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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
Somehow he had known he'd find Buck here, Ezra mused as he silently closed the airlock behind him. He walked into the semi-dark room, eyes drawn to the large bubble of transparent safety glass that displayed the depth of space with all its cold and deathly beauty. Ezra liked to simply sit and gaze into the infinity around them sometimes, totally lost in his thoughts, forgetting where he was. He liked to pretend that there was no Agency, no pressure, no dangerous cases, no life-threatening situations. For that time, he was completely at peace and no one ever disturbed him, not even Chris. His soul partner respected the need to withdraw, the need for complete and utter privacy, and Ezra appreciated it.
Now Buck Wilmington had sought refuge here, and it was no real surprise. After the events of the last weeks, almost months, he needed this. That didn't mean he didn't need an open ear, too.
Ezra sank down against the wall next to Buck, who had his legs drawn drawn up, forearms balanced on his knees. His hands were around the slender neck of a beer bottle. There was a contemplative, almost faraway expression in his eyes.
"Hey," Ezra greeted him softly.
Buck glanced at him, then directed his gaze back to the infinity beyond the glass. Silence descended between them, a comfortable silence, Ezra mused. Still, he hadn't come here to be silent. Buck needed to get it out before he self-destructed.
"You want to talk about it?" he offered.
Buck heaved a soft sigh and played with the beer bottle. The thief gave it a quick look and saw that the other Agent hadn't even drunk a quarter of it.
"I nearly lost him," Wilmington finally broke the silence, his voice soft, almost dreamy. "He almost died. There was nothing I could do and it hurt. Ezra, it hurt a lot. I didn't know what to do about it. It was just there and hurt more and more each hour I saw him wasting away."
Ezra watched the emotions flicker over the other man's face.
"It hurt here," Buck whispered and touched his chest. "I never knew it could like that. Never. I lost friends, but never..."
"A lover?" Ezra supplied calmly.
Buck nodded. "Vin means so much to me."
And you never realized it till then, Ezra added in his mind. He remembered the conversation the two had had in their office months back. Even then Standish had been able to read between the lines, read Buck Wilmington like an open book, see that he loved Vin and was completely falling for the man. Back then, Buck had been in denial. He might have realized he loved Vin, but not how much, how deeply.
Buck raised his head and turmoil-filled eyes met Ezra's. "I.... I started to understand what you mean to Chris," he said, stumbling over the words. Ezra froze for a second. He hadn't expected that.
"Back when... when I was such a jerk...." He stopped and shook his head. "Hell, I was no friend back then. I was an asshole. I was out to destroy you and didn't even feel guilty about it, Ez. I only saw... an intruder... someone who wanted something from Chris....."
"An enemy?" Ezra supplied.
Buck inhaled sharply. "Kinda. What I did, the pain I caused.... I understand it now. I don't want to say I can even dare to imagine what a soul bond is, but when I nearly lost Vin.... and thinking that it was even worse for Chris because you were so close... and how you were ready to kill yourself.... I ..... I was the world's greatest asshole."
"No, Buck, you were a friend."
The dark eyes came up and stared at him. "How can you say that?" Buck blurted. "Friends don't do that to one another!"
"Back then I wasn't your friend. Back then, you were a friend to Chris. Remember when we first met? You thought I was trying to make money out of the information where Chris was." Ezra smiled wryly. "You had me pegged right. I'm a con, a thief. I make money out of information and I'm selfish."
"Ez...." Buck tried to interrupt, desperation in his eyes at the hard words.
"No, Buck, let me finish. You were a friend to Chris. His best and oldest friend. You tried to protect him. I was someone who could have been a danger, which wasn't so far from the truth. Back then, I wouldn't have trusted myself. If not for the Bond, Chris wouldn't have either, but you didn't know that. You had no idea. So when you found out about our relationship, you simply wanted to protect your best friend again."
Ezra held the pain-filled gaze, noted the lines of emotional stress, and he smiled gently.
"I'm glad you are Chris's friend."
"I'm yours, too," Buck tried, a hopeful tone in his voice.
The smile widened. "And I'm glad for that as well. Your protective streak is what makes you such a good friend, Buck. You'll fight for what you think is right."
"And I hurt the people I want to protect," Buck murmured, lowering his gaze.
"Because you didn't know better."
"It sometimes wouldn't hurt to use my brain," Buck sighed, shaking his head. But there was no humor in his voice.
Ezra chuckled slightly. He gazed at his distraught friend, then the smile was back. "You know, you've come quite a way since then."
"When we met, you were prejudiced and, forgive me, homophobic."
"But now.... Buck, you went through a lot and you came out stronger."
The dark-haired Agent shook his head. "Not strong enough."
"There is no such thing as 'strong enough'," Ezra told him. "You went through a development."
Buck snorted. "Yeah, right. About a year and a half ago I was ready to kill you because I thought you were blackmailing Chris into having sex with you. Now I'm in a relationship with a man. What a development."
"Buck, do you love Vin?"
Wilmington stared at him, a frown on his face. "What kinda question is that?"
"One I'd like to have an answer to." Ezra had his mask in place, not giving anything away.
"Hell, yes, I do!" Buck declared.
"Then where's your problem?"
Buck opened his mouth, then closed it again.
"You came to accept same sex relationships, you grew experimental, and you started to develop something with Vin. Buck, you could have done a lot worse for your first time encounter, and I'm thankful it was Vin," Ezra told him seriously. "And I'm really glad you two hit off so well." A smile crossed his lips.
"Yeah." Buck was back to playing with the beer bottle. "And I'm glad you and Chris did, too." His lips twitched into his first smile and he met the inquiring green eyes. "I didn't want to see it back then, but Chris... he... kinda started to live again. Really live. I ignored it, didn't give it much thought.... but now I do look and I see it. His eyes, the smiles... real smiles. You're good for him, Ezra. Real good."
The smile on Ezra's lips was honest and full of happiness. "And he's good for me, Buck," he said softly. The thief rose and stretched slightly. "Just like you and Vin are good for each other. Go to him. Talk. It helps wonders."
Ezra turned to go, but Buck's call held him back.
"Thanks. For being such a good friend."
Ezra smiled. "You make it real easy, my friend."
Serious brown eyes held his. "You're not selfish."
That stunned him briefly and he fought for composure. Buck simply smiled briefly and nodded.
Ezra left. As he walked back the corridor to the elevator, he felt Chris's presence along the Bond.
<Everything's fine> he just answered.
Chris sent a nod. That was all he needed to know.
Buck walked back into his quarters and his eyes traveled to the connection door that would lead into Vin's living room. Like Chris and Ezra, they now had adjoining quarters with a door that could be closed when privacy was needed. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the door and tried the knob. It was open, so he took it as an invitation to come in.
Vin was lounging on the three-seater, pillows under his head and back, one hand on the remote for the TV. He twisted his head a little as he Buck walked in and a smile blossomed on the still slightly-too-pale features. Buck answered that smile, feeling relief flood him. It always did when he laid eyes on his lover, the man he had come to treasure so much and who he had almost lost.
Vin raised his eyebrows. "Something wrong?"
Buck shook his head. "Nah."
Tanner drew up his legs and Buck sat down, then positioned the long legs comfortably on his lap.
"I know you, Buck Wilmington," Vin told him. "Spill it."
"I just... did some thinking."
"Do I have to call Nathan? Anything seriously hurt?" Vin quipped.
The other man grimaced. "Wise guy."
"So... about what?"
"Everything... you... me... us.... what happened...."
Vin sat up, suddenly very serious. "Buck..."
Wilmington shook his head. "Everything's fine. I just needed... time..." He ran both hands through his hair and hunched over. "I needed someone to talk to.... Make me realize a few things.... Really realize them...."
Vin shot him a quizzical look.
"Back when.... when I almost destroyed it all, when I told you about Chloe, accused you of being unable to love...." He inhaled deeply. "Back then I talked to Ez. Actually, he kinda talked to me, took a few pot shots and hit dead center. He knew about us then."
Vin's eyebrows rose, but he kept his silence.
"He told me to talk to you. Make you listen. I think I owe him what we have today."
"Then I owe him the same," Vin said quietly, smiling.
"He made me see that there was more between us, Vin. He made me say it out loud, made me see it consciously, but I never told you." Buck raised his head, dark eyes meeting lighter ones. "When this virus almost got you...." He stumbled to a halt, hands clenched into fists.
"Buck..." Vin scooted closer.
"No. No, Vin, I need to say this. When you lay in that bed, only the machines keeping you alive..... the realization dawned again. This time it wasn't just a brief moment. This time, it was for keeps." Buck gazed at the man he had shared so much with in the past, the man he treasured more than he had ever thought was possible. "It made me realize what a jerk I was concerning Ezra and Chris, what I did to them. And what I could have lost."
Vin was mesmerized by those eyes. "What...."
"I love you, Vin Tanner," Buck whispered.
Vin blinked. No one had ever said it out loud to him. None of his prior lovers, one-night-stands, casual encounters. Buck hadn't said it in the six months they had been together. But Vin had whispered it in bed a few days ago, when they had finally been allowed to go home, when Buck had simply pulled him close in bed. To Vin, his own confession had been like a revelation. He hadn't even thought he had this incredible emotion in him, but there it had been.
Now Buck was telling him.....
"You do?" he breathed, not daring to believe it.
Buck nodded wordlessly.
Vin leaned closer and kissed him gently. "I love you, Buck Wilmington," he murmured, awed by the ease with which the words came.
The other man's arms came around him, pulled him on top of Buck, legs left and right of Wilmington's thighs as he knelt over his lap. The kiss went on, changed between loving and gentle, and desperately rough.
Vin let his forehead rest against Buck's, breathing hard. His lover's arms were wrapped around his waist, hands clenched into the back of his shirt, keeping him in place. Vin had had his hands wrapped into Buck's dark hair and now rested them on the broad shoulders. The hands on his back started a gentle massage and he arched into it, sighing.
"I missed you," Buck murmured
Vin's emotions were running rampant. He knew he had fallen for Buck, had lost his restraint and broken his own vow never to get involved that deeply with anyone ever. Buck had broken the defences and had shown him what love was. It had started out as a fling, as casual sex, teaching Buck about male loving, and now....
He gazed into the brown eyes. "I'm here to stay," he said softly, smiling.
"Or what?" he challenged.
Buck started to kiss patches of skin at his neck, then nibbled along the throat Vin exposed, down to the open collar. Vin shivered. Buck's hands moved in a more sensual manner, making him yearn for more, for a different touch, and he ground his hips into the other man's lap, evoking a growl.
"Bed," Vin managed, almost pleading.
They had taken it easy lately. Very easy. Kisses, hugging, touching, nothing that would strain his recovering body, and he was by now craving something more.
"You know what Nathan said," Wilmington breathed.
"Bu-uck!" Vin whined. "I'm fine!"
A mischievous twinke lit up the dark eyes and those teasing hands cupped his butt cheeks, making Vin groan in appreciation.
"I see," Buck rumbled. He gave him another playful kiss, then rose slowly, giving Vin time to find his legs.
Vin eagerly answered the kiss, hands twined into the front of Buck's white shirt, pulling him toward the bedroom. His lover followed only too willingly.
"I think you missed your calling," Chris murmured.
Ezra smiled down the man, who sat between his legs, comfortably resting his back against the thief's chest. Both of them were watching TV from their position in front of the couch, on the floor. Ezra combed his fingers through the dark blond strands.
"I just listened."
Chris leaned into the touch. "I know. You did good."
Ezra allowed himself a smile.
<Real good> Chris insisted.
<Buck needed someone to talk. I thought I'd be the best person for it>
Chris smiled. <You were. A good friend>
While Ezra hadn't told his lover what Buck had needed to get off his chest, Standish suspected that some things had leaked. He didn't mind. He wasn't actually hiding anything from Chris, but Buck trusted him to keep this confidential, even if there was a mental link between Ezra and Chris.
He leaned back against the couch pillows they had stacked behind his back, feeling warm and comfortable. It was how he fell asleep two hours later, about an hour into the late night movie. Chris had dropped off right at the beginning. Nice warm bed forgotten, the two men lay curled together in front of the flickering TV, fast asleep.
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