by Debby Gerl
Disclaimer: None of the mag 7 characters belong to me, just borrowing thank you.
Rating: R for adult topics...
Author's Note: Since so many of you asked (and threatened)... this is a sequel to my challenge fic We'll Be There. Hope you like it... Feedback is welcome!!!
Back to: We'll Be There
The images pressed in on him. Nightmares accosting him with such reality he physically struggled against them. The hands were back, rough and unyielding. The agony of humiliation swept over him like a tidal wave pulling him deeper into the dark cold waters of the past.
"Kiss me," the low harsh growl bruised him like a fist. He protested. "Just do it." The voice commanded.
"NO!" Ezra Standish sat up in bed with a harsh cry only to cry out again as the nausea hit him instantly. He was just aware enough to lean over the edge of the bed before he threw up. Groaning he rolled onto his back and grasped his head with both hands. It didn't even register that there had been an empty wastepaper basket ready and waiting.
"Good Lord." he whispered hoarsely trying to endure the agony in his head. The relentless pounding combined with oppressive reminders of the past to create a torture he'd never imagined before.
A soft knock sounded like a battering ram against his bedroom door. "Ezra?"
Ezra frowned trying to process why Nathan would be here. He couldn't find his voice.
"I'm coming in." Nathan called lightly opening the door and entering the shadowed room. The late morning sun was trying to shine through the slates of the window shades.
Ezra squinted against the blinding glare. "Are the shades closed?" he whispered.
"Yeah." Nathan grinned knowingly. "Think you can drink enough water to take some aspirin?"
Ezra thought a moment. " I doubt it."
"Want to try?"
Slowly Ezra turned his head toward the man standing over him. Another bout of nausea caught him and he was again leaning over the bed retching into the garbage can.
He heard Nathan move into the small bathroom connected to the master bedroom. Suddenly a cool cloth was pressed against the back of his neck. He lay half on his stomach, and half on his side. Letting the cool moisture of the cloth distract him from the pain.
Nathan held a second cloth in front of him. Reaching up carefully Ezra took the washcloth and wiped his face. Gradually he was able to sit up and take the cup of water in one hand and the aspirin in another. The cloth on his neck slid down his back causing him to shiver as he swallowed the offered medicine.
"Why are you here?" Ezra asked handing the glass back to his friend before he dropped it.
"Chris called. Said you'd probably be needing some help today."
Ezra frowned. How would Chris know what he needed.
"They brought you home last night." Nathan explained.
"Chris, Buck and Vin. They're out in the living room with Josiah and JD now."
Ezra looked surprised. "Did they stay all night?"
Nathan shook his head. "Only Chris."
Running a hand over his face Ezra tried to clear his aching head. "Why is everybody here now?" He tried to remember the night before. What had happened? Why were his nightmares surfacing now?
"It's Saturday. " Nathan said simply.
Ezra looked at him in confusion. What did Saturday have to do with anything?
"They're watching the game." Nathan smiled knowing Ezra had no remembrance of telling the team they could spend the afternoon at his place to watch the double header.
Ezra only nodded his acceptance of Nathan's explanation and groaned as he swayed uneasily. So Chris, Buck and Vin had brought him home last night. They must have put him to bed as well. Damn he hated showing them how weak he could be.
His thoughts flitted to the night before and he strained as much as he dared against his headache to remember what had happened and why he had chosen to get so drunk. Suddenly like a veil lifting from blinded eyes he remembered. The bust, Buck's impromptu kiss, the memories that came unbidden and unwelcome. He let out a small gasp as he looked up at Nathan. He remembered being put into bed now. Being undressed and fighting it.
Nathan was taken slightly aback by the sudden look of fright and pain in Ezra's eyes. It went deeper than a hangover. "You okay Ezra?" He asked softly. He'd known since Chris had called him this morning that there was more to the request to come over than getting Ezra through a rough hangover.
Ezra didn't answer, instead just stood shakily and made his way into the bathroom making sure to close the door behind him.
Chris looked up from the baseball game he really wasn't paying attention to as Nathan walked into the room. "He okay?" He asked as the ex-medic sat down on the couch next to him.
Nathan shrugged in frustration. "He has a hell of a hangover."
"There's more to it than that." Buck said simply.
"What do you mean Buck?" JD asked.
"Brother Ezra is dealing with demons." Josiah answered the younger man.
"Demons?" JD looked confused.
"His past Kid." Vin explained.
JD nodded slowly. "So what do we do to help?"
"Just listen." Vin said.
"Ezra's not the greatest when it comes to sharing." Nathan reminded.
"It's not something you push Nathan." Chris' voice held an edge to it.
You know something we don't?" Nathan's dark eyes narrowed as he watched for Chris' reaction to his question.
"Not really, just a hunch is all."
"A hunch?" Nathan looked at the others noting quickly that Buck and Vin were avoiding eye contact with him. "What happened here last night?"
Chris sat forward resting his elbows on his knees. He rubbed his hands over his face then looked at the others. "We put Ezra to bed."
"And?" Josiah prompted.
"And I'm sure I put up an interesting fight for them." Ezra's soft drawl caught them all by surprise as he entered the room with a grace that even hung over only Ezra could possess. He had managed to pull on a clean pair of sweat pants and a solid black t-shirt. His paleness contrasted with the shirt like a photographic negative.
Before anyone could react to his statement Ezra went on. "I normally don't take kindly to such personal interaction." He smiled at the look on JD's face. " I don't like other people putting me to bed JD." JD grinned sheepishly.
Buck watched Ezra carefully as he moved further into the room and sat in the vacant arm chair. "How are you feeling?" He asked.
"Like I drank to much and made an ass out of myself."
The other's chuckled. "The two seem to go hand and hand for all of us Brother." Josiah laughed.
Ezra ran his fingers through his damp hair and looked at Buck. " I think I owe you an apology. I fear my actions were less than stellar last night."
Buck met his gaze. "You don't need to apologize. I pushed." His tone was serious.
Ezra sat frozen for a moment then looked at Chris and Vin. He could see it in their eyes. He'd let too much of his emotions out somehow last night. They knew. His eyes locked for a moment with Chris'. "Damn." he muttered under his breath and turned toward the window.
The room was silent other than the drone of the announcers on TV. Ezra stared out the window unable to steel his emotions enough to look at any one right now. Someone turned off the television.
"You want to talk about it?" Vin's soft accent broke the heavy silence.
Ezra smiled but didn't turn away from the window. "There's not really much to say. It was a long time ago."
"That doesn't make the memories any less real."
"True." He knew they were waiting for more but he didn't think he could start.
Chris solved that problem. "Who?"
Ezra looked from the window to his hands. His fingers trembled as he picked at unseen lint on the arm of his chair. Finally he thought he could speak without his voice breaking. "A family friend. Just one of the many stops along Tour De Maude."
"How old were you?" Buck asked.
Ezra closed his eyes. "Young." He answered evading specifics.
"Maude know what happened?" He could feel Josiah watching him intently.
Ezra shrugged. "Maybe. She never sent me back there."
"How long were you there?" JD's voice sounded as shaky as Ezra felt.
"Six months or so, I think."
"So," Buck twisted his hands in front of him, "what I did..."
Ezra snapped his eyes open. "You didn't do anything but trigger a memory I wasn't prepared for Buck." His voice was hard.
Buck flinched but nodded. He knew Ezra didn't want him to feel bad about this whole incident but he couldn't help feeling that he was partly to blame for what the southerner was going through now.
Ezra rubbed his temples. His headache failing to dissipate as quickly as he had hoped it might.
"Did you ever talk to anybody else about it?" Nathan asked. He didn't want to actually suggest Ezra see a therapist but knew it might be a necessity.
Ezra chuckled softly. When he went into work yesterday morning he had no idea he'd be admitting such details of his life to these men today. Hell, two years ago and he wouldn't have even let them stay in his home let alone answer their questions or admit he'd actually gone to a shrink.
"I went to therapy if that's what you're asking." He could look at them now but he avoided prolonged eye contact still fearing he might see disappointment somewhere in the lot. "When I was older, in college."
Think you need to talk to someone now?" Chris asked wondering if he was crossing a line.
Ezra smiled. "Isn't that what I'm doing?"
"You know what I mean." Chris' voice tightened with seriousness.
Ezra nodded. "Like I told Buck, it was just a memory I wasn't prepared for, I'll deal with it." He hoped they knew he was being honest with them. It wasn't like it was the first time the past had risen up on him and caught him unaware and it wouldn't be the last.
"Is there anything we can do to help?" JD asked solemnly.
Ezra blinked in surprise. Didn't they know? "You have already helped." He told them.
"How?" Vin asked leaning forward.
Ezra felt the sudden rush of emotion but did his best to hold it in check. He really needed to get back in the game, he thought absently. He looked from one man to another seeing the concern and unconditional friendship offered by each before he returned his gaze to Vin.
His response was barely more than a whisper but each man heard it clearly in the silent room. "You're here."
|On to: The Promise|
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