The following is a work of fan fiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters and settings. This story is strictly for entertainment. 

My thanks as always to Antoinette and MAC for your help and support.

This one is for my sister Eileen, a great sister and magical web master.  Thanks.

M7  OW  in the Gambler and the Renegade AU

Main characters are Vin, Ezra and Chris.

Continued from Darkness and Light.

 

The Bad Element

1875

The present

Chris Larabee had been part of a posse sent out from Tascosa to hunt down, an escaped killer called Vin Tanner, he had let the posse do the work, and watched with cynical amusement as they had scared off by the very man they were hunting. Until finally the posse had spit half of the remaining men had taken off after a gambler called Ezra Standish, the others had kept on in pursuit of Vin Tanner, until the hunted had become the hunter Now there was only Chris following his prey, he had heard the other men from the posse speculate that he was after Tanner for revenge, but that was far removed from the truth, as you could get.

He had met Vin in a fly speck of a town, and had his world had tipped on its axel the moment he had looking into those devil may care blue eyes. Chris nudged his horse forward, his mind drifting back to when he had first met Vin, he had offered him a safe place to sleep after the younger man had been attacked by a couple of drunken cowboys who couldn’t take no for an answer.

Chris sat down on the bed in his room, and nodded towards the one chair, as he rooted into his saddle bag and found a bottle of whiskey, took a drink and handed it across. Vin dropped his saddle bag on the floor, and accepted the bottle, for a moment he looked at the bottle then across at the black dressed gun man, and took a drink, settling in the chair, his hands cupping the bottle.

“You can throw your bed roll down there.”

“Me being here is going to piss off the owner.”

“Hell, Tanner, I’ve already done that.” Chris said with a smile that had most men running for cover but only got a smile back from Vin Tanner.

Vin took another drink, his blue eyes fixed on Chris and the gun man met the gaze levelly and silently, he could feel  Vin was weighing him up, the bounty hunter wouldn’t trust easy or fast, it was going to take time to woe him into his bed, but the prize was worth the game. He didn’t wasn’t a quick fumble and a fast fuck, he wanted Vin Tanner in his life and in his bed. It would have shocked his old friend Buck Wilmington to see him like this, it felt strange to feel again, to feel a surge of emotion when his chosen one smiled, to feel the strong surge of protectiveness when he thought of Tanner sleeping unprotected in his horses stall.  The suddenness of these feelings didn’t alarm Chris, they had been equally as fast with his beloved wife, within an hour of meeting her, he had wanted to claim her as his own. It didn’t matter to him that his new lover was male; it was the core essence of Vin Tanner that drew him to the younger man. That essence knew no sex or respected social proprieties, it was a simple and element force of nature, and it called to him.

Vin laid out the bed roll, and stripped off his buckskin jacket and slung it round the back of the chair.  Chris saw the way that even with his back to him, Tanner was watching him in the cracked and tarnished mirror sat on top of the drawers. So Chris made a play of removing his boots  and shirt, ignoring Vin Tanner, before laying back on top of his bed, hands behind his head, staring up at the ceiling, he wanted Vin to know that he could be trusted, the younger man on some level already trusted him, and he wouldn’t do anything to endanger that.

“So how much is the bounty on the carcasses you brought in today?” Chris turned his head so that he could look at Vin who was now sat cross legged on his bed roll on the floor, his mare’s leg like Chris’s colt placed close to hand.

“Enough to keep me in bullets and food for the next couple of weeks.”

“The sheriff’s paid you yet?”

“Nope, he says he’ll do that tomorrow, he’ll part with the money, no one stiffs me of a bounty, but he’ll take his own sweet time.” Vin paused “then run me out of town.”

“Which way you’re heading?” Chris asked.

There was a short silence, “thought I would take me a trip down to Purgatory, good hunting round there.”

“Dangerous?”

“Hell Larabee don’t figure on living for ever, and they have to catch me first.”

Chris could just imagine the welcome Tanner would get a bounty hunter in that hell hole, even if he was one mean son of a bitch.”

“Bored of this place, could do with a ride, you mind if I tag along.” Chris asked, he saw Vin frown slightly, then a look clouded his eyes, and in a split second it was gone.

“Free country Larabee.” Vin drawled, and then settled down on his bed roll, and tugged his hat down over his eyes, and went to sleep.

Chris blew the light out, and settled down, he could hear Vin moving and getting comfortable and it was soothing, it was a reminder that the younger man was safe and well. He would put his gun and his life on the line to make sure that Vin remained that way.

The next day he had left town with Vin, and for the next three months he had been a dark shadow as he had slowly gotten the younger man used to his touch and his presence.

The Present

 Ezra woke his body was hurting, he reached out for a bottle of whiskey and took a deep pull, he saw Vin sat on one of the rocks nearby. Looking round he saw the bodies of his rapists had been dragged away. A small fire was burning and a pot of coffee was bubbling, Ezra looked towards the horses and then looked again, and frowned.

“Mr. Tanner, surely that is not your usual equine partner, I know that Diablo is devils spawn on four hoofs but?”

“Old Diablo bruised his foot, left him with the fellow who’s horse that is.”

“A temporary trade I hope.”

“Yeah you could say that?”

Ezra arched an eyebrow, at the way that Vin said that, and the look the Texan gave him.

Vin used his bandana to protect his hand as he lifted the coffee pot up off the fire and pour out two steaming cups.

“And how did you find this err friend.”

“Kinda ran into him.” Vin shrugged.

“Kinda ran into him.” Ezra mimicked. “Mr. Tanner we are in the middle of god knows where, I would hazard a guess that only the gophers know where we are, and you manage to run into a friend out here?”

Vin just smiled at him, and got up and handed him the cup.”

Twenty four hours earlier.

Even as he rode and thought about the past, Chris’s vigilance didn’t waver, like most men that travelled the west, Chris was able to carry a map in his head of where he was, not as good as the Tanners of this world, who seemed to know every hill and rock. But good enough that he didn’t get lost. The one thing that Chris knew was that Tanner knew he was following, considering how he had cut and covered his trail, this was too easy. He could feel the eyes of prey on him, but who was the hunter and who was the prey.

Early the next morning Chris opened his eyes, his hat was pulled down over his face, but he could sense someone stood near him, the distinct click of a mare’s leg being cocked told him all he needed to know.

“Hell of a way to wake a man up Tanner.” Chris drawled.

The gun man slowly pushed his hat back, and looked up at Vin Tanner, and he allowed a ghost of a smile, his gaze sweeping over the Texan, checking him for injuries, there appeared to be none, but the younger man look exhausted, and dead on his feet.

“Forgot old men like you need their sleep, cowboy.”

Chris shook his head, in the three months they had been riding together, Vin had taken to calling him cowboy, and the contrary Texan knew that he hated it, but it had become something special between them, it was a tie that Chris welcomed as it brought them closer. But god help anyone that called him cowboy, they would be facing down a gun if they lived long enough.

“You got something I need Chris, won’t set you afoot, but it’s life or death.”

“Standish?”

Vin nodded, “some bastards got a private poster on him, those men get their hands on him and,” Chris cut across him.

“I know I saw it, what you need.”

Vin didn’t answer he just looked towards the horses.

Chris sat up fast, “Fuck you Tanner, that’s my horse.”

“Didn’t think it was a mule.” Vin drawled, and lifted the mares’ leg slightly,

“You going to use that on me, Vin?”

“Got to ask why you were following me, with the posse.”

“Hell Tanner, I can’t track for a plug nickel, got to have someone to point the way.” There was a pause, then Chris added “Didn’t mean to spook you in Purgatory, wasn’t my plan to do that.”

Vin shifted slightly as he remembered the press of that lean body against him, when he had tripped and accidentally pulled Chris down on top of him in the livery, he had felt the harness, pressing into him, and had seen the unshielded flare of passion in Chris’s green eyes.  It was then he had panicked too many memories had crashed down on him.

Without realizing it, his eyes now spoke volumes to Chris Larabee, he saw something different in the tracker’s eyes, there wasn’t the fear there, there was something else, and Chris found it puzzling but at the same time it called to him.

The present

“Do I know the kind donator of that fine animal?” Ezra asked.

Vin just grinned at him, “You looked real pretty in that red coat, in Purgatory at that poker table.”

 

Ezra’s mouth dropped open, Purgatory, a poker game and……“You stole Chris Larabee’s horse, Chris “man in black, shoot you dead for looking at him the wrong way” Larabee.”

“About sums him up.” Vin drawled, his eyes flashing with an unholy light of humor.

Ezra remembered all too clearly how Larabee had looked towards the door of the saloon and then left quickly, his rival for Vin Tanner was Chris Larabee, there had been no mistaking the look in the gun man’s eyes, as one of affection as he had seen someone that he held dear.

“If you’re up to riding we need to back track him, I’s take one of their horses, until Diablo is fit to ride, not like they’re going to miss it.”

Ezra exhaled slowly, “that Mister Tanner is a meeting that I feel sure is going to be educational.”

“Don’t know about educational Ez, but I sure want you there.”

“For moral support Mr. Tanner?”

“Hell no, the more targets I’s give him the less chance he’s likely to put a hole in me.”

“That is reassuring Mr. Tanner,” Ezra paused and then added “I think.”

0-0-0-0-0-0

Chris stirred the strew, and looked round as he saw Diablo’s head come up and the horse whickered a greeting.  Getting up Chris’s hand dropped down to rest on his gun, when he saw the two riders heading towards him, he squinted against the sun, and recognized the distinct outline of Vin Tanner. The smile of relief he gave he hide behind a scowl, Vin pulled his horse to a halt, “brought your horse back Larabee, ain’t no horse thief.”

Chris just nodded and switched his gaze to Ezra, “Stew in the pot if you want it, biscuits are stale,” Chris shrugged and turned back to the fire as he added “but they’ll fill your belly if you want them.”

Ezra started to dismount only to have Vin at his side in an instant, reaching up to help him, he tried to bat his lover’s hand away, but it was only half hearted. His body was a mass of pain, his clothes were a torture, but he had understood they had to keep moving, later he would have time to heal. Back tracking to Larabee was something that had to be done, they couldn’t leave the gun man on foot with an injured horse, but all the same Ezra wasn’t sure how Chris Larabee was going to react to him.

Chris was squatted by the fire pouring himself a coffee, as he studied both men carefully, before when Vin had taken his horse he had seen a bone weariness in him, a man running for his life, but a man that was also all to ware that if he failed another man might pay the price. He could see the dark shadows under the Texan’s eyes, exhaustion oozed from every pore of his body, but even so he had moved quickly even if it did lack his usual feline grace, all but stumbling, to get to the gamblers side.

Standish, looked as pale as a ghost, pain was pinched round his eyes and mouth, and as he was helped down, Chris couldn’t help but see the blood on the saddle and the filthy grey pants, he didn’t need it put in words what had happened to the gambler, because of that damned wanted poster.  The two men needed to rest and a chance to heal, Chris swore under his breath there was one place they could do that, a place that he had vowed never to return too.

“Get him down onto the bed roll, Vin, and I’ll get the water heated up.” Mind made up Chris was all business.

Vin coaxed Ezra down onto Larabee’s blanket, and onto his side.

“Tanner.”

The younger man turned and by reflex caught the water canteen that was thrown to him, and nodded his thanks, and handed it to Ezra, who took it with shaking hands, now he no longer had to keep going, his body was giving in to the pain, and exhaustion. “You must rest as well Mr. Tanner.” He caught Vin’s hand, and squeezed it.

“Time to rest once I’s get you comfortable.”

Ezra looked past him to Chris and felt his face go hot as he realized the black dressed gun man knew what had happened to him and he felt soiled, and used, he shook his head trying to tell Vin he was alright but the words got stuck in his throat, so he let his head drop, hiding his eyes from Chris Larabee, not wanting to see what was in them.   It was then he felt Vin’s fingers lightly cup his chin and tilt his face up. “You gone nothing to be ashamed about Ez,” Vin spoke softly, and Ezra felt himself relaxing under the softy rasped words.

Ezra sank back onto the bed roll, and threw an arm up over his eyes, and tried to ignore the sounds as Vin moved round the camp, knowing that he was preparing the plants he had collected to make into a paste to put on his wounds. When Vin had dressed his most intimate wounds earlier, he had felt that the pain was nothing compared to the humiliating way that he had to submit to his body being packed with silk torn from  of his shirts and soaked in the paste, he was all too aware that if the wounds inside of him festered he would die a painful and ugly death, but all the same it had struck at his very pride, it had only be the loving kisses and touches that Vin had given him, and the knowledge that the hands touching him were his lover’s that had allowed him to submit to the ministration.

But now Larabee was here, he had seen in the gun man’s eyes that he knew what had happened to him. “Standish,” Chris’s voice made Ezra flinch, “in the war I saw a lot of things, and nothing is as low as what they did to you.” Chris paused, “the bastards that did it, they still breathing?” His gaze switched to Vin and nodded approval of what he saw in the tired blue eyes, a burst of pure hatred, “Good saves us having to hunt them down.”

“Us.” Ezra echoed puzzled, his eyes glued to Chris.

“You think I am going to let him out of my sight again,” Chris jerked a thumb at Vin, “leave him for two weeks and he gets a bounty on his head,” but his eyes  conveyed the rest of the message.

Ezra didn’t have to hear the rest of the sentence, “and he gets in with you.” To know what Chris Larabee was saying, also he had seen the look that the gun man had given Vin, and there was no mistaking it; he had seen it reflected in barroom mirrors when he had looked at Vin in an unguarded moment and caught a glance at his own reflection. It seemed he was not the only one to have designs of the lean Texan, which was bad enough, if he didn’t feel that hollowness in the pit of his stomach when he looked at the green eyed gun man and know that he desire him as well. It had been his infatuation with Larabee that had driven him to bed Julian Parker, if he couldn’t have the blond gun man he had settled for the next best thing the blond Julian Parker. The only good thing that had come out of that infatuation was the brown haired Vin Tanner, so different, but a man that he loved with all his heart. Now the originator of those lonely nights in hotel rooms, where his dreams and his hand where his only comfort, was back in his life, and…… “Oh hell.”

“Ez,” Vin’s voice made his eyes fly open, and he saw the tracker staring down at him, concern on his face.

“Nothing Mr. Tanner, just reflecting on my own stupidity.”

Vin cocked his head to one side, and Ezra had to smile, the Texan had no idea how adorable he was when he looked like that, and a quick glance told Ezra that he wasn’t the only one who thorough that. Not that he was going to tell Vin that, having Larabee gunning for him over Tanner was going to be bad enough; he didn’t want to include pissed off Tanner  into the mix.

0-0-0-0-0

Chris walked away to allow the gambler what privacy he could have while he had his wounds dressed. The gun man sat down on a small rocky out crop, smoking and watching out across the countryside keeping a look out for any hostile people, while at the same time he was lost in his own thoughts.

He heard Vin come up behind him, and sit down by his side.

“Standish resting,” Chris drawled.

“Yeah,” Vin gave a soft groan as he tried to get comfortable, causing Chris to turn his head to look at him critically.

The tracker rubbed a hand across his face, letting his defenses down allowing his exhaustion to show.

“Time you let go, Vin.”

“What,” the younger man frowned at Chris.

“I’ve got the watch, go on and get some sleep; my guess is you haven’t slept since Tascosa.”

“I’s didn’t do it Chris.”  Vin held Chris’s gaze levelly.

“Never thought you did, didn’t think it earlier when you pinched my horse, don’t think it now.”

Vin nodded wearily, starting to get to get up, his foot slipped and he stumbled, and would have fallen if Chris hasn’t caught him round the waist and pulled him close, pinning the trackers lean body against him. He held Vin, a little longer than he needed if this was the only chance he had he would take it.

The younger man eased back slightly, his hand resting on Chris’s shoulder, and for that long second they just looked at each other, his voice a low rasp, tiredness now seeping into every word, he said “never can have what I want,” then his head dropped forward, against Chris as every ounce of energy seemed to drain from him, as Vin found safety in the gun man’s arms.

Ezra watched them, as Larabee helped Vin down to one of the bed rolls; he saw the almost tender way that Chris made the younger man comfortable. He had guessed that Vin hadn’t had much love in his life, but could he step aside if he wanted Chris, or was there another way.

0-0-0-0-0

Over the next day, Ezra rested and tried to find a way out of this mess, he saw the way that Chris kept close to Vin; the Texan was pretty much out of it having pushed himself past the point of exhaustion. Together they worked to get Vin to eat when he woke and then take a drink or a piss, and then let him get back to sleep again. Ezra lightly brushed the long hair from Vin’s sweat covered face, from where it had dropped forward over his eyes as he slept, and then Ezra had looked up into the face of Chris Larabee, he started to speak but his mouth closed the words unsaid as he had received from Larabee a look that had been as loud as a shouted warning, “back off or die.” Ezra carefully pulled the blanket up round Vin’s shoulder, “how long before we leave this place Mr. Larabee.

“Tomorrow, first light.” Then Chris Larabee was gone walking back to his saddle bag and pulling out a half bottle of whiskey, and took a long pull on it, all the time his eyes had never left Ezra, studying him critically, it was an uncomfortable thing to be weighted up and found wanting, but then people had been doing that to him all his life, why now should it all change.

“You risked your life to free him.”

“That is what you do for a friend Mr. Larabee,” then Ezra lifted his head slightly higher, refusing to be intimidated, “it’s what you do for a lover.” He paused and then added “and if it hadn’t been for Mr. Wilmington, it would have gone a lot harder the fire he…” it was then Ezra trailed off,  and he started to put two and two together, Chris Larabee had been in town that night, the gun man knew about the wanted poster and had joined the posse. “There was someone in that alley coming up on me, I thought I heard something.”

“Yeah, well I couldn’t’ let him stop you getting Vin out.”

“My thanks Mr. Larabee, I.”

“Didn’t do it for you Standish.” Chris snarled at him  and took another drink and eased down against the saddle he was using as a  pillow, and tugged his hat down over his eyes, took another drink, “tomorrow dawn Standish”, then he pushed the cork back into the bottle and for the like of him looked as if he was sleeping.

 

0-0-0-0-0

Over the next three days they travelled slowly the pace set by the injured Ezra, they avoided the small towns until they arrived at a line shack, and it was old and hadn’t been used for several years. But it was sound against the weather, there was water nearby, but Ezra had noticed and so have Vin that the near they got to this place the more somber the gun man had got, this place had memories and you didn’t have to be a genius to guess what that was.

Over the next couple of days they worked to make the place live able. It was late afternoon on the third day that  it finally came to a head.

Chris stood leaning against the corral, they had worked on it just enough, correction he and Vin had worked on it enough so that it kept their horses in, while Standish had watched and make some remarks about manual labor that made him want to push them down his throat with the business end of his gun. He swore under his breath, and smashed a fist down on the wood. It wasn’t Standish, in as much as the man was pissing him off it was being here, back in the valley. It was the only place he knew that was safe for Vin to wait it out for Standish and his horse to rest up, but that didn’t make it any better.

Now so near to the burned out shell of his home and the graves of his family the feeling of guilt got heaver each time he looked at Vin Tanner. This morning he had caught himself looking at Vin’s ass, when the tracker had been combing that snapping turtle that he called a horse. He had turned round to find Ezra standing there, a bemused look on his face, that damned gambler had seen him sizing Vin up, it had taken all his self control not to plant a fist in Standish’s face, instead he had stalked away. Chris had felt the  guilt, what the hell was he doing, looking at a man like that. He was making a mockery of all that had been between him and Sarah.  It was only three years ago that he had brought his new wife to this shack, they had lived here for three blissful if hard months while he and Buck had built a home for them further down into the valley basin.

It was then he had heard Standish’s voice, that damned Deep South accent, when all he wanted to hear was the soft rasping Texan drawl of Vin Tanner.

 “Mr. Larabee, I feel that since Mr. Tanner is now safely in this err shack, that we should talk.”

“Got nothing to say Standish.”

“We have everything to say, I have seen the way you look at Vin.” That got Chris’s attention.  Ezra added “Vin had had very little love in his life; I pride myself that he had found some with me.”

There was silence, Chris just looked on him, and Ezra tried to ignore the fact that the green eyes of the gun man had gone icy; this wasn’t what Larabee wanted to hear. Suddenly Ezra had had enough if this man thought he was worthy of loving Vin Tanner, then the black dressed son of a bitch, had to say it.  “Damn it, Tanner loves you as well but he’s scared.”

“Vin doesn’t get scared.” It was stated coldly.

“Behind a rifle, facing a knifeman, tracking a bounty, or riding with the tribes, but he is scared of emotions, they leave him vulnerable. So you have to ask yourself Mr. Larabee why can’t he have what he so clearly wants.”

“Clearly.”

“Mr. Larabee, I make my living reading people, and you sir are shouting from the roof tops, what you feel for him, and Mr. Tanner, is shy in precipitating.”

“You taken him.”

Ezra refused to back down, “we have fornicated, Mr. Larabee.” When Chris opened his mouth he added “I have never fucked him, to say that is to imply that I have no feeling for Mr. Tanner, and that I have merely used him. I sir would not use him just as you would never use Mr. Tanner for your baser need.”

“You have him, so why are we talking Standish, you gloating.”

“No Mr. Larabee, as I said we give him what he needs and wants, we make this work for him.”

“You would share him.”

“I would do whatever he needs.” Ezra paused “the question you have to ask yourself Mr. Larabee is can you get past what is holding you paralyzed, would you turn your back on Mr. Tanner because of the past, or will you embrace the future with him.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about Standish.” Chris started to turn away. Only for Ezra to catch him by the shoulder and pull him back, Chris violently knocked his hand away.

“Keep your hands off me,” he snarled

“Mr. Larabee if it takes me beating your over the head with a corral post I will do it. Do you.” Ezra allowed his anger to come through, “really think that you have a monopoly in sorrow, I was married at eighteen and went to war and she died in Atlanta when it burned, you have a grave, you can mourn, and a place you can go. I have nothing.”  Ezra could feel himself shaking, “but unlike you Mr. Larabee, I have moved on, she will be in my heart forever, but I have room for Mr. Tanner, for Vin, you have to ask yourself, will you lose what you have here, or will you embrace it. So Mr. Larabee are you coward, or…” Ezra never saw the fist coming, the next thing he knew he was on his ass in the dirt, and Chris was stalking off to the small lean too that served as a stable. A few minutes later Chris was riding out and heading hell for leather down the valley.

Vin came rushing out of the shack, “what the hell happened.”

“Get your horse Mr. Tanner, Mr. Larabee needs you.”

“Needs us Ez.” For a long moment he looked into the eyes of his lover, “I know Ez” he  said softly “were make it work, because I ain’t going to lose either of you.”

“I didn’t think that you?”

“That I didn’t know, hell Ez, the way he’s been looking at me since we met, I would have had to have been blind, and I ain’t that. I was spooked, been used too many times, don’t trust easy,  and then I don’t have to tell you that. Chris’s a good man.”

“I will have to take your word for that Mr. Tanner.” Ezra drawled dabbing at his cut lip.

“Shit Ez, old Chris is just a.”

“A black dressed fast gun killer with a log sized chip on his shoulder, and ….”

“Got to love him ain’t you.” Vin said with a grin and headed towards the lean to. Leaving Ezra shaking his head and following him slowly, as he called after him “that Mr. Tanner I will leave up to you.”

0-0-0-0-0

Chris rode down into the valley where his home had been, the burned out ruin of his cabin holding silent vigil over the small grave yard. Two stones marked the final resting place of Sarah and Adam Larabee.

Removing his hat, Chris approached them, kneeling down he reached out and traced his fingers along the letters of his beloved wife’s name. His world had ended three years ago when his family had died and from that day he had worn the black of deepest mourning and lost himself in drink, anything to mask the pain that tore his heart apart. Buck had tried to help him, in a halting voice he told Sarah what Buck had done and how in blind anger he had driven the big hearted man away with blows and curses. Tears slowly ran down his face as he finally shed them, tears that had taken three years to fall, and his shoulders began to shaking. No matter how he told himself that he had been forced back by his need to help Vin, he now acknowledged that it was because of Vin that he could return, the young Texan had been like a bright light on a dark night, it had lit his way back here.

The soft whickering of a horse greeting another, make him turn his hand dropping to his gun, Vin stood there.

“Gonna introduce me.” He nodded to the graves as he stepped closer removing his own hat in respect.

Chris got up, taking a deep breath, his eyes fixed on Vin’s calm blue ones, in two strides he was stood in front of the younger man, reaching out a trembling hand he touched Vin’s face, as Vin turned into his hand, and he felt the Texan’s lips brush his palm in a soft kiss.

The gun man’s hand dropped away, and he took Vin’s and drew him with him back to the grave.

“Sarah this is Vin, you always knew what I felt without me having to tell you. You could see into my heart, my beloved, so you kinda know that I love him.”

Vin’s breath caught, he smiled shyly, as Chris guided his hand so that he could trace her name together.

“I’s know I can’t replace you, and I’s wouldn’t want too. What you had with Chris was special, but I’s promise you,” Vin’s voice caught “that I love him, and will look after him.”

Chris squeezed his hand and he allowed his soon to be lover to take him to the second smaller stone, to kneel down as Chris introduced him to his son.

Stood back holding both horses Ezra could feel the tears beading his eyes, then to his shock, Chris suddenly turned to him, and for a long minute they just met each other’s gaze and the gun man said, his voice cracking slightly, “Sarah always liked Buck, she had a soft spot for a rogue, kinda think she would have like you Ezra, so you coming.”

Ezra not Standish as he had been calling him since they met, Ezra, smiled and removed his hat as he walked towards the graves, “I don’t know about a rogue Mr. Larabee but I would be honored.”

That night for the first time Chris slept wrapped in Vin’s arms, exhausted by the emotions of the day, Ezra had been surprised when Vin had reached a hand out to him and invited him into the nest of blankets in front of the fire. Now was a time to heal spiritually and physically, what tomorrow would bring was still to be written, but for now the three of them had found each other and that was all that mattered.

The end

 

 Continues in The Road Travelled