he sat with his lover's hand up against his cheek. He just reveled in the chance he was getting to be with life mate and offer what comfort he could.

Chris and Josiah were able to catch the others before they entered Vin's room. Without saying a word, they understood Ezra was getting quality time with Vin.

"How about we take this food and go to the cafeteria and eat?" Buck asked.

Maggie had heard Buck's suggestion and decided to offer up the break room again. Everyone was busy with the afternoon rounds and the room was empty. "Excuse me gentlemen. If you would like, the break room is available. It would give you some time alone to talk," Maggie suggested.

"Thank you, Maggie." Josiah smiled as he looked at the warm-hearted woman standing in front of him.

"It is no bother. There is a microwave and coffee maker. The coffee bags are on the top shelf. Use two bags, unless you really like weak coffee, then use only one."

"Would you care to join us for coffee?" Josiah asked.

"I can't right now. The afternoon time is usually the busiest," Maggie smiled.

"Maybe after work then?" Josiah asked.

"I get off at 7 p.m.," Maggie stated with a questioning tone to her voice. She would love to have coffee with the man.

"Then how about I take you too the coffee shop across the street, after you get off work?" Josiah smiled.

"Okay, say around 7:30, I'll meet you outside of Mr. Tanner's room, if that's alright?" she asked.

"Perfect, I will see you then," Josiah agreed as he watched her walk back toward the nursing station.

"Well, well, well. Seems our Josiah is smitten," Buck purred.

"Shut up Buck," The preacher chuckled as he led the men into the break room.

"I think she is taken with you as well," Nathan offered with a wink at Buck.

"Gentlemen, we should respect Josiah's privacy. Now who wants to chaperone the young couple tonight?" Chris stated with a straight face.

"Chris, those two I would expect this from. But from you, well, you are supposed to lead by example," Josiah protested.

"Who do you think taught Buck how to be so charming? Don't tell me you thought it came naturally to him?" Chris smirked.

The five men settled down and opened the bag of fast food and divided it up amongst them. Buck put aside the large salad he picked up for Ezra for the man to have later. He would make the stubborn southern cuss eat it, if he had to shove it down the undercover agent's throat himself.

Josiah started to remember when they'd first found out about Ezra and Vin. Then he'd come to find out that Chris and Buck had already known, in fact had helped to get them together. The preacher man had suspected something had changed in the two men's relationship with each other, but he did not know that it had developed into the deep emotional involvement one would find with one of the opposite sex.

The preacher had a hard time for the first, maybe five minutes; before he realized that the two actually belonged together. He watched how protective Vin was with Ezra, and how Tanner had moved to stand between them as if to keep anything or anyone from touching his partner.

The touch of Ezra's hand on Vin's shoulder conveyed the message that it was okay. The silent communication was all Josiah needed to see that the young man was the best thing for his boy. The team's sharpshooter would make sure nothing happened to Standish, and Ezra would do the same for Vin.

Nathan found himself telling the others about the conversation he had had with the Neurosurgeons. It seemed the Trauma people wanted the Neurosurgeons come and consult on Vin's injury. "They mostly told me the same as Dr. Henry. They want to repeat the CT scan of the head tomorrow and do an EEG." Jackson held up one hand to forestall the questions he could see forming on their lips. "And before you ask, the EEG is a test that records the brain waves. The reason they are doing this is to see if any severe damage has occurred. It still will not tell us what condition Vin will be in when he wakes up, or if he will wake up. They stopped the medicine that was keeping him sedated, but it can take anywhere from a few hours or even 'til tomorrow sometime for the medication to wear off." Nathan told the others about what was discussed about Vin's condition.

The men sat quietly for a few moments wondering when all this madness was going to end. The food that was forgotten during Nathan's explanation became a great distraction as they picked at their meal.

Buck happened to look over toward Josiah, wondering how much pain the man was in. He knew that Ezra was like a son to the older man, and that Vin had been taken under his wing due to the Texan's relationship with the southerner.

"Are ya smilin' about Nurse Henderson there preacher man?" Buck snickered.

"No, Brother Buck. I was thinking about the first time I heard about Ezra and Vin's relationship, and about how Vin was willing to take me on if I tried anything to hurt his mate," Josiah smiled.

"Yeah, he does have that over protective way about him when it comes to Ez," JD chuckled.

"Can't say I blame him, I'd do the same way with Rain. No one will harm her in any way if I can stop it. If they do, then I will make them pay." Nathan nodded as he remembered how Vin tore into him over Ezra. "It wasn't pleasant when they told me. I had a hard time at first, not believin' in a same sex relationship. But, after a good woman slapped me upside the head and made me see the light, I noticed the special way they fit each other in every way. Did you know that Rain would not talk to me for a whole week over Vin and Ezra? Another reason I love that woman, she makes me take off the blinders and take another look at things." Nathan beamed as he told them for the first time what occurred that made him change his feelings about Vin and Ezra being together.

"I think I shocked them when I laughed," JD shrugged. "When I stopped laughing and told them it was okay by me, they looked at me and smiled. Then I explained to them that my partner in Boston was gay, and that I would go out to baseball games and such with his significant other all the time. I told them that their being together didn't change how I felt about them."

"Buck, how did you figure it out?" Josiah asked.

"Well last Valentine's day I noticed Ezra comin' in early, and I saw him put something in Vin's desk. I sat and watched as everything fell into place with Jr. finding the gifts and the note. I put two and two together and told Vin. Then I enlisted Chris and we decorated Ezra's apartment, and Vin gave Ezra a Valentine he would never forget."

JD's mind started thinking that something very important as just revealed, he just couldn't think of what it was just yet, but something Buck said triggered something in his head.

"Chris, how did you find out?" Josiah asked.

"Vin told me he had feelings for Ezra long before. Buck has never been able to keep anything from me, and called me up and explained everything about Ezra being Vin's secret Valentine. I wanted Vin to have every chance of making his dream come true, and that dream was Ezra and the happy ever after theme. So me and ole Buck worked on putting together his surprise for Ezra," Chris smiled as he told his part in Buck's plot.


"What JD?" Buck asked.

"You said this happened on Valentine's Day last year, right?" JD asked.

"Yes," Buck replied.

"Today is February 14th. It's Valentine's Day," JD frowned.

"Damn, no wonder it's really hitting Ezra really hard. A year to the day of…that has to really make today even more painful," Nathan moaned into his hands.

"Have you told Ezra what the Doctors have told you?" Chris asked.

"No, was on my way when you brought us here." Nathan sighed, he just wanted to give Standish and the others better news.

"I think we need to give them more time together," Josiah suggested. He wanted Ezra to have as much time with Vin as possible, just in case the young man did not pull through.

"I think you are right," Chris agreed, knowing he would have wanted quality private time with Sarah if given the chance.


Ezra continued to talk with Vin and reminisce about their good and bad times together over the past year. The southerner would take time to brush his fingers along Vin's face and place kisses on his forehead, eyelids, and cheek. The southerner did everything he could to ignore the breathing tube that was intruding in his favorite space to explore on his lover. No one kissed him as good as Vin could, or tasted as good as his Texan did.

"Vin, wake up soon my love. I miss you so much it hurts my soul to not be able to hold you. I didn't realize just how much I need to hear you say my name at least once a day. I didn't realize how much I have come to depend on seeing you, touching you, talking to you, and living and breathing the same air as you." Ezra continued to speak this out loud, hoping Vin could hear his voice and find his way back.

Vin felt like he was floating one minute, and then the next was like a ride out of control. Then he saw a bright light out in the distance and was not sure where it would lead him. For some reason he did not want to go toward the light; something told him it was a trap. He was looking for Ezra and his gut feeling was the light would take him further away from his lover.

He was sure he was not moving forward, but the light was getting closer. He was finding it hard to breathe and started to turn back, only to find he could not do so. "No, I don't want to go. I wanna find Ezra, he needs me," Vin shouted at the light.

"Vincent Tanner, you hush now, you hear me," A familiar voice scolded him.

Vin looked around looking for who was talking to him. He was very sure he knew this person telling him to be quiet, but could not place the voice. Tanner looked again toward the light and noticed a movement coming out of the brightness. He was stunned to see his mother coming toward him.


"Yes, my boy, it's me. Now don't be afraid I'm only here to ask you a question." Jessie Tanner smiled at her only son.

Vin smiled back as he looked at his mother. She looked younger and prettier than he remembered. The look of sickness and impending death were now gone, replaced with health and beauty he had only seen in pictures of her from before he was born.

Jessica Tanner had developed complications after giving birth to her only son. Her heart had weakened, something about a birth defect undetected in her prior exams. She had lived longer than the one to two years the doctors had given her. The strong young mother fought for five years to stay alive for her son, but Jessie had not planned on her father dying a year after her, leaving her son dependent on the county to be raised.

"Vincent, do you want to live?" She asked.

"Yeah, I want to live." Vin answered as tears fell down his face. "Do ya hate me for wantin' ta live?"

"No, I want you to be happy. Why do you want to live?" Jessie asked her son as she reached up and wiped the tears away from his face.

"I love someone and I don't want to leave them. They need me." Vin replied as he leaned into his mother's touch. "It's not that I don't love you, but you are here and happy."

"Yes, I'm very happy. I want you to be happy as well. So, does this someone have a name?" Jessie smiled as she asked her son about his lover.

"Ezra, Ezra Standish. I know it ain't right bein' in love with another man, but he is everything to me. His spirit touches mine like no one's ever has before." Vin explained his feelings to his mother, hoping she would understand.

"You must love him very much to risk your life for his. Does he love you as much? Would he die for you?" Jessie asked.

"Yes, he would die for me. Not just because he loves me, but because he would think himself the less deservin' ta live. That's why I need to go back to him. He deserves to know what it is to be loved for more than just a year." Vin looked at his mother with his heart in his eyes.

"I have watched the two of you. I watched how you made his life more complete and full of love. It would be a shame to bring you here and risk losing Ezra's soul to…I don't even want to mention it." Jessie frowned, knowing that Ezra would end his life, if given the chance, if Vin should die. Losing Vin would be the last wrong of a long list of wrongs done to the unfortunate young man.

"I love you, Vin. I want nothing for you but for you to be happy. If Ezra is what makes you happy I cannot stand in your way. You will not remember this conversation we have had if you choose to go back," Jessie sadly smiled.

"I choose to go back. I can't abandon Ezra like that. He needs me and we have so much more to learn about each other. He deserves to be happy for a long time. I want us to grow old together and see what the future holds for us." Vin made his decision as he moved toward his mother and pulled her into a hug.

Jessie returned the hug as she realized how proud she was of her son. The man made the decision she hoped he would make, for she truly believed that Ezra needed her son to survive. "I love you, Vincent Tanner, and you made a wise choice."

"I love you too. I know I will find you again when it is my turn to cross over to the spirit world. I will find you when I do," Vin promised his mother as she pulled out of the embrace.

"You will not remember why you think this, but whenever a church bell rings you will know I'm saying I love you," Jessie whispered as she turned back and walked back into the light.

Vin watched as his mother disappeared back into the brightness that she had emerged from, and a feeling of contentment overcame him as again he was plunged into total darkness. This time the darkness was not overwhelming, for he knew he was going back to Ezra, back to being alive. His thoughts began to fade and memories of recent events packed neatly away for when they would be allowed to be remembered again.

Vin could hear a familiar voice talking with a southern accent. The voice was the best thing he had ever heard in his life. He still found it hard to let Ezra know he was back, 'but from where? Where did I go?' Vin felt tired and let sleep overtake him, knowing everything was okay now. Ezra was right there beside him.

Josiah softly knocked on the door alerting the younger man to his coming into the room. He did not want to just barge in on a private moment his boy might be having. The others had voted that one of them should first go in to check Ezra and see how he was doing. Then the others would follow so they could all be together when Nathan told Ezra what he had learned from the Neurosurgeons.

"Come in," a southern voice called out.

Josiah walked into the room expecting to see a forlorn Ezra, only to find a smiling, but exhausted man looking back at him.

"Josiah, I swear Vin just smiled. I could almost feel him try to squeeze my hand," Ezra smiled.

"Ezra-" Josiah started only to be cut off.

"Josiah I swear he did. I would not say it if it were not true. If I had any doubt, I would not have told anyone," Ezra vowed.

"I think I will get the doctor." Josiah nodded, as he knew that Ezra firmly believed the Texan had moved. Josiah went out into the hallway and waved Nathan over. "Seems Ezra thinks Vin smiled and tried to squeeze his hand. Maybe you should get one of the doctors to come and have another look." Josiah looked at the others as he mentioned Standish's beliefs.

"I will get Dr. Henry. Why don't the rest of you go in and be with Ezra." Nathan grinned widely as he practically ran to the nurses' station.

The four men smiled and turned to enter Vin's room. For the first time hope entered into their thoughts that Vin was going to pull through after all. They just needed to see what Ezra had seen to make it sink in and take hold.

"Gentlemen, did Mr. Sanchez inform you of the good news?" Ezra asked as he looked away from the men and back to his lover.

"Yeah, Ez, he did. When did he become Mr. Sanchez and not Josiah?" Buck asked.

"Now Buck, don't go messin' with my boy," Josiah chuckled.

"I'm sorry, Josiah, it's just a habit I will have to work on. I promise to do better in the future," Ezra replied, filing that bit of information away.

"Nathan went to find one of the doctors," Chris informed Ezra as he walked over to Vin's bedside.

Chris looked for any sign that Vin was getting better. He did notice that his best friend seemed to be more relaxed, like he was truly in a deep sleep. 'Come on pard, if anyone one can beat the odds you can.' Chris noticed Vin begin to breath funny and then the alarms when off.

Vin felt an overwhelming urge to wake up. He could hear familiar voices and wanted to know more about what was going on around him. He wanted whatever in his throat to go away as he tried to cough it out.

"Vin, darlin', relax. Don't fight the tube. Vin, if you do they are going to give you more medication to make you sleep. Please, if you can hear me, stop fighting the tube," Ezra begged as he took his lover's face into both of his hands.

Vin could hear Ezra's voice telling him to relax and something about more medicine. He tried to open his eyes, but he found it hard to do with the bright light making them hard to focus when he did try to open them.

Nathan, Dr. Henry and a couple nurses, one of them Maggie, came into the room in a rush. The older nurse went straight for the medication box and pulled out a couple vials of different sedatives. "Which medication do you want, Dr. Henry?" The older nurse asked.

Dr. Henry, who was trying to get to his patient, asked for both medications to be drawn up.

"No, please let me try and get him to relax. He is just frightened is all. Please, let me try first before you medicate him," Ezra pleaded.

"I thought you agreed you would not interfere?" Dr. Henry reminded Ezra.

"Please let me try," Ezra begged.

"What would it hurt; it could be the best thing," Maggie suggested.

Ezra moved around and got onto the left side of the bed away from the chest tube on the right, making sure he did not get tangled in anything important. He placed his leg over his lover's and his chest slightly over his lover's left side. Taking Vin's face into his hands he leaned down and began to whisper in the Texan's ear.

"My love, listen to me. Listen to my voice and let me be your guide. Relax and let me help you. There is a breathing tube that is there for a purpose. If you do not relax and listen to me, they will make me leave and pump more drugs into your body to let them do their job. PLEASE VIN, stop and listen to me. I will not let them hurt you, I promise," Ezra kept whispering.

Everyone was amazed as Vin started to settle down more and more as Ezra continued to calm his lover with his voice and his pleading. The more Tanner relaxed the more Ezra would lessen his hold on his body, but he did not break contact. His words changed from pleading to promises of what he would do, if his lover behaved and let the doctors take care of him. In the matter of minutes, Vin was calmly looking at Ezra and nodding his head yes and no to questions asked of him.

"Mr. Tanner, do you know where you are?" Dr. Henry asked and was answered with Vin nodding his head yes, never letting his eyes break contact with Ezra's.

"Mr. Tanner, do you remember what happened?" Dr. Henry asked, again receiving a nod of yes.

"Mr. Tanner, do you wish the tube to stay down your throat?" That question was answered with a glare that needed no words.

"Mr. Tanner, we are going to remove the breathing tube that you seem to have grown such fond feelings for. So, on the count of three, I want you to cough as hard as you can." Dr. Henry chuckled as he removed the tape and tube holder getting ready to take the endotracheal tube out of his patient's airway. "One, two, three, cough." Dr. Henry pulled the tube as Vin gave a nice strong cough.

Maggie immediately then placed a nasal cannula with oxygen on Vin's face with the prongs nestled in his nostrils. "Now, don't give me a hard time. I would hate to have to replace that tube," Maggie smiled.

Tanner glared at the woman as she did her job. When she had finished, Vin looked at Chris and motioned to the door with his eyes. He wanted to be alone with Ezra when he spoke his first words. He looked at his lover who had not moved off the bed. Ezra had tried to get up when Dr. Henry came over to exam him, but Vin had held tight, not letting the man move one inch away from him.

"Mr. Tanner, I need to examine you further. But, I will need Mr. Standish to move for just a few minutes," Dr. Henry requested.

"Dr. Henry, I think we need to give Vin and Ezra just a few minutes alone first. Then you will be able to exam him all you want," Chris stated as he motioned the others to leave as well.


Vin glared at the young doctor and motioned with his eyes to leave.

"If he leaves and comes back in five minutes, will you let him exam you, without me on the bed?" Ezra smiled as he asked this of his lover.

Vin nodded his head yes, and he put all the love he felt for this man lying next to him in his eyes as he nodded his agreement.

Dr. Henry reluctantly left the room with the others. He turned at the door about to say something when he saw his patient turned to Ezra. He closed the door, knowing this was something that needed privacy.

"I love you Ezra P. Standish with all my heart and soul," Vin's raspy voice vowed to his lover.

"I love you as well, Vincent Tanner," Ezra whispered, as he stroked his lover's cheek before lightly kissing his lips.

Ezra laid his head down on Vin's shoulder enjoying the feel of his lover's arm pulling him closer. He knew he should get up and let the doctor come in and finish his exam, but he needed these few minutes alone with his life mate. Both men on the bed watched as the door opened and several doctors came in. Ezra turned and smiled to his miracle before getting off the bed.

"They need to make sure everything is going to be okay. I will be right over here." Ezra pointed at the chair by the window, where Vin could watch him as the doctors did their exam.

The doctors conferred with each other then turned to offer their prognosis. It was told to Vin that he would still have a CT scan and EEG done just for safety sake. He would need to have the chest tube for a few more days, maybe longer. But, by the end of the week he should be able to go home, barring any complications. Vin and Ezra thanked the doctors for everything they had done for Tanner's care.

Ezra held out his hand to Dr. Henry and smiled sincerely, "Especially to you sir. You allowed me to keep my promise and be here for Vin. That is something I will be grateful to you for, for the rest of my life."

"Mr. Standish, you have helped me to remember what it was that made me want to become a doctor. Also, you have taught me that there is more to being a good surgeon than being able to cut and sew. There are people involved, a patient and the patient's family," Dr. Henry smiled as he returned the handshake.

"You will make a fine addition to the medical field." Ezra's smiled to let the man know he was telling the truth.

"Thank you. Now, I must get back to work. If there is anything you need just let Maggie know and she will know how to reach me," Dr. Henry told both Vin and Ezra right before he left.

Ezra looked over at Vin and noticed how tired he looked. He walked over to the bedside and decided that it was time for his lover to take a nap. "Vin, you have had a rough couple of days. You need to rest now. I will get the others to come and see you briefly and then you have to rest." Ezra smiled as he gently told his lover what was going to be done.

"I need some mouthwash," Vin stated matter-of-factly.

"Mouthwash?" Ezra questioned.

"Yeah, so I can rinse my mouth out. I want to kiss you proper like, but not 'til I rinse my mouth out," Tanner insisted.

"Oh, I think we have just what you need." Ezra smiled as he opened the drawer next to the bed. Inside he found just what Vin requested.

Standish took the bottle of mouthwash and retrieved a small basin and a cup of water so Vin could rinse out his mouth. In the mean time Ezra walked over and opened the door to let the others come in.

Ezra proceeded to explain what the doctors had told them. He informed the others they needed to go home and get some rest and that he would stay with Vin for now, but he wanted someone to relieve him in the morning so he could return to the condo and freshen up.

Soon, they finally found themselves alone. Ezra pulled two chairs together along side the bed. Vin smiled as he watched the southerner get everything organized and ready for them to settle down for the night.

"So, is that gonna be your bed every night I'm here?" Vin asked.

"Do you have a problem with it?" Ezra smiled.

"Rather have ya up here beside me," Vin suggested.

"No, it is too soon. I do not want anything to happen to extend your stay in this sterile institution as it is." Standish was adamant in his response.

"Can I have a goodnight kiss?" Vin asked his voice still raspy from the trauma of having the tube down his throat, making his voice sound sexy as he asked Ezra for a kiss.

Ezra walked over toward the bed. He looked down at the man, now fully awake, on the bed looking up at him. The indigo eyes were full of love for him as he bent down and gently kissed the lips being offered up to him. At first the kiss was soft and gentle as the lips slowly opened to deepen the kiss. Tongues dueled over who would control the sensual kiss as passion ignited between the two lovers. Ezra kept enough wits about him and did not follow through with what his body wanted him to do. He knew it was too soon for Vin to experience any physical release whether it was on the receiving or the giving end.

Ezra pulled back and rubbed his nose against Vin's; thus allowing them intimate contact but enough distance to calm their passion for each other. "We will have all the time in the world to love one another," Ezra whispered as he gently kissed his partner's face in various places.

"Forever, we have forever," Vin promised.

Ezra stood up and smiled down at Vin, letting the love he felt for the man shine in his eyes. The silent promise to love one another forever passed between them, and Ezra then prepared himself for a night's stay with his very significant other.

"Are ya sure ya don't want to crawl up here in bed with me?" Vin yawned as he was losing the battle with sleep.

"Maybe tomorrow night," Ezra replied as his eyes became heavy. He had almost fallen asleep when the sound of the door opening woke him up. Ezra looked over to see if the noise had awakened Vin, and then he watched as Maggie pushed in what appeared to be a cart of some kind.

"Shhh, I borrowed a cart from the ER. You can at least lie down and stretch out." Maggie shrugged as she pointed out the pillow and blankets on top of the cart.

"Thank you Maggie, for everything." Ezra smiled as he bent and kissed her cheek. "I think there is a man I know that you are supposed to have coffee with." He looked at her with a questioning expression.

"He is waiting for me downstairs. He is the one that piled the blankets on the cart," Maggie giggled.

"He is a good man." Ezra looked at Maggie with a concerned look. "Tread softly with his heart, for it is an open caring heart. It takes chances on lost souls and needs extra special care at times."

"I think I'm woman enough for that job," Maggie promised. "He is very special, and I'm not about to let him slip away without a fight."

"Good, if there is anything you need, please let me know," the southerner said sincerely.

"Well, there is something you can do. You can get some rest and live a long and happy life with that special man lying on that bed behind you." Maggie laughed as she turned and left a stunned man staring at her retreating form.

Ezra was grateful that Maggie was as interested in Josiah and he was in her. He could not help but think what a wonderful couple they would make. Ezra slipped off his jacket, belt, and shoes as he prepared to take advantage of the cart brought in especially for him.

Ezra moved the cart closer to Vin's bed and fixed the blankets just like he wanted them. Then he walked over to the bed and leaned down and kissed Vin, first on the forehead, and then lightly on the lips before retiring for the night.


Josiah stood proudly as he read from the scriptures for this special day. He had many things to be thankful for. Ezra was here in church today, and Vin was alive and well sitting beside his mate. Maggie sat on the other side of Ezra holding his hand and whispering in his ear. The smile on his boy's face made him the happiest. The Southerner had been so thrilled when Maggie had agreed to marry him a few days ago. Ezra had hugged him when Josiah had told him the news of his engagement, and then he was shocked and honored when asked if he would do him the honor of being his best man.

"It would be an honor and a privilege to stand up with you sir." Ezra had spoken with such pride it had brought tears to his eyes.

"No, Ezra, the honor is mine that such a good woman would want to marry me, and a good man would honor me by standing by my side," the preacher said seriously.

Josiah could still remember how Ezra had again hugged him. "You are the father that all children should have. Then this world would be such a better place because of it," Ezra had whispered.

Vin looked up at the cross with Jesus nailed to it and thanked him for giving him a second chance at life. He smiled each time he heard the church bells; for some reason he thought of how much his mother loved him each time they sounded.

"Are you okay?" Ezra whispered as he squeezed his lover's hand.

"Yeah, for some reason I love the sound of the bells. They remind me of my Ma and how much she loved me," Vin sighed.

"Loves you, I'm sure no matter where she is now your mother still loves you very much." Ezra felt so sure of that fact.

"Thanks, Ez. I have a feelin' she would have loved ya." Vin smiled not really sure why he said that.

"I'm sure I would have loved her as well." Ezra squeezed Vin's hand and directed his attention toward the front of the church, Josiah was about to start.

After church Josiah kissed Maggie good bye as she went to work. It had been planned for them to go to church together, and then Josiah would meet the others at Chris's for dinner and some movies. Sundays had become a special time for the men whenever they were not on a case.

Vin suddenly stopped as the bells began to chime again. He looked up at the bells and smiled, and then he looked up toward the heavens and sent a little prayer hoping his mother was happy in heaven.

"Well the church is still standing, so there is hope it will not collapse when I stand next to you on your wedding day, Josiah," Ezra chuckled as they walked toward the cars. The men laughed as they continued on to the parking lot, each man thankful to spend the day together, and to be able to join the other members of their misfit family later today.

"See you both at the ranch. Drive careful and be safe," Josiah yelled back at Ezra and Vin as they were getting into Ezra's Jag.

"You do the same preacher man," Vin yelled back as he listened to the bells again.

"You be careful as well my friend," Ezra replied to Josiah as he got into his truck.

Ezra looked at life mate and smiled at the gentle look on his lover's face. He knew that Vin was thinking of his mother again. The southerner found that the chiming of bells made his lover think of her. He wished that his mother loved him enough to bring such memories of her to his mind. But, he had Vin now and that was all that mattered. "Are you ready?" Ezra asked.

"Ready for what?" Vin smiled.

"To go to Chris's," Ezra gave an exaggerated sigh of frustration.

"Nope, wanna go home first," Vin winked at his mate.

"Did you forget something?" Ezra smiled.

"I wanna make love to you. Don't think I can wait 'til we get home tonight. I might just have ta jump your bones at the dinner table," Vin growled.

"Vin, really….the dinner table? Where is your restraint man?" Ezra laughed.

"Look who's talkin'. Last weekend ya jumped me in the parkin' lot at the saloon, then again in the barn at Chris's." Vin snorted as he listed the times Ezra seduced him. "At least I'm givin' ya warnin' so we can keep it private in our home."

"Private? In our home?" Ezra looked at his lover as if he'd suddenly grown two heads. "Who is it that wanted to do it in the elevator at Buck and JD's apartment building? We pulled our clothes back on just in time, or Mr. Brigs would have died of a heart attack when the elevator door opened. Then there was the time you wanted to do it on the look out over the Grand Canyon. Yes, you are quite the 'let's fuck only at home type,'" Ezra laughed.

"Ah Ezra, you exaggerate so," Vin sighed.

Ezra took the turn that would take them home. He wanted Vin to make love to him as well, and the fact that Vin wanted to go home meant that it was going to be special, that he didn't want to hold anything back.


Chris looked at the clock and started to get worried and mad at the same time. He was sure that the two adolescent acting lovers were off doing it somewhere. He could not be mad for long if that is what it turned out they were doing. But, it was still so soon after almost losing Vin that caused him to be extra worried.

"Don't worry, pard. They are just actin' like a couple of jack rabbits again is all." Buck chuckled as he slapped Chris on the back as he went back to the living room.

"They are worse than a couple of teenagers. I can't believe they almost got busted in the men's room at Inez's a couple weeks back," Nathan shook his head and laughed.

"I must say that life with them is never boring. But, I will not complain, for they are safe and still with us to create such adventures. They are starting to out do Buck with some of their stories." Josiah barely managed to keep a straight face as he looked back at Buck.

"Now, Josiah, those boys will never be able to out do me. I have many years ahead of them. Plus, they have limited themselves to being…Chris what's that word again?" Buck asked his oldest friend, in an effort to keep him from worrying about the missing two sex addicts of their group. 'Hell, truth be known, they probably do things I wouldn't even dream about.'

"Monogamous. Something you will never accomplish in a relationship, since, you can't even remember the word," Chris rolled his eyes.

"Hey, I see the Jag." JD called out from the porch where he was playing one of his laptop games.

Tanner was driving giving Ezra some time to rest. He had really given the southerner a good loving work out. He looked over at his sleeping lover and knew the man was happy they'd stopped at home before coming to Chris's.

"Vin, just do not tell Buck about this adventure. I'm not sure I could live it down." Ezra purred feeling more relaxed and well sated after the mind-blowing love making he just experienced not even an hour ago.

"Don't worry Ez; this is one for the diary. They can read about it one day after we die from loving each other too much." Vin smacked his lips and smiled at the look of desire that flared in his lover's eyes at small gesture.

"Vin, expect the same treatment when I get my strength back, maybe in the next 3 years or so." Ezra licked his lips slowly letting his tongue dance seductively in and out of his mouth.

Ezra remembered how Vin pulled him into the bedroom and undressed him slowly. Vin aroused his body using his lips, tongue, teeth, and hands. Taking him to the edge only to pull back and leave him wanting more and more. Ezra was left in a state of sexual frustration that had him begging over and over again for release.

Vin had finger fucked him over and over again, to heights of pleasure he'd never been before, but not taking him to the point of completion. Ezra had been so blinded by his passion that he had not noticed 'til Vin got off the bed, that his lover was still fully dressed. He watched as his Texan walked over to the closet and pulled out a special box. All the while he noticed the bulge in the crotch of the sharpshooter's jeans

His mouth went dry as he noticed the object that Vin removed from the box. Ezra was not sure if he should get up off the bed and run or open his legs further and trust Vin not to hurt him. The latter won out as he watched his partner look at him with nothing but love and desire in his eyes.

Ezra knew then that no matter what, Vin would never do anything to hurt him. Then the next words out of his lover's mouth made him realize this was something his mate had planned especially for him. He had at one time been in such need of his lover he couldn't make up his mind if he wanted Vin to take him with his cock or with his mouth.

"Ez, remember that night you couldn't make up your mind what ya want me to do. Well, I figured out a way ya sorta can have both," Vin smiled as he smacked his lips.

Vin pulled the lubricant out of the top drawer and generously applied some to the dildo he held in his hand. By the looks of it the size was portioned to the size of his lover's penis. It had a base at the end to prevent it from getting lost up inside of him. Ezra looked again up at his lover, seeing the question burning there.

"I trust you," was all Ezra had to say.

Vin smiled at him as he kneeled on the bed and slowly took Ezra's cock into his mouth and worshipped it with his tongue, lips, and softly with his teeth. Then he probed Ezra's anus, which he had prepared with his fingers earlier, with the tip of the soft skinned dildo.

Vin had looked up at Ezra with a worried expression when he had heard the soft hiss after the sex toy had breached his opening. "Ya okay? Am I hurtin' ya?"

"Don't stop, God, please don't stop," Ezra begged.

Vin started to hum as he continued to move up and down on Ezra's hardened member, making the southerner again moan out loud, "Yes."

Ezra felt the dildo move up inside of him 'til the base of the sex toy was touching his ass. Vin matched the movement of his mouth to the thrusting of the firm object, which now gave his lover such pleasure as well. It did not take long for the southerner to develop a rhythm of his own to match Vin's.

"Harder, please harder," Ezra begged over and over again as his prostate was rubbed with each thrust.

Ezra could feel the burning as he was about to explode, and he wanted Vin to take all that he had to offer. He wanted… hell, right now he did not know what he wanted, to far over the edge was his wanton need for release. Finally he came, with a loud scream, or as Vin said later on, "I made ya howl, babe,'" right before he passed out the sheer power of the orgasm.

Ezra woke after a few minutes to see Vin in the process of undressing himself. The southerner smiled as he watched his lover lubricate himself, using slow sensual strokes up and down is hardened shaft as he moved toward the bed. The possessive gleam in is Texan's eyes made Ezra open his legs to welcome his lover's advance. The southerner knew this joining with his mate would not only be of flesh but a joining of souls as well.

"You, always you. I want you now," Ezra pleaded as he lifted himself up and let Vin place a pillow underneath his hips.

"I love ya, Ez. I want ya to know just how much I love you," Vin growled, as he positioned himself at this lover's opening and thrust deep into the loosened entrance to his lover's warm body.

Ezra moaned loudly as he wrapped his legs around his lover and met him thrust for thrust. He encouraged Vin with words like harder, faster, and love me. "Love me, Vin, like the way only you can love me." Ezra panted as he tightened his legs, hoping to bring his lover deeper inside of him.

Vin's growled response brought a smile and made him love the man more, "No one before me, no one after me… Just… Me." Ezra knew that no one would ever love him so completely as the man loving him now. Both men's shouts of release voiced promises of love ever after.

"GOD, VIN…I love you, only you," Ezra yelled as he found his release for the second time.

"EZZZZRAAA…love ya forever," Vin screamed as Ezra felt the warm release of his lover's seed, deep inside his body.

Ezra was brought out of his memory of being loved by his mate when Vin announced; "We're here." The southerner shook himself awake and stretched, earning a lustful look from a beautiful set of blue eyes.

"Like what you see?" Ezra purred as he stretched further lifting up his pelvic area in the process.

"If you don't want me to put on a show for Buck to see a little of what we did back home, you'd better put that ass back down on the seat." Vin growled as he felt his response to Ezra's seductive stretch in his groin. "Ya sure know how to tease."

Ezra heard the loving tone in Vin's voice. It just made him reach over and pull Vin into a simple kiss of contentment. "Thank you for a wonderful day." Ezra smiled as he noticed Chris and the others standing impatiently on the porch. "But, I do believe we are about to be reprimanded for our lustful behavior."

"Don't worry me none. I have no regrets," Vin stated matter of fact like.

"I must say, neither do I." Ezra smiled as he opened the car door and exited the car.

"I apologize gentleman. But, Vin here could not keep his hands off of me." Ezra smiled as he heard Vin snort and burst out laughing.

"Can't blame a man when all ya do is tease and tease." Vin shrugged his shoulders. "Such high maintenance, but well worth it."

Chris and the others could do nothing but laugh as Ezra's smile broke out at Vin's words. The smile was one of the rare ones, for the man hardly ever shared them with the group. But, when he did it was hard to ever stay mad at him.

"Okay, dinner is now being served. Since you boys were late, you have clean up." Chris glared at the young lovers then smiled as they all entered the house like one happy family. With Vin saying he would wash and Ezra would dry. Ezra's reply being something about, "As you wish."

"I wash, you dry," Vin said with a wink, letting his lover know that he wasn't just talking about the dishes.


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