Disclaimer: I don't own the Magnificent Seven, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Warnings: Angst, Slash, First Time
Summary: What will it take to make Chris realize the truth of his feelings? Sequel to Lost
Ezra wondered just who this informant they were meeting was? Chris was playing his cards very close to the vest. The only information he had been given was to dress nicely, as if he ever dressed any other way, and be ready by five. "Can you tell me now where it is we are going?"
"We're going to Arvada."
"Arvada? Who is it we're meeting?"
"Bill Watson," Chris replied, giving the name of an informant he knew Ezra would be familiar with.
Ezra shot his boss a puzzled look, "Don't you find it a bit odd that Mr. Watson would wish to meet in Arvada? Why not in Denver proper?"
"Something about the need for privacy," Chris answered with a shrug.
Ezra gave a nod, that sounded reasonable. Though, it did make him wonder who Mr. Watson was afraid of? The rest of the drive was made in silence. "The Golden Europe Restaurant? This is where we're meeting Mr. Watson?"
"Is that a problem?" Chris asked, giving no hint that he knew this was Ezra's favorite restaurant.
"No, it's no problem at all. Shall we?" Ezra asked stepping out of Chris' truck.
Chris grinned, this was going to be fun. Climbing out of the truck, he walked around the front to the sidewalk. "We shall," he answered, waving his arm in a you first gesture.
Inclining his head, Ezra stepped to the door and inside the small, cozy restaurant. "Do we have a reservation?"
"Yes," Chris replied as they stepped up to the greeting station. "Larabee," he informed the man.
"Right this way ," Joe, the owner acknowledged. "Good evening Mr. Standish," he greeted Ezra.
"Good evening Joe." As they walked, Ezra glanced around the restaurant for any potential trouble that Watson might have unwittingly brought with him. He was relieved to see no indication of danger, he would hate for his work to cause trouble for Joe and Emily. Coming up to the table, Ezra's view was blocked by Chris' back. His eyes widened in momentary surprise when he saw not Bill Watson, but his friends and co-workers.
"Happy Birthday Ezra," Chris smiled.
"Thank you Chris," he stuttered. His mother would be appalled at his inability to cover the disconcertion he was feeling.
"Come on Ez, have a seat," Buck boomed. Pulling out the seat at the head of the table for him, he sat back down next to Vin.
Still stunned, he let Chris lead him to the chair. Sinking into it, he looked around the table at his friends. Glancing at Chris, he belatedly realized who had arranged this. "You did this?" At Chris' nod, a smile began to form. "How did you know this was my favorite restaurant?"
Chris grinned. "You didn't think I was made SAC of team seven cause of my pretty face, did you? I checked your credit card receipts and saw that you came here more often than any other place. Using my superior math skills, I put two and two together and came up with five," he joked.
Ezra chuckled, "I have always admired your skills in the field of mathematics."
"So what do you recommend Ez?" Buck asked.
"It is all delicious Buck," Ezra replied, ignoring the shortening of his name. "My personal favorite is the raspberry duck, but you won't be disappointed with any of it."
Just then the waitress approached their table, "Good evening gentlemen, Mr. Standish," she personally greeted Ezra. "My name is Rosie, I'll be your waitress today. What may I get you to drink?" Rosie quickly jotted down the drink orders of the seven handsome men. "I'll be right back with your drinks gentlemen."
"How long have you been coming here Ezra?" Josiah asked.
"I discovered it not long after I moved to Denver."
"Didn't know you liked German food Ezra," Nathan commented.
"As you gentlemen know, I attended several boarding schools as a lad. My favorite, and the one I attended for the longest period, was in Germany. While there, I fell in love with both the culture and the food." Ezra explained, deciding that his friends deserved an honest answer.
"Here you are gentlemen," Rosie interrupted. Setting out the drinks, she readied her pen, "Are you ready to order?"
"I think perhaps we need a few minutes Rosie," Ezra replied. After the waitress left, conversation ceased as the men began to look over their menus.
"Holstein schnitzel?" JD asked, screwing up his face in distaste as he read the description. "Why would you put an egg on a pork loin?"
"It is quite delicious I assure you JD," Ezra responded. "However, I believe you would like the Frikadellen best," he recommended.
"Frikadellen? Where's that?" Even as he asked, JD was searching the menu for the dish Ezra had suggested. Finding it, he quickly read the description. "Sounds kind of like meatloaf."
"It is similar, and yet so much better that you may never wish to eat meatloaf again," Ezra confirmed JD's comparison.
"Pork and beef patties, mixed with spices and fried. Served with German potato salad and sweet and sour cabbage," Buck read the description of the Frikadellen. "That does sound good, but I think I'm going to have the Hungarian Goulash."
"Goulash, ewww," Vin gave his opinion, several of the others around the table nodding in agreement.
"It isn't anything like that slop you probably had in school Vin," Buck assured his lover. "There was a Hungarian girl that worked with my mom, she used to make goulash for us sometimes. Beef stew meat, a brown sauce and them wide egg noodles. I think she put wine in the sauce too, it was really good."
"I think I'll have the Jaeger schnitzel," Vin decided.
Ezra hid his wince as Vin made the common American mistake of pronouncing the j as a j rather than a y. "The Jaeger schnitzel is an excellent choice Vin," he approved. "Interestingly, given your former occupation, jaeger is German for hunter."
"Cool," Vin grinned.
"I believe I will take Ezra's recommendation and have the raspberry duck," Josiah boomed.
"Y'all are going to clog your arteries eating like that you know," Nathan commented, after all he had a reputation to keep. "I think I'll have the Trout almandine," he finally decided.
"Are you gentlemen ready to order?" Rosie stepped up to the table just then. She quickly wrote down each order, answering any questions the men had. Turning to the blond sitting next to Mr. Standish, she took his order last.
"I'll have the Sauerbraten?"
"We have that made with beef brisket or with deer, which would you prefer?"
"Have the deer Chris, the Sauerbraten is so much better when made with deer," Ezra advised.
"I'll have the deer, thank you," Chris gave his order, handing his menu to Rosie.
"I must say this was quite a surprise," Ezra smiled. "I truly appreciate the effort you made," he told them.
"It was all Chris' idea Ez," Buck gladly informed him. "We just showed up when and where he told us to."
"I stand corrected, thank you Chris," he warmly expressed his gratitude. He didn't believe any of them, with the possible exception of Vin, would ever understand just what this small celebration meant to him. He honestly couldn't remember a time when anybody, including his mother; unless it served her purposes, had made an effort to celebrate his birth.
"You're welcome Ezra," came Chris' simple response. "Would you like to open your presents now or after dinner?"
"Sure pard," Buck boomed. "What's a birthday party without presents?"
"Indeed," Ezra acknowledged with a tilt of his head. "I suppose now would be a good time, if that is acceptable to you all," he asked uncertainly.
"Of course it is Ezra," Chris assured him. Silently he fumed, cursing Maude and anybody else who had made Ezra feel that he didn't deserve something as simple as a birthday party and a few presents.
"Here ya go Ezra," JD began the gift giving. Nearly bouncing in his seat, he waited for Ezra to open the gift.
Ezra took the offered package, carefully removing the wrapping paper. He smiled when he saw the gift, how appropriate and how like their youngest member. "Thank you JD, I shall enjoy the movie and the book." Holding up the Magnificent Seven dvd and the antique dime novel of the same name for the others to see.
"You're welcome Ezra," JD beamed.
"I hope you'll enjoy it," Josiah said, presenting his gift to the man he would be proud to call his son.
With the same precision and care, Ezra unwrapped the gift. "It's lovely Josiah," Ezra gasped as he gazed at the hand carved oak chess set. "Thank you," he quietly added.
"You're welcome Ezra."
"This is from me and Vin," Buck announced, handing him another package.
Ezra raised an eyebrow, "You and Vin? Does this mean it's official?"
"Yep," Buck confirmed. "Go on and open your gift Ez," he encouraged with a grin.
Something about that grin was making Ezra nervous, but he didn't suppose either of them would play a joke on his birthday. Even Buck had more class than that. Slowly opening the gift, he stared at what he held, shocked and amazed. "I don't know what to say gentlemen, thank you." He was quite touched by the gift, knowing they were both expensive and difficult to find.
"What is it Ezra?" the always curious JD asked.
"Pure silk sheets," Ezra replied, holding up the deep black sheets.
"Here's hoping you can find somebody to share them with," Buck grinned, holding up his beer in salute.
Ezra could feel himself blushing. He knew who he would like to share them with, they were even the perfect color. He wondered for a moment if Buck or Vin had realized where his affections lay. No, don't be silly Ezra. Buck is, as always, wanting everybody to be as happy as he is and they both know you like the finer things in life. There is no ulterior motive behind the gift, he lectured himself, lest he read more into the gift than was meant.
"Here's something from me and Raine," Nathan spoke up, giving Ezra a chance to compose himself as he passed his gift to the other man.
Ezra accepted the somewhat heavy gift and began to unwrap it. "Beautiful," he sighed as he ran his hands over the leather bound volume. "The Selected Poems of John Greenleaf Whittier," he read. "I thank you, and your lovely wife," he acknowledged with a tilt of the head.
"You're welcome Ezra, noticed you had a biography of him," Nathan responded, explaining the gift choice.
"It's not much Ezra, but I wanted to get you a little something," Chris said as he handed his gift to the other man.
Ezra smiled as he unwrapped the small gift. "How extraordinary," he breathed as he turned the gift over in his hand.
"What is it Ezra?" JD asked.
"A money clip," Ezra quietly replied. "Sterling silver, inlaid with mother of pearl, and a black onyx ace of spades."
"Know it isn't much, but it seemed to fit," Chris explained.
"Nonsense, it's the best gift I've ever received. No offense gentlemen," he quickly added as he realized how his words might sound. The others quickly assured him no offense was taken, understanding just what he had meant. "Ah, it would appear our meals are served gentlemen," Ezra announced.
Several hours later, Chris helped Ezra carry his gifts out to the truck as they bid the others good-night. "Thank you Chris for the party, it was quite enjoyable."
"You're welcome Ezra, I'm glad you had a good time," Chris smiled as he laid the gifts he carried in the seat. "You were right about the deer Sauerbraten," he said as he slid behind the wheel.
"I've always found Sauerbraten made with wild meat to be so much better than domesticated meat. I'm glad you enjoyed it."
"Hell yeah I did. I've only had it made with beef brisket before and that was good, but with the deer, damn." Chris smiled in appreciation, having greatly enjoyed the wonderful meal. "I'll have to remember that next time I have some deer."
"You know how to make Sauerbraten?" Ezra asked, clearly surprised.
"Yep. I found a recipe for it in one of Sarah's cookbooks. When I read that it would keep for a week, after it was cooked, without refrigeration, I learned to make it. Perfect food for long stakeouts or camping trips."
"An excellent point Chris, though wouldn't have been quite the reason I would have considered it."
"That was my first reason, but once I tasted it, I was hooked. I don't make it often, but I try to make a batch at least once a year. I'll invite you over the next time I make some," Chris offered.
"I look forward to it," Ezra grinned.
"Do you need any help?" Chris asked as he pulled up in front of Ezra's townhouse.
"I believe I can manage, but thank you Chris." Climbing from the truck, Ezra gathered his gifts and headed for his door. As the black Ram pulled from the curb, he turned to watch it go, a look of longing on his face. Turning away, he strode up the walk to his front door.
"Happy Birthday Ezra."
The sound of a familiar voice, one he'd heard only a few days earlier, speaking from the shadows startled him into nearly dropping his keys. Opening the door, he sat his gifts inside and turned around to face the man who at one time had claimed to love him. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, standing in the doorway, keeping the other man standing on the walk.
"Is that any way to greet me?" Doug Lawerence asked, stepping from the shadows.
"I have no desire to play your games Mr. Lawerence," Ezra coldly responded.
"No game Ezra," Doug softly assured. "Seeing you the other day, I realized what a fool I had been to let you get away."
"Let me get away?" Ezra sneered. "As I recall sir, you threw me out of your bed the moment the rumors of my corruption began to circulate."
Doug winced, both at the coldness and the formality of Ezra's speech. He had missed the green-eyed tempter from the moment he'd left. However, as a Deputy Director of the FBI, he could hardly be seen with a man suspected of corruption. Things were different now that Ezra's name had been cleared, and he had never stopped wanting the younger man in his bed. "That was a mistake Ezra, please won't you give me another chance?"
"I am sorry Mr. Lawerence but you forfeited any chance you had when you turned your back on me when I most needed your support. Now if you'll excuse me..."
"Is he the reason?" Doug interrupted.
"Chris Larabee, your boss. Is he the reason you won't give me a chance to make up for my mistakes?"
Ezra choked back a laugh, "Surely you jest sir. If you bothered to check, ah but I forgot you can't be bothered with investigations," he sneered. "Chris Larabee was married to a woman he loved more than life itself, would still be married if not for her untimely death. He has no more interest in me than," Ezra paused, looking for a good analogy, "than I have in you," he smirked. "Now if you'll excuse me I wish to spend the remainder of my birthday in solitude," Ezra added, stepping back and slamming the door in the other man's face.
"This isn't over Ezra, I will have you again," Doug whispered as the door shut.
Hope y'all enjoyed this opening chapter. Please feed the muse with reviews.
A/N: The Golden Europe Restaurant is real and is located in Arvada, CO. I don't know, however, if the menu items I listed are available. They come from the menu of a German restaurant I once worked at in Arkansas.