Author's note: This section is definitely Adults only!
Maude's arrival engenders a rather unusual reaction in Ezra.
Warnings: Mention of het, JD/Casey, & Nathan/Raine, mention of Chris/Buck, bad language, violence and lots of sex.
In hindsight, perhaps I should have rung the bell. But why ever would I? He had given me a key and the code for the alarm and he told me to just let myself in if he wasn't home. And he's *never* home in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.
How was I to know that my darling boy had finally quit that dreadful job? How was I to know he had a brand new boyfriend?
It's not as if he tells me these things. I'm only his mother!
So, how was I to know that they'd be home in the middle of the afternoon on a workday? Let alone doing *it* in a rocking chair in the middle of the living room.
The first clue I had that something was amiss came as I closed the door and reached to punch in the alarm code. I hesitated. I heard what sounded remarkably like a rocking chair suffering under a tremendous strain. Then overlaying it, my baby's voice, sounding like I'd never heard him sound, chanting, "Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!" in a husky, whimpering moan of passion.
I forced myself to punch in the security code, before turning and striding to the doorway of the living room, certain of only one thing: that what ever was going on I didn't want the security company sending anyone out to investigate why the alarm had gone off.
I'm afraid that my mouth dropped open like a common dolt's.
There are some things that a mother simply was not meant to see.
Her precious baby boy, sitting on his lover's lap in a rocking chair, heels hooked around the back of the chair, hands wrapped in a white knuckled grip on the chair back, head thrown back, eyes closed, mouth open as he rode his rocking, thrusting lover like a bullrider in a rodeo as animalistic sounds of passion and pleasure escaped him, is definitely one of them.
And his lover! Long hair swayed and bobbed wildly as he rocked furiously. His back arched as he thrust upwards then rocked forwards and slid back in the chair. His face was buried in Ezra's chest. One arm was wrapped securely around Ezra's waist the other delved beneath whatever the hell Ezra was wearing.
I was eternally grateful that all the important parts were covered but just exactly what was Ezra wearing? It looked remarkably like a nightgown, a lacy, *frilly* and beribboned, nightgown.
I finally managed to shut my mouth and was just about to open it again to demand an explanation when the rocking chair stopped rocking abruptly. His lover cried out Ezra's name and Ezra let out an answering shriek that would have done a banshee proud, shivered, quivered, shook and moaned before collapsing in a dead faint against his lover.
For a long moment they remained like that, with Ezra limp against him, his lover just holding him. Then his lover's hands slipped from under the gown and smoothed and stoked it tenderly, covering Ezra better even though I was sure he hadn't noticed my presence, as his face remained buried against Ezra.
Gentle hands, guided by feel, unhooked Ezra's legs from around the back of the chair and moved them so that his feet rested on the spindles that ran between the front legs of the rocker to the back ones, so that they were safe from being rocked on. He set the chair back into motion, this time in a slow gentle rocking. He moved one of Ezra's arms down so that it hung down at their sides and tucked the other between them. Finally he lifted his head as he turned Ezra slightly so that he could hold him more securely. He brushed back a stray curl from Ezra's face and pressed soft kisses to Ezra's face, murmuring tenderly to him.
I was so struck by the tenderness and love in his expression that it took a moment for it to register just who my baby boy's lover was.
A small gasp of shock escaped me and my hand flew up to my mouth.
Blue eyes were suddenly zeroed in on me, hard, cold and sharply evaluating. The lean body tensed, ready to move even as his arms tightened around Ezra protectively.
Then Ezra stirred in his arms, murmuring sleepily and Vin's attention was drawn back to him, his whole face softening.
"Ez?" he asked quietly.
Ezra smiled without opening his eyes and snuggled closer, ummming happily.
"Ez!" Vin spoke louder and more sharply, "Yer ma's here."
Ezra froze, then sat up abruptly, his head swiveling towards me. His mouth fell open then closed again as he seemed to realize that there wasn't much he could say.
I blinked and took a step backwards, "Uh, well, I'll just..." I motioned towards the kitchen and turned that way, as I tried to gather up my dignity. "I'll just go and fix us some coffee... or a drink, yes, definitely a drink. I think we could all use a stiff drink." As I strode away, I added in a mutter, "I know I could!"
Ezra stared after her for a long moment then turned and buried his face in Vin's hair, his body starting to shake.
It took a moment for Vin to realize that his lover was laughing.
Ezra leaned back and grinned at him. "She ran!" he giggled. "My *mother* turned tail and ran!"
He seemed absolutely delighted with the idea.
"Ez, she saw us."
Ezra just laughed again. "I bet that curled her hair!"
He gave Vin a quick kiss then disentangled himself from him. "Come on. We can't let her recover her wits."
Ezra straightened his nightshirt, and padded towards the kitchen, his bare feet practically on the carpeted floor.
Vin stared after him a moment then, stood, straightened his jeans, tucked himself in and padded after him.
Maude stood at the kitchen counter, a small glass half filled with whiskey in her hand. She was looking round the room. After a long moment she said, "You're packing."
"One generally does when one moves to a new home."
"What's wrong with this house?" she demanded.
"Although I have put Vin's name on the deed, it is basically mine. He had no hand in choosing it, remodeling it, or furnishing it. The new house is *ours*. We chose it together, we will make any changes to it together, and we will furnish and decorate it together."
"You're committed to this relationship."
"And you, Mister Tanner, are you committed to this relationship?"
Vin figured plain and simple was the way to go in answering that, so, he nodded. "Yes, ma'am. Completely."
"Good! Then you won't have a problem with marrying Ezra."
They stared at her with twin looks of dismay.
"Ma'am, I'd dearly love ta marry Ez, but it ain't legal, least wise not here in Colorado."
"I am quite aware of that. However, my current husband owns a small private island in the Caribbean. He makes his own rules there. I'm sure he'd be delighted to marry you, once I explain the necessity "
"It still won't be legal here, Mother," Ezra pointed out.
"I'm well aware of that. You'll need legal papers for here, a domestic partnership agreement, mutual medical powers of attorney and mutual legally designated next of kin agreements. Those should provide you with the same basic legal protections that marriage does. You said that you have put his name on the townhouse deed?"
"Yes, Mother. In fact I have placed Vin's name on the deeds of all the property that I own. Tenants in common, with right of survivorship."
"That is excellent, but you will both need wills as well."
Vin frowned, "I ain't ever had a will."
"Mister Tanner, by placing your name on the deeds to his property, Ezra has made you a very wealthy man. Now, I'm sure that as you love him, you wish to give him all the legal protection that you can. A will is a legally binding document that will guarantee that he is protected and his property returned to him should anything happen to you."
"I ain't got no kin to try and take it from him." Vin declared with a frown.
"You don't need any. The state of Colorado will make a claim. Anytime a person who owns property dies without a will, the state grabs everything it can get." Maude declared.
Vin looked at Ezra, who nodded. "It's not quite as bad as she makes out, but yes, the state does take a share of the estate of anyone who dies without a will and designated heir."
Vin gave a sharp nod, "Then we get the wills. Ain't nobody taking what's yours away from you!"
Ezra grinned turning and pulling Vin closer, "Does that include you?"
"Damned straight! I'm yours and you're mine and ain't nobody coming between us!" He smiled at Ezra, his expression growing tender as he reached up to caress Ezra's face, "And you know that I don't want to take anything away from you. If I could, I'd hand you the sun and the moon and the stars on a platter." He started to lean down and kiss Ezra then hesitated, glancing up at Maude.
"Oh, for Christsake! Go ahead and kiss him. It isn't like you can shock me any worse than you already have!"
So, he did.
As the kiss lingered, Maude huffed slightly. "Well," she finally said as they got lost in each other and seemed to forget that she was there, "I'll just go see my attorney and see about getting the paperwork started. I trust that you two will be decently attired when I return."
Vin broke the kiss and grinned at her, "Depends on how long yer gone."
She shook her head, "I'll call before I leave my attorney's office. That should give you time to finish and get dressed before I arrive back here."
Vin nodded distractedly and returned to kissing Ezra, his hands beginning to wander.
She shook her head. "I'll just let myself out."
Vin didn't pay much attention to Maude leaving, he was too busy with Ezra trying to climb him.
Ezra had wrapped one leg around Vin and was rubbing himself against his lover while little whimpering moans escaped him.
Vin slipped a hand between them to wrap it around Ezra's rampart cock, with the silk of the nightshirt between his hand and it.
"Jesus, Babe! You're hard as steel! You always get this turned on by your ma walking in on you?"
"Don't know," Ezra managed to gasp. "Never happened before." He thrust up into Vin's hand. "Oh, God! I need you, Vin. Hurry. Take me. I want--- Oh Lord! Please...."
Vin muffled Ezra's rising cries with another kiss as he backed him towards the breakfast nook and the table there. Seconds later Ezra was on his back on the table, his legs hooked over Vin's shoulders as Vin quickly released his cock and plunged back into Ezra's well-stretched and lubed channel.
Ezra squealed and bucked, eagerly meeting every thrust.
Vin gave up on any attempt to quieten his very vocal lover as he gave Ezra what he demanded. After all, he figured at the rate they were going, if the neighbors called the cops they'd either be finished or have moved on to the bedroom by the time a unit got there.
Vin jacked Ezra's cock through the silk nightshirt, the smooth, warm material adding an exotic touch to his stroking.
Ezra came hard, jerking and moaning.
The hard, clenching of his muscles around Vin's cock, wrung Vin's climax from him just seconds later. Gasping and panting, Vin collapsed atop his lover, taking a moment or so to regain his breath as his cock slowly slipped from his lover's body.
Stepping back he lowered Ezra's legs then used the tail of the nightshirt to wipe himself and catch some of the drips from Ezra.
He helped Ezra to stand then guided him to the stairs and up. "How about we take a little nap, then grab a bath before your ma gets back?" he suggested.
Ezra barely murmured a response, just leaning more heavily on him.
Vin took that as agreement to the nap and steered him into the master bedroom and their big bed. He tucked Ezra in then climbed in beside him. He was fairly sure that they had a couple of hours at least before Maude returned.
They had been asleep for several hours when Vin awakened to Ezra rocking against him. He turned his head and looked at his lover, realizing that Ezra was still asleep.
He chuckled to himself. Ezra had been an eager and willing lover from the first time, but for some reason, it seemed as if Maude's arrival had sent Ezra's sex drive into overdrive.
He slipped a hand under Ezra's nightshirt and ran it up Ezra's leg to cup one smooth ass cheek.
Ezra moaned and threw a leg over Vin's legs, humping against him. "Vinnnn," he moaned, obviously not fully awake, but clearly aroused and desiring his lover.
"Right here, Babe," Vin assured him softly, "Right here." He rolled them over so that he was on top and began kissing his way from Ezra's neck downward as Ezra moaned and humped against the knee that now pressed into his balls.
He continued to murmur as he kissed his way down Ezra's body. "Gonna take care of you, Babe, gonna take real good care of you. My sweet baby."
Gathering up the long nightshirt as he moved downward, he pushed it up under Ezra's arms and swirled his tongue in Ezra's belly button, smiling as Ezra arched up.
One hand wrapped around Ezra's erection and began to pump as he scattered kisses across Ezra's belly, before lowering his head to take Ezra's cock into his mouth.
It only took a few minutes for Ezra to come, which surprised Vin a bit. He'd thought that it would take longer since Ezra had already come several times that day.
He shifted to lie beside Ezra, pulling his lover into his arms.
Ezra sighed happily and snuggled against him. One hand caressed down his stomach. The hand brushed Vin's half-erect cock.
"Do you want...?"
"I'm all right, Babe. Plenty of time for that later." He hesitated then asked, "Does a visit from your ma always make you this horny?"
"NO!" Ezra gasped. "Honestly, I don't know what it is. My sex drive has never been extremely high. There have been times, and not only when I was undercover, that I went for weeks, sometimes months without any relief except my own hand. I don't have a clue what has put my sex drive into high gear."
Vin kind of shrugged, "Reckon maybe you're just making up for lost time." He grinned and chuckled, "Ain't like *I* mind... ain't sure I can say the same about your ma though!"
Ezra laughed against Vin's shoulder. "I do suspect that she is not happy about the situation."
"Seemed to take us being together okay, better'n I expected."
"Yes, well, Mother does love me, no matter how it might seem to outsiders. She does want me to be happy, and if having you makes me happy, well.... Perhaps, I should warn you that the paperwork she is currently attending to, will be geared to wrapping you up in so much legalese that you will never be able to escape my clutches. It will undoubtedly ensure that should we separate for any reason, my fault, your fault, nobody's fault, I will get everything and you will get absolutely nothing. She'll even try to take the clothes off your back should you leave me."
Vin laughed. "Then I reckon it's a damned good thing that I ain't going anywhere!"
Ezra rolled over on top of Vin, looking down at him, "You do know that I won't let her get away with it. I will make sure that should anything happen you will leave with at least as much as you came into this relationship with."
"I know, Babe. I trust you, completely."
Ezra smiled down into his lover's clear blue eyes, seeing the truth there, "And I you, Darling, and I you."
He settled back, lying atop Vin, snuggled into his chest.
"Reckon we ought to get up, bathe and get dressed. Your ma oughta be back soon."
Ezra raised his head and grinned at Vin, "Oh, I think we have another hour or two. She has to make sure that there are no loopholes that you can slip through." The grin widened, "Terrible isn't it, that I'm going to have to undo all her hard work?"
Vin just chuckled. "Up. Now." He gave Ezra's ass a gentle slap. "Come on, Bad Boy. Let's hit the shower and then fix something to eat. I'm starving."
Ezra laughed and rolled off him. "I suppose I must feed you. After all, you're going to need your strength!" He trotted towards the bathroom. "Oh, Vin? Bring my plug and cockring!"
Vin shook his head, muttering to himself, "At this rate, I ain't gonna live to see the wedding, let alone the honeymoon," but he rummaged through the bedside table, digging out Ezra's cock ring and anal plug, then with a grin he added the cock and balls strap, too.
Might as well do it up right. He might not survive but what a way to go!
When Maude called, Vin answered the phone. "Hello? Yes, Ma'am. We're up and dressed." He grinned over at Ezra, thinking that Ezra was most definitely up.
His lover had that flushed, aroused, 'fuck me' look, a result no doubt of the cockring that was keeping his cock fully erect and the anal plug that was simulating his prostrate with every move he made as he prepared their meal.
"Tell her to bring copies of the paperwork home. I want to read them before we sign them."
Vin told her then relayed to Ezra, "She says that ain't necessary."
Ezra grabbed the phone, "It damned well is necessary! Now, you can either bring them home for me to read, or I can read them at the attorney's office when we go to sign." There was a pause then he said, "I don't care if it that means we'll be there all day!" He gave a huff and a sharp nod, "I thought you'd see it my way. We'll see you in an hour or so."
He hung up.
Vin wrapped his arms around him from behind and nuzzled his neck. "Damn! You're sexy when you get all forceful and determined. Makes me wanna get down on my knees and say, 'yes, master.'"
Ezra laughed, "Really? But I'm the one wearing a cock restraint!"
"Maybe, but you've got to be the bossiest bottom on the face of the earth!"
Ezra turned to face him, "Indeed?" he asked in a husky voice. He glanced at the stove, making sure that nothing would burn in the next few minutes then, grinning, gave Vin a slight push, backing him away a step. "In that case: On your knees, Boy!"
Vin smiled, looking at him with glowing eyes before falling to his knees, still looking up at Ezra with adoring eyes.
"Take my cock out."
Vin hastened to obey, opening Ezra's pants and reaching in to release the snap on the strap that held Ezra's fully erect cock strapped to his leg.
"Now lick it. Just the head."
"Oh, Darling! That feels so good."
Vin fumbled at the fastening of the cock restraint.
"No, Darling, don't release it. I don't want to come. Lick it between the straps."
Vin did as instructed, then moved back along the length of the cock to run his tongue along the crown and take the swollen, almost purple head into his mouth, sucking gently.
Ezra's hands moved to his hair, not holding his head, but just tenderly running his fingers through it. "Feels so good, Darling."
Vin drew back letting the cock fall from his lips, "Sure you don't want to come?"
"Positive, Love. Strap it back down. By the time we get to bed, I'll be ready to come the instant you release the cockring. Right now, I need to finish supper. Mother will be back soon."
Simon Trevor snarled at the private investigator that he had hired to watch Ezra Standish's townhouse, throwing the pictures that the man had given him onto the desk in front of him. "When did *she* get here?"
"Log says that she arrived at ten-seventeen this morning. Is she a problem?"
"Standish's bitch of a mother? No. She's not a problem. Just an unpredictable factor. I may have to step up the timetable."
James Barton, the private investigator, nodded, not knowing and not really caring, what timetable his employer was talking about. He regarded the man with jaded eyes.
The sign on the door of the office, that they were in, said: Bill Hullet, Imports and Exports. He doubted that the man in front of him was Bill Hullet, but it wasn't any of his business. As long as he got paid, he didn't care who the man was. And this man paid in cash. He liked cash. It made cheating on his taxes so much easier.
James Barton was a second rate PI, with no morals and few scruples, perfect for Trevor's needs. As long as he got paid he didn't ask questions and he wasn't above breaking the law if paid enough.
Physically, he was ordinary in every way, a little below average height, but not enough for most people to make note of it. He was slender in build, but not so skinny as to be remarkable. He had brown hair, brown eyes and unremarkable features. He was dressed in nice but not expensive clothes. Everything about him said: ordinary, which was exactly what he wanted. No one ever paid him any mind. Most people would never be able to recall ever having seen him. It made his job of spying on people so much easier.
In contrast, the man calling himself Bill Hullet was movie star handsome, of the proverbial tall, dark and handsome variety. Even seated he looked tall.
Barton would place him at six one or two, with icy blue eyes and curly, near-black hair. He had classical features and the body of a Greek statue. He was gorgeous, the kind of man that women fell all over themselves trying to get close to, but there was something in his eyes that unnerved Barton. He was dangerous. Barton had no doubt of that.
Hullet/Trevor scowled at the pictures again, then picked up one of Vin Tanner. "What have you found out about him?"
"Vin Tanner, Standish's boyfriend. They're pretty open about that. Word around the Federal Building is that Tanner was with his boss up until a few weeks ago. Moved out of Larabee's bed and into Standish's. He was on their ATF team. Supposed to be a sharpshooter. Ex-Army Ranger. Word is he *can* shoot. He was bounty hunting when Larabee recruited him. He was with the US Marshals before that. Left under a cloud. Nothing official about it, but word is it was due to, quote 'sexual misconduct' unquote."
Hullet/Trevor nodded. Fuck boy, sleeping his way to the top. Undoubtedly attracted to Standish's money.
"You said that they resigned."
"Good." No federal badge anymore, Pretty Boy, no back up. Your ass is mine... and maybe your boyfriend's too. He's not my usual type, but maybe he's the key to finally breaking you. So what it Tanner could shoot? A tranquilizer dart from ambush and his talent with a rifle would be useless.
He glanced back up at Barton. "Stay on them. And get me the code to that alarm system."
He tossed an envelope across the desk.
Barton picked it up and hefted it in his hand. A bit heavier than usual. He raised an eyebrow at Hullet.
"Expense money to get the alarm code. You may have to bribe someone at the security agency. Get it and you'll earn a nice bonus."
Barton nodded and rose to go. "Same time tomorrow?"
"No. Day after tomorrow."
Barton gave a small salute and opening the door, stepped out.
Trevor leaned back in his chair and pursed his lips. He'd do a little investigating of his own tomorrow. There were things he needed to know that he didn't want Barton thinking about.
Nathan Jackson stepped off the elevator and headed for AD Travis' office, the paperwork for his request for transfer in his hands. He'd been shocked the day before when Larabee had informed what remained of the team that he and Wilmington were resigning.
Apparently Standish's idea that Wilmington was in love with Larabee hadn't been that far off the mark. Larabee had told them that Wilmington was moving out to the ranch, that they were planning to get serious about breeding horses, but had made no mention of a personal relationship.
It sounded damned convenient to him.
He had discussed the situation with his wife that night, saying as much to her.
Flashback to the previous night
"This sudden urge to 'go into business together,' to raise horses seems damned convenient to me!" Nathan said, his annoyance clear.
Raine Jackson sighed. Nathan was a good man, but sometime he could be a trial. "Do they seem happy?"
"Do Chris and Buck seem happy to you?"
"Well," he hesitated, thinking back to that morning when Chris had dropped his bombshell.
The team leader had been smiling, not beaming exactly, just real content looking, more at peace than they had seen him in a long time. Not like when he'd first gotten together with Vin, though. He'd been lit up like a Roman candle then. Comparing this to then, was like comparing a fire in a fireplace to a wildfire. Not nearly as hot or exciting... or as dangerous.
After a long moment he sighed, "Yeah. I reckon they do."
"Then what is the problem. They are your friends aren't they?"
"Of course!" Nathan was nothing if not loyal and both men had earned his friendship many times over.
"Then be happy that they are happy, Sweetheart." She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a soft kiss.
"It's just that..." He pushed her away so that he could pace, waving his arms in frustration. "Dammit! The team's gone! Finished! Ain't nobody left but me and Josiah and JD. They're bound to reassign us."
"Then decide where you want to go and apply for the transfer before they can just dump you somewhere that you may not want to be." She said quite reasonably.
Reaching out to him, stopping his pacing and drawing him in close again, she said, "You know that I will support any decision you make about what you want to do."
He pulled her to him and hugged her tightly. Resting his chin on the top of her head, he nodded against it. He'd been thinking about moving into the lab. Forensics fascinated him. Maybe it was time he stopped thinking about it and just did it.
End of Flashback
He was drawn out of his musing by the sound of a familiar southern drawl.
"It has been a pleasure, AD Travis. I'm sure that the board will approve the purchase. If not, you may still be able to rent it as needed. I doubt that I will sell it, if not to one of the agencies. It is just too good a safe-house to let it go to waste as a private residence."
"I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything. We're going to miss you around here. You were a good agent, Standish. I hate losing you and Tanner, too."
"We are hardly lost, sir. We both still have three trials to testify in and the Director has already approached me about possibly mentoring some of the younger undercover agents. He has also mentioned the possibility of Vin giving some of the newer recruits extra firearms instruction."
Nathan watched as Ezra and the AD shook hands and Travis turned back towards his office.
Ezra was smiling when he turned away from Travis, but the expression faded and the blank-faced look that Ezra wore all too often around Nathan appeared.
"Mister Jackson," he greeted in a formal tone.
"Ezra," Nathan said, "You look well."
"I am well."
"And Vin? How's he?"
A wicked grin blossomed, and green eyes twinkled, "Mister Tanner is at this very minute doing his utmost to drive my dear Mother stark raving mad. She doesn't have far left to go."
Nathan couldn't help but respond to the glow of that grin. "Damn you look happy."
"I am happy, Nathan."
"How'd your ma take... uh... finding out about..."
"Vin and I? Once she recovered from the shock of discovering us in flagrante delicto?"
"She walked in on ya'll... doin' *it*?"
"In a rocking chair, in my living room, no less." He smirked cheekily.
"Jesus! So, what are she and Vin doing now?"
"Planning our wedding." The grin just kept getting bigger.
"Wedding? You can't--!"
"Not here, certainly. However mother's current husband owns his own island and since he is the only government there...." Ezra shrugged elaborately, "I suppose that Vin and I will be getting married. It should be quite an interesting experience for all involved. Vin is campaigning for a Native American ceremony, pointing to the fact that he is one quarter Comanche to prove that having a Comanche chief perform the wedding is a perfectly *reasonable* request."
He leaned in conspiratorially, "Since Mother is the one that insisted on this, shall we say "shotgun" wedding, and she is viewing me as the wronged party, we informed her that as the family of the bride, she and my stepfather would be responsible for paying for the wedding." He grinned wickedly again, "And as the "bride", I'm campaigning for a wedding dress. Not that I really want one, but once I saw Mother's face when I suggested it, I couldn't help but continue to tease her about it."
"God! I'd pay to see that!"
"Then you're invited. And you won't have to pay to see it. The invitation includes a three-day, all-expenses-paid vacation on a Caribbean island. The wedding is set for Sunday after next. Mother is paying to fly all of my and Vin's invited guests to the island on a private jet. Accommodations will, of course, be in my stepfather's palatial home." He turned around and propped his briefcase down on Travis' secretary's desk and popped it open, ignoring the open-mouthed expression she was watching him with.
He opened it and took out two crisp, white envelopes. Removing his fancy gold pen from his pocket he quickly wrote "Mr. Nathan Jackson" on one envelope and "Mrs. Raine Jackson" on the other, in an elegant hand.
Turning back to Nathan he handed them to him. "These will serve as your boarding passes for the plane. They contain the date and time of the flight as well as the name of the airport, the charter service, the gate and what time you need to be there."
As Nathan stared uncertainly at the envelopes, Ezra added, "There really wasn't time to mail out the invitations and have everyone RSVP. Since the plane only has one hundred seats available, Vin took fifty invitations and I took the other fifty. We are passing them out as we meet with people that we want to invite. You RSVP by either appearing at the airport or not."
Nathan cast an uncertain look towards the door that AD Travis had disappeared through, "I might not be able to get off."
Ezra grinned again as he closed his briefcase and picked it up. "Well, Mister Travis and his dear wife have their own invitations and he has assured me that he intends to attend so perhaps he will be sympathetic to your request for leave to go. Now, do you know if Mister Sanchez is in today?"
"Yeah, he's downstairs." Nathan blinked, then added, "I thought you were mad at him."
"I don't hold grudges, Mister Jackson. He has been a good friend. I simply wish sometimes that he would be... satisfied with being friends and stop trying to be my father. I had a father not to mention five stepfathers, and numerous uncles, both by blood and not. If there is one thing that I do not need in my life it is another father figure."
Nathan nodded, "Reckon that's understandable. Thanks for the invitation, Ezra. I'll really try to be there." He grinned suddenly. "You're having fun with this but I think I can see that under it all you're very serious about committing to Vin."
He held out his hand to Ezra and Ezra took it.
"I've never been more serious about anything," Ezra said softly.
"Good... good. I'm happy for you." Nathan smiled as he realized that he really was happy for Ezra and Vin, too. And why not? If he could be happy that Chris and Buck had found happiness together, why shouldn't he be happy that Vin and Ezra had? They were his friends, just like Chris and Buck and it looked like they were going to stay friends.
He couldn't help thinking that he hoped that the two couples could get back to being friends as well. It'd be good for all of them to have another gay couple that they were friends with.
Ezra stood in the open door of team seven's bullpen and watched it's only occupant for a long moment before slowly making his way to stand near Josiah's desk.
Josiah didn't seem to notice his presence.
Finally he said softly, "You look tired."
After a long moment the shaggy head turned to look at him. "Ezra?" The heavy voice rumbled. It sounded as tired as the older man looked.
"In the flesh," Ezra replied lightly, doing a runway turn to show off how good he looked.
Josiah stared at him.
Ezra seemed to glow.
"You... you look wonderful."
"Love and happiness will do that to a man."
"Yes, Josiah, love. Vin and I love each other. Oh, there is plenty of lust in the relationship, at least at the moment, but we both understand that that isn't enough to build a life on and we do intend to build a life together and stay together, come what may, for as long as we both shall live." He paused then went on, "And that is why I am here. Vin and I are going to formally commit to each other. I'd like you to be there."
"A commitment ceremony?"
"Actually, Mother is calling it a wedding. It's a long story, but when everything is said and done it will be Vin and I, standing up before the people who matter to us and making a formal commitment to each other."
Ezra reached out and planted two fingers over his lips silencing him. "No, Josiah," he said firmly, "I am not your son. I had a father, a father that I loved dearly, remember fondly and still miss. You can't take his place. No one can. All you can do is make your own place, as my friend."
He moved his hand, taking his fingers from Josiah's lips to lay his palm against the older man's cheek. "You are very dear to me, Josiah, but I only had one father. Five stepfathers and numerous uncles be damned, I only had *one* father. Please, can't you just be my friend?"
Josiah reached up and covered Ezra's hand with his, "I'm sorry... I just thought... you never mentioned your father. I thought that you didn't know or didn't remember. I just wanted to...."
"To give me something, that you thought I had never had." Ezra drew his hand back and Josiah let it go, reluctantly. "I do understand that."
He paused then took a deep breath before saying, "Why can't you understand that Vin and I love each other. You've lived all over the world and studied dozens of cultures and religions. You are always saying that we should try and understand other people and their ways. Why is it so difficult to accept that two men can truly care for one another and want to share their lives? I just don't understand that."
"I... I don't know."
"Surely you can't be one of those that thinks it's contagious!"
"No! Of course not... I guess it's just my age showing. When I was young, it just wasn't done, or at least you never saw or heard about it. Gay rights were just beginning to be heard about." He sighed heavily. "Men married women and vice versa. Most gays were closeted...." He trailed off then shook his head, "I'm just an old man."
"You're hardly just anything, Josiah. Come on, be the friend that I know you can be, come to my wedding."
Josiah stared at him a long moment then chuckled, "Well, hell! Why not? I'll do it." He held out his hand, "And I'll try to be the friend that you believe I can be. Okay?"
"Very okay," Ezra replied, taking his hand.
Ezra released Josiah's hand and turned at the hesitant question to see JD standing behind him.
"You're, uh, having a wedding?"
Ezra grinned at him, "Vin and I are."
He lay his briefcase on the edge of Josiah's desk and popped it open. "I have yours and Miss Casey's invitations right here."
He held out two crisp white envelopes to JD. The names were already written on them in elegant script.
"Vin will be giving Miz Nettie hers," he added.
He reached back into the briefcase and turned to Josiah, "and here is yours. Just pack for the tropics and don't worry about anything except making the plane. All expenses will be paid. Everything you need to know is on the invitations and they are your boarding passes for the flight to the island. The wedding is a week from Sunday, but the flight down is Friday afternoon."
He glanced at his watch. "I really must run. Vin and I are flying down with Mother this afternoon, she was quite insistent on that, and I still have a million things to do. I'll see ya'll in a week or so."
Ezra pulled into the long driveway up to Larabee's ranch and stopped the Jag. This was their last stop before they joined Maude at the airport. She had taken their luggage with her so that it could be stowed aboard her husband's private jet and they could take off as soon as Vin and Ezra arrived.
"Are you ready for this?" he asked quietly, looking over at Vin.
Vin sighed, "Not really."
This would be the first time that he had been out to the ranch since he and Chris had broken up. It seemed strange sitting here, knowing that Chris was up there and that Buck was with him. It was also a little scary. He didn't know how Chris or Buck would react to their arrival, even though it was inevitable that they would have to come back to the ranch at some point.
Their horses were still there.
"They can only hurt us if we let them," Ezra said, firmly.
Vin nodded and reached to take his hand. "I know that and I ain't gonna let them."
"Then let's do it."
"Maybe... maybe we should wait for them to come to us."
"Someone has to make the first move. I prefer it to be us that holds out the olive branch."
"So long as you don't get your hand bit off," Vin told him.
Ezra chuckled. "By Snippy and Snappy? They're all bark."
"Hope you're right."
"I'm always right, darling."
"Sure had your ma figured right. Maneuvered her into hauling us off to that island of her husband's plumb easy like."
"The island is called Kirk's Island. Mother's current husband is named Kirk van deFevre. If it will help you remember it, Kirk means 'church', van means 'of', de means 'the' and Fevre means 'fever'. Put it all together and his name means "Church of the Fever"."
"Now that's some name."
Ezra chuckled as he put the Jag back in gear and began the long drive up to the house, happy to have something to talk about to keep their minds off the coming meeting.
"The family is a curious mixture of French and German, very wealthy for several generations back on both sides. I believe that mother may have met her match in Kirk. They've been married for almost five years now. The only other husband she remained married to that long, other than my father, was Adrian LeBeau."
"The one that Trevor killed."
Ezra sighed. It seemed there were no safe subjects after all. "Yes, I think that had Adrian lived, she might still be with him."
"Does she know that the man that killed her husband was after her son?"
"Yes. Things were," he hesitated, looking for just the right word and finally settled on, "tense between us for a while. I think that she really loved Adrian and felt guilty that she was... not exactly *glad* that it was he who had been killed instead of me but *relieved* that I hadn't been killed."
"Emotions get tangled up real easy when you love two people deeply."
"Exactly. She loved us both. She took his death hard but at the same time she was so glad that I was still alive...." He let it trail off. Some things were terribly hard to explain.
He parked the car beside Chris' black Ram, noting that Buck's truck was there as well. He turned off the ignition and let his hand fall back to his side.
Vin reached over and took his hand, giving it a little squeeze. "I'm real glad that you survived, too, and we'll get that SOB for her, for you, for all the people that he's killed and all the people that loved them."
Ezra nodded. "Yes, we will... and on that note, let's get this done, so that we can head for Kirk's Island and throw a monkey wrench into Trevor's plans."
They turned to open the car doors in sync and stepped out of the car together, still in sync as they closed the car doors and headed up the steps to the porch and rang the bell.
It was a couple of minutes before they heard footsteps coming towards the door.
Seconds later Chris opened the door. He froze for just a second, then stepped forwards, pushing the storm door open, "Vin, Ezra, come on in."
"Thank you, Mister Larabee." Ezra relied and stepped inside.
Vin followed Ezra as Ezra followed Chris back to the den.
As they entered the room, Buck looked up from his comfortable sprawl on the couch and straightened, climbing to his feet.
"Mister Wilmington, please, remain. We'll only be a moment."
Buck hesitated then gave a nod. Chris kind of frowned and moved to stand beside Buck.
Ezra smiled at Buck, "Dare I hope that I was right?"
Buck smiled suddenly, his whole face lighting up, "You were right."
"Then you are together, now?"
"Yes. If it's any of your business," Chris snapped, moving protectively in front of Buck.
Ezra smiled, "I only ask because Vin and I would like to know if it would be possible to let bygones be bygones and attempt to salvage our friendship? We are quite willing to accept that you are together now, if you are willing to accept that we are together now."
Buck turned to Chris with hope in his eyes, "Chris?"
"You want to try?"
"We might not have ever got to this point, if it weren't for them."
Chris looked into his lover's eyes and then turned to look at Vin.
Their eyes met and suddenly the old connection, the one from before they became lovers flared to life.
**I never meant to hurt you.**
Vin took a deep breath and glanced at Ezra then his eyes met Chris' again.
Chris nodded and turned back to Buck. "We can try."
"That's good enough," Ezra said. Then he turned to Vin with a sly smile, "Now, Vin and I have to be going but first, we have something for you."
He held out his hand to Vin who reached into his jacket pocket and produced two crisp, white envelopes.
"Mother caught Mister Tanner and myself in a rather compromising position upon her unexpected arrival for an unannounced visit and now she is quite insistent that Mister Tanner do the right thing and marry me. You're invited to the wedding on Kirk's Island. The trip is all expenses paid."
"Kirk's Island? Where's that?" Buck asked.
"In the Caribbean. Pack your swim trunks... and Hawaiian shirts," Ezra teased.
Vin who had turned to look out the window while Ezra handed Chris and Buck the invitations said, "Starting to snow, Ez. We better go if we're gonna get to the airport."
"Where are you going?" Chris asked.
"We're flying down to Kirk's Island, with Mother, this evening. My stepfather sent his private plane to get us. We'll be staying with them until the wedding. It's set for Sunday week. That's just ten days away."
Chris nodded, "How do we let you know if we're coming?"
"Just show up at the plane. All the information that you need is on the invitations. They will serve as your boarding passes." He glanced out the window. "We really must go. Mother will hold the plane for us, but I hate to make the pilot lose his place in line for take off, if it is at all possible to avoid it."
They said their good byes and left, Vin grabbing the keys away from Ezra and Ezra letting him.
Chris and Buck stood on the porch watching the taillights disappear down the driveway.
After a moment, Chris said, "They seem happy."
"Reckon they are," Buck said.
Chris turned the invitation over in his hand. "They're getting married."
Chris turned to Buck, "Would you like to get married?"
"I'd love to marry you, but you know it ain't legal here."
"Screw legal. Legal doesn't have a thing to do with a marriage lasting. The divorce rate in this country should prove that. What a marriage ceremony is for is to formally announce to their friends and families that two people are making a commitment to each other. If the commitment is there, it'll last whether it is technically legal or not. If it's not then no amount of legalese will make it last."
"So, you're saying that you want to get married?"
"All right. I'm game. Any ideas about when and where?"
Chris tapped the invitation against his hand. "Maybe we could ask Ezra for suggestions."
"Sounds like a plan," Buck turned his invitation over in his hands then broke the wax seal and slipped the fancy engraved invitation out.
Chris watched him for a moment then opened his own. He frowned as a small slip of plain paper slipped out of his invitation and floated to the porch floor. Bending over he picked it up and held it up to the porch light. Suddenly he grinned and laughed.
Buck looked up from reading his invitation, "What?"
Chris waved the note at him.
Buck grabbed it and held it up to the light to read it.
In Ezra's fine script he saw:
We could make it a double wedding.
His gaze met Chris' and he began to chuckle, too, "That sly fox." He grinned at Chris. "Maybe we should pack a couple of Tuxes."
"That sounds like a plan," Chris said with a grin, "Now, let's get in out of the cold."
Maude waited until they were in the air, then she sat herself down in a seat facing Ezra and Vin and regarded them shrewdly. Finally she said, "Now, Ezra, Darling, why don't you tell me the real reason that you maneuvered me into taking the two of you home to Kirk's Island with me, when you are packing to move and should be taking care of all the details of buying your house?"
Vin and Ezra exchanged looks then Ezra shrugged, "I didn't really expect to fool her. She's my mother. Mothers know things."
"So, you did maneuver me."
"Tell me, now."
Ezra leaned back in his seat, suddenly looking tired. "Trevor's back."
The wineglass that Maude had been holding slipped from suddenly nerveless fingers. "That bastard!"
She ignored the glass and the wine staining the carpet on the floor of the airplane and demanded, "Has he called you?"
"Not yet... but I can feel him, out there, prowling around. Vin agrees that there is someone watching us. We wanted to screw up his timetable. To do that we needed to get out of the townhouse *before* he called, so that he wouldn't suspect that we are aware of his presence. Your unexpected arrival was extremely fortuitous."
"That new house we're buying, it's a real good place to lay a trap for him," Vin said quietly.
"You're planning to catch him?"
Ezra looked down, away, anywhere but at her, "Not exactly."
She stared at him for a long moment, then she said in a calm voice, "You're going to kill the bloody bastard."
When he didn't deny it, she gave a sharp nod. "Good for you. It's time somebody got him."
Ezra looked up at her. "I wasn't sure..."
"...that I'd approve? That bastard killed my Adrian and I loved Adrian. Perhaps not as much as I loved your father, but at least as much as I love Kirk and a lot more than I loved some of the other men that I married. I still remember how you wouldn't let me in the apartment that night, wouldn't let me see Adrian's body, then insisted on a closed casket funeral. I know that you did it to protect me, to shield me from the horror of whatever he did to Adrian, but because I never actually saw the body, I never really got to say good bye." She blinked back tears.
Ezra slipped from his seat, moving to kneel in front of her, "Mother...."
She reached out and caressed his face. "It's all right, Darling. I now that you did what you thought was best."
He held up his arms to her and to Vin's amazement she leaned down and wrapped her arms around Ezra. Burying her face in Ezra's hair, she held on tightly for a long moment.
She pressed a kiss to Ezra's hair and murmured too softly for Vin to hear, "My sweet angel baby."
Ezra blinked back tears. "You haven't called me that in years," he murmured back.
She drew back a little, caressing his hair, tenderly. "You'll always be my precious baby boy."
He struggled for a moment to hold back the tears, then let them go. They slid silently down his face as he whispered, "I love you, Momma."
She hugged him tightly again, and answered, "I know, baby. I love you, too."
Vin turned away, staring out the window, feeling like an intruder. He didn't look back until he felt Ezra sit back down in the seat beside him. Then he turned to look at his lover, concern clear in his eyes.
Ezra was smiling as he wiped away tears.
Vin glanced at Maude and saw that she was delicately wiping her eyes as well.
She looked at him, meeting his eyes, cleanly. "You're not an intruder, Mister Tanner. You're family now."
Ezra reached for his hand and he took it, as he gave Maude a nod, "Yes, ma'am."
She nodded back, then said to both of them, "If there is anything that I can do, to help you finish that bastard, let me know. I want to help."
"You're helping now," Vin told her, "giving us time to think and plan."
"Gone? What in bloody hell do you mean they're gone?" Trevor/Hullet exploded from behind the desk, grabbing Barton by the throat and hauling him up out of his chair and slamming him against the wall.
The icy blue eyes had gone savage and cruel.
Barton pried at the hand on his throat and Trevor/Hullet eased up enough that he could gasp out, "They left with her."
"Her? Standish's bitch mother?"
Barton nodded as best he could.
"Where'd they go? Why?" Trevor/Hullet shook the smaller man.
"Don't know," Barton gasped.
"God dammit!" Trevor/Hullet howled and threw Barton from him.
Barton hit the floor and rolled. He ended face down, then got up on his knees, preparing to stand.
Trevor landed on his back, driving him back down on the floor, driving the air out of him.
Hot breath panted in his ear, as the larger man pressed him into the floor, holding him down, pinning him, he struggled briefly as he felt the rock hard cock pressing into his ass cheek. "Find out. Find out where they went. Find out why. Find out when they'll be back... or you'll wish you had."
Trevor/Hullet ground his erection into Barton's buttocks, amused by the man's panicked reaction. He chuckled evilly. "Did you get the alarm code?"
Barton nodded, silently praying that having the code would be enough to get him out of here safely.
"Jacket pocket," he managed in a strained voice.
Trevor/Hullet mauled him obscenely as he searched for the paper with the alarm code written on it. Finally after groping him thoroughly, Trevor/Hullet dipped his hand into the jacket pocket and brought out the paper and looked at it.
He ground his cock against Barton's ass again. "Well, I guess I won't pick your cherry today after all, since you did get me this, but no bonus... except that you get to keep on breathing."
He leaned to one side, grabbed Barton by the hair and twisted his head around so that he could look at him. "Understand this, try to run or try to screw me over and you'll wish that you'd never been born. Do exactly what you're told, get me the information I demand and I'll let you live... I might even let you keep your precious cherry."
He leaned in and kissed Barton on the mouth, harshly and brutally, then laughed as he bounced Barton's head off the floor before rising off him in one swift, graceful move.
"Now, get out of here, bitch!"
He aimed a kick at Barton's ass as the man scrambled away from him, scrabbling across the floor to the door on hands and knees.
Just as Barton reached the door he sing-songed, "Tomorrow. Same bat time. Same bat channel." He laughed maniacally at the words from the old Batman TV show.
That mad laughter chased Barton out the door and down the hall, where he stopped, leaning against the wall, clinging to it, shaking and half-sobbing.
What in hell's name had he gotten himself into?
He didn't know. He only prayed that he survived it, because he now had no doubts whatsoever that Hullet would kill him if he didn't produce what he demanded.
After several long minutes spent pulling himself together, Barton walked unsteadily to the elevator and left the building.