Chris had a thing for Ezra’s hands. The way Ezra licked his lips. Ezra’s damn perfect hair. And Ezra’s eyes on him, shamelessly even when Chris was looking. The guy had no shame… wait, did he say that already? Chris bit his tongue and downed another glass of whiskey to prevent himself from groaning out loud. That was the thing about Ezra, if being tongue-tied wasn’t enough, which wasn’t much of a problem since Chris Larabee was a man of few words anyway, his stomach being tied into knots whenever that damn gambler was around was about as much as he could bear.
And Ezra knew, he had to know. Why the hell else would he be staring at Chris - pretty damn obviously and from across the room - like that?
Chris shuddered and went back to nursing his drink, pretending all was right with the world even though Vin was currently hovering to his right, smiling knowingly, and he could still feel Ezra’s sharp green eyes boring holes into his back.
Vin shifted. “Ezra’s mighty distracted today, Chris. Think he…?”
“Shut up,” Chris retorted, though it lacked his usual bite. It was all too apparent when Vin smiled wider before retreating.
Chris had a whole long list of obsessions he’d never breathe a word of to anyone. Except… well, judging by the look on someone’s face, the object of his affections might already know and there wasn’t a damn thing Chris could do about it other than ignore Ezra and hope he’d eventually get bored with Chris’ forced disinterest. Not likely, especially given how often they rode together. Especially when Ezra always found reasons to pull up alongside Chris, like Chris had been saving the spot for him all along, and Vin didn’t help matters any by pulling back and switching to Chris’ other side. Even if Ezra had paid Vin to do it, it didn’t put Chris any more at ease.
What the hell was Ezra trying to do anyway? Rile Chris up until he blew, until he dragged the gambler into his room and finally took control of the situation again?
The whiskey was useless; drinking just seemed to amplify the agony of having Ezra around. Those damn fine hands running all over him were just about all his mind strayed to, other than putting that mouth to other uses than spewing Ezra’s ridiculously convoluted vocabulary. Not that he didn’t somewhat enjoy it when the gambler opened his mouth and perfumy speech gracefully exited, he just hated it when those words were directed toward him and he could hardly keep a hold over himself.
Men weren’t meant to live like this. And Chris couldn’t wonder anymore how long Ezra would keep this up.
Chris slid his empty glass away and stood, eying the door before saying to hell with it, wondering his chances in being able to throw Ezra off his game. He shot for it, making his way over to Ezra’s table at a reasonable pace until he was standing across from him, about to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing. His mouth got so far as open until Ezra smiled, showing off that gold tooth of his, and gestured for him to sit down. The words Chris had so painstakingly worked up to dissipated the moment Ezra flashed him that smile, and he was the one who had been played, again.
“Care for a game, Mr. Larabee? I find myself rather lonely around all these…,” Ezra glanced around the table and made a face, “discourteous outsiders, shall we call them?”
The table was already packed, but Chris took the sole empty seat across from Ezra before he even knew the ramifications of what he was doing. Ezra’s gaze had lowered since he started dealing the cards and Chris tried like hell to focus on them, at where they fell on the table, as if they were the most fascinating thing in the world. But it wasn’t those damn cards… it was the person who wielded them. His traitorous gaze refused to stray from the gambler’s hands, at how smooth and how quick they were, how they lacked callouses and imperfections and hesitated for no more than a brief moment directly in front of Chris. It might as well have been an eternity.
Don’t look up don’t look up, Chris warned himself, over and over, until it turned to near screaming in his head. And it didn’t matter ‘cause he still looked up and worse, once Ezra was no longer momentarily distracted by the process of dealing. Ezra had been watching him first, even though the man to the right of the gambler was currently in play, and even after contenting himself that no one at the table was watching either of them, Chris was still pretty damn certain someone was watching them.
And then Ezra licked his lips, slowly, almost reverently, and it was the most obscene gesture Chris had ever seen.
You brought this on yourself. Ezra ’s just playing you, you damn son of a bitch.
He lost the game miserably, Ezra’s smug smile showing he knew just when Chris’ luck had started to run out, still well before he folded. He wondered, as he always tried to keep himself from obsessing over, how the guy did it. He obviously prided himself on it, and knew just how much it was affecting Chris, who tended to stay away from Ezra’s table whenever possible and not just because he didn’t need to be cleaned out.
“Ezra,” he sighed, running his fingers over the cards. “I need to have a few words with you.”
Ezra’s eyebrows raised dramatically at that. “A few? Why, what could I have possibly done to warrant such attention?”
“Now,” Chris growled, ignoring the interested stares of the few men who still remained at the table. As far as Chris was concerned, no one was there but him and Ezra. This had to end now, and Chris was the one who was going to end it, since Ezra was too much of a damn coward to pay him the courtesy.
“Alright alright.” Ezra stood, made a show of stretching and then putting on his jacket and adjusting it so slowly Chris was about to seize it, but eventually he followed Chris outside and up to his room.
And the hallway probably wasn’t the best place to be doing this, but Chris couldn’t wait any longer and turned, pushing Ezra against the closest wall, stripping off that fancy jacket of his and kissing him until they were both panting, resting in each other’s space, oblivious to the world around them. And Chris figured, yeah, he could get used to this.
“Mr. Larabee, I had no idea your affections ran so deep.” His hands threaded through Chris’ hair, relaying all too well that he hadn’t made the wrong move. “And I happily reciprocate your ardor. To be quite frank, I’ve been waiting for you to get that damn fine head of yours out of your ass.”
Chris at least had the good sense enough to get the both of them in his room - door shut on top of that - before Ezra attacked him this time. The bed was small, and their limbs fought for both room and greater purchase over the other, but the two of them were far too distracted to care about either. Chris finally got frustrated enough and pulled Ezra under him, Ezra’s hands resting on Chris’ arms, Ezra’s mouth warm and wet against his neck, pulling in air.
Ezra’s eyes greener and brighter than all the forests in the world.
“I am entirely at your command,” Ezra told him, still panting. Damn right you are, Ezra. He’d wielded plenty of control over Chris at that poker table, and he wasn’t about to let Ezra have it here too. Chris was a man of few words and Ezra was a man of too many, but somehow it worked because Chris had a few tricks up his sleeve to make Ezra run out of things to say. Or at least no longer have the breath to say them. “Do try to be gentle, however,” Ezra finished, and Chris softened at the trust in those words.
It hit him then: Ezra in his bed, sprawled out underneath him, all big words and big attitude and a heart big enough to complement both, and Chris was content in a way he hadn’t been for such a long time. “Long as you’re here, don’t much matter who’s leadin’ and who’s followin.’”
He had forgotten, but Chris had a thing for Ezra’s smile too, no matter what variation it was and no matter the intent that lay behind it.