Many thanks to Mog, for creating this universe and for allowing the rest of us to play in it.
Nothing New Under the Sun, Part Four
…And You Burn by Lumina~
Supple warmth flowed along Buck's body. His mind drifted towards wakefulness and with that came giddy remembrance. He tightened his hold on Ezra, infinitely gratified because he could, and nuzzled his nose further into that man's neck, inhaling deeply of the essence he found there, at this moment. Sweat and soap and the faint reminder of shampoo, as well as the scent intrinsic to Ezra alone mingled with that of himself on Ezra's body, and his mouth smiled against that neck at the flavor that was headier to him than the richest of perfumes.
Ezra had lain beneath Buck last night, naked and wanting, his body arching upwards, towards Buck, his arms reaching, pulling him closer. He'd covered that body with his own, where they had dropped to the floor in front of Ezra's door, and blanketed it with his warmth, with his love. He'd memorized the feel of Ezra's skin molded to his hands and the taste of it on his tongue. His body knew the slide of muscle and bone against his, knew the heated and sinuous embrace of Ezra's limbs about him. His ears would never forget the moaning breath of his name from Ezra's mouth as he caught it with his kiss.
He'd moved back up the length of Ezra's body then, stroking quivering muscles as he went, licking the salty tang from the sleek skin, and tasting of the dusky flush conjured by his hands and by his mouth. He'd looked into Ezra's face, into his eyes, and sought the answer to the question he knew was in his own as his hand found its place on Ezra's hip.
Ezra had brought his own hand up to trace Buck's face with lightly skimming fingertips, his eyes following their path like a burning comet's tail across Buck's skin till they settled on his mouth. The tingle of aroused nerve endings had danced across his lips at the kiss of Ezra's hand, and his stomach muscles tensed, then jolted, as Ezra's gaze had raised again to his.
Green eyes, alive with desire yet keeping all their other secrets ever elusive, sought an answer of their own. That answer and his were at once heard in the passion-husky voice of Ezra's one word reply.
Buck had kissed Ezra's mouth, then, with passion and with love, before gripping his arms and pulling him up to stand within the circle of his own arms, Ezra's naked flesh against his own still fully clothed body. Wicked satisfaction coursed through him at that sensuous dichotomy, and his hands took advantage, outlining every sinew and bone, caressing every curve and plane they could reach, till they were grasped within Ezra's hands and he was pulled towards the stairs. That wickedness flared higher as his gaze had followed the length of Ezra's back, its muscles shadowed ripples, and been drawn to the rear swaying before his eyes, their heat following perfect roundness and devouring skin creamy in the twilight dimness of the stairwell.
Ezra had turned then, mischief lighting his green eyes as they met his and saw the blatant hunger Buck knew was brimming there. His lips lifting in a slow, sultry smile, Ezra had proceeded backwards up the stairs drawing Buck with him. And Buck had been drawn, by that mischief and by that body, by the light in those eyes, and by the wanting hands gripping his own.
Flash points from the night before flickered behind his closed eyelids now as he drew Ezra closer and as he gently stroked his sleep-warmed skin.
Deft fingers stripping Buck of his clothes baring his skin to the cool night air of the room only to be warmed instantly by softly demanding lips, by urgently arousing yet gentle hands, and by the rush of his own blood through his veins.
Ezra's skin, pale in the ambient light, his eyes green-brightness as he led Buck to his bed.
His own shuddering and sighing breath as he laid his body atop Ezra's, as he explored freely with the whole of himself, just as he himself was explored.
The strain of hard muscles beneath his hands, the arch of Ezra's back, the arch of his neck as he sucked and bit at the tender flesh there and left his mark.
The whispering glide of skin, the shift of entangled arms and legs as Ezra needed and as he gave.
Ezra's tightly closed eyes and breathy gasps that turned into ragged moans as Buck filled and moved within him.
His own groan of completion, at once satiated, at long last, yet still craving.
They'd wrapped their arms around each other as their sweat-slick skin cooled and as their racing breaths slowed.
And Buck had whispered, "I love you," as Ezra sighed and smiled before falling asleep.
He had lived a lifetime within the hours of that night, yet felt he had barely started to live at all.
Buck's smile widened now against Ezra's neck as he heard him sigh awake and murmur sleepily, "And just what has you so happy at this godforsaken time of the morning?"
Buck raised himself on one elbow and gazed down at Ezra his heart lifting in a light chuckle as he saw that mischief again tinging sleepy green eyes. He pressed a kiss between those eyes and said, "You," before brushing slightly twitching lips with another. "Me," he breathed, "and this…." His voice trailed off into a throaty whisper as his mouth moved to gently suckle at the mark of passion already adorning Ezra's neck.
Ezra's fingers flexed convulsively into his shoulders, and Buck felt the thrum of a purr as his lips traveled across that long, slender neck. Those elegantly strong fingers tangled in his hair and brought his face up to Ezra's before gently smoothing his hair back. Buck's heart lurched at the tender smile Ezra gave him as his fingers continued to stroke through his hair and as his eyes stared searchingly into Buck's. Then, Ezra pulled his head down, his own raising slightly as their mouths met, tasted and caressed.
Breaking away reluctantly from the softness of Ezra's lips, Buck glanced at the clock on the nightstand and said regretfully, "'Fraid I gotta get up now." As a slight frown creased Ezra's brow, he continued, "I don't want to." He soothed that brow with his fingertips before placing his forehead against it and whispering, "Lord, I don't want to." Sighing, he released his hold on the warm body in his arms and slipped out from under the covers and into the frigid morning air.
As he set about finding his clothes on the floor and shaking them out, he said, "Gotta get goin' now if I'm gonna get home and get changed in time for work." Slipping on his pants, he sat back down on the bed as he found his shoes, only to feel teasing hands whisk down his back and around his waist as sharp teeth nipped at his earlobe.
Ezra's silky voice coaxed, "You could call in sick."
Buck uttered a shivery chuckle as those fingers continued to taunt him. Turning towards Ezra in mock-surprise, he said, "Mr. Standish, now you know we must keep up appearances."
Ezra's movements stopped at Buck's words, and he pulled back slightly. "'Appearances,' Mr. Wilmington?"
Buck frowned at the wariness he saw shadowing Ezra's eyes, at the withdrawing of his hands and, shaking his head, quickly reassured, "I'm not gonna keep us a secret, Ezra. But we gotta handle this right. Chris…." His voice caught slightly as his best friend entered his mind for the first time since the night before began, and he let his words taper off as he saw a brief stillness, then understanding in Ezra's eyes.
Ezra gave a small smile and nodded. "Appearances, Mr. Wilmington."
Ezra settled back on the bed as Buck finished dressing then, arms braced on either side of the smaller man, he leaned over and, barely keeping the hesitation he felt from infusing his voice, asked, "Tonight, Mr. Standish?"
His uncertainty relaxed as smoldering eyes lingered on his mouth and a bolt of pure arousal shot through him as insistent arms pulled him down for a thorough kiss. "Oh yes," Ezra breathed. "Tonight, Mr. Wilmington."
Buck drew back slowly his own eyes now on Ezra's mouth as it curved into a smug smile. He returned that smile with a wry one of his own as he rose from the bed and said with a deep, yet decisive sigh, "I gotta get goin'." Then with a teasing note in his voice, he continued, "You know, you could get up and come into the office early."
One eyebrow raised askance, Ezra snorted delicately. "Really, Mr. Wilmington. Appearances, after all."
Laughing softly, Buck said quietly as he slowly backed out of the room, "I'll see you at the office, Ezra." A drowsy mumble his reply, Buck paused in the doorway and committed to memory the sight before him. Ezra, eyes closed as he drifted back to sleep, tumbled across the bed in naked abandonment, his skin glowing as much from Buck's touch as from the morning sunlight filtering through the window.
Buck slipped back towards the bed, treading lightly across the floor and, after surveying the disorder of the bedcovers with satisfaction, he tucked them snugly about Ezra's body. Then as his nose inhaled the musk of their sex in the air, and as his eyes dwelt on his love mark on Ezra's throat, he pushed away his persistently niggling questions about the hardness that had entered Ezra's eyes at Chris's name and about what it could mean.
The cheery ping of the elevator presaged his arrival on the floor housing Team 7's offices, for once its spirit reflected within Ezra as he swung through the doors, perhaps just a little earlier than was his norm. He exchanged typical and carefully neutral greetings with his co-workers not allowing the exhilaration skipping within him to seep through and mar his, carefully studied today, but usual morning bad mood. Nor did he allow his eyes to linger on Buck's as he passed that man's desk and settled in at his own.
As he switched on his computer and waited for it to boot up, his hands started sorting through already orderly files and paperwork as thoughts of the preceding night skittered through his mind. The still-felt touch of Buck's body wrapped around his, the consuming caresses of his hands and of his mouth, the whisper of his words across his skin…. He had felt wanted last night. He had felt loved, and as he remembered that, he allowed a small smile to grace his lips, and as he felt a pair of eyes on his face, he dared lift his to Buck's.
Ezra saw shared remembrance shining in those eyes as they also exchanged a brief, furtive smile before quickly turning away from each other. As Ezra fought to focus his attention back on his work, a corner of his mind held onto the passion of the night before and the promise of the night to come. Yet another recess chewed though on the frown that had formed on his face and on the spark of anger ignited as his eyes passed over the closed office door of their Team's leader.
Chris Larabee touched his hand to the doorbell of Ezra Standish's townhouse its distant ring echoing in the jangling jump of his nerve endings as he waited for a reply. As he stood on Ezra's porch, he barely felt the bitter coldness of the night air or smelled the advent of new snow carried on the wind. All his energy, all of his mind and his heart, were centered on the man on the other side of that door, on averting the storm he'd seen churning for a brief moment the night before in a pair of green eyes.
He didn't have to wait long as the door was yanked open and Ezra stood there at the point where the muted interior lighting met the soft glow of the porch lamp. His lips were curved in a warm smile, his dimples dancing, but just as Chris's own answering smile formed, Ezra's dimmed and the dimples winked out. Chris winced inwardly and his smile waned as he saw that coolness overtake the warmth, but he allowed himself no hesitation as he asked, "Ezra, can we talk?"
Ezra's lips twitched upwards again in a polite smile, the indifference of it more painful to Chris than its complete absence had been, as he replied, "Couldn't whatever it is wait till the morning, Mr. Larabee?"
With an exasperated sigh at the other man's intentional misunderstanding, Chris said, "It's not about work, Ezra. You know that." Then, more gently, "Please?"
Chris put into his eyes and into his expression all of the openness he knew Ezra needed now and all of the fervent pleading he felt building within himself as Ezra's stare seemed to bore right through his skin and into the core of his being. He hoped Ezra read rightly what was there - the honesty and the need and the love - but that man merely nodded shortly and stepped back, silently letting Chris in.
Chris stood in the foyer as Ezra closed the door then followed as he led him into the living room. He let his mind ignore, for the moment, the carefully controlled movements, the markedly neutral expression of the other man. He concentrated instead on the more natural aspects of the moment. The warmth of the room, heightened by the battering of the wind against the windows; the cheery fire crackling in the grate and spreading amber fingers of light to play amongst the shadows; the subtle aroma of spices wafting from the kitchen.
He drank in everything about the man whose home this was. The shimmer of light in his hair; the shifting caress of fire and shadow across his skin; the ease with which he wore the old jeans and pullover sweater that he'd never wear out in public; the noiseless padding of his stocking feet across the room. Ezra was at once sensuous and endearing. Chris felt the familiar, but long denied, burning itch of need to touch, to stroke, to embrace. He wanted to protect and cherish this man, to share with him, to love and be loved by him.
He wanted to come home to Ezra.
He prayed to God he wasn't too late.
Chris shook himself out of his momentary reverie to find Ezra's eyes locked on his, guarded yet gauging, before breaking away as he turned and sat down on the couch, saying, "If you wouldn't mind getting on with it, Mr. Larabee. I have plans for this evening."
Chris saw a tinge of defiance in Ezra's eyes, a hint of daring, before the cool façade dropped back into place. Shutters against the storm only this time, Chris knew, the tempest was already within. He knew the barricades to be breached; he had to trust he knew the way.
Unbuttoning but not bothering to remove his coat, Chris dropped onto the sofa beside Ezra, deliberately close, and grinned inwardly, as Ezra, deliberately, did not move away. Studied detachment. Yet another barrier that was so very like Ezra. Where there were barriers there was something to protect. It gave him hope.
He kept quiet for a minute, just enjoying the nearness of Ezra, the fire reflected in the green of his eyes, and the way he refused to turn away from Chris' silent regard. Chris smiled fondly at his stubbornness, then said quietly, "Someone far wiser than I'll ever be called me a stupid ass yesterday."
Surprise sparked in Ezra's eyes at his words followed by a wryly-quirked eyebrow and a low huff of laughter. "And did this brave person, whose wisdom I would have to question, live to see today?"
Chris's grin widened as he replied, "You betcha. Can't go killin' off someone who cares as much about you as he does." As a small, confused frown formed on Ezra's face, he continued, "You see, Vin told me how badly I screwed up the other night - New Year's Eve."
Confusion was replaced swiftly with aloofness as Ezra said dryly, "Indeed?"
"Oh, indeed," Chris said, his voice silky and low. "Made me realize you didn't hear what I was trying to say."
He shifted closer to Ezra and lifted his hand to his face, but stilled and waited. When Ezra didn't move away, as his eyes stared intently into Chris's and seemed unaware of the hand hovering over his face, Chris let his fingers touch the skin they craved. Let them stroke lightly while the tingle they felt at the contact traveled to his palm, and then it too was caressing. And because he now knew that loving touch would not convey to this man what he meant, what he felt, he spoke the words and hoped to see the barricades fall.
With simplicity born of sincerity, he uttered lowly, "I love you."
Ezra continued to stare at him, his expression unchanging, till finally he blinked and turned his face away. Chris moved his hand to the back of Ezra's head stroking through his hair, his hope growing at Ezra's allowance, and waited with hard won patience until he turned back to face him. Gone was the indifference and the detachment, but still there, the guardedness, the shielding of himself.
His voice soft but strong, Ezra questioned, "You love me?"
"Yes, Ezra, I love you." So there could be no further doubt about his intentions, his tone steady and sure, he continued, "I love you, and I want to be with you for the rest of our lives."
'Please let me,' he silently prayed.
Ezra was silent, his eyes restless as they roamed over Chris's face as if trying to read his every thought, his every feeling. Chris remained still for that examination, but when Ezra's gaze finally met his again and stayed, the hunger barely demonstrated two nights ago surged. With a gentle pressure of his hand, he brought Ezra's face closer to his. He hesitated when they were a hair's breadth apart, Ezra's eyes wide in his vision, their breath commingling before he moved across the final distance and pressed his mouth to Ezra's.
His kiss turned to a smile as Ezra's eyes remained open and slightly crossed as he looked into Chris's. Intoxication surged through his veins and across his senses at finally having this man in his arms as he trailed a line of kisses down his cheek and jaw line and along his neck as he pushed aside the softly rolled collar of Ezra's sweater. But as he pulled that body closer, felt its stiffness, unresisting yet unresponsive, a frown formed on his lips and unease slowed his movements as he pulled back slightly. And as he did so, his gaze took in a bruise, livid against the pale skin of Ezra's throat. A mark of passion, of love. Someone else's love. Someone who'd been here first.
Chris stared at that mark his fingers clenching into Ezra's arms possessively as anger replaced the pleasured excitement of a moment ago. Anger at Buck for taking what was his; anger at Ezra for giving it; most especially anger at himself for being such a stupid, sorry ass. He felt sadness mix with that rage, a profound sorrow for all three of them. That regret must have been reflected in his eyes, for as he raised them to Ezra's, he saw pride there, but a softening too. So, clamping down on his fury, he besieged that weakening of the barriers with a gentler stroke of his hands, with a matching caress of his eyes, and with a hoarse, earnest whisper.
"I'm just asking for a chance, Ezra."
Ezra froze at those words before his eyes glittered with a renewed storm, and he pulled back, struggling free of Chris's arms, distancing himself from his touch.
"No," Ezra said his voice remarkably free of inflection in spite of the cutting swath of his gaze.
Chris shook his head in panic and confusion, denial sweeping through him at that unexpectedly stark refusal as he reached out a hand to quell Ezra's retreat.
"No," he repeated more firmly as he pushed away from Chris and up from the couch.
Chris determinedly followed. "Ezra-"
"Man said no."
Chris and Ezra turned at those deceptively quiet words, startled, to see Buck standing just within the entrance to the living room. Anger flared hotter within as Chris stared at the man who came into Ezra's house unannounced, as if he had a right. The man who returned his stare, challenging and proprietary. As if he had a right.
"No one ever teach you how to use a doorbell?" he growled as Buck advanced into the room, as Ezra moved farther away.
Buck's eyes narrowed, his own fury glinting there as he ground out, "Ezra and I-"
Buck's reply was cut short though as Ezra, his gaze fixed on the floor, said quietly, "I want you both to leave."
Chris and Buck both moved towards Ezra and, after exchanging twin glares, said simultaneously, "Ezra-"
Both men stopped as, with an ironic lift of his brow, Ezra's eyes fixed each, one after the other, with a flinty stare and with steel in his voice, he said, "Now."
With that, Ezra strode to his front door and, without looking behind him, opened it and waited. Chris moved first, stopping in front of Ezra, and with a desperate plea in his voice, said, "Ezra…." He trailed off, however, as the sadness he had felt himself moments ago increased tenfold as he saw it now mirrored in Ezra's eyes.
Buck followed him slowly out the door, and as they both turned back to him, Ezra said, in a deprecatory murmur, "I wish I'd understood two nights ago."
The door closed behind them with a decisive click that echoed hollowly through Chris and left a coldness within that rivaled the gusting night wind buffeting against him. Stunned disbelief froze him to the spot as he wondered how the evening could go so wrong, so fast.
Buck, still facing the door, reached out a hand as if to knock, but instead he gently laid his palm against it before withdrawing with trailing fingertips. He turned then and muttered in a hoarse growl, "God, I need a drink." Without a single glance at Chris, he stepped off the porch and, leaning into the wind, headed towards his pickup.
As he tilted his head back against Ezra's door, as his fingers and mouth still burned with the warmth he'd been so close to, Chris felt that brittle coldness within kindle into a white-hot rage. And as he watched Buck's retreating back, he found its focus and he followed.
To Be Continued in Nothing New Under the Sun, Part Five~Moorings
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