Songs in the Key of You

by Kitipurr

Heaps of praise to my Mag7 mentor Cobalt, who pulled me into this fandom with her great stories, then kept kicking me in the ass until I started writing stuff. She does a killer beta, too.

This thing called love
I just can't handle it
This thing called love
I must get round to it
I ain't ready
Crazy little thing called love

This thing called love
It cries in a cradle all night
It swings, it jives
It shakes all over like a jelly fish,
I kinda like it
Crazy little thing called love

...the pounding rhythms could be felt in his very cell structure...

Ezra Standish nibbled on his pencil absently as he stared at his computer screen. The computer screen which had not changed by even a single letter for well more than an hour. Not even an additional period.

Meanwhile, the pencil had been chewed to ribbons.

"Ez, you in there?"

"Hm?" Ezra glanced up at the tall lanky figure of Buck Wilmington, his green eyes taking a moment to focus.

Buck settled his hip on the edge of Ezra's desk, studying his teammate carefully. "Yo, Ez. You've been in la-la land for an age now. Somethin' botherin' you?"

"No, no," Ezra murmured absently. "Just thinking about last night."

...every breath seemed to resonate the sensuality of the music surrounding him, matching the movements of the dancers on the bar...

"The meet went alright, didn't it?" a new voice inquired, and then Josiah Sanchez was sidling up on the southerner's right - well, as much a man of his significant figure could sidle. "Did something happen we should know about?"

Ezra began to realize that his wandering mind was causing consternation among his teammates. "No, gentlemen, everything is perfectly on track, I assure you. I was simply going over the various nuances of the situation. Making sure I read every subtly carefully. The noise of the club, the lights, you know..."

"So, everything's okay?" Buck frowned.

Ezra nodded. "Absolutely, gentlemen. I believe this evening I shall be able to make direct contact with the mark and procure his attentions quite effectively." He waved a hand absently in the air. "Never fear, my friends, I am perfectly positioned to connect with our quarry."

"Just be careful," Josiah chided the younger man. "Bullock is known to be volatile at best, violently psychotic at worst. Don't take any chances with this guy." dancer in particular...

"At least Vin's perfectly placed to keep an eye on things at the bar," Buck said. "Makes me feel better that you're not alone in the same room with that pig."

"Mister Wilmington, I would hardly be alone in an establishment that regularly presses the limits of its two hundred attendant capacity."

"Ya know what I mean," Buck growled. "Yer bait for the big fish. Ya shouldn't be alone without the backup of people who know what's what."

"And he won't be at any time." The voice of Chris Larabee, leader of ATF Team Seven, made the final proclamation. "That's why I set everything up the way I did. Based on your profile, Josiah, Bullock won't be able to resist Ezra's charms but there is no way we're letting that man get a chance alone with him. Another agent in the area at all times, no exceptions. That's why he has a bodyguard, a chauffer and a personal assistant. And why Vin's placed at the bar and Nathan's placed at the penthouse. And when it isn't feasible for one of us to be there, his `clients' are keeping an eye on him."

Chris steadied his gaze on his primary undercover officer. "No kidding, Ezra. No going off half-cocked on this one."

"I gave you my word, sir, and I assure you I have no intention of breaking it."

Indeed, Larabee had actually pulled Standish into his office for a lengthy private discussion on just how dangerous Leroy Bullock was, and Ezra hadn't been lying when he'd promised to keep in sight of one of his ATF cohorts at all times. Bullock was one scary creature, according to his profile and all the crimes that were suspected of the man. Ezra Standish may be stubborn and usually very independent, but no one ever accused him of being stupid.

"How's Vin doing?" Chris asked with a knowing grin. Vin Tanner had been less than thrilled when given his assignment in the undercover sting operation, but had agreed that he did fit the role perfectly.

"Couldn't be better," Buck chuckled as Ezra swallowed against the thought. "God help me, but Junior's perfect for the part. Aside from them little hidden talents a'his, he's got the look that has the barflies falling all over themselves just to get him to stroke their ice cubes."

You have no idea, Mister Wilmington...

"Just hope he isn't pushing himself too hard," Nathan sighed. "He's been working the ten-to-close shift which means he's getting out of there no earlier than four in the morning, then he comes in here and files his report for the night before going home. Not a good schedule for him." The ex-paramedic looked at his boss. "Have you even spoken to him on the phone recently?"

Chris shook his head. Vin had been placed over two months ago to ensure no one would connect his presence to Ezra's appearance on the scene. Vin's late-night schedule meant that his teammates rarely saw him anymore, since he was usually sleeping when they were awake, and vice versa. Chris had been reluctant to relegate his best friend to a daily voicemail check-in, but other cases on the team's plate couldn't be left waiting just because the sharpshooter was building his undercover credentials as a bartender. Thus, Vin and Chris had seen each other maybe twice total in ten weeks, and the rest of the team had been left to getting updates on their friend from the stoic blond.

Ezra had begun to frequent the club about three weeks ago, regularly meeting with random members of other ATF units to set up his presence. Ezra would take a table on the far side of the dance floor for his `meetings' and his counterparts - all appropriately impressive looking in size, shape and demeanor - would appear. The `clients' would stay for an hour or so and then either escort Ezra from the club or disappear, leaving Team Seven's man with his Wilmington-shaped bodyguard or his Sanchez-shaped chauffer. They had continued to set up meetings for several nights a week until they were sure Bullock had noticed Ezra's presence and obvious `business dealings'.

Leroy Bullock was known for his preferences in men - particularly smart young men with dark auburn hair and dimples. The criminal was also known to bristle if anyone appeared to be conducting business in his territory and the man had recently staked out Club Adonis as his turf. For Ezra Standish - or rather, Erik Stanton - to have begun holding clandestine business meetings of his own there was certain to attract the deviant's attentions.

Last night it had appeared that attention would become up close and personal... until Vin had interrupted the man's approach. Josiah had mentioned in their preliminary planning that it would be better if Bullock were to make several attempts at contact before being successful - a sort of `playing hard to get' of the business world. So far, Ezra's `clients' and `employees' had done a fine job of keeping Ezra constantly occupied. But last night Roger Jonas, the ATF agent meeting with Ezra, had been suddenly paged and had to excuse himself to the bathrooms.

Wilmington had not been along that night due to a late meeting with the DA regarding testimony he would be giving in a court case in the next few days, and Sanchez had `been excused' by his `employer' when Jonas had arrived and thus had already withdrawn to wait at the car outside. So Ezra had been alone at his table for five whole minutes.

Bullock had started to move toward him at six.

...leather pants slung so low it was just a hair away from complete indecency... skin-tight tank-top... leather arm band wrapped around an otherwise naked and muscular bicep... leather headband...

But Vin had intervened.

...sheer animalistic presence... drops of sweat along that absolutely magnificent brow. Sultry eyes boring into him from across the room...

Ezra closed his eyes against his wandering thoughts and tried to focus on the conversation which had continued without him. Something about Vin's last voicemail complaining about how long it was going to take to get the smell of smoke out of his hair when this was all over and what he wouldn't give for a decent cup of coffee instead of the `frou-frou shit' the bar served.

In his mind's eye, the southern agent could see Jonas walking away from his table, could hear the changing rhythms as a new song began pounding over the dance floor speakers. He could see the calculating look on the criminal's face from the table in the corner where he held court every night. The look Ezra had been receiving for at least a week now since Bullock had figured out what Ezra was doing in `his territory'. Bullock would not likely deign to introduce himself when any additional people were around the new businessman, and until this moment Ezra had never been alone for a minute.

Vin, with his ever vigilant watch, had been tracking the situation. Ezra knew the sharpshooter made it a habit of backing off his drink-mixing duties when Ezra arrived, letting the other five bartenders handle the customers while Vin did things like check the stock and notify the manager of their needs via the bar computer message relay, refill the napkin stacks at the order locations and so on. Things that allowed him to maintain his cover while still covering his partner.

When Vin had seen Bullock start to maneuver his way out of his chair, his intent obvious... Vin had Rung the Bell.

Ringing the Bell was something that happened several times a night at Club Adonis. There didn't have to be a reason for it. Sometimes it was because it was someone's birthday, sometimes an anniversary or other cause for celebration... and other times one of the employees simply felt like it. It drew everyone's attention immediately to the employees at the bar and those roaming the floor who quickly moved to their assigned locations.

The club DJ would instantly put on something particularly ripe - Bonnie Raitt's "Slow Ride" or Kim Carnes'"Draw of the Cards" if they were in the mood for sultry; Shakira's "Wherever, Whenever" or Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca" if they felt a little Latin pop might do; Tab Benoit's "Me and My Guitar" or Dave Thompson's "Standing in the Rain" for some hot guitar blues; Melissa Etheridge's "If I Wanted To" or Santana's "Smooth" for an up-tempo romp. Whatever it was, the patrons knew the show was on.

...the dancers leapt off the bar into the crowd, each selecting partners to join in the dance...

The employees would dance.

Look into my eyes and tell me what it is you see in me
Would you look into my eyes?
Look into my eyes and tell me what it is you see in me
Could you tell me what you see? eyes staring down at him, twinkling...

It was the main reason that Vin had fought the assignment - the lanky Texan hated to dance in public. The few times Buck had managed to drag the team out to a dance club, the young man had practically glued himself to his chair.

Not that he couldn't dance. That had been proven the night JD had suggested such a thing and the resulting wager on it had rapidly hit the rafters. At the end of a round of Eric Carmen's "Hungry Eyes" Vin had found himself almost five hundred dollars richer, and Buck, JD, Chris and Nathan had found themselves ignored on the parquet by their respective dates as the women practically fist-fought over dancing with the man from Tascosa.

Ezra had been unable to move from his chair for over an hour.

When the team had discovered that an international contraband importer had begun making appearances at one of Denver's oldest and most established clubs for the `unencumbered gay populous', three years of research suddenly became an active sting operation. JD and several of Casey's `out' friends had done a reconnaissance trip to determine the best ways to get an agent on the inside.

And the first time someone had Rung the Bell, JD had known exactly who was going in. And how.

To Vin's credit, it had only taken Buck and Chris to hold him back from his attempt to strangle the team's quickly retreating youngest. Which was good, since Nathan, Josiah and Ezra had been laughing too hard at the entire situation to really assist.

However, everyone (including the reluctant sharpshooter) had agreed that Vin was the best man for the job. Once appropriately attired, he fit the bill for the typical Adonis employee - ripped muscles, lean stature, good looking in a boyish yet slightly dangerous way. And, aside from Ezra, Vin was the only member of the team who had any bartending skills - learned at some unmentioned point in his rather ambiguous youth. A crash brush-up course with Inez at The Saloon and the Texan could make just about any drink anyone could think of, including such gems that he'd subjected his `taste-testers' to: the Dirty Ashtray, the Gorilla Snot, and the Foreplay - perfected just for Buck.

Vin had a job bartending at Club Adonis by the end of his first interview. And three phone numbers from other employees.

...small smile, the most seductive thing he'd ever seen... just a slight quirk of the lips...

JD had made a few other trips to the club during Vin's first few weeks, checking things out, making sure Tanner didn't have any problems fitting in. Coincidently, the young man never seemed to get the correct drink order, and at least twice had ended up with a strawberry margarita dumped in his lap by some clumsy waiter. JD had reported that every time he ended up needing to do laundry, Vin had looked awfully smug behind the bar.

...hand held out to him...

Of course, JD had also reported that Vin didn't seem to have any problems getting up on the bar to dance when someone Rang the Bell.

...not an offer, but a command...

Can't live on promises, won't sleep at night
Don't understand the things you say
Till I read them in your eyes
Got to run on instinct, got to go by feel
Got to trust my senses, know it is for real

The first night Ezra had made his presence known, along with bodyguard Buck and Carlos Briane from Team Two, they had been eagerly awaiting a glimpse of Vin's talents. They had been at their table maybe fifteen minutes, Ezra and Carlos having a discussion - as best one could over the music - with Buck perched on the back of the booth, hovering over Ezra in a way that screamed `straight man in gay bar' as well as `bodyguard - probably packing'. They had only justreceived their first drink order when someone had Rung the Bell.

Knowing what was coming, the three agents had looked up with concealed glee and anticipation. They had listened to the first pulses of "Glorious" by Remy Zero and watched as bodies started appearing on the bar.

And then there was Vin.

Two of the bigger bartenders reached down from their positions and lifted the slender man into the air, giving it the appearance that he flew into place. Clad in black and leather, the barely-there tee-shirt made of cotton so thin it was nearly see-through, his long curls either damp from the heat of the bar or gelled to appear just-stepped-out-of-the-shower fresh, the man was obviously considered the main attraction by his fellow dancers. Instead of evenly spacing themselves, the four other dancing bartenders (one always stayed behind the bar) gave him wide berth on the three-foot- wide perch.

And the man used every inch.

...his suit jacket removed, tossed aside, leaving him in only the black short-sleeve tee he'd worn underneath... blue eyes laughing at him...

Buck had later described it as watching a prowling panther, the Texan's dancing so erotic even the gregarious ladies' man had a hard... uh, make that difficult time catching his breath. Vin had taken the word `sensual' to a whole new definition, and when the bartenders had come down off the bar half-way through the song to dance with the patrons Vin was given first pick from the crowd of men barely restraining themselves from falling at his feet in worship. It was the sort of scene Wilmington would otherwise likely have used for comic material for weeks... except that not even Buck had been resistant to the predatory beauty that had been graciously turned on a member of the clientele.

...firm hand taking his, pulling him the few steps to the floor... all around them, patrons making room to allow the dancer and his chosen partner the space to...

Ezra had spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out how he could carry a spare set of boxers with him for future club dates.

Last night, Vin had Rung the Bell to interrupt Bullock's advance toward Ezra. As expected, the moment the bell had rung the entire populous - including the tall portly criminal - had frozen and turned to the bar. The music had started, the dance had begun, and the only movement was atop the bar or the various employee dance columns around the room. Bullock's eyes had been glued to the longhaired leather-clad Texan and his fellow bartenders gyrating to the shouts of the crowd and the beat of Heart's "Little Queen". You could practically smell the pheromones in the air when the group hit the dance floor during the extended guitar solo.

And Vin had made a beeline right for Ezra. hand on his waist, gripping firmly, the other guiding his arm up and around the man's neck... long auburn curls, heavy with the moisture of the air, brushing against the skin on his arm...

The sharpshooter had moved across the floor... floated, really... and landed at Ezra's table in barely a few steps. Blue eyes had met and held green ones in place as the lean man bent over the table, gesturing for the southerner to join him in the dance. Ezra had felt his heart leap into his throat.

...did he have any idea what he was doing? How this was affecting... god...

Some other patron, in an attempt to be helpful, had practically lifted the stunned Standish out of his seat to break the frozen tableau - the hunter and his sexual prey. Vin had flashed a nearly feral smile as he pulled his friend out onto the floor, not even bothering to look behind him, sure that the sea of bodies would part to give them room.

...pulling their bodies close, tugging him in tight, pressing against him... good lord...

And they had danced. Ezra tentative at first, allowing Vin to take complete control and lead. It had taken some gentle coaxing for the southerner to allow his body to relax into his partner, allow Vin to pull them together, melding them into each other in the heat. Vin had pulled Ezra's hips tight against his own, moving his forehead down against his friend's, pulled Ezra's arms around him. The music had washed over them, every beat surging through them.

And Ezra had lost his mind. Among other things...

I'm getting to the point where I don't feel the pain
And I've had enough - I'm ready for the next time it hits me again
Cause I've gotten tough,
It doesn't faze me and now I've made my decision
I may be crazy
It's not as though I don't know that condition

Until I'm through with this blue situation
Pass me the wine, it's just a minor variation


A small thunk on his forehead brought him back to the present again. His five coworkers were staring at him with various levels of worry, amusement and confusion.

"Ezra, are you okay?" Chris asked. "You sorta zoned out there."

"I'm fine, Mister Larabee," Ezra said, mentally shaking himself. "I am simply lost in thought, I'm afraid. Trying to consider all possibilities for tonight's little event. While I am quite convinced that tonight we must allow the fish to procure the inducement, it does not mean I have no considerations for my participation."

"Huh?" JD asked, more than willing to admit that once again the undercover specialist's trademark prose had left him clueless as to what had actually been said.

"I think that means he's tryin' to decide what suit to wear," Josiah chuckled. Ezra waved his hand in a not-really-annoyed, not-quite-amused gesture and went back to his computer even as his mind wandered off again.

Dear God, how would he survive this evening?

They say around the way you've asked for me
there's even talk about you wantin' me
I must admit that's what I wanna hear
But that's just talk until you take me there

If it's true don't leave me all alone out here
Wonderin' if you're ever gonna take me there

Tell me what you're feelin' cuz I need to Know...

...My every thought is of this bein' true
It's gettin' harder not to think of you...

Vin smiled as he stepped into the bar.

The first week or so of this assignment had been sheer hell. He'd hated the smoky atmosphere, the loud music and the crowds. He despised wearing what he felt was practically nothing, and what he did wear was too damn tight. He felt nearly naked in the leather low-rider pants that left nothing to the imagination, and the tee-shirt was so thin you could count the hairs on his almost hairless chest through it. The club's manager had had a lot of fun costuming his latest employee, enthusing about the way the pants accentuating Vin's `assets' and how `hot' he looked; he'd gleefully added the leather armband and headband to encourage a `dangerous' look.

Vin had refrained from killing the man, sure it wouldn't likely help the case if he were up for the murder of his new boss.

Next had come learning to dance on the bar. The head bartender had taught him the basics - how to mount the `stage', how to get down into the audience without killing himself or a bystander, and some more elaborate moves that he swore were crowd-pleasers. Vin had hidden his nervous embarrassment in a smile and done his best, only to be told he needed to relax and loosen up.

He had drowned his frustrations in mental plotting of how to get even with JD.

His first night he'd been relieved to be assigned the non-dancer duties in an effort to help him get comfortable with the situation. He'd watched the other bartenders' dancing, studied their moves... and prayed for a broken leg, sure he would never be able to do what he would certainly be expected to if not the next night, then one very soon.

His first night at the bar had been followed by a three a.m. phone call to Ezra.

The undercover agent had been the only one to not tease Vin mercilessly about the position. The southerner seemed to completely understand how uncomfortable Vin was in such a setting, and had managed to refrain from even a passing glib remark. Of course, Buck, JD and Chris - and even Nathan and Josiah to a degree - had more than made up for it, but that was beside the point. Ezra had, instead, allowed Vin to voice his extensive fears about having to dance, having to appear as the confident, sensual creature he was expected to be. And the advice had been simplistic but sound...

"It's really very simple, Mister Tanner. Imagine the kind of person you believe would be in this position, and then be him. Put on his face, his clothes, his mannerisms, his entire being. Tuck the real Vin Tanner away in your mind's closet. When you walk through the club doors, you are no longer the smart, deep, immensely complex man that we trust with our lives. You are no longer the thoughtful poet; you are no longer the exceptional marksman. You are a new man, a different man. You are afraid of nothing and no one. You never feel ashamed because everything you do is exactly as you want to do it. You do not make mistakes."

"I dunno, Ez. I don't know if I kin separate myself like that."

"Then perhaps find inside yourself the qualities you need."

"How do I do that?"

"Well... think about when you are shooting your gun. What do you do? Describe to me the exact process."

"I don't understand..."

"Just try. Explain to me what you do. The very basics."

"Well, I dunno... I guess... I see what I want to hit, aim, and fire."

"Correct. You don't think about whether or not you will hit your target; you just do, correct?

"Well, yeah..."

"It is the same with creating a character, Mister Tanner. You simply are. Do not think about it, do not consider how unlike the real you it is - just be."

"Ya make it sound so easy."

"Well... I suppose it is now, but it was not so at the beginning. But that is where your experience as a sharpshooter comes in. See the kind of person you want to be for this role. Just like aiming at a target. See it, be it. If you want to be seductive, simply be it. Don't think about whether Vin Tanner the sharpshooter is, but simply be it as Vin Torres the bartender is.

"Imagine that you are whomever and whatever you believe Mister Torres to be, whatever you believe him to be. If he is sensual, then you are. If he is the center of attention, then you are. If he is an exceptional dancer, as you already are, then he knows he is and so do you. You must simply become the man behind the bar, the man who wears the skin of Vin Torres."

It sounded ridiculous but Tanner had spent his next morning standing in front of the mirror as Ezra had suggested, looking to see the man he was supposed to be. He started naked, looking at the man in his natural form, at the hair and eyes and shape of the person who would be Vin Torres. Then he had slowly put on the clothes, one piece at a time, getting used to the feel, imagining the man who would choose such an outfit as part of his normal attire. Feeling the butter-soft leather caressing his skin. He even did the `let's pretend' exercises Ezra had suggested - pretending to be a rock star, a gigolo, a man on the prowl.

He had turned on the music and gave in to the rhythm. Vin wasn't into self-deception; he knew he was a good dancer. He had always been able to feel the beat deep within him as something primal and natural. Now, he had to learn to not be self-conscious about it when someone else was around to watch. So he danced for hours, letting himself go, watching himself dance in the mirror. Forcing himself to watch every move.

And that night at the bar, he had been Vin Torres. He had closed his eyes and played `let's pretend' in front of the crowd, until the second chorus when he had opened his eyes and simply been the man in the mirror.

After that, it got easy. Even fun. Taking Ezra's advice, he pretended he was a famous actor performing in a movie. He wasn't Vin Tanner, but an entirely different person. But at the same time, he discovered he could see parts of himself in this character. Like the dancing. He'd always loved to dance, learned the love from one of his foster parents who was a dance teacher. He'd loved to watch how graceful she was when she moved to music, whether ballet, jazz or simple `tribal' style as she called what happened in bars. She had taught him to dance as an expression of himself - a way to tell a story, to both be in complete control and at the same time let go of every inhibition.

And he loved it. He was amazed when that woman, who had danced professionally for years and had taught dance to some of the top dancers in the country, told him that he had a very special natural gift.

Dance was a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exercise. In the privacy of his home he often turned up the stereo and just let the music take him. But Vin Tanner was a private person - some might even say shy, in some circumstances - and the idea of sharing his dance with someone else, to dance while someone could see him, had always made him uncomfortable. It was just too personal.

Of course, there was that one time with his friends...

Vin smiled as he thought of the night when the right amount of liquor and a pair of dimples flashing at him in mischief had made him brave enough to get up and dance in front of the men he worked with. Of course, that JD had all but dared him to, that Buck and Chris had in their own ways suggested that the kid might be on the right track...

...that Ezra had defended him against the young pup's teasing and smiled knowingly at him even while suggesting a little wager on Vin's skills... well hell, everyone knew that Ezra didn't bet on less than a sure thing!

That confidence had warmed Vin's stomach and bolstered his bravado as much as his third potboiler had. So Vin had allowed Josiah's twinkling eyes to encourage him to `defend his honor' - not to mention Ezra's substantial financial outlay. He'd secretly loved that for the rest of the evening he had not lacked for a dance partner as Casey, Rain, Mary and whatever-her-name-was-Buck's-current-paramour gleefully ignored their dates while keeping away a sudden throng of women who discovered the tables available near their group.

Of course, none of them were the dance partner he wanted. Whatever-her-name-was had come closest, being a solidly built woman with laughing green eyes and thick brown curls...

No dimples, though.

Gotta have dimples.

Don't let it go
Don't turn your back on what you think you know
You never know you know
Don't leave it alone
Cause I need you
to cling to

Cause you are my kind
You're all that I want
Here in this life
Until we are gone
Our breath and our skin
Our hearts and our minds
They're one and the same
You are my kind

"Hey, Wild Thing!"

Vin grinned and waved to no one in particular, as the greeting had come from three different people in various areas of the club. In the past weeks Vin had discovered he really liked the guys who worked here - mostly college students, but a few guys who were supplementing their day job income for various reasons... and Tony, of course, who could afford to not work at all, just liked the nightlife and the idea of being paid to look good and dance (he apparently thought the `waiting tables' part was just a minor inconvenience of the job). If it seemed strange that there were only three female employees - one of which was a bouncer - no one really said anything about it.

He especially liked the camaraderie he'd formed with the men - a varied group, surprisingly a mix of gay and straight, guys from all different upbringings who found they enjoyed working at the Adonis. Ed Custanella, the manager, was a good egg; he didn't care where you came from or what you did so long as you arrived and stayed clean while at work, did your job well and kept a good attitude. He often ordered pizzas or snacks for the crew throughout the work night, encouraged carpooling so employees got to and from work safely, and regularly kept tabs on his people during the night to ensure no one was having any problems of any kind - customer, personal or other.

Vin also liked that it was club employee tradition that every worker got a nickname after their first two weeks on the job - including the addition of that nickname to his nametag, though rarely did the patrons understand the background for the nickname. Tony was "De Bute" for `debutante', both a joke on and a respectful nod to his `tony' upbringing. Debra, the female bouncer, was `Clyde', short for 'Clydesdale' in reference to her significant size and bulk as well as her pride in her waist-length chestnut mane. One of the shorter waiters, David, was "Twinkles" because of his tendency to dance on his toes. Carlos, another waiter, was "Money Man" because he inevitably garnered more tips every night than anyone else on the wait staff.

Vin had spent the last weeks wearing a tag that said "Vin: aka Wild Thing". He initially hadn't understood why until Jamie, the only female DJ, had said he looked like a wild animal when he danced - unrestrained, totally free, and not just a little dangerous. The night he'd been officially crowned with his nickname the staff had had a party after closing to celebrate, culminating in a wild group dance to his new official theme song. Jamie kept threatening to make him spotlight dance to it during business hours, but had so far refrained due to continuing bribes of a dance with her after closing every night.

"Hey, `Fette," Vin greeted the chatty petite blonde with her nickname - short for Smurfette because of her diminutive size and gigantic blue eyes.

Of course, if asked, she would vehemently insist it was the last part of Boba...

"Got a favor to ask."

"Anything, babe," Jamie grinned, looking up from where she was organizing her newest CDs into the club's extravagant collection. "Whatcha need?"

"Want ya ta play a special song tonight for a Bell."

"Mm?" Jamie's grin widened further. While it wasn't unusual for the bartenders to ask for certain songs from time to time, she'd never figured Vin to do it.

"If I ring tonight, I'd like ya ta play "Black Velvet". Don't promise I'm gonna ring, but if'n I do, I'd sure 'preciate it."

"Planning on continuing your seduction?"

Vin blinked. "Huh?"

"Last night. The cutie you moved in on. Dimples in Armani?"

Jamie smiled at Vin's poor attempt to hide his astonishment. "Oh, give, honey. I spend all night up in the booth surveying the turf - you don't think I've seen you mooning over him since he started coming in here a few weeks back? I've seen dogs in heat that were less obvious."

Vin blanched, wondering who else had noticed him watching Ezra. Geez, he was supposed to be subtle, for god's sake!

"Hey, don't panic, stud, you're not that bad. Remember, I spend the night alone watching humanity bump and grind - reading people is my profession. Not to mention I'm studying social anthropology!" Jamie chuckled as she tossed another CD aside. I doubt even one other moron in this place picked up on your voodoo vibes, but to me? You might as well have sent a memo in big letters: `Vin Torres digs the hunk at table twenty-two!'"

Vin's facial color changed again, this time to a deep pink. He sank into the chair next to her and groaned, dropping his head to the Formica. "Ya think he noticed?" he whimpered.

Jamie gave her signature half-cackle, half-snort of a laugh that always annoyed Vin, reminding him of a choking hyena. Then again, it made him feel better at the same time since she never laughed out loud in front of people she didn't like a lot.

"Well, let's see, you practically glued yourself to him on the dance floor and we had to reconstruct the spot where the two of you melted the parquet, so, uh, yah, I'd say he might'a picked up a hint or two." The girl chuckled. "Wasn't that the point? I mean, it would hardly serve your quest if you go to all the trouble of sweating on him and he doesn't get it. And trust me, honey, you don't want anybody that dumb."

"Yeah, well," Vin looked up and grinned shyly, earning him a warm response.

"Just make sure you don't back off now, T, cuz if you haven't noticed, the Monster's got his sites on your dish."


"Yeah, Big Daddy Ugly at table eight." Vin frowned. Bullock. "You know - bad hair, good teeth, way too much jewelry. Guy really needs to learn that less is more; `course, we obviously aren't talking about that expanding waistline of his."

Jamie busied herself with her CDs, apparently unaware of Vin's fast-moving mind next to her. Vin had known Jamie had a lightning fast wit and a quick mind, but he'd never realized what a wealth of observations she was.

"And he's got a thing for..." He cut himself off, unsure how to address Ezra. Luckily, Jamie took the conversation and ran with it.

"Oh yeah. Monster's been scooping Dimples for about a week now. Took him long enough to notice, but when he did the man's drool production went postal. Kind of surprised he hasn't made a move, but then, before last night, as I'm sure you noticed, Wonder Dimples hasn't been alone for a minute." Jamie winked mischievously. "Always that hunk of a bodyguard around, or the big grey-haired guy, or one of his clients."


"Sure. All the suits tromping by? Dimples is a player - I'm thinking entertainment or business or something. All the different guys are fellow players - you can tell by the suits. Plus, a lot of `em have been straight, so Dimples must be a major player to convince them to meet at Adonis." Jamie paused - for what Vin swore was her first breath in ten minutes - then frowned. "Or, could be they're business is not exactly legit. Be careful about that, T, you don't want to mix it up with anybody on the wrong side of the law."

"What about the Monster?" Vin asked, intrigued by the blonde girl's astuteness, and making a note to introduce Ezra and Josiah to her after this case was over.

"Oh yeah, he's definitely a bad apple. Either that or he's loaded. Or both. Nobody that mangy gets that kind of following without a hell of a lot of money or connections. And likely the connections aren't above board."

"Mangy? He dresses okay."

"No, sweetie. Mangy as in giving off bad vibes. It's the eyes. Too damn beady."


"Anyhoo, he actually was about to make a move on Dimples himself last night, but you beat him to the punch. I congratulate you on your timing. If you'd waiting even a little longer to ring, Dimples might have been dancing with Big Ugly. Well, okay, not dancing - I don't think I've ever seen Monster dance. Hell, that would be exercise!" Jamie laughed. "But Dimples is likely too polite and too good a player to insult Monster if he offered to buy a drink."

"Yeah," Vin sighed. He knew he had to let Bullock make contact with Ezra tonight, but that didn't mean he had to back off completely. He took a moment to study the blonde carefully. "So, you notice everythin' about ever'body? Or you jist honin' in on my personal life?"

Jamie made an extremely rude noise that Vin was pretty sure wasn't entirely directed at the Britney Spears album in her hand. "Not like I'VE got a social life, Vinny-boy. Gotta get my kicks somewhere."

Vaguely Vin wondered if Buck might not actually find his own love match this one - god knows she'd give the big man a challenge. Then again, the size difference was too comical to even think about...

"So, gotta a follow up of choice?"

Vin knew she meant the song that played right after the bar-dance. Sometimes the gay bartenders would stay out on the floor with their chosen partner for the next dance, while the straights went back to tending bar.

Vin shrugged. "Can't think'a nothin'."

Jamie's eyes narrowed and her lips curled in a wicked smile. "Ooh, I've got just the thing!"

"No "Wild Thing"!!"

"Would I do that to you?" Crystal blue eyes blinked innocently - almost.

Vin narrowed his own at her and crossed his arms pointedly over his chest.

Jamie relented. "Oh, fine. I won't "Wild Thing" you tonight, promise. But you owe me if you end up going home alone again."

"It ain't like that," Vin blushed, trying not to think about taking Ezra home with him. It was fun to get Ezra's dander up here because this was a safe haven; it fit his character and it gave the southerner a chance to pass on anything he felt Vin might need to know. But Tanner knew it was just a pipe dream to think that the green-eyed siren would ever look at him as more than just a friend. After all, Standish was educated, sophisticated, cultured... what could he ever see in a scrawny scrap from the Texas panhandle?

"Vinny?" Jamie sighed, taking his hand. "Babe, where'd you go to? One minute you're excited about trying to claim your man, and the next you look like I just steam-rolled your puppy."


"Don't `nothin' ' me, Torres. Where'd your brain go?"

Vin smiled weakly - god he loved this girl. Kinda a cross between Chris Larabee and Nettie Wells. In spandex... Vin shuddered - now THAT was a place he wished his brain hadn't gone...

"Jist... thinkin', ya know? Like ya said, he's a player.

What'd he want with a git like me?"

"Oh, fuck that. You're a diamond, T. You're sweet, warm, funny, fun, smart, kind... and hell, the things you do to those pants should be illegal. Won't even touch that your dancing could turn the Pope to pink. If Dimples doesn't worship at your alter the minute you offer, the man either has no taste or is totally straight." Jaime smiled widely. "And trust me, hon, after the hard-on you gave him last night? The man is definitely not straight." With that, Jamie hopped out of her chair and headed up to the DJ booth.

Vin brightened slightly.

Maybe this would work after all.

I say that I love you, I say that I need you.
Baby I leave you a sign of desire.
No shadow will haunt you, no heart will desert you,
no one will hurt you, no space or no time.

Take your chances on me,
Like the river will lead the water to the sea,
Take on me,
Take your chances on me, don't ever let it be.

Ezra Standish was nervous. Buck could tell. And that worried him. Ezra was never nervous... at least not visibly so.

Ezra had pulled down the mirror from the roof of the limousine and was adjusting his tie for the third time in at least fifteen minutes. Buck glanced at JD, seated across from them looking every inch the personal assistant, and noted the questioning gaze in the kid's light brown eyes. Buck also caught Josiah's eyes watching them in the rear-view and knew that the profiler had noticed the unusual behavior as well. Which only made Buck worry more - after all, it confirmed it wasn't his imagination.

"Hey, Ez, you okay?"

"Hmm?" Ezra glanced over, the poker face sliding into place over what had been an anxiety-laced expression before. Not that likely anyone who didn't know Ezra could tell, of course, but his teammate of three years were not just anyone.

"Ez, you're strung tighter than a virgin on her weddin' night," Buck sighed. "Give a little here. Tell ol' Buck what's gnawin' at ya."

"I assure you, Mister Wilmington, I am just considering all the possibilities for this evening's engagement."

Buck exchanged a look with JD, who shook his head slightly but remained prudently - and abnormally - silent. Buck sighed.

"Ez, I seen ya go into a warehouse full'a pistol-packing psychos wearing little more'n'a smile and be less nervous."

"I am not nervous," Ezra said, his teeth grinding just a little. "I am anticipating a lucrative establishment of association with our dear Mister Bullock. I'm sure you'll agree that a successful initiation into his iniquitous entrepreneurial camaraderie should assist with an expedient conclusion to our current disagreeable commission."

"Might," Buck nodded. "If I had the slightest idea what you just said."

The lothario grinned widely, and Ezra relaxed slightly in spite of himself. Buck was correct - he was uptight, and it would serve no purpose to go into the evening already geared up. Of course, whatever Buck might guess was the cause for his apprehension, no doubt he was completely off base. Dealing with the bad guys, even volatile and dangerous ones like Bullock, had never made Ezra anxious and the day they did would be the day he turned in his badge. No, he was nervous for an entirely different reason.

A lanky, longhaired, blue-eyed, leather-clad, Texas-accented reason.

They arrived at the club around nine-thirty, their rendezvous with Brent Schumacher from Team One scheduled for ten. Buck did his usual move to the table, convincing the patrons currently ensconced there that moving would be in their best interests - when monetary inducement didn't move them, a quick flash of Buck's Glock 22 and a dark-eyed scowl always did. Ezra smiled internally at the picture of the usually jovial, always charismatic and generally debonair ladies' man playing a violent-at-a-heartbeat thug in a gay bar. The irony was too delicious.

Ezra nodded to his employee and slide smoothly into his usual place, feeling Buck take up position behind him. Tonight was important and it was vital that the two men play their roles perfectly.

A glass of champagne appeared in front of him. Ezra frowned and looked up at the waiter, noting the nametag: Corbin, aka The Beav.

Ezra made a note one more time to ask Vin to explain the `aka' part after the case was over.

Especially considering Vin's nickname.

"I haven't ordered yet," Ezra watched as Corbin handed Buck a glass that likely contained Sprite or a similar non-alcoholic beverage. The waiter smiled toothily.

"On the house," he said. "Thank you note from the Wild Thing. Said last night was the best Bell dance he's ever had." Corbin waved at Buck and wandered off.

Buck looked down at Ezra with a mischievous twinkle. "Dance? Holdin' out on me, Ezra?"

"Dear lord," Ezra groaned. Vin Tanner had to die - he just HAD to. "As I relayed in my report, Mister Wilmington, I was caught unaccompanied for a moment last night when Mister Jonas was paged in a moment of crisis. Mister Tanner simply did what he could to ensure Mister Bullock was unable to engage me in conversation."

"Interesting how you left out the part where he distracted Bullock by dancin' on the bar," Buck grinned wickedly. "And the part where he apparently picked you as his dance partner?" Ezra studied his features in a look of disdain.

"He was simply doing his job, sir. I assure you had he had more time to plan a distraction I'm sure we would have skipped the public displays."

"So, how was it?"

"I do beg your pardon?"

"To dance with Vin. Ya ain't tellin' me you two just waltzed r'somethin'. Come on, give. I've seen his routine up there; the boy's a damn Baryshnikov."

"While first I will refrain from asking how on God's green earth you would even know of a legend of the ballet, I will skip directly to pointing out that what passes for the art in this social establishment cannot possibly be compared to the Kirov, and while Mister Tanner certainly has a talent far surpassable to yours I very much doubt he can be compared to that phenomenon of the dance."

"Whatever. So how was it?"

Ezra sighed; Wilmington could be worse than a dog with its favorite chew toy. "It was... fine."

"Fine?" Buck looked incredulous. "All them ten dollar Harvard words a'yers and it was `fine'? That ain't no way to give details!"

"Which is why that is your answer," Ezra said, allowing a small, calculated smile. "Now do go back to being my bodyguard as opposed to my far-too-nosy coworker, Mister Wilmington. I believe our target is observing us, and should hate to have to discipline you in public."

Buck huffed but acknowledged the wisdom of his friend's words; it wouldn't do for Wilmington to appear too intimate with his employer, as a man of the type Standish was supposed to be would never allow such a thing. "Just lettin' ya know we ain't done with this conversation," the big man retorted mildly. "Ya don't git ta kiss and not tell with me."

"God have mercy on my soul," Ezra breathed, trying not to think of the image that comment had conjured.

Thank god Schumacher arrived a little early, and their show was on. Ezra and Brent had discussed earlier in the day the general nature of their conversation, lest Bullock had anyone positioned close enough to hear them. Their `meeting' lasted about forty-five minutes, during which Ezra had `dismissed' his bodyguard, and then Ezra sent the Team One agent on his way with a solid handshake and a grateful nod - signs that business had been conducted to a positive conclusion. Schumacher would pass Buck on his way out to notify the big man that he should be watching for Ezra's signal to return to his table.

Ezra sipped at the champagne Vin had sent, smiling appreciatively. Apparently the sharpshooter had made a point of learning Ezra's preferences and noting them, as the vintage was excellent. Green eyes wandered over to the bar where he found the man laughing and smiling as he slung drinks for the patrons, but always those blue eyes seemed to be keeping track of the undercover agent. Ezra shivered, feeling warmed by the idea that Tanner had such a close watch on him.

Their eyes met for a fraction of a moment and Vin's smile shifted slightly - just enough for Ezra to see the difference. He was sure he blushed at the intensity in the blue orbs as they asked a question without words. And Ezra answered with the briefest of nods.

The man moved to the bell.

The boy could sing, knew how to move, everything
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for

Buck Wilmington fought to suppress his grin when he heard the bell ring. The big man had just stepped inside the front hall and taken position where he could see Ezra clearly without being too obvious when the bell clanged. Despite desperately wanting to watch Vin dance, he nonetheless kept his focus solely on Ezra's situation. He knew that almost all movement throughout the club ceased during the Bell dances and that it was unlikely Bullock would make a move during the song, but he wasn't about to take that chance. Just because Bullock wouldn't do anything violent or vicious within the confines of the public location didn't mean that he couldn't still be a threat of some kind to the southerner.

So instead of watching the dancers, the explosives expert watched his teammate.

Ezra was watching the bar with intense interest. It was more than fascination or amusement, it was near desperation. Or, as near to that expression as Buck had ever seen the consummate con artist get. Buck risked a moment to follow Ezra's gaze, sure he knew where it was but wanted to verify what he thought he was seeing...

Black velvet and that little boy's smile
Black velvet with that slow southern style
A new religion that'll bring ya to your knees
Black velvet if you please

As the heavy, sensual rhythm of the song pounded around them, Vin was up on the bar with his coworkers, dancing. But if Buck thought the man's dancing had been good before, it was nothing compared to tonight.

Black-clad hips swayed low over slightly bent knees like a pendulum, hypnotic in their movement. Hands moved slowly over thighs to a taught stomach that peeked out from a cropped white tank, up the soft material to caress his chest and neck, dragging through shimmering auburn locks. They moved down again, one hand resting at the waistline as the long body snaked down to a crouch and back up again.

As Buck worked hard to try to find a single drop of saliva still existent in his mouth, he noticed that the normal cheers and hoots from the crowd were almost nonexistent. The entire bar was hypnotized.

He had to get Vin to teach him to dance, damn it!

The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for...

Vin leapt down off the bar, leading the other dancers in the most erotic parade Buck had ever seen. The sharpshooter moved across the floor, stroking a man here and there as he went, causing one patron to almost swoon from holding his breath. Buck followed his teammate's steps across the room to... Ezra.

Holy mother...

Black velvet and that little boy's smile
Black velvet with that slow southern style

A long arm reached out and plucked the frozen southerner from his chair, pulling him onto the floor and into Vin's waiting arms. Ezra felt his arms arranged around Vin's shoulders, felt as Vin pressed himself against him, never missing a single sway to a pulsing beat. Blue eyes laughed at him, that soft quirky smile a mere breath away from his own cheek. There was pelvic circling involved... dear god... and Ezra lost control of his own body. It simply willed itself over to Vin.

Could anything be more... horrible... more... wonderful...

A new religion that'll bring ya to your knees
Black velvet if you please

Alannah Myles ended, and had Ezra had enough control over his faculties he might have broken away from his companion. But Vin had control over everything at the moment. The southerner could only try to keep breathing.

He was sure he heard the music changing, but until it surrounded him with a surreal motif, he could do nothing. And by then it was way too late...

She'll really do ya in
If you let her hang under your skin

Poison ivy... poison ivy
sweet, sweet poison

Vin smiled as he heard the opening strains of the next song. "Poison Ivy." Great choice, James! he thought with an evil chuckle. Jamie had once mentioned she thought Me'Shell Ndegeocell's version was the dirtiest dance song ever recorded and at the moment, Tanner had to agree. The ethereal vocals, the repetitive lyrics, the keyboard chords that sounded almost other-worldly...

Late at night while you're sleepin'
She comes creepin'
Around, 'round, 'round creepin' around

Vin felt Ezra moving with him, against him, their bodies molding together in time with the sensual rhythms. He allowed his lips to ghost over Ezra's skin - forehead, cheek, neck. He thrilled as he felt Ezra pushing against him eagerly, the southerner's breath whispering into his hair. He felt as Ezra's entire body groaned, the sound moving from Ezra's chest into his own. Vin nipped lightly at Ezra's ear and the con man stretched his neck to offer more willing flesh for attention. Vin chuckled and obliged, snaking his tongue in quick darts to sample the salty perspiration...

Perspiration, not sweat, he thought, his brain hazy with lust. Ezra would never sweat...

'Round, 'round, 'round, around
'Round, 'round, 'round
'Round, 'round, 'round, around
'Round, 'round, 'round

Just one Kiss
A really do you in

He moved to kiss Ezra's temple gently, letting one hand slide down over the man's perfect behind, the other hand moving along the arm that had languidly slid down from his own neck to grip tightly at his bicep... finding the way to cup the back of Ezra's neck. And as the last pulses of the song died away and another song began, Vin placed a perfectly chaste kiss against the lips of Ezra Standish.

Buck didn't remember moving to Ezra's table, but he was there by the time Ezra was returned. Not `Ezra returned', but `was returned'. For surely the southerner had nothing at all to do with the action.

He watched as Vin danced Ezra back to the table as the song neared its closure. Just as it ended the sharpshooter laid on a kiss that even a master busser such as Wilmington had to envy for its artistic merit, then guided Ezra into his chair. Bending low, the Texan's lips moved in Ezra's ear, and then Vin was flashing a big grin to the `bodyguard' as he turned on his heel, returning to his bartending duties as if nothing had happened. Buck spent a long moment trying to get his jaw off the floor before he could turn his attentions to Standish.

Ezra looked... well, the only way to describe him was...


Thoroughly, completely, cigarette-and-morning-afterglow... fucked.

And damn if he didn't look happy about it.

"Ez? You in there?" No answer. "Ezra?" Ezra turned glassy eyes to his coworker and Buck noticed there was almost no color to the normally emerald green eyes. Not that Buck could blame the man - if Vin had just danced HIM senseless, he doubted he'd be entirely sane either. "Ez, pull it together."

"Hm..." Ezra managed. Buck gently pushed whatever drink was available at the man's hand and was rewarded to see the hand move automatically to raise the glass to slightly parted lips. But it seemed to help - the cool liquid broke the southerner's trance and Buck watch as the smaller man shook himself thoroughly.

"Guess I don't have to ask about last night anymore, huh?" Buck asked with a smile.

Ezra's only response was to take a deep gulp of the beverage at hand.

"Seems that young stallion is rather taken with you."

Buck swiveled at the new voice, his hand moving automatically to the gun strapped to his side. The man beside him had appeared without warning and Wilmington cursed himself for allowing his attention to stray. He glanced at Ezra, trying to decide quickly whether Ezra would need a few moments to compose himself.

He should have known better.

"My lord, but I suppose he is," the southerner gasped, his gaze meeting the large man who now stood next to his table. "I must admit it is beyond flattering to have been selected twice in two nights to receive the blessing of his attentions."

"A man such as yourself should receive such flattery more often. I've watched you myself for a while now. You are quite possibly the finest thing I've seen in a long time."

"That isn't wearing leather!" Ezra laughed, flashing his most beautiful smile. "I fear I have nothing on the looks of that rogue, but I do thank you for the kind words."

"If I may be allowed to buy you a drink, I could be persuaded to find a few more for you."

"Indeed, then be seated with haste and allow me flag down our attendant for the delivery of our refreshments."

And with that, Ezra began to entertain the hulking form of one Leroy Bullock.

The walls begin to tumble down
And I can't even see the ground

I'm falling into you
This dream could come true
And it feels so good falling into you

"So how did everything go last night?"

Ezra glanced up from his paperwork to see Chris Larabee's anxious face focused on him. The evening had been long and fruitful, barely an hour spent dancing around minor pleasantries as the two men felt each other out before the conversation moved into more dangerous territory. Bullock had pressed to learn the nature of Ezra Stanton's business, and Ezra had managed to drop enough hints to intrigue the crime boss.

"Bullock's requested we have dinner tonight at LaGossa to discuss possible joint ventures," Buck grinned, clapping Standish on the shoulder. "Ez played him like a lute and the little child just followed this Piper out of town, pard!"

Chris grinned at Buck's enthusiasm. "What do you think, Ezra? How long before we can set up a bust?"

"Week's end at the latest," Ezra said firmly. "The man simply fell all over himself trying to become ingratiated with me."

"Wants to get into Ez's pants so bad he nearly offered a damn ring," Buck cheered. "A'course, Vin's little showing helped more than I would'a imagined."

"Vin?" Chris frowned. "What did I miss?"

"As you know, Mister Tanner used the Bell dance two nights ago to keep Bullock from taking advantage of an unexpected moment of my solitude. Mister Tanner obviously noted something that I could not in the aftermath regarding Bullock's response to our little interlude."

"So he danced with Ez again last night." Buck smiled as wide as he possibly could without splitting his head open. "Damn that boy knows how to stop a room cold! Had Bullock practically comin' in his shorts over Ez by the time they were through."

"Apparently Mister Tanner presents enough competition in the correct shape and form to make Bullock drool in his cups," Ezra nodded, allowing a small smile to cross his lips. "Now, not only am I just the sort of treat the man lusts after, I am now also a challenge to be won as Vin has made it publicly clear he intends to woo me as well."

"Couldn'ta worked better if we'd planned it outright," Buck agreed. "Never seen a man so tied up in his boots. Amazin' he didn't fall to his knees n' beg Ezra to take him for all his worth."

"Well, just make sure you guys keep on your toes. JD got some great audio surveillance from the car last night - Ez, you placed the bug perfectly. Tonight I want Buck and Josiah to wear an ear transmitter, so if you end up moving around we can keep tabs on you. You'll be able to bug the table?"

"I'm sure it won't be a problem."

"Wonderful. Get him to openly detail his activities as best you can, and then see if you can set up a preview of his stock. This schmuck doesn't even need to sell anything for us to nail him; with the amounts he traffics, possession alone will put him away for a long time. But of course we'll try for a sale bust just to make the case as solid as possible - a sale should put him away for life."

Ezra nodded. With the reports of what Bullock tended to do to people who crossed him or let him down, not to mention the hapless men who made the mistake of dating him, the last thing they wanted was for the man to have even a little wiggle room with the court.

"Consider it done."

I feel so foolish, I never noticed
You'd act so nervous,
Could you be falling for me?
It took a rumor to make me wonder
Now I'm convinced I'm going under

Thinkin' 'bout you every day,
dreamin' 'bout you every night.
I'm hopin' that you feel the same way,
Now that we know it,
Let's really show it darlin'.

"Hey Wild Thing!"

Vin waved absently as he headed into the employee lounge and tossed his jacket onto a hook. The rain was causing a sour mood... not to mention the message from Chris on his answering machine saying that Ezra wouldn't be making an appearance at the club tonight. Apparently Bullock had been thoroughly bowled over by Ezra's charms the night before, so this evening the two `businessmen' would be meeting elsewhere for dinner and extended conversation. It was unlikely they would make an appearance at the Adonis at all.

Vin knew he should be happy the case was moving forward so quickly.

But he really wanted to see Ezra again.

"Hey, what's up, babe?" Jamie strode in and threw herself into an obnoxiously overstuffed bean-bag-esque chair, fixing her clear blue eyes on his with intensity. "I think last night went pretty well, don't you?"

"Very," Vin sighed, remembering Chris's jovial congratulations at Vin's hand in getting Bullock's attentions. Apparently, Buck thought Vin's play was simply to encourage the idea that Ezra was a particularly rare gem to be pursued.

What if Ezra didn't take him seriously either?

"Vinny, what? Don't tell me Dimples rejected you. I saw his face after you danced with him last night. I was ready to call the paramedics to get him some oxygen. The boy is totally into you, doll."

"Maybe. But he won't be here tonight."

"And you know this how?" Jamie asked, grinning. "You slipped him your phone number, didn't you? He called you? This is so good...!"

"Nothin' like that." Vin shook his head - god, he kept slipping up on this case! Think fast - how would he know a customer wasn't going to... "Uh, his bodyguard. Right as they left last night. I asked if they'd be back tonight, and he said no. Business meeting or something."

"Huh. Musta missed you doing that," Jamie said thoughtfully.

She shifted ungracefully in the chair, reminding Vin vaguely of a hippo wallowing in a mire. He stifled a snort at the thought, sure `Boba Fett' wouldn't take such an observation too well. Thank god she didn't notice...

"But hey, you were brave enough to ask, that's a plus. And the bodyguard didn't smash you into paste, so Dimples must like you at least a little."

"Maybe." His thoughts cooled again. Or I've been misreadin' all the little signs I thought I was seein' before we started this case, and Ezra's gonna knock my teeth out when we're done. Maybe this whole thing was a mistake...

"Hey, don't rest your hopes on the word of a bodyguard. Their job is to keep everyone away from the boss, good or bad. I'm telling you, Dimples is definitely interested. You just wait and see - I've never been wrong yet."

"Oh really?" Vin grinned. "Tyrell and table ten?"

"That doesn't count. Complete anomaly."

"Jackson and the porn star?"

"Hey, he WAS interested. Just couldn't tell what he did for a living."

"Matt and that blond kid..."

"I believe you've made your point." Jamie could do a damn good imitation of the Larabee Glare considering her little pug nose and big round eyes. "Just remember who's on your side, Leather Boy." She wrestled her way out of the giant lump of a chair - well, sort of fish-flopped her way to the floor so that she could find her feet, really - and headed for the door. "Just for that, I may accidentally find The Troggs in my CD changer tonight!"

"Two dances after close!" Vin yelled after her. "And I'll buy ya a Kamikaze!"


"You're so cheap!"

The night wore on, and Vin's mind kept wandering. A tune would play and he would find himself debating the logic of the lyrics in his present situation. If, in fact, you could consider the lyrics of some songs to have any kind of logic. Vin sighed as he mixed another Blow Job for yet another patron who thought it would be a good pick up for a bartender (like he hadn't heard "I'd like you to give me a..." HOW many times in the last week?) and considered his evening.

Vin knew that Ezra was perfectly safe at his meeting with Bullock. Buck would be there in the restaurant itself, as would Josiah. JD, playing `personal assistant', would likely have discretely bugged the table six times over before the salads were served and was monitoring the situation from the limousine. Nathan would likely be in the limo as well, even if explaining why Ezra's butler was in his car for the night might be a trick at some point - hell, odds were good Ezra could not only explain it if someone asked, but convinced them it was the height of chic fashion.

Chris would be keeping tabs on everyone from the office by phone and JD's extensive surveillance set-up (likely the kid had tapped into the restaurant's security monitors earlier in the day, in addition to the usual techniques). Teams One and Four were on call in the highly improbable event that backup was required - while there was no reason for anything to go wrong, Bullock's capricious nature had made Chris insist on multiple contingencies. Ezra had more supporters on this case than the Dallas Cowboys during a winning season.

So Vin was maintaining his cover at the club, spending his night slinging drinks and graciously fending off absurd come-ons from tipsy Charlies hoping to be his next dance partner.

Actually, Vin had begged off the first two Bell dances, claiming the newest bartender deserved a chance to not compete with the club favorite. He'd caved into public demand on the third dance and let himself go, pretending Ezra was there to watch as Roxette's "The Look" swirled around him. He deliberately picked a dance partner who looked nothing like a certain auburn-haired Georgia-born nymph from his wet dreams, and did his best to forget for the moment that he wanted nothing more than to run out to that Italian restaurant across town and forcibly remove Ezra from the company of Leroy Bullock.

By the time he took his shift break at 11:30, he was seriously chomping at the bit for news of how the dinner went. Not that he figured anyone would bother to let him know beyond `tonight went well' and what to expect for the following night.

"Boy, you really are wired tonight, huh?" Vin glanced up as Jamie trotted into the lounge after him. Since the DJ normally took a break much earlier in the evening, Vin knew instantly that she'd been watching him and purposely waited until he clocked out. "Talk to me, Vinny. What's going on with you?"

"Nothin'." Jamie glowered at him, and he sighed heavily.

"Okay, so I jist..." He broke off, unable to figure out what to say that wouldn't break his cover.

"Dimples, huh?" Jamie plopped down on the sofa next to him and patted his knee. "Boy, you're hopeless. Guess it's time for Mama to step in and fix things, huh?"

"Ain't nothin' you kin do," Vin shrugged. "Don't matter none. I mean, it's jist a crush anyway."

"Baby, if this is you with a crush, I don't ever want to see you head-over-heels in love cuz I don't think you'd survive."

Vin smiled weakly.

"Sweetie, you're so in love with this guy you don't know which way is sideways. Tell me something..." Jamie bit her lip, wanting to chose her next words carefully. "You and Wonder Dimples... you've met outside here, haven't you?"

Vin thought about denying it, but Jamie had already proven too sharp. He was sure she already knew the honest answer, so he nodded glumly but added no details. What was that Ezra always said? The most believable lies are the ones based in fact.

"So when he started coming here, you thought you'd make your move and see how he reacted?" Another hesitation, another small nod. "Well, points to you for having the balls to try it. And T, I guarantee you haven't been wasting your time. That hunk is totally into you. Just a little preoccupied with his business dealings."

"Yah," Vin said. "An' when he's done with his business, everything goes back to the way it was, right?"

"Doesn't have to," Jamie grinned. "You just need to change your strategy a little. Take the seduction outside the club. You know where he lives?"


"Okay, so tonight after close, you'n'me are gonna make him a little love letter on CD. Come up to the booth after your chores are done. I'll tell Ed we're gonna stay to work on a project and that we'll close up after."

Vin looked with a mixture of concern and hope at the energetic blonde. "Ya sure?"

"Sweetie, I may not have been wooed in a long time, and my love life may resemble the Sahara more than the Garden of Eden, but god knows I know how a successful wooing works." Vin cocked an eyebrow with a wry grin and Jamie shrugged. "Hey, I watch a lot of TV. Trust me, baby, you're gonna woo Mister Dimples into your arms or my name isn't Jamie Suveski. You don't think I've learned anything with three Yentas for aunts?"

"Ya mean, besides how to run like hell when ya see'em coming?"

Vin lit for the stairs with a cursing blonde hot on his tail.

Ezra arrived at his desk around noon the next day. Chris was in a budget meeting with the brass, Josiah and Nathan were in depositions for the day, and it appeared that Buck and JD had already left for lunch. Thus, the office was pleasantly quiet as he settled into his chair.

Dinner had been an exhausting affair of ridiculous small talk and intense negotiating all mixed together. Plus Ezra had consumed way too much spinach pasta with pork pesto (Bullock's recommendation) for a man used to much lighter fair and had called Chris that morning to let him know a stomachache would delay him. Nathan had practically grabbed the phone from their boss's hand and started prescribing all sorts of herbal aids - which the southerner had eschewed in favor of a dram of twelve-year-old scotch and an over-the-counter antacid.

Ezra booted up his computer and began to rummage in his drawer for an aspirin. When he turned back to the computer screen, he noticed the error message with instructed him to remove a CD from his Rom drive. Funny, he was sure he hadn't left anything in there the day before. Frowning, he popped out the disk and looked at it.

`For my dance partner.'

That's all that was scribbled in smooth block lettering on the CD's surface. Ezra didn't recognize the handwriting, but he did recognize the little symbol penned at the bottom - a pair of backward `N's.

It was the symbol Vin used when sending encrypted notes to the team, a nod to the dyslexia he'd unknowingly battled for years before Nathan and Ezra had between the two of them read the signs and had it diagnosed. That was about six months after Vin had joined the team at the age of twenty-six, and since then the team - especially Ezra - had worked with the Texan to help him learn the techniques that would help him overcome the difficulty. Vin had been the one to pick the symbol, wanting his friends to know he was proud to recognize not only that he was overcoming the problem, but that it was because of his friends and teammates that he no longer simply thought his reading problems were because he was stupid.

"Watcha got there, Ezra?" Ezra glanced up to see JD looking at him. The boy's arms were piled with files as he balanced two cups of coffee precariously in one hand and a plate of donuts in the other.

"I suspect it is a gift from our absent colleague," Ezra chuckled, standing and moving to lighten JD's burden by assuming command of the refreshments. "Without our immediate presence to target for practical jokes, it would appear he has taken to doing so long-distance. And might I suggest that you only have two hands, rather than six? Mister Larabee would unlikely look favorably upon the files for the Regency case ala Caf Ole."

"Thanks, Ez," JD grinned and led the way to his desk. "Guess I didn't realize there were so many files for the Regency case when I promised Buck I'd swing past the break room."

"And naturally, two trips would have been completely out of the question," Ezra said, shaking his head. "My dear Mister Dunne, there is a fine line between efficiency and insanity."

"Yup!" JD grinned, knowing his friend wasn't chiding him seriously - unlike Chris or Buck might have.

"I would have thought you and Mister Wilmington had taken leave of us in favor of lunch, rather than living solely on day-old sweetbreads."

"Nah, we didn't get in until late either. Guess last night was pretty tiring for all of us. We figured we'd wait for you to get here before ordering in from Dixon's Deli. In the meantime, we've been setting up preliminary surveillance plans for that gun show next week."

"Ah, the one we expect to attract numerous denizens of the bureau's most wanted list?"

"Yup." JD relieved himself of his burdens then turned to take Ezra's items. "So what's on the CD?"

"I have yet to peruse it," Ezra said. "I don't suppose I might borrow your portable player? The acoustics on my computer are simply dreadful. Besides, I dread to think what sort of ridiculous selections our Mister Tanner might have deemed suitable for my entertainment. Lord knows, it's probably the soundtrack from a porn movie."

"Sure, no problem." JD dug into his drawer. "Course, if it is a porn soundtrack, you know Buck's gonna insist you share it." The youth winked as he handed over the CD player.

"I assure you, if events fall to that avenue I shall most graciously donate my treasure to your roommate's cause."

"Oh no you don't!" JD wiggled a finger at his friend. "He'll start playing it every time Casey comes over!"

Ezra grinned wickedly as the young man saluted and bounced off to the conference room.

Returning to his desk, Ezra slipped the mystery CD into the player and adjusted the headphones. Hitting `play' he was pleasantly surprised to hear the first strains of "Black Velvet". Ezra listened for a few moments, unable to help but smile at the memories it evoked. He closed his eyes and could almost feel the soft leather under his hands, the feel of that heartbeat next to his own as they moved in synchronicity...

Shaking himself, he forwarded to the next track and was rewarded with that ethereal sound that started "Poison Ivy". Unsure he could manage to sit through the song without developing a painful erection, he quickly hit forward again.

He was surprised to here a tribal beat followed by a vocal drumming... and then the lyrics began...

Do, do, do you wanna do it
Do, do, do you wanna dance
Do, do, do you wanna do it
Do, do, do you wanna dance

An invitation? Or simply a tease? Ezra listened to the entire song, unsure what to make of it. The lyrics weren't exactly personal or specific, just perky, happy words encouraging the world to dance, find love and be happy.

The next song was a little more specific...

...slow bass guitar, soft piano, syncopated drums...

Do you wanna dance and hold my hand?
Tell me you're my lovin' man?
Oh baby, do you wanna dance?

We could dance under the moonlight
Hug and kiss all through the night
Oh baby, do you wanna dance?

Hardly something that could be misunderstood. The words were simply enough, and god knew straight forward enough... or was Ezra simply reading into it? Vin was a notorious prankster - was this just another practical joke? Ezra listened to the song die away and prayed he would put the pieces of the musical puzzle together in the right way.

I've seen the headlines in the paper
They say the end is coming soon
I wanna make love till it's over
If I'm goin' down it'll be with you

Let me love you for a day
Let me have you for a night
Let me take you far away into forever...

I don't wanna let you go
Let me undress your soul
I can take you to another world
Never go
Let me take you home tonight

Dear Lord, Mister Tanner. Please mean this...

I'll pay the price
for all the love you poured like rain
"toujours l'amour" over again,
but the midnight chills are getting so rough
and the bed is big enough for both of us.

Sleeping single - I will wait for you.
I'm sleeping single 'til you change your mind.
Sleeping single - I will wait for you
'til time has gone by.

Sleeping single - I would die for you.
I'm sleeping single - won't you change your way.
Sleeping single - I will pray for you to stay

Ezra felt his pulse racing, was sure he must be sweating profusely. Beyond thankful that he was alone in the offices at the moment, he waited with baited breath as the next song began. How many more could take?

The upbeat tempo faded and for a moment Ezra was sure his torment was over... then he realized that the next song was simply starting very quietly. Synthesized strings swelled slowly, growing, rooting him to his chair with bittersweet harmonies. Then a soft guitar combined with a flute, and the voice began to sing...

Song instead of a kiss
Baby, this is a song instead of a kiss
For all of you who ache, who long
For nights like this

Song instead of a touch
Darlin', this is a song instead of a touch
To all of you who wait so long
And need so much

It is for those who like to cling
It is to those, those I sing
Here is a song instead of a clinch,
instead of a moon...
Instead of a soothing touch in the afternoon

Erza leaned back in his chair and pulled off the headphones. If there was anything more on the CD, he didn't think he could bare to listen to it.

Dear God, how was he supposed to survive the rest of the day?

Vin was in his element. Chris had called that afternoon - the bust had gone down rather unexpectedly, but without a hitch. Bullock had been so eager to impress his potential new paramour that he had bent over backwards when to help out when Ezra had casually mentioned he was faced with disappointing a particularly well-heeled buyer because his suppliers had had to delay a shipment. It was hard to believe that a man who had been in business as long as Bullock would be stupid enough to fall for such an obvious ploy but Chris had just laughed, repeating a rather lewd comment Ezra had made about "men who think with their tiddly-wink".

Of course, Vin was a little annoyed they hadn't told him in advance, but Chris had known Vin would want to be there and they couldn't risk him blowing his cover until they were sure they wouldn't need him in position at the club anymore. On the off chance that Bullock managed to escape the sting, Vin would still be placed to keep watch on the club in case the man returned there for some reason.

But Bullock was in custody, the case was airtight and Vin was spending his last night behind the bar. Technically he could have simply up and quit that very afternoon but Vin had explained to Chris that he liked the manager and staff too much to do that too them on such short notice. Having revealed himself to Ed, he had offered to stay out the rest of the week if necessary. Ed had been only slightly surprised to learn that The Monster was a criminal, having suspected that particular customer was bad news but had no reason to refuse to serve him. Vin had reassured the manager that the club was not held responsible for any of its patrons' activities.

Ed was horribly disappointed to hear he'd be losing the club's favorite dancer, though. Had actually asked Vin if he'd consider giving up his day job in favor of Adonis, or at least moonlighting on weekends? Vin, terribly flattered, simply thanked him and reaffirmed his resignation. Ed had reluctantly asked the other bartenders if they would be able to fill in for The Wild Thing without revealing the reasons for the sudden departure and been able to fill out the rest of the week's shifts.

For the rest of the night the club employees behaved like they were holding one big going-away party. The customers were practically incidental. Ed ordered an expensive spread from a near-by seafood house and somehow managed to procure a sinful triple chocolate cake on which Jamie had quickly written "Goodbye Wild Thing" in frosting procured from the local grocery, squeezed from a sandwich bag through a bar straw.

Right before opening they'd presented Vin with a pair of shot glasses with the club's name on them and a frame filled with signed napkins bearing well-wishes - Vin noticed later the 8x10 picture of Sting had disappeared from the main bathroom, likely in need of a new frame. And all evening the bartenders had been competing to see who had the best `Cocktail' tricks (spinning bottles, sliding drinks down the bar, that sort of thing), and doing Bell dances to Vin's favorite songs.

It was nearing closing time and Vin noticed that Jamie was playing "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" - a crowd- pleasing standard she openly despised and gleefully referred to a "the DJ needs to pee" song. About halfway through, the petite girl appeared beside him behind the bar, helping herself to a coke before leaning back and waiting for him to join her.

"So, this is it, huh?"

"Guess so. Wish I could hang around longer. I've have fun workin' here."

"We've loved having you. Agent Tanner, is it?" Vin's face froze, and Jamie grinned. "Don't worry, babe, it wasn't you. I've had a few guests in my booth tonight."

"Guests?" Vin asked, feeling like his brain had gone dead. Jamie's eyes were snapping wickedly.

"Um, an Agent Larabee, and Jackson, and Sanchez, and Dunne... along with that tall drink of water bodyguard who's been hitting on me for the last half hour straight - god he needs some new material. Given, he's a babe, but like I haven't heard it before? Not that it stopped me from givin' him my number." She chuckled and waved her hand. "And oh yeah... some absolutely stunning fellow with dark hair, green eyes, dimples..."

Vin grinned widely.

"Do I even want to know why they're here?"

"As I understand it, Larabee and Jackson were bitching about not getting to see you perform."

"Oh god. Don't s'pose I was lucky enough for them to have caught the last one."

"Nope, sorry. They came through the back way just after."

"You're a cruel woman fer tellin' me they're here, James."

"Oh, I'm even crueler than that."

Vin studied the look in her eyes and flinched. "You wouldn't."

"I would."


"Ah-ah," the girl grinned. "You have nothing left to bribe me with. Tonight's your last night, sweetie, and I've promised it was gonna happen someday!" Vin leaned his head against the bar mirror and groaned. "Hey, thought you'd appreciate a heads up."

"I take back anything kind I've ever said about you, girl," Vin whimpered. "Yer the devil, you are."

"Oh, sweetie, I could'a told you that!" Jamie laughed. "Oops, gotta get going, Meatloaf is about stop his screeching." She sipped at her drink, grinning widely over the rim. "Hey, take comfort. That hunk o'man a'yours is up there in the booth practically foaming at the mouth to see you dance one more time."

"Really?" Vin looked up eagerly.

Jamie nodded. "I'd say our little CD did its job just fine, baby. I guarantee you are not going home alone tonight." Vin's eyes shone at his friend, and it was all the thanks she needed. She reached out with her hand and caressed his cheek gently before leaning in to kiss it gently. "Get ready to knock'em dead, my boy. You got about five minutes."

"Ladies and gentlemen, kings and queens, it's coming to that time again, the end of our evening."

Vin listened as Jamie spoke into her portable microphone, watching with the rest of the crowd as she descended from the booth like royalty surveying her sovereignty.

"And yet, tonight is a special evening, one we will all mourn in the years to come."

The crowd held its collective breath. It was rare that one of the DJs would make a floor appearance and when it happened it was a momentous occasion.

"Tonight is the last night we will be graced with the presence of one of our favorites. Sadly, he is moving on to seek greener pastures." The crowd allowed Jamie to move to the center of the dance floor. "My dear, dear friends, tonight is the last night we shall share with my baby and yours, bartender Vin the Wild Thing."

Chris Larabee and the rest of Team Seven watched with a mixture of amusement and awe as the club patrons turned with a very audible groan toward the bar where two hulking men were lifted their teammate to the platform. Vin appeared to be pleased, if embarrassed, by the devotions of such a large gathering.

"He doesn't normally like such attention," Nathan said softly.

"I'd say this experience has taught our brother some new self-confidence," Josiah added.

"Well hell, I would guess so," JD grinned. "I mean, near ten weeks of having to get up and dance in front of all these people? What's that old saying? Adapt or perish?"

"I'd say he's adapted quite nicely," Buck chuckled. "And them tight leather pants ain't exactly helpful in keepin' him modest, are they?"

"Just remember what I said, boys," Chris said, attempting to appear stern. "Once tonight is over, nobody picks on him about this ever again, got it? That means you, Buck and JD."

"What'd we do?" Buck asked with as innocent a look as he was capable of achieving. Which wasn't very, but he got points for trying.

"We promise," JD grumbled. "At least I get to see him dance at least once. Buck says he's pretty hot stuff."

"Yes, apparently he's been hiding his light under a bushel," Josiah said in his sagely way.

Nathan scoffed. "Too bad he didn't hide it the night we were at The Stomping Grounds. Rain still pesters me about how I should take dancing lessons from him."

"Just remember we're letting this go, guys, okay?" Chris repeated. "I don't want you guys," and he looked glaringly at the two roommates in the bunch, "to give him a hard time. We all know this was not something he was thrilled to be doing, but he came through like a trouper."

"That he did," Buck agreed. "Wouldn't you say so, Ez?"

"If you will pardon me, gentlemen, I am awaiting my cue..."

"Geez, Ez," JD grumbled. "It ain't like you're performing microsurgery here. All ya gotta do is push one little button..."

"So for our last Bell dance of the evening, my darling boy has agreed to a special treat for you all," Jamie was saying as Vin watched Greg and Pedro getting back down off the bar. He smiled a little shyly at the attentive crowd but knew that not only could he do this, he could enjoy it. And he sort of owed his friends at the club, anyway...

"Now, as this is sort of his farewell performance, I will expect you all to help out here," Jamie instructed the club. "After all, it's not like you don't know the words..." She turned to the one-way mirrored glass and the persons she knew were watching behind it. "Maestro, if you please?"

Inside the booth, Ezra hit `play'.

A rumbling guitar growled, purring into a wail, and then the club went crazy...

Wild thing,
you make my heart sing
you make everything groovy
Come'on, Wild thing

"That's not the Troggs," JD noted.

"Joan Jett," Buck chuckled.

"Much more Vin," Chris nodded, unable to suppress a wide, shit-eating grin.

Wild thing, I think I love you
but I wanna know for sure

Vin Tanner danced.

Wild thing, I think I love you
but I wanna know for sure
So come on and hold me tight
I love you

The crowd sang to him and he danced.

Wild thing, you make my heart sing
you make everything groovy
Wild thing,

He slung his hips so wild Elvis would have fainted.

His hands moved over his body in feral possessiveness and pure sensual pleasure.

He prowled the bar surface like a sexual predator.

Wild thing, I think you move me
but I wanna know for sure
so come on and hold me tight
you move me


Wild thing, you make my heart sing
you make everything groovy
Wild thing...

Preying on the innocent...

Wild Thing

Come'on, Wild Thing

His eyes regularly shooting up at the mirrored glass...

Come'on, come'on, come'on Wild Thing...

Ezra couldn't have moved it his very life was at stake at the moment. Around him his teammates were having a great time, bopping in place to the wild anthem and the related scene playing out below. The crowd was screaming along with the guitars, clapping and stomping as the lanky bartender wove his spell over them. The throbbing rhythms and the man's unrestrained undulations where whipping the patrons into a frenzy that could only end in an explosion.

And so it did - an explosion of applause, thank-yous and not a little pleading and begging for their departing favorite to reconsider. Vin bowed his head with modesty and graciousness as he accepted handshakes and well-wishes, and almost no one even noticed that the music had changed.

"Jamie must have programmed in another song," JD said somewhere in the distance, but Ezra was too busy hearing the beginning notes.

And then he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Nicely done," Jamie smiled as she pulled Vin away from his fans.

She cocked her head, indicating for Vin to listen to the starting tune. Vin's eyebrows rose questioningly, and the blonde nodded toward the stairs to the booth.

"You got one more dance, babe."

"Go on, Ez, he's waiting for ya."

Ezra looked up at Buck's twinkling eyes.

"Better get movin', it ain't THAT long a song!"

You are my knight in armor, the hero of my heart
When you smile at me I see a true world go up
The river is getting deep, believe it
You're all these arms of mine wanna hold
All wrapped up with a river
Baby, I'm giving you this heart of gold

Ezra practically flew out of the booth.

"What the..." JD looked at Buck, who was beaming.

"Later, kid. MUCH later."

Buck saw the matching looks on the other four faces behind the confused tech specialist and simply shrugged. Chris started laughing.

"Well hell, it's about damn time!"

Vin saw Ezra appear on the stairs and practically flew across the floor to meet him, pulling him onto the dance floor and into his arms. The joyous anthem played around them and they were surrounded by smiles, but it was doubtful either of them noticed.

They were too busy trying to remove each other's tonsils.

Jamie grinned at the pair. "Damn. I'm such a fairy godmother!"

So listen up, it's you I trust
I feel magic every time that we touch
I pledge allegiance to the heavens above
Tonight to you baby I make my declaration of love

"Oh," JD grinned, looking down at the dance floor.

Buck clapped a hand on his roommate's shoulders and nodded to his friends. "Gentlemen, shall we? I believe our work here is done."

"How about a celebratory beer, brothers? I believe our fearless leader is buying."

"Since when?"

"Who gets the biggest paycheck?"

"Amen, Nathan."

So listen up, it's you I trust
I feel magic every time that we touch
I pledge allegiance to the heavens above
Tonight to you baby I make my declaration of love

The lights came up and the crowds began to dissipate. Not a few patrons stopped Vin to wish him well, and more than one stopped Ezra to express envy at his good fortune. Ezra couldn't help the silly grin that plastered over his face, as though he'd had about a dozen drinks too many. In the end, though, the employees managed to usher the patrons out the door for another evening.

And then mysteriously disappeared.

"Here ya go guys."

Vin glance up from looking into Ezra's shining eyes to see Jamie placing his jacket on a nearby table, his keys noticeably removed and placed in visual range. She waved the booth remote in the air; another tune sifted on, and the club lights went down again. Both men smiled at the soft samba piano mixed with bass and a light string section began playing.

Jamie kissed each man lightly on the cheek before whispering, "One more for you, then go home. Ed cleared you out and we'll take care of your closing stuff." She looked at Vin, then pointedly at Ezra.

"Take him home. And keep him."

In the still of the night
As I gaze from my window
And the moon in his flight
My thoughts go straight to you

In the still of the night
While the world is in slumber
All the times without number
Darling, when I say to you

Do you love me as I love you?
Are you my life to be, my dream come true?
Or will this dream of mine
Fade out of sight?

Like the moon growing dim
On the rim of the hill
In the chill
Of the night

"God I've wanted this so long," Vin whispered, pulling Ezra into his arms, feeling the gentle beat.

Ezra's arms wound around him and their hips began moving together in chorus. Vin's hands moved into Ezra's hair, pulling their lips together in a tender breath, tongues tentatively seeking. As if they'd not kissed just moments ago with the passion of lovers who'd been apart for years. As if they'd never kissed before, period.

"Yes..." Ezra hissed, his hand snaking around Vin's waist and pulling him closer. Their kiss deepened but remained delicate, a cherished treasure. Hands moved over each other, securing the realization that this was no longer a dream.

Ezra pulled back briefly, his glazed eyes finding Vin's. "The guys..."

Vin pulled him back into another kiss. "Let'em get their own," he muttered into Ezra's mouth.

Ezra was frozen a moment more, then shrugged and relaxed into his lover's attentions. The music washed over them as they moved. Or didn't move, depending on if to qualify as `moving' they had to travel from the single spot they'd been in since the music started.

The saxophone hummed over the instrumental interlude...

Do you love me as I love you?
Are you my life to be, my dream come true?
Or will this dream of mine
Fade out of sight?

Like the moon growing dim
On the rim of the hill
In the chill
Of the night

"Love you," Vin murmured into Ezra's ear, kissing it lightly, savoring the flavor. "Never let you go."

"Indeed," Ezra nodded, his own lips finding Vin's neck and caressing it. "Have I mentioned... how I love... how you dance?"

"Mmmm. Only for you now."

Ezra looked up and found Vin's eyes. Green orbs began to twinkle mischievously. "Go home?"


Jamie watched from the shadows of the hallway as the two federal agents headed out the door. She grinned to herself - a little triumphant, a little wistful. A lot content.

A little evil.

She wondered what they would do when they found the CD she'd made for them in Vin's pocket...


"Soundtrack" to this story. The information is:

Performer - "Song"
(album title for the version I used)

Lyrics quoted:

Queen - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
("The Game")
Look Into My Eyes - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
("Batman & Robin Soundtrack")
Alannah Myles - "Love Is"
("Alannah Myles")
Billy Joel - "Minor Variation"
("River of Dreams")
Marc Anthony - "I Need to Know"
("Marc Anthony")
Santana, with Seal - "You Are My Kind"
Roxette - "Chances"
("Look Sharp")
Alannah Myles - "Black Velvet"
("Alannah Myles")
Me'Shell Ndegeocell - "Poison Ivy"
("Batman & Robin Soundtrack")
Celine Dion - "Falling Into You"
("Falling Into You")
Bonnie Raitt - "Something to Talk About"
("Luck of the Draw")
The Nylons - "Dance of Love"
("Happy Together")
Bette Midler - "Do You Want to Dance"
("Experience the Divine")
Ricky Martin - "Love You For A Day"
("Ricky Martin(1999)")
Roxette - "Sleeping Single"
("Look Sharp")
Alannah Myles - "Song Instead of a Kiss"
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - "Wild Thing"
("'Major League' Soundtrack")
Celine Dion - "Declaration of Love"
("Falling Into You")
Tom Wopat - "In the Still of the Night"
("In the Still of the Night")

Referenced only:

Bonnie Raitt - "Slow Ride"
("Luck of the Draw")
Kim Carnes - "Draw of the Cards"
("Mistaken Identity Collection")
Shakira - "Wherever, Whenever"
("Laundry Service")
Ricky Martin - "Livin' La Vida Loca"
("Ricky Martin(1999)")
Tab Benoit - "Me and My Guitar"
("Standing on the Bank")
Dave Thompson - "Standing in the Rain"
("C'Mon Down to the Delta")
Melissa Etheridge - "If I Wanted To"
("Yes I Am")
Santana - "Smooth"
Eric Carmen - "Hungry Eyes"
("Dirty Dancing" Soundtrack)
Remy Zero - "Glorious"
("The Golden Hum")
Heart - "Little Queen"
("Little Queen")
The Troggs - "Wild Thing"

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