AUTHOR: SueN.

PAIRING: C/V (Seems to be a recurring theme, don't it?)

UNIVERSE: ATF (Thanks ever so, Mog!!)

DISCLAIMER: Dear Santa, I'd really, reeeeeeeeallly like 'em for Christmas. And I've been such a good girl (shut up, y'all...)

NOTES: Well, this started out to be something else, but it turned into this. And the plot fell out along the way. So what we have here is just a li'l holiday snack. No plot whatsoever. Oh well... It also makes brief references to two other stories of mine: "Of Mice and Men" and the genfic "Fade to Black." Don't worry, you don't have to have read either of those to get this. I figure y'all have enough to do at this time of year!

 

 

The two men sprawled together on the large sofa, Chris leaning against a large cushion wedged between him and the rolled arm of the sofa, Vin's back resting against his chest, the sharpshooter's head nestled at the junction of his neck and shoulder. Larabee's arms were twined with Tanner's and wrapped around the Texan's lean middle, their fingers interlaced. Two pairs of long legs were also interlocked, as if the men craved physical contact at every possible point.

Which, in truth, they did. They were one in so many ways, bound intimately in mind, heart and soul, each able to feel the other in himself, in his blood and his bone, even when they were apart. But for all the wonders inherent in such a soul-bonding, still nothing could beat the profound pleasure each man took in the simple feel of his lover's body pressed close against his own. Contentment rose from them and wrapped about them as securely as they were wrapped around each other.

And neither man cared in the least that the big eight-foot fir dominating its corner of the den was no closer to being decorated now than it had been three hours ago when they'd finally wrestled it into place. Vin considered it accomplishment enough that he'd gotten Chris to banish the four-foot pre-lit, pre-decorated artificial pretense of a tree Larabee had grudgingly bought last year to the living room, where no one would ever see it, and indulge in the beauty of a real Christmas tree. A real big Christmas tree. Hell, if the thing never got decorated at all, Tanner would still consider its very presence a major victory for the Christmas spirit.

Though a few strings of lights would be nice...

"I still can't believe I let you talk me into bringin' in the biggest damn tree on the ridge," Chris grumbled, resting a cheek against Tanner's head. His green eyes roamed slowly over the monster, taking in its towering height, near-perfect shape and impressive display of close-packed branches. "Sucker's gotta be five feet around at the bottom!"

"I know," Vin sighed, a slow and almost child-like smile spreading over his face and lighting his blue eyes. "It's somethin' else, ain't it? Had my eye on it fer months now. Knew it'd fit perfect in here."

"Fit?" Chris snorted, though more from a sense of obligation than true conviction. He'd worked long and hard to cultivate his immunity to the holiday spirit, and wasn't quite ready yet to let himself become just one more sentimental sap. Though God knew the sheer happiness written in every line of his lover's face was as powerful a lure to sappiness as he'd ever known... "It didn't fit," he reminded Vin. "It took the two of us, four ropes and an hour and a half just to get it through the door and to the corner. And we still had to move the TV and bolt the damn tree stand to a platform made of two-by-fours!"

"Yep," Vin agreed, still smiling. "But it was worth it." He nestled more deeply into Chris's embrace and wrapped the man's arms more tightly about himself. "I used ta think trees like that was jist in the movies or mebbe fer rich folks. I never figgered I'd ever have one like it." He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, inhaling the sweet fragrance of evergreen. "Lord, it even smells perfect! Like them pine candles Nettie burns, only better."

Chris watched Vin reveling in that aroma and felt his so-called immunity desert him. After Sarah and Adam's deaths, in his need to wall off and protect his shattered heart, it had been so easy to declare Christmas the enemy, to ignore it when he could and scorn it when he couldn't. The season of children and love had been stolen by adults and turned into a celebration of greed. It was just like that damned tree he'd bought last year at the last minute just to please Buck - all glitz and glitter on the outside, but hollow, fake, on the inside. For three long years he'd done his level best to forget about Christmas.

But Christmas hadn't forgotten him and it regarded him now through the wide and shining blue eyes of a man who had even less reason to love it than he. Tanner had been kicked in the teeth, in the heart, by life so many times that he had every right and every reason to spit on the holidays and damn everything associated with them. Yet here he lay in Chris's arms, staring at that tree like it was the ninth wonder of the world, breathing in its perfume as if he'd never smelled its like and forgetting every hard and hurtful thing that had ever been done to him because he was here and that goddamn tree was his and for a man who'd had so little all this was more than enough.

And Chris couldn't help it. He was a strong man, God knew he'd had to be, but he'd never be strong enough to resist the pull of Vin Tanner on his soul and he sure as hell didn't want to try. He looked at the tree, then gazed down at his lover's beautiful, peaceful face and without so much as a twinge of regret conceded defeat, embracing his inner sap. "It is nice, isn't it?" he murmured, returning his gaze to the tree and realizing that it did, indeed, fit perfectly. "I'd forgotten how good it can make a room smell. Seems to give it that little extra... somethin'."

Vin turned his head and stared up at Chris, deeply relieved to see the softening of those fine, strong features and the contentment lighting the deep green eyes. He'd been walking a difficult line here, caught between not wanting to hurt Chris by forcing Christmas upon him yet feeling a need himself to celebrate in some way the season that finally had given him all that he'd ever wanted. He'd taken Larabee's grumbling about the tree and their fight with it in stride, knowing the man had to put up at least a token resistance to any display of holiday spirit, but had also secretly worried that he might be very near to overstepping the bounds of what Chris would truly tolerate. But the smile now gracing that beloved face set his mind at ease. The ghosts of Christmas past had been banished, and those of present and future invited in.

"No more 'bah, humbug,' cowboy?" he teased lightly.

Chris chuckled and shook his head. "What can I say? You converted Scrooge."

"Good." Vin untwined himself from Chris and sat up, folding his legs beneath him and arching a warning brow at the older man. "But if ya call me Tiny Tim, I'm gonna have ta hurt ya."

Chris laughed aloud and reached out, again pulling Vin to him and claiming the sharpshooter's mouth with his own. "I'll show you 'Tiny Tim,'" he growled, clutching Vin to him and deepening the kiss.

Moaning in pleasure beneath the onslaught, Vin draped himself over Chris and gave in willingly to the demands of that hungry mouth, shivering as Larabee stroked his tongue with his own and sucked at his lower lip. "Mmm," he groaned, digging long fingers into Chris's shoulders as that mouth licked, nibbled and kissed its way over his chin, along his jaw and down his throat. "An' God bless us ever' one!"

7~7~7~7

"Well, this is it," Chris declared, a trace of irritation edging his voice as he dropped a small box onto the floor before the tree. "Every other string of lights down there got gnawed by those goddamn mice. And I couldn't even find any ornaments. Sonsabitches probably ate 'em. I hope they all die of indigestion!"

Vin heaved a patient sigh and sat down in the floor by the box, reaching inside and pulling out knotted strands of lights. "Chris, the mice are gone. Time ta move past it, cowboy, let go an' get on with yer life." He frowned down at the tangled mess in his hands, then frowned up at his lover. "What'd ya do, jist cram 'em in here?"

"Well," Chris sank down onto the floor across the box from Vin, "yeah."

Vin sighed again and shook his head. "Jesus, cowboy, what'm I gonna do with you?" he breathed.

"What?" Chris barked defensively. "I took 'em off the tree, stuffed 'em in the box. I couldn't put 'em back in the box they came in. They never fit back in there-"

"They will if ya try," Vin countered. "But even if ya don't get 'em back in there, there's still neater ways of doin' this. Y'know, coilin' 'em up like a rope so's they don't turn inta this." And he held up the knot.

"Nobody likes a smart-ass," Chris grumbled, unable to meet Tanner's wry gaze.

Vin arched a brow and smirked. "And here I thought you liked my ass," he drawled.

Chris looked up and narrowed his eyes into the familiar stone-cutting glare. "Your ass is fine," he said. "It's the mouth that comes with it that gives me a headache."

"Oh?" Blue eyes widened and darkened a shade, and Vin dropped the lights back into the box. In the next moment he was on his hands and knees, crawling slowly toward Larabee with the sinewy grace of a cat on the prowl. "Gives ya a headache, does it?" he asked in his low, husky voice, his eyes intent on the older man's face. "Now that's too bad."

Chris swallowed hard, his mouth and throat suddenly gone dry. He could do nothing but watch Vin slink toward him, couldn't move, couldn't think, couldn't breathe. Those blue eyes snared him, mesmerized him, held him in firmly in place. He was in trouble, he knew that, and there wasn't a damned thing he could do about it.

Or wanted to, really.

Then Vin was there, slithering up his body and settling himself in Chris's lap, winding one arm around Larabee's shoulders and sliding his other hand through the man's thick blond hair to cradle the back of his head and gently pull it forward. And that mouth, that goddamn maddening mouth, was parting and homing in on his own...

"Shame about yer headache," Vin whispered as he brushed his lips against Chris's in a feather-light caress. "Mebbe I can do somethin' about that."

Chris groaned and shuddered and wrapped his arms tightly about that lithe, lean body, closing his eyes and holding on for dear life as Vin proceeded to melt his mind. The sharpshooter's tongue skimmed slowly over his lips and danced teasingly through them, just past Chris's teeth, before darting out again and resuming its leisurely licking. One hand, meanwhile, swirled gently through his hair, long fingers stroking his scalp, and the thumbnail of the other trailed lightly up and down his spine, setting his shoulders rolling as every muscle in his back jumped in reaction.

Jesus, one day Vin was gonna kill him...

Vin found the enticing dip in Chris's lower lip and let his tongue play there, taking his time, savoring every aspect of the man he held, giving his senses full rein. He delighted in the feel of silken hair against his callused fingers, inhaled deeply of the clean, sharp scent of Chris's aftershave, thrilled to the power in the muscles rippling beneath his touch, feasted on the warmth of those full, firm lips. Then he nibbled at one corner of Chris's mouth, nuzzling his face against Larabee's and smiling at the scratch and scrape of whisker stubble.

Lord God, he could never get enough of this man!

Chris opened his mouth and tried to capture Vin's, but it eluded him at every turn. Chris hungered for that mouth, wanted, needed to catch it and feed upon it, would've cursed in frustration if he'd been able to find breath for words. But Vin was playing, the cat toying with its prey, and Chris knew with a sinking certainty that before all this was said and done he'd be stretched out on the floor, damn near paralyzed, damn near dead, and stupidly happy to be there.

"You're killin' me, y'know," he finally managed to whisper as Vin scraped a path down his chin with his teeth and then lapped contentedly at the slight cleft there.

"Not yet," Tanner rasped, trailing the hand at Chris's back around to his side and running his fingers slowly up and down. "But don't worry, we'll get there."

"I was afraid of that," Chris groaned, letting his head fall back as Vin nibbled at the underside of his chin.

Vin chuckled softly, then licked along Chris's jaw, taking a wicked pleasure in the gasps and groans he wrung from the man. "Y'know me, take no pris'ners." He bit sharply into the tender flesh at the junction of earlobe and jaw, tearing a sharp gasp from Chris, then tongued the bite and blew softy against it.

"God, you're vile!" Chris accused in a strained and shaking voice as frissons of heat shot along his every nerve.

"Ain't I though?" He lifted his head and drew back slightly, grinning crookedly as Chris again turned his head and tried to catch his mouth. "Want somethin', cowboy?"

Chris growled low in his throat, and two hands shot up to grip Tanner's head and hold him in place. "Just shut up and kiss me!" he snarled, pulling Vin to him and seizing ravenously upon that damned tormenting mouth.

Vin laughed into his lover's mouth. "Why'n't ya jist ask?" he teased.

Chris growled again, then smothered any further smart-assed comments beneath a crushing kiss. He clutched Tanner to him and plundered the Texan's mouth with a greedy ferocity, all the while bearing the younger man steadily to the floor. The heat from Vin's body was mingling with his own, igniting a fire within him that was already perilously near burning beyond control. But control was something he'd never had where Vin was concerned and, oddly enough for a man who seemed to crave it so much, he wouldn't have it any other way.

Vin gasped as he was suddenly sandwiched between Chris and the floor, as his lover's hard body came to rest atop his own. But not yet ready to hand dominance over to Larabee, he caught the man's invading tongue in his mouth and began sucking on it, then thrust his hips upward and ground his crotch into Chris's. Larabee shuddered hard and Vin seized that moment to regain the upper hand, shifting his body, coiling his muscles and flipping Chris over in a lightning move. Perched atop Larabee, straddling the narrow hips and pinning the broad shoulders to the floor with unyielding hands, he leaned forward and grinned wickedly into the man's startled face, long hair falling forward to frame his face, deep blue eyes gleaming with an unholy light. His smile turned wolfish and he licked his lips, a predator contemplating exactly where to make his first strike.

"Well," he rasped, imprisoning Larabee's gaze with his own, "ain't this an... interestin' turn of events?"

Chris's eyes widened and a strangled croak escaped him. Jesus...

Vin tilted his head ever so slowly to one side and frowned thoughtfully, catching his lower lip between white teeth. He studied Chris intently with that sharp hunter's gaze as if fixing a target in his mind. Then, distributing his weight evenly between his legs and the hands still at Chris's shoulders, he leaned forward and rubbed his crotch against Larabee's in a slow and deliberate rhythm.

Chris gave another choked gasp and instinctively arched his hips upward as Vin built a delicious friction between them. He rolled his shoulders just enough to shift Vin's hands slightly inward, not wanting to dislodge him at all, then raised his own hands to grip Tanner's trim, denim-clad hips to help guide them in their movements. Heat pooled in his groin and radiated outward, and his breath came in hard, sharp gusts as mingled torrents of pain and pleasure coursed through him.

Vin watched the heated glaze rise in the green eyes, saw the flush spreading through Chris's face and the cords of his neck standing out as the blond head ground into the floor, and felt his own hunger spiraling to an ever greater intensity. Unable to resist, craving this man in every fiber of his being, he leaned further forward still, bowed his head and captured Chris's mouth with his in a deep kiss, still thrusting slowly into his crotch as he feasted upon him.

Lord, but the man was a fever in his blood!

Chris moaned wordlessly and slid shaking hands from Vin's hips to his waist, then twisted his fingers into the fabric of Tanner's flannel shirt and pulled it out of his jeans. The thermal shirt beneath came up with it and Chris was finally able to touch smooth, warm skin. He slid his hands under the shirts and up Vin's back, fingers stroking and kneading, nails raking. But it wasn't enough; not nearly so.

"God, Vin, please!" he whispered against his lover's sweet, searching mouth, thrusting frantically into Tanner's crotch. "I need... need ya... now!"

Vin pulled his mouth from Chris's but nuzzled his face into the man's throat, sucking on his Adam's apple. But he slid his hands from Larabee's shoulders to the buttons of his shirt, skillfully working after another through its hole. A low snarl of frustration tore from him though when he encountered the t-shirt beneath.

Chris had to chuckle as Vin sat up abruptly and glared accusingly down at him, flushed face set in a savage scowl. "Now you know how I feel when I have ta go diggin' through five layers of clothes ta find you."

Vin only scowled more deeply. "Shuck 'em or lose 'em," he ordered hoarsely, knotting his hands in the neck of Larabee's t-shirt and preparing to rip it open.

Chris arched a brow. "I'll shuck mine if you'll shuck yours," he bargained. "And you might as well peel off those jeans and whatever else you've got underneath 'em. Save us both a lotta frustration."

Vin snorted sharply but slid obligingly off his lover and began his strip. "Hell, y'ain't nothin' but frustration, Larabee. Frustration an' aggravation. Ain't been nothin' else since the day we met."

Chris sat up. "You're one ta talk!" he accused, shrugging out of his shirt and stripping off his t-shirt. "It's a wonder I've got any teeth left from all the grindin' and gnashin' I've done since you moseyed into my life. Hell, I don't know why I haven't shot you yet and put me outta my misery."

His shirts gone, Vin stood up and unbuttoned his jeans, then maneuvered the zipper carefully down past the bulge at his crotch. "I reckon," he drawled, setting his hands at the waist of his jeans and longjohns and pushing them down as one, "it's 'cause yer jist a glutton fer punishment." He turned to one side and bent over to pull the garments away from his feet.

Chris stared helplessly at the tight, trim ass, at the slender but hard-muscled legs that seemed to go on for days, and felt his breath solidify in his chest. "Yeah," he gasped in a shaking, strangled voice. "Punishment. That's gotta be it."

Vin heard the ragged catch in Chris's voice and turned back to face him, startled as ever by the unabashed delight in Larabee's face at the sight of him. He'd always thought Chris was the most beautiful man in the world, even before they were lovers and when all he could do was want him from afar, and he could easily imagine how many others, men and women, must share that opinion. But it never failed to amaze him, even now, that Chris should think the same thing about him.

Still, though, it was awful nice knowin' that look of near worship in those eyes was one reserved only for him.

A slow, crooked smile spread across his face and azure eyes went to indigo as he beheld the depth of the want and the love in Larabee's eyes. Everything Chris felt for him shone in those green depths, poured from them in rich, warm waves, and that such a man, so proud and so strong, should open his soul so completely to him took away his breath and sent his own soul rising hard and sharp within him.

"Yer starin'," he rasped softly, near drowning in that heated gaze. "An' ya still got yer pants on."

Chris tried to gather his thoughts enough to form some retort, but all that escaped was a breathless, "Goddamn, you're beautiful!"

And he was. Framed between the massive tree to his right and the firelight from the hearth behind him, with his long hair tumbling in a tousled wealth about his face and over his shoulders and wide eyes gone to a dense, inky blue, he looked like some woodland spirit caught fast in a moment of time, an apparition of the wild conjured by Larabee's hungry imagination. But the body before him was real, its heat almost palpable even across the small distance between them, the mix and contrasts of smooth skin, sinuous muscle and hard bone awakening in Chris's hands an ache to roam over every plane, every angle, every curve. He thought he could quite happily spend the rest of his life exploring the body he already knew better than his own and still never get his fill.

Vin's smile turned soft and he returned to Chris in two strides, then sank gracefully to his knees at the man's side. Reaching out, he ran the fingertips of one hand lightly, slowly over Larabee's forehead, down his nose and across his mouth, worshiping the man with his touch. "Y'ain't so bad yerself, cowboy," he whispered huskily, reverently. "But we need ta get them pants off ya so's I c'n see the rest."

Trembling beneath the feathery caress of those fingers, his flesh burning where Vin stroked it, he swallowed hard and nodded weakly, entirely beyond speech.

Vin laughed softly, breathlessly, and leaned forward, pressing his mouth to Chris's in the lightest of kisses, his lips only brushing against Larabee's. He'd fucked and been fucked in his life, but not until this man had come along had he learned how to make love.

"Wanta thank ya fer m' Christmas tree," he whispered, his breath fanning warmly against his lover's mouth. "It's the purtiest one I've ever seen."

Chris groaned and shuddered and reached out to take Vin in his arms, pulling the miraculous young man close against him and delighting in the tender ravages of that blessed mouth. God, if this was the thanks he got, he'd go out tomorrow and bring in ten more of the biggest damn trees he could find!

"Now," Vin slowly withdrew his mouth and carefully pushed Chris back against the floor, smiling as he met no resistance from the man always so reluctant to recognize any will save his own, "I got some unwrappin' ta do." He slid down Larabee's body to his thighs and put his hands to the fly of the tight black jeans. "Gonna see what Santa left me."

Chris jerked and sucked in a sharp breath as skilled fingers began working at button and zipper, as Tanner's slow, careful touch sent streaks of fire shooting through his imprisoned cock. "Ain't... Christmas... yet," he hissed, arching his back and fisting his hands at his sides as his blood turned to lava in his veins.

Vin raised his head at that and fixed fathomless blue eyes upon Chris's twisted face. "Sure it is," he countered softly, seriously. "Don't ya know? It's been Christmas ever' day since ya said ya loved me."

Chris let out a sobbing gasp as his sharpshooter struck him true in his heart.

Within moments Vin had the jeans unfastened and pried open, then he began the always gratifying chore of peeling them from Larabee's body. He razzed Chris endlessly about wearing them "painted-on tight," but he secretly hoped the man never changed. Chris had a body made for showing off, and though Vin would gladly have gutted the first man who agreed, he never tired of the sight of any fabric stretching and sliding over the sculpted glory that was Larabee.

"Need ya ta lift up," he instructed softly as he tugged jeans and briefs down Chris's hips. Chris did and Vin pulled further, then gasped in delight and licked his lips as Larabee's thick erection was finally freed. "'At's what I call a stockin' stuffer!"

Chris gave a choked laugh at that. "You got a real way with words, Tanner, you know that?"

Vin shifted his gaze to his lover's face and waggled his brows in a fair imitation of Buck. "Must be the poet in me," he drawled.

Chris only laughed again.

Vin went back to work, bowing his head and moving down Chris's legs as he peeled the jeans down the man's body. There was no rush to his movements, but only a deliberate slowness, and his tongue peeked between his lips as he fixed his formidable concentration upon his appointed task.

Chris panted and writhed as fabric and Tanner's hands scraped along his over-sensitized flesh. Nerves snapped and sparked, blood boiled in his veins and his neglected cock throbbed and wept in tortured anticipation.

Goddamn, the man really was gonna kill him!

He squeezed his eyes shut and licked dry lips, then slid a badly shaking hand to his aching shaft. His own touch sent a hard shudder through him, but still he closed his fingers around himself, desperate for any attention. Then long, strong fingers snapped shut around his wrist and his hand was snatched away.

"'At's mine," Vin growled, a wolf protecting its territory. "'N I'll see to it in jist a bit. If ya behave!"

"Fuck you!" Chris ground out, thrusting his hips in a frantic need to find friction.

"Nope, not this time," Vin said in a low voice, a feral look crossing his face. "It's yer turn ta ride the rug. Me," he leaned down and flicked his tongue against a small brown nipple, "I'm gonna ride the cowboy."

Chris nearly came on the spot from the heat and promise in that throaty voice, at the unbearable and exquisite feel of that tongue lapping at his nipple. He had a fleeting thought that the Bureau could learn some incredibly effective interrogation techniques from Tanner, whose mouth alone could surely break open even the most reticent of suspects.

Of course, then he'd have to go in and kill those suspects...

Vin imprisoned each of Chris's wrists in his hands and held them to the floor at either side of Larabee's head. Then he draped himself over the man's body, rubbing his crotch slowly against Chris's, and bowed his head over the broad chest, licking light swirls around each nipple in turn and blowing gentle puffs of air through the golden hair between the well-defined pecs. He found the scar just beneath the left pec where a perp's bullet had entered and so nearly taken Chris from him and sucked lovingly at it.

"Jesus!" Chris gasped tightly, tears seeping through his closed eyelids as Vin slowly shattered him.

"'Tis the season," Tanner whispered against Chris's chest, closing his eyes and pressing his mouth to the hard throbbing of that strong heart. "'N I'm gonna make us both real jolly!"

Chris only prayed he'd survive.

Vin once more braced his weight on his legs and lifted his hips just enough to saw his stiff cock against Chris's in an agonizingly slow rhythm. He had to clench his jaws hard to hold himself in check, his own flesh aching hideously in its need, but not for anything, not even his own gratification, would he rush this. Chris was far too precious to be taken without care and lingering appreciation. While his cock teased Chris's, his mouth latched again onto a taut dark nipple and he sucked ravenously upon it.

Chris wanted to plead but couldn't speak; wanted to scream but couldn't find air enough. All he could manage to do was moan and gasp and shake as tremors racked his whole body.

Vin sensed that Chris was perilously near the edge, felt himself careening toward that same precipice, and knew he could wait no longer. They were both suspended on that knife's edge between pain and pleasure, and he had no wish to send them hurtling over the wrong side.

"'S'all right, cowboy," he breathed, sitting up and smiling gently down at Chris. "I'm gonna take care of us both right now. Gonna make it all better fer ya."

"You do," Chris rasped without conscious thought. "God, Vin, you always do!"

The deadliest sharpshooter in the Western Division of the ATF had to blink away tears at that simple declaration. Stripped of words, bereft of speech, he simply nodded once, wiped with the back of a hand at his wet cheek, then slid carefully off his lover's body and rose to his feet.

Chris cracked open an eye and watched Vin cross to the small table between the recliners, able to feel the strong swell of emotion rising through the man even from here. He knew it wasn't always easy for Tanner to hear such words, knew their like had been used against him far too often in the past for the young man to feel true comfort with them. But he'd taken upon himself the task of helping Vin realize that, from him, they never came lightly and they were always, always the truth.

And if it took forever to wear down that wary, stubborn resistance, well, there were certainly worse ways to spend his life.

Vin pulled open the lower of two drawers in the small table and rifled through it for the tube of lanolin and vitamin E gel Chris kept in it. Ostensibly intended as protection against and treatment for cold- and wind-chapped hands, it was innocent enough that they didn't have to fret over its possible discovery. He used the search as time to get his unruly feelings in check, still not quite sure how to deal with the fact that Chris could so easily slip through the defenses he'd spent an entire lifetime carefully building.

Though, Lord, it did feel so good when the man got in...

Finally deciding he'd just have to make peace with this particular weakness, he palmed the tube and closed the drawer and turned back to Chris. And still more tears threatened as he saw those green eyes, so full of knowing, fixed upon him, promising patience and offering love.

"Yer somethin' else, Larabee," he rasped unsteadily. "Y'know that?"

Chris sat up slightly, propping himself on an elbow, and smiled gently at the utter vulnerability mirrored in those wide, unguarded blue eyes. "So are you," he breathed, lifting his other hand in invitation. "Come on, Vin," he urged softly. "C'mere where you belong."

Knowing exactly where he belonged, the only place he'd ever really belonged, Vin smiled and crossed quickly back to Chris, sinking easily atop the body and into the arms that comprised his world. Oh, yeah, he could live with this...

He set his hands at Chris's shoulders and smiled softly into those brilliant eyes. "C'mon, cowboy," he whispered, pushing Larabee gently back, "it's time ta ride."

Chris willingly surrendered control to Vin, knowing it would soon be stripped from him anyway. He'd only known two people in his life with whom he could let go like this, to whom he could give himself and trust, know, that the man he got back would be infinitely better for that giving. And he was convinced that the first had wielded considerable influence in his finding the second.

Vin watched the contentment overtaking his lover and wondered yet again what he'd done to put that look of peace on the man's face. Then, shaking his head and pulling himself from his wool-gathering, he twisted the cap from the tube and squirted the gel into his palm. Tossing the tube aside, he rubbed the gel between his hands, coating them and warming it and grinning like a fool at the thought of the pleasure to come.

"Time ta play with my presents," he breathed, sliding down Chris's legs and bending over the man.

Chris gasped and bucked as a warm, wet tongue slid over the head of his cock, sending jolts of lightning through him. Tanner licked and sucked at him like a kid with a candy cane, lapped at the pre-cum seeping from him, swept that tongue up and down his length and swirled it around the base. While that mouth teased and tormented his shaft, one long finger found its way to the hole behind his balls and slid within, tearing another thick, stricken cry from him.

Vin licked and nibbled at Chris's cock, showered kisses over his heavy balls, nestled his face into the junction of thigh and groin and rubbed his stubbled cheek against the tender flesh there. All the while he inhaled the pungent scent of Chris's sex into himself, growing drunk upon the heady smell. He turned his head and licked along the crease, pressing his finger deeper into Chris's body as he did and crooking it to brush against his gland.

"Shit!" Chris barked, arching violently as pleasure exploded through him. "Vin...!" Then another finger entered him, the two swirling, stretching, and sharp teeth nibbled at the base of his cock. Sweat poured from him, his blood pounded through him, and he was certain his heart would burst. Wordless cries escaped him, inarticulate sounds of pleasure and pleading, and his whole body jerked and writhed as Tanner shredded his sanity.

Vin worked the tight muscle ring carefully while licking his way back up Larabee's heated shaft. His other hand he slid down to his own cock, shuddering violently as he stroked and coated it with gel. Goddamn, but he hurt!

When at last they were both ready, he withdrew his mouth and his hand from Chris, slid beneath the man's legs and pressed his cock to the darkly flushed hole. With little more than a breath of warning he pushed inside, shuddering again and loosing a harsh, wrenching groan as he slid into his lover's body.

"Jesus!"

Chris couldn't even say that much, was utterly incapable of speech. The feel of Vin inside him, the man's heat and hardness filling him, stripped him of everything but a primal awareness of the incredible waves of sensation ripping through him. For a moment there was pain, he knew that, but then it was gone, swamped by his desperate, instinctive need for more of Vin.

Vin immediately knew when Chris was ready and let himself go, grabbing the man's shoulders to brace himself and then thrusting into him with sure and steady strokes. Chris's tight, hot channel engulfed him, closed about him and drew him ever further inside, wrapping around his hard and hurting flesh and wringing from it a matching heat. His vision tunneled, his body shook and his mind shut down. Functioning on sheer instinct alone, he drove ever more furiously into Chris's body, then dragged one hand from Larabee's shoulder and wound it around his cock, pumping him with equal ferocity.

Chris arched his back and cried out sharply as Vin worked him inside and out. The hand at his cock, the cock in his ass... he rocked alternately, mindlessly, into one and against the other, certain both would tear him apart and needing it to happen soon. He dug his fingers into Vin's hips and sought to shove the man further still into his body, desperate to feel Tanner driving into his very soul. Then Vin went one better, raking frantically, repeatedly against his prostate and igniting the fireball of his release. It exploded through him with an elemental intensity and he was powerless to restrain it, could do nothing but arch his hips and loose a ragged cry as his body spurted forth the thick white ropes of cum.

Vin gasped and shuddered as Chris's muscles clenched tightly about him in orgasm, as the man's slick seed coated his hand. The heavy scent of it washed over him and sent his body into overdrive, triggering his own release. He felt it building in his groin and tingling in his balls, boiling at the base of his spine and slamming through him in a white-hot wave. He thrust furiously into Chris, imbedding himself in the man, and threw back his head, loosing a wild and wordless cry as he erupted and emptied himself into his lover's bowels.

Oh, Jesus. Lord Jesus...

He vaguely heard a voice chanting breathlessly, but never recognized it as his own. All but numb from the waist down, he collapsed weakly onto Chris and simply lay there, not yet ready to separate himself from his lover. The lure of physical contact, even after all they'd just shared, was still too powerful.

Chris, too, felt that pull and was more than content to bear the limp weight of the man atop him. He knew that all too soon his own comfort, and Vin's, would demand that they move, but for these few blissful moments he needed to feel Vin against him as surely as he'd needed to feel the man inside him, needed to feel his lover's heart beating against his chest and in time with his own. It seemed only fitting that as they'd hurtled off the cliff together, they should now drift back to earth exactly the same way.

Inevitably, though, reality in the form of physiology intruded and insisted upon a change of positions. Struggling to move limbs weighted down by a heavy lassitude, Vin carefully withdrew from Chris, then slipped weakly from the man's body and sank into a boneless heap at his side.

For long, long moments, the only sound in the large room was the ragged breathing of the two men sprawled on their backs in front of the Christmas tree. Two pairs of eyes, green and blue, stared blankly at its branches as two dazed and heat-warped minds struggled with the near-impossible task of putting a name and meaning to its bulk.

"Damn," Chris finally managed to utter, seriously doubting he'd ever walk again. Vin had crippled him good this time, he was sure of it. When he got no answer, he turned his head and stared at his lover. Tanner's eyes were open but glazed, his face slack, his long hair a sodden mess; he looked like he'd been shot. "So I guess it was good for you, too?" he rasped weakly.

Vin tried to swallow, but couldn't quite remember how. He was pretty sure his legs had fallen off and worried that his cock might have, too. Damn, he was gonna need it later... "Yeah," he breathed hoarsely, "reckon it was all right."

Chris nodded and rolled his head back to stare once more at the tree. Its strong scent mingled now with that of spent cum, the two combining to give the air he breathed a heavy and strangely erotic pungency. And suddenly he remembered Josiah saying that Christmas trees were an ancient pagan symbol of fertility and eternal life because they remained ever green even in the bitterest of winters. Then the profiler had made some crack about having to admire a tree with staying power. Larabee thought again of the man lying at his side, of what that man had just done to him and would surely do again, and figured that a little outside help might not be such a bad idea.

"Vin?" he called, his head lolling back toward Tanner.

"Yeah?"

"We're gonna need another tree for the livin' room."

THE END