A Second Chance
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended, this story is strictly for fun, not profit.
Summary: Chris gets a second chance at happiness.
Author's notes: When I posted Long As I Live I was asked to do the scene where Chris punches the guy groping Ezra in the bar. Well, here it is. <g> Thanks to Kris and Sherri for beta'ing this story.
Feedback: Yes, yes, yes! <bg>
Chris took another sip of his beer as he gazed around the crowded bar. The smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer was almost unbearable now. But then, they had been there for hours, it was bound to start affecting them.
He watched Ezra speaking with DA Travis, noting the dark circles under the green eyes, the ashen quality to the pale features, the weary slump of shoulders.
"He's exhausted," Vin commented from beside him, also looking at their undercover agent.
"Can you blame him, brother?" Josiah asked. "He spent the last three months undercover, only meeting with one of us once a week, if that. You try doing that; never being able to let your guard down, knowing you can't trust those around you, knowing that if they find out who you are, you're as good as dead. It wears a person down."
"I'm just glad this is over," JD said. "Another case over, another bust successful. I hope we get some down time before we get a new case, though. I sure could use the rest."
"I already talked with Travis. We have the next week off. Trent was a big fish and the higher-ups are very happy we got him. They think we deserve the time off. I was waiting for Ezra to join us to let ya all know." Chris told them.
Before anyone could utter another word, Buck returned to the table, carrying six beers with him. He handed a bottle to each of the others, then sat down. "Why the long faces? Let's do what we came here to do, celebrate another successful bust! Too bad Inez's is closed for repairs. I miss that place."
Nathan smirked. "You mean you miss chasing after Inez. When are you going to give up? She'll never say yes. 'Nunca', remember?"
"I'll die trying," Buck replied with a grin. "That's one fine woman right there."
Chris exhaled softly as he watched Ezra run a weary hand over his face. "I wish Travis would stop grilling him for more information, he's had enough."
"And you haven't helped either, Cowboy."
"What's that mean?" He asked Vin.
"The months before he went under and the few times you went to meet him during the case, you were a real bastard. The smallest thing was enough to start a fight. Ezra didn't need that." The sharpshooter replied gently.
Chris looked down at the bottle in his hands, fingers busy pulling at the label. "I know."
"Why did you do it, Chris?" Nathan asked. "Even with that mask of his, it was easy to see how much you were hurtin' him."
"I've seen Chris do this once before," Buck spoke up suddenly. "When he found out he was in love with Sarah. Damn, he was a right down bastard to her. Started fights for the stupidest things, tryin' to keep her away."
"What happened?" Josiah asked curiously.
Buck chuckled. "She told him to quit it, 'cause she could see right through him. He stopped fightin' her after that and not soon after they got married."
"Would you stop talkin' about me as if I'm not here?" Chris snapped.
"Just tryin' to make a point, pard." Buck smirked. "You're in love with Ezra, that's why you've been giving him hell lately. Only difference is Ezra doesn't understand why, he can't see through you like Sarah could. All you doin' is hurting him and that ain't fair."
Josiah gulped down most of his beer. "Not to mention a waste of time."
"What do you mean?" JD asked.
"The day before Ezra went under, he and I went out. Spent the night at Inez's place. He got so drunk I had to drive him home. Amazing how the spirits can loosen a man's tongue."
"What did he say?" Chris asked, curious in spite of himself.
"Enough for me to know your feelings are returned," Josiah replied, his eyes never leaving Chris'. "You're making a mistake, brother. If you wait too long, you might lose your chance."
The other men remained quiet after that, letting him ponder all that had been said. He frowned at his thoughts. He really was in love with Ezra, the southerner had gotten under his skin, refusing to leave his every waking thought, no matter how hard he had tried.
But he wasn't certain he was ready to venture into a new relationship, especially with someone like Ezra. They were as different as the sun and the moon, the desert and the ocean. And after all the pain Sarah and Adam's deaths had brought him, he was wary to try again.
On the other hand, Josiah was right. He was wasting time and a second chance at happiness. Would it be easier to simply let Ezra go and then see him find someone else to love? Especially now that he knew the other man felt the same? Would he be able to know Ezra was in someone else's arms, being loved, caressed, possessed by someone other than him? That someone else was saying the words he wanted to say?
Ezra left Travis' table feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. The case was finally over, he was finally back with the others, but he was having a hard time getting rid of 'Elijah Summers', gun dealer and all-round scumbag. He needed some time away from the office, from work and especially from Chris Larabee.
The other man had been driving him crazy lately. The last months had been sheer torture, having to put up with Chris' uncalled for anger and aggression towards him. He just couldn't figure out what he had done to earn him such harsh treatment. It hurt beyond words, especially considering how he felt about the other man.
"As Mr. Dunne would say, unrequited love sucks," he muttered ruefully to himself as he approached the bar. "A beer, please." He asked the bartender.
"Did it hurt?" A voice asked from beside him.
"Excuse me?" He asked the man sitting on the barstool to his left.
"Did it hurt?" The man repeated.
"Did what hurt?" Ezra queried with a frown.
"When you fell from heaven." The man replied, a huge grin on his face.
Ezra rolled his eyes. "Please. At least be original. Better yet, get sober. Now, if you excuse me..."
He turned to join the others at their table, but the man rose from the stool and blocked his way. "Wait, please! It's just... God, have you looked at yourself in a mirror lately? I really, really, *really* want to jump into your pants."
Ezra exhaled sharply. "I don't think so. There's already one asshole in there."
The man laughed. "Has a sense of humor too. You just get better and better, cat-eyes. What's your name anyway? Can I call you pussycat?" He purred, trying to wrap his arms around Ezra's waist.
"I hope you have medical insurance, because there's a trip to the hospital in your future. The *near* future," Ezra snapped at the man, his patience at its limit as he struggled to keep the wandering hands off his body.
"Aw, come on, pussycat! Don't be that way, you know you want it!" The man whispered, his hands slipping down to Ezra's ass, kneading the firm mounds possessively.
Ezra growled angrily, and was about to push the annoying man away, when Chris appeared out of nowhere like the wrath of hell. He grabbed the man by the collar, pulling him away from Ezra and punching him in the face with all his might.
Ezra watched the man stumble back and crash into a table before falling to the floor and lying there in an unconscious heap. He blinked to clear his mind, then turned to Larabee.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" He snapped.
Chris looked at him, surprise clear on his face. "What do you mean, what do I think I'm doing? I was getting that jerk off your back! You obviously weren't going to!"
"I don't need a guardian, Mr. Larabee. I can take care of myself."
Chris snorted. "Right. Well, you were doing an admirable job then, Ezra. I could see it by the way that bastard had his hands all over you."
"Lord, you are the most... most... *exasperating* man I have ever met in my life!" Ezra growled. "I believe it's best if I leave before I say something we might both regret. Excuse me." And without waiting for a reply, he stormed out of the bar, painfully aware of the curious stares of the other customers.
Once outside he kept walking until he reached the Jag. Releasing a shaky breath, he leaned tiredly against the vehicle, arms resting against the hood. He laid his head on his arms, taking deep breaths until he was certain he was calm enough to drive.
He heard the footsteps seconds before the voice reached his ears. "I'm sorry, Ezra. I don't know what I did, but I'm sorry."
"I... I don't understand." He replied, his voice muffled by his arms.
"What don't you understand?" Chris asked softly.
He lifted his head, but didn't turn to face the other man. "Why... why are you doing this to me? One minute you act like you can't stand to be in the same room with me, the next you are defending my virtue. I just..." he shook his head dejectedly.
He felt the other man's warmth as he moved closer, then suddenly gentle arms were embracing him, pulling him back until he was resting against Chris' body.
"I'm sorry," Chris whispered again, breathing the words into his ear and causing him to shudder. "I love you." He said, tightening his hold as Ezra tensed and struggled to free himself. "I didn't want to face what I felt, what I feel, what could be between us. It was easier to push you away, to keep you at arms length. I'm done fighting, Ezra. Are you?"
He stopped struggling then, whimpering softly, letting the other man take all of his weight. "Yes," he panted. "Lord, yes... Please..."
"Shhh, it's okay," Chris whispered, his lips brushing over Ezra's temple tenderly. "We'll be okay, Ezra, I promise. I'm going to drive you home and you're going to get a good night's sleep. As the woman said, tomorrow's another day. We'll talk in the morning, decide what to do with our lives, where we want to go with this. Right now you're too exhausted and I'm not much better. Keys?"
Too tired to argue, Ezra gave him the keys to the Jag. "Chris?" He called as he slumped back in the passenger seat.
"Will... will you stay? The night, I mean?" He asked hesitantly.
Chris smiled, caressing his face gently with the back of his hand. "I'll stay... Forever." He vowed, leaning forward and sealing their lips together.
|On to: For As Long As I Live|
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