By Enola Jones

Chris waited at the airport. He had received a four AM phone call from Vin – the Columbus airport was open again after the Christmas Eve blizzard and the Twins were coming home!

He stood and watched the giant silver bird’s wheels touch the tarmac. As it taxied to the gate, Chris sent a warm Welcome home.

He was startled by the blast of incoherent rage that slammed into him in return. Okay – which of you--?

Ez. Vin’s mental voice was tight with anger. But I ain’t much better. We’ll tell you about it in the car.

Chris watched the walkway swing out and attach itself to the door of the plane. Can’t wait to hear this one!

Passengers began disembarking. At last, Chris saw them. Shortly before they’d left for Ohio, the Twins had taken to occasionally dressing alike.

It was this sight that greeted Chris – and it would have made him smile if he’d not still felt rage just rolling off both of them. Ezra was holding something close to his body, wrapped in a plane’s blanket. He was cradling it in a distinctive way that Chris instantly recognised.

A BABY? he mentally screeched, unable to speak for shock.

Ezra just glared at him. Vin took the bundle and Ezra nodded, heading toward baggage claim. “Ain’t a baby,” Vin said, softly but sharply. “I’ll show ya, but one laugh an’ you’ll be eatin’ nuts, get my drift?”

Chris nodded. “Drift gotten.”

Vin studied his face for a moment, then opened the blanket. The unmistakable face of an old teddy bear smiled up at Chris.

It was so unexpectedly charming that Chris found himself returning the sewn-on smile. Sensing no laughter, only confusion, Vin relaxed and smiled as well.

Ezra returned with their bags and smiled. “Thanks for not laughing.”

Chris nodded. “Bit confused, though. Why’re you carryin’ a stuffed animal and cradlin’ it like a baby?”

Ezra took it back from Vin. “I’ll show you in the car.”

True to his word, in the car, Ezra unwrapped the teddy bear. A large slash in its back was revealed. “They did it in Columbus, at the airport.”

Between them, Ezra and Vin told of how the toy was one of the last things Ezra had from his father. They told how it had survived two foster families and several attempts by Maude to get rid of it.

Ezra did not sleep with the stuffed animal, but it was always nearby. He’d packed it when the Twins realised they would be in Ohio for a few days. Ezra’d seen the weather and figured they might get trapped by the blizzard – as indeed, they had – and had made certain he’d taken his father’s teddy bear with him.

But on the way home, the bear had been flagged by airport security. A madman had smuggled a gun through sewn inside a teddy bear a week or two prior. Now that it had been discovered, all teddy bears were subject to search.

The holiday crowd had stressed security to the limit. An overzealous officer hadn’t bothered X-raying the bear. She’d merely drawn a knife and slit it down the back, groping around crudely inside before handing it back to Ezra and waving him impatiently through.

It had taken all of the link’s capabilities to keep Ezra from verbally attacking the woman for just doing her job.

Once aboard the plane, Ezra had wrapped the bear into a blanket and just held it like a baby the entire flight.

Chris nodded. He didn’t laugh once. After a moment, he sent a tentative mental image to Ezra – of himself sewing up the bear.

Ezra looked wide-eyed at him. “You would do that? You’re able to do that?”

“Yeah – I’m able. Lemme take it home with me and I’ll get it back to ya right after the new year.”

The Twins’ private link buzzed for awhile, and then Ezra gently laid the violated bear in Chris’s arms.

When the Twins returned to the townhouse after their first day at work, they found the teddy bear sitting on the couch, waiting patiently.

Its back was repaired and its stuffing replaced. Chris had even tied an emerald green bow around its neck. When Ezra’s fingers touched it, he found something hard underneath. Sliding the bow up, he found a small necklace with ‘IM*EZRAS’ in alphabet beads.

Chuckling at the touch, Ezra cradled the bear close and walked into the bedroom to put it back in its accustomed place.

Vin grinned after him. Thanks, Cowboy. Meant a lot t’him.

Thanks for makin’ me a copy of his key, Chris sent in return. And hey – it was worth it to feel that blast of joy.

It sure was, Chris. It SURE was. Happy New Year.

Same to ya, Cowboy. Pass it on to Ez.

You got it. And Vin closed down the link and worked on ordering some supper for the Twins.

Return to The Magnificent Seven page

Return to The Realm