Ezra buries the hatchet with someone, consoles his brother and finally leaves Litchfield.
Thursday, April 4th
"Heeey Daddy!" Ezra sighed happily as he sat cross-legged on the moist grass by the elegiac tombstone. Jakub Luczynski. "Man, it's been a miserable winter, hey?? Those magnetic poles are moving or something, and it's given us some of the coldest days I remember! People are saying that it's proof global warming is a myth or whatever, but they just don't understand how climate change works, I suppose."
It was still below zero, though. Ezra was glad he put on a second shirt under his jacket. He slicked his pale blonde locks back with his hand again and pulled his gloves from the pocket of his jeans.
"Ahhh, blast it Dad. You should be here with me right now! You should be here to see Eamonn growing into the finest young man around - with a couple of minor flaws, maybe - and Celeste needs you around to remind her that she's perfect just the way she is! And... I really want you to see me the way I am right now. The last time you saw me, I was on my death bed... again... but you never made me feel like it was my fault, at least. Mom told me that I should have been the one to die instead of you. I dunno. Maybe she's right about that. Still... man, I wish you could see me right now! I'm big and strong, now! Well... not tall big, but muscles big! Look, I have biceps and stuff! Heh. You'd be proud of me! I know it. I just always wish you saw me when I was healthy and happy, and not when I was sick and miserable, you know? I know you drank a lot partly because it sucked to see me so down all the time. Well... I'm never going to be down again! Because I wrestled with KADA! And I'm going to keep wrestling with KADA! So... when you remember me, think of me wrestling with Oliver Vickery! Don't think of me dying in that miserable kid's ward, okay??"
It always felt nice to visit Jakub's resting place. It was unlikely his father would be hearing him. After all, it's not like he had a way to Skype with the residents of Heaven. Still, he remembered Jakub so well. Eamonn was the spitting image of their father. Ezra wasn't far off, but he had his mother's face.
"Eamonn's been super depressed ever since you died, but he's turning a corner, I think! He's still as sarcastic and rude as he ever was, hehe. Just the other day he told Isaac that the only way he'll ever get laid is if he crawled up a chicken's ass!! Hahaha. He's so darn clever. And so funny! I think he'd do great in stand-up comedy, but he doesn't think so. He comes with me nearly every day to wrestling school! I don't think he wants to wrestle, though. I wish! He likes it, though. He has fun, and he's getting kind of fit! He misses you a lot. I'm trying my best for him. I really am. I do my best for him because I know you and Eamonn were really close. I just wish I could do more. When I start getting paid, I can help him go to college. Celeste, too! I promise. I'll finish what you started!"
Eamonn would no doubt be home from school now, waiting for Ezra to text him that he was ready to take him to Minneapolis for their night's wrestling. He'd do his homework in the car while Ezra drove and fantasised about all the dream matches he wanted to be a part of! Well, he can wait a little bit longer.
"Speaking of Celeste, she's still a smartass, too. She's a hoot, though! I feel bad for her. Mom always tells her that she's fat and stupid and just takes any opportunity to destroy her self-confidence, you know? Well, you know what she's like as much as the rest of us. Every time any of us is too happy or too independent or something, Mom finds a way to cut us down to size. I don't know, but I do know she shouldn't have kids! Last year, Celeste was gonna have a party for her birthday. I know I told you this, but I still can't believe it. Mom called up all of her friends a few hours before the party and told them all it was cancelled, and Celeste didn't know why nobody turned up. She thought nobody liked her. Ugh. Maybe you were a drunk, Dad, but you loved us. I always knew you did! I don't know if Mom does. She treats us like we're pets or something. She gets jealous when we have friends or have fun with each other. She doesn't even let your parents talk to us anymore! Ugh. I want to take Eamonn and Celeste away, but I have no idea how. Maybe your parents might be able to help? Anyway, I've kept Eamonn waiting long enough! Keep resting easy up there, okay? Love you, Daddy! And I miss you a lot. We all miss you!"
On his way back to the apartments, over the humming of his car's engine, he thought fondly of his late father. A sweet man he was! Drank his depression away, maybe, but he always did what he could. Eamonn never went without a kiss and a hug. Celeste never went without a bedtime story. And I never went without a friend to visit me.
Ezra: < Get in loser, we're going wrestling! >
"That's not funny if you send it every time!" Eamonn lectured him as he hopped into the passenger seat, tossing his bag into the back.
"Mean Girls is always funny!" Ezra snorted.
"Ezra, stop trying to make fetch happen," Eamonn replied with a playful twinkle in his eye. "It's never going to happen." Ezra chuckled, and Eamonn looked at him strangely. "Why haven't you hugged me yet?"
"You don't seem to like it when I hug you," Ezra shrugged, and his brother looked like his world was shattered. It was almost comical!
"I never said that!" The taller boy complained, and Ezra lunged and squeezed the life from his brother with his arms.
"I know! I just needed to be reminded that you looove meee!" The shorter boy gloated, and Eamonn groaned good-naturedly, resting his head happily against his older brother's for the duration of the embrace.
He knew Eamonn enjoyed the affection! But since the younger guy would never admit that, Ezra had to employ some underhanded tactics if he wanted a bit of validation! We're like the three bears when it comes to hugs, he thought. The oldest is too hot. The middle child is too cold. The youngest, Celeste, is just right!
"Put on your music!" Ezra encouraged him, and Eamonn smiled.
"I don't have any at the moment," he replied as he smoothed his beanie, flattered that Ezra was always so eager to hear the beats he created on the computer they once shared. "I'll just shuffle our playlist."
What Ezra said to their father in the cemetery wasn't a lie. Eamonn was looking more animated lately! A couple of months ago he would show as much emotion as a statue. He would be overly critical, unfiltered and sometimes just nasty for the sake of it to all but his brother and sister, particularly when people ticked him off. These days he wasn't alternating between being an outcast in high school and a pariah at home. He spent most of his nights with his brother and even got friendly with some of the others in the wrestling class. He took the loss of their father the hardest of everyone and only now seemed to be recovering.
"So, our sister tells me you got in trouble at school again!" Ezra drummed his hands on the steering wheel, and Eamonn snorted. "Don't give me that! What did you do, you horrible boy?"
"Talked back to a teacher," Eamonn replied coolly. "Jenkins. Not a big deal. She's always been a bit of a cunt."
"Eamonn!" Ezra fought to keep the smirk off his face. Mrs Jenkins really was a cu--cow! I mean cow!! But still! "Dad would give you a smack if he heard you speaking like that!"
"Are you him?" The younger boy asked. "No? Then I don't see why it's a problem."
"Tch. What did you say to her?" Ezra was curious, and Eamonn sighed.
"During lunch period, she asked what I was having. I told her I was having an unpleasant conversation," he explained, and Ezra couldn't keep the amusement to himself this time, letting a few chuckles slip out.
"C'mon, man! You need to behave yourself!" The older brother tried to plead with him. "I know school is ass for you and Mom isn't any better, but you won't be in Litchfield forever! When you graduate, you can go anywhere you want!"
At the wrestling school in Minneapolis when Ezra stood at the front counter and thumbed through the bills in his wallet, ready to hand over the fortnightly stipend to fund Eamonn's lessons, Sheila surprised him.
"No, hon," she shook her head. "Tuition's all paid up until July, the boss says."
"Huh?" Eamonn furrowed his brow in surprise, and Ezra was just as shocked.
"That's... awesome?" Ezra hesitated, looking at her with suspicion. "Why, though? I didn't pay it off."
"Jack Lièvremont did, I believe," Sheila waved him off. "Speak to him about it. He's around here somewhere. Have fun, you boys."
I don't believe this! What the heck would Jack do that for? This place costs thousands for a year's worth of classes! For tuition until July, that must have run at least nine hundred dollars! Ezra and Eamonn stared blankly at each other for a short while before they lumbered through to the locker room and changed into their workout clothes. But Jack made his presence known when he followed the boys in.
"Hello," he waved meekly, looking shy and anxious. After Beau dragged him and his wife through the mud in Boise, Jack had kept a low profile, embarrassed by Sarah's behaviour and his own complicity.
"Hi, Jackjack!" Ezra was more diplomatic than Beau and Eamonn, however, and didn't see the point in making enemies while friends were a possibility! "What are you doing here?"
"I wrestle to MCW tomorrow," Jack explained in poor English, sometimes looking frustrated that he was struggling to communicate effectively. Aww. He'll get better at it! "My final match until KADA! I'm here for training."
"You got signed! Congrats!" Ezra totally forgot about Jack's match with Diego Silva. He must have done alright, then! But of course he did. Jack was super solid from around eight years of experience! He noticed Eamonn wasn't totally keen to be involved in this conversation. Well, that's his own fault! He didn't have to embarrass Sarah when she was here! "This is my brother Eamonn! He watched us wrestle at MCW!"
"I see'd him," Jack had a gorgeous smile as he extended his hand. "I remember. Hello Eamonn!"
"You paid my tuition?" Eamonn was humbled for the first time in... wait, was this the first time? Ever? He gratefully shook the big man's hand, and Jack nodded.
"I am here to say sorry," Jack's eyes shifted between the brothers. "Our behaviour was poor. But we work together now. So please forgive me."
"You paid three months of my brother's tuition just to say you're sorry??" Ezra was stunned beyond words. "Jack, you could've just bought me a coffee or snuck me a beer! This is too much!"
"He doesn't speak for both of us," Eamonn broke in quickly. "I happen to think it's just enough."
"No, it's way too much!" Ezra's brain was doing that thing again. Gratitude, relief and guilt ricocheted all the way through his body, increasing his heart rate and blurring the connection between his thoughts, his emotion and his body! "I can't accept this gift, Jack!"
"It is nothing," Jack reassured him, mimicking Beau's action from a couple of weeks ago and putting a firm hand on the boy's shoulder. Instantly Ezra felt calmer. It was like Pavlov's dog. "We are wrestlers, okay? We are family. If Eamonn wants to wrestle, I will help!" He flashed a happy grin, and Ezra had to smile.
"C'mon, Ez!" Eamonn whined and tugged at his arm. "We've been doing it tough since we were in diapers. Can't you just let something good happen?"
Ezra looked at his brother and years of guilt, love and shame filled him. Without his shirt on, the scar on the left side of Eamonn's flat belly was visible. The kidney he surrendered to his brother. He gave me his kidney. He didn't have to, but he wanted to. In fact, he demanded it. He was so determined that he probably would have lanced himself open, grabbed it with his own fingers and shoved it down his brother's throat. Then there were the blood transfusions. The bone marrow donations, which often took Eamonn a week or more of pain in the hips to recover from. The nights and weeks Eamonn would look after his sick brother, even though he was in pain himself from the operations. Ezra realised he could never say no to Eamonn. The teenager was surly and saturnine, but utterly selfless. He deserved the world for what he did.
"Thanks, Jackjack!" Ezra conceded. "Let me buy you a coffee, hey? A hundred coffees!!"
"Yeah. Thank you," Eamonn was flushing with gratitude and joy. "You don't know what it means to me! You can beat up my brother any time you like!"
Jack trained in the master class, as was also expected of Ezra. However, the eighteen-year-old took the basic course with his brother these days. Although it was just a basic course, that didn't mean it wasn't an intense workout, even for him! Mostly, it was a joy to see Eamonn smiling, socialising and having fun, and the two of them would always partner up for specific exercises. Today, though, Eamonn changed his mind.
"You should go and train with Jack," the taller boy decided. "I'll be alright by myself! You need to get ready for KADA."
Oh... Ezra thought. He doesn't need me today. Well... that's good!! I mean, helping Eamonn get confident enough to do things by himself was what I wanted, right? Then why are my feelings hurt? He left Eamonn to the basic class and joined Jack and his old cohorts in the master class, but he felt gutted. He and Eamonn were thick as thieves! Did Eamonn feel the same way when Ezra left home? If he did, he would never say anything. Hmm. It merits further thought.
Although they barely spoke the same language, Ezra and Jack were terrific sparring partners! They ran the ropes, repeated basic techniques and played through several different combinations until they each perfected them to the satisfaction of Osten, one of the most respected wrestling trainers in the whole world! It was a blasted mystery, Ezra found himself thinking. Sarah and Jack are more different than any pair I've ever seen! Even Lansilva or Sean and Ollie! What in Heaven's name made them get married? Jack was fun. Friendly, supportive and, as Eamonn found out, incredibly generous. His wife possessed none of these qualities! Their communication left a lot to be desired and even still, Ezra greatly enjoyed his company. He wanted to be a wrestler every bit as much as the Polish-American did, and he was just as elated about winning a contract as Ezra was as well. It's a shame he wasn't single - not because Ezra fancied him exactly, but because Sarah complicated everything by... well... existing!!
Friday, April 5th
"Ez! Little buddy!" Oliver's cheerful voice rang through the phone and Ezra beamed - even though nobody was there to see it. "How you doing all the way up there in Winter land?"
"Cold! It's still cold!" Ezra complained, eliciting a laugh from his associate. "Even in April, I'm cold! How is it in New Mexico?"
"Ahh you know, man! It's warm! Most of the time. What's up, little buddy? Everything fine up there?" Oliver liked to get to the point, it seemed. Ezra wasn't so mentally organised.
"I watched the replay last night!!" He bubbled excitedly, the memories of the tag-team match fresh in his mind. "Sean pinned the Heavyweight Champion?? Oh my gosh, are you guys gonna be in the main event next Pay Per View??"
Oliver laughed. "Glad you had fun, little buddy, but we don't have much time on Fridays so I need you to wrap this up pretty quick. What's going on?"
"Oh!" Ezra squeezed his eyes shut. Blast bloody bugger. "Right, there's something I wanna ask. See, I lost my job faster than I thought I would..." He was nervous. He suddenly wished he didn't wait until Beau was in the shower to make the call. He could have used his support! "And... I have enough savings to get to Knoxville, but I'd have to sleep in my car. I was wonder--"
"No way, man! Just head down to our little place!" Oliver was quick to catch on and even quicker to come to his associate's rescue.
"Who?" A voice - Sean - audibly asked on the other side of the call. He didn't sound impressed.
"It's little buddy from Minnesota!"
"Ohh, Ezra!" Sean's voice lost its cold edge. Who did he expect it was? Hmm. At least he doesn't hate me!
"Hey little buddy, I'll give you over to the boss. Talk it through with him, alright?" Oliver decided, and after hearing a brief, sassy retort from the Cherokee, Ezra heard him on the phone.
"How are you, slightly littler friend?" Sean had already developed a taste for being taller than one of his male friends for a change.
"Hah! I'm great, how are you?"
"I'm lovely, thank you! Ollie called me the boss, so that's gone right to my head," he quipped, and Ezra giggled. "How can I help you, Ez? You need a place to stay? We do have a couple of spare rooms - though they're not quite finished yet. Would that be alright?"
"Oh, that'd be awesome!!" Ezra hugged his knees to his chest. "So awesome! Awesome to the max!!"
"Don't say that yet! You haven't eaten my cooking," Sean chuckled, and Ezra could hear people buzzing in the background. They were out and about. He felt bad for inconveniencing them. "You're certainly welcome to join us short-term while you get on your feet. You'll have four walls and a roof, but it's not exactly pretty. We're still in the middle of rebuilding."
"Rebuilding??" Ezra was appalled. "What happened?"
"You remember that F4 tornado that crossed through Tennessee and killed seventy-one people last year? Our property was the second one hit. It passed right over us. I thank God every day for sparing us. We were fortunate that our home was the only thing that needed rebuilding," Sean's voice quivered with sadness. Ezra had no idea how to reply! "We've got three bedrooms - Ollie and I share the master, but there is room enough for you, by all means!"
"A-ahh! Okay! Neat!" Ezra waved to Tina, who passed by the open doorway. She did not wave back. She was angry with him for being irresponsible enough to lose his job. "I don't mind if it's not finished! I'll be so, so, so grateful even for a couch!"
"You can have the couch, but the dogs sleep on it and they'll lick you all night long," Sean giggled, and Oliver laughed in the background.
"Oh yeah, you have puppies!" Ezra blubbed excitedly, rising to his knees for no particular reason. "I've seen them on your Instagram!! And cats and goats and sheep and goats and--"
"They're my children, Ezra! If you want to stay here, you have to get along!" Sean warned him in good humour, and Ezra once again heard people in the background.
"So... would it be okay if I brought Beau with me?" Ezra asked cautiously, wishing he'd brought it up earlier before Sean got involved.
"You damn well better," Sean's blunt reply made them both laugh. "No, he's welcome any time."
"What about rent? How much would you need?" Ezra nervously fell back to a seated position and began to tweak the toes on his left foot.
"You're a broke wrestler! Keep your money!" Sean scoffed, sounding offended at the very suggestion. "There is something you could do for us, though."
"Oh! What?" Ezra's heart pounded in apprehension. Help fix his house? Be his maid? Have an orgy??
"We're out of town three, four or even five nights a week. Sometimes we don't even make it home," The older man explained, still busy cooking. "That's how it is on tour. So if you're spending your days training at the Knoxville Performance Center, then you'd be free to feed our flock in the morning and night. And - this is Oliver's suggestion - if you could get dinner sorted on the night we come home from wherever we've gone, that would be excellent."
"That's it??" Ezra was shocked! "That's all??"
"Heh. You might not be saying that when you're trying to give Kevin his breakfast," Sean and Oliver started giggling again. "Yep! That's all, little buddy. It also wouldn't hurt to force Beau to watch Sex and the City with me every so often. Those are my terms."
"When another tornado wipes our house down, you gotta look after us!" Oliver added, and Ezra grinned. It couldn't have turned out better for him! I get to play with puppies!!
"When do you think you'll be down? I'd like to be here when you arrive," Sean's voice was far lighter than Oliver's baritone, but they both had a beautiful lilt when they spoke. "Between Tuesday and Thursday is ideal."
"Oh! I don't know! I'll ask Beaubear!" Ezra bit his lip. I could be in Tennessee on Tuesday! Tuesday!! Super awesome beans - but what would that mean for my brother and sister? "I'm so keen to spend time with other gays! You have no idea!"
That coaxed an aww from the lads on the other side of the line. It was true, though. There were a few gay guys in Litchfield, but they were much older or addicted to drugs - sometimes both. Until recently, when getting out of Litchfield for good became a bona fide possibility, he and Beau were beginning to wonder if they were only together because they had no other alternative. Now, with the freedom of the larger world at their fingertips, their bond was stronger than ever. Especially for Beau. Ezra was interested in sports, wrestling and cars, like most of the boys they grew up with. Beau, on the other hand, liked drag, Gaga, and art design. Meeting Sean had already been great for him, and he'd talked of nothing else on the way home from Boise.
"Get back to us when you're ready, and we'll sort it out from there," Sean promised, and Ezra heard running water. "Stay safe, and I look forward to having some guests!"
"Bye! Thank you! Thanks! Oh my gosh!! Ahh--" Ezra didn't notice Sean had already hung up for a little while during his manic rant. "Hey, Beau! Beaubeaubear!!" He rolled off the fluffy blanket and darted into the ensuite the moment his feet touched the floor. "Beau! Beaaaau! Hey! Talk to meee! I want attention!"
"You want attention?" Beau was still in the shower, naked and glorious in the stream of water behind the glass door. "You? Ezra Luczysnki? If you didn't get attention for six minutes you'd probably go into a coma."
"Foxy says we can stay with him!!" Ezra didn't even think. He just opened the shower door, dressed in his jeans and tank top, and hugged his wet, soapy boyfriend in glee, standing in the glorious stream of hot water. A little too hot, honestly. Beau seemed to like getting his pretty butt scalded.
"Ezwhatthefuck?" Beau pried him off, amused but a little weirded out. "You can join me but take off your clothes first, you twit!"
"Okay but Foxy! Foxy will let us stay with him and Oliver and all we have to do is feed their critters!" Ezra babbled, his lover's words sailing right over his head. "We can go Tuesday if you wanted!!"
"I want to have my fucking shower!" Beau tried to gently shove Ezra back out onto the bathmat. "Yeah that's great news, big man, but we've talked about this! Boundaries and personal space! Do you mind?"
Ezra managed to walk backwards out of the shower and awkwardly shut the door behind him, then he realised just how wet he was. Stupid blasted brain! What's your problem? Do you just take a smoke break now and then or do you think this is funny?? Grr. A little embarrassed, he stripped off his sopping wet clothes and tossed them in the hamper. He'd only just put them on fifteen minutes ago!
"Awwww!" Beau beamed at him when he finally emerged from the bathroom. Ezra was hugging his crossed legs on the bed, dry and wearing new clothes, a hangdog expression on his youthful face. "Don't ever change, Ezra. Seriously."
"I don't think that's an option! Or I would have done it by now!" Ezra bit the inside of his cheek. It was frustrating to keep doing these weird things while his brain was having a hard time processing his feelings! "Do you think there's something weird about me?"
"Without doubt," Beau grabbed a pair of boxers from the messy drawer and slipped them over his pretty backside.
"I mean it. Do you think there's something, like... wrong with me?"
"Errrr... no?" Beau slid up behind Ezra and wrapped both his arms and legs around him, holding him tight like a little teddy bear. "You're a weirdo, yeah. But that's not something wrong with you. I love it when you're so excited that you can't stop bouncing, and I love it when your brain is skipping like a scratched CD and you get stuck in a loop. I love it when you get passionate about things and you shout for no reason! I watched you in the ring from one of the side entrances in Boise, and I couldn't believe how quickly you got the whole crowd on your side. People can't help but love you, Ezzy. You're too adorable for your own good, even when you're a nutcase. So you're eccentric, yeah, but I'd never say it's something wrong with you. You're also sweet, loving, smart and funny. I don't think you have a single bad bone in your body. Except maybe this one!"
Beau's cheeky hand slipped between his boyfriend's legs and squeezed his flaccid cock, and Ezra giggled bashfully and pulled those fingers away... even if he didn't really want to. The bedroom door was open!! Anyone could walk past!! Gosh, Beau was a horny devil. Ezra was far from a prude, always ready to play around with his counterpart, but Beau could take it up a notch, especially if he'd been smoking some green. They could fuck three times throughout the night and the brunette would be ready for round four in a matter of minutes. It was funny, really. Beau lost his breath climbing a flight of stairs while Ezra could run for miles. But in bed, Beau was nigh insatiable and never tired before his boyfriend did.
The day progressed well from there. Ezra and Beau decided that they were keen to snatch the opportunity to flee down south - Ezra to pursue wrestling and Beau to seek an adventure. It was a little over sixteen hours to drive from Litchfield to Knoxville, but rather than apprehensive, Ezra was excited about spending all that time with Beau in the car. The journey in Mickey's RV had been a real treat! A road trip from Minnesota through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and all the way into Tennessee! Wooo!! To train at KADA's Knoxville Performance Centre, where Sean Fox and Oliver Vickery trained for the grandest stage! And to be paid for the privilege!!
A phone call put a damper on things when the blond boy was killing himself at the gym, doing his best to make the most of his body while it was working correctly and get into the best shape he could!
"Yooooou've reached Ezra Luczynski!" Ezra answered with pep, slowing down to a walk on the treadmill.
"Hi, Ezra! This is Mrs Whitehead," the Principal of Litchfield High sounded pleased to hear from him. Good! She was an okay sort! "Is this a good time?"
"I haven't decided yet! Are you ringing with good news or bad?"
"Bad news, I'm afraid," she spoke solemnly. "Is Mom at home much these days?"
"I don't live at home anymore," Ezra informed her, reaching up and smoothing his long blond locks back over the top of his head. "Why? What's up? It's too late to expel me!"
"Hehehe... well, I've been leaving messages for quite some time, now, but Glennys has not been getting back to me," she explained in a tired voice. "Eamonn has been missing a lot of school lately."
"Eamonn has? My Eamonn?" Ezra slowed to a stop, the call shocking him too much to let him multitask. "What? How? Why?"
"That's the question I'm trying to ask her. Is he alright?"
Mrs Whitehead - a name she often copped some flack for - was a mellow, reasonable woman who had gone far out of her way to make things easier for Ezra during the tenth and eleventh grade. Organising fundraisers and personally visiting him in the hospital, and finding ways to give him access to tutors and extending specific deadlines for coursework. He owed a lot to her generosity! Not to mention how she pulled strings to let the LEW crew set up the high school gym on Saturday nights for a night of wrestling! She was one of the unsung heroes of the town, no questions asked!
"He seems fine when I see him every day! I had no idea he was playing hooky! That little monkey!!" Ezra was livid with the news. "I am going to give him the talking to of a lifetime!"
"I'd like to see him one on one as soon as possible," Mrs Whitehead, used to Ezra's outbursts, simply ignored it and focused on the subject at hand. "Over the past three weeks, he has missed nine school days. He hasn't been in at all this week. I've been getting worried that perhaps he might have been ill and didn't tell me. He isn't, is he? I know cancer can run in the family."
"He's... probably depressed," Ezra admitted, feeling angry at himself for not being more involved with his siblings. I've been busy with Beau and KADA! I've let Eamonn and Celeste fall through the cracks!! What would Daddy say?? "I'll get back to you today when I find him! Do you have a number I can call later on?"
"Same as always. New model, same number," Mrs Whitehead reassured him. "Thank you, Ezra. I'm glad to hear your voice! Let me know, please. And get that boy in my office, but let him know that he's not in trouble if he's having trouble, okay?"
That little skinny bloody giant... goblin... blast! Ezra immediately rang Eamonn's number, but it rang out. That wasn't a surprise at all. He was a smart cookie. If he was pretending to be at school, he wouldn't be answering his phone during school hours. Well! Blast!
Ezra: < Oh you are so sprung, young man! School called me. Where are you? >
With anger and concern both battling out inside him, Ezra decided to put it go good use and hopped right back on that treadmill. He ran !and he ran. He sprinted, his angry thoughts thundering out as his feet hit the belt underneath him. Why? Is? Ev- ery- thing? So? Diff- i- cult? Stu- pid! Ea- monn! Grr! But? What? If? He's? Not? O- kay? Aaahhh! He paused when his body screamed at him, and he ran his hand through his hair again. He wouldn't be at home. He can't stand Mom. So... where is he going every day?
Ezra: < Where are you? I want to see you. You're not in trouble. >
Eamonn: < hahaha I'm not falling for that but nice try >
Ezra: < I'm worried! Not angry! >
Not angry anymore, he thought guiltily.
Eamonn: < Bridge out of town. Bring cake. >
The word 'bridge' was terrifying, and Ezra immediately snatched his towel and his water bottle, not even bothering to say goodbye to the people inside. Eamonn had a very nihilistic view of things sometimes. He missed their dad and he hated their mom. He didn't have friends and he wasn't going to school. He was lonely. This wasn't a good image for Ezra, whose hands shook as he quickly drove his car as quickly as he legally could to the bridge by the Litchfield creek. It was a long way down from the bridge - even though the creek was small and even dried up entirely during the drier patches, the ravine was fairly deep. Eamonn was indeed where he said he was. The beanie was the giveaway! Eamonn probably showered with one of those silly things on his head, tufts of greasy blond hair poking out around his eyes and ears. He looked over to see Ezra's car creep by him, and Ezra grimaced. He had to park somewhere! Ignoring all the road rules, he slowed to a stop and turned on the emergency lights, letting the orange blinkers flash and hopefully inform anyone creeping up behind him that they needed to go around in the other lane.
"I was wondering when someone would finally notice," Eamonn was perched on the edge of the bridge, his legs dangling over the side and his arms on the security barrier.
"What are you doing?" Ezra asked him gingerly, taking a seat next to him and forcing himself not to look at the long drop in front of him. "What's going on?"
"I'm not about to jump to my death. You can stop being a drama queen," Eamonn teased him, resting his chin on the barricade. "It's nice that you're worried. Pointless, but it's nice."
"You wanna tell me what's going on?" Ezra asked him, scooching on his bum and getting close enough that he could put his arm around Eamonn's shoulder and pull him close. "Why you're not at school and why you're suddenly hanging out here and why I had to find out from the Principal??"
"What does it matter?" Eamonn asked, and to Ezra's surprise, he let his head rest on the top of his brother's and hugged him.
"How can you say that?? You're my big little brother, and I'm worried about you!" Ezra flared. "Of course it matters! What's been going on and why didn't you feel like you could tell me?"
"You're leaving," Eamonn replied after a short pause. "You're going to go and be a wrestler and travel the world. Without you, there's no reason for me to even exist."
"That's a horrible thing to say!"
"Yeah, I suppose. That doesn't mean it isn't true," Eamonn looked at him with sad green eyes. The two brothers looked fairly similar to each other. They had the same eyes, hair and smile, but the main difference was that Eamonn inherited features from their father - sharp eyes and a prominent jawline - whereas Ezra looked more like Glennys, with softer, rounder eyes and face. "Everyone loves me when you're sick because I'm just a bunch of spare Ezra parts. There is more of me in you than there is you. You're fine now. You might be fine for fifteen minutes or for the rest of your life. Until you're sick again, Mom doesn't care about me. Nobody does, now that Dad's gone. It took twenty days for someone to actually find me when I stopped going to school. Twenty days. And that was you, the only person who thinks of me as a person. And you're going away."
That about broke Ezra's heart clear in two. There was truth in it. That's what sucked the most. Ever since he was only a toddler, Eamonn's primary role in the family was to be his brother's life support. Blood, marrow and even a kidney. When Ezra was in remission, everyone was so happy for him that Eamonn's efforts were quickly forgotten. Not by Ezra, who would do anything to make Eamonn happy, but by everybody else. Eamonn grew up in his brother's shadow, becoming more bitter, cynical and morose by the year. Ezra never stopped thanking him for everything. Even as recently as January, he was working to support Eamonn and Celeste, to take care of their injured mother, but it was Eamonn who pushed him away and forced him to focus on living the life that his brother bought for him. Ezra sniffled and began to weep. How can I make this work?? If I stay here and give up my dream, then Eamonn will never, ever forgive me, but if I go, then I leave him here feeling hopeless and alone. What am I supposed to do??
"Oh, you really are a drama queen," Eamonn tutted, his arms firmly around his brother. "I don't regret anything, Ez. Never have. I'm okay. I just... everything I did was because I didn't ever want to say goodbye. Now I'm going to have to."
"Heh," Ezra wiped his eyes with his sweaty forearm, and they began to sting. "And this is why you didn't tell me, right? Because you knew I'd cry!"
"You are predictably pathetic," Eamonn agreed, but his stoic words were betrayed by his tender actions. "I'm gonna miss you so much."
"I'm not going to Mars! I'm not going to head to Knoxville and forget about you!" Ezra grabbed his brother's face with his hand and squeezed his cheeks, making Eamonn laugh. "You're my best blasted friend, you gigantic idiot! Shove your goodbye! I don't want it because it's not goodbye! I'm gonna call you and Celeste all the time and when I have money I will fly to Minneapolis and visit you guys! You mean the world to me, you know? I will work something out for you. Please don't give up, okay Eamonn? Gimme some time and I'll fix everything. Can I take you to school?"
"So I can have a hundred detentions? Sure, why not?" Eamonn's sarcastic reply was greeted with a strengthening of Ezra's grip on his cheeks.
"Whitehead is super worried about you, you goblin! If you tell her the truth, she will understand, okay? And make sure she knows all about how fucking useless Mom is because it'll make it easier for me to get you and Celeste away from her for good," Ezra knew that part of the plan would appeal to his brother, and he felt the boy grin underneath his fingers. Hehe.
"I don't think I can go to school today," Eamonn admitted, and to Ezra's alarm, he let out a sniffle of his own. "Monday, maybe?"
"What if we go in to see Mrs Whitehead today and we'll explain you need the weekend to get ready for school?" Ezra wanted to get things back on track as soon as he could. He had so many things to organise already. "I'm not glad you've been doing this, big little bro, but silver lining! Mom looks like the worst mother in the world now! I'm pretty sure we can pull some strings and get you to live with Dad's parents or something!"
Eamonn wiped his eyes, and he smiled.
Tuesday, April 9th
"Ez," Beau nudged him. "Ez! Wakey wakey, hands off snakey!" He nudged him again, and Ezra opened up one eye.
"What? Where are we? What?" He awoke from his doze, his eyes winking independently of each other as he tried to make sense of what universe he was in. "Beaubear!"
"Still in the car," Beau snapped his fingers obnoxiously. "You haven't been a lot of fun in the last few hours."
"Are we in Kentucky Fried Chicken?" Ezra got muddled as he looked out the window at a KFC that floated past, and Beau giggled. Ezra slept so heavily that it took him a while to piece his conscious brain back together.
"No, babe, you slept all the way through the Colonel's state. We're almost in Knoxville," he explained, and Ezra's heart leapt in his chest. Knoxville!! "I just have no fucking idea where I'm going from here, so if you could ring Foxy, that would be great."
"Oooooh," Ezra managed to blink his eyes at the same time and fumble in the pocket of his oversized cargo pants for his phone. "Good thinking. You're not just a pretty face."
"I'm also a nice ass," Beau smirked. He had bags under his eyes. He looked tired. "See? Look! Knoxville!"
Ezra let out a giddy laugh as he saw the high rises in the distance - and the Sunsphere!!
"I slept through Kentucky!!" He realised with disappointment as he tapped Sean's contact in his phone and heard it begin to dial. "Blast it."
"It's not going anywhere," Beau retorted, letting a huge yawn split his lovely face in two.
"Heyyy!" Sean's cheerful voice greeted Ezra after only two rings. "Where are you guys? We've been waiting! Oliver's about to eat the steaks raw!"
"We see Knoxville! And we're umm--" Ezra scoured his brain. "We just went through the biggest bitch of an intersection I've ever seen. Beau didn't kill us, so we're on a roll!"
Sean laughed. "Knoxville is nothing but bitches of intersections, I'm afraid, so you'll get desensitised to near-death experiences soon enough. Are you lost?"
"Are we lost?"
"Not yet, but I'm planning on it," Beau admitted loud enough for Sean to hear him, and the Cherokee man chuckled.
"Then it's probably easier if we meet you at Sunsphere. Getting out our way isn't easy if you don't already know how," Sean offered, and Ezra was quick to answer.
"Yes! Yes, please! Cities are scary to me!" He begged.
"We'll be in a blue Audi and Ollie's wearing a terrible green Hawaiian shirt," Sean informed him, and the boys giggled when Oliver took offence to his boyfriend's words. "If you beat us there, don't worry. We'll be around fifteen minutes."
The Sunsphere was quite easy to spot. Ezra's face was almost glued to his passenger window as Beau drove perhaps a little too carelessly through the heart of the city.
"Where the hell are you supposed to park?" Beau frowned as he finished a full circle of the Sunsphere. "What the fuck? Grr."
"Do another lap," Ezra decided, reaching across and putting a hand on his boyfriend's arm. "If we can't work it out, then we'll call them."
"This sucks," Beau sulked, and Ezra had to laugh.
"You're the one who demanded we go to a city!" He reminded his boyfriend, who shot daggers at him. "Hah! Who misses Litchfield parking now?"
"If you don't shut your face I'm gonna sit on it."
"I don't get it. Are you threatening me or trying to seduce me?"
"Can't it be both?" They began to laugh again, and then Beau sat up suddenly and pointed. "Blue Audi, right? Black guy in a green shirt. That's them."
"Oh, rabbits!!" Ezra felt that familiar starstruck feeling in his chest. Oliver Vickery and Sean Fox!! He immediately mashed the call button on his phone. The car had turned left, and Beau made sure to follow them. "Sean!! I see you!!"
"Oh!" Sean sounded surprised. "Can you see me waving?"
A small brown hand slipped out of the passenger window and began wiggling its fingers, and Ezra laughed out loud.
"Yeah. We're two cars behind you!" Ezra pointed at the Audi. "Follow that car, Beau!"
"Yeah?" Beau's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Gee, that's a better idea than the one I had."
"Then I guess you can just follow us home," Sean decided, and Oliver muttered what sounded like a whoop of relief. "If you lose us, just call me back, okay?"
Their long, exhausting journey coming to an end, Ezra and Beau were silent as they followed a blue Audi through a surprisingly convoluted route and began trailing out of the city, following the Tennessee river. Ezra leaned over and rested his head on Beau's arm, and Beau, although he was tired and irritable, kissed him on the head. He was looking forward to sleeping in Beau's arms tonight. Although he was the sexually dominant top when the two made love, he was the little spoon when they slept. The men turned off the main road onto a smaller one, and then they turned again down a dirt trail that ended at a red barn with a large house off to the side. Ezra recognised it immediately from Sean's Instagram. Home! For now, at least! Home! The tornado had indeed done a number on it! Most of it looked freshly built, and it needed a coat of paint. Beau didn't seem to mind, though. He was just happy they'd finally be able to get the hell out of Ezra's little car. You did good, Ezra thought as he stroked the dashboard lovingly. You got us here! You can have a rest now.
"Hi! Hi! Hi!" Ezra's body seemed to vibrate in ecstasy as he stumbled out of the car and stretched his limbs. "Hello!"
"Hey hey, little buddy and big buddy!" Oliver was first out, locking the car with his keys. "Damn, kids! I'll pay for the flight next time!"
"Welcome home!" Sean looked amazingly different away from the camera. Glasses, a nerdy shirt and his hair tied into a bun so big that he looked like a hammer. "How was that drive?" He and Beau immediately scooped each other up into a hug, whereas Oliver and Ezra settled for a friendly fist bump.
"Long. It was long," Beau complained.
"It wasn't that long!" Ezra huffed, and Beau smirked.
"You wouldn't know. You spent most of it snoring," he chuckled, and the fellas grinned. "I dig the place! You guys have done really well!"
Sean flushed at the compliment, and the two bottoms began to chatter together as though they'd known each other for forty years as they shuffled towards the house. Ezra didn't mind - truth be told, a small break from Beau was precisely what he needed. Oliver sensed how tired and tense he was, even though he went out of his way to hide it.
"You doing okay, little buddy?" Oliver asked kindly, and Ezra sighed. "It's a big deal, moving out of home for the first time. Especially coming so far away. How are you feeling?"
"You have no idea how excited I am!!" Ezra began, and Oliver chuckled. "But yeah... it is a lot to take in! I miss my brother and sister already. And my friends! Ahh. But I'm here with one of the people I used to watch all the time on TV! Ahh!"
"You'll be on TV sometime soon," Oliver reminded him, opening up the back of Ezra's car. "I hope you're not disappointed when you find out just how unremarkable we are in real life! Now, we can unpack tomorrow, but you guys probably need your toiletries and a couple of threads. Which ones?"
"Ahh blast!" Ezra frowned. "This is mine," he reached across and grabbed a small travel bag. It had his toothbrush, hair products, shower things and pyjamas inside. "I'll be buggered if I know where Beau's are. He has about six suitcases, and he just threw all his crap in where it would fit."
"No sweat, brother!" Oliver closed the door amiably and nodded towards the house with his head. "Just kick back tonight, yeah? Seano's gonna barbecue us up some pork steaks that'll knock your socks off."
"He doesn't need to do that," Ezra mumbled, not used to being waited on.
"Well, don't tell him that!" The big man teased. "I want the damn steaks!"
"Are you sure you're okay with us being here?" Ezra asked, aware that he was intruding on these two when they were busy fixing up their house.
"Man, I'm thrilled to have you here!" Oliver's face was hard to see in the dimming light of the sunset. "The lady who used to feed our animals is moving on, so this works for us. Don't need to worry. It'll be good to have people around, you know? And we remember how rough it is starting out in the wrestling biz. I probably wouldn't have made it if I didn't get help!"
"Yeah? You? But you're awesome!!" Ezra as good as rocketed up the stairs. "Why did you need help?"
"You're a bit awesome too, little buddy, but you need help," Oliver pointed out, and Ezra paused a bit. He called. Me. AWESOME. "Nature of the beast, I guess! Come in. Meet everyone."
Ezra was nearly overwhelmed. The door lead him to a vast, open room that functioned as a living room, kitchen and dining room all in one. Not unlike the apartment he lived in with his family, except this was at least ten times the size. A huge connecting couch could have seated twelve people, and a dining table that could seat ten. The floors, wall and ceiling were all wood, giving the house a very rustic feel. It smelled like the forest that surrounded it.
"Hello!!" Ezra darted over to investigate the tabby cat that eyed him off from one of the cushions on the brown couch, and it uttered a tiny meow when he put his face in front of it. "It's so cute!"
"When she feels like it," Oliver chuckled, and he beckoned for Ezra to follow. "This is the main room, and you're welcome to be out here as much as you like. Down this hallway - this over here is our room, I gotta ask that you don't go in unless Seano gives you the okay. Here we got the bathroom, the laundry, the toilet and the two spare rooms. You guys can have whichever you like, but I think the boss has already made his decision."
"The boss?" Ezra laughed when Oliver referred to Beau in such a way, and Oliver smirked. It wasn't exactly inaccurate.
"Trust me, man, I know it," he shone a smile and lead his little buddy to the one on the left.
The bedroom was rather quaint and, as Sean warned him, not quite finished, but it was beautiful! Wood, of course, and unpainted. The double bed was made up with a nice red comforter and two pillows on either side, and another cat had already made its home on the comfortable looking armchair in the corner. Beau and Sean were still chatting about the drive up. Aye aye aye! It'll be good for him, Ezra thought happily. He didn't have many friends in Litchfield. Now he's got someone he has stuff in common with.
"Are you okay with this room?" Beau asked him, and Ezra shrugged.
"Of course!" he replied and stepped forward to rest his head on his boyfriend's shoulder, and both professional wrestlers cooed at the sweetness of the moment. Beau's smile was massive.
The first night didn't last a very long time. Sean cooked a fantastic meal for everyone with Beau's assistance while Oliver and Ezra entertained each other with tales of their first wrestling promotions, and shortly after, Beau fell asleep on the couch with his head in Ezra's lap, all tuckered out from the long journey. Ezra could barely believe his luck as he took Beau to bed and drifted off after a long, sweet kiss. Home. This is home now.
Major thanks to anyone who reads my stuff ❤️ you're amazing and I love you a great deal.