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Tuco’s feeling pretty good about being back on the road with Blondie. He’s feeling pretty good about everything, really.

The showdown with Angel Eyes’ men was good fun, and though he’ll never admit it, the fact that Blondie chose him as a partner on this godforsaken treasure hunt gives Tuco a warm feeling.

He starts whistling, that’s how pretty good he feels. He only stops because after about five minutes, Blondie turns in his saddle and leans over and says pleasantly, “Keep it up and I’ll kill you.”

So Tuco stops whistling, but he can’t keep the grin off his face.

They're going to be rich. Well, Tuco's going to be rich. Unless Blondie finds a way to double-cross him. He still hasn't decided about double-crossing Blondie. Problem is, Blondie's as smart as Tuco is cunning, and almost as mean. And for all of the warm feelings swirling around Tuco's midsection, he knows the two of them aren't square, not really.

Tuco's pretty sure Blondie's still smarting from their adventure in the desert. He looks better, now - the Brothers patched him up okay - but Tuco knows from personal experience that you don’t get over something like that right away. Especially not when the man who did it to you is riding five feet away and probably looking at you too much. On cue, Blondie turns and glares at him, and Tuco resolutely fixes his eyes on the horizon.

Blondie has a few reasons to double-cross Tuco, is the thing.

No use worrying at it right now, Tuco figures. They've got a day or two more of hard riding before they get to Sad Hill cemetery. Before they find out if the two hundred thousand in gold is real, or another fable to stagger vomiting out of this mad war. This white man's war. Tuco belches thoughtfully. It’s bullshit, is what it is. Violence is best when it’s up close and personal. Once you get to the scale of a war, the bloodshed loses all its savor. Or maybe Tuco’s just old-fashioned. Sentimental.

No matter. Not his war, not his problem. Blondie’s at his side and hasn’t tried to betray, trick, torture, or kill him (recently), and all’s right with the world. More or less. Tuco isn’t going to let it get him down.

In a fit of generosity he decides not to double-cross Blondie after all. Poor Blondie, all that reluctant moral fiber he thinks no one else knows about... The man's life is probably already confusing enough. Tuco's not sure he wants to see what would happen if he pushed him any further.

They ride on.

* * *

They’ve been traveling hard and fast, and when they make camp that night, Tuco’s worn out but still feeling pretty cheerful. Cheerful enough to pull a bottle of whisky out of a saddle bag and commence to getting stinking drunk with his best pal in the whole world. Blondie accepts the bottle with a nod, takes a swig, hands it back.

The cool night air sharpens into outright cold as they sit by the fire, side by side, passing the bottle back and forth. Tuco tells a few stories about the scrapes he and his brother got into when they were kids. Blondie’s unusually talkative, meaning he snorts at a punchline here and there.

After a while, Tuco runs out of steam, and they sit in quiet, soaking up heat from the dwindling fire. Tuco’s exactly drunk enough, and his thoughts drift pleasantly.

He’s always figured, life is short. So why waste time doing what people think you ought to do? Just go for what makes you happy. The things that make Tuco happy are money, booze, fucking, and violence (the old-fashioned, sentimental kind). So he spends as much time as possible in the acquisition and enjoyment of said pleasures.

There aren’t all that many men in this world who share Tuco’s particular philosophy. Blondie probably isn’t one of them, but he comes closer than most. It’s hard to say that Blondie enjoys much, but he sure ends up in pursuit of the same ends as Tuco a good deal of the time.

That’s one of the reasons Tuco’s always been fond of Blondie. Not so fond he wasn't happy to drag the son of a bitch through thirty miles of blistering desert on his way to die like the fucking pig he was, but still, he’ll admit to a little - a little - affection. Blondie's just such a wonderful blend of cold-blooded killer, schemer, and moralist. It’s an appealing combination.

Tuco wonders what went on between Blondie and Angel Eyes. Hard not to speculate. He’s only ever known Blondie to fuck men, and usually only men as iron-hearted as himself. Blondie isn’t a fan of entanglements. Maybe that’s why Blondie and him never got naked. Maybe Blondie thinks Tuco’s too hot-headed, liable to get jealous.

Tuco snorts softly. What bullshit.

Him and Blondie have been partners on and off for almost three years. Blondie knows Tuco’s not soft. And Tuco probably knows Blondie better than anybody. Knows him well enough to guess that a man like Blondie might sometimes feel a little lonely in the world; might sometimes wish there was someone he could be easy with.

Tuco huffs, his breath steaming a little in the cool desert air. Now that he’s gotten to thinking about all of this, he feels downright slighted. And it’s been a shamefully long time since he had a roll in the hay with anyone. That seals it.

“Hey Blondie,” he says, looking over. Blondie’s staring into the fire, looking like his mind is a million miles away. “I been thinking.”

“Oh?” Blondie’s voice is softer than usual, slow with booze. He doesn’t take his gaze from the fire, but his head tips to one side lazily. That’s one thing Tuco really likes about Blondie - it’s always fun to watch him loosen up after a few drinks. Those long limbs go all sprawled and even his soft hair gets floppier.

“You and me, we spend so much time together,” Tuco continues. “Away from, you know, the comforts of civilization. A man can get pretty lonesome for a friendly touch, sometimes.”

Blondie turns and looks at him for the first time all evening. His eyelids are at half mast and his pretty lips are parted. He looks all kinds of inviting, but it’s probably just because he’s soused. Either way, Tuco isn’t complaining about the view.

“I was thinking,” Tuco plows on, “why don’t we help each other out?”

There’s a long, long, terribly long silence. Through the haze of whisky, Tuco starts to feel a little foolish. A lot foolish, maybe.

Then Blondie smiles, a challenge. His teeth look sharp.

“Why don’t we,” he echoes. Tuco’s heart jolts a little. He stops himself from saying, “Really?” Too eager by half. This isn’t the smartest thing Tuco has ever done, for sure.

But what the hell. Tuco isn’t one to turn down a good lay. And unless he’s terribly, terribly wrong about Blondie, this promises to be good.

Blondie leans back, propping himself up on his elbows, watching Tuco expectantly, a little smile still on his lips.

Tuco moves in, fingers scrabbling at Blondie’s belt. His eyes keep flicking back up to Blondie’s face, waiting for Blondie to laugh or pull a gun on him or something, but Blondie just keeps looking at him from under those long eyelashes. Waiting.

Tuco’s heart is beating hard, part anticipation, part nerves. He’s still not entirely convinced this is going to end with him in one piece.

But it’ll be worth it, no matter.

When Tuco leans in to nuzzle Blondie’s throat, he gets a nice whiff of sweat and cigar smoke and something personal, something that’s just Blondie. Numbed with booze and fumbling with eagerness, Tuco’s fingers aren’t all that nimble, but soon he’s got Blondie’s pants open and he slides his hand inside. Blondie’s already half hard, and his cock swells in Tuco’s hand with the rhythm of his heartbeat. Tuco strokes him a few times, and Blondie sighs a little, still watching him through lowered lids.

“Hey, Blondie,” Tuco says with a dirty smile, “this how you like it?” He shifts so he’s kneeling over the other man, and wiggles his hand further down until he gets Blondie’s balls in his palm. Squeezes Blondie’s cock with one hand and rolls his balls around with the other. Blondie’s eyes flutter shut, his head tips back.

“I’d like it better if you’d shut up,” Blondie says. He’s a little out of breath.

Tuco grins and applies his mouth to a different purpose.

Blondie’s hips jerk as Tuco slides his mouth down around Blondie’s cock. Blondie tastes good, musky and salty. Tuco’s too drunk to be fancy about it, and he never was one for delicacy, so he just closes his eyes and goes for it, head bobbing up and down, drooling a little around Blondie’s cock, eyes watering as the head scrapes against the back of his throat again and again. Blondie’s gone from panting to muttering curses, and Tuco’s about a minute from giving up what little dignity he has left and humping the ground while Blondie fucks his mouth.

“Tuco,” Blondie says softly, and it’s good, so good, hearing his name like that. Blondie tugs Tuco’s hair, and he comes up off Blondie’s cock reluctantly. He slides up along Blondie’s body and fits himself against Blondie’s side.

“Why’d you stop me?” he asks, rocking against Blondie, his free hand smoothing up over Blondie’s arm, down his side, coming to rest on the point of his hip. Blondie’s all angles and lines and Tuco wants to get his mouth on every bit of his smooth, sleek skin, wants to hear Blondie say his name like that again.

“Not ready for the fun to be over,” Blondie says - the longest sentence he’s uttered all day, practically. He looks almost friendly, and Tuco remembers, suddenly, his guess about Blondie maybe being a little lonely.

Tuco traces his fingers over Blondie’s throat, his ear, his mouth, enjoying the heat of his breath, the softness of his lips. Nothing like the cracked, parched tissue Tuco had desperately swept water over in the desert just a month ago.

Blondie stiffens, just a little, and that friendly look on his face locks down between heartbeats. Tuco can tell that Blondie is remembering the desert, too.

Blondie’s hand comes up with shocking speed for someone that drunk and catches Tuco’s wrist. His grip is hard, hard enough to be a little painful. Tuco swallows convulsively, and wonders if this is the part where he gets a face full of revolver. But Blondie just smiles an unfriendly smile and says, “You having fun, Tuco?”

Tuco is working on a reply that won’t get him socked, but then Blondie moves, fast and sudden, and Tuco ends up splayed out on his front with Blondie pinning him to the ground, cock pressed against Tuco’s rear, and breath hot against Tuco’s neck.

Blondie’s teeth close around his nape. Tuco jumps in surprise, and then groans as Blondie bites harder. It hurts enough to feel good, the pain going straight to his cock.

“Yeah,” Tuco hears himself whine. “Yeah, that’s good, Blondie, that’s—”

“Shut up,” Blondie says. He grabs Tuco’s hair and yanks his head up. “Not another word, Tuco.”

Tuco nods in agreement. The sharp pull of fingers tangled in his hair and the strain in his neck are making him pant and sweat. But he knows how to keep quiet.

Blondie grinds against Tuco’s ass again and then kneels up and off of him. Tuco’s back feels abruptly cold. He can hear Blondie’s boots striding away.

“Take your pants down,” Blondie says from somewhere behind him. He might as well be suggesting that Tuco boil some coffee, for all the heat in his voice. Tuco pushes himself up onto his knees and looks over his shoulder. Blondie’s crouched by his saddle, pulling a tub of grease out of a saddle bag. He tosses the jar at Tuco, who catches it awkwardly.

“Get yourself ready,” Blondie says.

So apparently they’re going to do this. Tuco gets his pants halfway down his thighs, and starts slicking himself up, pressing his fingers up and in, shivering from the cold air and from the hot, sweet burn of his hole stretching around his fingers. Blondie circles back around to watch, his eyes glittering obscurely in the firelight. There’s something about Blondie watching him - it should be humiliating, but it’s not. It’s just making everything better, sharper.

When Blondie pushes into him, it’s too fast and too hard and it hurts, and it’s perfect.

Tuco’s breath sounds harsh and lewd to his own ears, against the quiet of the desert night. Behind him, Blondie’s perfectly silent, breath rushing past Tuco’s cheek, cock driving into him regular and implacable like a steam engine. His fingers are tangled in Tuco’s hair again, pulling too hard. His other arm is wrapped like an iron bar around Tuco’s middle, drawing him back against Blondie, giving him no quarter. It’s fast and dirty and downright mean. And so, so good.

A pound of flesh, Tuco thinks distantly while his body quivers and lights up. Some kind of retribution for twelve hours marching in the desert sun with no shade and no water. Blistered skin, cracked and raw, and a week of vomiting and delirium, Tuco smiling at him through all of it. “Nothing personal,” he wants to say, but of course it was personal. It was as personal as it gets.

Blondie slams into him again and again, his silence fracturing as he moves faster. He’s making harsh, angry noises, now, against Tuco’s neck, sending more fire down his spine. Tuco’s starting to come apart at the seams, filled up with Blondie’s rage.

“Fuck you, Tuco,” Blondie pants into Tuco’s ear. “You piece of shit. You like this? You want it hard?”

Tuco can only moan.

It doesn’t take long after that. Blondie goes quiet again and grinds into him, pulsing hard, emptying himself, making Tuco take it. Tuco almost comes just from that, but Blondie bats his hands away from his cock. So Tuco waits, breathing hard and trying to keep still, trying not to move against Blondie.

After a long moment, Blondie lets out a sigh. His body relaxes, and his grip on Tuco turns into something like an embrace. That beautiful mouth presses against Tuco’s shoulder, almost tender, almost an apology, almost forgiveness.

When Blondie starts moving again, it’s slow and sweet, slick with come, and the feeling is excruciatingly good. Blondie’s hand moves down to Tuco’s cock, works him steadily. It’s too much - too much cruelty, too much kindness - and Tuco comes fast, his whole body jerking with it, unable to stifle a cry.

* * *

Maybe it ought to be awkward, the next morning, but it isn’t. Tuco awakens from a sweet, dreamless sleep in his own bed roll at dawn. He shuffles off to check on the horses, and watches Blondie ignore him as he builds a small fire for coffee.

Tuco’s got a day of sore riding ahead of him, but that’s about all he can bring himself to regret.