Gray Areas


by Macx





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




Ezra Standish was officially drunk. Not dancing on the counter and singing dirty songs drunk, but enough to be a liability at the steering controls of any chosen craft. He could still traverse his apartment and communicate in complete sentences, or at least he thought he could, but he wouldn't trust himself to hit the broad side of the Chimera with a gun. No sir.

Sitting in one of the couch chairs, he gazed at the silent TV screen. Most of the bottle of whatever brand it was had already disappeared. He had eaten something before, so it wasn't on an empty stomach. Ezra was drunk, but he wasn't stupid.

Reality had caught up with him. Finally. After months of lagging behind. After months of being ignored. Reality had slammed right in, no brakes, no safety parachute. It had hit him at full speed and realization hadn't been far behind. All the time on BP-379, all the time aboard the Chimera, then the three months of basic training never had he realized what had happened.

To him.

Ezra Standish.

Thief. Con man. Gambler. Cheat.

Agent, a new voice added nastily. Agent Ezra Standish. Law Enforcement.

He smiled wryly and emptied his glass. Well, that came last. Agent Standish was simply the last straw of it all. He was much more than a mere Agent, because being part of Section 7 might have been something he could have handled alone. Being Borderline had been something he had accepted all on his own and lived with. Being caught on a job and sentenced, yes, another thing he could have lived with. Meeting Commander Larabee. Another acceptable factor.

But being Borderline, changed into a Kiowata, discovering his shape shifting abilities, Bonding to Larabee, dragged off BP-379, becoming an Agent and..... Ezra felt his mind screech to a shuddering halt. No, let's not go there, he decided. All of the aforementioned was bad enough. He didn't need another complication in his already messed up life.

Just for tonight, he wanted to escape any more complications. Just for tonight, he wanted to be alone. Oh, Chris was still there, a soft presence in the back of his mind. Alive, familiar, warm. Ezra clenched his teeth. Not going there, not going there, was the mantra in his head. He grabbed the bottle and simply took a swig, not even bothering with the glass.

He needed to be alone and drunk tonight. He needed to fight reality as long as it would let him. It would be bad enough tomorrow. Hangover or not, having to face the others, having to listen to the Bond whispering softly to him, demanding he do something that would forever change, and completely ruin, the life he had started to like.

No, Ezra, decided. Tomorrow would be too soon for that, but he didn't have a choice. He couldn't break the Bond; only himself.




For the past week, Chris Larabee had had the increasing feeling that something inside of him was changing rapidly. It had been there before, ever since the Bond on BP-379 had been formed, but back then the changes had made sense. Everything had led to him and Ezra becoming soul partners. He had accepted that, had fought for it. He had accepted the presence of the other man as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and it felt natural. Vin had agreed that it was meant to be because of those feelings. There was nothing bad about it in any way.

But lately.....

Chris sighed and ran a hand through his already tousled hair. He had done that way too often in the last hours.

What had changed?

The Bond was still the same. It was strong, unbreakable, and something he needed to live like the air itself. It was good for him, and for Ezra.

Ezra.

Chris stopped and frowned. The thought of his soul partner evoked a lot of conflicting emotions all of a sudden, none of them making ANY sense. He didn't even know where they came from. Himself? The Bond? Or even Ezra? He ended up talking to Vin. His second-in-command was about the only person he could freely talk to when it came to the connection between him and the thief. Vin understood the sometimes rather strange descriptions and words. And most of the time he could help them one way or the other.

"I don't know what it is, Vin," he sighed and again mussed up his hair. "It's like... I can't describe it...."

"Try," Vin said calmly.

"Like I'm drawn along the Bond, like a need, but not the need I felt when initially completing the connection Ezra and I had started to share. It's deeper."

Tanner gave him a curious look. "When Ezra is around? When he isn't?"

"I think both."

"Does it increase or decrease with distance?"

Chris frowned. "I don't know. The Bond is stable now. We can be apart, even on different planets, and we don't feel the despair and loneliness of before."

"What happens when you touch Ezra?"

Another frown. "There's no sparking, if that's what you're implying." Chris grinned slightly.

Vin chuckled. "No, I meant does this feeling increase?"

"Not really, no. I... it does something, but I'm not sure... Vin?"

Vin was looking thoughtful. "I'm not sure, Chris, but if it is what I think it is, you might not like it."

"Spill it."

"I think you are falling."

"Come again?"

"Falling for Ezra."

Chris stared at him. He didn't feel shocked. He didn't feel outraged. It was more of a realization, an answer he had finally found, but which was a long way from being completely accepted.

"You love him, Chris," Vin clarified.

"Because of.... the Bond?"

"Possible. It's not uncommon in soul partnerships. You are so close, one might be attracted to the other partner."

"Ezra's..... a man, Vin."

"I know."

Chris opened his mouth, then shut it again. So what? something inside him asked.

"So am I," he stated weakly, just to argue the case which he knew he had already lost.

"Noticed that, too." Vin gave him a questioning look. "Is it a problem?"

"I...." Chris inhaled sharply. "Strangely enough, no. It's just surprising. Kinda like waking up in a Kiowata body. A surprise, a shock, but...."

"Something you adapted to?"

He nodded. "What about Ezra?"

"Me might feel something along the same lines, might even know what it is, but you have to talk to him."

Chris bit his lower lip. "That won't be easy."

"Why?" Vin inquired. "You are both grown men."

A sharp bark of laughter. "And he might just shoot me."

His second grinned lop-sidedly. "It's a risk you have to take, cowboy."


So here he was, taking the risk. Chris had spent two days trying to find the right way to broach the subject, but he had been too caught up in paperwork to find the necessary time to really talk with Ezra. Now that he had made time, he felt something inside the Bond had changed. It was dulled somehow, at least from Ezra's side. Whatever it was his partner was doing, he also didn't react to Chris's gentle probing calls.

Chris announced his presence through the apartment door bell, but he got no reaction. Neither from the Bond when he called for Ezra. There was only the increasing feeling of.... Intoxication. Ah hell. Ezra was drunk! Larabee overrode the door code with his, something he could do as the commander of the team, and walked into the small apartment Ezra called his own. Like a missile homing in on a beacon he went into the living room where he found Ezra Standish sitting slumped in a couch chair, an empty bottle in front of him.

"You could have left some for me."

Ezra looked up, eyes glassy. "I didn't expect company," he answered, voice only mildly slurred. "But there's ano... another one in the kitchen."

Chris shook his head, smiling, and went to retrieve the second bottle. What he had to say was better said with a stiff drink in his hand. Half a bottle later he wasn't so sure it had been a good idea. Chris felt the combined effects of his own drinks and the echoes from the Bond.

"Any specific reason you're here?" Ezra asked all of a sudden, emptying his glass.

"Yeah, kinda."

Both eyebrows rose. "Fire'way," he mumbled.

"I talked to Vin."

"Oh?"

"About the Bond." Chris felt his courage slide and falter. "Y'know, Nathan once asked me somethin' funny," he detoured sharply as the courage failed completely.

"The good doctor is a barrel o' laughs sometimes," Ezra commented, smiling.

"He asked whether our Bond was purely on a mental basis or also physical."

Eyebrows rose again. "Phys... physhic'l?"

"As in... touching."

"Ah. An' what pray tell me, was your answer?"

"I told him no." Chris studied the bottle in front of him, deciding he needed another drink. "Vin asked me the same," he then said, grimacing at the bitter liquid.

Ezra shot him a hard to interpret look.

"He wanted t'know if it's like 'tween Sarah and me. I told him it's diff'rent. That I don't want you like that. That you're a missin' piece o' my soul. But right now, I'm not sure that's true anymore. The...." Chris hesitated. "The physical part."

There was no reply. The Bond was no indication either, dulled by too much alcohol in Ezra's system and the increasing amount in Chris's.

"You don't seem very shocked, Ezra."

"Am not," was the heavy answer.

Chris was stunned. "No?"

"Nope, sir."

"But it might shock you that...." he felt the alcohol take over his courage and plowed on, "I've wondered how it would be t'kiss you."

Ezra met the unsteady hazel eyes, a silly grin spreading over his features. "Have you?"

"Yeah."

"An' what'd you decide?"

"That I'd like t'try it." Chris refused to meet the green eyes, expecting laughter or revulsion. He didn't expect the answer he got.

"S'would be one way of findin' out," the thief agreed.

Chris knew it was the alcohol talking. He knew it was the alcohol acting. He knew he shouldn't do it, but it happened. He had no recollection of getting where he now was, but it felt good to be physically so close to Ezra. He leaned closer and his lips brushed over the other man's. There were no fireworks, no angels singing, no weak-in-the-knees feeling. Nevertheless, something was happening and it felt new. And good.

Very good.




Ezra woke slowly, feeling fuzzy and slightly out of his own body at the moment. Sensations came slowly. First there was his tongue, which, in his eyes, was twice as large as normal, dry and like wool. Then there was his head. Also twice as large. His body. Now there was a more pleasant sensation. He had to be lying in his bed. It was soft, wherever he lay, and there was a nice warmth at his back and around his waist.

He blinked his eyes open, trying to focus on something. Anything. It was hard, but the blurriness finally coalesced into a wall and his night stand. The next information he got was from his ears, which told him there was someone close to him, breathing. Someone in his bed. Ezra tried to make sense of the information, but his brain wasn't up to speed. He was failing in the simplest areas.

Whoever it was behind him, he moved slightly, tightening his hold he had on Ezra, and Ezra found himself relaxing into the firm, possessive arms.

Lips moved against his neck. "Ezra?"

The voice was familiar, but it sounded heavy, rough, sleepy. He tried to attach a name to it.

Chris?

He was too slow to react to the realization of Chris, in his bed, arms around him. All he could do was feel.

"Feels nice," he murmured.

Sleep was claiming him again. Someone nuzzled his neck, then the breathing evened out and Chris joined him as they fell asleep once more.




Chris roused from sleep, feeling less fuzzy than when he had briefly made it back to the land of the conscious before. Actually, he felt pretty good, considering the amount of alcohol he had downed last night. He had slept off most of the effects and while not actually refreshed, he did manage to think more clearly.

Which also meant he remembered something he hadn't really caught on to before.

He was lying in a bed; not his own. He had someone in his arms; not a woman. And thank god, he was still dressed. Or maybe not so thankfully?

The identity of that person in his arms was revealed half a second later as he raised himself onto one elbow, his other arm still loosely draped over the waist of his companion. Ezra Standish was just waking up and Chris felt a terrible sense of déjà vu. This wasn't happening, right? Okay, so it had happened before, but that had been different. Much different. That had been the Bond, and they had blacked out.

Okay, so this time it had been too much alcohol and the result had been the same.

"Chris?"

The questioning voice roused him from his wild thoughts and he looked into the clear green eyes below him as Ezra turned onto his back.

"Uh, hi, Ezra," he stammered.

"We seem to be in bed. Together," the thief remarked, a strange expression in his eyes.

"Yeah."

"Any particular reason?"

"I think we got drunk."

"I see."

Neither of them moved, both holding their positions, and Chris couldn't tear his gaze away from the other man. Something slammed into his waking mind and he grimaced.

"Please don't tell me we....." He stopped, unsure.

Ezra frowned, then he felt a little twang from the Bond. "If you want to know whether or not we kissed last night, I think there is the distinct possibility that the event occurred."

"A simple 'yes' would have sufficed."

Ezra gave him a brief smile. "Yes, we kissed."

Still, neither moved. Chris swallowed heavily. "Because we were drunk." He almost made it a question.

Ezra met the insecure hazel eyes. "That could be one explanation."

"And the other."

"Because we wanted to?" It was said softly, carefully, like placing a probe.

"How can you tell?" Chris went on, almost holding his breath.

"Only one way to find out."

"Yeah."

Chris gazed at the man below him. The Bond was no help. Whatever was coming across was like a garbled mess of mixed emotions and something else. He made a decision. He had to take the risk. Vin had been right, he knew now. He was falling. For Ezra. Whether it was because of the Bond or not, he didn't care. He leaned closer, hesitantly, pressing his lips against the other man's, feeling like a teenager at his prom date. This was new territory for him. He had never kissed another man before, let alone even wanted to. Maybe it was like kissing a woman, but then again, maybe not.

Ezra met the shy kiss, slightly raising his head off the pillow, hands hesitantly touching him. When they separated, Chris tried to gauge his partner's reaction to the intimate contact. He didn't see any disgust or anger, which was good. But there was a twinkle, which he didn't really like.

"You call that a kiss, Commander Larabee?" Ezra asked, teasing. The green eyes had lit up with something that Chris thought was very, very bad.

Before Larabee could reply the smaller man grabbed him and rolled him onto his back in one smooth move. His lips came down on his mouth, stealing his breath, a questing tongue demanding and finding access. Chris didn't know what was happening to him as he responded to the assault. Ezra's hands gently held his head, woven into his hair, as he was thoroughly kissed and explored.

God, was his only thought.

Finally Ezra let go, swiping his tongue over Chris's lower lip as he came up for air, eyes sparkling with mischief and laughter. "That's a kiss," he declared breathlessly.

The Bond was full of echoed reponses to the kiss and the reactions, and neither had to ask. Ezra smiled as he looked at Chris, the question silent in his eyes, as well as over the Bond. He kissed Chris again, gentler this time, exploring instead of conquering, and Larabee responded in kind. He wrapped his arms around the compact frame, drawing his partner closer, needing his physically closer. The kisses grew in intensity and Chris nipped at Ezra's jaw, then his throat, trailing a path down to the collar bone. A soft exhalation answered him, almost a moan.

Gently, he rolled them around once more, taking over the lead in a dance neither knew the steps of. He caught Ezra's hands, holding them to the mattress as he continued to kiss him, enjoying the soft sounds the thief made, reveling in the feeling of the hard body against his. He heard his own vocal response to Ezra's movements and a smile blossomed on the lips he had captured. Neither of them was a hormone driven teenager, both could take their time, but the Bond was doubling the effects of each touch, each gentle kiss.

The need rose, voicing something he was afraid to translate into words.

"I know," a soft drawl reached his ears.

Ezra arched against him. Chris drew a shuddering breath and his hands wandered south of their own volition. He knew Ezra's body, had seen his partner naked on several occasions before. But today Ezra responded in a different kind and he felt him grow harder under his touch. It was a frightening thought, but also exhilarating. Alien and familiar in one.

Ezra's breathing quickened as he let his hand slide under the waist band of the loose sweats and rest over the hardness; as he experimentally moved his fingers, brushing over sensitive spots. Everything, the look of his lover, the reactions he caused in him and the emotions that were sent without any holding back over the Bond almost drew Chris over the edge. He rested his forehead against Ezra's eyes closed, drawing deep breaths.

<Never done this before> Chris murmured, kissing Ezra's lower lip.

<Neither have I> Ezra confessed.

<Guess we have to learn then>

<I'm a quick study> was the breathless reply.

His partner met his eyes and Chris could see the need in there, the silent fire.

<Could always read through the library> he teased, continuing his exploration.

Ezra hissed, the reactions exploding over the link so intensely that Chris nearly lost it. He shot him a mock affronted look. <Why not ask Dr. Jackson while we're at it?>

Chris laughed softly, kissing him. <Now there's a thought to kill the mood>

The thief slid his hands under the already loose dress shirt. <Then let's not. Too many clothes> he complained.

Chris was reluctant to remove his hand, but he did so briefly, drawing a moan of disappointment from Ezra, then slipped out of his shirt. He tossed it carelessly aside, then stripped Ezra of his t-shirt. The pants and sweats followed. When his fingers touched his partner again, there was an almost violent burst over the link, drowning his own rational thoughts. He lost himself in those feelings, physical and mental, bathing in the warmth as he moved against Ezra. When his thoughts cleared, he became aware of the smaller body in his arms, Ezra's eyes screwed shut. He had his face burrowed in Chris's neck, breathing heavily, tremors racing through the tight coils of muscle. Chris gently kissed the sweaty neck, licking and suckling his way to one ear.

A moan answered him and he smiled. Green eyes opened and Chris saw the satisfaction glow inside them, the same he felt over the connection. An involuntary gasp escaped his lips as Ezra's hands touched him, curling slender fingers around his still hard self. The thief raised himself slightly, claiming the lips beneath him, as he brought Chris to his own completion.




They lay together in the rather messed-up bed. Chris had his arms around his waist once more, a possessive gesture that made Ezra feel warm inside. His head resting on one shoulder, Ezra let himself relax into the gentle fingers tracing along his spine. The last hours had been... breathtaking. Neither of them had been in a frenzied hurry after the first release that both had needed badly. Yes, there had been the need. They had given in to it, had let the echoes from each other guide them. But it had been an almost slow pace, sensual and careful. Neither of them knew much about male loving, but both had been willing to explore and learn. There was a lot more to find out, but for now, both were content and that was all that counted.

Ezra kissed a patch of skin, feeling a hum along the Bond. The hands on his back stilled and Ezra snuggled against the lean, muscular body, enjoying the ripple of movement under the warm skin. He felt Chris smile, the Bond transmitting very clearly right now, and he looked up, meeting the content hazel gaze. He kissed the inviting lips, tongues lazily playing with each other.

"Nice," the thief mumbled, nipping at the lower lip, teething it ever-so gently.

Chris rumbled in agreement.

Whatever they needed to talk about, most of it had been solved because of the Bond. Ezra had given Chris the ultimate gift; he had let his walls down. He had trusted him completely, let his emotions run free, had let his soul partner see him as he was throughout the most intimate contact. Chris had responded in kind, letting his walls fall, sharing love and pain, happiness, release and climax. It had been the most intense sensation both men had ever gone through, and it had cleared a lot up for them.

No questions about what this meant, about their future.

Acceptance and understanding.

Ezra's rumbling stomach made Chris laugh against his lips and the thief chuckled as well.

"Hungry?" Larabee asked, grinning.

"What gave it away?"

"How about breakfast?"

Ezra glanced at his clock, eyes twinkling. "Make it dinner and you're on."

"Ah hell," the older man groaned.

"Important date?"

Chris curled his arms around Ezra's waist, holding him flush against him. "Nah, just paperwork. Now... dinner sounds like a plan."

Ezra smiled. "Kindly let me go then?"

"Why?" Larabee murmured.

"Ah, well, just a thought," Ezra replied, fighting a moan as talented lips teethed his neck.




Vin couldn't suppress the grin from forming on his lips when he saw Chris and Ezra. For anyone else who didn't have the intimate understanding of Bonded pairs, there was no change in their relationship. For Vin, all the signs were there. As soul partners with a telepathic link they didn't need to hold hands or exchange meaningful looks or even seek out quiet corners for a quick kiss. It happened between them all the time, through the connection, and on the outside it wasn't visible. Unless one side decided to up the voltage a bit. Vin chuckled.

"Something funny, Mr. Tanner?" Ezra drawled lazily, feet crossed at his ankles and propped up on an upturned bucket as he watched Josiah and JD go over something or other technical.

They were sitting in the hangar bay reserved for the Chimera, having a quiet time in companionable silence.

"Nope." Vin flashed him a grin. "Just glad to see you and Chris got everything evened out."

Ezra's eyes lit up briefly, a smirk on his lips. "Yes, we came to an understanding about the Bond."

Vin clapped him on the shoulder. "Good. Was about time anyway."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Any longer and you'd have self-destructed."

Ezra's expression grew thoughtful. "Yes, maybe," he agreed after a moment. Then the dimpled smile was back. "But I think we defused the situation thoroughly."

"Glad to hear it, Ez. Real glad."




They sat together on the couch, Ezra leaning against Chris's chest, the blond's arms around his waist. Chris nuzzled his neck, teeth nipping at the tender skin. It felt natural to be like this, completely at ease. There was no need to confess their love out loud. Being together, touching each other, was enough. The Bond had changed, had grown more intimate, and both men had discovered the ability to send more than just thoughts. Images accompanied some of them, most rather teasing in their contents.

Two weeks had passed since the initial completion and neither had felt awkward outside the privacy of their own apartments. They had explored each other, discovering preferences, and generally taking it slow. There was an unspoken understanding about it as they took their physical relationship along undiscovered paths, trying to seek pleasure and pleasuring the other. No pressure. Whatever the other was willing and ready for to try, it would be tried. There had been a few surprises, but nothing to dampen the enthusiasm. Both men had decided that, if anything, they were bi, if that was really a term for it. Chris had been happily married, he had loved his wife. Ezra had been in relationships before, never in a same-sex one. What they now shared had been brought on by the soul partnership, but it wasn't forced.

"I need you," Chris had murmured.

Ezra had understood. He felt the same need, the same intensity. The same desire.

Life had gone on and except for Vin, none of the others had remarked on any changes. Being a Bonded soul partnership had its advantages. Little quirks were accepted, small gestures seen as natural. Vin himself had only nodded. Ezra didn't feel embarrassed around the other man anyway. Vin Tanner had had a soul partnership and while he hadn't revealed all the details, he and Chanu had been close.

Chris moved into a better position and pulled Ezra deeper into the soft couch cushions. The thief let himself fall back, relaxed, trusting, at ease. Hands traced gently over his side, reassuring and warm. Then one hand slid under the loose t-shirt, warm against his skin. Ezra sighed softly.

The others of the team might never find out the whole truth and depth of the Bond as it was right now. Ezra was secretly afraid of the what if. He could see Josiah accepting it as it was. The engineer had something about him, the way he talked about life and relationships, that suggested he was an open person. Nathan might get a kick out of the scientific side of the whole thing. He was hounding them about the link anyway, asking detailed questions and putting together and ever-increasing file of data. Buck was a completely different person. Buck... was Chris's best and oldest friend, a man who loved the fairer sex, who loved life as such, and who, in Ezra's eyes, wouldn't take to this new development. Ezra didn't want to be the force that came between the two friends.

Lips brushed against his left temple and he felt Chris's questing probe through the link.

Then there was JD, his train of thought went on. The young pilot looked up to Chris and the others, saw him as his role model. What would happen if that role model was in a same-sex relationship? What if the other half of that relationship was the new man aboard the Chimera, the one who had only come to be accepted because of the Bond.

<Not just because of the Bond, Ez> Chris murmured.

Damn, let that slip.

<But mostly> he argued, sighing.

The sigh was echoed by his partner, disturbing his hair. <You proved you are a member of this team. No one thinks you 'earned' your place because of me>

Ezra was silent, feeling Chris's hold on his tighten.

<No one> the blond insisted.

<I don't want this to change> the thief finally whispered.

<It won't>

<And I don't want to be the reason you have to choose>

Chris twisted until he could look into Ezra's pained expression. There was an open question there. What if Larabee had to choose between his soul mate and his best friend; his life with the Agency? Chris swallowed, knowing there was no straight answer. He'd fight for both of it, unwilling to surrender either side.

He pulled his lover against him, kissing his soft hair. He opened the Bond for Ezra, letting his partner feel him. Ezra's eyes went wide for a moment, then rested his head against Chris's chest. Chris wrapped his arms around him.

"We'll fight that battle when it happens," he murmured. "I need you, Ezra. I won't let you go."

END

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