Something to Believe In
Disclaimers: Not mine. Used without permission. Making no money from this.
This is set in the ATF AU created by Mog.
"Do you really think he'll want you after this?"
The whisper is insidious. Slick and oily it slides into Ezra's brain, spreading its inky poison, saturating his thoughts. Leaving the bleak stain of despair and the acrid taint of hopelessness to mark its path. The voice is right. He is right. Chris will never want him again. He is fouled beyond redemption. Soiled beyond all salvation.
The man is large and hard inside him. His passage is slick with blood but it does nothing to ease the pain as each thrust tears into him. He tries to hide within his mind, to separate himself from the punishing agony flaring deep within him, but the whispers won't let him. They tether him to this reality, denying him any measure of solace.
When it is over he is left crumpled on the ground. Cramps sear his body but the voice is gone. Nothing is left to keep him there so he retreats, hiding behind a wall of blankness in his mind. Running from the fear and shame that chokes him, that convinces him there is no other option.
"How's he doing?"
Vin's soft-spoken query rouses Chris from the daze he has fallen into. His face is grey with exhaustion, lines of worry carved into his skin. He raises eyes sunken from days of sleeplessness and replies with a deadened voice. "No change."
The answer is short and to the point. There is nothing more to be said, not till Ezra awakens, not till someone explains what the hell has happened to the man he loves.
He feels Vin walk across the room to stand next to him, but Chris never moves his gaze from the pale, bruised figure lying silent and still in the bed in front of him. The picture is all wrong. Ezra never sleeps flat on his back with straightened limbs. He sprawls, half on his side, half on his stomach, an arm and a leg draped over Chris's own body, his face tucked into Chris's neck.
Chris hates this. Hates every goddamn wrong thing about it. Ezra shouldn't be lying here. Shouldn't be bruised and bloody. Shouldn't be in the fucking hospital at all. Ezra should be at his ranch. Laughing at the antics of the new yearling, sun glinting off the red highlights in his hair, eyes warm with pleasure. No, Ezra shouldn't be here at all.
"I'm taking him out of here." Chris's statement is abrupt, slicing into the uncomfortable silence of the room.
"What? Chris, you can't."
"Can't I?" He growls his response, daring Vin or anyone else to challenge him. "I have power of attorney over his medical decisions which includes the right to refuse treatment on his behalf. Look at him, Vin. Go on. Look. He's not getting any better. The doctors don't know why he's not responding. You think I haven't heard them muttering about transferring him to the psych ward?"
"Chris..." Vin is hesitant, as though he is afraid to say what he thinks must be said. "Maybe the doctors are right."
"No!" Chris roars his answer, Vin's comment finally drawing his attention away from the bed to focus on the man standing at his side. "No one is moving Ezra anywhere but me. No one." The menace is clear in his statement, the harshness usually reserved for enemies turned on his best friend. "No one, Vin."
Arrangements are made quickly. Chris has no patience to deal with anything less and his grim visage is enough to keep even the most hardy of the staff from gainsaying him. The rest of the team is keeping their peace. Chris isn't sure why but he cares not at all. They aren't trying to stop him, which is all that matters. And Ezra. Ezra matters.
It had taken years for the cagey southerner to manipulate his way through Chris's defenses, but he had. Ezra is his, and Chris Larabee never gives up what belongs to him. Never.
The muted sounds of crickets and the rustle of the wind through the trees soften the quiet of the ranch. The others have gone to bed, seeking their rest in the hopes that dawn will bring some change. Chris has almost no hope left. It has been days since they found Ezra chained and tied like an animal. Left in a small room that stank of urine and other scents that Chris doesn't want to contemplate. The physical damage has been repaired but Ezra remains non-responsive. Not moving or speaking despite Chris's and the doctors' best efforts.
Chris looks at Ezra lying in their bed. The sight that greets him still isn't right. Chris stands and methodically removes his clothing before sliding under the covers. Moving slowly, he gently turns Ezra till he is lying sprawled across Chris's own body. Wrapping an arm tenderly around his lover, Chris nuzzles against the top of Ezra's head, allowing the fresh scent of recently washed hair to soothe him.
He'd bathed Ezra before resting him carefully in the bed, wanting to remove the antiseptic smell of the hospital from his lover's body. Ezra hates the scent of hospitals, it reminds him of too many nights spent alone and hurting with no one to care, no one to visit. Chris has changed that. He's made sure that Ezra knows he is cared about, wanted, loved. He can only hope that somehow, someway Ezra will remember and come back to him.
Cradling the limp body, Chris pulls his lover tight against his flesh and rocks gently, murmuring words of love and devotion that only two other people have ever heard. Tears slip unhindered from his eyes as he prays to a God he no longer believes in. He can't lose Ezra too.
A soft crooning worms its way into Ezra's hiding place. Succeeding where the earlier shouting and loud demands had failed. It pulls him away from the abyss he has created. The gentle noise is joined by a familiar warmth and a scent that whispers of home and safety. Ezra feels himself mentally unfurling from the tight ball he'd curled into. He allows the new intrusions to lull him, to smooth over the worst of the damage to his wounded mind. As the ragged edges are healed, Ezra finds himself standing within his own mind, staring at a blank wall.
He'd built that wall, creating a refuge where the pain couldn't reach him. But the voice and the warmth and that beloved scent beckon him. Reassure him that the monsters are gone, that it might be safe to venture forth once again. Soft trails of wetness slide across his skin. The silky, sorrowful feel of tears making its way through the small niche carved by the earlier sensations.
Someone is crying.
Chris is crying.
With a last longing look at the comforting darkness surrounding him, Ezra moves away from the peace and solace of his solitude and back into his life.
A soft sigh and a minute stirring draw Chris's attention. Shifting slightly, he lowers his head till he is directly facing Ezra.
The word is a bare susurration of sound. Afraid to hope, afraid to dream, Chris watches as green eyes blink tiredly before remaining open to lock upon his own.
This time the word holds all of Chris's gratitude, all his relief. Dipping his face downward he touches Ezra's lips with his own. Capturing Ezra's whisper of "Chris" against his skin. A bare ghosting of sensation that fills Chris with more love and thanksgiving than he has ever known.
Tightening his arms, Chris slides one callused palm up to cradle Ezra's face and rests his forehead against his beloved's. Sharing breaths, they lie wordlessly, content to simply be. Sleep steals silently upon them, seducing them into its depths. The lovers hesitate for a moment, just long enough to murmur quiet words of affection, before they succumb to the lure of slumber. The softly uttered sounds of love following them into their dreams and granting them peaceful rest.