Vasquez was already on the run when the name appeared.
In the middle of the night something just woke him with a start. He couldn’t even define it, a strange vibration of the bones, an unusual tingling in the fingers, perhaps the cold threat of a blade pointing between his shoulder blades. However, he had already learned to always trust his instincts, so, not knowing how to reply to all of that, he quickly gathered his few belongings and started to run again.
It’s only after three days that he noticed it. Three days spent always on the run, trying to escape from that hum in the back of his head, resting the bare essentials, only when his body threatened to give in.
And after another sleepless night, while he was washing off the tiredness, the sun's rays that barely shine over the embankment, he noted how the dirty that enveloped his right wrist didn’t seem willing to leave, even if he rubbed it again and again.
He felt the air suddenly been sucked away from his lungs as he read the name indelibly marked on his wrist.
Faraday was doing one of his trick when suddenly the fingers lost their sensitivity and for the first time in his life, the deck fell apart in his hands.
He laughed everything off, blaming the whiskey, and used the excuse to drink another glass, drowning the strangeness and sending away the dizziness.
The next morning he woke up with an inhuman headache, not sure of where he was and how he got there. But certainly, he promised himself, he will beat the shit out of the idiot who did some stupid jokes like inking his wrist.
He needed more than a few moments to realize that the ink wasn’t as random as it looked but instead there were fucking letters, dark, shiny and well-defined crossing his wrist.
“Shit,” he managed to say, looking away and rolling on the back, before his brain could really interpret them, catching only the vague impression that there were a little too many vowels for a common name.
“Shit,” he repeated, covering the incriminate wrist with the other hand, the grip hard enough to feel his own heartbeat.
The first time he met a Joshua, Vasquez felt the air stopped in the lungs and his hands instinctively went on his guns. Something not so subtle must’ve crossed his face, because the newcomer looked at him curiously.
He cursed in Spanish, before get on his horse and leave, insensitive to the complaint of the others. They would arranged the job in different way, the only thing that interested him right now was to put more road as possible between him and any Joshua on earth.
The second Joshua he met was smarter, he understood the reason for his reaction and almost lighted up.
“Don’t tell me you are-”
The gun was in his hand even before he realized it and the shot hit the man’s head almost against his own will.
That night, miles away from everything and everyone, he decided to not only leave behind his name, but also erase the one that should determine his whole life.
The glowing blade tore more than a cry from him, but at least the name was finally unrecognizable on his wrist.
Faraday had never liked to follow the expectations.
He was a gambler, with every aspect of his life, and he was determined to keep on that way even for the stupid name on the wrist.
Thank goodness, the boozed had been strong enough to prevent him to really read the name and, in the end, it’s easy to hide it even from himself, with a piece of fabric.
Curiosity, however, had always been a nasty thing to defeat.
The girl glanced at the name, and he was far too drunk or he would never allowed such a thing, but a bet was still a bet, even with a whore.
He studied the way she raised an eyebrow and then giggled.
“I bet he's a man - he said - And I bet that is a foreigner,” or at least that was the vague impression stuck in his brain from that fateful morning.
Technically, that was cheating, he said to have never looked at the name in his life, but he’s always been a cheater, and half peek while he was still wasted was pretty much the equivalent of an ace up his sleeve, wasn’t it?
Vasquez knows it in the moment Chisolm says the name of who they are waiting.
Faraday. Joshua Faraday.
He just agreed to join a suicide mission, it was obvious that they would meet right now.
He could always shoot him at first sight. Chisolm would probably return the favour, or send him to face justice with a noose around his neck, but it would always be better than the alternative.
As soon as the man is in sight, his hand reaches for the gun and something twitches in him, while he’s watching warily the guy almost fall from his horse and barely stand on his legs.
“Oh, good, we got us a Mexican.”
A drunken idiot, probably shooting him in the head would be a grace for the whole world.
But from the wrist a lightening of pain raise up, almost more intense of when he burned it, which distracts him and Chisolm has the time to drag him away from the other.
At the first shooting, he promise himself. At the first shooting, in the chaos of the gunfire, he’ll put a bullet between his shoulder blades and all that story will end.
Eventually his instincts, those instincts that keep him alive for all those years in spite of everything, force him to protect those damned shoulders, that damn smile, that whole damn idiot who even got shot.
At least he sent that hijo de puta to the lord, because he is the only one allow to kill Joshua Faraday, and no one else.
He didn’t take into account the Gatling gun, however, nor the unexpected pain that takes his breath away when he feels the other fall.
The first time he sees him, his head suddenly becomes lighter, as if he had drunk another bottle of whiskey in one gulp.
The sensation almost knocks him off Jack and barely allow him to stand on his legs, but he’d really drink too much to connect everything to him.
A fucking Mexican, the lord saves him.
The Mexican becomes Vasquez in the middle of Rose Creek, back to back with guns to reload.
When he sees his exhibition, that lovely handwork he does spinning his guns, he feels something warm and pleasant settles in his belly, but blames the successful fight for all that strange and breath-taking sensation.
Even if that was probably the most alluring sight he has ever laid eyes on.
As soon as he realizes what he actually thought, he has to make amends, because he was visibly out of his mind, that definitely wasn’t a usual thing for him to think.
“Want try to tie it up, uh chingado?”
“Say when, guero.”
Vasquez becomes simply Vas when, instead of smash his face, he just turn off the cigarette he threw at him, a laugh that still folds his lips even if he’s trying to hide it.
He smiles innocent and Vas rolls his eyes before returning to set up dynamite.
Vas becomes him in the middle of a field, wounds and burns all over his body and ears that still resound for the explosion.
He sees his lips move, but he’s still too dazed to be able to understand anything, except a guero here and there. Yet he’s there, and as soon as he touches him, things seem to become tolerable.
“It’s you – he says, lungs aching and hands shaking – I’ll bet it’s you. Of course it’s you. It’s always been you.”
Then the world becomes dark, but those hands never leave him.
Faraday will need days to be able to wake up and remain conscious for more than a few confused minutes, and Vasquez repeatedly says to himself that he must just leave his hand and run away.
The first time he think about it, Emma had just kicked him out of the room, yelling something about get some fresh air and wash himself, not necessarily in that order, since the marks of battle are still heavy on his skin.
It's almost an impulse to check his horse, that he's all right and be able to leave at the first opportunity if he need it.
The second time he checks his saddle and fills his saddlebags, secretly taking dried meat and biscuits from the kitchen, a habit hard to get rid of.
The third time Chisolm is waiting for him.
“You know, if you left, he would just proclaim that he doesn’t give a shit about a damned Mexican, and then he’ll start to drink like a fish.”
He doesn’t reply, stroking the neck of his horse and looking for something, anything, that actually persuade him to leave. Or that really make him stay.
“Then, wasted as ever, he would start chasing you and probably ending to fall into a ditch.”
He can imagine the scene so well that almost manages to make him smile “I bring nothing but trouble, Chisolm. It would be better for everyone if I leave.”
“After defeat Bogue’s army, I think you can change your definition of problem, but it’s your choice. When Horne will kill you with his ax, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. He’s very keen to all this soulmates thing.”
Chisolm leaves him alone, and he hides the face against his stallion.
Eventually Faraday really manages to wake up and Vasquez understand that is too late for anything.
“If I’m dead, what are you doing in my heaven?”
He just raises an eyebrow “And what makes you think you deserve heaven, guero?"
“I sacrificed myself for all of you. Heaven seems the least to me.”
Vasquez can’t restrain the angry snap of his neck, nor the way his hand reinforces the grasp around Faraday’s until it’s almost painfully “It was a stupid thing to do.”
“But it worked.”
“You almost died, Faraday,” his tone is so serious that finally the other loses his light-hearted face to really look at him.
Hopefully he won’t notice the dark circles around his eyes, the exhausted and tense line of his shoulder, the desperation with which he holds his hand, and god, how he didn’t noticed it before?
It has always been so obvious.
“If I am just barely died and you're the angel sent to take me to heaven that would explain a few things,” Faraday winks, finding the energy to do his usual smug smile.
The joke leaves him half astonished and half angry, not knowing how to react.
With effort, Faraday frees the hand from his clasp, grabbing his vest to pulling him down.
He was still weak, is the gesture itself that stops his words, and he sighs but still leans towards him.
Faraday look at him for another long moment, says “It’s you” and then kisses him like he was the only thing that keeps him alive.
Probably he is, and probably the whole thing is more mutual than he wants to admit to himself, because suddenly even the thought of part away from Faraday, makes his chest tighter for the pain.
He could almost get used to this, Faraday thinks.
Vasquez is warm and cozy against his back, a still necessary support even after weeks.
Not far, there are the bright lights of Emma's home, and if he focuses enough, he’s pretty sure to be able to hear the other talking and laughing.
He smiles relaxed, bringing again his gaze on the field in front of them, the wind that barely moves it, and he let himself being lulled by the chirping of cicadas and Vas’s quiet breaths, a bottle of whiskey beside and the smell of cigar that surrounds them.
Oh yes, he can definitely get used to it.
He doesn’t know why he takes his wrist, maybe just curiosity to see his name adorn the other.
Vas tenses behind him, suddenly uncomfortable “Guero...”
That was unexpected, he must admit it. The scar, long and old, seems still painful and there is no trace of his name.
“Lo siento,” Vas mutters, leaning his forehead against his neck, “I didn’t want...”
Faraday doesn’t respond, barely brushing the scar with his finger.
Vasquez lets out a strangled sound from his throat “I was afraid of what might happen. And it was too risky. The life of an outlaw isn’t the best offer to a soul mate.”
“Did you want to leave?” He asks, his fingers still absently brushing the wrist.
“I thought about it.”
“Chisolm. And Horne with his ax looking at me scowling.”
“Do you still want to leave?”
“Joshua ...” is the first time he says his name, and it seems almost a prayer on his lips. He can’t hold back the shiver that runs down his spine.
“I never really read the name,” is what he says instead of persist on his question.
“I never read the name. I mean, I gave it a peek the morning that appeared, but I was still too wasted to really read it. I just know that is male and foreigner.”
“What are you trying to tell me Joshua?” Again his name, again a shiver running down his spine.
“That we could not be us, it might just be a mistake. I don’t want you just because a fucking name on my wrist said so, Vas.”
“Don’t you even ask my real name?”
“You are you, for me this is enough. I want you to be him. I want you, and this should be enough also for you.”
He hears the other sigh, but the grip around his waist becomes stronger “I am not good at following the rules Joshua, that's made me who I am. But this ... - Vasquez reverses the roles, his fingers hesitating around the bandage that covers his wrist - ... this is something I couldn’t escape, no matter how hard I tried. I think is something from which neither I can run away from. Something from which I... no quiero escapar, sì?”
His heart begins to beat louder, while Vas intertwines their fingers, tissue against scar, and even if he don’t understand what he said, the meaning is not so ambiguous.
“I knew it, I was the only who could ever settle you down.”
He feels the smile against his neck, his “Solo para ti, guero,” followed by a kiss just under his ear and hell, probably that was really the best bet of his life.