Hearing the scream, Chris moaned as he peeled himself out of bed. He wondered when the nightmares would end for his son. They had brought Ezra back home almost as week ago, but he was suffering from multiple nightmares a night. He knew he was going to need to find Ezra a therapist to deal with his traumas. Ezra’s problems were out of his depth and he only seemed to make things worse with his son. Since that first moment together in the hospital when Ezra clung to him, he had lost that connection with his son; and wasn’t sure how to get it back. His heart ached every time Ezra flinched or pulled away from him. Those were nothing compared to the terrified look he would see in those green depths before they shuttered to emptiness.
He walked down the hall, hoping Ezra had already fallen back asleep. Hearing the quiet voice of Vin soothing his brother had the corner of his mouth curve upward. Vin was a Godsend in his dealing with Ezra. He knew it was cowardly of himself, but he listened outside the door as the boys spoke in hushed tones. When a few moments passed with no words between the boys he peeked into the room. Ezra was sound asleep, his hand clutching onto Vin’s. Vin was singing, his voiced pitched so low that Chris couldn’t understand the words. His free hand ran through Ezra’s hair, back and forth. The touch was ghostlike, soothing and repetitive. No words were exchanged when he meet the astute azure gaze. He nodded his head at the boy before leaving the room and heading back to bed. He had to go back to work tomorrow, and he had to pull his team back together.
Thinking on the guys, he frowned at the absence of Buck over the past week; and when he did show up he seemed to avoid spending any time with the boys, Ezra especially. JD wasn’t much different than his usual self, but soaked up the attention Buck lavished on him. He was curious about Ezra, but always have a confused look on his face after trying to hold a conversation with the boy. Ezra went out of his way to avoid both Nathan and Josiah. He wasn’t sure why, but Nathan seemed to latch onto the kid having prejudicial thoughts about a black man. With Josiah he tended to think the man’s size was probably intimidating to his son after the trauma he had gone through.
He glared at the clock’s reading of 2:45 knowing his sleep would again be interrupted before the night was over.
Ezra gasped as he awoke, jolting Vin awake at his slumber beside him.
“Ya alright Ez?” Vin rubbed his neck, trying to ease the pain he felt from sleeping in such an awkward position.
Ezra looked around wide-eyed before his face blanked out, “Sorry to disturb your rest Vin.”
“Weren’t no bother.” Vin watched Ezra duck his head before he grinned at his little brother. “Hey, guess what!”
Rolling his eyes at Vin, “I do detest guessing games at such a dreadful time of day.”
“Only you’d think 7:00 is such a dreadful time of day,” he mimicked.
His lip curved every so slightly at his brother’s antics. “Alright then Vin, what is so different this morning?”
“Ya skipped a nightmare.”
“Yup,” Vin looked mighty satisfied with himself.
“And I suppose that your going to take credit for that event?”
Ezra shook his head at the boy’s antics. It was really too early to be in such a chipper mood. “Fine, fine. You can take the credit. Now get out of here so I can get dressed.” He made shooing motions with his hands hoping the boy would take the hint.
Vin frowned, “You sure you’re gonna be able to get dressed on your own?”
“Of course,” he blushed remembering the needed help before he was released into his father’s care. His smile dipped as he thought about his dad, and fell completely as his eyes turned onto Vin.
Vin had watched the emotions flicker across Ezra’s face, wondering what had caused the boy to become upset. “Ya sure?” He asked again, “I don’t mind.”
Ezra shook himself from his thoughts and turned to the older boy, “I can do it.”
“Alright ya just holler if ya need any help.”
Ezra nodded and watched Vin head out of the room. “Vin,” he saw him peer over his shoulder. At the raised eyebrow he continued in a soft voice, “thank you for last night.”
Vin’s smile made his stomach leap. “Anytime Ez, anytime,” and then he turned and left, closing the door almost all the way closed with him.
Vin’s smile feel after he left his little brother’s room. No kid should have had to go through the crap that kid had gone through, and that was only the stuff they knew about. He shuddered at the unknown stuff his brother wouldn’t talk about. The bruises alone spoke of the violent encounter Ezra had with his step-father. Now even weeks past the horrid event, they were still vivid on the kid’s face and chest. It was hard to not want to help Ezra with everything, but remembering his own experiences he knew that the kid needed to regain his Independence. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard Chris calling them for breakfast.
“Morning Dad,” he greeted as he sat down at the table,
“Morning, you boys get any sleep last night?” Chris asked while slathering butter on a piece of toast.
“Yeah, and Ezra didn’t have another nightmare last night.” He grinned at him before turning his head toward the hallway wondering what was taking Ezra so long to get to the table.
“He’ll be out in a little while, you know Ezra needs more time to get going in the morning.”
Vin laughed at Chris reading his thoughts. They enjoyed a few moments of quiet conversation before Ezra made his way to the table. He frowned at the slow movements, wondering how long it would be before he saw what the boy was normally like.
“Could you pass the toast please,” Ezra asked Chris.
Chris passed the plate and frowned at Ezra when he pushed the plate of eggs and sausage away from him. “You not going to eat that?”
“It’s far too early to eat such a heavy meal, the toast will suffice. Although I could really use a cup of coffee.”
“No coffee, besides the medication your too young to be drinking that stuff.”
Ezra frowned at him before biting into his toast.
Vin watched the interaction between the two and felt the tension in the room increase. It seemed within minutes of being together Chris and Ezra would start to butt heads. On more than one occasion he found himself to be drawn into the arguments. He was certain this time would be no different.
By the time breakfast was over and Chris was ready to head off to work, Vin wondered how the good morning had changed so dramatically. Chris’ parting words for him to watch over Ezra resulted in the said boy slamming and locking his bedroom door. He tried to get the boy to budge and come out of his room, but was ignored.
It didn’t seem to matter what he did, nothing was ever right. He really liked Vin, but couldn’t help feeling jealous of the closeness that he shared with his father. He knew it was petty, but he should have that closeness with the man. Not being on the outside looking in. He was cursed he thought to himself, cursed to ruin everything good in his life. He should be happy to be back home with his father, but he wasn’t happy with the circumstances that had brought him back. He wondered if Chris really wanted him or if he was just the only one left to take responsibility of him. What other reason would it be when the man had ignored all the letters he had sent over the years. Why now? He just didn’t understand why his father never tried to find him before. He felt a twinge in his gut as he recalled hearing Vin call his father Dad the first time and the way the man beamed afterward. The banging on his door made him jump, eliciting a gasp from the pain the movement caused.
“Open up Ezra, dang it I know you’re in there,” the door rattled as he heard Vin pulling on it.
He angrily wiped the tears from his face and sniffed. He didn’t want to talk to Vin, he just wanted to be left alone. “Go away,” he cried, knowing his voice was pitched too low to be heard.
“Fine, we’ll talk when you decide to show yourself.”
Ezra curled up on the bed when he heard the footsteps recede down the hallway. The tears bubbled up again. It’s just not fair, what’s so wrong with me? Why do I lose everyone I care about? He buried his head into the pillows, unable to stop the flow of his tears.