Holly '04: Samba de Purgatorio

Vin couldn't help but let his eyes drift over to where Ezra was perched on the stoop. The man looked as out of place as a gypsy at a royal ball, even dressed in his most casual clothes. Of course, to Ezra Standish, casual attire meant designer black jeans and a name-brand polo. Vin had had to talk him out of the tie.

Vin sighed; he knew this wasn't what Ezra had wanted for their first anniversary. The southerner had likely made big plans involving dinner at a fine restaurant, tickets to a play or gallery showing or maybe a poetry reading, and nightcaps at the Sky Lounge where two men together in a more intimate fashion wouldn't be blinked at. They could be dancing right now in the rooftop garden to the live jazz band, or just holding hands and talking at a table in the Stone Room over an exceptional Cognac and the finest chocolate truffle Denver had to offer.

Instead, they were sitting in on a block party in Purgatorio.

Vin had been approached by some of his neighbors nearly a month ago – they wanted to file for a permit to throw a midsummer party to celebrate Rosalina Degarda's ninetieth birthday. The old woman was a surrogate grandmother to just about everyone in the neighborhood, and the people who loved her wanted to shower her with affection in grand fashion. However, the city would be hesitant to hand out a permit to block off a street in one of the more questionable neighborhoods. If Vin, a federal law enforcement officer, signed on as one of the sponsors and organizers, the city activities planning commission would be more likely to grant the permit.

But it also meant that he had to attend. And the night of the planned party happened to coincide with their anniversary.

Vin had been reluctant to approach his lover about it, though he should have known Ezra wouldn't hesitate to encourage him. After a year together, the Georgia-born gentleman had gotten to know Vin's neighbors enough that he understood the importance of such an occasion to them. He'd even agreed to sign on as another sponsor, and Vin was sure he'd used his considerable influence with an acquaintance in the mayor's office to ensure the permit was approved and the necessary street officers assigned to the area to assist with maintaining a safe zone for the participants.

After all, on an average day even when a crime occurred you rarely saw more than one cop car drive through Purgatorio, and tonight they had a dozen officers of African or Latino ethnicity assigned to simply lend their presence to ensure no one decided to take advantage of the event to pursue unsavory activities.

Vin shook his head as he saw one of the girls from his building approach Ezra. Ezra was known well enough by his neighbors that most were comfortable with his being there, but most of the time they simply ignored him or gave him a cursory greeting in passing. Ezra spoke Spanish fluently but that didn't change the fact that he looked, and sounded, as white as a sheet. On the other hand, among the younger set he was liked well enough. Vin had even heard some of the teens refer to him as El Gringo Suave, and such a nickname in this neighborhood was an honor, a badge of acceptance. Vin wasn't sure that Ezra was aware, but as the `white friend of Vin Tanner' he'd been adopted as a member of the community… like a distant cousin who came to visit now and then.

Right now, that cousin was having his arm tugged by a sweet young thing of about fourteen, with her friends collected a few feet behind her. Ezra was being subjected to a Latino woman's greatest weapon – big dark eyes in a determined yet pleading gaze. Inez had been known to turn such a look on Buck from time to time to get him to do something he'd never agree to otherwise (which, considering it was Inez, was very little), and Vin had heard the girls in his building once discussing which of them was better at it. He himself had developed a thick skin to such a gaze after years of practice and determination.

Only to discover he was not immune if the gaze involved green eyes.

Yelina continued to tug on Ezra's sleeve, pouting mercilessly, until finally the auburn-haired man threw up his hands in defeat and followed her over to her friends in the center of the street. From his perch near the grills, Vin couldn't hear any of the conversation over the noise of the crowds, but he had a feeling he knew what Ezra was being roped into… and he couldn't wait to see the results.

Ezra was now surrounded by the collection of teens, mostly girls but a few boys, who were dancing to the tribal rhythms performed by the street musicians. The music was an eclectic mix of traditional African styles of the heritage of the blacks mixed with the Latin styles of the Mexicans and Puerto Ricans of the neighborhood, creating a unique and earthy sound. The dancing was equally unique, more a wild free-style gyration than any style Ezra would be likely to recognize. The teens had completely surrounded the southerner and were coaxing him to follow their movements.

Vin focused all his energy into not laughing.

It wasn't that Ezra couldn't dance. Perhaps he didn't have the same sort of talent that Vin did, but Standish had more than enough grace and flare to hold his own. However, he did much better in a standard environment; a tango or even a samba was preferable. The street dancing that the kids were doing was completely outside his experience.

And yet, he was doing it.

Vin broke into a wide grin as the kids whooped in celebration to Ezra's moves. At first awkward, he became more fluid as his confidence grew and as he realized the kids were not making fun of him, but in fact were enjoying his participation in their dance. Vin watched in appreciation as Ezra's hip swung and his arms and shoulders twitched, his feet skipped and his arms gestured.

It was enough to make a man fall in love all over again.

The dance ended and Ezra was allowed to make a semi- graceful escape from his partners amid their shouts of approval. Green eyes zeroed in on Vin and the southerner wound his way through the crowd to toss himself down on the step next to his lover.

"You could have saved me, you know."

"Nah, was too much fun seeing you trying to fight off Yelina."

"Child is going to make some man exquisitely miserable someday."


The two men sat in silence as the music changed to a softer beat and the crowd melted into pairs. Ezra stretched casually, ending in a more relaxed repose with his hand brushing Vin's ever so lightly. To a passing eye, they were just two friends enjoying the warm summer night and the festive atmosphere.

Vin passed a wistful moment wishing he could take Ezra into his arms, but they both knew better. Such displays of affection would not serve them well here. Vin may be well liked, and Ezra accepted, but homosexual relations were still better left undeclared in Purgatorio.

So they simply sat.

"Sorry about the day," Vin murmured softly.

Ezra cocked his head, angling so he could see Vin's face. A soft smile graced his lips. "What matters is that we shared the day, not how we shared it." Green eyes crinkled as Ezra's smile broadened. "Besides, we still have this evening once the soiree has drawn to a close. Perhaps you can think of something to do once our obligations are attended?"

Vin noticed the hint of leer in his lover's eyes and felt his throat constrict. Well, his whole body, actually. Every muscle, every joint, every pore just tightened at the idea of Ezra. Alone with Ezra.

"Might be able ta think'a somethin'," he croaked, his drawl deepening in his attempt to cover his lust. Ezra's smile widened and the man turned back to watching the street, his fingers brushing against Vin's thigh as he turned. The brief contact burned through Vin's jeans and into his skin like acid.

Vin took a deep controlling breath.

"Yeah, definitely gonna have ta think'a somethin," he breathed.

He grinned at the sound of Ezra's warm chuckle floating up into the evening air.