After a week relaxing at home, I had finally returned to work. Only half days for the moment but that took most of my energy and I was always glad to sit back and let Vin drive us home. We both worked 9 to 1 then left for lunch, either at Miss Daisy's or at the loft. We took case studies with us and therefore negated any need for Vin to use any more of his leave. After lunch and a nap, we settled in to study what our new duties would be under the interesting experiment that Judge Travis had set up.
Mentors to new teams, a good idea and one that might just work. I had a few reservations but they were mostly about what would happen if an unscrupulous team member chose to hurt a trainee. Not that any of Team Seven would do that but if we succeeded in cloning a team like ourselves, the push would be on to expand the program and that could lead to abuses. I kept that opinion to myself and tried not to think about the man who'd almost ruined me.
He was no longer with the CIA but had dropped out of sight. I had no doubt that wherever he was he was causing mayhem. However, he was not my problem any more and I had only to look up and see Vin to remember how blessed I was. Tyler Brown was the past and my future was curled up with me on the couch, slowly petting my cock to full hardness.
"Ahem. Vin, that is not one of the kittens." I set my papers aside and prepared to indulge myself in a little loving.
A wicked look from a pair of blue eyes told me that it was indeed playtime. "I know that, Ez', but he surely does love it when I pet him."
"Yes, he does but now that you have him awake and aching, what are you going to do with him?" I asked him with bated breath, wondering what game he would pick for us to play.
He grinned and slid a little closer, his files flung on the coffee table. "Well, I was thinking ..."
The intercom chimed.
We looked at each other and sighed. Buck and JD were working on the third floor and had made a habit of coming up for a few moments every evening. Vin kissed me softly and petted me one last time before getting up to push the intercom button. "Hi, guys, what's up?"
Me, I thought forlornly. I'm up.
"Is it okay if we come by for a few minutes?" JD's voice came through the state of the art speakers that ringed the large open room.
"Sure, JD, the door's unlocked." My lover smiled and opened the fridge to get out a RC cola for our computer expert and a lager for Buck.
"We'll be right up once we get Snoop untangled from the stovetop cellophane." JD was chuckling and we could hear Buck swearing at the small striped gray kitten who had chosen them for her own.
All the kittens lived with us while the mama cat was recovering from her surgery. She'd been spayed and given all her shots while at the vet's. But the little gray that had gone straight to JD when they first visited was now called Snoop and was 'helping' the pair of them work on their new home. The moment they moved in, she was moving down a floor.
One of our innovations was a cat entrance to our floor so they could scamper down or up the stairs from floor to floor yet still come inside from the outer hall. Buck and JD had added one too but kept it locked for now. I'd forgotten if I'd ever known, just how much chaos a curious cat could cause when left alone for any length of time.
I didn't even want to think about the trouble that four kittens playing could get into.
Vin brought me over one of the bottled waters that I liked. It was rather plebeian but the Walmart brand with added minerals appealed to me for some reason. Along with my constant craving for celery, it was just one of the many things we kept in our new fridge. I still had a ways to go before I was back to my old self. Then again, I now divided my life into the time Before Vin and After Vin.
The shooting was minor compared to that cataclysmic event. Watching him drink a cherry coke, I fell in love all over again. "Vin, I love you."
"Love you too, Ezra. Any particular reason you're telling me now?" He slid over next to me and I leaned into him with a sigh.
"Nope, just wanted to tell you before the Terrible Two arrived." I snatched a quick kiss at the same moment the knock came at the door.
Vin echoed my sigh. Maybe it would be a short visit.
That had been two weeks ago and JD was waiting in their finished home for the new furniture to arrive. He'd just been on the intercom to me to make sure I was all right. My inscrutability was a lost cause to the eagle eyes of both our computer expert and sharpshooter.
Listening to Frank Sully was like reliving a particularly bad patch of my checkered past. The part with Tyler Brown in it had come to mind when I heard the cutting little remarks from the man who was supposed to be Team Beta's profiler. Josiah's genial heartiness rang false to my ears so I wasn't the only one to notice his arrogance.
I huddled on the sofa with the duvet from our bed wrapped around me. I could still smell Vin on it and that calmed me a little so I stopped shivering. But the cold seemed to stay and I finally got up to make myself a cup of tea. While the kettle was boiling, JD rang me to excitedly to tell me that the furniture had arrived and they'd see us in the morning.
That finally brought a smile to my lips. Watching the two of them grow into the confident couple that I knew they could be, gave me a great feeling of satisfaction. JD deserved nothing but the best and he'd certainly gotten him when he pounced on Buck. I'd given the older man the address of my herbalist and Lu Chang had given him a supplement that helped replenish his reserves.
Reserves that JD drained on a regular basis.
I chuckled to myself at the thought of what probably awaited Buck on his return tonight. Pouring the boiling water over the tea strainer in my cup, I walked with it over to the armoire that housed the stereo. I'd last listened to Rimsky-Korsakov and that seemed to suit my mood this afternoon. Turning the sound up a little, I went back to my nest on the sofa and curled up to let the music soothe me. Idly, I wondered where the cats were; I could use some of their purring.
My afternoon naps were still needed while I rebuilt my strength. Perhaps when I woke up from this one, Vin would be there to take the bad taste of the day away from me.
I walked on a beautiful beach with the scent of jasmine heavy on the late night breeze. The moon was full and the stars twinkled overhead like Christmas lights on a pine tree. But it wasn't Christmas time and I was walking towards something that I didn't want to see. Didn't want to hear.
Slower and slower until I was almost at a standstill, the light from an open window nevertheless drew me on until I could look in the window. And there my younger self was on a rumpled bed while a dark shadow dressed beside me.
"A more unappetizing fuck, I can't remember, Ezra. And now your feelings are hurt and you'll probably run home to Mother with your tale of woe." The cold harsh tones beat on my ears. "Pity you're so frigid, Ezra. If there was only a little passion in your heart, this evening might have been the start of something beautiful. But since you can't take the heat, I suggest that you leave the CIA while you still can. Such a whiny reaction to a little pain won't get you far in our profession."
I held onto the edge of the window while I recalled the terrible words that Tyler had whipped me with so long ago.
He leaned over the body on the bed and slapped the bleeding ass with contempt. "You're pretty, Ezra but beauty is only skin deep and you don't have what it takes to be a real lover. I'd forget about that if I were you or better yet, go home to Mother and let her pick out someone as frigid as you are. That way you won't be fooling someone with that façade of yours."
He straightened and checked his appearance in the mirror over the dresser. "Thanks for helping me win my bet with Jack. Don't brood about your failure, Ezra. Just chalk it up to experience and find another partner. I need somebody that I can trust to back me up. I'll tell Jack to find you somebody safe. Night, Ezra."
And he left while the man on the bed shook with tears that would freeze solid before ever getting out.
"Ez', come on, Ezra. Wake up for me." Hands shook me and I froze in fear until I heard the voice that had come to mean love to me.
"Vin?" I opened my eyes and saw his worried face above me.
"Jesus, Ezra, you were having a nightmare or something. You like to scared me to death when you started crying and shaking." He gathered me up into his arms and I took a deep breath of Vin-scented air while my muscles began to relax. "What's wrong, Ez'? Are you feeling bad again? Should I call the doctor?"
I must have really scared Vin for him to thinking of calling the doctor. "I'm fine, Vin. It was just a dream of a ... a bad time in my life."
"Anything to do with that asshole, Sully?" Vin's voice was fierce and I realized that I wasn't the only one to pick up on the other man's attempts at psychological intimidation.
"It probably does." My head was tucked under Vin's chin and I could hear the sound of his heart beating under my cheek. He's better than any teddy bear. "He sounded much like my former partner, Brown. Psychological put-downs were his favorite stock in trade."
"Then he better be dead because I'll fucking kill him if I ever meet him." There was something implacable about his vow and I shivered at the thought of them meeting.
"He's not worth it, Vin. He hurt me and taught me a valuable lesson at the same time. If he hadn't, I'd probably still be with the CIA and we'd have never met." I held on tight and felt him relax an iota.
"CIA, huh? I wondered which of the alphabets you started at." He peeled me out of my layers and raised me to my feet, never letting go of me. "Top secret and all that. Is he still with them?"
I shook my head and let him lead me into our bedroom then on to our bath. He stripped me while the tub filled and I finally roused enough to undress him. Pouring in some of our oil, Vin helped me in then joined me.
"Now, let's get you warmed up, angel-Ezra." He held me close and petted me until the hot water relaxed me all over.
It had been almost a week since he'd taken my endearment and made it his own. I'd never thought the angel-nickname could ever apply to me but he seemed satisfied with his foolish image of me and I would never say him nay. We rested there in the slowly churning water and I finally answered his question.
"No, he's not. After ... after Jamaica, I went above my chain of command to an agent named Clayton Webb. He was second generation CIA and I'd always found him a good man for answering questions. He's the one from whom I requested reassignment. He sat behind his desk and watched me steadily, not saying a word until I finished my little speech." I could still see his eyes thoughtfully appraising me.
"Then he asked me to sit down and tell him the real reason I wanted reassignment. He told me that I was a very promising agent and he'd never heard anything but good reports of me." I could still remember how I'd clung to that reassurance after Tyler's denunciation of my abilities. "Then he said that he was more inclined to question my partner's veracity than mine. I was shocked into silence and could only shake my head at his request. I was 22 and still had the shreds of my pride with which to contend. He finally sighed and approved my request. I was in the Orient when I heard that Tyler had been cashiered for . . . of all things, being a DSD plant."
"That makes sense, Ez'. The DSD was a group of really fucked up men." Vin was still protecting me. "I was real glad when they got disbanded. Although, I did wonder what happened to all the agents."
"They scattered to the four winds." I sighed and turned in Vin's arms so I could see him. "I must admit that I had hoped that the DSD would take care of him for me but alas, he survived them and sold himself on the mercenary market. I lost track of him once I joined the FBI, although when I switched to the DEA I thought I might have a lead to him. Then I transferred to the ATF and got assigned to the team who would become my family. I'm a very lucky man, Vin."
"Me, too." His eyes glistened and he pulled me closer so we could kiss. This one was gentle and comforting, just what I needed right now. When we finally broke apart, he ran a tender finger across my lips. "Hey, Ezra, want to eat dinner in bed?"
I knew better than to think he'd given up on his anger but he'd let it go for the moment and I thought that a picnic in bed would be just perfect. We got out and dried off before wandering into the kitchen and thawing pasta in the microwave. I made a salad of romaine and spinach leaves with bite-sized orange pieces and a handful of blanched almond slivers. Vin hadn't asked what the lettuce was and I thought I'd be safe making sure he got more iron in his diet.
We took everything back to bed and fed each other bite after bite. Vin had stopped at the local bakery and brought home some of their wonderful chocolate cookies for our dessert. We took successive bites until our lips met on the last morsel. That led to a long kiss, trading tongues back and forth until we decided to put the dishes out of harm's way. Vin turned off all the lights in the outer rooms before returning to me.
The cats were eating in the kitchen and I lay in bed, listening to Vin tell the kittens all about our day. Then he slipped into the bedroom and closed the door firmly behind him. Making love while the cats watched made both of us nervous. They slept in the spare bedroom most of the time but little Clancy, the yellow striped kitten had snuck into our room once and hid under the bed.
He'd decided to join in the fun and games at the very moment that Vin was thrusting into me. Startled is the very least of what we felt. So now, we counted kittens before going to bed. My thoughts were broken in the most pleasant manner by my amorous lover.
"No more thinking, Ez'." My blue-eyed angel slid under the sheets and over me like a living blanket. "Just feel me." He kissed the scar over my heart, the way he did every night. "Feel how much I love you." His hands ghosted over my skin, leaving echoes of passion there. "Feel my body with yours."
I spread my legs and he slid between them, kissing down my chest to my sensitive navel. Slowly but surely, he was turning me inside out. No one had ever loved me so completely and I prayed to my chosen Goddess that he always would. Suddenly I needed him inside of me in the worst way and he read my mind.
The lubricant was slightly chilly but that actually felt good in my overheated state. Then he was sliding deep and loving me with every slow thrust. I could feel how much he loved me ... needed me ... wanted me. Every moan of mine told him how very much the reverse was true. I needed him like the air I breathed or the water that kept me alive. And I always would.
He slowly brought us both to the moment of no return and slumped onto me with a sigh. I held him to me until he remembered himself and turned us to our sides. I still couldn't take much pressure on my chest. We rested in each other's arms for a long time before he slipped from bed to get a damp cloth to clean us up.
While he was up the phone rang and he got it by the second ring. The conversation was short and I heard him tell Chris we'd see him tomorrow. Crawling in beside me, he pulled me close and turned off the light. "We're going to have a team meeting downstairs tomorrow night. I wonder if Buck and JD baptized the new sofa."
"I'd say that was a given since I know what JD was wearing when Buck got home." I chuckled at the memory of JD modeling his 'gym' outfit.
"Oh yeah? And just why do you know that?" Vin sounded a little jealous and I couldn't help a smile.
"Because he wanted my opinion about what Buck would think about it. Since I'm older." I kissed the nipple nearest me and listened to his chuckle.
"And was it hot?" Vin asked me, moving a little away so he could see me in the dim light from the high windows above us.
"For a young man his age and in his condition, it screamed 'fuck me now'." I said judiciously with a straight face.
But Vin saw right through me and tickled me into laughter. After a brief teasing session, he settled me close to his side. "And what would you pick for me, Ez'? If I needed a 'fuck me now' outfit?"
I didn't even have to think. "Leather. A hand-tooled leather vest over that blue chambray shirt and tight but worn jeans. Add in a pair of leather boots and maybe a pair of driving gloves and I can guarantee that you'd be fucked within an inch of your life."
"Really?" Vin smiled at me. "Then, I'll only wear it for you."
"Good. Surprise me one of these days." I closed my eyes and snuggled a little closer.
"Maybe I'll wear it to work some day when you least expect it." He stroked my back.
"Then prepare yourself to visit the conference room and become intimately acquainted with that table." I told him with assurance. "And what about me, Vin? What would you pick for me?"
He mulled that over for a long moment and I waited to see what he would come up with. "You usually wear so many layers, Ezra, that I think the sexiest thing you could wear would be a crisp white shirt under that dark green leather jacket you've got. As the day went on, you'd take off the jacket then the tie would go and a little later you'd undo just the top button. Another hour or so and you'd undo the cuffs and roll up your sleeves. Maybe you'd undo another button so just a little of your chest hair showed. Then you'd run your fingers through your hair so it was a little tousled and then I'd just have to pounce on you and kiss you silly."
I was speechless. The very thought of a long subtle striptease turning him on so much was a positive aphrodisiac to me. I had no idea that my layers could be sexy. I mostly wore them because I was always cold here in this mile-high city of Denver.
"Well, then, I guess I'll have to make sure that your fantasy comes true." I kissed the skin beneath my lips. "When you least expect it."
He groaned and kissed the top of my head. "You're an evil man, Ezra P. Standish. You're just lucky that I like that in a man."
"I'm the luckiest man in the whole world, my angel-Vin."
"You share that spot with me, my angel-Ezra. Go to sleep now and only dream good things."
I hummed agreement and fell asleep to the sound of his heartbeat.
End part one