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Straight and Narrow

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"It was good seeing you again after so long," June said, her voice drifting through the open door of the sitting room.

"And you, ma'am," a man replied.

Neal sat up straight in the leather upholstered armchair he'd been lounging in at the sound of that voice, head snapping around to the entry, seeing June and…it couldn't be. Could it?

June continued, "Tell your mother not to be a stranger; it's been far too long."

"I shall." Neal couldn't see his face, but those two words were full of the grin that Neal knew was there.

"And now, I'll leave you to your reunion." June glanced over at Neal with a warm smile.

Taking her hand, the man raised it to his lips and she laughed delightedly, like a girl of sixteen. "You are your father's son, dear boy." With that, she patted him softly on the cheek before walking away.

"You know each other?" Neal asked, dumbfounded, as June's visitor strode into the room.

"Friend of the family when I was a boy."

"What sort of family?" Neal said half under his breath, knowing the sort of business June's husband had been in.

His only reply was the flash of a smile with a glint of gold.

"Why are you here, Ezra?" Neal finally asked.

"Checking up on you, my dear young cousin, of course." He sat down opposite Neal, stretching out his legs. "Four months. Four months, Neal! And you stage a prison break?" Ezra looked disgusted.

"It wasn't like that," he found himself protesting. Neal had idolized his older cousin as a child, and needed him to understand. "There was a girl, Kate...."

"There always is," he interrupted dryly. Ezra waved away the younger man's protests. "It is immaterial now, Neal. You've made your proverbial bed," he fixed his gaze on the ankle bracelet Neal wore, "and now you have to lie in it."

Neal looked at his cousin slyly. "You wouldn't be able to…," he waved a hand at the offending tracking mechanism, "deal with this, would you?"

Ezra gave him a stern look. "We're going to pretend you didn't just ask that."

"Fine! How could I forget, you're Mr. Straight and Narrow these days." He realized he was pouting. He hadn't pouted in, well…. "I'm sure Aunt Maude is very proud," he muttered.

Leaning forward, hands on his knees, Ezra raised a brow. "Firstly, there's no cause to be insulting. My chosen profession in no way implies a lack of joie de vivre in my life. And secondly, I have no intention of discussing Mother with you; terrible for my digestion," he finished wryly.

Neal threw back his head and laughed. Then he shook his head, saying, "It's good to see you again, Ezra."

Ezra smiled lazily, smoothing down one crisply pressed pant leg. "And you, Neal." Standing, he said, "Speaking of digestion, might there be an establishment within a two mile radius that won't be injurious to our health should we choose to dine there?"

"I know just the place!" Neal leapt to his feet. "Sal's; you're gonna love it!"

"Sal's? Ezra repeated doubtfully.

"Would I lie to you?" At Ezra's smirk, he amended, "Wait, don't answer that."

End