Faces From the Past

by ReaperWriter

Disclaimer: I don’t own them, I wish I did, but I don’t. They do belong to and No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended. However, I write for the love, not for money. I am also borrowing the ATF/AU universe, created by MOG and I do thank her for creating it for all of us out there with too much free time.

Warnings: Minor Violence, some language, mention of rape, but not discussed indepth (more of listed as a charge in an arrest)

Author’s Note: This story was Beta read by Rhonda. She has been an absolute angel for helping me get it all set. This series is meant to run parallel to the one I am writing set in the OW MAG7 universe. Lili plays the same role in both series, a window to part of Ezra’s shadowed past, and a key to unlocking his future (God, that was the sappiest bunch of bull......). Lillian Grace “Lili or LiliGrace” MacKenna is mine, and any use of her must be with permission from me. I’m nice, so just ask. Stuff in italics is thoughts. Anyways, on with the show.

Summary: When the Denver Federal Law Enforcement Agencies get a new chief Crime Scene Investigator, Ezra gets the shock of his life. But can he forgive his mother, his friend and himself for an incident that occurred ten years ago?

Mid-afternoon, ATF Office, Denver

Chris sighed as his men settled into their seats in the conference room of their office on the 6th floor of the Denver Federal Building. Buck and JD were engaged in a half wrestling, half jostling bout. Vin was cleaning his weapon, while jawing on some beef jerky. Josiah’s gaze had been engaged by something out the window, which showed a clear view of the mountains. Ezra sat, idly shuffling his ever present pack of cards. Nathan was pouring over the latest emergency medical journals. Sometimes, getting their attention was difficult.

“Guys”, he said again, still getting no response. Quietly, he picked us a one pound sack of sand and launched it at the wall just above JD and Buck, producing a large “BOOM!”. He smiled as his men all looked up. He would have to thank Mary for that little gift. “Now that I have your attention, let’s get down to business. First off, our last case has been reviewed, and the judge said we are officially being commended for the bust.” Chris paused as the men cheered.

“Bout damn time they commended us,” Vin said, with JD nodding in agreement.

“I believe, Mr. Tanner,” Ezra said, “it has always been the government’s policy to chastise more than cheer.”

“All right, guys, settle down, I’m not done,” Chris said. This time, his men immediately quieted down. “As you know, we are supposed to have the next week off, but I am afraid we will be needed for something.” The collective groan rang out on almost one pitch, another eerie reminder of just how insync these men were. “Look, it’s not a case, or a bust, or anything so tragic,” Chris continued. “As you know, the chief CSI officer for the Denver area federal justice system has retired and is being replaced. The replacement is being welcomed at a cocktail party

this Thursday, at the Hyatt ballroom.” Chris continued as he gestured through the window behind him to the large hotel next door. “Attendance is mandatory, dress code is black tie. You may bring a date if you want.”

“Black tie?! Ah hell, Chris,” Vin said, looking at his worn Levi’s and comfortable t-shirt.

“No arguments. See Brandi if you need help finding a provider of formal wear, it’s going on the expense account anyways,” Chris said. “Otherwise, I don’t want to see any of you in this office until next week.” The men got up and headed out.

Buck stopped at the door after the others had exited. “Hey Chris, who is the new doc?”

Chris glanced at the memo. “Somebody named L.G. MacKenna.”

+ + + + + + +

True to form, the men of ATF 7 all arrived to the cocktail party at the same time, with little previous communication on the matter. The ballroom of the Hyatt was incredibly classy as it played host to a load of federal agents and city and state higher ups in formal wear. JD tugged irritably at his collar until Casey slapped his hand away and straightened it for him. Nathan was looking handsome in a classic tux, as he stood next to Raine who was wearing a lovely black evening gown as she stood talking quietly. Chris arrived alone, knowing that Mary would be here with AD Travis. He laughed as he saw Vin, accompanied by his older friend, Nettie. Vin’s hair was neat, and he looked incredible in his tux. He had opted for the more western banded collar with a stud, and Chris had to laugh at the worn black ropers on his feet. Buck was going solo this evening, hoping to find a nice lady Fed to spend quality time with. Josiah had been the true jokester, however. His black tux nicely complimented the smiley-face patterned tie and cumberbun he wore.

Ezra had managed as usual to separate himself ever so slightly from the group, but anyone looking could see the invisible line that connected him to the rest. His eyes constantly watched the men he now considered friends, making sure nothing could hurt them. His own tuxedo, immaculately clean and perfectly tailored, fit him like a glove, and the deep crimson vest and tie nicely complimented his coloring. He relieved a passing waiter of a glass of champagne and

watched the rest of the team fan out, JD and Casey headed over to a small dance floor, Nettie and Vin to a table where the head of Children’s Services sat. Chris made a bee-line for Mary Travis and her former father-in-law, AD Travis. Nathan and Rain were speaking to the Dean of UC-Denver, and Buck was hitting on a woman Ezra recognized as an analyst from the DEA. He chuckled softly, without once breaking his carefully maintained poker face. Still, he felt something wrong with this picture. He had been observing all the men at this little soiree and all of them looked familiar, and this made him wonder where the guest of honor was. He couldn’t shake the feeling there was someone else here, someone else he knew well. He had always had this odd sixth sense about the people that mattered.

Chris saw Ezra moving in his direction and waved at him. Ezra was almost upon the little group: Chris and Mary Travis, lovely in a light blue evening gown, the mayor of Denver, the governor of Colorado, and AD Travis. The last member of the group, a woman, had her back to him, but suddenly Ezra stopped dead in his tracks. The beautiful back, in the shimmering charcoal gray evening gown, looked incredibly familiar, as did the color of the hair. No, the cut was wrong, it couldn’t be....Ezra struggled to maintain his poker face as old, long buried emotions and memories came out of the crack in the Pandora’s box in his mind. Glancing around, Ezra was preparing to make a hasty retreat when AD Travis saw him, and said, “Standish! Come meet the new kid...er, sorry. Ezra, this is Special Agent MacKenna.” With that, the woman turned around, and Ezra saw the briefest look of shock flash through the beautiful deep brown eyes, the color of chocolate, exactly as he remembered them. “Agent MacKenna, this is Agent Standish.”

“Hello, Ezra,” the woman said. “It’s been a long time.”

“Lili,” Ezra replied. Oh Shit.

Chris, Mary and the Orrin Travis exchanged a look. “You two know each other?’ Mary asked.

“From another life time, Mrs. Travis. From another lifetime.” With that, Ezra made off quickly towards the doors in a wall of glass that led to the balcony. Out the huge window wall, the moon lit up the Rockies. Lili, her own pokerface firmly in place, turned to the others.

“If you’ll excuse me,” she said politely. She turned and followed Ezra, stopping just long enough to grab two fresh flutes of champagne.

I’ll be damned, Chris thought. I’ll be dammed.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra heard the door open and close, and he didn’t have to turn around to know who was behind him.

“Lili Grace,” he said.

“It’s been a hell of a long time Ezra. Do I at least get a hug?” Ezra turned and looked at her. The hair that was once so damn long was cropped off in a short, sassy pixie cut. But the figure, the face, and the eyes were the same. Why was she still so...her.

“It’s not that easy, Lili Grace. It’s just...It’s...”. How the hell could she act like this was easy?

“Look, whatever I did all those years ago, Ezra, can’t you forgive me? Or at least give me a clue as to what I did?” she asked, her voice pleading. Ezra looked at her, really gazed hard, and was shocked to see tears forming in her eyes. The queen of the straight face was breaking down quietly. Just then, Ezra heard the door open. He turned his head and saw JD stick his head out.

“Everything okay, Ez?” he asked.

“Go back inside, Mr. Dunne,” Ezra said. “We’re fine out here.” The boy nodded and shut the door. Ezra could see Chris and Mary standing near one of the exits onto the patio and Vin and Nettie at the other. He smiled softly to himself.

In the meantime, Lili had walked back to the balcony rail. She reached in her small evening bag and removed a linen handkerchief. Dabbing her eyes, she sighed, “Hell of a big tough agent I am.”

“How is your husband, Lili Grace?”

She turned and looked at Ezra, with confusion written on a usually unreadable face. “Ezra, what in the hell are you talking about.”

“When you disappeared from Boston University, the general consensus was you had run away with an actor, to New York,” Ezra said, moving himself next to her, as she stood at the rail. He noticed her shiver a bit, and without thinking, removed his tuxedo jacket and placed it around her shoulders.

Lili laughed bitterly. “Funny, nobody mentioned that when I came back the next semester.”

“Next semester,” Ezra said. “You weren’t back, you didn’t walk with the class.” Confusion reigned in Ezra’s senses.

“I did Ezra, but from what I understood, you didn’t care who walked. Michael told me you sat through the whole ceremony with a blank stare, got your diploma, and then got the hell out of there as soon as it was over.”

“Where were you, then?” Ezra asked. “One day you were there, the next your apartment is locked, your land lady said you were gone, your phone was disconnected.”

“You know where I was, Ezra.”

“No, I really don’t.” Lili looked up, searching his face. Ezra tried to make her see with his eyes, but the poker face refused to give.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t get my phone message, Ezra. I left two.”

“Phone message?” Ezra looked confused. “I was out at the library, returning my research from Dr. Allen’s class, and when I got back to the apartment, my mother.....I’LL KILL HER.” Ezra couldn’t believe his mother. She had used him in every possible way, but this....

“You mean Maude...she erased...Oh, God,” Lili said, laughing and then sobbing a little. Ezra tried to reach out, but Lili pulled away. “Maude told you I ran off with some guy? And you believed her.” Ezra still couldn’t manage to break, he was so used to keeping things in. “Well, Ezra, it seems we were both very mistaken about things back then. I believed you trusted me completely, that you valued our friendship enough to get the news from me, and you believed I would run off with some no account actor and not tell you, that our friendship meant nothing to me. I suppose it is best we figured this out now.” She handed Ezra back his jacket, and dabbed her eyes again. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a roomful of Federal sharks to impress.” With that, she swept through the door where Mary and Chris stood. Ezra watched her retreating back.

Oh, hell. Things just got a damnable sight more complicated.

+ + + + + + +

Chris couldn’t figure out what to do about his undercover man. Ezra was pulling his load, reports were on time, research was finished. They had another couple of days before anything was supposed to get thrown their way. But, the agent had closed up tighter then an armadillo in mid-roll and Chris didn’t understand it. He didn’t talk to anyone beyond shortly answering questions, not even JD, who bless him, could break down the strongest defenses. Ever since that damned cocktail party with the lovely Agent MacKenna. Ezra had offered no explanation as to what was said on the balcony, or even how he knew the forensic specialist, and Chris knew better than to push him. Still it was obvious to Chris that he was in pain, and it was killing him and the other men not to be able to help their friend. Finally, Chris shut his door

and picked up the phone. He pulled out the card the judge gave him and listened to it ring once, then again...

“Lili’s Bed and Breakfast, you’ll sleep like the dead.” The voice took Chris by surprise. He was even more surprised when the voice added, “Do forgive me Mr. Larabee, morgue humor. I saw your name on Caller ID and couldn't resist. What can I do for you?”

“Agent MacKenna...”

“Please call me Lili.”

“Lili, I was wondering if you and I could grab lunch. There are some things I want to discuss,” Chris said. A quiet shattering noise came from the background.

“Damn it, Steven, be careful please....” Lili gave an exasperated sigh. “Sorry about that Mr. Larabee...”


“Chris, that should be fine. Why don’t you come on down to my office in about fifteen minutes, so I have time to kill Steven and hide the body.” Chris sat unsure for a minute. “More morgue humor there Chris. See you in fifteen minutes.”

Chris hung up the phone with a sigh. Same strange sense of humor as the southerner. Looking out his window, he knew the course of action he was taking was going to piss Ezra off, but if it helped him in the end, so be it.

+ + + + + + +

Chris knocked on the door, sure he had the right place when he saw a pretty sign in a foreign language, with the translation Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here in parentheses beneath it.

“Come in,” he heard Lili holler, and walked in just in time to see the woman, in a glassed off sub room and dressed in a white pair of coveralls, whack an apparently unconscious man with a large bat.

“WHAT THE HELL!” Chris hollered. Lili looked up, and set the bat down.

“It’s a dummy, Mr. Larabee.” Walking over, she keyed a code into a pad on her side of the door. The door beeped and she stepped through, carefully removing her coveralls and hanging them on a hanger. She took the hanger and clipped it to a hook in the ceiling. She grinned softly, rather used to the shock people got from seeing her work. “I am recreating a witness’s version of events to see if the blood spatters match what she claims happened. If not, we’ll know she lied, and that she might actually be our killer.”

Chris looked at the young woman, and wondered if she let people watch her do that often. Slipping on her sneakers, she grabbed her purse and her keys. “Ready?” he asked, still not sure what to make of the ME.

“Sure,” Lili said, as they exited. She paused to lock her door, then led him back towards the elevator. The two walked in companionable silence to the large parking garage of the Federal building. “Your car or mine?” she asked, holding up her keys. He nodded to her, and Lili led the man over two rows to the most perfect vintage Shelby Cobra he had ever seen. Chris let out an appreciative whistle.

“Nice, very nice,” he said. She smiled, a little sadly.

“Graduation gift from my father,” she sighed. “My everyday SUV is in the shop.” Unlocking the door, she climbed in as Chris gave her directions to Inez’s saloon. Within minutes, the Cobra roared out of the parking garage.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra sat petulantly at his desk, rereading a report for the fourth time without really seeing it. All he could see was her, him, them, all those years ago.

Boston University, 1988

Ezra sighed the sigh of the weary. One week into school and already he felt the familiar sense of alienation. Plopping down at an unoccupied table with his tray of dorm food , he asked again for the hundredth time why he was here. Here and not ..well, anywhere but here. Suddenly, someone came to his view in a way that could only suggest his table had been invaded.

“I really don’t feel like company, thanks,” he said, not looking up.

“Well, this happens to be the only open seat available, so I’m afraid you shall have to deal with it.” The simple, authoritative voice, behind a well-worded statement caused Ezra to look up for the first time. A lovely young woman, with chestnut brown hair cascading in gentle waves down her back, and rich brown eyes the color of chocolate sat across from him. Her heart shaped face held a bit of its own internal humor, and for some reason, Ezra just felt better. “Miss Lillian Grace MacKenna, but my friends call me Lili. I believe we have sociology together.”

Ezra suddenly recognized the hair. “Yes, you sat a few rows ahead of me this past week. Ezra Standish. Sorry to be so rude, Miss MacKenna, but it has been a hellascious week.”

“I shall forgive you, sir, only if you call me Lili.” She said, then poked at her rubberized chicken. “I do believe this chicken would do better in a garbage disposal. What do you say, Mr. Standish? Shall we try one of the off campus eateries, my treat.”

Ezra scrutinized her eyes for a moment, but her poker face was just as good as his. “Forgive me Miss....Lili, but what is you angle?”

“Why Mr. Standish..”


“Ezra, I seek nothing more than company for the evening and possibly someone more conducive to sit next to in Sociology,” Lili grinned.

“Well, I did hear from my advisor there is a cafe just off campus.......”

Ezra returned to the present, and noticed Vin starring at him.

“You all right, Ez?” the sharpshooter asked.

“I’m quite well, thank you,” Ezra answered. Standing, he grabbed his coat off the rack the two men kept. “I’m going to go grab some lunch and pick up my dry cleaning. I shall return within the 2:00 hour.”

Vin watched as Ezra hurried out of the office, noting the hunched look of his shoulders. Something was seriously no bueno, Vin knew that for sure.

+ + + + + + +

Chris had grabbed a couple of menus on the way in and snagged a quiet booth at the back of Inez’s Saloon. Looking over the menu, Lili chuckled. “You actually get Ezra to eat here?” she asked, after ordering the Chili Muy Caliente, one of the house specialties.

Chris smiled inspite of himself. “He took a lot of convincing.” Then he noticed her expression reverted to one of business. “You know, we don’t really have to talk about this, if you don’t want to.”

Lili shook her head. For all the horror stories she had heard about the mountain lion who led the ATF 7, he seemed more like a mother cat, caring for a litter of kittens. She had made it a point to know all the department heads and team leaders before she came on the job, and she had found Chris’s file very difficult reading. The man’s life had been marred by more tragedy then anyone she really knew, two people excepted. However, she refused to let her own

woes overcome her, and she knew the other person was why Chris asked to meet with her.

“If you want to be able to work as a team, to function at your highest, you have to understand your men on all levels. I can’t tell you everything I know without breaking a lot of confidences that, no matter what may have happened between Ezra and I, I am unwilling to break.” Lili sipped her Lemonade quietly for a moment.

“How did you two know each other?” Chris asked, trying to give her a jumping off point.

“I made a nuisance of myself in the first week of school....

+ + + + + + +

Ezra had his food and his dry-cleaning and was headed back to the office. Suddenly, he pulled a U-turn with his Jag as a sign on the other side of the street caught his eye. Rocky Mountain Floral was empty as he walked in. The sales girl looked up, startled to be getting a customer in person in the age of phone, fax, and e-business orders.

“Can I help you sir?”

“Yes,” Ezra said, pulling out his visa. “I need a dozen champagne roses delivered preferably by 5 PM today, and do you have any stationary......”

+ + + + + + +

Chris sat, totally enthralled by the woman across from him. She was painting a picture of Ezra that seemed foreign. He listened to her describe his jaded undercover agent as a college student, a friend, and someone still somewhat able to trust.

“Ezra was a lot more free spirited after that first year. Maude kept her visits infrequent at best, and when she was there, Ezra had me stick to him like glue. I remember him telling me once that it was people like her who made him want to go into a career of helping people,” Lili said, an unmistakable streak of anger breaking across her face.

“You don’t hold any affection for Maude do you?” Chris said, taking another bite of his barbecue sandwich.

“Let’s just say that Maude and I were always between a rock and a hard place. In a strange way, the way she raised Ezra could have been a page from what my brother tried to instill in me; distrust others, protect yourself, cover your own back. I believe she does care something for him, but he way of showing it is not healthy. I watched her forget him on birthdays, winter holidays, and other occasions too many times to count. I was a force keeping Ezra on the straight and narrow, and that made it much more difficult for Maude to manipulate him. She disliked me, but until my enlightening conversation with Ezra the other evening, I never realized exactly how much.” Lili sighed softly, pushing her chili away.

Chris looked hard at this woman, really, she looked a mere girl, and saw the same pain he sometimes sensed from Ezra. “You don’t have to tell me...”

“You want to know what happened with Ezra and me?” she said. He nodded. “We both needed a summer and fall semester to graduate. Our friendship was a tight one, and we looked forward to spending time together, preparing for the future. At the last minute, I received word that I had been accepted for a Bureau internship with the head of forensics. I was elated. Ezra was in New York for a few days, at a cousin’s wedding , and I had to hurry, so I left two messages on his machine, telling him I had to leave for DC, to please call me when he got in. I was sure he’d be thrilled, and I could come up on the weekend to visit him.”

“I don’t understand. What happened?” Chris asked.

“Maude happened,” Lili sighed. “She whirled into town, unexpectedly, and got into Ezra’s apartment. When she heard the messages, she had a perfect opportunity. She erased them, and then told Ezra some tale of me running away with a boy. When Ezra didn’t call, I called him, but he never returned my calls. He had his number changed. I took time off and came up to Boston, but he refused to see me....” her voice broke slightly, and Chris could see she was angered by the show of weakness. “I stopped trying. I assumed I had done something to cause him to hate me. I graduated and went into Georgetown’s graduate program for forensics. My mentor during my internship recruited me to the Academy, and I finished at the top of my class. I’ve been at Bureau Forensic Headquarters ever since, until I received this assignment. I never knew Ezra was FBI; we missed each other by one training group at the Academy.”

“Wow,” Chris said.

“Honestly, Mr. Larabee, the fact Ezra has let you in at all speaks highly of you and your men. Maude did everything she could so he would never trust anyone, and the fact he even functions with everything he was put through surprises me.” Lili stood up as Chris laid money on the table to cover their bill. “Now, I really do need to get back and check my splatter work.”

“Lili,” Chris said, softly. “How long did it take for you to know you were in love with him?”

She sighed. “That first night, as we sat on the quad talking.”

“Did he know?” Chris had fully expected the shake of her head. “And you ceased to love him just like that? That’s a tragedy.” Chris grabbed his jacket as they walked back to the car.

“Ceased? I will go to my grave loving that neurotic, sanctimonious son of a bitch, Mr. Larabee. That is the tragedy.”

+ + + + + + +

Ezra looked at the simple blue stationery he had written his missive on. His neat, private school penmanship flowed across the page, and he reread the note one last time.

The letter was short, but eloquent:

Darling Lili,

My closest friend, I can not begin to tell you how sorry I am. Throughout our friendship, you were the source of honesty to my mother’s deceit. The fact I believed her over you proves my faults, and none of yours. I could wholly accept it if you never wished to be in my presence again, and in honesty, it might be safer that way. However, please know I never stopped wondering what happened to you, and I would do anything to put it right.

By friendship bound,

E. S.

PS: Masquerading as a man with a reason/ My charade is the event of the season/ And if I claim to be a wise man, well/ It surely means that I don't know.

Satisfied, Ezra sealed the envelope and handed it to the girl at the counter. On the front He had written, “Miss L.G. MacKenna, Federal Building, Pathology Lab."

“They’ll be there in one hour, sir.” Ezra smiled and hand the girl a twenty dollar tip.

+ + + + + + +

Lili was heading toward the elevators as the security guard at the main desk stopped her. “Agent MacKenna!” She turned and walked over. “Delivery for you, Doc.” The guard pulled out a beautiful crystal vase overflowing with greenery, baby’s breath, and the most stunning champagne roses she had ever seen. Tied to the front, with a lovely cream satin ribbon, was a simple blue envelope, addressed in flowing handwritten script to her, and sealed with a sticker identifying the florist.

Lili stood for a minute, looking at the vase in complete shock. “Thanks, Sgt. Myers,” she said, taking the vase and walking quickly back to the elevator. As she waited for it to deposit her at her floor, she wondered idly who could have sent her the arrangement. She had a pretty good idea, but after their last confrontation, she would be surprised. The comment she had thrown Ezra the other night would have once sent him running, and she was quietly angry at herself for being as harsh on him as she had been. She was furious at Maude, for being cruel to her son, and for ruining the most amazing friendship Lili had known since her brother Billy had died. Billy had been the anchoring force in Lili’s young life, and when he died shortly after her sixteenth birthday it had confirmed her belief that becoming attached and trusting people would only get you hurt.

Lili’s youth had been very similar to Ezra’s, with the exception of her older brother. Her parents, William Thackery MacKenna III and Eleanor Stanton-MacKenna foisted their childrearing responsibilities off on countless domestics and boarding schools over the years. Billy and Lili would be called home on holidays to be paraded before their parent’s social contacts and business associates. Then they went right back to the nanny, the house-keeper, or whoever was handy. The two children, old enough early on to know, began directing Mother’s and Father’s Day

cards to the people who really took care of them, rather than their blood relations. William the elder ran around having constant affairs with his secretaries, while Eleanor rarely came out of her sherry bottles. Billy, three years older, had been the one to always make sure Lili came out okay, making sure they attend co-educational boarding schools or at least affiliated institutions where he could go to visit her. He taught her to be tough, to show no emotion, and to pick her fights carefully. He also promised never to leave her. That was the only promise Billy broke.

Lili had been sitting in the library of the small all-ladies school she was attending in Vermont when the headmistress came to find her. The woman had been as gentle as possible, explaining there had been an accident with the Boston University crew team, of which Billy was the freshman star. A speed boat, driven by a drunken fraternity boy, had hit her brother’s boat during his early morning practice run. Billy had died instantly.

Lili nodded, placed her poker face firmly on, and went to pack a bag. The family chauffeur came to take her home for the funeral, where she stood stoically by as the only person to love her was lowered into the ground. Then she returned, and studied increasingly hard, finishing her course work a semester early. She remained at the school, rather than go home, and took a semester of arts classes, as well as guitar lesson from a gentleman in town. The full ride to Boston came in combination for her grades, and in remembrance of Billy, and she jumped at it. It was on Saturday evening of that first week that she took the last seat in the cafeteria and met Ezra.

Boston University, 1988

What had started as dinner had turned into an evening. Being Friday, neither Lili nor Ezra had anywhere to be the next day, and neither were in a hurry to go back to their lonely single rooms. So, they sat on the quad, under a tree, and talked. They talked about anything and everything. The connection was instant. The knowledge of one lone wolf, one wounded creature of another’s presence, had transcended everything that evening, as they spoke on politics, international affairs, art, and music.

“What do you mean you’ve never heard of Kansas before?” Lili said, looking surprised. “They’re classic.”

“My prep school education rarely included modern music appreciation, Lili,” Ezra shot back, sipping the coffee he had purchased from a street vendor. “I spent most of my time devoted to music in a practice room banging out Chopin.”

“That song is so perfect though,” Lili said, sipping her own hot cocoa. Ezra had been surprised when she refused the initial offer of coffee, explaining it didn’t agree with her. Only a little later, she explained that she had gone for coffee with her brother, the last time she saw him. Quietly, she added, “It was Billy’s favorite.”

Ezra looked at this girl, at her amazing stoic expression that rivaled his own. He knew there was an amazing amount of pain in that statement. They had already touched on their respective parents, and Ezra couldn’t help but wonder what a big brother the likes of Billy would have done for his less than stellar childhood.


“Mmm,” she said. She and Ezra had ended up in the middle of the quad, and Lili was laying back against a tree next to him, leaning a bit on his shoulder. She smelled like lavender and Ivory soap.

“Would you sing it?”

“Sing what?”

“The song. Billy’s song.” Ezra glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and saw that her eyes were closed. He was unprepared for the pure contra-alto voice that started softly singing next to him.

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more ...

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high ...

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
I can hear them say ...

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more ...

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, well
It surely means that I don't know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune
But I hear the voices say ...

Carry on my wayward son
here'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

No! ...Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
urely heaven waits for you ...

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more .”

Lili was perfectly still when she finished. She didn’t sing anymore, not since Billy had died. He had been the only one she had ever been that comfortable with.

“Lili, your right,” Ezra said. “That is a perfect song, and you sang it beautifully. Billy would be proud of you.”

Lili could feel herself tremble, and for the first time, didn’t curse the weakness that let it happen. She wasn’t hiding from Ezra. Hell, she didn’t want to. She felt....safe, like she always had with Billy. Maybe it was the way she sensed that he had been wounded too often too. Maybe it was his damnably sexy southern accent. He was handsome, there was no doubt of that. Lili knew she was on the down slope and wasn’t likely to stop anytime soon. It was frightening in a way. The girl who had fought so hard to stay standing on solid ground was rapidly falling for Ezra Standish.

+ + + + + + +

Lili stepped off the elevator and quickly made for her lab. Unlocking the door, she bypassed the splatter room and headed straight to her small office. Setting the flowers down on the desk, she removed the ribbon and used one of her far distant ancestor’s dirks to unseal the envelope.


e-mail the author at: reaperwriter@hotmail.com