We'll Be Here
Rating: R maybe for suggested events..
Disclaimer: none of the mag 7 characters are mine.
Warnings: This is not a slash piece...but contains reference to past abuse that may be considered adult content.
Comments: This was an answer to an old challenge issued on one of the lists one night (can't even remember which one now) Just to start a fic with the first line here. "Kiss me". It started as a simple story, turned serious and then turned into a trilogy.
"I beg your pardon?" Ezra looked at Buck with something akin to horror but there was no time for explanations. Instead Buck roughly pushed the unprepared southerner against the wall and kissed him.
Buck felt Ezra struggle for a moment then his movements stilled and he followed Buck's actions. Instinctively Buck deepened the kiss and pressed himself tighter against his partner.
"Uh hmm. I don't mean to interrupt you two." Michael Kenneson cleared his throat and waited patiently for his guests to realize he had entered the room.
Buck pulled away from Ezra and winked, unprepared for the momentary look of fear and panic that flickered in the man's green eyes. There was no time to analyze it now.
Ezra recovered quickly as Buck's impromptu plan dawned on him. "I apologize for our.." he fumbled for the right word, "indiscretion."
Michael smiled knowingly and nodded his dismissal to the provocatively dressed women he had escorted into the room. " No apologies necessary," he said. "Shall we just get down to business then?"
"What the hell was that Buck?" Chris Larabee questioned as they cleaned up the site. The bust had gone down as planned following Buck's little improvisation. Ezra having recovered quickly by all appearances. Michael Kenneson was on his way to prison for trading illegal firearms.
"I didn't know what else to do Chris." Buck protested glancing over his shoulder as Ezra joined them.
"Kenneson was about to offer us those girls on good faith that we would enjoy their company. It's the only thing I could think of to get him to back off without a lot of explanation."
"Next time you intend to manhandle me in such a manner Mr. Wilmington, please be kind enough to give me a little more warning," Ezra stated evenly.
"I'm sorry Ezra. There just wasn't time, we had to wing it and that's all I could think of." Buck ran a hand roughly through his dark brown hair and sighed.
Ezra held up his hand for Buck to stop. He hadn't meant to make the other agent feel bad. "No harm done. " He slapped Wilmington's shoulder lightly and nodded to Larabee. "I'll meet you back at the office if that's all right."
Chris nodded. "We'll debrief in a half hour."
Ezra turned and walked away as quickly as he dared. He still hadn't managed to get his heart to return to its normal rate of beating. His hands shook as he fumbled awkwardly for his car keys but taking a deep breath he managed to get his jaguar's door unlocked. He slipped into the comfortable leather seat and started the engine. The interior immediately filled with soft classical music as Ezra pulled out onto the road. He drove calmly, suppressing the desire to gun the engine and tear out of the area like a bat out of hell. "Appropriate metaphor," he murmured to himself. Focusing on the drive back to team seven's ATF offices, Ezra managed to block out everything but his driving. If he could just concentrate on anything but what had happened with Buck, he knew he would be okay.
Chris watched with great scrutiny as Ezra got into his car and drove away. Something was very wrong.
"Think he's really okay?" Buck asked. He hadn't meant anything with the kiss. It was honestly the only plan he could think of to get them out of a sticky situation. He wondered if he should tell Chris that he thought he had scared Ezra.
"I don't know." Chris admitted.
Josiah, Nathan, Vin and JD joined them.
"Ready to go back to the office?" Josiah asked.
"We all set here?" Chris responded.
"Everything's taken care of." JD bounced anxiously in place, his adrenaline still leveling out. "Where's Ezra?" He asked noting that the jag was gone.
"He went back to the office already," Buck said.
"He okay?" Nathan looked concerned. Ezra had the tendency to be the loner of the group and to the former medic's consternation the most apt to hide any sort of injury from them.
"I think I scared him," Buck admitted suddenly.
"What do you mean?" Vin asked.
"I know I'd be startled if you were suddenly pinning me against the wall and kissing me, Brother." Josiah chuckled softly.
Buck shook his head replaying the whole scene in his memory. The look in Ezra's eyes was there again. "No, I scared him," He whispered. "Saw it in his eyes. He was afraid of me for a second."
Ezra carefully steered the jag into his normal parking place and turned off the engine. Closing his eyes he sat back in the contoured seat and tried to collect himself. He hated the out of control feeling that had been rolling over him since Buck's kiss. He wasn't really angry with Wilmington. He fully understood that it had just been part of the undercover rolls they'd been playing. How could Buck have known that his actions would trigger memories long locked away and thought forgotten? How could Buck have known he was using the exact same words...
Ezra ran a hand over his face in a vain attempt to keep the images from flashing through his mind. They came anyway, one after another. The hands touching him, the body pressed against him, the low growling voice commanding him to action. He gasped at their intensity and fought off a wave of nausea. Forcing himself to move Ezra locked up the jag and headed inside. He didn't need the others to find him sitting in the car and out of control.
Chris smiled as the rest of team seven followed him into the office ten minutes later. JD was lightly teasing Buck about his sudden attraction to men and ducking out of Buck's reach at the same time. Josiah and Nathan were enjoying the antics. The team had worked hard to take down Kenneson and all of them were looking forward to getting the debriefing over with and heading out to the saloon to celebrate. At the sight of Ezra's abandoned desk Chris frowned.
"We lose our Brother along the way?" Josiah asked softly.
Chris shrugged and looked at the clock on the wall. "He's got five minutes and he knows it," he said simply.
Vin entered the men's room silently. He instantly recognized the unfortunate sound of retching coming from the farthest stall. He moved to the counter and making sure it was dry hopped up onto it and leaned casually back against the mirror to wait.
Ezra opened the stall door and moved toward the counter stopping short when he saw Vin.
Their eyes locked, neither man speaking for a moment.
Finally Ezra moved to the sink and turned the water on. He held his hands under the cold stream for a moment before splashing his face and rinsing his mouth. When he looked up Vin was holding out a paper towel.
"Thank you Mr. Tanner."
"Welcome. You all right?"
"I'm fine," Ezra lied easily. "Just a little post adrenaline rush of nerves."
"I don't recall that happening before."
Ezra smiled. "I normally don't care to share the details of my nausea, even with friends." He glanced casually at his watch. "Chris is expecting us for a meeting."
"Don't want to be late then." Vin slid off the counter and waited for Ezra to precede him out of the room.
Ezra cursed to himself. He needed another minute to pull himself together but Tanner wasn't about to leave him alone. He breathed in slowly as he walked across the hall to their offices. He could do this. He'd been playing the game for twenty some years. He wasn't about to stop now.
"Glad you two could make it," Chris said as Vin and Ezra slipped into the conference room to join the others.
"Everything okay?" Josiah asked looking them over carefully.
"Everything's fine," Ezra answered as he took his seat. He looked at Larabee and waited for the meeting to get on it's way.
It only took twenty minutes to run through the case one last time and make sure they had covered every detail, but to Ezra it felt like an eternity. He felt like everyone was watching him and he knew he had to be squirming more than JD normally did. Finally it was over.
"Hey Ez are you joining us at the Saloon for drinks?" JD asked.
Ezra paused. It was their normal routine after a case was closed. Celebrate at Inez's Saloon. As much as he wanted to be away from everyone right now Ezra knew it would only draw more questions if he didn't join them.
"Yes, I'll be there," He assured the team's youngest member. He could use some stiff drinks anyway.
"You're awfully quiet tonight Ez." Buck slid into the chair Vin had just vacated to go play a game of pool with the others. Chris and Vin were teamed up against Josiah and Nathan. JD had decided he would "call" the game and was imitating PGA announcers with his hushed whispers of every movement any of the men made.
"Just enjoying my drink and the conversation around me Mr. Wilmington." Ezra smiled as his words slurred slightly. He'd lost count of his drinks a long time ago and knew he was well on his way to drunk.
"You want to talk about it?" Buck asked.
"What 'it' are you referring to?"
"What happened today, the kiss," Buck pressed on cautiously. "I'm real sorry about catching you off guard like that."
"I told you before there was no harm done." Ezra took another swig of his drink.
"I'm not so sure about that."
"What do you mean?" Ezra's green eye's narrowed as he looked at his friend.
Buck twirled his empty beer bottle in an arch on the table in front of him. "You looked scared."
Ezra snorted. "Please."
"Ezra." Buck looked at him seriously. "I saw it in your eyes. You were afraid."
"Buck, rest assured I am not in anyway afraid of you. You merely caught me unaware. You startled me, is all." Ezra hoped he was making sense.
"There's more to it than that."
"Leave it alone Buck."
"Maybe if you talked about it I could help."
Ezra stared hard at the man beside him, searching the blue eyes for an angle. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Ezra..." Buck tried again.
"Back off!" Ezra snarled loudly.
The bar quieted momentarily at the outburst. Chris and the others turned in surprise forgetting about pool.
Ezra's eyes scanned the room but he focused on no one in particular. The juke box continued to bleat out it's melody and gradually pulled the room's occupants back to their own business.
"What's going on?" Chris asked as the others returned to the table, faces full of concern.
Concern, pity. Ezra didn't care anymore. "Nothing Mr. Larabee. I'm going home." Ezra stood and swayed a moment.
"I think we better make sure you get there in one piece," Buck said reaching out to steady him. As his fingers brushed Ezra's arm the southerner pulled violently away.
"Don't touch me," He hissed. He needed to get out, away. The front door seemed too far away so he turned and hurried out the back nodding his apology to Inez as he weaved through her kitchen.
The hot stuffy bar gave way to the cool spring air in the back alley. Ezra took a few steps into the welcoming darkness and leaned back against the brick exterior of the Saloon.
Memories assaulted him as he pressed the his palms against his eyes. He needed to get home. The urge to break down was too strong. Ezra swallowed back a sob. "Oh God make it stop," he moaned as he slid down the wall to the ground. He pulled his knees up towards his chest and draped his arms over them, his head tilted back against the building and his eyes closed tight.
"Make what stop?" Chris' voice startled him and he let out a small yelp of surprise.
"Sorry," Chris apologized as he squatted down next to him. "Make what stop?"
Ezra stared at him a moment. "Nothing."
"You're lying to me Ezra."
Ezra shrugged. "I'm drunk."
"Yep." Chris smiled then grew serious again. "You gonna tell me what the hell is going on?"
"Nothing is going on."
"Then why are you out here by yourself having a break down?" Chris could see Ezra was barely hanging on. "Buck thinks it's his fault."
"It's not Buck." Ezra closed his eyes.
"Then what is it?" Chris waited.
"Ezra?" Reaching forward he shook the southerner gently but got only a low moan.
"Damn you're good at avoiding things." Chris shook his head.
Ezra was barely conscious the hands touching him. Pulling at his shoes, his shirt and pants.
"No," he whispered pushing them away, but they immediately returned.
"God, please no." He felt the shirt come all the way off and the hands insistently pushing him back on the bed.
"No," his protest grew louder and he fought harder as his pants were pulled away. He strained to sit up but strong hands held him down.
"No, no, no." His chant turned into a whimper and faded into silent tears as he gave up his struggling and sank into the merciful darkness.
Chris looked up at Buck and Vin as they stood in shocked silence watching their friend drift into a fitful sleep. They had brought Ezra home with no problem. It wasn't until they started getting him into bed that he began to fight them. The pieces of the puzzle fell into place as quickly as their hearts seemed to break.
"Dammit Ezra." Buck reached down and gently wiped a tear off the sleeping man's face. Gently he pulled the silk comforter up and tucked his friend in as much as he dared.
"Think he'll remember when he wakes up?" Buck looked at Chris again and they moved toward the bed room door where Vin stood quietly, his eyes filled with deep sadness.
"I don't know." Chris shrugged. "He's not going to let on to us if he does."
Buck nodded knowing what Chris was saying was true. "I wonder if he'll ever open up about it." Buck wondered out loud as they quietly left the bedroom.
Vin looked at the sleeping form in the bed one last time and cautiously closed the door behind him. "Doesn't matter," he said. "We'll be here either way."