Well I am still struggling with writer's block but I managed to finish this short piece. Maybe some feedback will help get the creative juices going again.
1) DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Have no money just an overactive imagination. Will return with huge smiles on their faces.
2) ARCHIVE: Yes
3) WARNINGS: mention of a het relationship Chris/Mary. Not much sex in this.
4) TYPE: Slash
5) RATING: R for mature themes
6) PAIRING: V/E
7) STATUS: Complete but part of a new continuing series
8) THE AU TYPE: ATF AU
9) The ATF AU belongs to Mog and is open
This started as an answer to the June E-day fic challenge listed on the Gambler's Lust list to write a story involving a wedding. It somehow evolved into a new AU where Chris and Mary are married and Vin and Ezra who were both in love with Chris decide to try and make a go of a relationship.
The title comes from an old country song that I heard years ago. The only lines that have stuck were: We sowed seeds in fields of need and love began to grow.
Fields of Need: In the Beginning
The babble of voices rose and fell around him like the muted roar of the ocean in a conch shell.
Words spoken now mingled with the echoes of words spoken earlier.
"With this ring..."
"Forsaking all others..."
"Do you Chris..."
"Pronounce you man and wife..."
A hand on his arm, firm and warm, drew him back to the present.
"How are you holding up, Mister Tanner?"
He turned to stare into the concerned green eyes of his teammate and friend, Ezra Standish, squatting beside his chair. The question seemed surreal. It was something that you asked the bereaved at a funeral, not what you asked the best man at his best friend's wedding.
He snorted a short laugh. "Fine, Ez. Just fine." He turned the champagne glass in his hand around. "I need a drink."
Ezra quirked an eyebrow, and smiled at him, "You have 'a drink', Mister Tanner."
Vin snorted again, "Ain't a drink. Fuckin' soda pop. I need a real drink."
"I know." Ezra's face lost all expression.
Vin looked back at him, his eyes sympathetic and said softly, "Sorry, Ez. Kinda forgot that I ain't the only one hurtin' here."
Ezra closed his eyes for just a moment, head bowed then he rose gracefully to his feet. "Come with me, Mister Tanner."
Only the hand on his arm got Vin upright and moving. He felt disoriented, disjointed, like the world around him was fractured somehow. He could hear people talking but it was if they were all speaking a foreign language and he couldn't understand them.
Ezra wove them through the crowd that was trampling Orrin and Evie Travis' perfectly manicured lawn, easily deflecting all attempts to draw them into conversation as he steered them around the pool and onto the patio. He guided Vin through the den and down the hall to the main floor guest bath.
Stepping inside he closed and locked the door behind them then guided Vin to a seat on the lid of the commode.
Vin leaned forward, burying his face in his hands and closed his eyes.
A moment later he felt Ezra's hand on his shoulder and caught the smell of Scotch. He lifted his head to stare at the silver flask in Ezra's hand for just a second before taking it and eagerly chugging down a swallow. He held it out to Ezra.
"Keep it. It's the spare."
Vin gave him a puzzled look.
"The one that is normally filled with watered down whisky for when I wish to pretend to be drunk." Ezra explained.
"Oh." Vin muttered and took another slug. He resumed his slumped position, hands now holding the flask as they dangled between his knees. He stared blankly at his shiny black shoes.
He honestly couldn't remember the wedding. He knew that Chris and Mary were now married. He knew that he had been the best man, but he couldn't remember any of it.
"You were letter perfect, Mister Tanner. I assure you that no one noticed that the best man was in distress."
"Havin' a fuckin' meltdown..." Vin muttered. "How could he..."
"...marry that bitch?" Ezra finished for him.
It was Ezra's turn to give a most ungentlemanly snort. "I suspect that the events of the last month were undoubtedly precipitated by poor, sweet Mary's shocked cry of," here Ezra's voice turned falsetto, "Oh, my god! I've missed my period!"
Vin raised his eyes to gape at Ezra. "Damn Ez, never took ya for a catty queen."
"I attempt to avoid the role but I learned from the best. Mother can spit and claw like a cougar."
"Ya think *she* is..."
"Pregnant? I'd bet the Jag on it." He had sat down on the tiled floor. "Mister Larabee has been dragging his feet for five years. Suddenly it's 'full speed a head, damn the torpedoes', they're getting married *right* now. There had to have been a trigger... and you know full well how Mister Larabee would react to the news that he was to be a father. He'd want the child to have a "normal" family. A mother and father... an older brother, a perfect little home. Oh, yes, I dare say that was precisely what happened."
Vin continued to stare at his shoes. "I gotta get outta here."
Ezra forced himself to stand with a sigh. "I anticipated that you might not be able to endure the entire rigmarole of wedding, pictures, reception and send off. I programmed my home computer so that if I call it and input a certain code, it will call me back on my cell phone five minutes later. Let's get you presentable then we will put operation 'get the hell out of here' in motion."
He took a washrag from the neat pile on the sink counter and wet it in cold water. "Here, wash your face."
Vin obeyed, not sure why he needed to.
Ezra took the rag back and wet it again. Lifting the neat ponytail that Vin had his hair in, he placed the rag on the back of Vin's neck, pressing Vin's head down between his knees. "Take some slow deep breaths. You look like you're about to pass out and we can't have that when you speak to Chris."
"I can't!" Vin moaned.
"You can and will. Nothing less than my getting the call while we are talking to Chris will work. So suck it up and put on your game face. Regard it as just another undercover assignment. We do this for a living."
"Ain't the same... I ain't in love with the scum that we arrest." Vin stared at the floor, head still between his knees.
"Same principle. You can't let your real feelings show." Ezra stated.
Vin lifted his head, raising one hand to hold the rag in place on his neck. "How do you do it?" he asked softly, "If I didn't know that ya love him, too...."
"I have had a great deal more practice at hiding my feelings than you have... and at accepting the inevitable. I never harbored any hope in regards to my feelings for Mister Larabee, while you could hardly help but hope."
"I knowed he'd never love me, not like I love him." Vin said sadly.
"Knowing that a thing will never be and not hoping that it will be are not the same thing. The instant connection that you had with him, the silent communication, the kinship that exists between you was bound to give you hope. How could you not hope that with all that going for you that he might someday realize how you felt and return those feelings?"
"But he didn't." Vin rose shakily to his feet and tossed the rag into the sink. "And now he never will."
"Indeed." Ezra squeezed his arm. "This day has rung the death knell for both of our dreams."
"Thought ya didn't dream."
"I said I didn't hope. I did, however, dream."
"Not your fault. Not your problem. Now let's get you out of here." Ezra pulled out his cell phone and pressed a button. When the computer answered he pushed in a series of numbers. "Let's go."
He opened the door and pushed Vin out.
Vin straightened his back and took a deep breath much as he might do before he and Ezra went into an undercover assignment. He let Ezra's hand, resting unobtrusively on his back, guide him back out of the house and across the lawn to where Chris was standing talking to Josiah, Nathan and Raine. He was unbelievably relieved that Mary wasn't with him.
"Mister Larabee," Ezra smiled at the man whom he had been in love with almost from the first time he had seen him. "Where is your lovely bride?"
"She's off dancing with Travis." Chris informed him. He turned his gaze on Vin and grinned, "Hey, Cowboy. Where have you been hiding?"
"You know Mister Tanner," Ezra intervened, "the buffet table will soon be in need of replenishing."
Vin gave a shrug. Actually he hadn't eaten anything at all. If anyone had noticed, it would have been a dead give away that something was wrong with him.
Just as Mary and AD Travis joined them, Ezra's cell phone rang.
Ezra schooled his face into an annoyed frown but reached in the pocket of his tuxedo for the offending instrument. "Hello."
His frown deepened. "Mister Thompson."
The others stiffened at the identity of the caller. Thompson was the main player in the current case they were working.
"This is hardly a convenient time." Ezra snapped. Then, "Very well. I shall be there." He cut off the phone with a frown before turning to the others. "It seems that I shall have to depart this lovely reception somewhat sooner than I had anticipated."
"What did Thompson want?" Larabee growled.
"To see me."
"He did not say, which leads me to believe that he is merely 'jerking my chain' as the saying goes. We did set this up to appear that I was quite desperate for the weapons that he has to sell."
"You can't go alone." Larabee said firmly.
"Really, Mister Larabee, there is no reason why anyone else should have to leave early. I assure you that it is nothing that I cannot handle."
Vin saw his opening and spoke up, "Chris is right, Ez. I'll go with you. He'll be expecting you to have a bodyguard, anyhow."
"Vin...." Chris started.
"My decision, Cowboy." Vin snapped. "You're on leave. I'm acting team leader. You go ahead on and enjoy your party. We'll be fine."
Chris frowned, then nodded. Arguing would only undermine Vin's authority. He needed to get used to letting Vin do things his way. Mary was already urging him to get off the streets, move up to the assistant director's office when Orrin retired in a few months.
Vin gave a faint sigh of relief when Chris conceded the point. He wasn't sure how much longer he could hold it together, especially with Mary standing there, hanging on to Chris like a clinging vine on a tree.
Chris watched them go with the distinct feeling that he was missing something, but not knowing what it was. He'd read the report they filed when he got back from his honeymoon. He turned to smile down at Mary. She did look lovely. No one would ever guess that she was two months pregnant.
Vin closed the door to the Jag behind him and snapped. "God, Ez! Get me to a liquor store."
"First things, first." Ezra replied as he cranked the car.
Vin frowned at him.
"Surely you don't think that Mister Larabee is going to just forget that we left his wedding reception early to meet a gun runner, do you? He'll want to see the report as soon as he returns to work. Therefore, there must *be* a report. We will go to the bar where we last met Mister Thompson. We will wait an hour or so. We will not get drunk there." He eyed Vin as he made the declaration.
Vin frowned. He knew Ezra was right. 'Details, Mister Tanner, details. Success or failure is in the details.' He couldn't count the times that Ezra had told him that when they were preparing for an undercover assignment. He sighed then reluctantly nodded.
"Then after we leave the bar, we will stop at the office to write a brief report, saying that we went where we were told to go, did what we were told to do, and Mister Thompson never showed. We will file the report. Then, and only then, will we find a liquor store and get shit-faced." The last was said with grim determination.
The rest of the drive to the Lucky Leprechaun Bar and Grill was made in silence.
They took a booth in the back, not wanting Thompson to see them if he should accidentally end up at the bar.
They sat in silence for a long few minutes each lost in his own thoughts as they turned the glasses holding their drinks in their hands.
Finally Vin spoke. "What are we gonna do now, Ez?"
"Wait." Ezra replied, thinking he meant what were they going to do right now in the bar.
"No. I mean... about us... Chris... things..." He waved a vague hand not sure himself what he was asking.
"There is little we can do, Mister Tanner." Ezra sat back slumping in the seat. He reached up and pulled the white carnation out of his buttonhole and tossed it on the table. He picked his drink back up and stared into it. "He's married. Our dreams are dust."
Vin set his drink down and picked up the carnation. He began pulling the petals off, one by one. After a long moment of silence he said softly. "I don't want to spend the rest of my life alone."
"You won't. You'll find someone else."
Ezra shrugged. "Love is not my forte." He gave a short laugh. "Perhaps that explains my phenomenal success at the poker table. You know what they say, Lucky at cards, unlucky in love."
"Think it's the other way 'round. Lucky at love, unlucky at cards."
"Whatever. My luck in love has always been abysmal."
"Mine, too." Vin continued to tear at the flower. "Ez?"
"You reckon that we could make a go of it?"
"You an' me. We're both on the gay side of bi. We're good friends. You know about my feelings for Chris an' I know 'bout yours. We're done comforted each other enough to know that we're good in bed together. I..." he hesitated then plunged on, "I don't reckon I'll ever love you like I love Chris, but then I don't reckon I'll ever love anybody that way again... and I don't expect you to love me like you love him. I care a lot about you, Ez. Might not be in love with you but I do love you and I'd take good care of you. I'd never hurt you. I promise."
He reached out and took Ezra's hand tugging it to turn him so that he could look into the green eyes. "We wouldn't be alone no more, Ez. I'm so tired of waking up alone, from dreaming of him and there not being anybody there... no one to talk to.... You're the only one that knows, the only one that understands."
Ezra stared at him.
Tears swam in Vin's blue eyes. His face was a mask of pain and grief and loneliness. "We wouldn't be alone no more." He repeated in a whisper. "Please."
Ezra blinked but remained silent, his mind racing. Could it work? Should they even try? Or would they end up only hurting each other more?
Vin was right in what he had said. They were friends, good friends. They had comforted each other throughout the long hard road of loving Chris Larabee and knowing that neither of them had a chance with him. He did care for Vin and he believed that Vin cared for him. Would it be enough?
It was that final, whispered, 'Please' that decided him. He squeezed Vin's hand. "I'm tired of being alone, too." He whispered back, "We can try."
The tears swimming in Vin's eyes spilled over.
Ezra shifted closer, letting one arm slip around Vin's back as the younger man lay his head down on his arms and wept softly but bitterly.
He had been expecting Vin to break down. He was just glad that they had gotten away from the others before it happened. Neither of them was ready to face having to explain why Vin would break down at Chris' wedding.
He carefully worked the band that held Vin's ponytail loose and began to stroke the long hair, knowing that Vin found it calming. There was little more that he could do, except stay there with Vin until he calmed a bit.
Then they would leave.
They'd pick up a bottle or two and head for his townhouse. He could write the report on his laptop and send it to the computer at the office. No reason for Vin to have to face the other teams and their celebrating of Chris' wedding.
He would protect the younger man until Vin was able to face the world again.
Several hours later Vin was passed out on the sofa in Ezra's livingroom.
Ezra strolled through the townhouse, turning off the lights, checking that all the alarms were set and generally going through his nightly routine. He had not drank nearly as much as Vin had.
He told himself that it was because he had to look after the younger man but the truth was that Larabee's wedding hadn't hurt as much as he had thought that it would. In fact most of his anger at Larabee was due to the pain that he knew the wedding was causing Vin.
Pouring himself a glass of brandy he moved to the sofa and sank gracefully to the floor beside it. Reaching out he gently brushed the hair away from Vin's face, sighing softly at the tear-stained cheeks.
"Dear, sweet Vin." He murmured softly. "When did I stop caring that he didn't love me, and start caring that he didn't love you? You deserve so much better than that man. Hell! You deserve better than me... but as long as you wish to remain with me, I will be here for you."
He rose to his feet and bent to place a soft kiss on Vin's forehead. "Sleep well, my friend. Tomorrow we will discuss where you want to go from here. If you truly wish to be with me, I promise you that I will ensure that you never regret it, but today is not the day to make that decision. You are still hurting too much."
He sat the brandy down on the bar untouched and quietly made his way through the darkened townhouse to his bedroom.
They would both sleep alone tonight but if he were very lucky it would be the last time either of them did so.
Vin awoke slowly to the sound of someone moving around. He lay still for a moment before opening his eyes. The smell of coffee wafted through the air. Soft footsteps moved towards him and the coffee smell grew stronger. He opened his eyes.
Ezra stood beside the couch, holding a steaming cup of coffee. "Here." He said softly holding it out to Vin. "This will help. I put a bit of whiskey in it."
Vin sat up slowly, careful of his throbbing head and reached for the cup. After taking a slow sip he asked, "What'm I doin' on the couch? Thought we came to an understandin'."
"We did. However you were quite inebriated and I thought it best to wait until you were sober to make a final commitment to this course of action. We are, after all, discussing the rest of our lives. Such a serious matter should not be undertaken lightly. We need to talk, to decide exactly what we each need from this relationship and what we are each willing to give. To do that you need to recover your equilibrium, not only get over this hangover but come to terms with the fact that Mister Larabee is now married."
Vin groaned softly. He did have a hell of a hangover. Fortunately he wasn't particularly nauseated but his head hurt terribly. "Yeah," he finally said, "you're right, Ez." He sighed again. "Got anything for this headache?"
"Of course." Ezra held out a hand, opening it to reveal that he had already thought to bring Vin several aspirin.
"Thanks." Vin grunted.
"You are welcome. If you like, you may lie down on the bed in the guestroom until you feel better. I shall endeavor to remain quiet. Do you think you might feel up to eating something later?"
"Long as it ain't too heavy."
"I was planning to make some stew. That and some bread should be adequate and the stew can remain on the stove at a slow simmer until you are ready to eat."
"Sounds good." Vin said. "I 'preciate it... ever thing you've done. Reckon I'll take you up on the guestroom bed... 'course I'd rather share yours...."
Ezra smiled slightly. "Perhaps tonight, Vin. Now you need to sleep off that hangover. Go on." He urged gently.
It was mid-afternoon when Vin awoke again. The savory scent of beef stew wafted through the condo. He lay with his eyes closed and breathed deeply. It smelled remarkably like his grandfather's redeye stew.
He remembered it well.
Grandpa had made it the day that he'd come to live with them, knowing that it was one of Vin's mom's favorites and wanting to give the grieving child something familiar to cling to in new surroundings.
He'd made it again when they had moved to Denver leaving Texas behind them following Vin's grandma's death. Again, something familiar in a new beginning.
He got up slowly, his head still ached some from the hangover, but his stomach not nearly as unsettled as he'd expected. Making his way to the living room he saw Ezra sitting on the couch reading.
Ezra looked up and smiled at him. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah. Stew smells good."
"Thank you. I hope you like it. It's my grandfather's recipe."
"Smells like my grandpa's redeye stew."
"Grandfather called it 'Catch as Catch-Can Stew'. The recipe is quite adaptable. It starts with two pounds of meat. I've seen him use beef, fresh pork, chicken, even cured ham for the basis. Vegetables, whatever you have on hand, but generally, corn, butterbeans, English peas, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and bell peppers, if you have them and want."
Vin had lifted the lid and was looking at the stew. "And a bottle of Heinz ketchup," He stated positively. "That's what makes the soup red."
"And provides all the seasoning required." Ezra stated with a grin. "So I take it, you are familiar with this recipe."
"Yep, although my ma and Grandpa always made it with beef."
"Then you should like this. It is, indeed, made with beef." Ezra handed him a bowl and spoon. "I have some garlic bread ready to toast in the oven. It will only take a few minutes and goes well with the stew."
Vin sat down at the table with his bowl waiting for the bread to be ready. Slowly stirring the stew he said, "Seems fitting you'd cook this for us today."
Ezra cocked an eyebrow in question.
"I always associated," he paused looking at Ezra for confirmation that the word was appropriate, then, after Ezra gave him a slight nod, went on, "redeye stew with new beginnings. Day I started kindergarten, ma had it cooking when I got home. When I went to live with my grandparents after she died, first thing I smelled when we got to the house was redeye stew cooking. After grandma passed and we moved to Denver, first day in the new place, grandpa cooked it. Now, I reckon me'n you are starting over, putting Chris behind us and planning a future together. So, like I said, seems fitting."
Ezra nodded, "I see." After a pause he added, "To me it represents coming home. It was the only thing that Grandfather Riley cooked but he would make it every time I came to stay with them. Grandmother Moire tended to cook country French with rich sauces and gravies."
"Moire? It's a pretty name."
"She was French. Grandfather brought her home with him after the war. She had been a Freedom Fighter with the French Underground. He parachuted in behind the enemy lines, got cut off from the rest of his unit and was captured. Her group rescued him. Unable to get back to American lines, he remained with the group until the war ended."
"Sounds like an interesting story."
"It was and Grandfather loved to tell it." He smiled at Vin and reached across the small table to lay a hand over the sharpshooter's. "But we are getting off the subject, are we not?" He sighed. "We really must discuss what each of us needs from this relationship and set some ground rules, if we are to have any hope of making it last."
"Up until now, what we have had has been a casual thing, and neither of us has concerned ourselves with whether or not the other was being unfaithful. After all, we had both acknowledged that we were simply comforting each other, that we were both in love with Mister Larabee. Now, however, if we are to make a go of this I feel that it is necessary that that change. Faithlessness has no place in what is supposed to be a committed relationship. Therefore the first ground rule is; neither of us may have relations with anyone other than each other." He paused then with a slight tightening of his lips added, "That includes Mister Larabee. Should he ever decide he wants you, I shall expect you to inform me that you wish to dissolve our partnership *before* acquiescing to his desire. I, of course, agree to the same, although I have no expectation of any such event occurring between Mister Larabee and myself."
Vin stared at him for a long moment. "You really think that I'd do that to you?"
Ezra hesitated, then said, "I... I don't know. I only know how much you love him and that I can't expect you not to accept his invitation should he ever extend it... I just need to know that you'll have the common courtesy to inform me first."
"Ez, I do love Chris... but I'm a man of my word. If we do this, if I commit to you, then even if Chris does decide he wants me, the answer will be, 'I'm sorry but you're too late. I'm in a committed relationship with Ezra.'"
"Y-you'd actually tell him that...?"
Ezra bowed his head, staring down at the table as he blinked back tears and tried to regain control of his emotions. Finally he whispered, "Thank you."
Vin turned their joined hands over, and squeezed Ezra's. "No, Ez. Thank you. I'm the one that asked you to try this with me. I'm the one that's being all needy and dependent. You're the strong one. The one that's getting me through this hell."
He waited until Ezra gave him a tentative smile and a slight nod before saying, "So what other ground rules do we need?"
"None really. I just need to know what you need from me."
Vin looked at him for a long moment then said, "I reckon what I need is what you've been giving me for the last four-five years, ever since you joined the team. I need you to help me get though the hard times when I have to see them together. Need you to help me deal with the fact that they're married now. Don't know what I'm gonna do if she really is pregnant. There'll be all kinds of celebrating and I don't know if I can handle it. God! I reckon he'll still want us all coming out to the ranch. She'll be there. Damn!"
"Perhaps we can find some legitimate reason to avoid going out there as often as before." Ezra suggested.
"You think so?" Vin asked hopefully. "He's bound to want us all out there for the Fourth of July picnic...."
"Are not the Sisters of Mercy planning an all day picnic for the children of Purgatorio at the park that day?"
"Are you not planning to help?"
"Yeah," Vin said.
"Perhaps you could volunteer both our services to the Sisters. You could help with the grilling. I could put on a magic show and do face painting and make balloon animals for the children before and after the show. We could stay late to clean up and plead off the event at Mister Larabee's due to the long exhausting day that we had had."
"He's gonna be kinda upset. We usually do the fireworks."
"Mister Sanchez, Mister Dunne and Mister Wilmington can do them this year. They have helped us enough in the past. It is of course only a suggestion. If you wish to attempt going to the event, I will of course go with you and do whatever I can to help you through it."
"How will we explain that we went ahead and agreed to help the Sisters when we knew that he was planning the cookout?"
"Everyone had been so busy with the wedding and honeymoon plans that there has been no mention of the annual cookout. They will only return from their honeymoon three days before the event. We simply say that as no one had mentioned it, we assumed that they would not be entertaining so soon."
"Makes sense. We'll try that. I really don't want to go to out there that weekend."
"We may have to put in an appearance at some point but we can go together and I can always plead a migraine. You would, of course, have to take me home."
Vin snorted. "You might find yourself having a lotta migraines in the next few months."
"That can be arranged... hopefully without raising Mister Jackson's suspicions."
Vin nodded then after a few minutes silence, asked, "So, what do you need from me?"
Ezra rose and moved to get himself a cup of coffee before answering. He returned and sat down, remaining silent for a long moment before beginning to speak. When he did he appeared to be going off on a tangent. "Sometimes when I am undercover, I feel as if I am losing myself, as if I no longer know who I am, especially when I am in deep cover and can have little or no contact with the team. It's worse knowing that there is no one waiting for me, for the real Ezra Standish to return." He waved a hand dismissively, " Oh, I know that the team is waiting but it's not the same as having someone at home, someone waiting for me, not just for the team's undercover agent... do you understand?"
"I think so. You need someone that's more'n just a teammate or even a friend. Someone that's intimate with you."
"Exactly. I need someone to come home to, someone who understands how grueling being under can be, who understands what it takes out of me. I need someone to remind me of who I really am and why I do what I do. Someone to listen when I need to talk about it and understand when I can't talk about." He paused, looking down at the table, coloring a bit with embarrassment before saying, "I need someone to hold me when I cry at the memory of some of the things that I have had to stand by and let happen to keep from blowing my cover and the case. Someone who has been there." He fell silent again.
Vin reached over and took his hand, squeezing it lightly. "The five weeks I spent under with you on the Dalton case was the longest I've ever been undercover... ever had to live a cover twenty-four/seven. Was the longest five weeks of my life. It gave me a whole new perspective on undercover work and a whole new respect for what you do. Don't think it'll be any hardship to be here for you to come home to."
"I don't want to crowd you. I know you need your space."
"You won't crowd me. Reckon I'll get all the time alone I need when you're undercover. Probably more'n I want."
Ezra smiled at him, "Have I ever told you how much I appreciate it when you are undercover with me. It makes it so much easier... not being alone."
Vin squeezed his hand again, "That's what this is about, ain't it Ez? Not being alone anymore."
Ezra squeezed back. "Yes." Then taking a deep breath he asked. "In regards to that, do you wish us to live together? I mean that I assumed from what you said that you wished us to sleep together regularly...." He trailed off uncertainly.
Vin hesitated, "Yeah... I did... If it's all right with you...."
"Yes, of course. I was just wondering how we might arrange it without raising suspicions. We don't want IA nosing around."
"Hadn't thought about that." He paused, "I really want us to be able to be together...."
"Then we shall simply have to find a suitable cover story and spread it around." Ezra smiled at Vin. "In the meantime, I suggest you stay here during the work week and I stay with you over the weekends. We come and go separately, each keeping to his normal routine. It should not take long to come up with a cover that will allow us to live together without having to hide the fact."
"If you can do that, you're smarter than most of the fellas."
"Ah, but I *am* smarter than most of the fellas, Mister Tanner... and constructing covers is my forte." He grinned at his friend. No, lover... friend and lover and now partner as well, in every sense of the word.
As he stood to clear the table Vin rose with him and stepped in close, slipping his arms around him, bending to nibble at one ear lobe. "Don't take too long in here, I'll be waiting for you on the couch. Need to cuddle for a while, okay?"
"Very okay, Vin. I'll only be a few minutes."
Vin released him and headed for the livingroom. A moment later he heard the TV come on.
The End for now.
TBC in "Building the Blind"