A/N Just a little teaser. This takes place immediately after ‘Poker night’ and is part of the set-up towards the next stories, which are finally taking shape after months and months of writers block!
Thanks for sticking with me, the reviews and encouragement.
Oh, and Merry Christmas! :0)
“Godamnit, Ezra, open this door!” Chris pounded his fist against the door angrily.
“Take it easy, Chris.” Vin winced as the whole thing shook with the force of the blows. “I’m sure he’s fine.”
“I don’t doubt it, but that doesn’t mean he can get away with not answering his phone barely a week after he got out of hospital,” Chris growled. They all liked to tease him about being a mother hen, but if they didn’t want him breathing down their necks, they should have learnt by now that all he needed was to be kept informed.
Finally they heard movement from inside, but instead of opening the door Ezra called out, “Mr. Larabee?”
Chris frowned at the rough sound to Ezra’s voice. The man was supposed to be resting.
“So are ya gonna let us in, Ez?” Vin spoke up, knowing Chris’s infamously short fuse was in danger of going off.
“Just a moment,” Ezra called out, leaving Vin and Chris looking at each other in confusion. Finally the door was opened. “Come in, quickly!”
They both entered and Ezra swiftly closed the door behind him. Chris turned to look at his undercover agent with a scowl.
“Are you hungover?” Chris could hardly believe it. Judging by the look of it, Ezra had had been drinking heavily last night. Bloodshot eyes, rumpled appearance.
“Of sorts, Mr. Larabee.” Ezra ran a hand through his hair. He hadn’t had much sleep since Xander had brought him back to his condo in the early hours of the morning. His son had left a short while ago to get essential supplies.
“Hey, Ez?” Vin stood at the entrance to the living room, motionless.
“Yes, Mr. Tanner?” Ezra stepped around his glowering boss to join his friend.
“You thinking of starting a cattery or something?” Vin watched bemused as a small grey kitten attempted to climb the curtains.
“What the hell!” Chris took in the sight of 10 to 15 kittens roaming about Ezra’s usually immaculate apartment.
“They’re, uh, rescue cats of a sort. I’ve yet to find a home for them.”
”Where did you get ‘em?” Vin asked as he scooped up one investigating his shoe.
“At a game.” Ezra sighed as he made a grab for one clawing the back of his sofa.
Chris growled, “If you’re fit enough to be going out risking your health in a damn poker game, I guess I was wasting my breath arguing with Travis this morning.”
“I’m sorry, you’ve lost me, Mr. Larabee.” Ezra popped the kitten he’d gathered back in the basket on the countertop.
“Orders. Pack your bags, you’re going to DC.” Chris turned to leave, missing the look of panic on Ezra’s face.
“I can’t! Last night, something happened. Xander and I...,” Ezra stumbled over his words, not knowing how to explain what had happened. They hadn’t had a chance yet to discuss exactly what had occurred. It could have been an elaborate joke. He could imagine Spike being the kind of man who would do such a thing, but Xander’s reactions…
“Chris,” Vin was concerned over the flustered undercover man. The reaction was so out of character, it had to be serious.
“For all I know, whatever shit Xander’s caught up in could be the reason you’ve got to go.” Chris snarled. Some suit had come in this morning demanding Ezra’s temporary reassignment and not even Travis could give him a reason why. “It’s out of my hands, get dressed and grab your go bag. We’ve gotta get you to the airport in 40 minutes.”
Chris left, slamming the door behind him. “Vin, if I leave now… Xander....” Ezra was still reeling from the previous night’s apparent revelations.
“Sorry, Pard. There’s no getting around it. I know Chris was being an ass, but they had enough clout that they could arrest you for not going.” Vin handed the stunned man the papers that had accompanied the morning’s demand. “Guess you’re real popular. Believe it or not, this was the polite way of getting your compliance.”
“Dear Lord. Why does this always happen to me?” Ezra groaned. There was no doubting the veracity of the papers he held.
“Just lucky I guess.” Vin grinned at the glare the other man levelled at him, before heading off to his room.
Another round of plaintive mewling started up from the various kittens. “You want me to find homes for these?” Vin called out.
“If you could, Mr. Tanner. I trust you’ll ensure that they’ll be safe?” Ezra was relieved that it was one less thing to worry about, but the last thing he wanted was to save the little things from one horror only to leave them at the mercy of another.
“Of course I will, Ez.” Vin had the beautiful grey in his hands when Ezra exited his room, bag in hand.
“Ah, I see you’ve found Gabriel.” Ezra blushed at Vin’s raised eyebrow.
“You planning to keep this one, Ez?” Vin asked softly. It was good to see his friend taking an interest in the ‘normal’ parts of life, like having a pet.
“I hardly think that’s practical, Mr. Tanner. I’m away for long periods of time.” Ezra moved closer and gave the kitten a loving caress. “No, you must find a home for him as well. Thank you for your assistance.”
Ezra moved to the door. “Vin. Could you wait for Xander for me? Tell him...” Tell him what, Ezra pondered. That he still cared? That despite the fact that the boogeymen of legends may actually exist he still wanted to get to know his son? Or simply tell him he believed in him? He sighed.
“Tell him... we’ll talk when I get back.”
Thanks, as ever, to RevDorothyL for the beta.