Author's Notes: This won't make much sense yet. It's the turning point scene of an as yet unfinished Escorts/Spenser xover story.
He wasn't sure if it was the pain in his gut, the pain in his head or the ringing of the phone that woke him, but he reached for the phone if only to shut it up. Flipping it open, he noted the time. Four-fucking-AM in the morning. "What?" he demanded.
"Ezra? Where the fuck are you?"
Where was he? In bed, of course. Except, as he woke up more, he realized it wasn't his own bed. He sat up enough to reach the lamp beside the bed and turn it on. No, this was certainly not his bed. Or his room. Or any room he was familiar with.
"Ezra? Answer me, dammit!"
Chris. That was the voice on the phone. Trying to work past the muzziness in his head, he pushed the 'speaker' button. "I'm here, wherever the hell here is."
"You should have been home two hours ago. Something wrong?"
Of course something was wrong. He was in an strange room, in what looked like a flea-bag motel. As he looked around more, he saw the man lying in the other side of the bed. Unmoving. He shoved at the man's shoulder. "Thomas? Where the hell are we?" The man didn't respond. He pulled back the blankets, and realized it wasn't Thomas.
"Ezra! What's going on?"
"Just a minute, Chris." He put down the phone and shoved the man again. Nothing. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Get a grip, he told himself. Check for a pulse. Good. Not dead. Is he breathing? Yes. Even better. Then he noticed his hand, his knuckles abraded and swollen. When the hell had that happened? Pushing off the bed, he picked up the phone. Think. Figure out where you are. Get Chris and Nathan over here. He took a deep breath and looked around until he found a card with the motel address.
"Chris, there's trouble. I'm at a Motel 6," he read off the address, "and there's a man here who isn't Thomas. Bring Nathan." There was a moment's silence, then he cringed and held the phone away when Chris bellowed for Nathan.
"What about you, Ezra, are you okay?"
The question caught him off guard. He hadn't taken time to think about it, but with his pounding head and burning gut and memory loss, he suspected he'd been doped. "I think I've been drugged."
Chris yelled something again to Nathan. "He'll bring his kit. You sit tight, we'll be there in thirty."
"Thanks, Chris." He thumbed the 'off' button and closed the phone. How could the night end up this way? He tried to remember what he could from the evening before. Dressing for the theater. A cab. Meeting his 'date'. The play. Intermission. And then nothing else. They should have ended up at his date's townhouse. Thomas was a regular: dinner, the theater, a slow fuck and home by 2:00 AM. He wondered what the hell had happened to Thomas.
Running a hand through his hair, Ezra tried to gather his thoughts. He wished he could take some aspirin for his head, but he knew that the samples Nathan would need would be compromised if he took anything at all. Still, he was in better shape than whoever that was in the bed. With luck, they'd both just been drugged and the man would wake up any minute and be able to explain what was going on.
And until the man woke up, maybe he could try to find out who he was. Sorting through the clothing scattered around the room, the only wallet he found was his own. Wonderful. Whatever the set up here was, they could claim he robbed the stranger, too.
He moved away to sit in the only chair in the room. The rough upholstery against his ass was a quick reminder that he was naked. It only took him a few minutes to dress, leaving his shirt unbuttoned and the suit jacket folded on the foot of the bed. Assholes who did this to him owed him for the cleaning, but at least the suit wasn't ruined. He sat back, knowing help was on its way, and all he could do now was wait.
Good as his word, thirty minutes later Chris was knocking on the door and calling to Ezra. With a sense of overwhelming relief, Ezra opened the door and was nearly overrun by Chris, Nathan and Vin.
"What the hell happened?" "Who the hell is this?" "Are you okay?"
They were all talking at once, and Ezra's head still hurt too much to deal with it. He held up a hand, waiting until they stopped talking. "I don't know who he is. I don't know how he got into my bed. I don't remember a thing after the intermission."
Suddenly, Nathan was in his face, peering in his eyes, checking his pulse. He jerked back, running into Vin who stood solidly, simply sliding an arm loosely around Ezra's waist. "Easy. I got you. Let Nathan work." He nodded, relaxing into the security and strength of Vin's body. Nathan checked his eyes again, his temperature, his damaged hands, took blood samples.
By the time he was done, Ezra was trembling and in a cold sweat. "I think I'm going to vomit." He pulled away from Vin and headed toward the bathroom, knowing Vin was following him with more empty sample containers from Nathan. The indignity of vomiting over Vin's hands into the container was almost worth it. They needed every shred of evidence they could gather if they were going to find the sick bastard who continued to haunt them and their customers.
While Vin flushed the toilet and sealed the sample containers, Ezra sat back on the floor, leaning against the wall, still sweating and shaky and not ready to try to stand up yet. Neither was he ready to go back in and see the scene in the bedroom. The longer this all continued, the more convinced he was that it was somehow all related to him, and he was close to telling Chris that it would be better if he left.
"You okay?" Vin's touch to his shoulder was gentle and soothing, and as the damp cloth on his face helped wiped away the sweat and dirt, it seemed to take his fear with it.
"Nowhere near okay, but in time..." He tried to smile at Vin, but knew he failed miserably. What he really wanted to do was curl up in Vin's arms, leaning into his smooth, cool leather jacket and let Vin tell him it would all be okay.
His fear was back in force when there was a firm knock on the door, eased only slightly by Vin's touch and quiet, "It's probably Spenser. Chris called him on the way over." He did manage to relax at the sound of Spenser greeting Chris and looked up when the bathroom doorway was filled with both Spenser and Hawk.
Ezra didn't know what to say, and didn't try to think of anything.
"This your fault?"
Maybe, he thought, seems to all be linked to me. But he didn't know why it would be so, so he only had one answer. "No. I don't know who the hell he is, and we both know I don't stay in Motel 6." At least, not any more.
After a long moment, Spenser said, "Yeah," and nodded at him, accepting his answer. "We'll talk later."
He watched Spenser turn away, and met Hawk's gaze as the man continued to stand at the door. A quick nod was all Hawk gave him, but it counted for more than most people would give. Hawk believed him, too.
"He don't say much," Vin said quietly.
"Doesn't have to," Ezra said, just as quietly.
"Suppose not." Vin took the damp cloth and rinsed it out in the sink. "You ready to try getting up?"
He looked at Vin's outstretched hand and, with a sigh, reached up, taking hold and letting himself be pulled to his feet. Vin's arm around his waist reassured and steadied him, and with a few shaky steps, they were by the bed.
"Fuck." Chris was looking at Spenser. "Are you sure?" Obviously they'd missed something, and Ezra knew it couldn't have been good.
"Oh yeah," Spenser answered him, "that's Councilman Averill's nephew." He looked at Nathan. "He going to be okay? Or do we need to get him to a hospital right away?"
Nathan let go of the man's wrist, laying his arm on his chest. "If all they gave him was the same as they gave Ezra, he should be coming around before long."
Spenser looked from Nathan to Ezra, then flashed a smile toward Hawk. "I think we'll take that chance. Be nice to have a little chat with him, see if he wants to help us out. Either way, when we're done with him, we'll drop him off at a hospital across town, near his old haunts. They'll just think he's on another of his benders."
It took three of them to get the man's clothes back on him, and from the sounds he was making while they worked, he was starting to come around.
Once he was dressed, Hawk picked him up and slung him over his shoulder. "Time we were making ourselves scarce."
"Clean out this room, down to the last stray hair. Hang on to that stuff." Spenser pointed to some bits of foil and a syringe on the night stand, and the realization that he'd missed seeing that brought all of Ezra's fear back in force. He took a panicked look at his arms, praying he wouldn't find needle tracks.
"We'll deal with this guy," Spenser said, "and you," he pointed at Ezra, "get some sleep and see what you can remember. We'll talk about it this afternoon." Spenser followed Hawk out the door, stopping and turning one last time. "I wouldn't waste any more time here. It's a safe bet the plan was to have the cops find you two together."
None of it made sense. Drugs. A councilman's nephew. Seedy motels. Who the fuck was doing this to him? To all of them? And why? His brain was still too muzzy to put any of it together, but he had grasped the one thing Spenser had said. They had to get out of there, and fast.
And within minutes, they were heading out. Nathan had carefully packed up the drugs and searched the room for more, while Chris removed any trace that Ezra had been there and Vin wiped down anyplace any of them had touched. It would be an anonymous tryst by an anonymous couple, and if the police showed up, there would be nothing to show otherwise.
By the time they got back to the house, it was nearly dawn, and all Ezra wanted was his own bed and enough pain killers to stop the throbbing in his head. He wasn't allowed either one, though, and found himself sitting in the kitchen with Nathan hovering over him. There was one thing he did want to know, though, and he pulled up his right sleeve. "Is this...?"
Nathan took hold of his arm and looked closely. "Yeah. It is."
Sonofabitch! Of all the things he'd done in his life, as low as he ever got, he'd never turned to hard drugs. And now some bastard had injected him.
Nathan pulled the sleeve down, covering the mark on his arm. "You're going to feel like shit today, but since this is the first time, once it's gone, it's gone. You'll be fine."
He looked up at Nathan, searching his eyes for the truth. He was scared, but he didn't want anything but the absolute truth. And from what he could see in Nathan's face, that was what he was getting.
"You need rest. Go on up with Vin and do the best you can. I can't give you anything more than aspirin for at least twelve hours."
Relief vied with exhaustion, and he let himself be led upstairs to bed. Sleep came and went, but throughout the day Vin stayed near by, holding him, rubbing his back, always there. By late afternoon, even though he was still tired, he couldn't stay in bed any longer.
Spenser would be along sooner or later, and he wanted some time to try and make sense of everything that was happening, so he pushed back the blankets and sat up.
Vin had moved across the room to the couch and looked up with a smile. "You feeling better?"
He thought about it, deciding that besides being tired and still a bit shaky, he would probably survive. "Marginally." He swung his legs over the side of the bed and contemplated standing up, then put thought into action. It wasn't as hard as he expected, and the slight dizziness passed almost immediately.
"Need a hand?" He could see Vin resisting the urge to jump up and help him, and he appreciated being given the independence.
"No, I think I can manage." All he really wanted was a shower; between the situation and the sweat, he felt filthy.
The warmth of the water and clean smell of the soap was exactly what he needed, and after he washed, he stood for several minutes, just letting the water beat over his head and back, working the tension out of his muscles and mind, both. Knowing he couldn't stay there forever, he turned off the water and stepped out, pulling a towel off the rack.
A glance at the mirror, and he stopped, standing still, staring at his reflection and the patches of darkening bruises on his body. He pushed at them, feeling the soreness. So. The aches in his body wasn't all from the drugs. Combine the bruises with his damaged knuckles, and it all added up to a struggle. He hadn't gone down without a fight, and that gave him some small sense of satisfaction.
Vin had already gone downstairs, but had left him clean sweats and a tee-shirt, what Vin called comfort clothes, and it was just right. He still wasn't sure how to sort out everything that was going on, but with some food and sitting with his friends, he'd be ready when Spenser arrived and the hard thinking began.
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