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This story contains references/connections to the tragedies in New York and Washington. Part of me thinks that putting such an event into a fictional story with fictional characters is somehow trivializing what happened. But a larger part of me found writing this story helped me to cope with what happened. If you find my using these terrible acts of terrorism as the basis of a story terrible or offensive, I apologize and urge you to not read any further. All I know is that I couldn't stop thinking about what happened and I needed to let my feelings out one way or another. This is the form my feelings took, especially after hearing that the ATF offices were located in the World Trade Center. I couldn't not write this. I apologize if you feel that I shouldn't have posted it. Again, please don't read this if you will find this offensive or if it will make you feel uncomfortable or cause you any pain. No one dies in this story. I wish real life could have had more happy endings too.
Dedication: The loss of innocent lives on Tuesday was devastating, but to me the loss of those firefighters and police officers, individuals who knowingly and willingly put their lives in danger to save others, was truly heartbreaking. May our faith sustain us and give us some measure of peace and comfort.
Ezra Standish sipped his coffee, absently turning on the TV to catch the morning news before heading into the office.
And froze as the image of the World Trade Center burning filled the screen.
The cup he was holding shattered on the marble floor as he clutched the remote, turning the volume louder, sure that someone would come on any second and tell him it was a scene from a movie or maybe some bizarre publicity stunt.
He only had to listen for a few minutes before realizing that it was anything but make believe.
Ezra sank onto the couch, his eyes never leaving the screen.
Oh God. Vin. His hand shook as he reached for his cell phone and then stopped as he realized that he couldn't call. He would have to wait for his lover to call him.
Have to wait to know if the man who meant everything to him was alive.
He remembered Vin's reluctance when he had taken the other man to the airport two days ago. Vin had been asked by Judge Travis to work with the New York ATF office on some specialized training. Vin hadn't wanted to go, reluctant to leave Team 7 even temporarily and knowing that he'd be a fish out of water in New York. It had taken Chris mandating that he go for Vin to agree.
And Ezra's promise of one magnificent homecoming celebration, involving strawberry lube, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup when he returned.
Ezra kept staring at the image, mentally reviewing what he knew about the location of the New York ATF.
What floor were the offices on? Would Vin have been there? Or at the training location? Maybe safe in his hotel room?
God please let him be alive.
The phone rang.
Ezra grabbed it desperately.
"You know." It was Chris's voice, tinged with worry.
"I'm watching it now."
"Ez...He's going to be..." Chris hesitated, not the kind of person to give meaningless platitudes but wanting to say something. "He loves you."
Ez took a deep breath.
"We've been called in. All teams. All agents."
Ezra stared at the picture on the screen. He didn't want to go in. Didn't want to do anything but hear Vin's voice telling him that everything was okay, even when it so clearly wasn't.
"I'm on my way."
And with one last glance at the images on the television, Ezra left.
At the office, the mood was both somber and intense, a combination that was both contradicting and comforting as Ezra saw people working and conversing quietly.
TVs in various corners were turned on and Ezra found himself standing outside his office, watching the image.
He knew that whatever happened, he was never going to forget what he was watching.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to offer a weak smile to the youngest member of their Team.
"He's going to be okay." JD's voice was quiet but steady, containing no doubts, no hesitations.
"Chris has been in contact with everyone he can think of but communications are scattered and everything is...."
JD nodded sadly. "You heard about the Pentagon?"
"On the radio."
They watched the television silently for a few seconds before heading into the conference room to meet up with the rest of the team.
Forty minutes later, Ezra was helping JD do some computer searches for the FBI while Buck and Josiah had gone to help the Denver Police and the Airport Police secure Denver International. Chris and Nathan were reviewing old case files for any potential terrorist connection and running every possible cross reference they could think.
In the corner the TV still ran and the images were growing steadily worse.
As bad as they all felt about the horror and destruction they were witnessing, the fact that one of their own was missing made it worse. So much worse. Ezra could hear the quiet muffled sobs from the clerks and the secretaries. He'd seen JD bury his head at one point, watched as Nathan walked over to offer some comfort, if comfort was possible.
Ezra could feel the anger rolling off of Chris. The ex-Navy Seal had been hit from all sides today- not only was Vin missing, but Chris had known some of the New York ATF agents and had friends from his Navy days who worked at the Pentagon.
For a man who loved his country as much as Chris Larabee did, what was happening was nothing less than a personal attack and Ezra was sure that Chris was already focusing on retaliation and revenge.
Ezra felt nothing. How could he? Vin was his heart and soul and if Vin was gone, what was left of Ezra? Nothing. Just an empty shell and pain where there had once been joy.
He closed his eyes as the pictures on the screen wavered for a moment, blurred by his tears as images of Vin came to him. Sitting uncomfortably in his tuxedo at the Symphony last weekend but determined to endure it because Ezra was enjoying himself so. Laughing at Ezra's fumbled attempts to bait his hook with a squirming worm at the river and then grinning at Ezra's disdain when he had proceeded to clean the fish they had caught. Or moaning rapturously as Ezra had entered him, sending him spiraling into paradise as they made love.
Love. Ezra had found love with Vin. Real love. The kind of love some people only dreamed about. The kind of love that couldn't be lost to an act of hatred and cowardice.
Vin had to be okay.
He had to be.
There was no way that Ezra was going to make it if he wasn't.
"Oh my God."
The horror filled whisper from one of the clerks made Ezra look up.
Just in time to watch as the tower collapsed, seeming to just disintegrate in front of him.
Barely registering the shocked reactions of his coworkers, Ezra made his way blindly, numb and in shock, to his office.
He stopped in front of his desk and picked up the picture of Team 7 from their river rafting trip that he kept on his desk
His finger touched the picture of Vin. Smiling. In the sunshine.
His hands shaking he put the picture back.
And then, the image of the building collapse playing over and over in his head, Ezra fell to his knees and began to cry.
He barely felt JD on his right and Chris on his left or Nathan bending over him as his teammates let him know that he was not alone.
Team Seven sat in the conference room, needing to be together as a family, needing to be alone to come to terms with what happened and to somehow, someway figure out what would come next. If there could be a next.
It was a quiet moment of unity from which they would draw strength as their work would consume them from this point on. They were in the middle of what amounted to a war and there would be precious little time to stop and grieve and take stock of their losses. Even now, the local ATF director was convening all of the Teams to give them new orders.
But that would be in a few minutes, for now there was nothing but silence as they realized that their family was incomplete. Would perhaps never be complete again.
Chris, who was no means a stranger to death, was lost, unable to comprehend the events of the morning with nothing to hold onto but his anger even as he realized, staring at Ezra's bleak expression, that the anger had no purpose at this moment. Anger was for later. Now was the time for other feelings, other actions.
"Ez, you want to take some time...." Chris began only to be cut off.
"No!" Then more softly. "I need...to be busy. I can't just sit around and wait. I need to do something....anything." A pause. "I won't give up till I have to."
"We won't give up." Buck corrected softly.
Josiah nodded. "We all need to have faith. Faith in God. Faith in Vin. Faith in each other."
"That might be easier said than done Josiah." JD's voice was lost. "How do have faith on a day like this."
"You've got it wrong JD," Josiah soft and gentle tones filled the room. "On a day like this all you do have is faith."
Before anyone could say anything, Ezra's cell phone rang and he answered it with his heart in his throat, more than half-afraid that it was bad news.
"Ez?" The voice was cracked and wispy, but it was that voice and Ezra found himself glad that he was already sitting as his legs buckled under him.
"Vin." He closed his eyes against the flood of tears.
"Yeah." Ezra could feel the pain in his lovers voice.
"I thought I had lost you."
"I know." Vin's voice cracked as he struggled not to break down. "I wanted to call earlier but I couldn't. It's just been....God Ez it's like a nightmare."
"I know. I know. I'm so damned glad that you're okay." He took a deep breath. "I love you Vin."
"Me too. All I could think of was hearing your voice. I wish I could touch you babe, hold you."
"Me too." Ezra was shaking. "I just...I love you."
"Yeah I know." Vin paused trying to gather his thoughts, if that was possible. "I still can't believe that I'm alive." Vin's sobs could be heard through the phone.
"Shhh. It's okay Vin. You're going to be okay. You're safe and we'll be together soon."
"So many people didn't make it Ez. I tried to help. I tried to get people out but it was just too much. I couldn't do anything. I've never felt so damned helpless. Too many people didn't get out Ez."
"I know Vin. I know how much you're hurting. I wish I could make it better. I wish I could just make it all go away, but I can't." Ezra paused. "All I can do is love you and hope that somehow that's enough."
"That's everything Ez. Knowing you love me means everything to me." A quiet sigh. "I wish I was there with you. I need to hold you."
"I've got to go. They need help and I..."
"Need to help. I know. Just be careful, okay? I know what it feels like now to lose you and I never want to feel like that again."
"You won't, you know that Ez, don't you? Even if....even if something happened you would never lose me. I'll be a part of you forever just like you're a part of me." Vin's voice shook. "You'll never lose me. I'll never leave you."
"Have I told you today how much I love you?"
Vin laughed shakily. "Yeah, but just keep telling me okay? It's the only thing keeping me going." A pause. "I've got to go. They're going to need help with search and rescue."
Ezra bit back the urge to tell him to lock himself in his hotel room where it was safe.
"I will. Tell the others....tell them I love them okay. If I haven't said it before, I think I need to make sure I say it now."
"I will. I love you Vin."
"Don't ever stop Ez. Don't ever stop."
The call ended and Ezra looked up to find five other faces, all with traces of tears running down their face, staring at him.
"I guess I was wrong," Josiah said softly.
"How?" JD asked.
"Faith isn't all we have on a day like this." Josiah replied. "We have love too."
"That we do," Nathan whispered. "Love and faith. Do you think that's enough to get us through this?"
"It's more than enough." Ezra voice was filled with a quiet joy. "It's absolutely everything."
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Story posted to A Gambler's Lust, The Magnificent Two