by MAC

Every once and a while there is someone in your life who affects change. In you, in your friends, in your environment. Affects people, places or things in a way that is both permanent and permeating. The man who brought him love was such a force.

Ezra toyed with his short, heavy glass, the amber liquid within slowly swirling with the motion. He touched his other hand to the small amulet that lay in a fold of soft buckskin. The thing was beautiful, the same glowing color as his drink, a mellow golden yellow-brown, semi-translucent - true amber. It had been carefully worked, carved and shaped into a comfortable oblong with subtle markings engraved upon it. The marks were striations of a simple design, all lines, no particular figures or symbols. It was set in a trap of fine gold filigree, on large loop caught around a strand of worn buttery rawhide string.

An artist had created this beautiful thing, a man so humble and so talented that his goodness shone through this product of his mind and hands. And he gave it to me. Ezra's lips curved into a smile. Lightly, he touched the object again, smile still in place. Vin. Vin had made this lovely, loving object, made it for him. He let his fingers creep up over the rounded lump, feeling the intricate cage of gold wire, feeling the soapy soft surface of the stone. "Thank you, dear heart," Ezra whispered to the stone.

He sat alone in their new home, in their new bed, wishing the artist was here with him. He wanted to thank Vin again for this gorgeous gift, this glorious and loving gift. The honey-colored stone lay comfortably in the hollow of his palm now. His fingers curled around it slowly as he remembered, could nearly hear, Vin's soft drawl in his ear. "Keep this close to your heart, Ezra, it's me, it's my love of you in solid form. When I can't be there with you, touch this and know that our hearts are one, our breaths are one, our souls are one. Caught in amber as timeless as this piece, held forever, like our love." Then, Vin had nuzzled his neck and kissed him there.

Ezra started at the cold wet feel of his own fingers on his neck. He'd unconsciously touched that same spot with the hand that had been holding his glass of scotch. He grinned fondly down at the amulet, "You see, Vin? You are touching me, even now."

A moment more, Ezra stared into the depths of the warm stone, then picked it up and brought it to his lips. Delicately, he kissed the stone, almost hoping it would magically produce his lover, but the smooth, cool surface was unresponsive. This was supposed to be a very important day for them. The first day they would openly live together under one roof with the blessings of their motley family of fellow agents. And yet, Ezra understood the need for Vin to be sent to assist in the hostage event in Vancouver. He'd have gone with Vin if he hadn't been in the middle of debriefing a team of FBI agents on his own last case. Those agents didn't know about his mate, nor did the RCMP who'd requested Tanner's long gun expertise. Chris had privately apologized to him and to Vin, but it didn't stop the roll of events that had the man he loved hundreds of miles away when he should be here in bed with Ezra.

Blinking away sleep, Ezra set his tumbler on the bedside table and reached up, turning off the lamp there. He still held the stone in his hand and smiled again. "Miss you, Vin."

"Not half as much as I miss you." Vin Tanner stood in the doorway, a dark shadow, his casual slouch and easy Texas drawl balm for the tired undercover agent's lonely soul.

"VIN!" Ezra surged out of bed, amulet still clutched tightly in one hand and half stumbled to the bedroom entryway.

It was empty. Shocked, Ezra stared down the empty hall. No one. No Vin. "Vin?" The lonely cry died in the silence.

Ezra sagged against the door jamb, a waking dream he decided as his pounding heart began to slow, his breath to regulate. He felt cold, the only warm spot was the amulet in his hand. He drew it up and placed it against his chest. "Vin." He rubbed it there and wished for the man who made it.

After a bit, Ezra straightened away from the door frame and disconsolately made his way towards their bed. They were going to break it in together. For tonight, he had planned on sleeping in the living room on the couch, but his body was sore and the mattress had beckoned. He knew Vin wouldn't mind, would even insist he sleep there. They'd make it theirs soon.

Ezra dropped gracelessly down onto the tumble of bed linens and lifted the strand of leather string over his head, settling the dangling artwork on the center of his chest. Be safe, my dearest heart, he thought silently as his fingers wrapped around Vin's gift.


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