Office Talk

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.

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Buck was working late. Ezra watched the older man staring at the softly glowing computer screen, hands laying unmoving next to the keyboard. The office was empty. The others had left one after another hours ago. Chris had been in a meeting with Travis and someone else from the Joined Governments about something or other all day, and Ezra had brought up his usual shields. He hadn't checked on his partner, but he knew how those high level meetings went. Chris would be grouchy because there was no reason for him to actually be there, because there was nothing that couldn't have been said in a briefing, and Ezra didn't want to be on the receiving end of those grumbles. It was bad enough when he finally left the conference room. Spending the evening or the night together after a high level meeting was like walking on egg shells. Sometimes Ezra simply ignored the touchy mood of his lover, sometimes not. Whenever he didn't, he got an ear full of angry ranting.

Oh well.

Standish himself had decided to use the quiet time and catch up on some of his own reports, as well as make use of the Agency Net. He liked to browse through the extensive archives, read up on all the little things he should know by heart as an Agent. His brief introduction into the world of the Agency hadn't really given him everything he needed, just the necessary basic training to be officially placed aboard the Chimera.

That Buck had remained had come as a surprise. Wilmington was normally one of the first to declare that he was going to hit a bar, meet a girl, have a fun time, or whatever. Sometimes he and JD went off together, laughing and joking. Not today. He was staring fixedly at the screen, not moving.

Something was seriously wrong here.

Ezra rose from his own desk, which was located in a corner that gave him a complete overview of the bullpen assigned to the Chimera team. He liked it there. He had a wall at his back and he could see everyone who approached him. Perfect. Now he silently walked over to Buck, noting the slightly disheveled appearance, the tired eyes, how his shirt appeared more rumpled.

"Must be one very interesting report on...." Ezra leaned forward, "the new office regulations. You've been reading the same paragraph ten times in the last hour."

Buck's surprise expressed itself in a little start. He didn't jump out of his chair or yell, but he hadn't heard Ezra coming either. That told the thief more than words. Wilmington made a sound that was a mix between a sigh and a soft grunt of acknowledgement.

Ezra pulled JD's chair over from his desk and sat down. "Okay, Buck, spill it."

The other man looked at him and the dark eyes held an almost desolate expression that was quickly replaced by a neutral one.

Not good enough, my friend, Ezra thought. I'm the one with the masks. You suck at them. That wasn't even a point 5 on the Ezra Standish scale from one to ten.

"Spill what?" Wilmington asked.

"Whatever is keeping you so preoccupied."

"I'm not preoccupied. I'm just doing my job, catching up on some paperwork. You know Chris. He wants them next week." Buck shrugged, staring at the computer again without even seeing it.

"Mr. Larabee always insists on getting our reports the day before yesterday, Buck. It's nothing new. And I doubt our esteemed team leader wants to know about the latest developments in Human Resources, who left, who died and who is celebrating his anniversary. So, you want to try again?"

Silence. Buck's eyes refused to meet his and the whole body language told Ezra that his friend was at war with himself.

"I've done something very stupid, Ezra," Buck suddenly said in a low voice.

Ezra was silent, refusing to encourage Buck. If he said anything at all, he might bolt.

"I met someone," Wilmington went on, voice soft and faraway. He played with a note pad pencil. "A while ago. We both agreed it would be casual. No strings attached. But then it changed. At least for me. I didn't intend it to become so serious. But it was beyond my control. Way beyond. I don't know if my feelings are really returned. I mean, the sex is great and all. We're good together. And then I made a mistake. I said what I felt was right, what my heart told me to. And I think I lost something very important to me. I have gone too far."

Silence descended after the rambling explanation.

Whoa, Ezra thought, surprise registering in him. Whoa! Buck had really been blindsided here. But by who? And when? This had to be going on for a while now. It had hit him hard and struck him deep. Ezra frowned slightly, thinking back. Now that Buck had said it, he had noticed a slight change in Wilmington a while ago. Nothing really obvious. He was still his boisterous, fun-loving self. Except for the last few days, that is. So the relationship had been steady for a while, which was surprising. Buck, while not a one-night-stand man, went through women like others through underwear. The longest he had ever been together with a woman had been three months. Ezra knew this from Chris. Louisa something-or-other from the PR department. She had transferred to another station or a ship.

Okay, so who was it? Who had Buck in such a spin? Who had brought the ladies' man to such a screeching halt?

Wow.... Ezra blinked. Wait a minute. Ladies. Okay, something odd here. He hadn't seen Buck with his usual lady friends for a while. Yes, he had been around women, he was flirting, but something had been missing. Past conversation on a certain topic, mainly regarding male relationships, as well as Chris and Ezra, rose to the forefront.

Oh no, please. Buck, please...

But it made sense. And since it made sense.... Something else struck him. Ezra looked at the taller man and decided to take a pot-shot.

"What did you say to Vin?" he asked quietly.

The pencil broke with a snap.

"What?" Buck looked startled, as if he had come out of a trance. His wide eyes sought out Ezra and he stared at him in a mixture of terror and surprise.

Bingo, Ezra thought. Bull's eye. Line, hook and sinker. The whole nine yards. Gotcha.

He was glad the shields were up. He didn't need Chris breathing down his neck, and he wasn't so sure his partner should be privy to this conversation.

"I said, what did you say to Vin, Buck?"

"Vin? What's Vin got to do with it?" There was a high note in the other man's voice.

"Everything, I think."


"Buck, I have eyes. I can see. What happened?"

Buck rubbed a hand over face, then ran it through hair. He sank back in his chair. "You remember when I told you about the guy I met in that bar?"

A nod. Yes, he remembered. Just like he remembered Chris's shock and the fervent hope that his best friend hadn't made a huge mistake.

"That was Vin. He kinda rescued me. I was about to do something really stupid. More than the usual." A wry grin crossed the drawn features. "We spent the night together. I enjoyed it. More than I thought I would. It wasn't just this one time either. It turned into something on a regular basis."

Whoa, Ezra thought, keeping his face neutral, an encouraging expression in his eyes. Now there was a lot of information in just a few sentences.

"Vin didn't take advantage of me, if you think that. I wanted it. I learned a lot from him. Not what you might think. It wasn't just the sex."

Go on, Ezra thought to himself, his mind working overtime on the last statement. Not just the sex, hm? Buck had been drawn to more than an experimental quickie.

"Can't tell you what it is, exactly. Don't have the words for it. It just feels right." Buck sighed and played with the broken pen.

It does? Ezra mused. He wondered if Buck even realized what he was saying between the lines here, what he was revealing.

"I think... no, I hope, Vin feels the same. I mean, I know what he went through. I know about Chanu."

Ezra's eyebrows rose. Okay, so it had gone that far. For Vin to tell Buck about Chanu, this relationship was way more than casual. This was a matter of utmost trust, a trust that extended into Vin's soul. Of the whole crew, only Chris had known about Tanner's soul partner, about what his death had done to the man. Ezra had come to that knowledge because Vin had wanted him to see that he wasn't alone; that there was someone who understood Bonds.

Silence reigned again.

Finally Buck raised his eyes, pain and fear prominently in their depths. "I told Vin he doesn't know how to express love."

Ezra stared at him in shock. He had expected just about anything, but not that. "What exactly did you tell him, Buck?" he asked, his voice a lot more calm and steady than he felt himself.

Wilmington lowered his gaze again, twisting the pen. "I asked him, if he had ever been in a steady relationship. Told him the story about a girl I once knew. How she only expected a good fuck from a man, never expressed tenderness and affection, didn't know how. So that was the only thing she got. I.... I told him that he means too much to me. That I don't want him to become harsh and bitter like her."

Ezra inhaled deeply. Yeow! Buck was in it deep. Up to his eyebrows. The man was falling for Vin Tanner and was just realizing it.

"And how did Vin react?"

"He left," Buck almost choked.

"When was that?"

"A few days ago."

Ezra watched the agitated man, noted the pain and desperation, all the little things that painted a whole picture.

"You have to talk to him, Buck. The longer you let this go, the worse it'll get," he said softly.

The dark head snapped up. "Great! And what do you suppose I'll tell him?" Buck demanded, anger worming itself into his voice.

Ezra met the anger with a steady gaze. "Buck, think about what you told Vin. On one side you told him he's unable to love. On the other, you also told him you love him. But he didn't hear that. He shut you out the moment he realized what you were accusing him of. You have to tell him again. Tell him that you love him."

Buck blinked. "Love? I... I didn't say anything about love."

Ezra raised one eyebrow, lips quirking into a smile. "Oh? Must have misinterpreted it then."

Another moment of silence. There was a frown on Buck's face as he studied the floor.

"I do love him, don't I?" he finally whispered.

"I'm by no ways an expert, Buck, but from where I'm sitting.... Tell me, what does it feel like for you to say it?"

Buck stared at him, opening his mouth, then closing it again. An odd expression crossed his features. "I love him," he muttered as realization hit him. "Ah shit, how did that happen?"

Ezra almost laughed.

"Hell, I can't go and bring him a bunch of roses and sweets to make up, now can I?"

Now Ezra chuckled. "Well, no, I don't think Vin would appreciate it."

Hell, Chris would kill him if he ever pulled such a stunt, and vice versa. Then again, their relationship was quite different.

"Buck, you need to talk to him, tell him what you feel. You have to let him know. Then it's up to him to decide whether he wants it or not. But he has to know what you feel, otherwise..."

The other Agent sighed. Ezra rose from the chair. He knew he couldn't do or say any more. Now it was up to Buck and he prayed that it would work out.

He silently left the office.

By the time he got to his quarters, Chris was already there, lounging on the couch and watching something on the news. He was still in uniform, though his jacket had been flung over the chair. One brow rose as the thief grabbed himself a soda instead of a beer and sank down on the couch as well.

"How was the meeting?" Ezra asked, opening the can.

"Same old." Chris shrugged. "Best one I had in the last four weeks."

Ezra grinned. At least he didn't have to deal with an old grouch this time. Chris was actually in quite a good mood.

"Something's wrong," Larabee now remarked, not even turning it into a question.

Ezra didn't really feel all that surprised. His partner had felt the brief flare of initial shock despite the shields. Nothing new there. Full shields were a rarity and were only used on critical missions.

"I had a talk with Buck."

Chris tensed slightly. Despite the months that had passed already, despite the acceptance of the relationship between the soul-partners Buck had shown, Chris secretly feared his oldest friend might just strike out again. It was a childish fear, but now it had made it to the forefront.

Ezra turned his head and smiled. "He had a problem and needed an open ear, some advice."

"'bout what?"

"Something personal, Chris." <Very personal> Ezra told him silently. <Please understand that I can't tell you what it was>

Larabee studied him, then nodded. Accepted. <Will it affect us in any way?>

<If you mean the two of us, no. If you mean the team and his work, no on that, too>

<That's all I want to know>

And with that the topic was dealt with. Ezra was once more glad for the soul bond. Chris knew he couldn't hide from him, couldn't lie. He trusted him implicitly. Chris leaned forward and gently claimed a kiss. Ezra answered it, pulling Chris closer, sinking back. He snaked his hands underneath the sweater, delighted to find warm, bare skin. Chris slid a leg between Ezra's thighs and deepened the kiss into something much more demanding and passionate.

For now, Ezra pushed Buck out of his mind. He had done what he could. It was up to his friend to do the right thing.


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