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Chris stared at the dusty street. He had never been in this town before but everything here was painfully familiar. An almost ghost town, a dirty saloon with cheap whiskey, drunken cowboys, a lynching – he had seen that all too many times before. His gaze shifted and a spark of interest flashed through Chris’ mind. *This* he hadn’t seen before. The young man sweeping a boardwalk at a store across the street caught Chris’ attention. The young man looked too nice for the backwater town, a white apron emphasized the slimness of his well-built body, his long brown curls framed a pretty face marred only by the light stubble. Chris let his eyes rest longer on the pleasant sight, and then his attention was caught by the shouts of a woman with a rifle. When he looked at the young man for the second time, the sight had changed. A slouch cavalry hat covered his brown curls, a rifle had replaced the broom, and the young man definitely knew what to do with the weapon, his fingers deftly preparing it to fire. Chris nodded to himself. This man was worth his attention. The next moment the young man raised his head and looked straight at Chris. The shiver ran down Chris’ spine when the bluest of eyes pierced him. Chris nodded to the man and he nodded back but didn’t take his eyes away. He kept starring at Chris but the look in his eyes changed as if he saw something stunning in the depths of Chris’ soul. Chris hadn’t even known if he still had a soul until then. He turned and walked to the center of the street, and the man followed him, walking beside him.

Shooting down the cowboys and stopping the lynching turned out to be a too easy job. Chris surveyed the cemetery, standing side by side with the young man who had turned out to be a deadly sharpshooter.

“Name's Chris,” Chris named himself holstering his gun.

“Vin Tanner. New in town?”

“Yesterday. You?”

“Last week.”

Vin’s drawl surely indicated that Vin came from Texas. No wonder considering a trail herd from Texas passed the town. Far more surprising was that a man who was so skilled with a rifle had spent a week sweeping the floor in a hardware store. Chris gave Vin a closer look, taking in his rough clothes, long hair and the choice of weapon, and guessed, “Buffalo hunter?”

“Among other things. Not many left to hunt.”

Vin shifted, and his elbow touched Chris’ side. Not for the first time, Chris noted to himself, it looked as if Vin was trying to get as close to him as possible. Not that Chris minded. On the contrary, it suited him just fine. Chris felt a special attraction toward this man and Vin’s behavior indicated that Vin understood and reciprocated it. The saved man called, getting their attention and Chris forced himself to drive away his thoughts about Vin. First things first, he thought, and for now the first thing he needed was whiskey. He wasn’t really surprised that Vin had the same thoughts.

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Chris surprised himself when he realized that he was going to agree to help protect the Seminole village. No, he corrected himself, he knew why he was doing it. He wanted to spend a week alone with Vin far away from town, civilization, and nosy people. The problem was Chris wasn’t sure if Vin wanted the same. It didn’t look like Vin was eager to accept the offer.

“Hell, I was making five dollars a week at the hardware store without anybody shooting at me,” Vin drawled sipping his whiskey.

Chris looked at the fingers holding the shot glass. Those fingers were so slender and delicate and Chris couldn’t keep himself from imagining what those fingers could do with his body.

“Assuming we pay five dollars a head, that gets us all of seven men,” Chris said, and his voice was lower than ever.

“The Seminoles put themselves on the line for many an escaped slave. They took us in when nobody else would. For five dollars, they can have a week of my life,” the rescued ‘doc’ said emotionally.

“Or all of it,” Vin replied and downed his whiskey.

Chris caught the glance the ‘doc’ cast at Vin. ‘He has to learn to keep his mouth shut,’ Chris though, ‘He'd live longer that way.’

As if he guessed Chris’ thoughts, Vin looked at him and smiled a cocky lop-sided grin.

“Hell... I wasn't planning on dying with a broom in my hand anyway,” he drawled.

Chris’ lips cracked into a smile. ‘No,’ he corrected himself, ‘He shouldn’t keep his mouth shut. He just has to use that mouth of his for better things than talking.’

Vin’s agreement sealed Chris’ decision. He shoved the gold into his pocket and said to the Seminoles, “All right. Tomorrow afternoon, then.”

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When they came with the plan of getting Chris’ old friend out of bed Vin showed another trait of his character – the wicked sense of humor. Chris suspected he enjoyed portraying the unexpected husband a lot, but Vin didn’t enjoy the meeting with Buck at all, Chris noticed. Buck wasn’t happy to see Vin either, and Chris didn’t want to ponder why. Things were getting more complicated with every passing moment and Chris didn’t like it, he wanted the things to be simple. It was so much easier to deal with simple things and God knew Chris had so little strength left, but he was determined to use all his remaining strength to keep Vin by his side.

When the night fell Chris, Vin and Buck were sitting at a table in the saloon drinking whiskey and talking. Or rather Buck talked, Chris inserted a world from time to time and Vin had opened his mouth only to swallow a shot of whiskey. Chris felt tension mounting between his oldest and newest friends. Buck tried to emphasize his long-term friendship with Chris with his talkativeness and Vin tried to emphasize his closeness to Chris with occasional touches and glances. Chris didn’t encourage either of his friends. Too soon Vin got up and called it a night. Chris and Buck parted an hour later. Buck went up to the second floor of the saloon and Chris headed to the boarding house where he had rented a room. He entered his room and locked the door, then took off his hat and duster and threw them onto the chair. He unbuckled his gunbelt and hung it on the bedpost. Chris was unbuttoning his shirt when he heard the soft knock on the door. He soundlessly pulled his Colt out of the holster and went to the door.

“Who is it?” he asked in a low voice.

“Vin.”

Chris opened the door. Vin slipped inside, closed the door and locked it behind him.

“How did you find me?” Chris asked.

“I’m a tracker. Among other things.”

Chris’ lips curled into the smile. He shoved the Colt back into the holster and approached Vin. He took Vin’s hat off and threw it onto the chair over his own, and then he put his hand on Vin’s stubble cheek and gently stroked the still soft skin.

“What other things can you do?” Chris asked softy.

Vin’s hands shot up and Chris felt Vin’s slender fingers firmly grip the back of his head, pulling him down. Vin’s parted lips covered his mouth and Vin kissed him deeply. The kiss was hot and passionate, and when they parted, searching for air, Chris was dizzy with desire. Vin didn’t waste time and started to kiss Chris’ long neck. His fingers clung into the black fabric of Chris’ shirt, he pulled back slightly and abruptly took the shirt off.

“Vin… take your coat off,” Chris panted but Vin didn’t listen.

Instead, Chris managed to pull Vin’s buckskin coat off and dropped it in a heap on the floor, then Chris’ fingers dug into the knot of Vin’s bandana. It took a lot of effort to undo the knot, Chris’ fingers were weak and didn’t want to obey the orders of his mind. Chris’ willpower was weak too, his mind was fogged with the desire caused by Vin’s sweet assault. Vin showed no mercy, his lips and fingers caressing every inch of Chris’ chest, licking and sucking the smooth pale skin, then Vin dropped on his knees and started to kiss Chris’ firm abdomen. At the same time, Vin’s fingers moved to the waistband of Chris pants and undid the fly. Vin pulled the fabric down following it with his lips, and Chris gasped when Vin’s greedy mouth enveloped him. Chris grabbed Vin’s shoulders trying to stay upright and threw back his head, moaning with pleasure. The pleasure was so intense that Chris wasn’t sure he could stand it and not come into that delicious mouth right there and then but he didn’t want it to be over so quickly. He gathered all his strength and pushed Vin from his body.

“Vin… slow down… I wanna touch you,” he panted.

Vin looked as dizzy as he felt. Chris helped him to his feet and undressed him quickly, then laid him onto the bed. The light of the oil lamp lit Vin’s body, and Chris was stunned by the sight before his eyes. He had never imagined that the body beneath those rough ugly clothes would be so gorgeous. He knew Vin was lithe and well-built, but Vin turned out to be the perfection itself. Without clothes he looked smaller and younger. Chris wondered how childish Vin’s face should look without the stubble.

But Vin didn’t let Chris wonder too long. He propped himself up on his elbows and drawled hoarser than ever, “What are you staring at? Come here and do something.”

The light of the lamp gilded Vin’s tanned skin but Chris noticed that Vin’s cheeks and even ears flushed with embarrassment. Vin Tanner was a mix of shyness and passion, and that mix was deadly for Chris’ willpower. He covered Vin’s body with his own and claimed his mouth. Vin responded eagerly as they stroked and fondled each other. Chris pulled away a bit and reached to the nightstand. He rummaged there and found a tin with oil. He opened it and coated his fingers but then hesitated and looked into Vin’s eyes. Vin looked back, his bright blue eyes shining with desire.

“Are you sure?” Chris asked.

Vin nodded. Chris leaned over and kissed him again, then urged him gently to turn around on his belly. The sight of Vin’s round ass almost stripped away the last of his control, but Chris forced himself not to rush and prepared Vin carefully. He restrained himself not wanting to hurt Vin, but when he penetrated Vin’s body, Vin cried out and tensed. Chris stilled.

“Vin?”

“It’s all right,” Vin hissed through his clenched teeth. “Just been a while.”

It was more than ‘a while’ since he'd let someone touch his body. Before this morning he had thought he was destined to live the rest of his life alone, but Chris broke the spell.

Vin felt Chris' hands stroking his sides, and very soon the pain was gone, replaced by pleasure. Vin moved his hips urging Chris to thrust and Chris obeyed carefully at first, but then it wasn’t enough for Vin; he demanded more, and their lovemaking became wild and unrestrained. Vin came first and Chris followed right behind him, they fell on the bed in a panting and sweating heap.

Much time passed before they were able to move again. Chris took a cloth and wiped their bodies.

"I have to go," Vin said. "Need to get ready for the trip."

Chris kissed lightly Vin's swollen lips and whispered, "See you tomorrow."

Vin returned the kiss, then got up and dressed quickly. Chris watched him, enjoying his smooth movements. When Vin was ready he turned his head and looked at Chris. Their eyes met saying the things that they couldn't voice with words. Then Vin nodded, opened the door and slipped out of the room.

Chris got up and locked the door behind him before returning to bed. He put his head on the pillow where
Vin's head had lain only a few minutes ago and deeply inhaled Vin's scent. He threw a blanket over his body and fell asleep almost immediately. For the first time in three years the nightmares didn't haunt him. Instead his dreams were filled with the images of the young man with the bright blue eyes.

END