The Reign Of The Sun King
Disclaimer: I don't own them, or the show they rode in on. I wrote this for fun, and no profit is made from it.
Archive: Starwinder's, You Want Fries With That?, and The All-Ezra FanFic Archive --- all others, please ask.
Summary: Ezra departs for other climes, despairing.
Warnings: French spoken.
Author's Note: Winner of 2003 Gold Ezzie for Old West Slash Fiction - short category.
Completed: 5 April 2003
Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org welcomes comments
The white wine had a slightly sour taste and seemed to dry his mouth as he unconsciously licked his lips again. Soft green eyes lowered to the red checked cloth and clouded. Spring in Paris was supposed to lift your feelings, lighten your heart. He pushed at the glass stem, trying to move the delicate container in a small circle, but the dark green base of the wine glass had dampened the cotton beneath it and stubbornly refused to glide across the fabric. With a convulsive movement, Ezra's hand that had so carefully fingered the stem, suddenly snapped the strand of glass in two. He stared in consternation as green glass mixed with red blood, as wine and his own essence both poured over the already badly used table cover.
"Mon Dieu!" The waiter's efficient movements removed the broken glassware, mopped at the damp spots on the cloth, and left an oversized white linen napkin wrapped loosely around Ezra's shaking hand. With a Gallic shrug, the man bundled up the ruined tablecloth and returned to whisk a second, fresh one onto the small round table. Standish leaned back in his wire chair, silent. He held one hand with the other, ignoring the sharp pain, ignoring the looks of the other patrons. Lovers from the looks of them, young couples entwined at the other tables, tableaux vivant. Paris is for lovers. His mother had told him that countless times when she schemed and dreamed of travel abroad, certain she could snare a suitable husband on the broad thoroughfares and shaded cafes of the cosmopolitan heart of France.
He wasn't sure why he was here. At this café. In Paris. In France, for that matter. It had seemed like a good idea once. He gripped his slashed hand tighter as red stains began to appear on the napkin. The waiter had returned with a new wine glass and a bottle, murmuring something about compliments of the management, his Left Bank dialect nearly smothering the words. Ezra didn't react. It had been his own fault but it wasn't important. He closed his eyes, shutting out the damp street, rain blackened paving stones slick and shiny, the clatter of passing carriages, the snick-clop of horses' shoed hooves and the snap of drivers' riding whips. The oversized mushrooming umbrellas and sagging canvas awnings looked dull gray-white in the stormy afternoon light.
The soft sounds of conversations around him returned after the short, shocked lull brought on by his strange accident. No accident. He'd merely let his body express his current dilemma. He'd fled that dusty town, those six honest men. That one impossible man. He just couldn't face another day, another diatribe. He'd wanted to stay, dreamed of staying. Dreamed of more. Nervously now, he dragged his elegantly booted feet back beneath his small bistro chair, dropping his clutched hands into his lap, out of sight of the other customers. Not that they were looking now. He opened his eyes and stared bleakly around. No. They were all too engrossed with their own companions, their own lovers. His? He had none today.
Last night he had tried. Found a rather handsome and willing gentleman. But in the end, he'd kicked said fellow out of his hotel suite. Tout de suite! Not even the blond hair and hazel eyes had been enough. The smell was wrong, the aura hadn't that glower, that fierceness that he'd somehow conversely come to treasure.
Ezra released his throbbing hand and wrapped his uninjured one around his lapels, drawing them together, the thin fabric of his fashionable sitting room jacket no match for a chill April day in the open air of Paris. The other customers huddled in heavy woolen or leather coats, fur trims framing sleek dark female bone structures as mufflers pulled thickly around their companions' shadowed jaws. This was not the type of street café that catered to the wealthy, the upper class. He'd wandered among those enough. Even though Maude's latest husband was happy to introduce Ezra directly into the highest circles, Standish found himself edging away. Regretting his decision to flee so very far from that dusty hamlet. Those six brave men. That one sullen soul.
The chink of sound should have warned him. He continued to stare blankly out at the street. The scrape of one of the metal chairs dragging on the paving, so close by, should have alerted him. He dropped his gaze to the table and his new glass of wine. Decided he might as well drink the damn stuff. He released his flimsy jacket collars and reached out, ignoring the bloody look of his hand. The red streaks seemed fitting. Like his heart.
"Damn. What the hell did you do to yourself now?" The gruff words were followed by blunt square hands that appeared from his left, capturing his seeking hand, pulling it to the side. To be examined with care by squinting hazel eyes.
He turned to study the suntanned face, heavy with a frown. Tilting his head at this illusion, concerned that his desire had finally manifested its object of devotion. Insanity must breed on Parisian boulevards. That and lovers. He leaned in to inhale deeply. Leather and gun oil. Brandy, not whiskey. But then, this was France, after all. Chris.
"Where'd this blood come from?" His gaze fell to where those two warm hands held his uninjured but stained one. The sight struck him speechless.
"Ezra?" And his hand was released, placed gently on the table top to rest amongst the red checks. The red hand. "Ezra!" More sharply now, then, "Aw, shit." And the hands came up as he stared in fascination. They touched him, touched his face, turning him further until he was blinking into those mesmerizing hazel depths. "Ezra, where did the blood come from?" asked patiently this time.
Silently, Ezra raised his other hand from where it had continued to be, on his lap. He lifted the hand up into the air between them, the napkin soggy now with blood. "Oh." The hands left his face and caught his damaged hand.
Then they were walking. Faster than was polite for this wide boulevard, but they evidently had places to go. The thin figure at his side, wrapped in black duster and dark gray muffler, seemed more suited for this place than he did. The sound of those spurs seemed like sweet music, chiming the beats of his heart as he tried to understand. Then they were entering his hotel. HIS very own hotel. Nodding to the hotelier, Ezra sighed at the warmth of the lobby, a fire crackly and bright in the grate on the far side of the small entry. He was prodded and pushed up the stairs, no objection from the uniformed porter at the desk.
A key was produced. His key. But no, he had his key on his person. He watched bemused as competent hands flipped the mysterious key into his door's lock and then they were walking into the first room. He could afford the suite. He wasn't paying for it, Gerard was, Maude's husband, but he could have if he'd chosen to. It had been pointless to argue then. It seemed pointless now. He was led to an austere wingback chair that flanked the cold fireplace of the sitting room. Then Chris was removing Ezra's damp, thin coat and cravat, loosening the nearly sheer silk shirt beneath. Ezra shivered as those fingers slid beneath the shirt and gently shoved back, slipping the shirt from his shoulders.
It had been several months now. Six. Actually, it had been six months, two weeks, three days, and approximately seven hours since he'd last seen Chris. Larabee had been sitting with Vin in the back of the saloon. They'd been chuckling over something Tanner had said. Ezra knew it was Vin that had made the remark because he'd been covertly watching the two men. Watching. He'd spent the better part of every waking day, every opportunity that presented itself, watching. Chris. No one had noticed of course. He was much too talented to allow that.
Dry lips pressed against his forehead and then his head, damp hair and all, was pulled forward by a strong hand behind his neck. He ended up leaning against a washboard hard abdomen, his cheek pressed into the wide belt buckle at Chris' waist. And hands were smoothly shoving his shirt down off his back and arms and he was naked from the waist up, naked and shivery. "Chris?"
Instantly he was released and then his shoulders were held by those wonderfully strong hands and Chris Larabee was squatting in front of him, staring intently into his eyes. "Yeah, Ezra, it's me."
"Hush." Chris' hands rubbed down Ezra's shoulders, down his arms, down, down, finally reaching his hands. Both were tugged up to be evenly kissed while hazel eyes never left green ones. "'pears like you need a bit of lookin' after, Ezra."
Ezra's eyes were drawn to his hands, seeing the dark stains, the thinness of them, the now ragged looking attempt at a bandage. He lowered his eyes.
A thump brought them up enough to see Chris down on one knee now, releasing the uninjured hand to Ezra's nearest bent knee. The torn hand was carefully cradled and unwrapped. Larabee hissed and Ezra started and tried to pull back. "No you don't." One hand snaked out to clamp down on a thin wrist. "Shit, Ezra, you aren't but skin and bones." The hand didn't free him, though, simply held on firmly, but gently while the second one cautiously coaxed Ezra's still bleeding hand open.
"Not too bad, just bleeding a lot." A bandana appeared and was pressed hard on the wound, a long gash across the palm. "Now we just wait." With a shift, Chris managed to get closer and twist so that one shoulder touched Ezra's.
Ezra swallowed. "Missed you too. Very much."
"Then why'd you run out?"
"I left. I didn't run out, simply departed. My commitment was finished. I wrote and explained all that."
"All that. Yeah, all that." Chris shook his head and then dropped it onto Ezra's shoulder, his loose blond hair tickling Ezra's skin, making his heart palpitate unevenly for a moment. "Ezra, you left me."
"You?" Ezra tried, he really did. "There was no 'you' to leave." He lifted his head and stared at the gilded mirror on the far wall. "I left a preposterous township and the simple folk therein."
"You callin' me simple?"
Ezra closed his eyes and remained silent.
"Guess you are." The rumbling voice puffed warm, moist air against Ezra's throat. He desperately wanted to bolt from this room, this strange Christopher Larabee. Who somehow had appeared in Paris, France.
"You, dear sir, are a hallucination. A mirage. A dream."
"Dream? Have you been dreaming of me, Ezra?" The dry lips seemed feathery against his skin, cording the muscles in his neck.
"Ezra." Hard, rough planes rubbed up his neck and jaw, lay against his cheek. "I missed you. Finally knew why I wasn't gonna ever sleep until I saw you again."
"You couldn't sleep?" Ezra studied the coffered ceiling, all patterned gilt and gesso, pressed fleur-de-lys, reflected in the gold-veined mirror's surface. "I can't sleep. Couldn't sleep there, can't sleep here."
"I think we both could-" Those dry lips began to nibble at his and his sight of the mirror was blocked by serious hazel eyes, "-together."
Ezra finally believed. Believed in lovers, in Paris, in France, in the French. In love. April in Paris had brought him rain and Chris. Inexplicable but true. He turned and slid off the chair onto the carpeted flooring beneath Chris. Smiled up at his startled friend. Wriggled his hand free and brought both arms up to encircle and pull down the man kneeling above him now. With a soft grunt, Chris sunk down on top of him. "I'm too heavy for you."
"I need to feel you."
Crinkles of smile lines folded around those dear hazel eyes and the man settled carefully half atop him, half to the side.
Chris let his weight shift away from the thin man beneath him. "Ezra, you are a mighty contrary mule sometimes."
Chris smiled, a happy teasing look replacing the earnest, worried look of before. He didn't answer directly. He licked at his sweetheart's equally smiling lips, glad to see the solemn and bleak look gone from those so very bright, green eyes. "Ezra, took me a spell to work it out. Took you leaving." He lowered his head so that he could rest his face against the smooth skin of his love. "Even then, when you left, I didn't understand, not for a while."
"What changed?" Ezra's hands began to comb through the strands of golden brown hair.
"Started having the strangest dreams. About you. And me." Chris forced his arms under Ezra's back so that he could hug him closer still. "Felt so right. That's when I knew." He managed a kiss and nip on Ezra's nose. Smiled at the soft snort. "Had to listen to my dream self, had to wake up and then I knew. Knew it was you all along." He touched his lips to Ezra's, lightly, softly. Whispered, "So I came to find you, make you mine."
The slow, deep kiss that followed silenced Ezra. He lay there in his new lover's arms and smiled at the golden ceiling. It rains no more. I have the sun in my arms. I am the sun king. Je t'adore, mon amour. Ah, April in Paris.
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