On the sixth of every June, Ezra vanished. After they'd been together for two years, Vin and Chris followed him. Ezra had recently received a head injury and they feared he was still suffering its effects.
They found him dressed in plain clothing, creating an altar under the open sky. "Ezra?" Chris asked.
He whirled. "What are you--"
"You vanished on us. What's going on?"
He sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Remembering. Every year, I come here.... and remember the dead in my family."
"May we join you?" Vin asked. 'Oh, yeah,' he thought. 'Open with us and his emotions on his sleeve. Still suffering from the head blow.'
Ezra looked right at Chris. "I don't want you to. You'll get angry and hurt me."
Chris frowned. "Why would I do that?"
He gestured to two of the candles. "I never met them, I don't know them, but you loved them and therefore, they're part of my family and my remembrance."
And Chris understood. He walked over and squeezed Ezra's shoulder. "Then let me remember them with you."
Ezra's eyes swam with tears. He nodded and turned back to setting up his shrine.
And when the candles were lit and Ezra's trembling voice went up in a prayer for each name, Chris's jaw set in grief when he named Sarah and Adam Larabee. Moments later, Vin found tears spring to his own eyes.
Maria Tanner was one of the whispered names.
His family, Vin realised. We are his family....and he mourns our dead.
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