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Luck of the Draw

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Xander’s hands fisted in dirty white sheets, his body shuddering as he heard Angel groan and fall against him, their skin pressed warm and close. Then a rough hand was pressing onto his back and Angel was rolling away.

Xander dropped down onto the mattress, pillowing his cheek on crossed arms as he watched Angel turn away, sit up with a quiet curse and reach for his cigarettes.

“My lover man,” Xander muttered under his breath. He hid his irritation in a shrug when Angel looked back at him. “I’m just sayin’, the ride was a winner but the dismount sucked. Might cost you some points,” he sighed.

“That feel like 8 seconds to you?” Angel asked dryly, the muscles in his back lifting and smoothing as he cupped his hands and lit a cigarette. He took a deep drag, closing his eyes and tipping his head back as he exhaled.

“If that didn’t look so fucking hot, I’d remind you what a cliché it is,” Xander said, swallowing around a suddenly dry throat. “I mean, c’mon, they’re even Marlboros.” 

Angel swung his legs over the side of the bed, his back bowing as he leaned forward, staring down at the floor. “Open a window if it’s bothering you.”

“Okay, do you actually hear the words I say or do you just tune me out into some kind of ‘Xander-voice blah, blah, blah’?” He lifted his head, reaching a hand out to trace over the path of the lights playing on Angel’s skin. “’Cause the hot thing? Really not complaining.” 

Angel smoked quietly, not looking at him, so Xander sighed, drawing his hand away and flopping over onto his back. “Hey…what time is it?”

Angel shrugged slightly. “About 9:00, I guess. Why?”

Why?” Xander said, sitting up and getting to his knees. “The welcome dance starts in an hour, remember? First shower’s mine,” he said, scrambling off the bed.

Angel rolled back, propping himself up against the wall behind the bed and placing the ashtray on his bare stomach as he watched Xander slide open the closet doors and start rifling around inside. “What are you doing?” he asked slowly. 

Xander turned to look back at him, frowning. “Why did you ask me that? Welcome dance – shower – clothes. What part did you not get?”

Angel grinned at him lazily. “Sometimes I just like to hear ‘Xander-voice’,” he said, staring into Xander’s eyes and slowly lifting the cigarette to his mouth again.

Xander swallowed and then shook his head. “Huh-uh, you knew exactly what I was talking about and now you’re just trying to distract me with the grinning and the sexy smoking.” Xander turned back to the closet, reaching in and then tossing a pair of leather jeans and dark red shirt onto the bed. “We’re going. I’ve been in Vegas two days, and I've either been landing face down in the training arena or face down in those sheets. I’m going out, and you’re coming with me. Get over it.”

Angel sighed. “I thought you were over it. You know what I think of that stuff – bunch of boys playing at being cowboys. And you know I don’t…”

“…drink when you’re riding,” Xander nodded. His voice lowered as he ran his eyes down the length of Angel’s body, framed dark by the white sheets, “You didn’t use to fuck, either.”

Angel narrowed his eyes, slowly grinding out his cigarette. “One beer,” he said, his voice low and tight. “And I’m not wearing the leather pants,” he said, rolling his eyes and sighing, “I mean, talk about cliché…”

“Two beers,” Xander countered, leaning down and bracing his arms on the bed, his eyes on Angel’s, “and I’ll wear the leather pants.” 

The ashtray fell to the floor as Angel's hand shot out, closing tight around the back of Xander’s neck and jerking him forward. “Deal,” Angel growled into Xander’s mouth. 

***

Xander walked backwards into the beer tent, nodding his head and grinning at Angel. “Oh, yeah, Vegas, baby! Now this is what I was talking about. Look at this place – you could fit the arenas in Oklahoma and Nebraska into this thing. Now this is a rodeo – even the music’s less cheesy,” he said, closing eyes and singing along, “And if he ain't good in the saddle, Lord, you won't be satisfied. So don't call him a cowboy, until you've seen him ride...

“Yeah, that’s Vegas, all about the subtlety,” Angel said, brushing past Xander and toward the bar. 

“Two Dos Equis,” Angel murmured to the bartender. He looked back to see Xander heading toward the dance floor, the leather doing obscenely right things to his ass as he gleefully joined the line dancers. Angel groaned quietly. “And a shot of tequila,” he added.

Angel reached into his shirt pocket for his cigarettes, grimacing as his shoulder twinged. He ducked his head, flexing out the pain and fighting back a thought of, I’m too old for this shit, since Xander had pretty much maxed them out on clichés for one night. 

He was lifting the lighter to his mouth when the bartender returned with their drinks, shaking his head. He pointed to the sign tacked to the banners above them, “Sorry! No Smoking!” written in rainbow letters. 

Angel closed his eyes, groaning deeply. “Fuck me,” he muttered, reaching for his beer. 

“Careful how loud you say that, son,” a voice laughed low and dirty behind him, “‘specially when your back’s turned.”

Angel stiffened, his hand clenching on the bottle as he stared ahead, not bothering to look back.

“The man, the myth, the legend: Angelus,” breathed against Angel’s neck. “Still tall, dark and dangerously pissed off…and still ridin’ the rodeo.” 

Angel turned around, lifting the beer to his lips and taking a deep swallow. He slowly lowered the bottle, his face expressionless. “McDonald.”

Lindsey grinned, wincing. “Damn, bro, that hurts. What happened to ‘Linds’?” 

Angel frowned. “I never called you ‘Linds’.” 

Lindsey leaned closer, their thighs brushing as he lounged against bar next to Angel. “Want me to remind you what did call me?” He glanced down the bar, grinning, “I mean, it is a public place, and my Mama raised me right.” 

“She raised you stupid,” Angel said, his voice low, “or you’d be able to remember how I told you to stay the hell away from me.”

“Not in Oklahoma anymore though, are we?” Lindsey asked, his body lazy, relaxed as he looked around the tent, sighing. “All kinds of people end up in Vegas. How was I supposed to know you’d be one of ‘em?”

“And you just happening to get the urge to make it to the Gay Rodeo Finals is just ‘one of those things’?” Angel asked, reaching for the shot of tequila and downing it. “Didn’t think this was your...scene, Lindsey.” 

Lindsey grinned. “Well, now that they got the Budweiser sponsorship,” he said, nodding at the flags above their heads, “guess they finally got the money to pick-up some real talent.” He let his eyes slide over Angel and then looked off, toward the dance floor.

“Conned them into hiring you…right,” Angel sighed. He looked at the line of cowboys down the bar, their eyes trained on Lindsey’s ass in painted-on denim and nodded at them. “Guess I better let you get back to work, then.” 

Lindsey’s lip curled up and his voice lowered, dangerously soft, its grittiness becoming a husky purr as he lifted a hand to Angel’s cheek, drawling, “But you look the most lonesome, cowboy.”

Angel grabbed Lindsey’s wrist, slamming his hand to the bar and holding it as he leaned in, eyes narrowing as he spoke. “You’ve got a bad memory, Lindsey…” the words stopped in his throat as he looked up and saw Xander coming toward them.

Lindsey turned his head, following Angel’s gaze. 

“Hey, don’t mind me,” Xander said in answer to Lindsey’s questioning glare. “I’m just waiting to see how it works out. I mean, I couldn’t even get him to dance the first time I tried to pick him up, and look at you – already holding hands.”

“Yeah?” Lindsey said, lifting a brow, his fingers twisting tight around Angel’s and holding them. “Well, in case he wasn’t too clear the first time, let me help you out with that: he’s still not interested.” 

“Really?” Xander said, grinning, “damn…and I wore the leather pants and everything.” He walked to the bar, curling a hand around Angel’s neck and kissing him lightly. “Hey, baby.”

Angel glared at him and then shook his head, sighing. “You can back down, Xander.” He released Lindsey’s hand, reaching for his beer again. “Lindsey was just leaving.”

“Now, not so fast there, bro,” Lindsey said, his eyes dark as he looked from Angel to Xander and then narrowing as he smiled. “I think what we’ve got here is just a bit of forgettin’ our manners.” He held a hand out to Xander, his smile tightening as Xander slid his hand from Angel’s neck to take it. “I’m Lindsey,” he said, glancing back at Angel. “Sorry if I acted like a shit, but Angel didn’t exactly give me the…situation.”

Xander let his hand linger in Lindsey’s for as long as the older man seemed to want to hold it, just to even things up a bit. “Xander.” He reached past Angel for the beer bottle pooling circles on the bar top. “So was I pickin’ up on some weirdness here, or were you only asking Angel to dance?” Xander grinned, “‘Cause that would lead to some weirdness.” 

Lindsey laughed, ignoring Angel’s glare. “That was just me and Angel forgettin’ we weren’t back in Oklahoma and that we’re too old to wrestle,” he said. “Haven’t seen each other in a while, guess we fell back into bad habits.” 

“Ah,” Xander said, nodding and moving between them to lean back against Angel in a move that was too casual to be anything but deliberate. “Now I get it. But hey, any friend of Angel’s is…well, a big fucking shock to me. So, buy you a beer, call us even?” 

“Lindsey doesn’t drink,” Angel said, ignoring the way Lindsey’s eyes darted between him and Xander and down to where his hand rested lightly on Xander’s hip.

“Oh, sorry,” Xander said, looking at Lindsey. “Didn’t mean to bring up your problem.” His eyes widened and he held his hands up. “Not that it’s a problem. Unless it is. A problem.” Xander swallowed. “I’ll just shut up and drink my beer now.” He lifted the bottle, and then lowered it. “Unless that’s a problem…” he winced, muttering, “dammit!” 

Angel and Lindsey’s eyes met and Angel smiled grimly. “Lindsey’s problem isn’t with beer. It’s with control.” 

Xander licked his lips, looking back and forth between Angel and Lindsey and the way their eyes were locked, which would have made him jealous if it hadn’t been so damn scary. “Okay, you guys might want to stop looking at each other like that, before I have to punch one of you and kiss the other. And you do not want me to get those mixed up.” 

Lindsey chuckled, his eyes still on Angel even after Angel looked back down at Xander, smirking. “Hey, it’s not a Saturday night unless Angel and me are in a pissing contest," Lindsey said. "He’s just pissed about the last time. I kinda made off with some…stuff he thought was his. Think the truck hurt the worst, though.” 

Xander lifted his brows, downing his beer. “Sounds rough.” 

Lindsey nodded slowly. “Just like the saddest country song you’ve ever heard.” 

“So…you and Angel were…” Xander gestured between them, and then shifted slightly against Angel for emphasis. 

“Oh, he’s pretty enough, I guess,” Lindsey said, shaking his head and looking at Angel again, “But I don’t rope on that team.” 

“Huh,” Xander said, frowning and then he nodded. “Okay. So, what do you ride?”

Lindsey and Angel both stared at him.

Xander rolled his eyes. “In the rodeo,” he said, causing Angel to groan quietly. Xander looked back at him. “Do I deconstruct your segues?” 

“Don’t ride,” Lindsey said. “I sing.” He shrugged. “Try to, anyway.”

“Wow,” Xander said, “So you’re chasin’ that neon rainbow…livin’ that honky-tonk dream.” 

“Xander,” Angel sighed, “the rainbow thing…let it go.” 

Xander and Lindsey both stared at Angel and then Lindsey laughed, throwing his head back and singing, “Chasin’ that neon rainbow, livin’ that honky-tonk dream, all I’ve ever wanted – just to pick this guitar and sing....”

“Wow,” Xander said, blinking. He shook his head. “Wow, I mean…fuck, that was awesome! Your voice and with the accent and…” He frowned, looking back at Angel. “How come you don’t talk like that?” 

“Are we done here?” Angel sighed. 

“Nope,” Xander said, turning and putting his hands on Angel’s waist. “One dance.” 

“No,” Angel said. “Beer, pants. That was the deal. No dancing.” 

“One,” Xander said, looking into Angel’s eyes. “No Electric Slide, you don’t even have to two-step. Just standing close, swaying.” He leaned forward, lowering his voice. “Slow and easy…it’ll be like fucking standing up.”

Angel rubbed his hand against Xander’s hip, not bothering to lower his voice. “Then let’s just go back to the trailer and fuck standing up.”

Xander laughed, taking Angel’s hand and turning back to Lindsey and shrugging as he let Angel lead him out of the tent. “He doesn’t say much, but when he does…it sure is pretty.”

 

***

Xander shifted his weight forward slightly, the muscles in his thighs bunching as he leaned left, guiding Falcon to circle the sixth and final pole. Whipping neatly around it, they began a smoothly weaving path back through the poles, each hoof print falling the exact distance from the last. 

As they rounded the first pole again and began their gallop, parallel with the poles and heading back to the start gate, Xander felt his hat fly off and he shook his head, tossing his hair back from his face. Sweat stung his eyes and he jerked involuntarily, cursing as he felt Falcon stutter beneath him, slowing.

Digging his knees in, he rode Falcon back to a full gallop and circled the poles a final time, ending at the start gate. Jumping down, he looped the reins around the saddle pommel and looked toward the side railing where Stoney McGregor, his pickup man, waited.

“How bad was it, Stoney?” 

Stoney leapt down from the railing, stooping to pick up Xander’s straw hat as he crossed the arena and peered at his stopwatch. “27.8.” 

“Fuck!” Xander said, shaking his head. He reached out to catch the bottle of water the older man tossed to him. “That’s a full 10 seconds above my best time.” 

Stoney chuckled, the wrinkles around his eyes narrowing and pinching into his cheeks. “Probably lost at least 5 of ‘em shakin’ out your pretty hair like you’s hopin’ somebody other than me was watchin’,” he said, reaching past Xander to take Falcon’s reins and lead her over to the railing. “Gonna take her around again?” 

Xander tugged his t-shirt free of his jeans and pulled it over his head, wiping the sweat and dust from his face. He looked at Falcon thoughtfully and then shook his head. “Nah, take her back,” he said, reaching to take his hat from Stoney. “My fault, not hers. Next time I’ll hold onto my hat.”

“Could get your hair cut like Angel’s,” Stoney said, as he led Falcon toward the holding pens. “You know, somethin’ with some grip.” 

Xander laughed, following them through the gate and over to the horse trough and water pump. He set his hat back on his head and pumped some water out, slinging his t-shirt over his shoulder as he splashed his face and arms and then used the shirt to mop himself down.

He heard a quiet chuckle behind him and turned around, seeing Lindsey leaning against the railing, grinning at him.

“What?” Xander asked warily as he lifted the shirt to his face again and scrubbed. 

Lindsey crossed his arms and tilted his head, following the play of muscles under sun warmed skin as Xander’s arms lifted, water trailing down his chest and stomach, pooling in his navel and then spreading out, dark against his jeans, molding the denim to his hips and thighs. 

“Wet, half naked cowboy?” Lindsey asked, his mouth quirking. “Just waitin’ for the porno track to kick in.”

Xander snorted. “You know, Lindsey,” he said, taking his hat off and beating it against his thigh thoughtfully as he walked over, “for someone who doesn’t ‘rope on that team,’ you sure are ‘Mr.-Watch-The-Other-Team-Rope’ guy.” He frowned, shaking his head. “Sorry, that was the best I could do with that analogy.” 

Lindsey shrugged, watching as Xander braced his hat between his knees and struggled to pull the wet t-shirt back over his head. “Said I didn’t rope.” He grinned, meeting Xander’s gaze. “Didn’t mean I didn’t let myself get lassoed once in a while.”

Xander bit his lip, choking back a laugh. “I’m sorry, I’m from California…what?” 

Lindsey just grinned wider, looking back over his shoulder and glancing around the arena. “Where’s your old man at?”

This time Xander did laugh. “Say that again. And please tell me you were talking about Angel,” he said, snickering. 

Lindsey smirked. “Okay, I guess I am laying it on a bit thick.” He stretched, straightening and walking over to Xander. “You seem to like it, though,” he said softly, moving closer.

Xander swallowed, shifting his weight and easing back slightly. “Look, um, Lindsey, I don’t know what you’re looking for here, but I’m not planning on, uh, doing any roping today, so…”

Lindsey ducked his head, chuckling. “Damn, forgot how young you are. Just messin’ with you, Xander, all right? Saw you over here, figured I’d come over and see if you and Angel wanted to get together tonight after the main events. Providin’ you can still walk,” he laughed.

Xander looked at him thoughtfully, considering. He’d followed Angel into the trailer last night, weighing whether to ask about Lindsey before or after their ‘up against the wall’ fun began. But Angel had slammed the door, pinning Xander against it, his arms braced on either side of Xander’s face as they stared at one another. Finally Angel had ground out, “He’s just someone I used to know back home,” and then Angel’s lips were on his and he’d kept Xander’s mouth otherwise occupied for the rest of the night. Besides, Xander figured, any time Angel offered something without being asked, he really didn’t want to talk about it.

“You better ask Angel about that,” Xander said finally, turning away. 

“So where is he?” Lindsey asked, rocking back on his heels to look into the arena again.

“Last time I saw him?” Xander shrugged. “Still in bed.”

“Still?” Lindsey snorted. “It’s almost noon!”

“Well, I am young,” Xander said, grinning, as he settled his hat back on his head and headed back to the holding pens. 

***


Angel winced as he opened the door to the trailer, the sudden blast of sunlight causing him to hiss and jerk back, the beer in his hand sloshing over his fingers. 

Lindsey stood below him on the cinder blocks leading up to the trailer, grinning. “Damn, bro…you look like shit.” 

Angel raised the dripping cold bottle, rubbing it against his forehead. “What do you want, Lindsey?” 

Lindsey shrugged, stepping up another block until he was in the doorway, forcing Angel to step back. “Didn’t see you in the training ring, figured you might be here and thought I’d stop by.”

“When you knew Xander wouldn’t be here,” Angel said, turning away and leaving the door open as he walked back over to his chair and eased into it carefully.

“Well, you know how boring trips down memory lane are to people who weren’t there,” Lindsey said, closing the door behind him as he walked over to Angel.

Angel ignored him, nursing his beer silently and letting his head fall back against the chair cushion.

Lindsey turned away, looking around at the dark paneled walls and the hand-carved shelves, buffed golden and glowing against the cheap particle board they were bolted to. “Nice shelves,” he said, easing a buckle out of the slot that kept it in place when the trailer was moving. Which, he thought, glancing at the rumbled bed in the corner, was probably a good idea.

“Xander,” Angel said quietly.

“Hmm?” Lindsey asked, dropping the buckle back into place and looking at Angel.

“The shelves. Xander made them,” Angel said, raising the bottle to his lips again.

Lindsey smirked, moving to perch on a corner of the bed. “Good with his hands, is he?”

Angel leaned forward, his teeth gritting as much at the pain the move caused him as at concealing it from Lindsey. “Do we really need to do this?” He looked at Lindsey and then nodded around the room. “Yeah, Xander lives here. With me. Now, you got what you came for. Do whatever you’re gonna do with it, but get out.” 

Lindsey grinned. “Hell, that’s not what I came here for. Figured that out last night after your little show in the beer tent. Not that the proof hasn’t been…entertaining,” he said, glancing to the wall behind him at a poster of a bare-chested man in a Stetson, the saddle in his hand pulled up high to frame the bulge in his jeans. 

Angel grinned slightly. “Xander,” he said again. “He’s got a…thing for cowboys.”

“I noticed,” Lindsey said, standing up, his eyes roaming from the tight white wife-beater Angel wore down to the jeans from last night, half-buttoned and low on his hips, the belt open, buckle a dull metal sheen against one thigh. 

“Lindsey,” Angel groaned quietly, setting his beer aside and easing back in the chair. “This is getting old. Christ, this was old when we were kids. You couldn’t handle it back then, and you still can’t. You’re still standing here saying everything but what you want to…”

“You took everything from me,” Lindsey said, his voice lower than Angel’s, but still riding over it, “and you acted like it was nothing. And now you’re doing it again – with that goddamned kid. Who’s repeating their history, Angel?” He sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I thought maybe we could talk this out, figure out where we went wrong…” he shook his head, his hair wild, tangling in his fingers. “But we can’t, ‘cause you’re never gonna forget it. Darla’s always gonna be between us, reminding you of what I finally took from you…”

Angel choked and Lindsey’s eyes widened as he took a wary step back. His fists clenched at his sides as he watched Angel fall back against the chair, eyes squeezed shut, his shoulders shaking. Laughing.

Angel opened his eyes, looking at Lindsey. “You didn’t take anything away from me, Lindsey. You did me afavor. Fuck,” he said quietly, shaking his head. “We were kids. It didn’t mean anything because I didn’t need it to, and you couldn’t let it.”

Lindsey stared at him, his jaw clenching. “You think you got me all figured out? You think you know everything about me?”

Angel reached down, slowly buttoning his jeans and tightening and buckling his belt as he watched Lindsey’s eyes follow every slide of his fingers. “Everything I need to know.”

“Well, I know you, too,” Lindsey said, lifting his eyes from the hands that still played on the belt buckle, tracing the designs, to meet Angel’s gaze. “Look at you, so fuckin’ beat up you can barely get out of that chair from still trying to play your idea of champion in the arena and that kid’s idea of one in bed.” He lifted his head, sniffing. “Don’t know what’s stronger, the smell of Icy Hot…or desperation.” He grinned wickedly. “But they both smell like shit, Angel, because it’s all still about you. You’ve never given a good goddamn about anyone. I looked over my shoulder for weeks, waitin’ for you to come after Darla…”

“Come after you,” Angel said quietly. He got to his feet suddenly, crossing the room to Lindsey and backing him against the wall. “How many, Lindsey? How many men have you laid under since me, muttering that you weren’t a ‘goddamned queer’ and still beggin’ for it at the same time?” He leaned in closer, their bodies not quite touching as he reached up and tugged at a strand of hair that brushed Lindsey’s collar. “How many times have told yourself that? Ever come close to believin’ it?” 

“Darla,” Lindsey choked out, shaking his head.

“Darla,” Angel laughed, “knew how to play the game. Yours just looked more fun than mine. For a while, ‘til she figured out that she wasn’t the one you wanted to screw. You figured it out yet?”

Lindsey licked his lips, leaning into Angel. “You to seem to be the one with the better memory, bro. Remind me.” 

Angel let his hand slide through Lindsey’s hair, brushing across his chest, his fingers stopping to pluck at a pearl snap and then he stepped back. He cocked his head, grinning at Lindsey, and then walked over to the door, jerking it open just as Xander stepped up on the cinderblock. 

Angel moved back to let Xander into the trailer and then looked at Lindsey. “You’re right…bro, I do have the better memory. And we’ve already played this scene once, remember? Except this time, I cared who was walking through the door,” he said, moving up behind Xander and wrapping his arms loosely around his waist.

Xander looked between the two of them and lifted his brows. “Okay…this just keeps getting weirder. Hey,” he said quietly, tilting his head back to kiss Angel. “Mmm,” he said, smacking his lips and grinning, “Icy Hot – the cologne of pain. Sexy.” He glanced at Lindsey again and then relaxed back against Angel. “Let me guess…Lindsey was just leaving?”

Lindsey looked at Angel and then turned his head, smiling at Xander as he pushed off of the wall and strolled over to them. “Turns out memory lane’s a little crowded,” he said, his hand on the door. “But I’ll see you boys tonight, right? Might be fun to buy you a beer, hear about the big ride,” he looked at Angel, “you know, cowboy stuff.”

Angel’s arm tightened around Xander, and then he nodded silently. 

Lindsey’s eyes dropped down to where Angel’s hand rubbed against Xander’s stomach and then he pulled the door open, jumping the steps. “You boys take it easy.”

Xander closed the door behind him, turning to Angel. “You know, when my old friends show up, they just want to see my buckles. I’m thinkin’ Lindsey’s hittin’ a little below that.” 

Angel shook his head. “He’s just someone…”

“You used to know,” Xander finished, nodding. “So how come I’m suddenly remembering all the words to every cheatin’ song I’ve ever heard?”

“’Cause you take this cowboy shit way too seriously?” Angel said, running his hand down Xander’s chest to his belt and then curving his fingers beneath it, jerking him closer. 

“Hmm,” Xander murmured as Angel’s lips brushed across his and then trailed down his neck to his chest. “I thought your, uh, shoulder ached?” 

“You’re making something else ache worse,” Angel answered, his hands working Xander’s belt buckle. 

Xander rolled his eyes even as his hands clenched around Angel’s shoulders, drawing him closer. “Angel, the sexy talk…we’ve talked about it, remember? As in why you shouldn’t try it.” 

Angel dropped to his knees, looking up at Xander as he slowly slid the belt free from its loops and tugged Xander’s jeans open. “I’ll just be real quiet, then,” he said, lowering his head as Xander’s thumped back against the door.

***

Xander fell back onto the bed. “Fuck, that was some ride.”

“Yours or mine?” Angel asked, starting to close the door and then sighing and moving aside slightly to let Lindsey in behind him. 

“Yours,” Xander grinned, his eyes closing as he took his hat off and tossed it across the room. “Not that mine didn’t kick ass, but yours was…God, the way you moved, it was like you and Drusilla were just some big, black demon just attacking the arena.”

Angel chuckled and then turned his head as he heard Lindsey laugh quietly and they shared a quiet smile.

“I’ll take second to you anytime, as long you don’t ever go out for pole bending,” Xander said, reaching down for his new buckle and flipping it up, looking at the horse and rider on it, in gold this time, a Finals win. “My first gold buckle.” He frowned, sitting up. “And your sixth. Shit, I need to make more shelves…”

“He gets a little wired after the ride,” Angel murmured to Lindsey, and then groaned as he walked to the bed, dropping down next to Xander.

Lindsey grinned, leaning back against the door. “You better watch your back, son; Xander’s moving up awful fast on it. I thought he had it until that backbend you did.” He shook his head. “Held onto your hat and everything.”

Xander looked up, laughing. “It’s the hair.”

“Still not funny,” Angel muttered, moving closer to Xander and then cursing as his shoulder throbbed again. 

Xander ducked his head, his eyes worried, as he slid a careful hand over Angel’s shoulder. “Bad?” he asked quietly.

“I’ll live,” Angel said wryly. He closed his eyes, covering Xander’s hand with his. “Anyway, got a while to rest up before the regionals in Phoenix.” 

Lindsey snorted. “Well, you better rest up and eat your Wheaties, ‘cause I’m just sayin’, Xander’s gettin’ ready to take you.”

Angel lifted his hand, the fingers curling loosely as he brushed it against Xander’s chin. “He’ll take me when he’s ready.”

Lindsey watched the look that passed between Angel and Xander and coughed. “Is it me, or did the innuendo meter just get kicked up to ‘damn uncomfortable’?” 

Xander snickered, looking over at Lindsey. “Yeah, the weirdness here just keeps getting weirder. You ready?” Lindsey nodded and Xander looked back down at Angel. “You sure you’re okay with this?”

“Go,” Angel groaned softly, settling back against the pillows. “Have a beer, dance the Achy Breaky…”

Xander chuckled, standing up. “Okay, first on the list is your sexy talk, then we work on your references. ‘Cause, yeah. That one’s just bad.” He leaned down, kissing Angel lightly on the lips. “I won’t be out late.” 

Lindsey opened the door as Xander walked over to join him. “Don’t worry, bro,” Lindsey said, placing his hand on Xander’s back and guiding him out the door. “I won’t take my eyes off of him.”

Angel stared at Lindsey for a moment and then grinned slowly. “Yeah. You have fun with that.” 

Lindsey looked at him for a moment longer, his lips tightening, and then he followed Xander out, closing the door behind them.

***

“Bottle of water and a bottle of Dos Equis,” Lindsey told the bartender, his eyes on Xander who was grinning and ducking his head as he signed cocktail napkins for two giggling girls in skintight white jeans. Lindsey stared at the bar thoughtfully for a moment and then waved the bartender back over. “And two shots of tequila.” 

Xander looked up as their drinks arrived and Lindsey nodded, handing him a beer. “Gay rodeo in one of the gayest towns on earth and you’re still pulling the buckle bunnies? That’s talent.”

Xander laughed, taking a drink of his beer. “As a wise man once told me, there ‘ain’t no boy or girl nuthin’ at this rodeo,’ so we get all kinds. And a shiny buckle will always pull the ladies.” He looked down at the bar at the two shot glasses, the lime wedges placed delicately on their rims. “Oh, huh-uh,” he said, shaking his head.

“What’s that?” Lindsey asked, taking a sip of his water. 

“No tequila,” Xander said, shuddering. “And no way in hell two. Dos X’s?” he asked, lifting his beer. “Good. Dos tequilas? Nope, nope, nope. That same wise man also told me, ‘there’s a reason they call it ta-kill-ya.’ And other than one very interesting afternoon, tequila’s never been a friend of mine.” 

“Come on,” Lindsey said, nudging one of the glasses closer to Xander, “you do one…and I’ll do the other.”

Xander frowned. “I thought you had a problem with that?”

Lindsey picked up the glass, shooting it and biting into the lime. “That look like a problem to you?” he asked, his tongue darting out to lick the juice from his lips and then lingering as Xander’s eyes followed it. “Just don’t do it much, ‘cause it makes things get kind of…” he met Xander’s gaze. “Weird.”

Xander snorted, picking up the other shot glass. “Lindsey, if that’s your way of telling me you’re a three beer queer, I kinda figured that out from…well, pretty much any time you’ve been around.” He slammed the shot, grinning and then shook his head, blinking hard. “But just one, okay?”

Lindsey nodded and then crooked his finger at the bartender when Xander turned to look at the dance floor. 

***

Lindsey shook his head, hiding a grin. It was so easy, it was almost a cartoon. Xander was so excited by everything around them, the color and movement from the dance floor, the music – he was still laughing at classic country being described as, ‘this song fuckin’ rocks’ - the cowboys who came by to congratulate and rub close, the bunnies that came by to giggle and rub close. It had almost gotten to the point where he could just yell, “Hey, look! What’s that?” and then dump his drink into Xander’s glass and nudge it toward him with a, “Runnin’ behind, drink up, son!”

Xander turned to look him, his grin almost as blurry as his eyes. “I’m a cowboy,” he snickered.

Lindsey nodded slowly, tossing back another shot of pure water. “You’re a goddamn cowboy hero,” he said, grinning. 

“Well, my heroes have always been cowboys,” Xander laughed, downing his beer and looking around for a waitress. 

“How’d a California boy end up wantin’ to rodeo?” Lindsey asked, sliding a twenty to the waitress and giving her a wink before turning back to Xander. “You grow up in one of the cowtowns?”

Xander shook his head, grinning. “No. It’s stupid.” He looked around the bar, and then leaned in, waving Lindsey closer. “You ever see Urban Cowboy?”

Lindsey drew back, chuckling, and then he nodded.

“Okay,” Xander said, licking his lips, “you know the part where John Travolta goes back to Gilley's, and the camera pans up and he’s leaning against the bar, boots crossed, tight jeans, blue snap-front shirt and he’s all in profile with the black Stetson?” Xander nodded, reaching for his fresh beer. “That did it for me.” 

“Shit,” Lindsey said, his lip curling slightly, “you knew you were queer back then.”

Xander’s hand hesitated on the beer, something wrong in the way Lindsey said ‘queer,’ but then shook it off. “Well, I didn’t see it ‘til it was on cable when I was like, fifteen. But my uncle has, uh, all kinds of weird collections, and one of them was a mechanical bull. He let me practice on that, and when he saw I was gettin’ pretty good, he got me registered in some local rodeos. A friend told me about the gay circuit, and well, after that Uncle Rory wasn’t so interested in all the purses I was gonna win. Didn’t matter,” Xander said, shrugging, “by that time I’d won Falcon and I started goin’ to regionals until I made it to the Semi-Finals in Oklahoma City, where I won my first buckle and..” he grinned, taking a big drink.

Lindsey rolled his eyes. “And you met Angel.” 

Xander smiled blearily, sighing. “Yeah. Aaaangel. Oklahoma City kicks ass.” He sat straight up suddenly. “But not as much as this song,” he said, hearing the opening twang of Cheap Bourbon Whiskey and Pearl Snap Shirts

Lindsey glanced at the dance floor and then back at Xander. “Wanna dance?”

Xander’s, “Are you kidding?” was drowned out by the sound of his bottle hitting the table and his chair scraping back. 

Lindsey watched as Xander lined himself up, already vibrating with the music as he followed the other dancers in every touch, cross, pivot and triple step. Even after more tequila shots than Lindsey could count, Xander’s body moved with the same awkward grace he had in the arena. Every move that looked like it was going to be a stumble turned into a sway or a glide, his boots hitting the floor solidly with each step. 

Lindsey eased a little behind Xander to mimic his moves in every line of the dance, which was difficult when his eyes kept darting to the smooth glide of denim over the ass that ground back at him with every pivot. 

Xander looked over his shoulder, grinning, and Lindsey smiled back. It was gettin’ fuckin’ hard to hate this kid, but he was gonna damn well try.

They finished the line dance, Xander having managed not to bump into anyone but Lindsey, and some of those could have been deliberate. They stood there looking at each other as the music slowed into George Strait’s Amarillo By Mornin’

Xander stepped aside to get out of the way of the two-stepping couples as he moved back toward the bar, but Lindsey held his hands out. “Want to?”

Xander swallowed and then reached for Lindsey, one hand automatically going to Lindsey’s back and then hesitating. The few times he and Angel had done this, in the privacy of their own trailer, he’d led because he knew the steps, definitely not because he was taller, as was the rule. Still, looking down at Lindsey, he faltered, because Lindsey already had that little man complex working for him hard and…

And then Lindsey bent his knee, taking a slight step back and letting Xander lead. Xander eased into the music, guiding them around the dance floor. His hand tightened against Lindsey’s back, feeling firm muscle beneath the red cotton and rubbing lightly in reflex. Their thighs brushed and their hips met occasionally as they had to sway closer to avoid other dancers. 

Xander grinned widely, looking down at Lindsey.

“What?” Lindsey laughed, clearing his throat as they skirted two bears in leather chaps who both looked at them meaningfully as they danced by. “You never done this with Angel?”

“Not in public,” Xander said, shrugging. “I mean, he’ll shove me against the wall and kiss me until I shut up about it, but Angel thinks two men dancing together looks…gay.” 

They looked at each other for a moment, and then out at the dance floor, snickering. 

Lindsey pulled Xander closer as a cowgirl spun her partner too close to them and Xander felt Lindsey’s cock press into his thigh, warm and hard and obviously nothing between them but sweaty denim. 

Xander stumbled, his hand tightening on Lindsey’s. “Sorry,” he choked, “told you – Jose Cuervo kicks my ass.”

“Makes you sick?” Lindsey asked, his hand sliding further on Xander’s side, a thumb brushing Xander’s stomach just above his belt buckle.

“No,” Xander said, spinning them and nudging Lindsey’s hand away. “Makes me stupid. Like, Hearthland stupid,” he muttered. 

Lindsey frowned, letting his hand slide down Xander’s back until it rested above the curve of his ass. “Hearthland stupid?”

Xander nodded and then shook his head, sighing. “Hearthland Rodeo. Nebraska,” he explained as they were pressed together for a moment against the dance floor railing. “There was this guy, and he kept coming up to Angel and telling him that he was a pretty thaaang,” Lindsey laughed, nodding, and Xander grinned, continuing, “and asking me if he said I had a beautiful body, would I hold it against him?” Xander snorted. “Everyone knows bad pick-up lines are my thing. But anyway, he was pretty hot and there was lots of ‘buy the winners tequila shots’ going on and then he kinda ended up back at the trailer with us, and well, there was badness.” 

Lindsey shifted closer, letting his hand brush against Xander’s ass, glad to see the tequila was kicking in. Finally. “Let me guess – Angel couldn’t stand seeing his boy all over somebody else? Figures,” he scoffed, his hand tightening on Xander’s hip.

“Er, no,” Xander said, ducking his head and looking up at him through his bangs in a way that made Lindsey swallow hard. “It was bad because it was stupid. Angel and I hadn’t been together that long then and well, we kind of forgot about our guest star and we were all over each other. He was sort of pissed,” Xander said simply.

“Huh,” Lindsey said, letting his hand curve over Xander’s ass and sweep up his back, rubbing slowly. “How long you been together now?” 

Xander laughed, pushing away lightly as the song ended. “Not long enough. But, uh, thanks?” 

“One more,” Lindsey said, holding his hand out. 

Xander swayed slightly on his feet, biting his lip as he looked at Lindsey. Dancing good. Lindsey hot. Dancing hot Lindsey…wait, what? He reached for Lindsey’s hand and then drew his back as the next song started. “Huh-uh. Not this one. Later.” 

Lindsey frowned, his fingers reaching for Xander’s as he glanced back at the DJ booth, listening to waltz playing. “Another love before my time made your heart sad and blue / And so my heart is paying now for things I didn't do…” Lindsey closed his eyes, hearing the words and groaning. “Angel.” 

He looked back up at Xander, their fingers twining and tightening. “I won’t tell him if you won’t,” he said, staring into Xander’s eyes.

Xander let Lindsey pull him back out onto the dance floor, his throat tightening as Lindsey lifted their hands, taking the lead. Xander followed him across the floor, trying not to look into the suddenly very sober blue eyes that drilled into his.

“That what you wanna do, Xander?” Lindsey asked, his voice low in his throat, the words just a breath on Xander’s cheek. “Melt his cold, cold heart? 'Cause you’re hot now,” he breathed, “but you’ll be colder than he is by the time he gets done with you.” 

“You know,” Xander mumbled, leaning against Lindsey as they wove across the floor, “you guys are like no old friends I’ve ever known. Hell, you don’t even act like you like each other.” 

“I loved him,” Lindsey said, his voice tight, and then he eased back, brushing his lips across Xander’s ear. “And you do, too, don’t you?”

Xander grinned down at him, his eyes heavy-lidded and sleepy. “He makes me shameless.” 

Lindsey groaned. “I’m startin’ to get why he likes that,” he muttered as he slid a hand into Xander’s hair and pulled his head down, kissing him hard, his tongue rough and eager. 

Xander’s hand fumbled against Lindsey’s chest, trying to push him away, and then it got lost in the buttons of Lindsey’s shirt, tugging him closer as he kissed back, moaning. 

“Fuck,” Lindsey said, his head falling back, “you taste like him.” His hand scraped down Xander’s back, thrusting into his jeans and clenching around his ass. “You fuck like him, too?”

“Never been in a position to find out,” Xander gasped, his hands tangling in Lindsey’s hair, any pretense at dancing coming to a stop in the middle of the floor.

“Wanna get in one?” Lindsey asked, lowering his head to Xander’s throat, his teeth scraping against the skin.

Xander tightened against him, their hips grinding together, Xander’s buckle cutting into Lindsey’s stomach. Xander felt Lindsey’s hand drop to his hip, easing around until it cupped him through his jeans, squeezing lightly.

“No,” Xander said, his voice weak, “Angel….”

“Sometimes you gotta hit Angel hard to get his attention,” Lindsey said, his fingers pressing through the denim, finding the silkiness of the shorts beneath and the hard shape under that. “He took everything I had, so I took off with his girl,” Lindsey grinned, “back when he was pretending to like girls. But it wasn’t enough. He was everything I wanted to be in a man, so he took everything about me that was a man and turned me into a goddamned queer.” 

Xander froze, the words penetrating all the tequila and the sad fucking song and the feel of Lindsey’s hand on his cock. “That’s the difference between me and you, Lindsey,” he said thickly, shoving away. “He was everything I wanted in a man, too, because I was a goddamned queer.” 

“Kinda figured that when I met you at a gay rodeo,” a voice said mildly behind him. “Otherwise,” Angel sighed as he tossed his cigarette away and slid a hand down Xander’s arm, “they might ask for the buckles back.”

Xander stared at him, his fingers unbunching from Lindsey’s shirt front as he stepped back, swallowing.

“Just keepin’ him warm for you,” Lindsey said, grinning and letting his had slide from Xander’s hip. 

“Hmm,” Angel murmured, sweeping a thumb over Xander’s mouth. “Looks rode hard and put up wet to me.”

Lindsey shrugged, chuckling. “Xander’s right, you gotta get better references…”

“I kissed Lindsey,” Xander blurted, staring at Angel. 

“Really?” Angel said, glancing at Lindsey. “Looked more like he was trying to hold you up. By your mouth.”

“Yeah, that wasn’t all,” Xander muttered.

Angel didn’t look away from Lindsey. “I told you once that the old games don’t work anymore. You think I’ll come after you this time, ‘cause I’ll come after Xander?” He let his hand ease down Xander’s arm, his fingers tightening and closing around the wrist. “I’d have to let him go first.” 

Lindsey watched as Xander’s hand turned up, reaching for Angel’s, their eyes meeting and Angel’s gaze patient and a little amused while Xander’s was a definite, ‘oh thank God, he’s not mad at me.’ 

“He’s just a goddamn kid!” Lindsey shouted, the dancers closest to them dancing even closer to watch the show. 

Angel grinned slowly, leaning in to Lindsey. “From where I saw your hands earlier, I think we both know that’s not true.” Angel glanced at Xander, who was starting to sober up and move from guilty into pissed off, and then back at Lindsey. “But I’m tryin’ real hard to be the grown-up here, so just this once, listen to me, Lindsey. Whatever your thing is with me…let it go. Neither one of us knew what we wanted back then. But I figured it out,” he said, lifting Xander’s hand and leading him away. He looked back at Lindsey, “When you can deal with why you want it, maybe you’ll figure it out, too. If you ever do,” he shrugged, “come back and we’ll take that trip down memory lane. ‘Cause when you’re not trying to take what’s mine, I don’t think you’re too big of an asshole.” 

They left Lindsey in the center of the dance floor as Angel guided Xander over to a darkened spot near the wall, wrapping his arms around him and moving them smoothly together.

Xander closed his eyes, shaking his head. “Okay, now I know I’m fucked up. Are we dancing?”

Angel looked down at where their feet were still, but their bodies swaying close. “I guess we can call it that, son,” he drawled, close enough to the accent to make Xander groan.

“You keep talking like that, I’m gonna forget we’re in a public place.”

Angel’s hands slid to Xander’s hips, pulling him closer. “Seems like there’s a lot of that going on tonight.”

Xander snickered, his hands tracing patterns through the back of Angel’s t-shirt. Angel smiled slightly. “You laughing at me coming in and playin’ the badass, takin’ back what’s mine?”

“No,” Xander said, grinning harder, “I’m laughing because we’re dancing to Cowboy Angel.” 

Angel lowered his head, covering Xander’s mouth with his own. “Slow and easy,” he said softly, “just like fucking standing up.”

“Less standing up,” Xander said, his tongue teasing the corners of Angel’s mouth, “more fucking.” 

Angel backed away, taking Xander’s hand and leading him off of the dance floor. Xander turned his head, seeing Lindsey at the bar, his eyes never leaving them as they left the beer tent. Xander turned back, watching the crowd part ahead of them as Angel shouldered his way out. “You knew he was gonna try that, didn’t you?”

Angel glanced back over his shoulder, nodding. “This ain’t my first rodeo.” 

Xander frowned, following Angel across the lot. “So why’d you let me go?”

Angel shrugged, leading them past the darkened arena. “To make sure you’d come back.”

Xander stopped, shaking his head. “But you came to get me…”

“Xander,” Angel sighed, turning and shoving him into the side of the holding barn. “Shut up.” 

And then Angel’s mouth was on his, and Xander could still taste the familiar warm cinnamon even through the tequila. Angel’s body pressed him into the wall, the hard slats of the barn digging into his back and causing him to arch back against Angel’s chest and moan when he found it just as hard and unmoving.

Angel lifted his head, his hands going to the sides of Xander’s shirt and yanking, the pearl snaps popping open, the sound filling Xander’s head in the empty quiet. Angel pressed his hand flat on Xander’s chest, gathering the t-shirt in his hand and tugging it free of the jeans, baring Xander’s stomach. 

He turned his hand, the back of it cool against Xander’s warm, sweaty skin. “You wanna lie to me and tell me you were thinking of me while he was doing this?” 

Xander shook his head slowly, his mouth dragging against Angel’s cheek and following the line of his jaw down to his neck. “Was kinda wishin’ you were there, too…but it wasn’t me he wanted,” he murmured, his lips opening on Angel’s throat and sucking lightly.

“Lindsey doesn’t know what he wants,” Angel said, his hands dropping to Xander’s belt and unbuckling it. He popped the buttons slowly, looking at Xander as he ripped the jeans open, his hand covering Xander’s cock before it was even bared and stroking roughly.

Xander raised his head, reaching to kiss Angel again, but Angel spun him around, shoving him against the wall one hand as he used the other the shove Xander’s jeans down, the buckle hitting the ground with a clink. 

“Lindsey couldn’t handle what he felt,” Angel said, bracing Xander’s hands against the wall. “So he made it all about me, when it was just all about this,” he growled into the back of Xander’s neck as he ground his cock against Xander’s ass, his jeans rough against bare skin, the denim catching and scraping. 

“Oh, I think some of it might have been about you,” Xander groaned, pressing back against Angel as he dropped one hand down to stroke himself. Angel arched against him again, dragging his cock over Xander’s ass, teasing, the bite of the buckle as it scraped along behind making Xander gasp.

“Angel…please.”

“Please what, Xander?” Angel asked quietly. “What do you want me to do?” His hand slid from Xander’s hip, their fingers joining on Xander’s cock and gliding smoothly. “Want me to suck you, stroke you off?”

Xander nodded, his hand tightening on Angel’s and stroking faster. “Please.”

Angel lifted his hands away, dropping them to his own belt buckle. “I could…but I wasn’t the one livin’ out the cheatin’ songs, so I think this one’s gonna be all about me.” His belt hanging open, he slipped a condom out of his pocket and had it on and was pressing into Xander before Xander could do more than brace his hands against the wall at the first thrust.

“Jesus, Angel,” he breathed, feeling Angel’s chest press into his back, his nipples puckering in the night air as Angel’s hand slid over his chest again, wrapping around him, holding him fast and hard as they slammed together again.

Xander’s hands flattened against the wall, grit pressing into his palms as he felt Angel’s boot slide between his, nudging his legs open wider. Angel’s fingers tightened on him, the thumbs digging into his hipbones as Angel pulled out and then slammed back again, his buckle beating against Xander’s thigh with each thrust.

“Fuck,” Xander groaned, driving his hips back, riding out the shuddering burn and the soothing glide that followed it, everything bigger and brighter and more in the warm tequila haze.

Angel pulled away slightly, his hands gliding from hips to hold Xander’s hands to the wall as his thrusts became slow and teasing. “Do you know what it felt like, watching you stand there with his fuckin’ hands all over you? I could have killed you both, or I could have just walked out, but all I wanted to do was this,” he said, feeling Xander’s chest slam into the wall as he thrust them forward again, all teasing gone. “What’re you doin’ to me, Xander?”

“Trust me,” Xander gritted out, yanking one of Angel’s hands down to his cock, “you’re doin’ it to me, too.”

Angel stroked him roughly, hearing the wall slats shudder loudly as they slammed against the barn again. “Did you kiss him because you were pissed off at me for not comin’, or just because you wanted to? Do you wish this was him, instead of me? Luck of the draw, right?” he said, twisting his hips and sliding out and then slamming back before Xander had a chance to breathe. His voice lowered, “Or maybe you just wish he’s out here somewhere, watching us?” 

Xander cried out, his hips bucking as he came, his cock warm and wet and jerking in Angel’s fist.

Angel tightened his other hand around Xander’s, bracing them as he thrust harder, feeling Xander clenching around him, dragging a moan out of his throat as he lost his control, burying himself in Xander and riding out his orgasm, his body jerking and nothing but the wall keeping them on their feet.

Angel dropped his forehead onto Xander’s back, and then swallowed, easing away and making sure Xander hadn’t gone through the wall with that last thrust. He grinned and tossed the condom into the fire barrel next to barn, buckling his belt.

“You’re so easy,” he said, his hand going to his shirt pocket for his cigarettes, “you know our trailer’s only about ten feet from here.”

“And you’re predictable,” Xander said, turning around and falling back against the wall, nodding as he watched Angel light a cigarette. “Wish he was here watching us?” He laughed, reaching for his jeans. “You know all my kinks, baby.”

Angel just grinned at him, rolling his neck and stretching his arm out.

“How’s the shoulder?” Xander asked, buckling his belt.

“Not bad,” Angel said, watching as Xander started to snap his shirt closed. “Don’t,” he said, reaching out to grab it by the hem and tug Xander closer. “How’s the hangover starting?” he murmured, brushing his lips across Xander’s forehead.

“Not bad,” Xander shrugged. “Nothing like a little wall sex to work the kinks out,” he said, covering Angel’s lips with his own and letting the kiss build, slow and easy in every way their bodies hadn’t been. 

Angel lifted his head and Xander licked his lips. “He said I tasted like you.” He shook his head. “Fuck…I’m sorry, Angel, I didn’t mean for it to...”

Angel looked at him steadily. “That wasn’t your mistake, Xander, just an old one of mine.” He shrugged. “The things you’ll do to get me to dance…come on,” he said abruptly, heading toward the trailer. “We’ve only got three months ‘til regionals and a lot of training before then.” 

Xander sighed, turning to follow after him, and then Angel’s hand was reaching back and taking Xander’s in away that wasn’t trying to drag him somewhere or away from something else, but just like…holding hands.

Xander grinned. He might be shameless, but he wasn’t the only one.

END