Primal Instinct
by VampyrAlex


Pairing: Ezra/Chris
Category: ATF
Disclaimer: Don't own, so don't sue. I never did like Barbie, Ken was always my favorite. Since I'm too old to play with dolls, I play with these guys instead. <g>

Warning: Possessive!Chris ahead. <g>

Author's notes: Praise goes to Sherri and Tess for their brilliant beta'ing. Any final mistakes are mine. Also a very big thank you goes out to Kimber and Serena for putting up with me. <wg>

Summary: When Chris is kidnpped Ezra must find him before it's too late.

Samuel Levit watched with a satisfied smirk as Chris Larabee parked his car in front of the ranch. He waited until the ATF agent was out of the vehicle before turning to the sniper standing beside him.

"You have the dart with the tranquilizer, Michaels?" he whispered softly. 

The man nodded, rifle ready and aimed at Larabee's moving form. "Just say the word, Mr. Levit," he breathed back.

"Do it." Levit watched Michaels squeeze the trigger, his heart racing gleefully as he saw Larabee's hand suddenly move to his neck, a pained grimace on his face. The blond staggered precariously for a few seconds, then collapsed on the porch leading to his front door. 

The sniper rose from their hiding place amongst the undergrowth. "Done, boss." His cold, soulless eyes bore into Levit. "What now?"

"Go back for the van, bring it here."

Levit waited until the sound of a vehicle approaching reached his ears, before walking over to his quarry. 

He looked down at the unconscious man lying on the wooden floor, his mouth twisted into an evil smile. "Vengeance is mine, Agent Larabee," he muttered. "When I'm through with you, you'll be nothing but the shell of the man you used to be. And I will enjoy every minute of it."

He dragged the blond to the van with Michaels' help, throwing his prisoner into the back carelessly. He climbed into the driver's seat, Michaels staying behind with Larabee to watch over him. The first stars were beginning to sprinkle the sky when he finally drove away.

Chris' return to consciousness was slow and painful. His thought process was sluggish, his whole body felt numb and he seemed to have trouble opening his eyes. 

When he finally did, he realized he was lying on a small cot, hands and feet tightly bound. He was currently alone in a small sterile room, with no other furniture, no windows, gray walls made of a material he couldn't identify and a solid, steel door the only means of escape.

The door opened and a man walked in, brown eyes gleaming as he noticed Chris was awake. Chris tried to place a name to the six foot tall, slim figure, but failed to do so. He could only wonder at what kind of mess he was in this time around.

"Who the hell are you?" he rasped out. "What do you want?"

His captor ran a hand through his thinning dark hair. "I can understand how you might not remember me; it has been some time and we only saw each other once. My name's Samuel Levit. Does the name Thomas Levit mean anything to you?"

Chris frowned in concentration, then shook his head. "No."

"Well, it should." the man snapped, fury and madness burning in his eyes. "He was my younger brother. You arrested him years ago, while you were still with the Denver PD."

"Since it's been years, I'm assumin' this is not because I busted him. Let me guess, he died and you want revenge," Chris drawled sarcastically. It seemed he and his team spent more time trying to escape family vengeances than doing their jobs; it was beginning to grate on his nerves. 

Levit nodded. "Got it in one. You see, I had to watch as Tom withered away in prison, day after day, week after week, month after month. I lost count of every new bruise, of every new scrape. I lost count of the number of times he couldn't make it to the visit because he was in the infirmary. I got to watch the light fade out from his eyes, little, by little, by little." He took a deep breath. "Until he finally killed himself six months ago. Your fault, Agent Larabee, since you put him there."

Chris shook his head. "Wrong. *His* fault, for doin' whatever the hell he did to make me arrest him."

Levit waved a dismissed hand. "Doesn't matter. What does matter is that I will be doing to you what jail did to Tommy. I'm a scientist, you know? Specialize in chemical drugs," he explained conversionally. "And I concocted a new drug especially for you, for this moment."

"I'm touched," Chris gritted out, wondering if he wasn't spending too much time with Ezra. Sarcasm had never been his thing before hiring the undercover agent.

"This drug," Levit continued as if Chris hadn't spoken, "will deprive you of everything we call civilized. You will lose your will, your conscience, your humanity. You will be a walking corpse, a vegetable with no willpower. It will take approximately two weeks for the process to be irreversible. At that time I will let you go, release you on the streets of Denver. It will be amusing to see how long you will last before a street thug or even one of your fellow agents kills you."

He walked over to Chris, removing a syringe and a small vial from one of his coat pockets. Chris struggled fiercely against the ropes binding him, swallowing hard as he watched Levit fill the syringe full of liquid. 

He had been in dangerous situations for most of his life, but this was different somehow. It was one thing to face someone with a gun in your hand, knowing you had a chance to fight back. But he was powerless against this madman, and he knew no one would be coming to the rescue, at least not fast enough to prevent Levit from drugging him out of his mind.

Levit pushed his sleeve back and plunged a needle into his arm with cruel intensity. Chris bit his lip to stop from crying out at the painful sting, trying to breathe deeply, fighting the abrupt sense of panic that flooded through him. The insidious drug hit his bloodstream, making him feel dizzy and disoriented, sweat breaking out all over his body as his heartbeat increased its tempo. 

As he felt his mind begin to shut down, he had enough time to spare a thought for his friends, for the one he had lost his heart to, then he knew no more.

Six days later

The sun was just beginning to dawn through the trees as Ezra drove the rented jeep through the forest road, his foot never leaving the gas pedal.

He clenched his jaw as he glanced at his bruised knuckles. He had nearly beaten a man to death not two hours earlier. That showed him how hard he was taking Chris' disappearance. He had always been able to control his emotions, even if only on the outside. But for the last six days he felt like a time-bomb waiting to explode and he knew the others were wary of being around him.

They had searched relentlessly for their leader, leaving no stone unturned, and still they had found nothing. He had been forced to resort to his underground contacts, which had finally paid off the night before. A known gunman for hire, who used to hang around a certain bar, had been bragging about having been the one responsible for Chris' kidnapping.

Ezra's informant met him at the bar, showed him who the gunman was. Ezra had waited until the man made it out of the establishment before cornering him. For someone who had bragged so much, the man had been surprisingly tough to crack and Ezra had lost his patience, landing blow after blow until the gunman lay a whimpering puddle on the asphalt. 

It took time, but the man finally confessed he had been the one to shoot the tranquilizer dart which allowed a Samuel Levit to take Chris away from them. He didn't know for what reason, since only Levit had access to Chris. But for the first time in six days Ezra felt some hope of actually seeing Chris alive, some hope he might actually get to say the words stuck in his throat for the last months. All he had to do was rescue the other man and pray he was none too worse for wear.

Reaching the location given to him by the gunman, Ezra parked the jeep, eyes narrowing as he spotted the compound barely visible in the trees to his left. 

He dialed Vin's number on his cellular. "Vin? Ezra," he said when the Texan answered. "I believe I have found our leader." Rapidly he explained what he had done the night before and what the gunman had told him.

"Damn it, Ezra! Why didn't ya call us?" Vin snapped, sounding pissed off.

"I wasn't certain if the information was accurate. But judging by the security at the compound, I think we hit jackpot," he stated calmly, giving Vin directions to the facility.

"Okay, Ez. You stay put, ya hear?" Vin demanded urgently. "I'll call the others and we'll be right there."

Ezra hung up, having no intention whatsoever to wait until the others joined him. Every minute was time wasted, time in which someone might be hurting Chris. No way in hell was he waiting.

Knowing the jeep was far enough away not to be seen, he checked his weapon, the contents of the backpack he had brought with him, took a deep breath, then ventured into the thick forest. He saw the first man patrolling the walls surrounding the main building. Putting to use the survival skills learned at Quantico, he snuck up silently behind the guard. 

"Hello!" he spoke loud enough for only his prey to hear. 

As the man turned, Ezra punched him hard, knocking him out cold. He dragged the man off the path, behind some large bushes, hoping the rest were as easy, but somehow knowing they wouldn't be. 

He jumped over the wall, half surprised when no alarms went off, crouching down as he took in the facility. Not that big, but he had some open ground to cover before he could reach it. Seeing no other guards, he ran to the building, keeping as low as possible, eyes constantly roaming over his surroundings, senses alert to any unexpected threat. 

He circled the building carefully, trying to find an entrance. Before he could make it to the final side, a man holding a .45 pistol came around the corner. Acting on instinct, Ezra tackled the man to the ground, straddling him, and without giving him any time to react, slugged him twice. 

Satisfied that the man wouldn't give him any more trouble, he continued his search, finding a window on the first floor wide open. He climbed into the creepy house, drawing his gun as he allowed his eyes to adjust to the gloomy darkness. 

He found himself in a lounge of sorts, a couch and countless chairs occupying every available space, a coffee and tea machine resting on a table, magazines spread throughout two other tables. With his heart in his throat, Ezra crossed over to the door, emerging into a long, gray corridor with several doors on either side. He held his breath as he stepped into the corridor, taking a peek in each room, his dread increasing as he realized each contained a laboratory. 

He spotted a staircase and crept over, suddenly knowing Chris would be up there. He found himself in yet another corridor, more doors on each side. The first rooms were deserted, but they were different from the ones below. These didn't have any lab equipment and were considerably smaller. What set them apart was the fact they were sparsely furnished -- if at all -- besides a single cot.

He kept going, a drop of sweat trailing down his cheek as he opened the last door. He nearly sobbed with relief at the vision before him; Chris was lying on the cot, tied spread-eagle and apparently unconscious, but very much alive.


He rushed over to the other man, switching the gun to his other hand, already reaching for the knife hidden within the backpack. He cut the ropes binding Chris to the cot's steel frame, rubbing raw wrists tenderly as he tried to rouse the blond. 

He gasped as Chris abruptly sprang to his feet, backing away from Ezra. There was no life in Chris' eyes, no fire, no hint he even knew what was happening or that he recognized Ezra. The stormy green eyes were empty, all light drained out of them.

Refusing to shout out his rage at the merciless skies, Ezra took a step towards Chris. "Hey, there," he whispered soothingly. "It's me, Chris, Ezra."

He inched closer, biting his lip uncertainly as Chris swayed slightly. Should he try to reach him? To touch him? Chris didn't move as Ezra approached, daring to rest his hand on Chris' arm. He simply stood still, eyes focused inward, seemingly not aware he wasn't alone.

"All right, I guess it's up to me to see us through this, at least for the moment." Ezra pulled out a heavy winter jacket from the backpack and gently helped Chris don it. "I'm a firm believer one should always be prepared," he said, hoping somehow his voice would bring Chris out of his frightening stillness. "It's cold outside and the weather's supposed to take a turn for the worse soon, so I thought I'd bring this along. Fortunate for you I did; you would have frozen if I hadn't." 

He knew his babbling was the only thing at the moment keeping him from falling apart. It simply hurt too much to see Chris in such an apathetic state. He wanted the fire back, the spark always present whenever they were together. He needed it.

"Who the hell are you?" a voice spat from the doorway.

Ezra turned to see a tall, lithe man standing at the entrance, a gun aimed at him. "Who the hell are *you*?" he retorted. "Are you the one responsible for his condition?" he gestured towards Chris.

The man smirked as he moved further into the room. "That would be me, yes. I have been having quite a lot of fun with Mr. Larabee there. An amazing specimen, actually. Would you believe he has been trying to fight the drugs I've been pumping into him? Truly amazing."

Ezra felt a cold, hard fury take over his heart. This bastard was responsible not only for kidnapping Chris, but also for stealing that which Ezra held most dear in the blond; his soul. 

Behind him he heard Chris move, distracting the man targeting them. Ezra didn't waste any time; he leaped, and spun 360 degrees in the air, his foot connecting with the man's chin, snapping his head back with a sickening crack. He landed solidly on his feet, his breath harsh, fists clenching, body coiled and ready.

Sanity returned and he realized the man was dead, his neck broken. Guilt stabbed at him for a moment, until his eyes settled on Chris and a maddening rage washed over him again. Forcing himself to remain calm, he held Chris' hand in his and pulled gently.

"Come on, we need to depart from this place; I have no idea if there are any more security guards around," he said as he snatched his weapon from the floor.

Chris followed him meekly down the corridor, past the stairs, along the second corridor. They made it outside, and this time Ezra decided to venture through the gate instead of trying to climb the wall; he didn't think Chris was up to it.

They were almost through the gate when another guard came running up, firing his rifle. The bullet caught Ezra in the left shoulder, throwing him backwards into Chris. Firing instinctively, Ezra's shot struck the guard in the heart, killing him instantly. 

Pain invaded his world as he tried not to pass out, knowing Chris was vulnerable at the moment and needed him to be alert and functional. He grunted as he was suddenly thrown over Chris' shoulder in a fireman's carry, surprised the other man had been able to do so on his own.

He thought he heard Chris growl, 'Protect', then consciousness left him. 

Slowly, painfully, Ezra became aware of his surroundings. He was half-lying on the cold, hard ground, half-sitting on Chris' lap. The other man had his arms wrapped firmly around him and seemed to be rocking him gently, although there was still no awareness in his features.

He lifted his head from Chris' warm shoulder, scanning the woods around them. The compound was nowhere in sight; all he could see were trees and rocks. As predicted, the weather was already beginning to change. Heavy clouds were gathering in the skies above them, hiding the early morning sun, and the wind was blowing stronger.

Looking around, he noticed his backpack was missing, probably left behind after he had gotten shot. This meant the extra weapons and ammunition, bottled water, first aid kit, and food were all lost. His gun was also missing, leaving them without any kind of armed protection.

Gritting his teeth against the pain in his shoulder he tried his cell phone, only to realize they were out of range, and unable to contact the others.

He sighed wearily. Somehow Lady Luck always seemed to enjoy playing with him, throwing him into the most unusual plights and watching from the sidelines as he struggled to the finish line. It was troublesome.

Opening his heavy coat and peeking under his garments, he realized there was little blood soaking his shirt, telling him he hadn't been unconscious for long. Pressing his lips together to prevent a moan from escaping, he left the sanctuary of Chris' arms, slowly removing his coat and sweater. Stripping his shirt off, he ripped the sleeves off and turned them into a tourniquet for his shoulder. 

At least he could feel the exit wound at his back and the bullet had obviously not caused any permanent damage. 

After redressing he rose to his feet, closing his eyes for a moment as he fought the wave of nausea and dizziness assailing him. With no way to contact the others, and without knowing their exact location, the best thing for them was to keep moving. Perhaps they would be fortunate enough to stumble across a road or a cabin.

"Come on, Chris," he breathed softly, glad when the man followed automatically.

They picked their way carefully up the rough sloping trail, Ezra keeping a close watch on the man walking beside him, hoping to see some change in the uncharacteristic silence. Desolation replaced hope as time ticked by and nothing happened.

As he treaded slowly, Ezra could feel his heart breaking, wondering what would he do if Chris didn't return to his former self. He had accepted long ago his preference towards men, so his instant attraction to the blond hadn't come as any life-altering revelation. But the fact that the attraction had morphed into love frightened him, especially because during the last months it had been getting harder and harder not to blurt out his feelings. 

And now he might never get the chance.

He stumbled on a root, then caught himself on a tree trunk. Leaning into the tree, he tried to swallow around his dry throat. His strength was fading fast, he would need to take a break soon. A real break, not the occasional stop to take a deep breath as they had been doing since their journey had begun.

He looked at the time, grunting in annoyance as he saw they had only been moving for little over an hour. In his weakening condition, it felt like much longer. Hot pain radiated from his injured shoulder, and although the provisory bandage was doing its function so far, he was still bleeding slightly.

He shivered as a fierce gust of wind howled over them. The snowstorm he had heard announced on the radio on the way to the compound was approaching fast. The sky was dark and angry, the temperature dropping with the rising wind. They needed shelter, or they would never survive the day. 

Their slow march continued for yet another hour, then suddenly they reached an area full of ravines and caves. 

"There is a God," Ezra muttered gratefully, as he spotted the mouth of a small cave not far from where they were standing, near the crest of a low ridge. 

They began their climb, his focus never wavering from their promised shelter. His foot slid on the slippery slope, slamming him into the ground. He curled into a fetal ball, eyes squeezed shut, gripping above his left elbow and gritting his teeth to keep from crying out, his breathing shallow and rapid.

He couldn't possibly manage to get up again. Sweating from the effort, hurting and shivering, he was at the end of his tether.

Once again it was Chris who unwittingly saved the situation. Ezra felt the other man drag him to his feet, helping him make it into the narrow cave. He leaned against the wall, panting, trying to control the painful tingling in his whole body.

Opening his eyes, he saw scattered pieces of wood lying around, in enough quantity to build a fire and keep it going for a few hours. Clenching his jaw stubbornly, Ezra gathered the necessary amount to start a fire, using the lighter he always carried with him. Pretty soon the flames were warming up the small area, the smell of wood smoke filling the cave. 

They huddled together instinctively. The throbbing in Ezra's shoulder prevented him from falling too deeply into the sleep his body craved, but allowed him to relax into a much needed rest.

"Well?" Vin asked grimly.

"Four men. Two unconscious, two dead," Buck informed him. "JD found Ezra's backpack near one of the dead. It had food, water, a compass and his extra guns inside. His gun was a few feet away."

Nathan and Josiah approached the others. "Finished searchin' the compound," Nathan told Vin. "One of the rooms on the upper level had rope attached to a cot. My guess is that Chris was held there."

"Any idea what happened?" JD asked sadly.

Josiah shook his head. "No. It seems Ezra managed to free Chris, and subdue all the men. I fail to see why they didn't remain here."

"There's more," Nathan said, his face unusually serious. "I found this in one of the labs." He held up what looked like a book. "It's a journal. I'm not familiar with all the scientific jargon in it, but I understood enough. This guy was testin' a new drug on Chris, givin' him two doses a day. Now, he didn't know if it was Chris' fault, or if the drug's components weren't mixed right, but it wasn't workin' as predicted."

Vin felt his heart missing a beat. "What do you mean?" he whispered.

"The drug was supposed to leave Chris pliant, a 'walking vegetable' as he refers to it in the journal. But between bein' nearly catatonic, Chris had periods of extreme violence. He tried to escape twice while they were helpin' him relieve himself, killed one of his guards in the first try. It might be the reason why he and Ezra aren't here waitin' for us."

"So, what you're sayin' is that Ezra is out there somewhere with a mindless, psychotic Chris?" Buck surmised hoarsely.

"Yeah," Nathan confirmed.

"Now what?" JD asked Vin. "The snowstorm is nearly here. Maybe we should wait --"

Vin shook his head. "We've brought the gear, we're goin' after them. We *have* to. Come on, let's get ready."

Ezra grunted when a weight was suddenly upon him, a wet tongue teasing at the side of his neck, a quick nip on the soft skin behind his right earlobe. 

He opened glazed eyes, and Chris' face came into his line of vision, blond strands bathed by the light of the fire. Hot breath tickled his chin as Chris leaned down, and then lips were against his, hands rubbing against his groin over his pants, and he felt himself hardening in spite of the throbbing in his shoulder.

Before Ezra was fully aware of what was happening, Chris' hands moved to his waist and taking advantage of surprise and Ezra's weakness, he flipped the Southerner over and onto his stomach. 

Ezra gasped at the unexpected move as it jarred his wound painfully, his whole being consumed by agony. Chris straddled his back, pinning him to the cave's hard floor, an insistent knee urging his legs apart. Chris stretched out on top of him, blanketing his body, hips grinding crudely against Ezra's buttocks, his erection noticeable even through the clothes they were both wearing. 

Dazed and hurting, Ezra moaned a protest as he felt fingers fumbling beneath him, parting the snap to his pants. Hands tugged at the garment, pulling it off along with his boxers until his lower body was bare. He tried to crawl away, but he was too slow. 

Chris began kneading his ass cheeks, manipulating them wantonly, and once again Ezra felt himself responding to the man's touch. He cried out abruptly, a wave of goosebumps flushing through his body as a slick softness darted along the crevice between his buttocks, long, thorough strokes that had him writhing and whimpering shamelessly in seconds.

Chris took his hips in his hands, holding him immobile as thumbs parted him, leaving him exposed. Warm breath blew across his anus, Chris' tongue returning to torment him, caressing the delicate skin, licking at it. 

Ezra quivered, never having felt such an amazing feeling before, the sensation intensifying as the tongue breached his puckered opening. His whole body was shaking, he wanted to thrash against the touch, but the small part of his mind still functioning, warned him about his wound.

Chris kept working on him, lapping, stroking, slow, patient flickers of his tongue along the tight channel to his body that took Ezra's breath away. The slick heat darted past the sphincter once more and he cried out again, then, as suddenly as it had begun, the touch was withdrawn, leaving him bereft.

When his head stopped spinning from both the pain and the pleasure coursing through him, Ezra realized Chris was back on top of him, panting harshly as his shaft nudged Ezra's opening. Ezra froze as he understood why Chris had rimmed him so thoroughly; they had no lubrication. Even if Chris wasn't fully aware of what he was doing, his subconscious seemed to have retained enough information to know they would need something for their coupling.


Spit wouldn't be nearly enough to prevent tearing. Besides, no matter how much he loved and desired Chris, this was not the way he had imagined their coming together. Not to mention, Chris would forever wallow in guilt if he ever remembered any of it.

"Chris, no!" he shouted, making another attempt at escaping the other man's powerful grip as Chris positioned himself and began to thrust, his cock rubbing against the ring of muscle. "Chris, please. Stop," he groaned, as he was continuously pressed against the cave's floor, his hands the only barrier preventing his wound from impacting with the rock. 

He tried to scramble forward again, but hands seized his hips, dragging him roughly backwards. Teeth sank painfully into his right shoulder, a clear warning to cease struggling. 

"Mate!" Chris growled in his ear.

Panting hard as he tried to control his fear, Ezra obeyed the command to remain acquiescent, stiffening in anticipation of the pain to come.

The weight holding him down retreated abruptly and Ezra scuttled to the end of the cave, watching Chris with wary eyes. Still no emotion visible, no sign of recognition, but there were definite changes. Chris was moving animatedly now, his pacing no longer looking forced or unnatural. 

He was also sporting such a massive hard-on, Ezra thought had to be painful.

He had to do something. Obviously whatever drugs Chris had been given had left him unstable, going from apathetic to primal in an instant. And if Ezra didn't come up with a solution to their immediate problem, chances were Chris would end up raping him, even if he wasn't aware of his actions. He knew the other man would never hurt him under normal circumstances, but these were hardly normal.

Shaking his head ruefully, he decided to reenact one of his favorite fantasies regarding his blond tormentor. The setting wasn't exactly what he had had in mind, but at least it would end their stalemate.

Hauling himself onto all fours, ignoring the growing weakness and the terrible burning in his shoulder, he approached Chris carefully, his whole demeanor non-threatening. Eyes never leaving Chris' face, he took the hard length in hand, opening his mouth and engulfing the throbbing cock, enjoying the bitter, musky taste flooding his taste buds.

He slid his tongue along the underside, then found the tip and licked it teasingly, grinning as Chris groaned gutturally. His head bobbed back and forth while he sucked greedily, his hands gripping the firm flesh with his hands. He slowly worked his way up the shaft until only the head remained in his mouth, flicking his tongue over the weeping slit with slow strokes, tasting and nipping and swirling. 

One of his hands reached down to Chris' balls, gently cupping his sac, fondling tenderly until he felt them tighten. Chris' legs quivered as he threw his head back, his savage cry echoing loudly in the cave. His whole body shook as he ejaculated, his seed filling Ezra's mouth, who tried his best to swallow the offering.

Ezra closed his eyes, reaching down to awkwardly tug his clothing back into place before collapsing against the wall. He felt movement close by, but he was too exhausted to investigate. Then Chris' lips were on his once again, pressing softly, sharing taste and moisture and warmth. It was the last thing he felt before darkness took over his world anew.

Vin thanked whatever lucky stars were watching over them. They had been on the trail for almost two hours and so far the storm was holding off, making it easier for him to track Chris and Ezra. It didn't seem to Vin like the two men were making much progress, but considering Chris' current condition, it was to be expected. They hadn't exactly been going round in circles, but close enough, wondering aimlessly for a while before making for higher ground. 

He and the others had come fully prepared, backpacks filled with water, a first aid kit, and a couple of blankets. There was no way of knowing what kind of shape Chris and Ezra were in.

He glanced at the area ahead, noticing the ravines and knowing their friends had probably found a cave to hide in, away from the approaching storm.

"Ezra! Chris!" he shouted, hoping the wind would carry his voice. "Ezra, it's Vin!"

The others joined him in calling, their shouts echoing loudly in the deserted woods. A strange noise alerted him to a new presence and he turned, gasping as he spotted Chris heading towards them. The blond man was making his way down the rocky path, teeth bared, a savage expression twisting his features as he growled deep in his throat. 

Before anyone could move, Chris had reached them, throwing himself at Buck, snarling as he hit the fallen man repeatedly. For a moment everyone else stood frozen in shock, watching in astonishment as Buck tried to parry the blows to his face and body. Then, blinking out of his daze, Vin ran to the two men, the others following his example, and tried to get Chris away from the ladies man.

It seemed like an impossible task. Chris fought them fiercely, biting, punching, kicking, breaking free from their precarious hold. Then a new voice was heard and the tables were turned.

"Chris, stop!"

Vin watched a pale and haggard Ezra staggering over to them, clothes rumpled, winter coat open to reveal a bloodied sweater. The glazed green eyes were focused on Chris, who had stopped struggling upon hearing Ezra's voice.

"Ez, you okay?" Vin asked.

Ezra gave him a lopsided smile. "I have been better, Mr. Tanner. Think it would be possible for you gentlemen to release Mr. Larabee?"

"Umm, you think that is such a good idea?" Nathan questioned. "If we let him go, he'll start hittin' us again."

"No, he won't. Please..." Ezra said softly.

Vin nodded and they let Chris go. To his amazement the blond didn't attack them as expected. Instead he made his way to Ezra and remained quietly by his side, eyes downcast.

"Wow!" JD gushed out breathlessly. "How did you do that?"

Ezra shrugged slightly, then winced. "No idea. But he seems to be aware of my presence and understands me up to a point. You wouldn't happen to have any water, would you? I'm parched."

Josiah dropped his backpack to the ground, opening it and handing Ezra a bottle, careful to keep his movements slow and non-threatening. "Here, brother."

"Thank you, Mr. Sanchez." 

Vin watched Ezra gulp down half the bottle, then asked, "The blood on your sweater? Yours?"

Ezra nodded with a grimace. "I was shot by one of the guards at the compound."

Buck looked up from brushing dirt out of his clothes. "Why didn't ya wait for us there?" 

"I'm afraid I passed out. Mr. Larabee took it upon himself to take us to what he perceived as safety. When I regained consciousness we were in the middle of the woods, so I thought it best to keep moving," Ezra said, stepping closer to Chris and placing the bottle against his lips. "Water, Chris. You need to drink some."

Chris didn't move, an eerie passivity seemingly having taken over the savagery. Ezra sighed tiredly, head tilted to the side as he evidently tried to figure out a way to get Chris to drink. A slow smile graced Ezra's face, and Vin shook his head fondly as he saw his friend dip a finger inside the bottle, before running it gently over Chris' lips.

Almost immediately Chris' tongue swept over his bottom lip, gathering the moisture there, and once again Ezra placed the bottle against his mouth. This time it worked; Chris reached for it and drank greedily, drops of the precious liquid escaping and dribbling down his chin.

"I should take a look at that wound o' yours," Nathan stated, once Chris was standing still again.

"Let's try it," Ezra agreed. "But Nathan... keep your voice soothing and don't make any sudden moves."

Nathan nodded and, armed with the first aid kit, walked over to Ezra. They sat on the ground and Nathan did the best he could without Ezra having to take all of his clothes off. It was getting colder and adding pneumonia to the bullet wound wasn't the way to go.

"Want to rest for a while?" Vin asked when Nathan was done.

Ezra shook his head. "We better head back. I'm surprised the storm has held this long."

"Yeah," JD chimed in. "Someone's definitely watching out for us."

"Let's go then. Think Chris'll behave?"

Ezra grinned weakly. "Your guess is as good as mine, Mr. Tanner. But I will try to restrain him, should his... more primal side make another appearance." He looked up at the rocky wall behind them. "We left a fire burning in one of the caves."

Josiah squeezed Vin's shoulder lightly. "I'll take care of it."

Minutes later they were on their way back to the compound, back to their vehicles and civilization. Vin kept an eye on both Ezra and Chris, concerned at what he was witnessing. Chris was following Ezra with single-minded intensity, although there was no life or expression in the man's face. On the other hand, Ezra was obviously getting weaker, even if he did his best to conceal it from the others.

It worried Vin that Ezra might not make it on his own to the end of the line. How would Chris react if they were forced to carry the other man? 

"I'm surprised he didn't get violent with you," Vin said, trying to get Ezra's mind away from the journey ahead.

Something flashed for a moment in Ezra's eyes, but it was gone before Vin got a chance to identify it. "He did," Ezra confessed softly. "There was a moment in the cave when he went decisively frightening. Somehow he stopped before doing any actual damage to my person."

"Ya know why?"

Ezra shook his head. "No. Maybe he sensed my... uneasiness. Whatever the cause, I'm thankful he didn't hurt me."

The conversation lulled after that; it was taking all of their perseverance to keep moving down the rough trail, knowing they had to make it as close as possible to the compound before the storm hit.

They weren't that lucky. Halfway to their destination it started to snow, gently at first, quite heavily after the first few minutes. By the time they made it to the lab facility they were all freezing and soaked to the bone, even with their winter gear. 

Vin turned to ask Ezra where he had parked his car, shouting a warning as the undercover agent swayed and crumbled to the ground, his strength finally at its end.

He was mildly surprised to realize he was waking up to warmth and quiet, instead of the expected numbing cold of the woods. There was a painful twinge in his shoulder, but not the agony of before, and he felt rested and stronger. All in all, things seemed to have taken a turn for the better.

Ezra opened his eyes, smiling slightly as he saw Vin sitting on a chair by the bed, Josiah on the other side. JD and Buck were talking quietly by the window, Nathan was leaning against the wall, reading a book.

"Vin?" he called out softly, when he noticed their leader was missing. "Where's Chris?"

Vin looked at him with an uneasy smile. "Hey, pard. Glad to see you awake. Ya been out of it for almost twelve hours."

Ezra took a few sips of the water provided by Josiah, his eyes never leaving Vin. "You didn't answer my question. Where's Chris?"

Vin sighed wearily. "Next door."

"Why aren't we sharing a room as usual? What are you not telling me?" Ezra asked, a sense of dread taking over his heart.

"The doctors thought it best to keep him alone in a room," Nathan replied. "After you passed out Chris went nuts again, wouldn't let us touch you. It took me, Josiah and Buck to pin him long enough for them to sedate him. When he woke up a few hours ago he nearly strangled a doctor."

Ezra slumped back into his pillow, eyes focusing on the ceiling. "No change, then." 

"No." Buck confirmed. "Nathan's been readin' Levit's journal, the bastard who kidnapped Chris, but so far there's not much info. No antidote, no way of knowin' what kind of damage this drug has done, if it's permanent, nothin'. The doctors aren't even givin' him anythin' 'cause they're afraid it might react with the drugs in his system."

A loud scream had Ezra sitting up on the bed. "My Lord," he whispered. "What is that?"

"Chris," Josiah told him grimly. "The doctors had him restrained. He's been out of his mind ever since."

"What?! And you allowed them to do such a thing?" Ezra threw the bedding away from his body. "Where the hell are my pants?"

"Ezra --" Vin began.

"My pants!" he interjected with a growl.

Buck handed him a clean pair of pants and a sweater and Ezra donned the garments rapidly, ignoring the increasing discomfort his wound was causing. 

He rushed out of the room, following the hoarse shouts to Chris' room. He stopped in his tracks at the vision before him. Chris was bound to the bed by his wrists and ankles, snarling and shouting wordlessly as he writhed on the sheets. Two male nurses were trying to calm him down without success.

"Keep these morons away from me!" Ezra snapped angrily to the others as the two nurses tried to intercept him.

He freed Chris' ankles, hearing Vin and Josiah arguing with the nurses, not caring what happened as long as no one stood in his way. When Chris' wrists were released from the soft leather bindings, Chris jumped from the bed, throwing himself at Ezra and knocking both of them to the floor.

Ezra leaned against the wall, his arms suddenly filled with the warm blond. He parted his legs, letting Chris settle between them, shuddering as the other man nuzzled his neck. 

"Rest," Chris rumbled.

"Yes, rest," Ezra choked out, rubbing his cheek tenderly on the silken hair, feeling Chris snuggling closer. "Lord, what am I going to do with you, Chris?" he murmured sadly.

He became aware of the heavy silence in the room and looked up. The male nurses were gone, leaving the others behind, watching him and Chris with expressions which ranged from stunned to suspicious. He gestured for them to come closer, Chris' quiet breathing letting him know he was sleeping peacefully.

The others sat in a semicircle, making a protective barrier between the two of them and the door.

"He talked," JD finally said, his voice hushed and astonished.

"Yes. He did it twice before when we were alone," Ezra informed them, then cursed himself inwardly as Josiah asked the inevitable question.

"What did he say?"

"Well," Ezra began carefully. "When the guard shot me, he carried me away and said 'protect'. Later in the cave..." he swallowed thickly.

"Yeah?" Buck prompted softly.

"He said 'mate'," Ezra finished, waiting for the explosion.

Vin blinked. "Mate? As in... mating?"

He nodded, watching as the others analyzed what they had been told. Finally, Josiah ventured a question, "Ezra," he said, his tone gentle. "Did Chris do anything to you? Sexually?"

Ezra exhaled softly. "He tried. I handled it." 

"What did you do?" Nathan asked.

Something in Nathan's voice made him narrow his eyes as he looked at the black man. "I handled it," he repeated through gritted teeth.

"That's not good enough, Ezra. What did you do?" Nathan insisted.

Anger bubbling at the surface, Ezra replied, "If you really must know, I gave him a blowjob. Unless you would have preferred for him to rape me."

"Jesus," Buck whispered, sharing the others' shock at his words.

"It don't make it right," Nathan snapped. "He's not aware of what he's doin'. You, on the other hand, took advantage of him. We've all seen the way ya look at Chris when you think no one's watchin'."

"Advantage? Christ, why does everything always have to be so difficult with you, Nathan? Maybe I could have found another way of dealing with the situation, or maybe not. But think about this; what would have happened if he had raped me? I would have been all right in the end. But would he? Do you really think Chris would be able to live with himself? There's no way of knowing if he will recall any of what's happening, but if he does... It will be bad enough to realize he acted in such a manner, that he attacked me. I wish it could have been different, but I did what I thought I had to do, what I thought was best. For me and for him, as well. If you don't like it or can't accept it, that's your problem, Nathan, not mine."

"And if he doesn't remember?" JD ventured.

"That would be for the best," Ezra replied tiredly.

"Even if he never remembers how you cared for him, how much you love him?" Vin asked softly, understanding shining in his blue gaze.

Ezra looked down at the man sleeping in his arms, then up at Vin, knowing the unconditional love he felt for Chris was showing in his eyes. "Yes, even then. I have always believed there was some truth to the saying 'if you love somebody, set them free'. All I want at this moment is for the old Chris to return, even if all he will ever be is my friend. It will be enough."

He closed his eyes, the pain in his shoulder making itself known again, now that the worst of the conversation was over. He knew the subject would likely rise anew in the near future, especially with Nathan, but he was too tired and too depressed to care.

"We have to talk."

Ezra closed at his eyes at the firm words uttered by Nathan. During the last five days he had seen the other man about four times at best. While the five men had gone back to work two days after he and Chris had been admitted to the hospital, he knew that was not the real reason why Nathan stayed away. After all, the others spent as much time visiting as possible.

Released within twenty-four hours of his arrival, as the shoulder wound was not serious enough to warrant a longer stay, Ezra remained at Chris' side. He seemed to be the only person the blond allowed close enough, the only person who he seemed aware of. And, especially, the only person capable of making him eat and drink enough fluids to keep his system from shutting down.

Ezra looked down at the man sleeping peacefully on the bed. At least Chris' condition was improving. He spoke more now, even if he still was incapable of full sentences, and more thought process went behind his words. His eyes occasionally showed emotions as well, which was more than he had been able to do when Ezra rescued him. Perhaps in time they would get the old Chris back; at least he desperately hoped so.

Suddenly remembering Nathan was still in the room, he exhaled gently. "So talk," he whispered, not bothering to face the man.

"I... I want to apologize," Nathan began, his voice oddly hesitant. "When Buck told us some months back that he thought you were in love with Chris, I didn't believe it. You always seem so aloof, so distant, I..." He sighed. "Then I saw the way ya looked at Chris and I figured Buck had lust confused with love, ya know? That's why I reacted the way I did when you told us what happened in the cave. But... I've seen the way you've been watchin' over Chris, and the others told me how determined ya have been to see he gets the best medical care... It made me think. Maybe you do love him."

Ezra turned to him, emotions held in check. "I do love him, Mr. Jackson, very much so. But I would have done this regardless... Not only with Chris, but with any of you gentlemen as well," he stated calmly, enjoying the way Nathan flinched. "And if we are being honest, I have to tell you that I enjoyed what happened in the cave. Not when I believed Chris was going to hurt me, but what I did to make sure that wouldn't come to pass. He had stopped, and perhaps he would have stayed away, but I don't really think so."

To his surprise, Nathan grinned ruefully. "Can't say I blame ya. I probably would've enjoyed it too, had I been in your shoes with Rain. I've been thinkin' about it a lot, actually."

Something about Nathan's mischievous expression made Ezra relax and smile back. "Apology accepted, Nathan."

The other nodded, coming closer. "There's somethin' else. I know I don't show it or say it often, but I care 'bout ya, Ez. We're about as different as day and night, and I guess we'll always disagree on stuff, but you're family, same as the others." That said, he surprised Ezra even further by putting his arms around him and hugging him tightly for a moment. "I am sorry," Nathan said again as he pulled back.

Feeling somewhat awkward at Nathan's strange emotional display, Ezra merely shrugged. "Like I said, apology accepted."

Nathan sighed, relief clear in his voice as he spoke. "I have to go. I sneaked out of the office so I could come here; the others are probably wonderin' where I've gone to. We'll be back at lunch."

"I will be here."

He watched Nathan walk over to the door, open it, then turn back to him. "Ezra... Thank you."

Ezra smiled, understanding the meaning behind the words. "You are quite welcome, Mr. Jackson."

After the older man left, Ezra sat by the bed, leaning back on the chair and closing his eyes. Tired from his constant vigil he promptly fell asleep, failing to notice the stormy eyes fixed on him.

Ezra startled awake, not sure what had brought him to sudden awareness. 

He brushed a hand tiredly over his hair, then glanced at his charge, his heart lurching in his chest as he realized the bed was empty; Chris was gone. Jumping to his feet he rushed to the bathroom, his worry doubling as he found it empty.

He ran out of the room, bumping into a nurse. "Have you seen Chris Larabee, the patient in room #303?"

The young woman frowned. "No, I haven't. What's wrong?" 

Ezra didn't bother to reply, his eyes already scanning the corridor for the other man. He searched room after room, ward after ward, ran through every corridor, finding no clues as to Chris' whereabouts. He decided to do a floor by floor sweep, starting at the lower levels and moving up. 

Minutes stretched painfully into an hour, his anguish reaching new heights as his search failed to provide him with any results. He was about to call the others for help when he finally made it to the roof. 

And there, hospital gown floating on the winter's chilling breeze, eyes looking lost as he stared at the horizon, stood Chris. 

"Thank God," Ezra breathed, walking cautiously to the other man until he was standing before him. "Chris? What are you doing out here? Why did you leave your room?" He touched the blond's arm and hissed. "My Lord, you're freezing! Come on, let's go back inside."

Chris pulled free with a rough jerk, his face twisted into an angry grimace. "Betray!" he shouted into Ezra's face.

Ezra shook his head in confusion. "I don't understand. What's wrong, Chris?"

"Betray!" Chris snarled again, grabbing Ezra abruptly and kissing him ruthlessly, the contact painful and bruising when it should have been tender and loving.

Ezra managed to break free from the tight grip, fingers touching his kiss-swollen lips gingerly. "Chris, please," he begged as the other man made to reach for him anew. "Don't."

Something in his voice must have broken through, for Chris stopped advancing, his eyes lowering to the ground. Ezra moved closer, carefully, once again placing a hand on the other man's arm and guiding him to the door. As he took the now shivering man back to his room he couldn't help but wonder what had caused Chris to react in such a manner. It was the first time in five days that Chris had shown any signs of violence. 

And that worried him.

When the others walked into Chris' room at lunch, they found the blond sitting on the bed with a distinctively sulking expression, Ezra watching him warily from a chair.

"What's wrong?" Buck asked immediately.

Before Ezra could reply, Chris growled furiously. He leapt from the bed, punching Nathan in the face and throwing him on the floor. Apparently not satisfied, he straddled Nathan's body, grabbing his shirt and shaking him violently, causing Nathan's head to connect with the marble floor repeatedly. 

"No take! No take!" he snapped, rage evident in his features. "Never!"

"Chris, no!" Ezra shouted, rushing over to separate the two men.

Chris flew away from Nathan then, stalking closer to Ezra with an angry stride. He grabbed him by the forearms, slamming him brutally against the wall. "Betray!" He shoved Ezra again and again into the white plaster. "Betray!"

Ezra cried out, his healing shoulder impacting against the wall. "Chris, stop!" he pleaded brokenly. "Please!"

Chris didn't listen to him this time. Instead, he practically carried Ezra over to the bed, fury giving him an unexpected bout of strength. He pinned him to the mattress, wrists held tightly over Ezra's head. 

Realizing fighting back would only make things worse, Ezra froze under Chris' body, barely daring to breathe. He saw the others standing uncertainly by the bed, obviously wondering if they should act or not, afraid of hurting either Chris or Ezra himself.

"Don't do anything," he whispered softly.

Chris retreated abruptly, tilting his head in confusion. "Why?" he asked, the fight gone out of him.

"Why what?" Ezra queried softly, sitting up slowly on the bed.

"Fear, now. Fear, cave."

So Chris had sensed his fear back at the cave, that's why he had stopped their 'mating'. A stab of overwhelming tenderness shot through Ezra and he placed a gentle hand over Chris' heart. 

"I don't know how much you understand of what I'm saying, but I am afraid *for* you, not *of* you. You are getting better, Chris. And I know once you are back with us, the thought of having hurt me would be too much to take. I'm afraid of losing you to guilt," he confessed.

Whether he was responding to the words or Ezra's soothing voice, Chris laid back on the bed, taking Ezra with him and snuggling to his warmth.

"What the hell happened here?" Vin asked, careful to keep his voice low.

"Considerin' he attacked me and Ezra, I think I can guess," Nathan replied ruefully, touching the lump at the back of his head. "I was here earlier. Ez and I... we needed to talk. I'm thinkin' maybe Chris saw me give Ezra a hug and misunderstood?" he half-asked.

Ezra nodded slightly. "My guess, as well."

"You okay, Ezra?" Josiah asked.

He gave the older man a weak, but genuine smile. "I'm fine, Mr. Sanchez." 

"Ya know, Ez," Vin began. "Under all that anger and the apathy, this is still Chris. I don't think it's a coincidence he responds only to you or that he got jealous of Nathan. I've been wonderin' for a while if Chris didn't return your feelings."

"I would love very much to be able to believe that, Vin. But I think I will just wait and see, it's safer. You didn't happen to bring us any nourishment, did you?" he asked, changing the subject.

"We brought sandwiches," JD told him, placing a small paper bag on the nightstand.

"Thank you. I will make sure we both enjoy our repast as soon as Chris awakes."

Little by little the others began to relax, spreading throughout the room and telling him, in hushed voices, the latest gossip at the ATF office. Ezra closed his eyes, listening absently as his body slumped deeper into the bedding, the feeling of Chris' arms wrapped around him, comforting. 

He never heard the others finish their lunch or leave the room quietly.

'He was going to be late for work. 

Locking the front door, he stood for a moment on the porch, watching with an amused smile as Sarah and Adam chased each other around the car, their laughter echoing in the woods around the ranch. After seven years together, his heart still sang every time he looked at Sarah, at their boy. He hadn't really thought he would be able to adjust to married life so easily, but here he was, the family man, happy, complete, settled down.

His only complaint was his broken wrist, which prevented him from active duty. Desk work was not his favorite thing. Like any cop, he would rather be out on the streets, chasing the scum polluting Denver. Not to mention Sarah had to drive him everywhere and although he loved her dearly, her driving drove him crazy. 

She waved at him with a wide smile, ushering Adam inside the vehicle and sitting behind the wheel. He saw her lean forward to start the engine just before the whole world blew up into flames, taking him along.'

Chris sat up on the bed with a pain-filled gasp, sweat bathing his body, heart racing in his chest. He hadn't dreamt of his family's death in months, and certainly not with all that vivid intensity. 

Forcing his breathing to slow down, he glanced around, realizing he was in his bedroom, back at the ranch. It didn't make any sense; the last thing he remembered was being kidnapped by Levit, being injected with a drug. Maybe the others had rescued him? But why couldn't he remember anything?

Rising from the bed, he donned his robe and walked out of the room. Seeing light in the living room, he followed its beacon, stopping in the doorway as he found Ezra sleeping on the couch. He approached the slumbering man, taking the rare opportunity to see the younger man without his usual shields. 

Before Sarah, Chris had ventured into a few relationships with other men; nothing too serious, just the mutual enjoyment of each others bodies and hot, powerful sex. When he met Ezra he had felt the pull, the attraction, but had chosen to ignore it. They would be working together and that was one complication he didn't need.

As the months went on and turned into years, he surrendered to the knowledge that the attraction had changed to love. But Ezra had never given any hint he was into men, so Chris had swallowed his feelings, content to watch, to be there, to be a friend. 

It didn't mean it didn't hurt sometimes, that he didn't wish to take things further instead of wondering 'what if'. 

He watched as Ezra stirred slowly, eyes blinking sleepily, then settling on him. "Chris!" Ezra started. "What's wrong? Do you need anything?" 

"No, I'm fine," Chris replied, wondering where he should start, what question he should ask first.

Ezra was faster. Head tilted to the side in puzzlement, he regarded Chris silently for a long moment. His eyes widened suddenly, and Chris was surprised to see sadness and relief shining from within the green depths. 

Before he could comment on that, Ezra spoke. "You are back, aren't you? You remember?" he asked, voice hushed.

Chris sat on the couch. "I had a nightmare, a memory actually. Sarah and Adam's deaths," he added at Ezra's quizzical expression. "And when I woke up I was just... *here*. What happened exactly? Last thing I remember is Levit injectin' me with some drug, but I have this feelin'... That was some time ago, right?"

Ezra nodded. "Yes. You were kidnapped approximately two weeks ago. I... We rescued you a week ago, you spent six days at the hospital. They discharged you yesterday. The doctors had no way of identifying the drug Levit injected you with, or reversing its effects, and since you were showing much improvement..." He shrugged. "We thought familiar surroundings might help you recover. I guess we were right," he remarked ruefully.

"So, these two weeks... Have I been unconscious the whole time?"

A strange expression flashed over Ezra's features, but it was gone so fast Chris didn't have enough time to grasp it. "Hmm..." Ezra pressed his lips together, his whole demeanor awkward. "You weren't conscious per se, but you were moving and even speaking. Maybe I better call our colleagues. I'm sure Mr. Jackson will be able to explain better."

At the mention of Nathan's name, Chris felt a cold fury surging through him. That only confused him further. He had always liked and respected the other man, why would he feel such rage against him? He had a sudden vision of throwing himself at Nathan, of hitting him, and blinked, startled.

"Ezra, did I ever hit Nathan durin' these two weeks?" he asked carefully, almost afraid to hear the answer.

To say Ezra was shocked at the question was an understatement. He flinched, turned frighteningly pale, lips parting as if to speak although no actual words were spoken. 

Chris frowned at the unusual reaction, forcing his mind to focus on the vision. It came back with amazing clarity, the moment when he punched Nathan, throwing him to the floor. He recalled the feeling of betrayal, thinking Nathan was trying to take Ezra away from him. 

That gave place to other images; Nathan hugging Ezra, speaking to him at the hospital. He saw himself attacking Buck in the woods; carrying Ezra over his shoulder and taking him away from the place where Levit had kept him prisoner. And he remembered with a sickening heart as he raped Ezra in the cave.

"Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God..." he mumbled, jumping from the couch and backing away from Ezra. He was a monster. He had raped his friend, the man he was in love with. Bile rose in his throat, threatening to choke him. 

Ezra rose slowly, brows knitted together in confusion. "Chris?"

When Ezra made to approach him, Chris shouted, "Don't! How can you stand to be in the same room with me?"

"What? What are you talking about?" 

"I raped you, Ezra!" Chris growled desperately.

Ezra sucked in a startled gasp, taking a step back himself. "You... you remember? Lord, Chris, you didn't rape me, I --"

"Didn't I?" Chris spat at him. "I held you down, took your clothes off, nearly rammed myself into you! You were forced to give me a blowjob and you say I didn't rape you?!"

Ezra's reply was forestalled by the opening of the front door, Buck's voice intruding on their anguished confrontation, "Hey, Ez, we decided to join ya for dinner. Ezra? Ez, where are ya, pard?" 

The mustached man walked in the room, the others right behind him, all of them freezing immediately as they took in the tableau before them. 

"What's going on?" JD asked cautiously.

Chris looked at the five men, knowing he would have to talk to them, but unable to deal with their questions or the situation at the moment. "Leave," he snapped.

Vin crossed his arms across his chest stubbornly. "I don't think so, Cowboy. I take it you're back with us?"

"Yes, and I want you all to leave. *Now*. This is between Ezra and I." When they didn't move, he snarled, "Fine! Stay!" He turned back to Ezra. "Are you still goin' to deny I raped you?" He ignored the gasps coming from his men; there would be time for them later.

Ezra exhaled slowly, eyes lowered to the floor. "All right." He finally looked up, eyes locking with Chris'. "You were holding me down and yes, I was frightened. But as I explained at the hospital, I was afraid for you, because I knew this would happen. And no, I would never have done it if you hadn't... taken the initiative. But..." Ezra firmed his stance, facing him head on. "You weren't the first man I gave a blowjob to and I can't really say I regret what happened."

Chris reeled at the words. He had been expecting disgust, hate, contempt. The calm confession was something new and definitely intriguing. He also realized how much it had taken for Ezra to make it, especially in front of the others.

"Out," he ordered, glaring at Vin.

Vin smiled knowingly at him, then glanced at Ezra. "Ez, it's up to ya. Want us to stay or go?"

Ezra nodded slightly. "It's all right, Mr. Tanner. I believe I will be quite safe with our leader."

"We'll be back in the morning," Josiah assured, giving Ezra a wink before leaving.

Chris waited until he heard their vehicles driving away, then asked slowly, "Not the first man?"

Ezra flushed slightly, but replied honestly. "I have always been attracted to men, Mr. Larabee, although there have been a few women as well. However, trust is a big issue with me, so I rarely acted on that attraction. I... There was an agent in Atlanta. We became good friends from the start and later, lovers. He was the only man."

"How long were you together?"

Ezra grimaced. "Not that long. We were still... experimenting when the rumors about me being on the take began. He chose to preserve his career over a relationship with me. There was a lot we never did try, including what you first attempted to do at the cave." A pause, then, "Can I ask you something?"

Chris nodded, curious. "Sure. It's only fair, after all."

"Why did you react to me the way you did? You were protective, possessive, and of course, you attempted to 'mate' with me," he teased gently. 

"Ah." Chris sighed softly. Time to come out with the truth. "I love you, Ezra. I have been in love with you for some time now," he replied. "You were the last thing on my mind before those drugs took over. I can't tell you exactly why I did those things, but maybe it had somethin' to do with the way I feel about you."

"And are you experienced with male loving?" Ezra asked hesitantly.

"Yes. I had a few relationships with men before Sarah." He looked at the man before him. "You haven't said anythin' about my big declaration of love. Are we talkin' unrequited love here, did I just make a fool of myself? Because from the way you took care of me these last weeks, from what I remember, I'd say you love me too."

To his surprise and delight, Ezra gave him a wide smile, his whole face lighting up with happiness. "I do love you, Chris. Very much so."

Chris returned the smile, feeling his heart swell. "So, what's the next step?"

Ezra grinned wickedly. "Hot, dirty, wild monkey sex?" he suggested hopefully.

Chris felt his groin tighten at both the words and the grin. He remembered the feel of having Ezra beneath him, whimpering and thrashing as Chris rimmed him; remembered the urge to mate, to possess, to make Ezra his. 

He growled deep in his throat as Ezra slumped against the couch in silent invitation, eyes closed, head leaning on the armrest. Before he was even aware of what he was doing, Chris was moving forward, until their lips were barely touching, sharing each other's breaths. 

He stilled then, remaining that way until the green eyes opened and locked with his, both knowing they were about to cross the line, that there would be no turning back, both accepting the commitment. Questions answered, they moved together as one, closing the distance, kissing for the first time.

Tentative and gentle at first, the kiss gradually deepened as their lips parted. Tongues met and dueled frantically, their senses overloading into the searing kiss.

They broke apart long enough to tear at each other's clothes, tossing them carelessly onto the floor, then Ezra was on his back, Chris blanketing him on the narrow couch. Hands and mouths moved over sweat-slick skin, everywhere at once, tasting and touching and exploring.

Chris kissed a path down the smooth column of Ezra's throat, across his collarbone, a wave of fierce possessiveness overtaking him as he sunk his teeth into the muscled padding of his lover's shoulder. He began to nibble on the addictive flesh, applying a firm pressure until it left a mark -- his mark; a proof of his ownership, a warning to any would-be trespassers. 

Wanting to savor more of the body offered so willingly to his touch, Chris turned his attention to Ezra's muscular chest, eyes focusing on the two flat, rosy nipples. He licked and sucked one little nub into his mouth, his fingers playing with the other, teasing the protrusion to a hard, aching peak. 

Ezra whimpered and groaned, head pressing back into the armrest, body sliding against Chris' as his hands roamed over Chris' body, fingers digging into his back in ecstasy. 

Satisfied both nipples were now sensitive to the merest of caresses, Chris continued his journey down the canvas of silken skin spread out for his delight, licking and kissing his way down Ezra's chest and abdomen. He spread his lover's legs apart then settled between them.

His finger trailed over the tip of Ezra's hard cock, drawing the moisture he found there and tasting it wantonly. Taking the throbbing erection into his hand, Chris ran his thumb over the head, Ezra's body arching off the couch with a groan, hands clutching at the large pillows. 

Chris' hand began a slow pumping motion, gradually increasing the tempo of his strokes as Ezra responded to his actions. His lover was panting, quick, shallow breaths as his hips thrust up, driving himself into Chris' hand. 

Needing to taste more of his lover's unique flavor, Chris shifted his body downward, nuzzling Ezra's cock gently before taking the head into his mouth, sucking and licking until Ezra was whimpering continuously. He wrapped his fingers around the base of Ezra's length, letting his tongue flutter along the large vein on the underside, trying his best to take all of his lover inside. He relaxed his throat muscles, uncurling his fingers from the base, and lowered his head until every last inch was sheathed inside his mouth.

It was all it took; he felt Ezra's shaft swelling, felt his balls tighten up, and then Ezra was coming, pouring himself down Chris' throat in long pulses, crying wordlessly as the orgasm ripped through him. 

Chris reluctantly released Ezra's softening cock as the younger man's tremors started to subside, patting the quivering belly gently. "I'll be right back," he whispered, rushing to his bedroom for lube. 

Quickly finding the tube of lubricant, he returned to a still recovering Ezra, who smiled sensually as he noticed the tube in his hand. Chris squeezed some lube onto his fingers, breath hitching as Ezra opened up to him, legs parting to allow him access to his virgin portal. 

Chris took his time preparing and stretching Ezra, slick fingers twisting and burrowing into the tight opening, teasing and arousing. He was amazed at Ezra's response to his touch, as the other man writhed feverishly, crying out, pleading for more. He twisted his fingers, rubbing against the little pleasure point inside, grinning as Ezra arched, sobbing broken pleas into the air.

"Please, oh, please... I need you, Chris... Please!" Ezra moaned, thrashing and thrusting against Chris' digits.

Judging Ezra to be ready for him, Chris withdrew his fingers, moving over the other man's body. He stroked his lover's thighs gently, raising Ezra's legs over his shoulders, kissing first the inside of one knee, then the other, chuckling as Ezra's legs quivered at the ticklish caress.

Finally, he guided his aching cock to his lover's opening, pressing forward, slowly burying his length in the smooth warmth until he was fully inside Ezra's body. He forced himself to wait, moving only when Ezra bucked against him, trying to take him impossibly deeper. 

Chris began to thrust into the furnace that was his lover's body, backing out almost to the tip, then plunging back in, reveling in the overpowering feeling of having Ezra beneath him, panting and twisting and moaning his name. 

Suddenly he ceased all movement, ignoring Ezra's frenzied attempts to get him to move again. Pinning Ezra to the couch by lying completely on top of him, Chris nibbled on an earlobe, then whispered into it, "Tell me you're mine," he ordered huskily. "Say it."

Ezra glowered at him. "You bastard!" he panted breathlessly. "*Move*!"

Chris gave a single, hard thrust into his lover's body. "Say it, Ezra!"

Ezra arched off the couch, a sob escaping his parted lips, eyes squeezing shut. "Oh, God, please... I'm yours, Chris, always yours," he choked. "Please..."

Chris growled his triumph, fingers gripping Ezra's ass painfully as he drove into him, again and again and again, until they were both groaning uncontrollably. He wrapped his fist around Ezra's cock, milking it to the pounding rhythm of his hips. "Come for me, Ezra... show me how much you love me..." he whispered seductively.

His words seemed to have the desired effect, for Ezra cried out, body tightening around Chris' shaft as he came for the second time that night, bathing both of their bodies and Chris' hand with his seed. 

Chris gritted his teeth and slammed into his lover one last time, shouting, "Mine! You're mine!" as he surrendered to the tight grip around his cock, emptying every last drop of fluid into Ezra's body.

Half an hour later they were still enjoying the aftereffects of their mind-blowing coupling, both still naked, both still on the couch. Ezra lay between Chris' spread legs, his back to Chris' chest, head resting on his right shoulder. Chris was running a lazy hand over Ezra's chest, while Ezra traced aimless patterns on Chris' thigh.

"I can hear the wheels going into overdrive inside your mind, Chris. Why don't you tell me what's bothering you?" Ezra prompted gently.

"I've been rememberin' everythin' that happened these last two weeks, everything I did. I've got one hell of an apology to make, especially to Nathan and Buck."

Ezra looked up at him. "They understand, Chris. It was the drug behind it all, no one's blaming you."

Chris cleared his throat, feeling his face warming slightly. "It wasn't the drug just now. I... Did I hurt you? I didn't mean to be that eager. Or possessive."

Ezra chuckled. "No, you didn't hurt me, although I believe sitting down will be an adventure tomorrow. I'm definitely sore. But... I enjoyed it, both the eagerness and the possessiveness. I would never believe I would get off on having someone dominate me, but I did. Perhaps because it was you and I trust you. It was the hottest sex I have ever had," he confessed honestly. "And at the same time it was still making love." There was something akin to awe in his expression.

Chris brushed his thumb over his lover's kiss-bruised lips. "What about the team? The main reason why I never made a move before is because we work together, because I'm your boss."

"I'm not saying everything will be a bed of roses, Chris, but I think with a little work we will be able to separate our working relationship from our private lives. Our colleagues... our friends already know how I feel about you, and they suspected you felt the same. They will most certainly help us... whether we wish it or not," he added ruefully.

Chris chuckled. "So, you think we can handle it?" He asked seriously, lacing the fingers from their left hands together.

"Together? Undoubtedly."

Chris nodded his agreement, laying a tender kiss on the chestnut hair and closing his eyes, letting the warmth coming from the fireplace and his lover's welcoming scent lull him into sleep. 





Magnificent Seven