Title: Heat Wave
Pairing/Characters: Ezra/Vin Old West
Warnings: Water hole lovin'
Summary: It's been a long hot spell.
Ezra lifted his hat to glance at the noonday sun as it peeked out from the clouds. Sixteen days of blisteringly hot and humid weather might just be coming to an end, if Mr. Tanner's prediction was correct.
Ezra studied the slowly gathering clouds and found himself actually hoping for a cooling rain to refresh the parched landscape in spite of his aversion to the mud that would come with it. It had been just too oppressive for too many days, even for a southerner used to such weather.
The bright side to the heat was that the little burg he assisted in defending had been unusually quiet. Apparently even the criminal element was too uncomfortable to make their usual trouble for the town's lawmen. Also, the saloon - which Ezra hoped to one day own again - had seen a distinctive increase in patronage with the local populous seeking refuge in the cool interior and the quiet entertainment of checkers or poker rather than tromping about the muggy countryside. And of course, relief in an increase in libations.
The sixteen days of broiling sun had caused delays in stagecoach deliveries to restock the bar, but Ezra and Inez were a resourceful pair. Ezra had found it immensely satisfying to have proved his mettle when the normal whisky drinkers and red-eye addicts had been more than happy to drop two bits for a chilled glass of a decidedly non-alcoholic beverage.
The pressed apple-lemon concoction, kept carefully over the very limited ice supply in the newly - and deeply - dug saloon cellar, and an equally unique coffee blend served chilled with a splash of spiced milk, had both become popular alternatives to the saloon's rapidly depleting stock of intoxicants.
Ezra's eyes cast over the stillness of the street, seeking and tallying the townsfolk in view.
Settled comfortably outside the jail under the shade of the overhang, Buck Wilmington met his gaze with a smile and an almost imperceptible salute. The long-legged lothario had his chair tipped back against the wall, his boots crossed and rested on the boardwalk's railing, his wide-brimmed hat keeping any random sunbeams from attempting to bleach his thick brown mustache. Next to him, the compact figure of the official town sheriff in the form of one JD Dunne was just a hair's breath away from a sprawl on the boardwalk step, his legs resting on the horse-trough, his distinctive bowler tipped down over his eyes.
Ezra knew that Nathan was out on horseback despite the oppressive heat, making slow rounds of the ranches and farms in the area to check that no one was pushing themselves too hard. Heat stroke and exhaustion were nothing to fool with, and while most folks had enough common sense to know how to handle it, there were several new families from back east in the area who might not be familiar with how to survive in this sort of weather. Josiah and Chris had gone with him, in case some of the new folks took unkindly to the good intentions of the ex-slave and Nathan found himself in need of assistance.
Ezra tipped his hat back and looked up at the sky. The clouds were thicker, building, but it didn't look like the hoped-for rain would arrive until much later in the day, maybe not even until tonight. A few too many hours away for his liking, Ezra decided. Too much idle time (even he could only play so much poker before it got dull) left him restless, and it occurred to him that he hadn't visited his horse today. Not that he was concerned with Chaucer's care - Yosemite Clemmens, owner of the town's livery, was an excellent horseman and knew how to provide for the equines in his keep during such miserable weather. However, there just was no replacement for personal care of one's steed.
He pulled himself up out of his chair and headed down the boardwalk at a leisurely pace - it was much too hot for anything beyond a slow stroll. He passed the two Potter children sprawled in front of their mother's store, playing lazily with some carved figures Ezra suspected were from the Chris Larabee collection. Standish didn't think there was a single child in the town who didn't have one or two castoffs of Chris' relentless whittling, as whenever the man finished one he simply handed it to the nearest passing child and started up on another.
Buck had commented once that Chris didn't seem to drink near so much as he used to, even before the death of his family, and Ezra suspected the whittling was a replacement for the other.
Ezra reached the stables, where he found Yosemite nowhere in sight. Likely the petite man was up in the hay loft asleep, a common response to the abominable heat, as no one in their sane mind - besides the peacekeepers of this little burg - had any inclination to go riding out under the merciless sun. And if the storm did arrive, the smart folk would want to be near to home or town, as the surrounding prairie was notorious for sudden flash floods, especially after such a long dry spell.
Which is why he was surprised to see Vin saddling up his horse.
"Why Mister Tanner, going for a ride in this dreadful heat? Perhaps I should have Mister Jackson check you for illness."
Vin frowned, but paused in his preparations. "Need to get outta town for a while," he said quietly. "Damn heat's keeping everyone here, and all them extra bodies is makin' me plumb loco."
"And so, with a maelstrom approaching, it seemed logical to take off on a whim?" Ezra leaned against the side of the stall, unable to hide his amusement: Vin knew he was being foolhardy and he knew Ezra knew it. "Did you consider perhaps one of your more reasonable escapes? The roof of the church, perhaps, or the hotel?"
"Still in town, Ez," Vin sighed. "Like all them people."
"Hm, yes," Ezra nodded, understanding Vin's plight.
It wasn't the closed-in feeling of the town itself - it was the people. Quite frankly, Ezra believed that Vin would be thrilled beyond measure if everyone in the town left, leaving a ghost town of shell buildings and tumbleweeds. Vin would gleefully live out his days as the only man in the entire place.
"But what of the storm?"
"Ain't comin' for a few hours yet. More'n enough time to get out to Sere's Pond for a quick swim and back again; won't even have to make Peso trot."
"Hm, that does sound appealing."
Ezra considered the gleam in the tracker's eye; impish, inviting. He'd seen it more than a few times before, usually when the younger man was looking to get himself into mischief.
"That would leave Misters Wilmington and Dunne alone to guard our fair hamlet from devious fellows," the gambler countered reluctantly. "That hardly seems fair."
"That'd be true, if'n Chris hadn't rode back in ten minutes ago."
Ezra cocked an eyebrow; how had he missed that? "He did?"
Vin grinned. "Came in back side of the tannery; ol' Ms McKellum's doin' a might poorly, probably on'a count a'the heat, so's Nate stayed out there to try to make her better and Josiah stayed case she passes on. Chris figured ain't no use him continuing their circuit, seein' how he ain't gonna be able to doctor no one that didn't take Nathan's advice in the first place, so he came back. Decided to stop by Igor's, have him fix the strap on his saddle - you know, the one that's gettin' sad-lookin'."
"That would explain why we didn't see his arrival," Ezra nodded.
"Told him I was gonna go for a swim."
"To which he magnanimously gave permission."
"Told him you were comin' too."
Ezra blinked. "I'm sorry?" he asked.
Vin's grin widened as the long-haired man tilted his head toward Ezra's horse.
A horse that had been brushed, curried, and saddled.
"How…?" Ezra's mouth worked for a moment, with no sound made, before he shook himself. "I didn't even know I was coming here. How on earth could you have known?"
"Didn't," Vin chuckled. "Was gonna come find ya after everythin' was all set."
"Well, I shall most certainly take that as a sign, then," Ezra nodded. "Prudence would deem it necessary for me to join you in your little sojourn."
"An' you always bein' prudent and all," Vin grinned. The tracker stepped closer so that his face was within inches of the gambler's. Blue eyes sparkled. "Even brought a bar of your favorite soap."
Grinning widely, the younger man slipped a hard square lump into his companion's left pants pocket. Ezra swallowed hard as Vin leaned closer, his lips grabbing a fast, harsh kiss, before the man pulled away and mounted his blaze.
"Good lord," Ezra gasped.
He moved quickly to follow suit.
The trip to the pond took forever, it seemed. Between the heat and the lump in his pocket, the long lazy gait of the horses and the loose-limbed presence of Vin Tanner, Ezra was certain he had died and gone to hell. They rode in silence, Vin his usual quiet self and Ezra far too obsessed with trying to arrive at their destination undamaged which only seemed to prolong the trip further.
But then suddenly, there is was.
Sere's Pond was an almost mystical place. Born of a very deep well that Vin claimed was fed from the Gila River. No matter how long a hot or dry spell they experienced it was always full and relatively cold. The trees around it drank from it greedily, staying perpetually lush and green as the rest of the prairie faded to dull browns around it, and the grass along its banks was invariably scattered with color, as this flower or that bloomed in its order. Even in the coldest months of winter the area still had a lush, relaxed feel to it.
Vin reined Peso under a sprawling Elephant Tree, stepping aside to allow Ezra to follow suit. They took their time to remove their horses' gear before setting the two free to roam in the shade looking for forage. They didn't have to worry about horse thieves taking these two horses - Peso was notorious for biting or kicking any strangers that came within range just for the fun of it, and Chaucer wasn't much better if the stranger wasn't with Ezra or didn't have the sense to bribe him well with sugar and apples first. Settling their belongings under a tree at the water's edge, the two men stripped down without pretense, piling their clothes in the shade and heading quickly into the water.
Ezra couldn't remember when water felt so good against his skin, and he was a man who had cherished many a bath in his day. Even the air around the pond seemed cooler - probably was simply from the presence of the water, he chided himself - but it all added to a glorious feeling of relief. He dove under, soaking himself completely, before coming up to bob just his head above the water, his feet digging into the soft sandy bottom. He closed his eyes, savoring the moment.
"Feelin' good there, Ez?"
Ezra shivered as the breathy words were murmured against his ear. He felt a hard body move up against his back, pushing the water between them away, and he leaned into it as though without free will.
"Should you be quite so forthcoming, Vin?" he asked. "It is unlikely we are the only ones to think a swim would be refreshing in this weather."
"Chance I'm willin' ta take," Vin chuckled. " 'sides, most folk see that cloud forming, they ain't gonna budge from where they are or they're gonna skedaddle home lickity-split, hole up till it passes."
"Surely some of them understand we have time before its arrival."
"Not too many white folk like you and the boys," Vin sighed, nibbling on one golden shoulder. "I could tell'em sixty times a day that storm ain't gonna hit till dusk, but they ain't gonna listen. Well, Nettie might, maybe a few'a them townsfolk who actually like me. But the rest of 'em? They believe the storm's comin' but they can't trust I know the time cuz that means I know somethin' more'n they do. Got used to that long time ago. Only likely company we're gonna get here is the animals an' maybe an Indian or two. And they ain't gonna blink at me goin' under ya."
Ezra yelped in surprise as a hand snaked around to find his hardness and pump it gently. His head fell back completely, baring his neck for Vin to lick and kiss at will.
"Surely…" he gasped weakly as another hand slid along his hip, the nudge of Vin's hard length against his buttocks. "Surely they would not wish to witness this, even if they would not disapprove…"
"Hell, likely they'd wanna join in," Vin chuckled, causing Ezra's eyes to fly open as his cock slipped between the gambler's legs, poking his balls even while he stroked harder. "Man like you, lookin' like a god… can't imagine a warrior around that wouldn't want to fuck you till you're limp."
Vin clamped down on Ezra's earlobe, chewing just to the point of pleasurable pain, his one hand roaming mercilessly over ass and thigh, occasionally slipping a finger along Ezra's crease. He continued his assault with gusto, having thought of nearly nothing else all day while trapped in town, watching his lover maintain an amazing appearance of civility as the rest of the populous wilted in the heat.
Never amazed him more than today that Ezra could remain so cool and comfortable looking when all the world around him was collapsing. The gambler could look as if it was snowing out while standing in the middle of Hell, and make you wonder what was wrong with you that you were warm.
All today, and for that matter the last few days, all Vin had been able to think of was how much he wanted to get out of his clothes. Which naturally led to the thought of getting Ezra out of his clothes. Which led to thoughts of Ezra naked.
Which led to other thoughts too carnal to mention.
And while Vin was known to be as patient as a saint most days, after near a week of doing nothing but daydreaming about sweaty, naked Ezra, he knew if he didn't do something about it he was going to go stark raving mad.
Since that night they'd become more than friends on the trail nearly a year ago, they'd been lucky to find time once a week to serve their more base desires. A noisy bustling town, with them on call to take care of the trouble that just seemed attracted to the place like children to a mud puddle, it was just too risky to try to get together. And their duty schedules, as set by Chris to their original requests, usually saw Ezra going on duty around midnight with Vin going on patrol around dawn. They swapped time with the others guarding the jail when necessary or taking rounds of the streets, and got together with their friends for a prearranged meal here and there.
Even if Vin's suspicions that both Chris and Josiah knew about their relationship, they weren't about to draw attention to it by asking for shift changes that had been in place for nearly three and a half years. In the full eleven months (and eighteen days) they'd been together, they'd only dared a rendezvous in town once.
So that left sneaking away when they could. If Vin was asked to run an errand out of town, Ezra would volunteer to accompany on the grounds that he needed a change of poker table. If Ezra was asked to go, Vin volunteered by claiming he needed to get out of town for a while. At first Chris had questioned it, but in recent months he'd simply complied without comment.
If there was no errand to run, Vin might say he wanted to visit Nettie, and Ezra would declare he was in the mood to exercise Chaucer. After a while, their friendship was all that was needed to explain their getaways together - the others accepted Vin's need for space and they accepted Ezra's tagging along for whatever reason he might care to offer if they bothered to ask. It worked well… but they had no plans to push their luck.
Ezra finally could no longer stand quietly and tolerate Vin's brutal assault on his neck and shoulders, the hands teasing his skin mercilessly under the crisp cold pond water. Turning in Vin's arms, he pressed against the man, his lips finding Vin's mouth and molesting it viciously.
Tongues danced, hands moved, and the two of them thrust against each other like rutting animals, their erections sliding between their legs and bellies, the jarring motion bringing them to a frenzied peak. At last Ezra was coming, pushing against his lover violently, hands grasping Vin's ass tightly for better leverage and he gave a thick, throaty rasp of a noise. In turn the tracker lifted his head up and grunted, low and deep in his gut as his stomach tightened and he released into the water.
The two simply clung for a moment, panting, clutching lightly, leaning to hold each other up. Around them a light breeze whirled and in the trees by the bank the birds were beginning to twitter excitedly. Vin glanced up at the sky and saw the clouds moving in. He sighed and dipped to kiss Ezra's temple gently.
"Better be headin' back," he murmured.
Ezra pulled back slowly, his glazed eyes working to focus, brows furrowing. "I thought we had hours."
"I lied. Couldn't stand another day without ya."
Ezra stepped back and stared. "You lied to get me out here so you could have your way with me, sir?"
Vin shrugged and nodded.
Ezra splashed him as he declared, "Scoundrel! See if I don't tell my mother on you, you cad!"
"Reckon I besmirched yer honor, huh?" Vin grinned smugly.
Ezra huffed lightly. "I foresee a shotgun wedding in your future, you villainous beast."
"Well damn," Vin said thoughtfully. "Hell, if I'm gonna have ta marry ya after we only just kissed an' fondled a little, reckon I'm gonna have ta carry you off to bed and make it worth my while."
Ezra shook his head, laughing. "Well, truth be told, I hear we are due for one dilly of a storm this evening… perhaps one vicious enough to trap us indoors."
"You hear, huh? This source o'yours reliable 'bout such things?"
Ezra stepped in closer, his eyes glittering. "Indeed. Most trustworthy and exceedingly accurate."
"An' my ol' wagon just ain't as able to handle that kind of downpour no more," Vin said, reaching to pull Ezra close again. "Might have to rely on the kindness of my friends to get me outta the weather, else I might catch cold."
"Hm, I'm sure Mister Jackson would be most willing to put you up at the clinic." Ezra's hands found their way to the small of Vin's back and stroked lightly.
Vin bent his head to Ezra's neck and licked lightly. "He ain't gonna be back to ask him."
"What about the church?"
Vin's hands caressed the gambler's back softly. " 'siah's gone too, 'member?"
"I suppose," Ezra sighed as Vin nibbled along his chin, "that Mister Wilmington will be seeking the comfort of one of the ladies once the heat has broken in the storm… perhaps you can borrow his bed."
"Can only imagine how clean that is… rather risk pneumonia."
"And Mister Larabee?"
"Talks in his sleep. To his horse."
"Oh dear, we seem to have run out of options. I suppose, since you have already stolen my honor, I shall have to succumb to your evil ways and allow you to share my bed."
"You love my evil ways," Vin murmured in Ezra's ear.
Ezra moaned with pleasure. "Yes, I do…" he whispered. "I love *you*, Vin Tanner."
"Well, damn, that all just works out fine then, don't it?" Vin grinned as he pulled back. "Shall we be gettin' back so's I can start showin' you how much I love you back?"
"Hm, that idea has merit," Ezra smiled, pretending to mull it over.
A rumble of distant thunder drew both their attentions skyward. Vin wondered just how much time he had allowed to pass in their post-climax cuddling. The storm was really moving in quickly.
"Come on, Ez, we *really* need to go."
Redressing, saddling and mounting took nearly no time as neither man was particularly interested in anything beyond getting everything and themselves back to town before the storm hit. As it was, they had barely reached the livery when the first drops began to fall, and by the time they ran through the saloon doors the sky had opened and was liberally dumping its contents on all foolish humans who had not bothered to get indoors in time.
The two men drew surprised and amused looks as they burst through the batwing doors, the thunder and lightning behind them only adding to the bizarre image. As they entered laughing, Inez bustled over with a pair of bar towels.
"Aye, mi amigos," she exclaimed shaking her head. "I thought the two of you had more sense."
"I'm afraid, my dear, that time got away from us," Ezra replied cheerfully as he used the small towel to pat as much water off of him as he could.
"Went for a swim, was enjoyin' it so much I stopped watchin' the sky," Vin grinned, draining his sopping curls.
"You're lucky Nathan isn't here to give you a good scolding," Chris said from the table where he sat with Buck, nursing their coffees.
"Kids today, don't have enough sense to come in outta the rain," Buck chuckled, raising his mug to them.
"Nah, it's a warm rain, gonna do us all some good," Vin replied. He turned to wink at Inez "Ya got any of them sugared tortilla crisps hidin' back there? I could eat a bull I'm so hungry."
"You could eat my Sopapillas even after you ate a bull, senior," Inez countered, but nevertheless scooped a few handfuls of the sweets into a bowl and thrust them toward the tracker. "Your stomach has no bottom, you could eat a king out of house and home. Senior Standish, will you please get your friend out of my saloon before the two of you soak the floor through and warp the wood?"
"Indeed, my dear, most discourteous of us," Ezra replied with a bow. He slipped a gold piece into the lady's hand as they passed and added, "would you be so kind as to send up a pitcher of cider and whatever food you might have to feed two weary souls?"
"Weary my ass," Chris grumbled good-naturedly. "Were off takin' a swim while the rest of us-"
"Laid around pretending to work," Vin countered wickedly. "Yer just jealous, Larabee."
"Hardly," Chris grinned. "Go on, now, you two, you're dripping on the lady's floor and just making more work for Buck."
"Me?" Buck spat, turning in surprise. "What do you mean, work for me?"
"Well, hell, Buck, you're down on your knees begging Inez so much for one thing or the other, you might as well wipe up the mess while you're down there!"
Ezra and Vin laughed, along with Chris and the rest of the people in the saloon, while Buck sputtered and attempted to find a way out of the corner Chris had so neatly painted him into.
The two wet men headed for the stairs. Ezra let them into his room and guided Vin toward the window where a small carpet lay. "Undress," he commanded, taking the bowl of chips away.
Vin couldn't help but flush. "Ain't gonna court me first?" he asked softly, lowering his voice to a tone he knew could drive Ezra crazy.
Sure enough, his lover shivered visibly, but the gambler simply moved to his bureau where he set down the bowl.
"You, sir, are the one who took advantage of me at the pond," he stated with a false seriousness. "Now, you will live up to your sins - preferably without creating a puddle on my floor.
Vin opened his mouth to reply but was silenced by the flying towel which hit him in the face.
"Dry yourself, young man, then you may approach for your punishment."
Vin shook himself at the wicked gleam in those sparkling green eyes and hurried to divest himself of his clothing, all of which he hung carefully over the back and arms of Ezra's rocking chair. As he scrubbed his hair with the towel, he watched Ezra methodically removing his own garments which were hung on hangers and strung up to the small string across the door of his closet. The smaller man gave his own hair a quick tussle and then laid the towel under the wet clothes to catch any drips.
The man pulled on a long silver dressing gown and tied it about the waist with a blue sash that matched the embroidered edgings of the robe. He then turned to his guest and offered a similar robe, this time in yellow with bronze-colored trimmings. Vin accepted the robe and pulled it on, admiring the feel of the smooth silk against his skin.
"Damn, Ez, you sure I should wear this? It's awful purty and I ain't exactly known for my ability to keep things nice n'neat. Might ruin it just by lookin' at it cross-eyed."
"Vin, my mother sends me a new one of this things every Christmas, whether I need it or not," Ezra said with a sigh. "Lord knows I have given away more of these robes than anyone should have possession of, unless you are a hotel. Trust me, if you should spill on it or even set it on fire, I will simply pull another one out of the closet. I think I have at least two more yet…" He paused to think. "Yes, the blue one to Josiah on his birthday, and the cream-colored one to Nathan for the clinic… yes, two left." He looked at Vin and winked. "I will admit, it had proven useful in recent years not to have to purchase gifts for our fellow peacekeepers. I've simply weeded out my stash of dressing gowns."
"Never gave me one," Vin said, stepping up to the bedpost with a pout.
Ezra moved to the opposite side of the bedpost and ran a hand through Vin's curls. "That, my dear fellow, is because I actually put thought into what to get you." He leaned forward and nibbled on Vin's lower lip. "Or are you saying you didn't like your last birthday present?"
Vin felt his groin tighten - his last birthday had seen the presentation of a new pair of boots and a new belt with a silver buckle, delivered on the naked, fire-lit form of one Ezra Standish at a campsite on the high bluff just outside the town.
It had been a *very* good birthday.
"Guess I'll have to settle fer ya thinkin'," Vin chuckled, tilting his head into Ezra's hand. He turned to kiss Ezra's palm, just as a harsh knock rattled the door.
The two broke apart and Ezra stepped to the door, reaching for his gun as he did so. "Yes?"
"It's Chris. Inez sent me up with your dinner."
Ezra twisted the lock and opened the door to permit Chris entrance. "Her wait staff is occupied?"
"Nah, just couldn't stand watching Buck mop the floor," the gunslinger replied. "If Inez don't give in to him soon, that man is gonna lose all sense of himself, probably ask her to marry him."
"Inez would probably say yes just to see him pass out," Vin chuckled, reaching eagerly for one of the sandwiches on the plate.
"What, you starving or something?" Chris asked, snatching his hand away as if afraid Vin might try to eat it too.
"Ez took away my chips, made me get outta my wet clothes first."
"Cruel, Ezra," Chris smiled, shaking his head. "You're lucky he didn't rebel."
"I assure you, I was aware of the danger of it," the gambler grinned. "Thank you for the delivery, Mister Larabee. Your kindness shall surely be rewarded."
"What, no tip for the bellboy?" Chris huffed.
Ezra smirked and tossed the man a penny from the bureau top.
Chris caught it, pinched it in his teeth, then grinned wide like a schoolboy. "Gee, thanks, Mister! Now I can buy a stick of peppermint!" Chris grinned as Vin laughed outright as the gunslinger's impersonation of Joshua Potter.
"Go on, before Inez is forced to shoot Buck simply to avoid thanking him for helping her," Ezra sighed, shaking his head. Few people ever seemed to realize that Chris Larabee's sense of humor was easily as twisted as the rest of them - perhaps worse. "I have offered Vin the option to stay in my room for the night, as his wagon is certainly not a healthy place to rest in this weather."
"What about his room at the boarding house?" Chris asked, his eyes gleaming knowingly.
Ezra shook his head sagely. "To stay at the boarding house he would have to redress in his currently sodden belongings, which surely cannot be healthy? No, my room has ample space, there is certainly no reason to court illness over something so trivial."
"Well, I'm sure you're right," Chris grinned widely. "Bet Nathan will agree with you on that too. Course, he ain't around to ask, so there's no sense taking chances is there?" The gunslinger bowed gracefully and affected a whiney voice like that used of a bad guy's flunky in a melodrama. "Thank you, sirs, have a lovely evening, sirs. Do let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay at the Very Best Saloon more pleasurable." With a very un-Larabee-like flourish, the gunslinger stepped out the door and closed it behind him.
Ezra moved to lock the door, then turned a puzzled gaze over his shoulder to his companion. "Is this what a sober Larabee is like? I'm not entirely sure I'm comfortable with it. He's… god help me, he's perky."
Vin laughed out loud as he polished off his sandwich and licked his fingers. "Yeah, the last few months he's really chirked up, hasn't he? Makes ya wonder if he's gettin' some we don't know about."
"Well, it certainly isn't the comely Widow Travis," Ezra murmured thoughtfully. "Ever since the episode with Ella Gaines she has concluded our fearsome leader is less agreeable a beau and has turned her thoughts to young Master Samuels at the grainery."
"Can't think'a no one he's spent much time with," Vin said, rubbing his lip. " 'cept Buck, a'course."
Ezra and Vin's eyes met for a moment
"You don't suppose…" He shook himself. "Never mind," the gambler said firmly. "Probably best not to know."
"You don't think?"
"I do not think. Absolutely not."
"Bet ya a dollar."
"Bet ya two."
"No, unequivocally not."
Ezra bit his lip.
Vin grinned and stepped closer to his love. Wrapping his arms around the man from behind, he bent for his favorite pre-coital pastime of ear-nibbling. "Now, we got food, we got drink… I recall ya saying I was needin' to be punished?"
"Oooh…" Ezra groaned as a tongue flicked his lobe. "Yes… you are a horrible, incorrigible… oh god, Vin… hell-spawn…"
Whatever else the man might have said was cut off as Vin's hands weaseled their way under the silver silk. Pulling away the folds, Ezra's robe was quickly discarded and the man laid out on the comforter of the bed. Vin stood over him, looking down for a moment, loving the way the light from the lamp glinted off his golden skin, his auburn curls. Like a feast spread out before him, and yet for the moment all Vin could do was look.
Ezra gazed up at his lover with a wanton smile. "Whatever are you waiting for, Mister Tanner? I do believe I am getting cold here, all alone - and after all, my mother will insist we marry, so you might as well finish what you were attempting out at the pond."
Noting Vin's weighted look of desire, he spread his legs a little and wiggled suggestively. Vin growled low in his throat and ripped his robe away and leaped.
Vin rolled over in the night as he realized the sounds of the storm were finally abating. The wind was still blowing well enough, but the rain had lightened to a mild drizzle and the thunder and lightning seemed to have moved on. Slipping out from under Ezra's arm, the tracker moved to the window and pushed open the glass, letting a little more air come through now that the storm didn't come with it, and he sighed in relief.
Tomorrow there would be clean up to deal with, and probably the rebuilding of that stupid little bridge over Rainbow Creek since no one seemed interested in putting up a REAL crossing, but for the most part it would be back to life as usual in Four Corners.
Deciding he might as well relieve himself while he was awake, he slipped on his boots and robe and grabbed the key off Ezra's bureau. He eased into the hall and moved silently across the boards toward the back stairs, taking them stealthy as a cat to reach the exit to the outhouse.
Finished with his business, he took a little more time climbing back to the second floor, listening to the variety of sounds from the different rooms. Probably more than a few people had stayed in town rather than try to get home before the storms, and Vin was amused by the distant cacophony of snores, whistle, belches and grunts coming from the various occupants.
Until he was passing one room…
He paused, uncertain. He listened carefully, focusing.
And suddenly, he smiled.
He closed the door behind him and slipped between the sheets, leaving his robe in a pile on the floor behind him. Ezra rolled over to meet him as he wrapped his lover in his arms and gently kissed his forehead.
"Vin?" the southern voice whispered sleepily.
Vin ran a hand gently along Ezra's brow, a move he knew the gambler found soothing. "Hush, go back ta sleep."
He tucked himself in carefully and sagged into the pillow, enjoying how Ezra molded against him. Vin smiled to himself and Ezra wiggled a little before finally slipping off into slumber. Vin took a moment to cherish the feeling of being so loved and trusted by the man in his arms.
A man who owed him three dollars.