Reed '02: First Dance

Initially, I thought this would be a boring, mundane case. I mean, we usually focus on the firearm end of things. Guns, bombs, and whatnot seem like more of a threat than alcohol and tobacco. And they are usually a lot more exciting too. But ATF is supposed to deal with the other stuff. Sort of comes with the agency name and job description. Lot of money lost to the government when cigarettes aren’t taxed like they are supposed to be. And some standards in alcohol ain’t really a bad thing. Don’t want to worry about suddenly going blind drinking some backyard hooch that’s being passed off as quality stuff.

Still when A.D. Travis handed a file to us about a dance club as being a front for a dealer in illegal booze, I thought it would be a cake walk. One of those cases where we sit around twiddling our thumbs while keeping the place under surveillance from the van. I can’t imagine a more boring job. I mean, I’m a sharpshooter. A sniper. I’m observant by nature. But I prefer to do my observations with my own two eyes. Not through a camera, or by listening through a mic. I have no problem sitting still and watching, but the thought of having to be locked up in a tiny little metal box just gives me the willies.

I thought I was getting off easy when Chris decided the team would be more effective if some of us were inside the club. Course, that was before I saw Ezra dance. I licked my lips and tried to discretely adjust myself, wishing for the first time that my favorite jeans had a bit more room in them. God. I never knew he could move like that. He could shake his bon-bon better than Ricky Martin, and then move into stuff that would make Fred Astaire jealous. He was so incredibly sexy, moving with a seemingly effortless grace that reminded me of water. I felt like I could watch him for hours, ‘cept I’m supposed to be working here.

The club is one of those rare places in Denver where everyone is welcome. Straight, gay, bi…doesn’t seem to matter. Everyone shows up, and dances. Was me, Ezra, and Buck that got picked to go in, while JD and Nathan watched the front, and Chris and Josiah watched the back. None of us really figured we’d have a problem blending in given the diversity of clientele.

But, I never expected Ezra to be the one to blend in so well. A dance club just didn’t seem to be his scene. At the office, he’s always so reserved, so freaking professional, the last thing you’d expect is for him to know how to do is cut loose. I’ve seen him in enough undercover roles that I shouldn’t have been surprised. The man is damn good at undercover work, adopting personas, accents, dressing to fit the part, so that it is hard to imagine he was ever anyone but the guy he’s pretending to be. Guess I just got to thinking of the man in those fancy suits, never a hair out of place, as being the real Ezra Standish. Watching him dance, I’m thinking I don’t know him at all. And I’m really wishing I could get to know the man I’m seeing right now.

I never dreamed Ez could just let go like that. He moved on to the dance floor like he’d been born to it. He was so graceful, moving with such freedom and ease, unselfconscious, and uninhibited. There was no way he could fake that expression of enjoyment. He was flying. It was mesmerizing to watch. I caught myself staring, and wondered if I should be worried that someone would notice I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off him. Not like damn near everyone in the place wasn’t staring too.

I’m leaning against the wall, trying for casual, sipping on a beer. Buck has been talking to a few ladies, dancing now and again. Knowing Buck he wasn’t seeing anything but the women. Couldn’t for the life of me imagine how he could be standing there with his back to the dance floor, not watching Ezra. The man was just… Christ, I don’t have the words.

Next thing I know Ezra is looking at me. Those incredible, jade green eyes are staring right at me. I shivered, surprised by the invitation I was seeing there. Ez has been dancing all night long with men and women, but it was them that did the asking, never him. I wasn’t sure I was reading him right until he smiled slightly. Oh shit. He IS asking me to dance. I can’t dance. No fucking way. Not with a hard on I got just from watching him.

But he’s sashaying over to me. Pretty sure the man isn’t really walking on the ground cause there is no way he could move that way if he was. He’s got to be floating. I’m so caught up in watching him that he’s right in front of me before I know it. He’s holding out his hand, eyes warm, lips curled in a smile I’d give my right arm to be able to taste. Next thing I know, I’m putting my beer down and taking his hand.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I can do this. It’ll be okay. Most of the music they’ve been playing is fast stuff, with a heavy base. Don’t even have to touch him. Not really. That’ll be safe. Right? As long as I don’t look at him. As long as I ignore the fact that he smells really, really good. As long as I don’t notice just how nice holding his hand feels. Oh crap.

We don’t even get three steps when the music changes to a slow song. I groan. I’m not going to make it. I’m a half a second from pulling away, before I realize that there must be a dozen other people in this place that were eagerly waiting for a chance to slow dance with Ez. Well, they can just keep right on waiting. I glare at the guy who’d stepped a bit too close when he noticed me hesitating. He retreats with a speed I find gratifying. Hanging out with Chris is paying off.

On the dance floor, I hesitate again, suddenly unsure of myself. I’m not good at this sort o’ thing. Hell, I hardly ever dance, and I sure as hell have never done it with Ez. But without batting an eye, he pulls me in close. Easy as you please Ez drapes his arms around my neck, and it feels so natural to wrap my arms around his waist. He’s swaying with the music. He smiles at me, and leans in to whisper in my ear. “Relax, Vin. Just follow my lead.”

I close my eyes, trying to ignore how much I like hearing my name said with that honey soft drawl, how good it feels to have him use my first name and not my last. Unconsciously, I pull him closer, and I’m caught between being relieved that he comes willingly, and terrified that he did. The warm, soft chuckle I hear makes my spine tingle. Should have figured he could read me as easily as he reads everyone else.

He massages my neck lightly for a moment, and it is surprisingly easy to follow his lead. I’d follow the man anywhere if he kept doing that. The two of us are moving together like we’ve been doing it for years. Ezra lays his head on my shoulder, and I can’t resist the temptation to nuzzle his hair. Those baby soft curls feel almost as good as having him in my arms.

With my eyes closed, I can pretend we are doing this somewhere private instead of in the middle of a crowded club, that I have him all to myself, that we could do more than just dance if we wanted to. I find myself hoping that the song doesn’t end. I could stay like this forever. It just feels so right. A barely audible sigh from Ezra, and I know he’s thinking the same thing.

But the song does end, and we got a job to do. So, I force myself to let go. Ezra doesn’t look any happier about it than I do.

“Didn’t know you danced.” It’s a stupid thing to say, but it the first thing that slipped out.

Ezra’s eyes sparkle with humor, and something deeper I can’t read. “There is a lot about me you don’t know.”

Hard to argue that point. “Like to change that.” I try to make that as sincere as I can. I want him to believe me. I want to dance with him again. Want a chance to have more, to get to know the real Ezra Standish.

His gaze shifts, and he steps away from me. Before my ego gets all bent out of shape I catch a glimpse of Buck. Figure Ezra saw him too. The fact that we are supposed to be working here all but slaps me in face. Reading Ezra’s body language he remembered that too. We share a look, and I know he’s just as sorry as I am that we aren’t free to just keep doing what we were doing.

“Perhaps we might continue this later?” The hopeful note in his question made me catch my breath. “In a more…private setting?”

I smile. “I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.”