Disclaimer: Neither Magnificent Seven, its ATF AU, nor Buffy belong to me. All hail their creators….
For Arkaedia, who appears to have a Red Phone to my muses. Ta for the inspiration!
“Hello, Ezra Standish’s phone.” Vin had picked up the call to Ezra’s extension, realising that the other agent wouldn’t make it back to his desk in time from the break room before it went to voice mail.
“Er, Hi, Vin.” Xander sounded unusually hesitant, surprising the sharpshooter. “Is my Dad there?”
“Sure, Xander.” Vin covered the mouthpiece and yelled out Ezra’s name. “He’ll be here in just a moment. You alright, Lance?”
“Uh-huh. Everything’s, almost certainly, going to be fine,” Xander stammered.
Buck caught Vin’s frown, and mouthed a query to the sharpshooter. Vin just shrugged.
“You bellowed, Mr. Tanner?” Ezra sipped from the mug in his hand as he approached the desk.
“Xander. You want me to transfer it to your phone?” Vin asked. Picking up on the quiet man’s demeanour, Ezra shook his head and simply took the handset from Vin.
“Is everything alright?” Ezra perched on the corner of Vin’s desk, taking a measure of comfort as his colleagues prepared themselves to provide aid, if necessary.
“Er, yeah. I’m fine.” Ezra clearly heard Xander taking a fortifying breath before continuing. “I need a favour.”
“What do you need, Xander?” Ezra asked softly, clearly the boy was uncomfortable. Ezra found his mind racing, trying to figure out what the problem could be.
“Do you remember the first time we met? I called a friend before heading out with you guys,” Xander prompted.
“Of course, Xander, a most sensible precaution.” Ezra frowned as the implication began to sink in.
“I need you to be my kidnap buddy.” The words came out in a rush, causing Ezra to stiffen.
“Xander, are you in trouble? Tell me where you are. We can provide aid, back-up, if you require.” Ezra’s voice was taut with fear. He hated that his son had a secret life, made so much worse with the knowledge that it was dangerous.
“Oh god, no. Ezra, it’s nothing like that, I swear.” Xander rushed to calm the worried man. “Ah, hell, this is so embarrassing.”
Ezra gave the others a puzzled look as he waited for Xander to continue.
“I’ve got a date.” The words were quiet, forcing Ezra to strain to hear.
“A date?” The disbelief was clear in his tone. Ezra winced as he realised the poor impression it would give his son. “I mean, that’s nice for you, Xander. I’m glad you’re making new acquaintances here in Denver.”
“Yeah, so I just wanted to let someone know where I was going, just in case, you know…..”
Ezra caught Buck’s wide grin as he held up a hastily written sign, offering to be Xander’s back-up if required. Rolling his eyes, Ezra tried to focus on his bewildering conversation with Xander.
“I’m more than happy to serve in that capacity, if you feel it’s necessary. If you think you’re at risk, perhaps I could have Mr. Dunne run a background check?” Ezra offered, unsure exactly what was required of him in this situation.
“Oh no, Ellie seems fine. Totally normal. And we’re just going to the movies, but it all starts out nice and quiet and then later there’s fear or terror, and something’ll go horribly wrong and…” Xander paused. “Oh man, maybe I should cancel. I have so much baggage, and it doesn’t even match.” He sighed forlornly.
Ezra was left speechless for a moment, causing snickers and raised eyebrows from the others in the room.
“Xander, you are a fine man, and I have no doubt you will sweep the young lady in question off her feet.” Ezra opted for bolstering his son’s obviously brittle ego.
“Thanks, Ezra, I needed that. Sorry for the freak-out there -- I don’t have a very good track record with this kind of thing.” Thankfully, Xander sounded much calmer.
“Go, have a lovely evening.” A fond smile formed on Ezra’s face.
“Thanks again for this, Dad. So, if all goes according to plan I’ll give you a call about midnight, and if you don’t hear from me, come save me... but knock first!” Xander ended the call with a cheery goodbye, hanging up before Ezra had a chance to reply.
Ezra stood slowly, holding the phone numbly with a stunned expression on his face as he realised his son was serious about the whole ‘kidnap buddy’ thing and not just seeking emotional support.
“Everything alright, Ezra?” Chris had joined the others in the main office, picking up on the unusual atmosphere as the call had progressed.
“I have absolutely no idea,” Ezra replied absently.
Vin guided the disturbed man to a chair. “Xander’s got a date?”
“Well, that’s good, right?”
“I would have concurred with you, had it not been for the fact that he was calling to request that I act as his ‘kidnap buddy’,” Ezra answered dryly.
There was a heavy silence as they processed the undercover man’s words.
“Maybe he was just pulling your leg,” JD offered.
“I wish that were so, Mr. Dunne, but I fear he was quite serious.” Ezra rubbed his face tiredly.
“I’ve heard of safe sex, but that’s taking it to the max.” Buck shook his head in admiration.
“Could you maintain a little decorum, Mr. Wilmington? That’s my son you’re talking about.” Ezra sighed.
“Did he say why he needed a… a ‘kidnap buddy’?” Chris forced the ridiculous words out.
“He’s had some bad experiences in the past,” Vin tentatively offered, hesitant about sharing what he considered private information.
“Of being kidnapped?” Nathan asked.
“By his dates?” Buck exclaimed in incredulity.
“Yes, to both. Dunno all the details. Besides, something musta made him think it was a possibility tonight as well,” Vin answered.
“Maybe ya should run that background check,” Buck said with a smirk. Ezra looked about worriedly, seeking advice from his friends.
“Now, Brother, I know it feels like you should be looking out for him, but a man’s got to make his own mistakes.” Josiah rested a comforting hand upon Ezra’s shoulder.
“Did ya get her name?” JD asked, moving to his terminal.
“Enough! Ezra, Xander’s going to be fine. JD, you are not to run any kind of check on Xander’s dates. A man’s got a right to a private life, and besides, it’s misuse of federal systems,” Chris growled at his men, sending Buck and JD a glare for encouraging Ezra’s worry. “Clearly none of you yahoos are gonna get any more work done tonight. I’ll see you all down at the Saloon in an hour.”
JD gave a whoop at being let off work early, and the group of men hastily wrapped up what they were working on and noisily headed out.