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.

Main characters  Vin, Ezra and Chris.

Continues from The Bad Element

The Road Travelled

M7 OW in The Gambler and the Renegade AU

 

Ezra Standish, rode in silence, it wasn’t for want of trying, Chris Larabee wasn’t in the mood to talk, and what the black dressed gun man had said to him been snarled comments short and sharp, and hadn’t exactly engendered further attempts of conversation. The reason for the bad mood was patently missing, Vin Tanner, the ex bounty hunter and now wanted man had taken off in the early hours of the morning leaving them both at the shack, where they had been resting. Why?

Now Ezra prided himself on his insight in other men’s minds, he made his living as a gambler, and a gambler that couldn’t read men, ended up broke, and might as well throw in his cards.  He had noticed a chance in Vin over the last two days in particular.

Now Vin Tanner was his lover, but it was very plain to see that he had strong if silent feelings for Chris Larabee and the gun man had deep feelings for Vin, but so far the two men hadn’t acted on them.  Yes, Vin had slept in Chris’s arms but beyond that, nothing had happened, no one had made that step that would redefine their relationship into lovers.

To begin with he had feared that he would lose Vin, after all he was the Texan’s lover, and Chris was now all too clearly out to take Vin as his lover and they couldn’t share could they? Ezra remembered all too clearly what had happened.

Chris had gone down to the graves of his family, and finally it seemed reached a place of peace among the storms of guilt and grief that had nearly destroyed the gun man, and it had allowed him to take the step that had moved him on, oh he was still in deepest mourning and would possible ware black for them until the day he died. But he had seen his future in Vin, at their graves he had introduced Vin to them, and to Ezra’s shock had included him in this most intimate of moments. Later that night when they had slept it had been curled up together, with Vin lying between them It was then Ezra had vowed that he would do whatever he could to make Vin happy and if that meant standing back for Chris Larabee then he would do it, but god help the gun man if he discarded Vin or this was nothing more than a whim. 

But what he had seen since then had convinced him that Chris was very serious about Vin, and over the next couple of days the gun man had been engaged in an intricate dance round the young Texan.  Chris had taken every opportunity to touch Vin, with soft light caresses, getting the younger man used to his hand, to the closeness of his body, knowing when to back off before Vin got spooked, he had heard during one conversation when Larabee had been drawn out to talk a little about his past. He had tamed wild mustangs, and it amused Ezra to see that he used those same skills with their half wild Texan. Now that brought him to the same place he had started his musing why had Vin taken off?

48 hours ago

Chris sat on the edge of the porch smoking one of his habitual cheroots, it was early in the morning there was still a bite to the air, and the sky was awash with the colors of pre dawn. Larabee hadn’t turned when Ezra had stepped out of the door, closing it behind him.

“Mr. Tanner is sleeping soundly, I thought now might be the time to talk Mr. Larabee.”

“And what would we want to talk about Standish,” there was a pause, and Chris looked up at the gambler, “Ezra,” he corrected.

Ezra raised an eyebrow at that, but didn’t make a comment.

“That is your name ain’t it.” Chris all but snarled at him.

“Indeed it is Mr. Larabee; I am just surprised to hear it that was all.”

“Let’s get this straight, I don’t trust you Ezra, you’re a card sharp and a cheater, heard people talk about you.” Chris smiled and it was a cold and Ezra couldn’t help but feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

“And I of you Mr. Larabee, but I choice not to believe all of them.”

“Your loss Ezra,” Chris all but purred at him that cool voice chilling but at the same time igniting a heat in the gamblers loins. He had since the first time he had seen the blond gun man felt a very physical reaction to the man, and now it was stronger than ever. They had shared a bed, be it with Vin lay between them, but he had been welcomed into that bed that had given him some food for thought.

“Mr. Tanner is my lover, you know that,” Ezra held a hand up to stop Chris from speaking, “I am not gloating, simply stating the truth, before I was so blessed, there have been others. As I am sure you have guessed, but these men did not use Mr. Tanner kindly, and I fear that when he was younger, force was used, as I cannot see Mr. Tanner, giving up his body to them willingly. It has left Mr. Tanner with in grained views that I am.” Ezra looked Chris straight in the eyes, “That WE, Mr. Larabee, must address, and it will take time. Mr. Tanner is a brave man, a sharpshooter without compare but intimacy is foreign to him.” Ezra paused “it took me time to build up his trust so that he would allow me to become intimate with him.” All the time he was talking Ezra was trying to gauge Chris’s mood.

“You would share him.”

“I would do what best for him, and I am sure you would   Mr. Larabee, and he wants you, but he doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t believe that he  can have us both, he thinks that he has to choose. What I am saying to you is that if you are willing I am, we put aside our personal feelings and embrace the precious life that we have been given.”

For a long moment there was just silence hanging between them, and Chris got slowly to his feet, took one last pull on the cheroot and then pinched out the glowing end and tossed it to the ground, and put out his hand.

Ezra accepted it and it was at that moment he knew that he was entering into an agreement that would bind him to Larabee for as long as Vin lived.

The next morning Ezra was shaving, his mirror propped up against the wall, being in the middle of the back of beyond, didn’t mean that he had to look like a savage, so regardless of the bemused looks he got from Vin he continued his elaborate toilet.

“Heard you and Larabee talking this morning.”

Oh that wasn’t good Ezra mused, and made a play at concentrating on the razor that he was playing against his skin as Vin came up behind him, trying to keep calm, he knew what was coming  was important he couldn’t mess this up. 

Slowly he lowered the razor, turning to Vin, “Mr. Tanner, we meant no harm, on the contrary all we want to do is what is best for you.”

“For me?” Vin drawled slowly, “being shared between you like a mare in heat.”

“Mister…..” But Vin wouldn’t let him finish.

“I’s a stallion as well, Ezra you and Chris best remember that.” Vin started to turn away only for Ezra to grab his arm, the gambler met the tracker’s gaze levelly and he could see the hurt in those blue eyes. It was with a sudden clarity that Ezra knew, and he cursed himself for not thinking about it earlier. Larabee and he had come to an understand last night willing to give Vin what he wanted, but they had failed in the most important aspect in that they had failed to talk to Vin Tanner.

“It’s not what you think Mr. Tanner?”

Vin had glanced down at his hand, Ezra knowing that the tracker didn’t like to be restrained let his hand drop away. “We meant no harm Mr. Tanner, we want only what will make you happy. I have seen the looks that you have exchanged with Mr. Larabee; last night when we slept together you took my hand, and pulled me close, even as you allowed yourself to rest in Mr. Larabee’s arm. Mr. Tanner, I took from that you would not desert me for him, that, is that correct.”

“You think I would leave you?”

“No, Mr. Tanner,” knowing in that split second he had to be totally honest, Ezra said “Yes, I was worried,” looking down Ezra took a breath, then he looked up and met those  blue eyes again “I should have known better, what we have.”

“What we have Ez, is just as strong as what I felt the first time you took me, ain’t going to let that go, but Chris, I’s, we…what the hell you both see in me, I  don’t know?  I’s nothing” Vin stuttered to a halt, and walked away.

Looking past Vin he saw Chris stood by the side of the shack, the gun man took a step towards the tracker, but Ezra shook his head and was surprised to see that Chris followed his lead.

He should have known that Vin wouldn’t leave it at that, and the next day when they woke up he was gone. So now here he was when Chris Larabee trying to track down their wayward lover.

Vin had made no effort to cross his tracks so he wasn’t running from them, and it was clear that he was heading towards Four Corners, which leads Ezra back to the why. It was then it hit him Vin wanted him to spend time with Chris, without him being present, giving them time to settle any differences that might arise from their agreement. Which was just great, only Larabee was about as talkative as a clam. Oh he was going to have more than words with his lover when he caught up, and glancing across at Chris; it looked like Mr. Larabee had similar ideas in mind. Which was going to make their reunion interesting to say the least.

Ezra suddenly pulled Knave to a halt as he realized that Chris had pulled his horse up, the man in black unhooked his canteen took a drink and then to Ezra’s surprise he had nudged his horse forward and offered him the canteen. Ezra took a slow drink, and handed it back, carefully studying the gun man, it was then that the dark and deadly aura that Chris Larabee wore like a cloak since this morning seemed to lift from him. Ezra realized that he was now looking at the same man he had glimpsed on the porch of the shack when they had talked the same man that had nestled a sleeping Vin Tanner in his arms with such love and tenderness. There was warmth, in Chris’s smile, that seemed to touch his eyes; it was no longer the cold smile of the killer, this was the man that Vin loved the man that had once been Chris Larabee before tragedy had devastated his life.

“Fucking sonofabitch.”

“You spoke Mr. Larabee.” Ezra drawled, only to be pinned by cold green eyes that then softened.

“Tanner”

“Err yes, I am not a mind reader Mr. Larabee, you have to string words together to form a sentence, although you are almost gabby compared to Mr. Tanner.”

“When I find him, I am going to hog tie the bastard.”

“An enterprising plan, and then what.” Their eyes met and Ezra said “Oh,” he raised an eye brow and grinned , “I hope that I am included in that, and of course Mr. Larabee I have a few ideas of my own that you might like to consider. After all I am also the wounded party in this escapade of Mr. Tanner.” Ezra paused and accepted the canteen back for another drink “I was thinking unfortunately Mr. Tanner does have a way with knots as does that snapping turtle that masquerades as a horse. Hog tying is good, but we will need to develop that theme slightly,” Ezra handed the canteen back “and of course   our intrepid tracker can’t run very fast if his pants are missing.”

 “I could get to like the way you think Ez.” Chris drawled as he hooked the canteen back on his saddle and turned his horse once again towards Four Corners.

 

0-0-0-0-0-0

Vin rode towards Four Corners, knowing that Chris and Ezra would be on his trail. Things were changing round him, and he needed time to get things straight in his head.

He remembered the feeling of being held close in Chris’s strong arms, but at the  same time having Ezra curled up round his back, feeling more secure more safe than at any time in his life since his mother died. He had always been totally honest with himself, and he knew that he had feelings for both men, but feels where something alien to him, something that could get you killed, an were best pushed down deep and kept locked inside of you.

At the beginning when Chris had first come into his life he had flinched away from his touch, but the gun man had never given up on him.   Vin thought he had read something more into their friendship, Chris’s need to touch him, the protective stance the gun man had taken in backing him against all comers, and many other small things that he so desperately wanted to see, that would say that Chris wanted him as badly as he wanted the blond gunman.  But always at the back of his mind was the sobering thought that Chris might not want him that way,   after all he knew the gun man’s past, Chris had a wife and child, still mourned them deeply, so he could he really want a man especially him, he wasn’t exactly a catch. But when he realized that Chris indeed wanted him, he had run, needing to distance himself from him, spooked by the idea of his dream becoming reality.

Because the reality was simple for him, it could never just be sex with Chris. Then Ezra had come along, the gambler had helped him, nursed him, his touch tender, and he treated him as if he mattered, he didn’t just jump his bones and demand sex as payment for helping him. When finally Ezra had took him to his bed, and mounted him he had taken him with care making sure that the little  pain he felt  was out weighted by the pleasure, taking him not in lust but in love.

 Ezra had been not just a lover but a friend, not laughing at him when he found out he couldn’t read and write, he was actually teaching him his letters, telling him that he wasn’t stupid that he could learn.

Was he being greedy to want them both? Could have them both? They seemed to think that he could, but he had to make them understand that he wasn’t going to be handed round between them; it had to be on his terms.  It was only on his terms that this was going to work. That was why he had taken himself out of the mix; he wanted them to get to know each other. It was about time that Ez saw the other side of Chris, otherwise it was never going to work, back at the small graveyard when Chris had brought both of them forward to the graves of his family, it had been the beginning. He had seen the wonder in Ez’s eyes when he was included, and the surprise in this tender side of the notorious gunman’s nature. Chris was a lot of things to different people, at one time he had been the loving husband and father to his wife and son, to him he was a true friend and would be lover, to Ez that was still to be decided. But that could only come about by them being forced together on a joint mission and that was to catch him he couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face as he  as he called out “catch me if you can boys,” and with a whoop he kicked Diablo into a gallop as he headed towards Four Corners.

0-0-0-0-0

The sun was low in the sky, and soon they would have to stop to make camp for the night, against the odds Chris had found that Ezra Standish a good travelling companion, able to fit the mood of the person he was riding with. They had talked about good horses, good poker games, and bad towns, and finally they had lapsed into a comfortable silence. As he rode Chris thought back to the shack, and his confrontation with Vin before the younger man had taken off.

Chris came out of the shack and halted as he saw Vin and Ezra talking the anger on the Texan’s face made Chris start towards the two men, but he was pulled up by the look Ezra gave him, and for some reason he couldn’t fathom he had obeyed that silent command.

Vin could be twitchy, and last night when they had slept together for the first time, he had felt the tension in that lean body, as those blue eyes had fixed on him all the time as if waiting for his loving touches to turn brutal. He had recognized it for what it was, an old fear that he would want more than Vin was able to give him. So he had moved slowly and showed Vin the love that he had for him, in the way he had touched him, his fingers gently stroking the long hair for Vin’s eyes, caressing his jaw and cheek, until like the wild creature that he was, Vin had leaned into his touch, rubbing up against him.

He had to be honest with himself that  when Vin had reached out for Ezra to join them, he had been as pissed as hell, he had wanted Vin on his own, he didn’t want to share his new lover,  but seeing the look that Vin had given him, it had been a pleading for understanding, so he had curbed his anger. So he had looked into his heart and gave Vin this, and later as they had laid together, Vin in his arms, the look of contentment as the younger man had reached back and pulled Ezra close to him, he knew that he had done the right thing, and he knew deep down that if Vin asked for the moon he would try to find a way of giving it to him, his young lover meant that much to him. Their first kiss had been sweet and tender, with a hint of the promise of what was to come.

Ezra had come over to him once Vin had walked away; the gambler hadn’t minced his words.  “Mr. Tanner it seems heard our conversation this morning, and to put it mildly he is not happy, I have tried to pacify him, but you known Mr. Tanner?”

“I knew I should have gone after him Standish.” Chris said with regret, looking towards the direction Vin had taken.

Then that devil in the red coat had quirked an eyebrow at him and drawled “at least you know now why you’re apologizing to him. I suggest that you make your feelings heartfelt on” Standish had paused and then smiled as he added “this matter, just as I attempted to do, I just wish you better luck.”

Pushing away from the porch, Chris had headed towards where the horses where, Vin was fussing over that devil spawn of a horse of his.  “You want something Larabee.” Vin said without turning round to look at him, just continuing brushing Diablo down.

Not good, Chris had mused, as he saw the tension radiating from him,  as he closed the distance, and reached a hand out to pet Diablo, only to pull it back as it snapped at him, it seemed that Vin wasn’t the only one pissed off at him.  

Vin patted the horse’s sleek neck, and only then turned to look at him, and Vin made the horse look almost friendly.

“You want something Larabee.”

“Spoke to Standish,” he had paused, “Ezra,” he corrected, as he decided to hell with playing games and came straight to the point “I would share you rather than lose you Vin.”

“With a man you can’t even call by his first name?” Vin had drawled as he shook his head, “Ez has fucked me you know that?”

“He hasn’t” Chris said with total conviction.

“Larabee, I’s should know, if he.” But he didn’t get a chance to finish.

“Ezra has feelings for you, I might not like it, but I am guessing his feelings are like mine and if that’s right, then it’s never just going to be fucking Vin.  The day I lay with you, it won’t be sex, if I wanted that I would go with a whore, and it’s not fucking, because that means that it’s a way of getting rid an itch with  the first man to offer his ass up. When I take you, it’s going to be more than that” Chris closed the distance between them, as he whispered against Vin’s ear just what he was going to do with him, ,  the heat of  passion in them seared through Vin, and Chris reached out one hand lightly stroking down the trackers arm. Then he couldn’t believe it as Vin moved into his arms one hand wrapping round the back of his neck, as he was  pulled into a kiss,  then next  instance he was on his ass looking up at Vin.

“Ain’t easy Chris, just as much as stallion as you and Ez, time you two really talked.”

Leaning back on his elbows Chris looked up at him, “ain’t him I want to know.” He leered as he took in his young lover stood there looming over him.

“Loneliness is pitiful thing Larabee and lonely is going to get you the biggest pair of blue balls this side of Texas, and that’s  how you’re going to be, it’s Ez or nothing, cowboy.” Vin tipped his hat to him, and started to walk away.

“Vin, get your ass back here” Chris yelled as he  scrambled to his feet in time to see the Texan without walking flip him off and keep going. The smile that Chris had  tried to keep from showing spread across his face, broke through he couldn’t’ wait to get Vin into his bed, because he was sure to be a real spitfire between the blankets, because he sure as hell didn’t fear anything or anyone, and knew exactly what he wanted.

Then the next morning Vin had taken off, and now they were tracking him to Four Corners, only once he had them going in the right direction the trickily little bastard had cut his tracks, and had taken off,  and was more than likely  already in town got there by god knows what short cuts leaving them to roll in a good day or so behind him.

0-0-0-0-0

  Ezra patted his horse affectingly before heading over to the fire and the bubbling stew that Chris Larabee was cooking; he had to smile, to see the feared gun slinger so domestic, as if reading his mind Chris looked up. “Sarah always said I could burn water, set out to prove her wrong, I can at least make a stew.” A shadow of sadness touched his face.

The loss of his family was still very raw to Larabee but the fact that he had spoken of them told Ezra volumes. Larabee was moving on he might not know it yet, but that would be the last visit he would make to his families graves, and he was sure that the woman that had captured the love of the blond gun man, wouldn’t mind, would be glad that he was living again.

Chris looked back at the stew and stirred it, he had been doing a lot of thinking over the miles that he had covered with Ezra, his and Vin’s connection with the gambler, destiny, fate, Sarah his beloved had always believed in it. Their first meeting when he had come out of a saloon and nearly sent her flying, only to catch and pull her close, to stop her falling. The look in those hazel eyes, disgust as she had smelt the whiskey on his breath, as she had pulled herself away from him. But at the same time, as she had blushed as their eyes had met, then her head had tilted up and he had seen the defiance. As she had said “Just what I expect from Mitch Howard’s hired gun.” She had then turned on her dainty heels, this petite woman that would come like a whirlwind into his life. He had been watching her go when Buck had clapped him on the back hard as his slung an arm round his shoulder “Brrhhh, stud, come in where the woman are more willing,” Buck had said as he pushed a bottle of whiskey into his hand.

He had tipped the bottle and took a drink  even as  he had held his place until she had disappeared round the corner of the feed building, only then did he let Buck tug him back into the saloon, and the willing arms of one of the saloon girls.  Five minutes earlier and Sarah would have passed by the saloon door, and they would never have met, destiny she called it. The prime and proper school ma’am and the hell bound gun slinger.

Buck always said the what he found so frustrating about him was that he couldn’t see what was going on under his noise, it had taken Buck throwing him against the wall of the saloon some weeks later to make him realize that Miss Sarah really did like him, and “Hell son” as Buck had said, “Sometimes you just have to trust to your heart,” and he had and to hell with her father.

So maybe he should just act of what he knew, if he was wrong then to hell with it, for all Buck’s words he could tell when  man was looking at him, and Ezra had certainly been doing that when they had first met in that saloon in Purgatory. A smile twitched his lips and he was sure that the gambler had been checking his ass out when he was lighting the fire just now, and earlier at the shack he had caught a look on the Ezra’s face when the gambler thought he couldn’t see him. The problem was what was he going to do about it, Vin wanted them both, but three was an odd number; there was always one person left out. Ezra had first claim on Vin, but he was willing to allow him to join them because it was best for Vin, that was love deep and abiding, no matter if Ezra couldn’t voice it. Who could, men liked to hide their emotions and it was the women that understood their hearts better than they did. Sarah understood his heart, but if emotions where not voiced one of them would leave in the end.

Vin if he kept running alone would end up strung up or shot dead and thrown across a bounty hunter’s horse, Ezra it would be a poker game going bad,  locals ganging up on the professional gambler, the card sharp, the cheater, wouldn’t matter if Ezra was honest he would die.  And himself, Chris was under no illusion, that he would be gun downed one day, too drunk to know what he was doing, three men who the bitch fate could save or kill on a whim. But together they could be strong; he scratched his jaw, and settled back against his saddle his mind finally made up, and watched as Ezra moved round the camp site.  Standish like Vin was easy on the eye, the Texan was wild like a mustang, that didn’t trust easy, with fire in its belly and needed a firm hand, and the gambler was like a thoroughbred, handsome to look at but high maintenance but worth every cent. He was going to have his hands fun with that pair, but god it was going to make his life interesting. Chris gave Ezra a smile and saw the small frown on the younger man’s face, Ezra was governed or liked to think he was governed by his intellect, but he was just as much a creature of passion as anyone else. Now Ezra was waiting for him to make a move on him, he would know they had a mutual interest and had worked out the odds that it would lead them to fucking, and wanted to be in control of the encounter,  it would be interesting to see what Ez was like when he lost control, Chris saw the way Ezra’s eyes widened across the fire, and knew that some of his need must have shown in his eyes, and the gambler had picked up on it but Chris decided he  was going to prolong it a little further, keep Ezra wrong footed.

Ezra rode in silence, he had half expected Chris to make a move on him, last night, but the gun man, had just looked at him, but those looks had been smoldering. They had been promises of what was to come. It was difficult to equate this Chris Larabee with the somber man he had first seen, there was lightness to his soul that had been missing, Ezra couldn’t stop the quirk of his lips, damn he was getting poetic, but that was the only way to describe it. The heart of his change was by now cooling his heels in Four Corners, in his mind Ezra could picture the lithe Texan’s naked body, moving under the lean body of the blond Chris Larabee, as the gun man thrust into his heat again and again, Vin head thrown backwards, as he moved, and writhed in his thrones of passion as he reached climax.

“EZRA,” Chris’s voice cut made Ezra jump, the gun man was offering him a canteen of water, his lips quirking into a smile, “looking a might flushed there Ez, think you need a drink to cool down.” Even as he said it Ezra saw the way that Chris’s gaze shifted down his body, and for what he was sure wasn’t the last time, Ezra cursed the smug fit of his grey pants. For once he was lost for words and just took the canteen, drank and handed it back, Chris took a drink, and Ezra couldn’t help but watch a small dribble of water that ran down the gun man’s chin and down his throat, how Ezra wanted to follow that trail of water, preferably with Larabee, naked and horizontal, with Vin sharing what he was sure was Chris’s unique taste.

“Pardon,” Ezra realized that Chris was talking, “I am sorry Mr. Larabee my mind was somewhere else.”

“I said we should make Eagle Bend by noon, I am looking forward to a meal and a whiskey not necessary in that order.”

“Then lead on Mr. Larabee, lead on.”

0-0-0-0

It was noon when they entered Eagle Bend it was a town on the cusp of booming, it had a new church, as well as reading room, and saloons that boasted the best looking saloon girls and a bordello where the girls wore the latest Paris dresses. Sheriff Kurt Browning was sat watching Main Street, he was honest and it was due to him and his deputies that Eagle Bend hadn’t imploded like many of the other boon towns, into dens of vice and murder. His attention and that of his deputy, who was leant against one of the posts of the porch, was on the two men that were now riding into town. The one nearest him wore all black, from the low crown of his hat to his boots, the brim shielded his face, and the man turned the horse towards him, and stopped, the rider leaning forward his hands resting on the saddle horn.

“Kurt.”

“Chris, been a while, you working?” Old time sake meant that he could ask the question, if Larabee didn’t answer, he could either push the matter or let it slide.

“Just riding through, stopping for a drink and a bed.”

Kurt tried not let his relief show, he was a good gun, didn’t get to be a sheriff without knowing the business end of a colt, but he wasn’t in Larabee’s class, the man was the fastest gun in the territory, possibly even the west, so far he had found Chris to be reasonable. Kurt liked that word, reasonable enough last time they crossed paths, to give him the name of the dead man that was walking right before he called the bastard out and gunned him down, warned or not Silver City Sid was deader than a beaver hat a split second later, and stinking up Main Street.

Looking towards the other man he was dressed in a red coat, with a black Mississippi river boat hat, a professional gambler, the man was fastidiously banging the dust from his coat and tugging the cuff of his jacket in place.

“Do I know you fancy pants,” Kurt drawled.

“The name is Ezra Standish, sheriff, now if you will excuse me gentlemen, I have work to do.” Ezra raised his hand to his hat two fingers touching the brim, and wheeled his horse away from the jail and headed down to the largest of the saloons, to get a drink and to talk the owner into giving him a table.

“He with you?”

“Yeah.”

“You still got that breed with you, Tanner.”  Kurt saw the sudden stillness in Chris and threw a hand up “just joking there Chris.”

“Vin ain’t no breed so keep your mouth of him, and Standish, Kurt, were old friends and would like to keep it that way.”

Warning given, received and understood, Kurt jerked a thumb back at an eating house just along from the jail, “join me for a coffee,” he couldn’t help but see that Chris looked towards the Golden Nugget where Standish was just disappearing through the swing doors, and he saw the gun man nod, and knee his horse towards Mrs. Evans Eatery.

Kurt walked keeping pace with the horse, the last time they had met, Vin Tanner had been with Chris, a quiet deadly presence at the gun man’s side, he hadn’t heard the young man say more than three words yet there seemed to be perfect understanding between them. Then a man  had attempted to gain a reputation by back shooting Chris had been taken down before Kurt had seen the threat, the man had staggered forward a couple of strides and collapsed, his hands clutching his stomach and trying to keep his guts from spilling out. His body had just folded in on itself and laid in a large pool of  blood, and Tanner had just stood there, wiped the blade of his bowie knife on the  bar keep’s rag and sheathed it. The locals had been baying for Tanner’s blood, but Chris had made sure they knew that to get to the younger man they would have to go through him. For a several tense minutes it looked as if the saloon was going to run with more blood, he hadn’t seen what had happened, but the bar keep had and didn’t hesitate to call it self defense, it was all he needed to avoid having to jail the young man, until the circuit riding judge came round. Chris Larabee was volatile; to say the least and he didn’t want to be the wrong side of the gun man, this time there was no Buck Wilmington to rein him in. Kurt had been pleased to see them leave town, any time a fast gun killer like Larabee was in town it was like playing with a match in a powder store.

Now Larabee was back and Tanner was missing, but there was the gambler now, what he needed was find out what Larabee was up too. 

The Golden Nugget

From the point of Ezra Standish the poker game was going well, the pile of coins in front of him was gradually increasing, as was his annoyance of the man who had introduced himself as Mick Ryan, the man was sorting through the discarded cards the deadwood, now this was frowned on, and could result in violent. But Ezra was trying to keep the tension down, and had already warned the man once, but Mick just smiled in that insincere way.  The other man tried to distance themselves, even thought they knew that by rights Mick had by looking at the deadwood forfeited his rights to that pot.

It wasn’t long after that that Mick began to loudly accuse Ezra of cheating, trying to draw the other men round the table, only to have them look down at their cards as if their very lives depended on it, but then again maybe it did.

“Sir, I have asked you already to desist from going through the discarded cards.” Ezra said his voice not raised in mark contrast to Mick’s strident tones. “You will now leave this game you have forfeited the right to play.”

Mick smirked, and got to his feet, his hand dropping over the ivory butt of his gun, “you think you can make me.”

The lines round Ezra’s mouth hardened, his reputation was all he had, no one wanted to play poker with a cheat, also if he left the game it would be seen as admitting to cheating and the others would demand their money back.

“Leave the money Standish,” the older of the other players said, “Mick here is grease lightening with a gun, not worth dying for.”

“Listen to him, leave your money you cheated out of us and you own.” Mick gloated, and those fancy pants of yours, and where call it even, won’t we boys.”

The other players kept quiet, not wanting to get pulled into the gun fight that was going to happen.

Mick went for his gun and had only just cleared leather when the bullet ploughed through his head, bursting it open like an over ripe  fruit, just as a second bullet tore through his chest whichever way you looked at it the man was dead.

Ezra looked towards the door, Chris Larabee stood there a smoking colt in his hand, Sheriff Browning came pushing through and slowed down, keeping his hands clear of his gun.

“This your work Chris?”

The black dressed gun man nodded, “Mine’s the head shot, Ez nailed him in the chest.”

Brown nodded “Any one see what happened here.”

The bartender answered, “Ryan called him a cheat,” he pointed to Ezra “ and was really pushing him, and then went for his gun first, the gambler was only protecting himself, self defense, Ryan was fast Kurt and both those guys dropped him cold,” the last part was said with awe.

Kurt scratched his jaw, “Chris gets him out of here and I expect you out of town by tomorrow.”

In a town like Eagle Bend that boasted a coach stop over, the hotel was always full, so it hadn’t turned anyone’s head when Chris and Ezra had shared a room, and Ezra wasn’t that surprised when he unlocked the bedroom door, and found one sagging double bed sat in the centre of the room, a beaten up dresser with a water jug and basin on it, and a chipped chamber pot under it, but it was clean and at least they had emptied the pot. 

Ezra dropped his saddle bags onto the bed, and then turned round, to find himself chest to chest with Chris, surprise made him take a step back, the back of his legs caught the edge of the bed and he fell back onto the bed, the breath caught in his throat as Chris loomed over him reaching out, and then grabbing the saddle bags and set them down on the floor, and walked over to look out of the window.

Ezra watched as Chris fished out one of his habitual cheroots and lit it, savoring the taste of it, Ezra knew that he had reached that point, when like in any poker game he had to show his cards. Everything that he believed told Ezra that Chris wouldn’t beat him for wanting him, that their attraction was mutual, but he still had to close the distance between them, and those few feet was as big as canyon to him at that moment. For the first time he was going to lay his hands on Chris Larabee, they would have to be careful they couldn’t allow any sound to carry outside of their room; a man could get hung for wanting another man.  Ezra could feel his heart pounding like a hammer on an anvil the blood rushing through his veins; he felt a flush of heat pool in his belly. Now or never, he walked up behind Chris, and reached round and took the cheroot out of the gun man’s hand, the blond turned, and for a long minute their eyes met. Then Ezra took a long pull on it, and slowly breathed out the smoke and then examined the glowing tip of the cheroot.

 “I have to wonder Mr. Larabee, why when it is plain that we both want the same thing.” Ezra took a breath his mouth felt dry there was no going back now, “Why we are both dancing round the subject, If I am wrong then I apologies and hope that our friendship will not be affected by it. But I feel that an apology is somewhat redundant, as I believe that we want the same thing. I am puzzled as to why?” Ezra paused.

“Why I didn’t make a move on you last night.” Chris finished for him said as he took his cheroot back and took another pull on it and then handed it back.

“I did wonder.” Ezra mused, as he shared the cheroot, the answer when it came wasn’t what he expected.

“The first time you took Vin was it out on the trail on the hard ground or was it in a clean room on a soft bed?”

“In a room, it was special, it wasn’t a quick fornication.”  Ezra said levelly.

“Then why do you think that I would want less for you Ezra.”  Chris raised an eyebrow at him.

“Because Mr. Larabee, Vin is the one you love.” Ezra said truthfully.

Chris nodded as he said “I won’t lie to you Ez, but know this I never fuck the people I care about, and I never make love to whores.”

Ezra cocked his head to one side, “then I am in a very privileged company.” He closed the small distance between them, and kissed Chris lightly on the lips, and eased back but a black clad arm wrapped round his waist and pulled him close. Chris’s voice was rough with need, “last chance to walk away Ez, once I take you, your mine, folks say I am a possessive bastard,  don’t let anyone take what’s mine, you and Vin, mine, branded to the bone. You ready for that Standish.”

Ezra opened his mouth the smart words he was about to use went unsaid, and he just nodded, Chris caught his gun belt and pulled him to the bed.

The two of them came together, their gun belts hit the floor, followed by their clothes, and their need was such they fell on to the bed in a tangle of arms and legs. Ezra tried to pin Chris to the bed only to be flipped onto his back, with Chris holding him down, as the blond attacked his body with his nips and licks that had Ezra biting his lip to stop himself from crying out.  When Chris suddenly pulled aback, Ezra all most yelled out at its loss, only to see Chris padding naked to the saddle bags, he admired the pay of muscles down the gun man’s back and firm ass as he moved; bending Chris pulled a tin from his bag and turned back to the bed.

“What.” Chris stood hands on his hips, glaring at him.”

“It seems a colt is not the only impressive weapon you carry, are you as fast on the draw with it, I have to ask.”

“Fast enough for you Standish,” then Chris added, “you as good with your hands when you don’t have a pack of cards in them.”

“That we will find out, Mr. Larabee.”

“Hell Ez, I am about to mount that fine ass of your, think you can call me Chris.”

“That we will have to wait and see.” He broke off as Chris stalked towards him.

“I think that.”

“Ezra.” Chris said cutting across him.

“Mr. Larabee.” But Ezra was not fated to finish his sentence.

 “You always talk this much?”

“Mr. Tanner didn’t seem to mind.” Ezra said, waiting to see what Chris would do when he reminded him of their soon to be mutual lover.

“Ez, you don’t give him a chance, no matter.”

“No matter” Ezra said.

I got me a few ideas for that mouth of yours, and talking ain’t one of them.” 

Whatever else Ezra was about to say was lost as Chris moved over him, this lean body rubbing and grinding against him, soon, Ez didn’t have the oxygen to speak, as he was taken in a toe curling kiss. That became a low moan as long grease covered fingers moved between his splayed legs, and teased him open. When he was mounted he was riding on a wave of passion, knowing only that he needed to  become one, with Chris, their first coupling was fast and furious, neither man could hold off his climax long. They came together Chris calling out Ezra’s name his face buried in the gamblers hair, as Ezra cried out Chris’s name his face buried against the gun man’s shoulder. Slowly they stilled and Chris’s lips brush Ezra’s in a soft kiss, that was as tender as their coupling was hot and hard. Pulling slowly out of him, Ezra couldn’t stop a gasp of pain, with Vin he had always taken the Texan, knowing that it was the way that Vin wanted it, but he was yet to talk Vin into taking him. He missed the feeling of being filled, of having a hard lean body pounding into him.  Chris got off the bed, and for a moment Ezra panicked, that Chris was leaving him, but the words remained unsaid and if Chris knew it, he ignored it. Coming back, he gently cleaned him up, the coaxing him onto his stomach, a strong arm hooking under his hips and drawing him up on all fours. Strong fingers spread and held him open as Chris checked for any bleeding; the kiss on the small of his back nearly undid Ezra as Chris applied some of the grease to his red and swollen pucker.

Only then was he allowed to roll onto his side, and when he opened his arms Chris moved into them, and tugged the blankets up round them.

“Mr. Tanner.” Ezra said.

“What about Vin.”

“I’ll have to thank him.”

“Yeah, but I have a better idea.” Chris said.

“And that is Mr. Larabee?” Ezra asked.

“We get a bigger bed, and show him what he missed.”

“An excellent idea Mr. Larabee.” Ezra drawled, and then yawned, only to be pulled closer, snuggling into the lean warm body that he never thought he would have, Ezra slept the sleep of the just.

When Chris woke up, he found the bed next to him was empty and two words on a piece of paper Four Corners.  Chris stormed out of the room, muttering under his breath as he strode to the livery stable to get his horse, first Vin and now Ez, he was going to have to teach those boys some manners.

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On the trail

Ezra yawned and squinted up at the sun as he rode, God it was an unearthly hour to be up in the morning, but needs must and he was impatient to get to Four Corners first and make sure that Vin was alright. Perhaps have a little alone time with the Texan before Chris arrived,  still it was a pity he couldn’t see Chris’s face when he woke up and found that note, he was  sure it would be a real picture.  The black clad gun man wasn’t used to having the tables turned on him; it would be interesting to see how he reacted. Ezra applied his heels to Knave’s side and encouraged his horse into a loping mile eating stride, edger to get to Four Corners.

He had had little hope for town, but it would be an opportunity to make some money, from the locals, but the biggest shock had been Mr. Tanner, the bounty hunter had been wearing an apron, AN APRON, as he had lifted boxes and sacks into a waiting wagon. He had all but pulled Knave to a halt in shock, but had recovered quick enough not to draw attention to himself. He studied Vin carefully drinking in his lover,  he was clean shaven, that was a first for Mr. Tanner, his brown hair fairly shimmering in the sun light, freshly washed, his shirt clean, even his boots had been dusted down, and somehow he had been shoe horned out of that disreputable jacket of his.  Looking at him like that Ezra fell for the handsome Texan all over again, his heart pounding quickly as he saw the stretch of the pants and shirt against that lean body as he picked up the goods to stow them on the wagon.  Those strong legs and firm ass, it was then he saw the looks that some of the young women gave as they walked past, it seemed it was not only him that was appreciating the view.  He felt like screaming from the roof top that Vin was his, was theirs he corrected himself as the picture of a certain blond gun man popped into his head.  Then a voice called Vin back into the store, and his Texan lover was gone. Not that Ezra needed it, a smile lit up his face at the thought of his lithe lover, naked except for that apron, laid sprawled onto the bed, the ….. Ezra muttered under his breath as he pulled Knave round, he had ridden past the saloon, so lost had he been by his fantasy. Dismounting Ezra tied Knave to the hitching rail allowing him to reach the full trough of water, and slacked his girth, and then with a bounce to his step Ezra entered the saloon. Looking round it didn’t take long for him to locate his marks, a group of Yankee cowboys.

0-0-0-0-0

It was six hours later that Chris rode into the town, and made his way to the nearest saloon Diggers Dan's, it was a piss poor excuse for a saloon, but it had whiskey and that was all that mattered. 

When trouble came, and an innocent man was going to be hung, Chris stepped out onto the street, looking towards the store opposite; he had seen Vin there earlier the deadly young tracker dressed in clean clothes and a white apron, welding a broom, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Chris paused, and waited a heartbeat, and then Vin Tanner stood in the doorway of the store, whatever he said had the owner of the store throwing up his hands in despair, then Vin looked up and their eyes met, and Vin walked across to him, his Winchester rifle canted against his shoulder.

“Chris.”

“Vin,” Chris smirked as he added “nice apron,” as he nodded towards the store.

Good naturally Vin drawled “Fuck you Larabee.”

“Only if you’re lucky,” Chris replied as he began to walk down the street, heading towards the cemetery and the hanging tree where the cowboys were going to execute the black healer, Vin has halted at his words, a look of pure surprise on his face, then he hurried a couple of paces and then dropped into step with him, the smile on Vin’s face was one of pure devilment, as they headed towards their destiny.

The end

 

  Continues in Four Corners