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Bar Talk IV
Author's Voice of Warning (aka Author's Note): English is not my first language; it's German. This is the best I can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize. The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are.....
Background: Chris and Ezra are shape shifters, and a bond forms between them. Ezra becomes the last member of Chris' team in law enforcement.
Link to the official Boarderlines site: http://home.arcor.de/larabee/mag7/m7slfic.html
Story Note: This takes place throughout 'Prime Mover'. Ezra's rambling 'statistic' was taken from the Question & Answer page of Minotaur's site, a website every slash writer should visit! VERY helpful! It's at: http://www.squidge.org/~minotaur/classic/eroc.html.
It was one of the usual team gatherings at the end of a successful mission. It had been a smaller case, an operation that involved two other teams as well, but the result had been the same: success. Celebrations had been going on since the early afternoon, and by now everyone but Buck, Ezra and Chris had left.
Buck had been his good-natured, boisterous self throughout the whole time, but the moment the three Agents were alone, his whole demeanor seemed to change. Ezra had watched him closely the last half hour and the signs were pretty clear. Buck was talking about everything and nothing, played with the crackers and pretzels, as well as with his glass.
<He seems to be preoccupied> Ezra remarked to Chris.
<I know. That's Buck when he wants to talk about something> <About what?>
<No idea> his partner confessed <Ask?>
Ezra shot him a look that was mixture of disbelief and mock shock. <Remember the last few times we asked him something?>
Chris grimaced. Half his beer had ended up sprayed over the table each time. Buck had this knack to ask questions or make statements out of the blue that floored Larabee.
<Well, we probably have to ask because otherwise he won't spill it> he sighed. <Buck's rather mule-headed sometimes>
A snort. <Okay, mostly>
<You ask> Ezra decided.
That earned him a glare. <Seniority!? Seniority my ass!>
<And such a nice one it is> Ezra sent a leer and Chris nearly inhaled the cracker the wrong way.
"Buck?" he asked out loud.
"You wanna spill it before you choke on it?"
Wilmington gave Chris a confused look, but there was a hint of panic, Ezra noted.
<Definitely something> Larabee remarked.
<Nah. That usually comes out different. Trust me> Chris had known Buck long enough to know what women trouble looked like with Wilmington. It couldn't be work related either.
<Let me try it> Ezra said.
Chris shot him a dubious look. <Okay>
Ezra folded his hands and smiled at the older man. "So, Buck, you went and tried it out?"
Buck, who had just been about to take a sip of his beer, sprayed most of it over the desk.
Chris's grin was only visible over the Bond between the two soul partners. <Revenge!> he declared.
"What?! Try what?" Buck coughed, grabbing a napkin and wiping his mouth. He then proceeded to give special attention to the droplets on the worn table top.
Ezra smiled devilishly. <Bull's eye!>
<Uh, yes. Errr.. with what?> Chris wanted to know, confusion leaking along the connection.
The thief gave him an exasperated look. <Chri-is! Remember the last time we sat here>
<You are thick tonight! We talked about a certain topic....?> <A certain topic? What certain topi..... oh my gawd! You mean he...?!> Ezra shot him a boyish grin. <Yep>
<Hellfire! No, it can't be!>
<Just look at him!>
<Buck's ... blushing....?> Chris stared at his oldest friend. <He is> Ezra confirmed.
<Hell, last time I saw Buck blush was back at the academy when he washed a red bra with his underwear. Turned out all pink>
Standish had to laugh at the image of Buck Wilmington in pink underwear, standing in front of his sergeant, trying to explain how a red women's bra had made it into his laundry.
"So, Buck, you did it?" he asked out loud, his face not revealing anything of the silent conversation with Chris.
"Well, I....err... you see... kinda," Buck stammered.
"Kinda?" Ezra echoed. "Either you did or you didn't. There's no 'kinda'. You of all people should know that."
Buck shot him a dark look, which Ezra answered with an amused, dimpled smile.
Chris gave him an inquiring look. "So you slept with a man?" he clarified.
Buck nodded silently.
"Please don't tell me you went to one of those bars!"
His friend evaded his eyes and there was a chagrined expression on his features.
"Shit, Buck!" Chris couldn't believe it. "Did you pay for it?" "No!" Buck exclaimed.
"Why did you do it?" Chris wanted to know.
<You have to ask?> Ezra sent.
<You know why, Chris. Because of us>
Chris was a bit perplexed. <Because of... Why because of us?> <Remember our last conversation concerning this? You wanted his acceptance. Now you got it> Ezra sounded rather calm and matter-of-fact. <He didn't have to go overboard with it!>
<Well, Commander Larabee, you described your friend as the experimental type!>
<I wasn't aware he was that experimental!> Chris snapped.
<Would you rather have him come to us with that request?> Ezra asked reasonably. <I wasn't aware you were into threesomes... or sharing>
<Ye-es?> A teasing smile accompanied the long-drawn word.
"I was kinda curious...." Buck said and pulled them back to the reality around them.
Chris's eyes narrowed and there was a frown on his face. "Not good enough, pard. Curiosity is no reason! You asked me what's it like to be a Kiowata, but you weren't ready to go through a change because of it!" Buck studied his folded hands. "That's not the same."
"The hell it is! I can see no difference!" Larabee tried to keep his voice down. With the music and the loud cheers from the patrons around the bar, that wasn't a problem. Two other Agency teams were currently battling it out in a game of pool.
"Chris... you don't understand...." Buck started.
"No, I don't!" Chris interrupted. "But I want to. Buck, why?"
"Why do you, of all people, have to ask me that?" Buck fired back.
Chris was close to exploding. "What's this got to do with me? You want to tell me because me and Ezra are together, you have to try it out as well?"
<Chris, calm down....> Ezra said softly. He had kept out of the confrontation, just watching the two men. He felt Chris's anger, an anger that had no real direction yet. His partner was simply infuriated, unable to lash out at a specific target, and so he tried to bite Buck's head off.
<Hell no! Didn't you hear what he just said?> Chris demanded. <Of course I heard what he just said, but you didn't, Chris. You aren't listening>
A Larabee Glare was directed at him. It didn't faze Ezra the least.
"Buck, why did you go into this establishment?" the thief asked out loud, taking over the reigns again to try and swing this confrontation back around again.
"Couldn't really ask you two," Buck quipped weakly.
The joke fell short with his team leader. Chris was close to strangling his friend. "There are other ways!"
"Name one!" the other Agent challenged.
Chris opened his mouth, then shut it again, hesitating. "Ah," he managed. "Well.... errrr....."
<Gotcha there> Ezra laughed.
Ezra turned his attention back to the dark-haired man. "What Chris wants to say is, Buck, it was dangerous. Do you know what could have happened if someone had found out who you are?"
Buck blushed and was suddenly very interested in the table top again.
Ezra felt the volcano that was Larabee starting to steam again. "You didn't wear your uniform....?" Chris groaned.
The silence was answer enough.
<Chris, think of your blood pressure> Ezra advised.
<To hell with it!>
<Okay, you explain it to Nathan when you have your physical> "Okay." Chris took a deep breath, trying to calm down. "Buck, what happened?" he asked reasonably.
"You mean before the third offer or after?"
Chris's jaw nearly hit the table. <Third offer....?> he squeaked.
<Not just a ladies' man, hm?> Ezra teased. <Then again, he isn't such a bad looking guy either, don't you think?> There was a speculative tone in his mind-voice.
Chris's attention snapped around. <What?!>
<Well, he is!>
<Ezra, shut up!>
<Yes, sir!> The thief almost saluted.
It made him the target of another Glare.
Buck twisted the glass around on the table. "Well, I met this guy," he finally confessed. "We hit off right away."
"So you got picked up?" Chris asked matter-of-factly.
"No! Wasn't like that."
"You picked him up."
"No!" was the vehement denial and something flashed in the dark eyes.
"Okay, so you two met, you kinda agreed on spending the night together, and....?" Chris left the sentence unfinished and casually played with some crackers.
"Then we went to my quarters."
Chris pulverized the crackers, a vein starting to throb at his neck. Ezra nearly slid under the table, laughing. If he didn't know Chris as he did, he might just be intimidated by Commander Chris Larabee. The expression in those hazel eyes could be downright frightening, but no Larabee Glare had ever made the thief back down. Ezra Standish knew who Chris was, knew he more intimately than anyone could ever hope to, so currently, he was amused close to hysterical laughter by his lover's reactions.
"Your quarters?" Chris asked slowly. "You took a total stranger, probably a hustler, to your quarters? Are you out of your mind?" His voice had risen with each word.
"He isn't a hustler!" Buck hissed, a fire flashing in his eyes that was more than a warning to back off. It was a declaration of war if Chris decided to call the man he had slept with something even worse.
<Whoa. Now that's interesting> Ezra remarked, intrigued.
Chris blinked, equally surprised. "Okay.... So?"
"So what?" Buck wanted to know, a suspicious look in his eyes. "What's your impression...?"
The suspicion turned to complete confusion.
"He wants to know if you liked it, Buck," Ezra translated, taking pity. Buck blushed again.
<I think we should take that as a yes> Ezra stated merrily. <You think he went all the way?> Chris wanted to know, dread in his voice.
<Only one way to find out>
<I'm not going to ask!>
<Chicken!> Ezra laughed.
<Yes, Chris?> was the light reply.
"So you went all the way?" Ezra asked out loud.
Chris shot him a murderous look, followed by a bemused one from Buck. Then it dawned on him.
"All the... no! No, no, no! Not all the way!" he violently denied.
Chris dared to breathe again. <Thank god!>
"Why?" Ezra prodded.
Buck stared at him. "Why?"
"You wanted to know what's it like. Why not go all the way?"
Chris's glare intensified, but Ezra just shot him a bright smile.
"Both of us agreed I wasn't really ready for it," Buck explained softly.
"Both of you....?"
Chris was confused, but he bit down on the next question that rose in his mind. Instead he turned to his partner. <You think he's going to repeat it? I mean he liked it!>
<Well, only one way to find out....> Ezra laughed.
But Ezra had already posed the question, which had Buck clearing his throat in embarrassment. Chris nearly dropped his head in his hands. Incorrigible! The man was incorrigible! A mischievous expression crossed the handsome features and Chris sighed deeply.
"Okay, I think that answers that!" the thief declared happily. <Remind me why I put up with you?> Larabee groaned.
<Because I'm such a loveable, restrained and sensitive man?> Chris stared at him in disbelief. <Restrained? You?>
<Oh well, maybe just loveable and sensitive?> Ezra replied hopefully, a grin on his features.
<Don't know about that either>
Buck was watching the silent pair with growing trepidation. He didn't like the expressions flitting over the two faces at all. He knew they were using the Bond, which he found highly unfair, but he didn't dare to ask anyway.
"Uh, guys....." he tried.
"Yes, Buck?" Ezra smiled at him, totally at ease.
"Are you... well, are you okay with that?"
"With you sleeping with a man? Heck, Buck, you are grown up. You make your own decisions. I'm just asking you to be careful, is all," Chris answered, his voice very serious.
Buck nodded. "I will be. Believe me, I will be."
It was all there was to say at the moment.
Chris was pacing through the living room like a caged tiger, repeatedly running his hand through his already tousled, blond hair. Ezra sat on the couch, watching his partner with amusement.
"I don't believe it! I just don't believe it!" Chris muttered, repeating it over and over again.
"Chris, sit down, you're making me dizzy."
Chris ignored him, still moving. "Can you believe it? Buck... with another man!" More pacing.
"Actually, I can," Ezra stated calmly.
"Hell, he never showed tendencies like that before.... What?" Chris whirled around and stared at his partner.
"I said, yes, I can."
"Why?" Larabee stuttered.
"Chris, sexuality isn't binary. Most people aren't either straight or gay, they're somewhere in between. I found this interesting article in the archives while browsing." Ezra shrugged. "There's a study of human sexuality done by a Dr. Kinsey, in which he rated people on a scale from 0 to 6 - with 0 being completely heterosexual, no thoughts, dreams, desires or experiences with members of the same gender, and 6 being completely homosexual, no thoughts, dreams, desires or experiences with the opposite gender. They found that only about 6% of the population fell at either end of this scale - everyone else lay somewhere in between."
Chris stared at him. "This is Buck we're talking about!" he finally exclaimed. "The man who knows at least ten women at every space port and makes new acquaintances every time he visits!"
"And you are the man who was married to a woman for eight years and had a kid," Ezra shot back.
"That's not the same!" Chris argued vehemently.
"We have the Bond....!"
One eyebrow rose. "So?"
"The Bond brought us together!" Chris declared.
Ezra studied his agitated partner, noticed the tension in the lean frame. He knew he was about to blow him right out of the water, but he needed Chris to realize something that was probably subconsciously already there.
"Remember Vin's explanation of soul bonds?" he asked calmly. "A soul bond is a close connection between two people, but it doesn't necessarily mean a physical relationship."
Chris stopped in his pacing and stared at Ezra, eyes wide. Realization dawned; slowly.
"Even if the first time was the Bond," Ezra went on, "even if it was something we were driven to do because of who what we are, Borderlines, we weren't forced to repeat the experience, Chris. We did that freely. And," he lowered his voice, "some aspects of our 'physical relationship' are not exactly related to the closeness we have through the Bond." He opened the Bond slightly and let a few select images leak. Realization hit Chris like a sledge hammer. He swallowed.
"Oh damn," he whispered.
Ezra decided to use his last shot. "Chris. You love me," he said softly.
Wide, hazel eyes met green ones, seeing the truth there, feeling it himself. <I do...> Chris whispered.
He sounded like he was in a complete state of shock.
<And so do I> Ezra told him gently. <It's not just the Bond. It brought us together and tore down some walls that would have stopped us otherwise. We decided to take the next step. If the emotions hadn't been there, we would have stopped after the first time. Or we would 'perform' this necessary act once in a while because the Bond would hurt otherwise. But we aren't, Chris. There's a lot more to it>
Chris nodded slowly, sinking down on the couch as well. He ran a hand through his hair again. <I never realized.... I didn't... >
<You did. Just never consciously> Ezra told him.
Chris drew a deep breath.
"So it's possible for Buck to become... let's say experimental, and try out sleeping with a man," the thief went on out loud.
"It's just hard to wrap my mind around it, Ezra."
"You don't have to wrap your mind around it. Just do what you asked of Buck some time ago. Accept it. Be a friend."
Chris sighed explosively. "Okay, earned that." He smiled wryly. "I'll try to be better at this."
"No one's asking more of you."
Suddenly Chris's head came up and he fixed an intense gaze on Ezra. "Did you just tell me you loved me?"
They had never said it out loud. Never. There had never been the need either. Now that he thought about it, he had always known it some way or the other.
Ezra's dimpled grin appeared. "Did I say that? You must have misheard me, Commander Larabee. How can a lovable, restrained, and sensitive man like me fall in love with a mean, old, and ill-tempered person like yourself?"
Chris's expression turned feral. "Old? I'll show you old!" He launched himself at Ezra, wrestling him to the couch. They lost their balance and slid to the floor, where Chris pinned the smaller man down, wrists left and right of his head. "And mean!" he breathed devilishly.
Ezra groaned as his partner sent a few very tantalizing images over the Bond. Oh hell, he was in for it now.....
Buck walked back into his quarters, his head spinning. And not because of the beers he had had. He had wanted to talk to Chris and Ezra, the two people he trusted the most in the newly developing matter at hand, and talk he had. Not like he had believed he would, but he had spilled the truth. Chris's reaction had been something he had almost suspected. Ezra had been much calmer, lighter, and he had been the mediator between the two old friends.
As he closed the door behind himself, he became aware of someone else in his quarters. Vin sat on the couch, socked feet stretched out over the cushions, watching TV. He had left early with the others and despite Buck's wish to just go as well, have some fun with his new lover, he had sat back and listened to his instinct to talk to his friends.
"Hey," Vin greeted him, smiling lazily.
Vin frowned at the muted reply. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's really wrong." Buck ran a hand through his hair and sat down on the couch chair opposite Vin. "I kinda talked to Chris and Ezra."
Vin sat up, his whole demeanor suddenly very serious.
"I told them."
"About us?" was the quiet question.
"No." Buck shook his head. "About me. No names."
Wilmington gazed into those fascinating blue eyes. "Why no names? Heck, Vin, this is between you and me. Why talk at all? I'm not sure. I just needed someone to talk to. Someone I could trust."
Vin leaned back, nodding slowly. "Okay."
"Okay? You mean you aren't mad?"
"Why should I be?" A lop-sided smile. "I told you I didn't mind them knowing. I just wasn't prepared, is all."
"Nothing to thank me for. I guess it's better this way." Vin smiled. "Sometimes, secrets are made to be told to special people."
Buck looked relieved and Vin couldn't help it, he walked over to the couch chair and gave his lover a soft kiss.
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