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Words were never really needed between them. Most of the time, words seemed to get in the way more than they helped anything anyway. Vin preferred the silence after spending so many hours alone as a bounty hunter, and even more hours alone on the plains hunting buffalo with the whispers of wind snaking through the grasses. And Chris…well, Chris didn’t talk a whole lot in the first place. He preferred to move and keep moving, keep his hands busy, occupy his mind and body every waking hour, always running from the ghosts of his past. So they didn’t talk much and somehow, someway, they never missed a beat, words unspoken yet speaking volumes in the spaces between them. One look lingering a second or two longer than necessary.

Be careful out there.

It didn’t take much to guess what was on each other’s mind. Buck joked about it, that they shared a link, some fancy word that sounded made up. Telepathy, he called it. Read about it in a magazine. Chris snorted and shook his head. Vin ducked his head to muffle a sigh behind the brim of his hat, his chin tucked to his chest.

Buck spewin’ hogwash again.

Chris still disappeared for days at a time. He never said where he was going, or when, or how long he would be away. He was just gone. Sometimes Vin would hear him, his horse’s hooves against the hard packed desert earth in the middle of the night, always going in the opposite direction of where Vin’s wagon was stationed on the edge of town. Other times, Vin would wake up and Chris wouldn’t be making his customary rounds. But he was never concerned, not really. Vin knew it was coming. He saw it in the tightness of Chris’s face. He saw it in the way Chris huddled up to a bottle for too long, growling at anyone who came too close. Then Chris would catch his eye across the dim, smoky interior of the saloon. He’d tip his chin lower, a fraction of an inch. Vin would nod in return.

Watch your back and try not to do anything stupid.

In a fight, Chris and Vin were always close, attached subconsciously, never too far apart from each other. On the rare occasion they were separated, Chris kept an eye on Vin despite fists flying or a deadly rain of bullets showering down on his head. Vin didn’t need to keep an eye on Chris, he knew Chris could handle himself. But he found himself drifting back, caught on an invisible string, tugging them together again. Usually in the nick of time too. As much as Chris could handle himself, he managed to rustle up an inordinate amount of trouble that put a little too far in over his head. Once the dust had settled and the wounds had been tended, a light touch to the shoulder, a solid clasp of their forearms.

I’m alright. A little battered and bruised but still kickin’. Don’t worry about me.

And then they were here, warm skin, gentle touches, the unspoken roaring in the silence between them as they communicated with a kiss here, a nudge there, a contented sigh. They were never really sure how it happened, not at first. It was gradual, subtle, as it usually was with them. But it was natural now, as easy as a look, the slightest shift of weight, and a few minutes later, they were alone, in Vin’s wagon, in Chris’s room, or maybe further away, out on the plains beneath the inky blue-black sky with the silver stars winking above them, lost to the world except each other. Mapping each other with their fingertips and their lips and their eyes, that invisible string tugging them ever closer. Saying everything and nothing at all.