Disclaimer: All the boys belong to CBS, Mirisch, Trilogy, and MGM. Thanks go to Mog for creating this wonderful alternate universe, where the seven are agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. It's so much fun!
Warnings: Some swear words.
Summary: This story is based off of Ruby's Your True Family, so it would be helpful if you read that one first. This is a rather moody Ezra piece set before he goes to Denver: Ezra contemplates the current rumors that he is on the take.
Author's Notes: I want to say thanks to Kelly for beta'ing on such short notice and thanks to Ruby for encouraging me to post. Any and all feedback will be eagerly read and cherished forever :) Now on with the story...
The petite blonde-haired waitress turned when she heard her name called and made her way to the bar, maneuvering easily through the crowded establishment. It was Friday, after all, at the Rio Bar and Grill, and the customers were having a rowdy good time. Well, all but one.
"Hey, Chuck," she greeted the burly bald man behind the bar. She set her tray on the polished wooden surface. "I thought you weren't working today."
"I wasn't going to, but Tommy called in sick. So here I am," Chuck explained as he secured a clean apron around his waist. "That guy," he said, pointing to the table she had just left. "He looks like his best friend just died. He been here long?"
Alex leaned on the bar and looked over her shoulder. The man in question was seated in a corner booth, hunched over a number of empty shot glasses lined up before him. He was dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, and a red tie loosened at the throat. From what Alex could tell, he would have been handsome if it weren't for the dark purple-green bruises that covered his face.
"Since about five," she answered, still watching the man in the corner booth. "He's just been drinking straight tequila all night long. In fact," she said straightening up and placing both hands on the bar, "he just ordered another two."
Chuck just shook his head and poured the drinks. "Yes, ma'am." He placed the glasses on Alex's tray, and she picked it up. Dodging people left and right, she made it to her destination and set the drinks before the man.
Ezra Standish glanced up when the blonde waitress appeared at his side, then watched as she placed his order before him. He didn't even thank her, just nodded slightly. She hesitated for a moment, hovering there at the end of his table. But a glare from him sent her on her way.
Good, he thought sourly. He didn't want company, didn't want to talk.
He just wanted to be alone so he could push the hurt away for a little while longer. Both the physical and the emotional. And the only thing that seemed to help at all was the steady stream of tequila he'd been consuming all night. The hurt wasn't gone, though. Just dulled a little. He'd have to keep working on that.
And so he did, by downing the contents of one glass in a single gulp. He didn't even grimace at the harsh taste; his taste buds seemed dulled by the liquor.
It had been one hell of a day. Just one of many, though, with many more to come. It was his first day back to work since Paulo Lagraven had sicced his goons on him. Four days ago he had woken up in a hospital room to watch his world fall apart. Dick didn't trust him, didn't believe him. His own friend, the only partner he'd ever been able to work with, thought he was on the take. Thought that he was working for Lagraven. The whole FBI thought he was crooked. It made Ezra heartsick to think of it.
It was funny, he mused, the way people who once were considered friends changed their minds when the rumor mill started. Ezra was painfully aware of the way that people stopped talking when he walked into a room. Of the looks they gave him when they thought he wasn't looking. Or even when they knew he was.
But the irony of it all was the fact that he had considered taking the bribe for the shortest of moments. He hadn't, of course. He had said no, and what had it gotten him? Broken ribs, a bruised face, and a world of trouble. Not to mention the hostility and distrust of his colleagues.
Just today, his first day back to work since it had all happened, he'd been called into a meeting with Deputy Director McKinley. Suffice it to say it had not gone well. An investigation was now underway to determine the truth about the allegations against him. Normally, Ezra wouldn't have worried too much about it, since he knew he hadn't done anything wrong. But he also knew there were a few people in Internal Affairs who, to put it bluntly, hated his guts. He wouldn't be surprised if they focused only on proving him guilty, not innocent. The meeting, coupled with an entire day of snide remarks and insinuations from the other agents, gave him a headache and the urge to just go home. Instead, he forced himself to endure, promising to drink his cares away after work.
And he was trying. He really was. It just wasn't working like he'd hoped it would.
"Maybe I should have just taken the damn money," he said to no one in particular, rubbing his tired eyes. "It would at least give them a reason to treat me like crap."
But he knew he never could. Despite his taste for the finer things in life, Ezra liked to believe himself incapable of taking a bribe. He had his ethics, and the act went against his nature. He might lie. He might cheat. He might manipulate people. He might even bend the rules now and again. Well, okay, frequently. But he would never break them. He had too much respect for the law.
And that was the reason he had, against his mother's wishes, become a FBI agent. To protect the people, to fight for justice, and all that other crap. To tell the truth, he really couldn't remember just now what had driven him to go to Quantico in the first place. It sure as hell wasn't so he could be branded a bad guy by his peers.
Maybe it would have been better if he'd never gotten attached to his partner. In the beginning, before he'd met Dick Palamon, he'd been determined to not like him. He was a loner. Wildcard Standish, they called him. And that suited him just fine. But then he'd met Dick, and they'd had so much in common that he couldn't help but like the older agent. And then he had to go and start giving a damn what others thought of him. What Dick thought of him.
And that, in the end, had been his undoing.
Ezra sighed and finished off the rest of the second glass of tequila he'd just ordered. It looked like he'd have to move on to something stronger soon, since his current drink obviously wasn't doing its job.
If only he hadn't met the man, he wished. Then he wouldn't have started caring. He wouldn't have been so crushed when he discovered his own partner thought he was guilty. And he wouldn't have cared that not a single person in the Atlanta office believed in him. Not one.
He still would have been upset. Still would have felt betrayed. Hurt. But he probably would have been angrier. Angry at their accusations. Angry at their lack of faith and confidence in him and his standards.
And he was angry. It was just that... the hurt was stronger at the moment.
He'd never been one for making friends. Growing up, he'd moved around too much to actually get to know anyone his own age. And the boarding schools he attended.... Well, he never belonged at any of them, and the other students made sure he knew that. How he'd longed for a friend in those days. Someone he could confide in.
And the one time he'd actually found a person like that as an adult, he'd gotten burned.
"To hell with them," he muttered angrily. Who needed friends anyway? They'd only hurt him in the end. And Ezra Patrick Standish had enough hurt to last a lifetime, thank you very much.
But he didn't want to think about that anymore. He didn't want to think about anything tonight other than keeping his glass full. Speaking of which... it was empty. Now that just wouldn't do. Maybe he'd order that strong stuff now. He had a whole night ahead of him to forget his problems. Might as well get started.
He waved down the pretty blonde waitress once more. "Whiskey," he said when she came near. "And bring me the bottle."
He had nowhere to be and a night to kill. It wasn't as if there was anyone waiting for him at home. It wasn't as if anyone cared where he was, or if he even got home safely. So maybe he'd just stay until he could no longer remember why he was there in the first place. Some people might say that he was trying to escape reality, avoiding facing his problems, putting off dealing with them.
"Damn straight," was all he could say as he poured his only hope for peace into his shot glass.
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