Title: After the Storm
Pairing/Characters: Ezra/Buck, ATF
Warnings: Nothing major.
Summary: Chris reflects on the path his life has taken.
Notes: Written for Cowboy Dreams Elder Challenge 03, offered by Katherine: The "living together" challenge. Write a story involving any couple of your choosing that involves them dealing with living together.
Chris Larabee stared out at the snow-blown world, admiring the way the moonlight sparkled over the endless freshly laid layers of white that coated everything. The storm had come as predicted and buried all of the Denver area under over a foot of snow in the last two days, and now that it had finally stopped it would be at least another two days before the digging-out process would be complete.
The amazing peacefulness of the moment nearly overwhelmed Chris. Four years ago he would have never believed he might know this kind of peace again - the kind where everything is simple and perfect and beautiful - even if just for a moment. He smiled as his eyes found the buried shape of Vin's vehicle in the driveway, a five-month-old Jeep Liberty they'd finally convinced him to buy to replace his ancient Wrangler after it had begun having repeated problems with failing parts.
Chris had never said anything, but he highly suspected that Ezra might have had something to do with those failures - failures which would cause the old girl not to start rather than having problems during driving itself. Considering the failures began happening with regularity after Vin had been stranded out on the highway during an electrical storm that had disrupted cell phone use and left his partners frantically unaware of his whereabouts for six hours… And then Standish's convenient sudden knowledge of all the new features on the most recent models of vehicles he himself would never be caught driving in a million years… the constant need to run errands at that little boutique just across the street from the dealership every time he had Vin in the car - errands that always left Vin 'a little time to window shop if he should perchance rather pass the time in such a manner'…
Chris had to wonder how many unnecessary shirts, ties, and suits had been purchased in the committing of the Great Tanner Car Con.
But eventually Vin had grown tired of the car troubles and being reliant upon his teammates' good will to act as chauffeurs, and the lure of the siren song played by the Jeep dealership had been too much to resist. Ezra and Chris had been thrilled when they'd followed him home in his brand new, fully optioned Liberty 4WD with tinted windows, custom leather interior, remote security and ignition, and fully tweaked sound system.
Chris glanced at the slowly brightening sky, which seemed so much clearer now that the storm had passed. Like his life, he thought. The loss of his beautiful Sarah and vivacious son had brought a blizzard to his world he'd thought would never end. All the rage and fury had left in snow-blind to any thought of happiness in a way that had convinced him he would never see the sun again. Even if he had, he would never have pictured it playing house with two decidedly contrary men.
He never imagined having his morning coffee while arguing about movies with a Texan who was flicking his toast crumbs into another man's Eggs Benedict, or watching them argue about whether football or baseball was the better sport. Or watching them sleep, curled around each other after making love to him in a way both enthusiastic and energetic and yet sweet and tender, knowing that the minute he lay down with them he would be pulled in and accepted without a word.
He never pictured himself being read Charles Dickens while mucking out the horse stalls on a spring afternoon, or finally learning to play chess using Hershey kisses skewered with toothpicks to denote piece rank because he'd announced at two in the morning that he didn't know how, and his lover insisted they would not wait another minute for the first lesson. He hadn't thought he'd ever enjoy just sitting on the porch listening to the tuneless playing of an harmonica while tightening his grip around the sleeping man in his arms.
He couldn't have imagined ever learning there was more than one wash cycle (Sarah had never convinced him of it) because the man he loved insisted his underwear be washed as 'delicates'… and that just because something *says* machine washable doesn't mean it should be. He never had an inkling that he would thrill to see blue eyes watching him cooking dinner with the eager anticipation of a child at Christmas. Or that he'd make room in his cupboards for both Ramen noodles and gourmet capers, or in his refrigerator for canned frosting (good with graham crackers) and pickled herring in white wine sauce (good with wheat crackers). Or that at Thanksgiving he would voluntarily make two kinds of sweet potatoes (which he detested) because Ezra liked his baked with a sprinkling of cinnamon and rum-butter while Vin liked his casseroled with marshmallows, brown sugar and lots of margarine.
That his freezer would ever contain the likes of Wildberry Supreme Tofutti.
He couldn't believe that he would voluntarily allow himself to be dragged to every chic-chic men's store in Denver looking for the absolutely perfectly overpriced suit to wear to witness the marriage of a certain woman to one Mister Percival Aristotle Rutherford de Bloise (the fourth, thank you very much). A marriage, mind you, that her own son was laying odds would last only about eight months at the outside. Or that he would feel sorry for, rather than envy, his Dallas-born lover whom Maude had requested not attend - not because of the homosexual aspect, or even because of the trio aspect, but rather because the de Bloise family were diehard Houston Oilers fans and would certainly not take the presence a Cowboys fan well.
That he, the man his adoring late wife had declared the most Vanilla Sex Man on earth, would spend time trying to learn the difference between types of flavored lubes, condom variations, and what exactly CAN be done with the various food groups in the bedroom.
He never pictured himself turning into Super Mom simply because one of his lovers developed the sniffles, or that he would know again the warm love of having them fuss over him because he sneezed.
He watched a tree bending under the weight of all the new snow and smiled. He was that tree now. Once, alone and free but buffeted and abused by even the slightest winds; now laden with the burdens of love but at the same time still and peaceful and full of wonder at the beauty of it all. It was a perfect feeling.
He turned to see Vin standing in the doorway, hair tousled from sleep, eyes puffy and crinkled with a slight hint of concern.
"Just admiring the view now that the storm's over."
Vin nodded and moved to stand behind him, resting his chin on Chris' shoulder. "Awful purty like this, ain't it? Before the plows come through and mess it all up, and the dirt starts settling down on it. Just as pure as can be, the way God intended."
They stood a moment, both staring out the window, Vin's arms snaking around Chris' waist to pull their boxers and tee-shirts against each other. They'd long passed the honeymoon phase of making love every night, and now as often as not just piled into bed together to sleep. It was comfortable, almost romantic in an old-married-people sort of way.
It suited Chris just fine.
"Come back to bed," Vin whispered. "Ezra's cold."
Chris snorted lightly. Ezra had a three hundred dollar, state-of-the-art thermal electric blanket with dual heat controls that were set to at least seven the minute an autumn nip even hinted of touching the air. The last thing the man would ever be, barring an electrical outage, was cold. But Chris knew 'cold' wasn't what Vin really meant, and he smiled.
"Alright," he said, and allowed himself to by guided back to the bedroom. He slipped between the sheets into waiting arms, feeling Vin curl up behind him. He nestled Ezra's head into his shoulder while Vin tucked behind his neck. He listened as two sets of breath evened out into slumber for a few more hours.
Taking a deep breath of his own before he allowed himself to drift, he said a silent prayer of thanks for allowing him to see the other side of the storm.