Chris Larabee walked into his quarters, humming to himself. He was dressed in his favorite pair of black jeans, wearing a black shirt, a combination of clothing he was known for. The ‘man in black’ many of his colleagues called him and despite the fact that he no longer had a reason to mourn, he had stayed with the trademark outfit. Ezra had never complained and Chris actually owned little other colors. Now and then he changed into his lighter t-shirts, but except for the uniform shirts, the white ones, his wardrobe was rather uni-colored.
Checking the time he smiled and picked up a small, neatly wrapped package. Ezra would love it. He just knew he would. His partner had a luxury streak that surfaced now and again, showing itself in either the clothes he wore when off-duty, his furniture, or simple things like his toiletries. Chris grinned as he remembered the assortment of perfumed massage oils. Yes, Ezra loved it.
Today was their anniversary. Not the day they had first met. That was more than a year in the past. Nearly two years, actually. While it was cause for a small celebration as well, the real anniversary was the day they had acknowledged the last step in their soul bond. The day Chris had had the courage to face his turmoiled emotions, to approach Ezra, and find that the thief was just as drawn along the Bond as he was.
One year. One year of loving the man with every fiber of his being. One year of being one not only in soul, but also sharing a more physical connection. Chris felt warmth curl in his stomach. One year that had never been dull, either at home or at work.
He grinned. Life around Ezra was never dull. His partner took care of that.
Since the two of them kept their sexual relationship a secret, they could hardly go out for dinner. Well, they could. It just wouldn’t be the same. They had to be careful in public, touching only through the Bond, keeping up the façade. Both were good at it and except for Vin, and now Buck, no one knew about them being a couple. The soul bond was quite an advantage. Still, Commander Larabee and Agent Standish having dinner together might just be a bit conspicuous.
So Chris had decided to celebrate the event at Ezra’s place. A nice dinner and some very pleasant companiony was just what he was looking forward to.
He arrived at the thief’s quarters in time, not bothering to knock. He knew the key code and Ezra didn’t actually expect him to announce his presence anyway. He would know through the link. His partner walked out of the bathroom, smiling at his presence.
“Dinner has arrived,” he called, eyes alight with humor.
Chris chuckled. He had told his lover that dinner was on him, which meant he would cook it, not order it. Ezra had briefly gaped, then accepted the fact that Commander Chris Larabee wanted to cook.
His eyes fell on the parcel. “For me?”
Chris laughed at the child-like expression in the handsome face. “Not yet,” he chastised.
“Aw, come on!”
Chris just took it with him into the kitchen, where he proceeded to empty the fridge of what he had stored there just this morning when he had gone grocery shopping. Ezra hopped onto the kitchen counter, legs dangling, eyeing the package curiously. The older man just grinned and pushed it deeper into the shelf. Ezra stuck out his tongue.
Halfway through cooking, Chris finally caved in. Ezra had kept on bombarding him through the Bond, sending pleas and begging to see his gift.
“You are worse than my son was at Christmas!” the commander growled, facing his lover.
Ezra snorted. “I’ll give you yours as well,” he pointed out slyly.
Chris rolled his eyes. “Unlike a certain person in this room, I can be patient.”
“A trait that comes with age.”
Chris gave him a narrow-eyed look. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Ezra gazed innocently at him. “Only the truth,” he announced mischievously.
Chris shot a pea at him and Ezra laughed even more, jumping off the counter.
<Please?> he tried it again. <Pretty please?>
Larabee gave a heart-felt sigh. A lot worse than Adam had ever been! “All right, all right!”
He grabbed the parcel and Ezra’s eyes lit up as it was given to him.
“Happy anniversary,” Chris said softly.
The warmth in the green eyes touched him and he watched the thief eagerly undo the paper. He had to chuckle as his lover gaped at the leather bound treasure he now held in his hands.
“Chris….?” he managed.
The blond just shrugged.
“How…..? This is… more than an antique! More than rare!”
“Connections,” was all Chris was willing to explain.
Ezra stared at the small book, a first edition no less, in its original leather binding, the yellowing pages crackling in his fingers. He traced the handwritten dedication on the first page.
‘For everything. Chris.’
“I don’t know what to say,” he whispered.
Chris smiled more at the dumbfound expression and the warmth flooding him from the link.
<You don’t have to say anything> he sent.
Ezra stepped forward and pulled down Chris’s head, kissing him deeply. Chris smiled to himself. Words were always superfluous when it came to the more physical display of appreciation.
“So what do I get?” he murmured as they separated.
“I thought you were patient,” Ezra teased.
“Old people are patient,” Chris growled.
“And you are…?”
His lover laughed and walked over to the living room table, picking up a large envelope. He held it out to Chris.
Larabee took it, slightly mystified. Ezra was giving nothing away through the Bond. He slipped the envelope open and pulled out a beige and blue colored piece of paper.
Chris stared at the writing.
His mind froze.
His heart missed a beat.
“Where did you get the money from?” he whispered out loud the first thing that came to his mind.
Minute tremors coursed through him, invisible from the outside.
There was a moment of silence. “You know my past, Chris,” Ezra answered softly. “I was paid well for my jobs, so I wasn’t exactly broke when we met. Back then, the money gave me security…. something to fall back upon, to quickly get enough financial help in case I got into a tight spot and had to leave. Now… now I really don’t need it anymore.” His voice caught once. “I wanted to use it for something honest.”
“You invested all your money into this?” Chris asked, still staring at the paper.
Ezra had watched his lover closely when he had opened the envelope and he had expected a lot of reactions to his gift, but not the one he had gotten. The simple question as to where the money had originated from had caught him off balance.
Now Chris gave his lover a blank look, the eyes completely unreadable. He carefully put the paper down on the counter and distanced himself with a few steps. The slender man stood in the living room, his back to Ezra, running a hand over his face in a gesture that stabbed into Ezra. Fear wormed its way into the thief. He walked out of the small kitchen, turning off the oven, dinner forgotten. He was suddenly no longer hungry.
“Do you know what you have done?” Chris suddenly asked, voice empty.
Ezra flinched at the words and his stomach clenched briefly. Oh no… He tried to assess the situation through the Bond, but the emptiness of Chris’s voice echoed through the connection. The fear multiplied.
“Do you realize what you have done with this?” Chris repeated, still not turning around.
“I….” Ezra started, then trailed off. He had never thought that Chris might not want this. Never in his wildest dreams. “Chris? What’s wrong?” he tried.
“You’re offering me a home I would never have hoped to have again,” the blond suddenly said, still no real emotions in his voice.
Ezra swallowed. The Bond twitched and he felt the absent emotions leak through, but they were too faint to really interpret. “That was… my intention, Chris,” he said softly. “Is it so bad?”
“But you have no idea what you actually did.” Chris’s voice was still flat and he hadn’t answered Ezra’s question.
No, the thief had to confess, had no idea what he had done. Well, he knew what he had *done*. He had emptied his illegal accounts, had gathered all the criminal money, had sold whatever shares he had been holding in criminal activities and organization, and he had invested it into something honest-to-god, something he had wanted for the both of them. Something that had sprung up in his mind after Chris had shown him a picture of the ranch he had had with Sarah on a near-by moon. Ezra had heard the pain and longing in his lover’s voice back then, a faint echo of the demon that had held Chris in his claws ever since his family had been killed. A demon Chris had started to fight and win against ever since the two men had run into each other on BP-379. So Ezra had used his still formidable connections to find the perfect gift for his lover. The perfect spot. Heck, the perfect planet!
But something had gone terribly wrong now.
“Tell me, Chris,” he begged. “If you don’t like it… I can sell it. I just thought… hell, I didn’t think, I just went and did it…. but if you feel uneasy about it…”
Abruptly, Chris turned around and walked over to him in three long steps, taking the stammering thief into his arms.
<Don’t you dare sell our future, Ezra Standish!> he whispered fiercely.
Ezra froze, stunned beyond words. Realization seeped into his mind, just what he had really done here. What he had bought. What he had given Chris. More than a piece of land. More than a mere claim to an uncultivated wilderness on a backwater planet. More than a deed with their names on it.
<This is more than a piece of land, Ezra> Chris went on, confirming his realizations. <You gave me…. life. Hope. A future. Something to live for. My future with you. A future that extends to more than just living day after day. A future with you, Ezra P. Standish>
At the words, Ezra paled slightly. A lot of things suddenly fell into place with deadly clarity. Chris had never had a death wish, he had never tried to end his life by his own hands. But ever since his family had been taken from him, he had only existed, never really lived. Even after bonding with Ezra. Ezra had given him his soul back, but not a reason to plan for the future. The younger man had been subconsciously aware of his partner’s state-of-mind, but he had always thought it was the job. Working in the field, sometimes undercover, was dangerous and long-term plans could be annihilated within a heartbeat. Now… now Chris had been reborn.
Ezra felt the Bond come to life again, felt the inner struggle for composure Chris had gone through. He had tried to understand the gift Ezra had given him, the gift of a second chance. Their future. Together. On a backwater planet where they now owned land. Enough to stretch their legs in both their forms, literally.
There was no communication over the Bond, no words, just emotions. Chris caught the smaller man’s lips in a gentle kiss that grew deeper and more desperate until both parted, panting hard.
They made it into the bedroom, undressing each other on the way, dropping shirts and t-shirts carelessly onto the floor. Ezra pulled Chris on top of him as he sank onto the bed, kissing, nipping, licking at the throat and neck of his lover, his hands roaming over the sinewy body. Chris laid a fiery trail down Ezra’s chest, giving special attention to the sensitive spots, making him writhe and pant as he licked and teased his belly button.
No words were spoken. Nothing at all. Only the harsh breathing and the rustle of movement disturbed the silence, and then a moan. Ezra raised his hips as his lover removed his pants, continuing his mind-numbing, teasing treat down the inner thighs. The thief pushed himself up onto the pillows, giving himself some leverage to watch his lover as Chris lay between his spread legs, and Ezra gasped as Larabee finally turned his sole attention to his straining hardness.
Ezra’s hands clenched into the blankets and he bucked his hips, whimpering as Chris suddenly stopped. His hips were pushed down again and the feral expression in those well-known hazel eyes made him shiver. Chris started again, slowly, maddeningly slow, licking, kissing, sucking, but never enough to take Ezra over the edge. The thief let his head sink back against the headboard of the bed, trying to regulate his breathing, but it hitched when Chris licked along the full length, suckling, planting little kisses.
Still, no words were spoken. No pleas, no begging, but the Bond was alive with the emotional reaction of both men to the slow actions. Ezra moaned in appreciation as one wet finger traced his cleft and was slipped inside. He arched his back, raised his hips, and was again pushed down. He whimpered, receiving a devilish smile. If Chris only knew how sexy he looked like this… how maliciously tasty…. He probably did because the blond began to tease in earnest now, and Ezra closed his eyes, his head bumping back again.
Release was given after another long moment of keeping the thief at the edge, tethering, denying him the fall, but when Chris did, Ezra’s cry was more of a harsh sob. He spiraled down, breathing hard and trembling.
Chris crawled up the sweat-covered body, kissing the slick skin, and Ezra pulled him close, seeking out his mouth. They kissed leisurely, Chris laying on top of his slowly recovering lover, tasting, reassuring, asking. Their eyes met and Ezra smiled, his hands running through the blond strands, pulling Chris down into a short, sweet kiss that told him all. He wordlessly trailed a hand to Ezra’s shoulder, tracing the line of muscles, placing licks and kisses where his fingers had been. Ezra felt the hardness press against his thighs and smiled in appreciation as Chris slid sideways, getting the small tube and one of the rectangular packages out of the nightstand.
He closed his eyes, groaning as the slick hardness entered him in their sideways position. They had long since found out that it was the best position for a long, slow form of lovemaking, none too straining for either participant, and it left enough freedom for some nifty finger work. As before, Chris was in no hurry and Ezra sent his approval, wanting this to last. It was torment because of the repeated stabs of sheer bliss that raced down his spine. Chris knew his lover so well, had the Bond to guide him, that he could gauge his state of arousal quite clearly.
The rhythmic motions made him groan and slick hands traced over his skin, kneaded, teased, tickled and claimed what Ezra was so ready to give. He let his head fall back and Chris kissed his neck and throat, his ear, alternating his rhythm, gentle, harder, faster, slower, tantalizing.
Ezra didn’t know how long they lasted like that, but it was long. It was sheer pleasure to just have Chris move inside him, with him, but he felt the need rise and the Bond reflected it from Chris’s side as well. The movements stilled and he heard harsh breathing, a moan of displeasure leaving his lips, answered by a hiss from his lover. An arm snaked around his waist, pulling him to the other man, then he was rolled onto his stomach. Ezra understood, using his arms and legs to give him leverage as Chris was now fully behind him. Movement started again and he arched his back, mewling softly.
The rhythm stayed the same. Maddenly slow, sensual, deep. Ezra’s hands clawed into the blanket, ready to rip the sheets and the mattress. He screwed his eyes shut, just feeling the delicious sensation. Chris’s hands were on his hips, forestalling each thrust he made back, telling him in no uncertain but unspoken words that he wouldn’t let Ezra quicken the motions. Sweat ran over his back and a hot tongue traced up his skin, making him moan in need. His arms began to tremble.
Chris pulled him up, his chest against Ezra’s back, one arm around his waist, the other over his chest. Ezra turned his head, catching a glimpse of the sweat-soaked face of his lover, seeing the burning need he felt reflected in there. The Bond mirrored the almost painful drive for completion. Chris was unable to maintain this pace for much longer, too. He had controlled his body for long enough, biting down on his own desire to end this, but he was at the end of his rope. Kisses touched his throat, his neck, and he let his head fall onto the shoulder behind him for a moment, clenching willingly around Chris’s hardness. A gasp answered him. Then the rhythm changed, becoming faster, harder, almost desperate.
Completion was beyond his capability to describe it. Ezra couldn’t even cry out. There was a harsh sound of pleasure from behind him and his body shuddered as if in seizure, then there was only a grayish white. He didn’t black out; never had. But the state he was in could only be described as utter bliss, floating, detached, feeling only the echoes of this incredible release. After what seemed like an eternity, Ezra felt hands on him, cleaning him with a wash cloth. Someone was raking gentle fingers through his sweaty hair. He pried his eyes open and turned to look at his lover, feeling pleased as he saw the sated expression in the hazel eyes. Then he closed his lids and let himself sink into a content sleep.
* * *
Chris was the first to wake. He had watched his partner for a long time, smiling to himself, lightly tracing the brown strands that hung into his face. He remembered their silent, intense lovemaking, the way they had moved together, no words at all. It had been a celebration of life…. one heck of an anniversary at that, too.
Then he had remembered the gift. The deed. What Ezra had given him. At the time the younger man might not have understood it, but now he knew what he had given away, what he had presented Chris with.
Larabee silently left the bed, showered and then padded bare-footed into the living room, dressed in sweat pants and an old shirt. He walked over to where the deed still lay on the kitchen counter. He ruefully let his eyes wander to the stone-cold dinner. He had intended this to be special. It had turned out more than special, but not because of his cooking, he laughed to himself.
He made himself some coffee, then took the deed and sat down on one of the high chairs that stood in front of the counter. His eyes ran over the letters proclaiming that he and Ezra now owned land on a small backwater world by the registration number P14-69. The small print told him that there had to be a data chip with map included, giving the owner an overview of the new property. Chris grabbed the envelope and discovered that there was another, smaller envelope in there. He opened it and pulled out a data chip, which he quickly inserted into the projector. As the screen lit up, his eyebrows rose and his jaw dropped.
That couldn’t be right.
That was absolutely impossible.
“Hellfire,” he whispered, stunned. “Ezra…. what the blazes…..?”
How much money had his lover owned? Chris had no idea, but from the figures on the map…. He shook his head, fingers tracing over the topographical display of what was now theirs.
“You never cease to amaze me,” he sighed and sipped at his coffee. “Never.”