lookin’ kinda cool

Lyn looked over at Ezra and scowled. “Are you well?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

Ezra pulled his sweater a bit closer and nodded. “Why do you ask?” he said, tilting his head to one side inquiringly.

“You are wearing a sweater,” Lyn said. Ezra shrugged his shoulders, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for him to be wearing a sweater on such a warm day. “Are you… cold?”

“A bit cool,” Ezra said, nodding. He grinned brightly and shrugged again. “I’m still used to warmer weather than this.”

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Waking Up

Ezra frowned slightly as he suddenly realized something. Somewhere along the way, he’d gone from being an agent because he had no other choice to being one because he actually wanted to be one. He blinked and then glanced at Tony.

“What?” Tony said, shaking his head. He tilted his head to one side and his wings shifted slightly.

A faint smile touched Ezra’s lips. “Have I ever mentioned what a joy it is to work with y’all?” he asked.

“We enjoy working with you as well,” Lyn said.

Oops! Out of time!

Ezra watched the computer files transferring from the hard drive to the memory card. His brows furrowed and he glanced at his watch. He shook his head. He was supposed to meet Lyn downstairs in five minutes. Unless the files finished in the next four minutes, he would late.

He bit his lip as he watched the time left change between three minutes and ten minutes. “Come on, come on,” he grumbled. Finally, it seemed to hit a block of small files. Suddenly, the progress bar flew merrily to the end of the space and the time left dropped to less than a minute.

Ezra sighed in relief, as the transfer finished. He ejected the memory card and tucked it away. As he reached out to shut down the computer, he heard a car horn. “Oops,” he breathed. He clicked off the screen and bolted out of the room. At least he’d finished the transfer.

A Line of Greens and Blues

Ezra frowned thoughtfully at the scene that lay before him. He tilted his head one way and then the other as he considered how to go about capturing the image. Then, he began to paint. He was nearly finished with the first layer – the one that captured the general form of the land – when he felt someone staring at him.

“What is it, Lyn?” he asked, his voice soft.

His supervisor gasped softly. Then he stepped closer to Ezra. “Where are the trees?” he asked, nodding at the painting.

Shrugging, Ezra pointed at where the trees would be added in very shortly. “I like to paint in the landform first,” he explained. “Then, I add in the living things – like trees and such. Then, I add the clouds and adjust the tinting so that it fits the light.”

“Is that right?” Lyn asked frowning.

Ezra shrugged. “I taught myself,” he said, shaking his head. He laughed softly. “I’m sure there’s someone else in the world who paints the same way I do, but… is it technically correct? I have no idea.”

A faint smile touched Lyn’s lips and he nodded. “I like it,” he said, nodding. “It’s… closer to the nature of things.” He looked out at the horizon. “Before these trees grew up, the landscape may have looked as you have now captured it.” He stepped back, then, and settled in the grass.

Ezra looked at him a moment longer. Then, he shrugged and went back to his painting. He wanted to finish it before he lost the light.

the power of the star

Ezra looked up at the sky and tilted his head from one side to the other thoughtfully. He sensed Lyn sit down in the grass beside him and pointed upward, at the twinkling little star that he was focusing his attention on.

“The Pole Star,” Lyn said, his voice soft.

Ezra nodded. “Polaris – the North Star,” he said. “Did you know, the people here have used that star to guide them for… centuries?”

Lyn smiled. “Everyone needs a light to guide them,” he said. “The people here use a star, my people use the One.” He blinked when Ezra slapped his arm.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Ezra said. “You don’t always have to be so literal minded!”

Lyn’s smile grew to reach his eyes and he nodded. “True,” he said.

enormous blankets

“What are you staring at?” Lyn asked, regarding his forensic wizard curiously.

Ezra pointed up at the clouds. “They’re so thick,” he said, his voice faint. “Like warm woolen blankets, covering the sky.”

Lyn frowned and then nodded. “They actually function like blankets – keeping the warmth down here,” he said. When he looked back at Ezra, the young man was frowning. “What?”

“I’m trying to make a metaphor and you go all literal and scientific on me,” Ezra said. He shook his head. “That’s a bit annoying, Lyn.”

“I see,” Lyn said, nodding. He needed to remember that Ezra was an artist.

Trust

Lyn was quiet as he waited for his team to assemble. Certain people had been part of Team Gamma under his predecessor. Will and Nat were both skilled and competent agents. Tony was a bit green, but he had a good head on his shoulders.

The unknowns were Winnie and Ezra. Lyn was certain that he could trust Winnie. After all, she and Chris were engaged. He’d known the new Team Alpha leader long enough to trust his judgment. That Chris would trust the woman with his heart was sufficient for her to earn Lyn’s trust.

That left Ezra. According to some reports, he was squirrelly or a coward, possibly both. Word had it, he was only in the Agency so that he could take advantage of the protection it would afford him. Pemberton wasn’t even his name!

Lyn looked up when someone stepped into the room. His green eyes were partially hidden behind thick glasses. This was Pemberton.

“Hello,” he said.

Suddenly, with just that simple greeting, Lyn knew that he’d misjudged Pemberton. If anything, he was the perfect match for the team. He would be the glue that would hold their disparate personalities together.

Pretentious or not, the truth’s in there

Haruko had been talking for a good hour. If Ezra understood him correctly, he was saying that he knew more than anyone else in the Special Investigations Units. That knowledge and skill was what had earned him the position of Director.

Ezra leaned over in his seat and whispered, “Is he always like this?”

A faint smirk touched Lyn’s lips and he lowered his chin in a slight nod. “Director Urban was the exact opposite,” he breathed, managing to speak while hardly moving his lips. “He was quiet and unassuming. He let us do our work without undue interference.”

Nodding, Ezra looked back up at Haruko. From what he knew of Haruko, the man seemed to delight in interfering with their work. He seemed to think it was his right to know, not just what they were doing, but things that had nothing to do with their work.

Frowning, Ezra whispered, “He gained a great deal when Urban died.” In fact, Haruko was the only one who’d gained by the other director’s untimely death. Urban’s murder was still unsolved, the one blemish on their, otherwise, spotless record.

Lyn looked at Ezra sharply. His eyes narrowed and he breathed, “Keep that under your hat.”

Ezra blinked and then nodded slightly. His brows furrowed and he looked back at Haruko. He knew the implications of his words, but he was surprised by Lyn’s reaction. Was Haruko truly a suspect?

Baka-yoke

Lyn had learned long ago to plan for nearly anything that could possibly happen on a mission. There were so many variables that were completely outside his control. If he took the time to consider what might happen and plan for it, at least he wouldn’t be left completely flatfooted if things started to go wrong.

However, he was coming to learn that Ezra was just one of those variables for which he could never plan. When this man was part of the mix, there was just no such thing as fool proof.

He stepped over to Ezra and offered his hand. “Were you cursed as a child?” he asked.

Ezra chuckled wryly and rubbed the back of his neck. He stood without help from Lyn. He’d learned not to trust that offered hand early on. “At least you didn’t ask me if I were dropped on my head,” he said. “Chris used to, you know.”

Lyn snorted. “I considered it, as I watched all my carefully laid plans go up in a puff of smoke,” he said. Then, he shook his head. “You’re no fool, you just have the devil’s luck.” That comment was meant with gales of laughter from the southerner. Lyn’s ears twitched. He failed to see the humor in this situation.

Get Back in Context!

“I asked first,” Chris said, brushing off his clothing. He stood and then straightened his tie. “Besides, it’s classified.” It was strange to see Miriam standing on the deck of the airship. To say it was the last thing he’d expected would be an understatement.

All his life, people he knew from one aspect of life had seem determined to show up in unexpected places. It had started with Winnie. When he’d seen her with Ezra for the first time, he hadn’t known whether to laugh or cry.

Now, he was Miriam. She was a wizard – a reporter for Magic Weekly, or she had been last time they’d spoken. Yet, here she was: standing on the deck of a ship that the Agency had hired to extricate them. It was jarring, seeing her there.

“Seriously, Mir,” Chris said, shaking his head. “You… shouldn’t be here. It’s too strange.”

She snorted. “Imagine how I feel,” she grumbled. “This is the last place in the world that I’d ever imagine seeing you and in the most unlikely of circumstances.”

“She knows you but little,” Lyn said, his tone teasing.

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