Alder '05: Mornings

Early morning

The cacophony of sound boomed through the room precisely at seven a.m., causing the lone occupant to shoot out of bed and land on the hardwood floor, bringing the bedclothes along for the ride.

A hand groped its way out from the huddled mess and knocked the alarm off the nightstand with a curse, but the sound of trumpets blaring continued at a deafening decibel. A quick yank pulled the alarm's cord out of the wall socket to no avail.

A few seconds of earnest fighting and cursing with sheets ensued, and eventually a pissed off, disheveled, wild eyed, chestnut-haired man emerged from the tangled sheet. Suddenly, the loud noise stopped just as mysteriously as it began, and relief filled the man's countenance at the silence.

Glancing around groggily, he realized he was in Chris Larabee's loft guest bedroom at the townhouse, and before the siren call of sleep sang to him, he briefly wondered how he got there, when did he get there and where was his partner Vin Tanner. The question left his mind and instantly he was sinking back down onto the bed. He pulled the rumpled blankets over his face and was back to sleep in seconds.

"Ezra, Ezra, Ezra," Vin and Chris's voices sing-songed through the large open-aired area. "Ezra. Oh, Ezra."

There was no answer, just the sound of a pillow being pulled over a head, followed by a soft snore.

"EZRA! GET UP!" Josiah and Nathan's booming voices filled the cavernous space and bounced off the walls. A window rattling, wailing alarm followed the voices.

"Fucking hell!" Ezra yelled, instantly wishing he hadn't when his head exploded in pain. Once again, he shot up out of the bed in the opposite direction. On his way back down to the floor, he hit his bursting head on the nightstand and landed bare-assed on the cold hardwood floor and his sword, but he didn't know that at the time. Mercifully, the knock to his head brought peace in the form of instant death -- Murphy's Law and all conspiring so that he hit his head in just the right place, you understand. On the nightstand above, a half-empty bottle of sixty-five year old imported scotch teetered precariously back and forth. The wobbling bottle finally gave into the effects of gravity and fell over, dumping its contents on the man below.

Sadly, it was not to last. Fate, in her ever helpful spin, conspired against him and all too soon, Ezra was coming back to the world of the living. In short order he noticed something cold and wet against his skin. The distinct odor left no question as to what the mess was.

With his head still in a fog, while regenerating brains cells finished their job, he reached down to rub a part of his anatomy that seemed to be causing him immense pain. When his hand moved over the sticky flesh, he briefly remembered once telling Mary that immortals shouldn't sleep in the nude, and he wondered why he was. Which led to his wondering if the stickiness he was feeling was blood? Then all rational -- or in this case semi-rational -- thought left his mind when the piercing wail finally penetrated his brain, urging him up.

Once again a fight commenced with the dreaded, now wet sheet. The glorious sound of ripping material produced a winner. "That'll serve his ass right," Ezra muttered outloud, but wasn't surprised to not be able to hear himself over the god-awful racket that was assailing the empty room.

With his head sticking out of the hole in Larabee's expensive cotton sheets, Ezra was finally able to put his hands over his ears. It did little to muffle out the sound of wailing sirens, but it made him feel better while he desperately searched the room for the source of the sound.

When the red light on the stereo finally came into his line of sight, he stalked -- because at this point merely walking did not provoke the same menacing tone he wished to convey -- over to the wall unit, and jabbed -- same thing, merely touching wouldn't do it -- the power button. Silence filled the loft immediately.

"About damn time," he groused, softer this time, and made his way back over to the bed. He sat on the edge, staring mournfully at the expensive bottle of scotch lying on its side. "What a waste. Sorry old friend."

He shook his head sadly, rolled over, rubbed his sore ass and muttered an oath about getting even with six specific men. Just when he was starting to drift back into sleep, a new noise started.

~Whoop, Whoop~ "Unhuhuh, Ezra, get up, get up, unhuhuh!" ~Whoop, Whoop~ "Unhuhuh, Ezra, get up, getup, unhuhuh!" ~Whoop, whoop~... Six voices, loud and overlapping, split the silence.

Because there was no way this could really be happening, Ezra chose to believe it was a dream. After all, the fates wouldn't conspire with Larabee, of all people, to do this to him. A few agonizing seconds of self-delusion passed before he realized that the noise wasn't going to stop on its own. He scrambled out of bed and grabbed up his sword -- conveniently still lying on the floor, within arm reach.

He marched over to the stereo and glared at the red power light. Ezra raised the sword above his head and swung it down into the middle of the unit. Again and again he hacked at it, maniacal laughter spilling out with a shout of welcome as he embraced the wild man he'd been a few thousand years earlier. Sparks shot out, showering the floor while pieces of metal and plastic began flying, and still the noise continued. It took a few better-aimed whacks, and a blessed nothingness finally graced the loft.

Breathing heavily, he stepped back and rotated his now sore and possibly torn rotator cuff, the one holding his sword, while surveying the damage. The stereo, its components and the wall unit lay at his feet in ruins. Running a careful eye down the blade of his sword, he saw it was going to take some serious time to resharpen the blade, but the satisfaction coursing through his body would more than make up for any lost time.

"Smart, Larabee, but not smart enough." Ezra smiled at the imperious sound of his own voice, and giving the ruined mess one of his best smirks, Ezra spun on his heel and headed back toward the bed. The jangle of the phone interrupted his goal and he was afraid he was beginning to see a definite pattern emerging.

Changing directions to answer the phone, he headed downstairs and made it in one piece, only to have the trailing sheet he was still wearing catch the end of the living room coffee table, and tripp him. He crashed down onto the low-lying wooden coffee table and felt it shatter.

The phone continued to shrill somewhere under the splintered mess Ezra found himself sitting in. One particular nasty piece of wood had lodged itself just under his kneecap, causing excruciating pain and pissed him off to no end. He pulled out the piece of wood with a grimace and picked the ringing phone up from its bed of splinters.

"What!" Ezra barked into the phone, secretly hoping it was one of those god-awful telemarketing type people. He especially hoped it was the kind that always wanted you to spend hundreds of dollars on a case of pens that had your name on them. Like he'd want to pass his name around. And if it was a said telemarketing snake on the phone, he wouldn't feel bad yelling obscene things at it; not that he would feel bad if it wasn't, but he'd feel better if it was.

"Snow White awakens. Have a good night?" No such luck on the snake part, it was only Larabee with his loud, and sometimes obnoxious, laughter filling the phone. Not for the first time Ezra likened Chris' laughter to that of a braying ass. Instead of replying, he grunted and Larabee's laugh sounded again.

"I'm glad you managed to get up." Ezra could hear the smile in Chris' voice, and he didn't like it. The man was entirely too pleased with himself.

"What time is it?" Ezra asked, rubbing a hand over his face. "Seven in the morning." Ezra could hear Vin chortling in the background, as he let out a blistering curse at the ungodly hour.

"Take me off the speaker phone."

"No such luck, pard," Vin said. "Eh tu, Vin?" Ezra didn't so much ask as snarl at his lover.

"'fraid so, Ez," Tanner answered with a laugh.

"Damn good thing we had JD fiddle with that alarm, huh buddy?" Buck asked.

Ezra recalled Chris' stereo mess littering the floor upstairs and smiled. "Yes, most smart of our resident boy genius. I am surprised to not hear him crowing in victory this morning."

"The boy ain't here. Probably still sleeping," Buck said and then chuckled. "Josiah's working on that right now, since we didn't think to have him rig up another alarm clock like yours."

Ezra's smile lingered during Buck's conversation, remembering how good it felt to slay that particular dragon, and then faded when he realized still had some missing pieces in his memory. "Um, Chris? Just exactly how did I end up in you place?"

"Don't remember, eh?"

"Would I have asked if I did?" Ezra closed his eyes and sighed at Chris' asinine question.

"You do remember that you promised to give the beginner's brief this morning, don't you?" Vin asked.

"Beginners," Ezra said the word softly, testing it for recognition. "What beginners?" He barely kept himself from whining out loud. Chris would never let him live that down. "Today?"

"Yes, Ezra, today," Chris said matter-of-factly. "It was last night at Nathan's..."

Ezra desperately tried to fill in the blanks that followed as Chris' voice tapered off, but he couldn't.

"The poker game and wager...?"

Ezra rubbed his sore knee again. "Uh...maybe?"

Chris finally continued after a long pause, "You lost and to cover your wager you promised to handle the beginner's class today for Vin and me at the rec center. And JD offered to help."

Ezra finally found his voice and began arguing with Chris. "Now, hold on just one minute..."

"You promised, Ezra." Chris growled. "It's about ten after seven now. The class starts at eight, but the kids start arriving about ten minutes before. You have roughly, oh, about thirty-five minutes."


"You promised." Vin added his growl to the conversation.

"But..." Ezra desperately wanted the men to shut up.

"You better get with it," Chris said. "And Ezra, the kids call us Mr. Chris and Mr. Vin, so make sure to introduce yourselves as Mr. Ezra and Mr. JD. Oh, don't forget the surprises for the kids. Vin already took care of hiding them."

"Damn. All right," Ezra interrupted Chris, ready to agree to anything if he would just stop talking. "I promised, okay?" His voice trailed off as Larabee's last words penetrated the misfiring synapses of his brain. Surprise for the kids? Hiding them?

"You do remember, don't you?" Vin asked again, which only irritated Ezra more and had him plotting ways to get back at his partner once they were alone.

"Yeah, surprise, kids, I promised. I'm going; goodbye, Mr. Chris, Mr. Vin." Ezra dropped the phone back into the splintered mess and winced at the sound it produced. He rubbed his face and tried to figure out what Chris and Vin had been rambling about. Coming up blank he could only hope the JD would know what was going on.

Pulling himself up from the ruined table mess on the floor, Ezra headed toward the bathroom. The forgotten sheet billowed around his feet as he turned and obscured his view of the floor. His foot hooked on the couch leg as he passed it, and he tripped, landing face first on the wood floor.

"Holy, shit! Of all the fucking... Why couldn't he have carpet?" Ezra whined to the silent loft. He sat up and rubbed his sore face, wincing when he encountered something warm and sticky. He looked at his hand and found it covered with blood. He gently touched his nose and grimaced, feeling the pulpy indent of the break.

"Well, damn, good morning, Ezra." He pulled himself up and kicked the couch leg. Pain exploded in his foot. Cursing loudly in ancient, long forgotten languages, he limped into the bathroom wondering if the day could get any worse.


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