NC-17 for m/m sex
This is a "sequel" to the New Law ep. It originally appeared
in the zine Sinful Seductions #2 by LadyViper's DemonBunnyPress.
It's now mine again, so I thought I'd share. ;-) I'm fairly sure
RubyJ betaed the original (thanks, hon!), but I have no idea who
else (if anyone) did. It's been a while <g>.
The two men
rode at an unhurried pace over the dry, dusty earth, both now feeling
the heat of the day, both knowing the horses felt it and wanting
to spare the animals whatever discomfort they could. They’d been
out since early morning, leaving the others behind to help with
the work of rebuilding the town while they patrolled its perimeter
to make sure there would be no further trouble.
and James had been beaten, but both were still alive and both had
to be seething over their defeat. And clearly neither was ready
to concede that his days of running roughshod over anyone who dared
stand in his way were ending.
able to see or understand the changes so rapidly overtaking them
flat black brim of his hat, Chris Larabee’s green eyes narrowed
in thought. Maybe the ranchers did understand that; maybe that’s
why their assault on the town had been so ruthless and so complete.
Maybe it was the last, all-or-nothing strike by men who did see
their way of life, their absolute and uncontested dominance, slipping
from them. They knew as well as anyone that settlers were flocking
to the area. Hell, they had to know it better than anyone because
their sprawling ranches were becoming steadily encircled by homesteads.
They now had to share water and grazing that once had been theirs
alone; had to ask permission to drive their herds across range that
once had been open; had to watch others come in and stake claims
to land they had tamed, sometimes at the cost of their own blood.
Or maybe the
attack on the town hadn’t been their last strike at all. The more
hemmed in they were, the more desperate they’d become. And desperation
would surely make men like Guy Royal and Stuart James far more dangerous
than they’d ever been before.
glanced across at the man who rode to his left, easily able to guess
at the nature of Chris’s thoughts. Not that such was ever hard for
either of them. As closely attuned to each other as they were, they
seldom needed words between them. Moods, thoughts, emotions, desires
were easily and silently communicated through a glance, a touch,
a smile, a gesture, had been right from the first. Two men as inscrutable
as stone to the rest of the world were open books to each other.
words were known by heart.
And even if
he hadn’t known Chris as well as he did, it still would’ve taken
no great skill to understand the thoughts tumbling through the man’s
mind. Hell, they’d all thought of little else since Marshal Walter
Bryce had stepped off that stage and they’d suddenly found themselves
out of work. Civilization was moving in, bringing the law, the real
law, with it. Soon there’d be no more room, even in such a vast
land, for men whose only law was the gun.
Men like himself.
softly and swept his gaze slowly over the countryside around him,
the ends of his long hair dancing as he shook his head slowly. The
land wasn’t as empty as it looked, he knew that. He’d once been
able to count on his fingers the homesteads in the area, had once
known all the homesteaders by name. No more. Seemed every time he
rode out, he spotted a new house raised by a family he’d never seen
before. And the towns … Lord, they were springin’ up like desert
flowers after a rain. Stages and freight wagons were gouging roads
into earth once trod only by Indians and drifters like himself,
and railroad crews were laying track so fast it made his head spin.
And his heart hurt.
a land so big be fillin’ up so fast?
again and turned his gaze back to his partner, and was startled
to find Chris’s deep green eyes fixed squarely on him, concern written
plainly on the man’s chiseled face. He’d read Chris, and Chris had
Two open books
whose words were known by heart.
Vin gave a
slight, crooked smile and inclined his head toward a beckoning stand
of trees. “There’s a spring over yonder,” he said, wanting to erase
the shadow of worry from Chris’s face even as he found comfort in
it. “Reckon the horses could use a rest.”
faintly, still studying Vin. The tracker had to be feeling more
unsettled by all this than any of them. They’d all been part of
society, of civilization, at one time or another; Vin had never
been more than a shadow ghosting around its edges. Yet he’d finally
found a place in this town, or thought he had, thought he’d finally
found a place where he fit.
How hard must
it be for him suddenly to realize that he wouldn’t fit there for
“A rest sounds
good,” he said at last. A faint smile touched his wide mouth. “I
don’t guess the town will miss us for a while yet.”
softly as he turned Peso toward the trees. “I don’t know,” he drawled.
“Since we saved ’em from the ranchers, seems like they all been
fallin’ over themselves makin’ sure we know how much they ’preciate
us. I got folks crossin’ the street ta greet me now instead of crossin’
it t’ avoid me.”
narrowed at that last and his lips tightened into an angry line.
He’d seen any number of times how newcomers to the area reacted
to Vin’s appearance, taking in his long hair, unshaven face and
battered buckskin jacket and immediately judging him to be worthy
only of fear or contempt. He’d heard the words muttered at the tracker’s
back - “savage,” “renegade,” “half-breed” - and more than once had
had to bite back his own furious reaction. He knew Vin heard them,
too, but the younger man just let them go with a shrug and a softly-voiced,
“Don’t matter none.”
Chris, too, because it did matter. Vin mattered, and he mattered
a whole helluva lot more than the small-minded idiots who looked
down their noses at him. Until they needed him to save their asses.
thinkin’ so hard, cowboy,” Vin urged with a teasing grin. “Makin’
my head hurt jist watchin’ ya.”
the tracker a scowl. “Maybe it’s because you’re not used ta thinkin’.”
“Oh, I don’t
know,” Vin drawled, dragging an insolent gaze slowly over the long,
lean figure of the man riding beside him, “I do all kinds’a thinkin’
when I’m with you.”
widened and he stiffened in his saddle as Vin’s low, husky rasp
of a voice scraped against his soul like a lucifer, igniting an
immediate blaze. So much had happened in recent days that he and
Vin hadn’t had time to be alone, hadn’t had time to be with each
other, and all at once he realized just how much he’d missed the
feel of that supple, sinewy body against his own.
And that was
another part - a very big part - of what bothered him about all
this. As more people crowded into town, they brought with them more
trouble for the seven to sort out, more responsibilities, obligations,
expectations. There were fewer times now when he and Vin could simply
slip away to be together, and more prying eyes for them to avoid
when they had to take their chances in town.
It was starting
to grate on him.
reined Peso to a stop and reached out, clasping a hand gently about
the man’s arm and gazing deeply into fierce green eyes. “It’s gonna
be all right, cowboy,” he breathed. “We’ll figger it all out somehow,
make it work.” He smiled softly, his blue eyes dark and deep. “Ever’thing
around us is changin’. ’N I reckon about the only way we’ll get
through it is ta hold on tight t’ each other.”
go of his anger at that, realized he’d be willing to let go of anything
except the man beside him. He leaned into Vin’s touch and gazed
deeply into those fathomless blue eyes, letting the man’s love wash
over him like the soft waters of a sun-warmed lake. He could drown
in Vin, he knew, and never once try to fight it.
He laid his
free hand over Vin’s, squeezing the long fingers with his own and
smiling. “Sounds like a plan,” he said quietly.
and grinned. “Reckon I’m good fer one ever’ now an’ then.”
and arched a blond brow. “Just you remember, Tanner, I ain’t puttin’
on no dress.”
turned wolfish and he slowly licked his lips, blue eyes going darker
still. “Oh, trust me, cowboy,” he rasped, “puttin’ clothes on ya
ain’t exactly what I got in mind.”
in Chris’s belly at those words and at the hungry glint in Vin’s
eyes, and he suddenly had to shift in the saddle as his blood drained
to his cock. “No?” he croaked, and swore silently at the break in
heard that break, saw the flush rising in Chris’s face and the fire
kindling in the brilliant green eyes, and felt a sharp thrill shoot
through him. He loved watching the tide of passion rising in this
man, loved watching his need for control do battle with his need
for release, but most of all loved knowing that when Chris’s surrender
came, it would come only for him. Others might get Chris’s body,
but he alone held Chris’s soul.
me, cowboy,” he invited in that low, soft rasp, his eyes shimmering
with light and love. “Lemma lay ya down on a bed of grass, lemme
make the world go away fer a while.”
Chris whispered hoarsely, his soul rising as sharply as his flesh
in response to that invitation.
and released Chris’s arm, then lightly spurred Peso toward the stand
of trees. Chris, still in thrall to the tracker’s magic, had no
choice but to follow. Would have followed him into hell, certain
that even there he’d find heaven in Vin Tanner’s arms.
Once at the
spring they slowed their pace, determined not to rush this, determined
not to waste a moment of this rare and precious time. Too often
they’d had to make do with fleeting bursts of passion in hours stolen
somewhere between dark and dawn, and while they’d take what they
could get, both men craved more than just a fast and furious fuck.
It had always been more between them, and neither could bear seeing
what they shared reduced to so low a level.
and cared for their horses, the familiar deep and comfortable silence
falling between them. But what no words could express, their bodies
did. Far now from any threat of prying eyes, they indulged freely
in their need to touch each other, to stroke, kiss, caress, their
mouths and hands relearning what their hearts already knew.
seen to their horses, they spread their bedrolls side by side, eyes
meeting and speaking plainly as their hands brushed together. Later
they’d have a fire, make some coffee, cobble together a meal. For
now, they needed only to nourish themselves on each other.
hats, jackets, gunbelts, shirts; toed off boots, peeled off pants,
socks and underwear. When at last they were naked they came together
with twin groans of anticipation, each seeking in the other much-needed
assurance that what mattered most in their world remained untouched
by the changes avalanching down upon them. Wet mouths met in deep,
demanding kisses, strong arms wound tightly about hard bodies and
callused hands stroked and kneaded warm flesh. They fed upon each
other, feasted upon each other, two men dying of hunger suddenly
gifted with a banquet.
As he’d said
he would, Vin set about making the world go away. He dug his hands
into Chris’s shoulders and sank to his knees, bringing the unresisting
gunman down with him. Then he pushed Chris back against the blankets
and slid astride him, leaning forward to set his hands on the blanket
at either side of Chris’s shoulders, his knees on the ground, his
thighs clamped against Chris’s hips. Taking his weight onto his
legs and bracing himself with his hands, he rocked slowly forward,
staring deeply into Chris’s glazing eyes and loosing an unsteady,
hissing breath as he drove his crotch into Chris’s. Bending his
elbows, he lowered himself steadily but slowly downward, his long
hair hanging down to frame his face, his eyes never leaving his
lover’s, his face a mask of predatory concentration. Chris watched
that face coming slowly toward him, mesmerized by the fierce light
in the glittering blue eyes, unable to look away. Ever the hunter,
Vin had once more ensnared his prey.
ya, cowboy,” he promised in his throaty rasp. “Gonna show ya what
already knew. As Vin’s beautiful face descended toward him, he let
go all memory of troubles past, let go all thought of the town and
its demands upon him, let go everything except his need for and
love of the man atop him. Then Vin’s mouth was there, claiming his,
and he let go all conscious thought entirely, awash in sheer sensation.
his tongue over his lover’s full, firm lips, nibbled at their corners,
then sucked at the enticing dip in the lower one. As Chris moaned
and wound his arms about him, he scraped his teeth down the gunman’s
chin, then slid his tongue along his chiseled jaw to its junction
with an earlobe. He nipped and sucked at the tender lobe, rimmed
the delicate shell with his tongue, then trailed his mouth back
down to the long column of Chris’s throat. He found the throbbing
pulse there and sucked at it, then began slowly thrusting his hips
to grind his hard and hungry cock into his lover’s.
a strangled cry and arched into Vin as lightning exploded down his
spine. He clutched at Vin, digging his fingers into the tracker’s
narrow back and gasping incoherent pleas. Fire shot along his every
nerve and sped straight to his aching cock.
unsteadily, only barely holding himself in check, and propelled
himself slowly down Chris’s body, his own taut and trembling. He
dragged his tongue down the valley between Chris’s pectorals and
blew a soft stream of air through the golden hair gleaming against
the ivory flesh, then slid his mouth across to one small male nipple
and lightly tongued the hardened bud. He blew a quick puff of air
against the nipple, and Chris gasped again and shuddered beneath
him. Still, never one to be rushed when his mind was bent fully
to a task, Vin turned his attention to the other nipple, drawing
it into his mouth and sucking slowly at it.
his head back into the blanket and thrashed it wildly side to side,
his eyes tightly closed, the cords of his neck standing out, his
breath coming in sharp, shallow gusts. Vin was torturing him as
only he could, and it was at once the most excruciating and the
most exquisite agony Chris had ever known.
gasped harshly. “Jesus God!”
his tongue against the nipple, then let it go and continued his
progress down Chris’s body. Sliding backward, he showered gentle
kisses over the hard sweep of ribs, dragged his tongue down the
taut belly and sucked at the shallow navel. He pressed his face
into the thick thatch of dark gold hair at Chris’s groin and inhaled
the pungent scent of the man’s sex into himself, then turned his
head and pressed his lips to the hard, thick shaft jutting upward
from the nest of curls. He found the prominent vein and licked his
way along it to the darkly flushed head, lapping catlike at the
salty-sweet fluid collecting there.
violently and cried out as that talented mouth wrought havoc with
him. Sweat poured from his body and tears seeped from his eyes.
His fingers found their way into Vin’s hair and clamped against
his head to hold that mouth in place.
God, he wanted
… he wanted …
But then Vin
was pulling out of his grasp and sitting up, and a cry of abandonment
escaped him. He arched his hips again and reached for his cock with
his own hand, desperate for relief.
that, cowboy,” Vin breathed, unwinding Chris’s fingers from himself
and pushing his hand away. “Y’ain’t goin’ nowhere without me.” He
bent down over Chris and pressed a tender kiss to his lips. “Gonna
get us both there, cowboy,” he whispered against Chris’s mouth.
“But we’re gonna get there t’gether, like we’s meant ta be.” He
kissed Chris again and then sat up, reaching across the gunman’s
writhing body for the small tin he’d set nearby.
his eyes open and stared up at Vin, entranced by the man’s natural
grace and untamed beauty. Vin might have settled for a while in
the midst of civilization, but he didn’t belong there, was out of
place in that world. In town, he was guarded, reserved, always on
edge and always on watch. Only out here, away from walls and people
and their strange rules, was he comfortable, could he relax, could
he breathe. Only out here was he truly free to be the wild creature
he was born to be.
“Why do you
do it?” he croaked, barely recognizing the voice as his own. “Why
do you stay in town when you’d rather be out here?”
some of the fragrant aloe vera balm from the tin with his fingers,
then looked down at Chris. Eyes wide and filled with light, he said
simply, seriously, “’Cause that’s where you are.”
humbled by that, and deeply touched. “I never wanta tie you down-”
“I know that,”
Vin breathed, setting the tin aside. “Y’ain’t tyin’ me, Chris. Y’ain’t
gotta. I am where I wanta be, cowboy. Long as I’m beside you, I’m
right where I’m s’posed ta be.”
Chris beckoned softly, lifting his arms in invitation.
And Vin sank
into them without hesitation, knowing he was exactly where he belonged.
Chris’s arms closed about him as their lips met, and he knew his
days of running wild and free were gone. He’d been caught but good
by this man, and the arms holding him with such love were shackles
he never wanted to break.
Vin,” Chris whispered into Vin’s mouth. “Take us both where we’re
s’posed ta be.”
him tenderly, then pulled away and sat back on his haunches, a fair
measure of the balm still in his hand. He stared down at Chris through
wide eyes gone almost black, his chest heaving as he panted, his
darkly flushed skin glistening with sweat. It took him long moments
to gather his thoughts into any workable order, but finally he managed
it and nodded slowly, licking his lips hungrily.
time ta ride,” he whispered shakily, dropping his hand to his cock
to coat it with the balm. He tensed and sucked in a sharp breath
at his own touch, then scowled at Chris’s throaty chuckle. “Ya got
a problem?” he rasped.
Vin struggle to slick himself without coming, felt his own shaft
grow harder still in reaction and had to fight to keep from reaching
for it. “Think we both do!” he whispered through clenched teeth.
I’m about ta take care of us both.” And with that, Vin carefully
spread Chris’s legs and slipped between and beneath them, shuddering
as he saw the man opened for him. Feelings for which he had no names,
no words, engulfed him, feelings he’d never known existed before
he met Chris, feelings he knew wouldn’t exist without him. “Oh,
God!” he breathed as his heart clenched and his soul rose.
Chris hissed, knotting his hands in the blanket as his need rolled
through him in hot waves. Then a finger pressed inside him and he
loosed a strangled gasp, his hips arching upward.
easy,” Vin soothed, setting one hand to Chris’s hip and holding
him in place as he worked his finger against the tight ring of muscle
at his anus. Moments later he inserted a second finger, then a third,
massaging, stretching, scissoring, determined to prepare his lover
properly. It had been a while since he’d been inside Chris, and
he wouldn’t run the risk of hurting him. Finally he felt the ring
soften and relax and he withdrew his fingers, then positioned his
hard cock at that beckoning hole. “’S all right, cowboy,” he whispered
hoarsely. “Gonna make it better fer us both.” And he pushed himself
out sharply and bucked violently at the pain of penetration. But
again Vin held him still, and that soft, raspy voice murmured soothingly
to him until the cramping subsided and he was left with the wondrous
feeling of Vin’s heat and hardness filling him. The pleasure of
it was all but unbearable, yet still he needed more.
move!” he gasped through clenched teeth.
And Vin did,
slowly at first but with a steadily increasing speed and force until
he was thrusting frantically into Chris, wanting only to lose himself
in his lover’s body, needing to drive himself into the man’s soul.
Then he wound his long fingers about Chris’s hard cock and pumped
it in that same fierce rhythm, loosing the full force of his passion
out harshly as Vin drove him into a mounting frenzy, as the tracker
launched a ruthless assault upon his senses and sent him into paroxysms
of unspeakable pleasure. Worked inside and out, filled and claimed
and damn near ripped apart at his soul, he thrust frantically down
upon that punishing flesh, into that masterful hand, his overwrought
body desperately seeking relief.
with an unbridled wildness, withholding nothing of themselves from
the furious joining of their bodies. Cries ripped from them as heat
seared through them, as the fire pounding through their blood all
but searing the flesh from their bones. Higher, higher upon burning
winds they rose, scorched inside and out. And in one shattering,
convulsive rush they came, bursting together into explosive climax,
Vin erupting into Chris’s body, Chris’s seed jetting in a hot stream
over Vin’s hand. They strained frantically together, even now instinctively
seeking closer contact, greater closeness, the two needing to be
one. And as each man emptied himself, he was immediately filled
by the other, hearts and souls rushing in to complete what their
bodies had begun.
and slumped forward, dropping his hands to the ground to brace his
body. His gaze met Chris’s, blue eyes locked with green, and again
in those eyes two hearts read what no words could ever say. Breathless,
spent and shaking, Vin carefully withdrew his softening flesh and
collapsed onto the gunman. Chris lifted rubbery arms with an effort
and wrapped them around his lover, cradling Vin’s body to his own.
They lay together in silence for long moments, each still able to
feel so much of the other inside himself.
hearts slowed, breathing evened out and some measure of strength
and steadiness returned to their limbs. Vin closed his eyes and
nestled his face against Chris’s chest, listening to throb of the
heart whose rhythm matched his own, and a tired but contented smile
curved about his mouth. Chris kept one arm wound about his partner’s
back but lifted the other to Vin’s head and gently combed his fingers
through the damp, tangled wealth of his long hair. This feeling
of peace, of completion, that flowed through him in the time following
their lovemaking never ceased to amaze him, never failed to move
him. He’d known its like with only one other person in his life,
and he couldn’t help but wonder what he’d ever done to deserve finding
it a second time.
again?” Vin rasped softly, never raising his head but never needing
to; he could feel his partner’s pensiveness. “Thought I’d done took
quietly and pulled lightly, teasingly at Vin’s hair. “Gotta think,
Tanner. Thanks to you, I can’t do anything else.”
Vin did raise
his head then, setting his chin on Chris’s sternum and regarding
his lover’s relaxed face through heavy-lidded, sated eyes. “So whatcha
thinkin’ about?” he asked, his drawl made thicker by his sleepiness.
softened and he tenderly brushed the disorderly hair out of Vin’s
eyes, then brushed the backs of two fingers down the man’s unshaven
face. “Thinkin’ about how much I need this,” he breathed, “how much
I need you. That no matter what else changes, I never want this
or us to.”
out and dragged a gentle forefinger over Chris’s face, tracing the
shape of his brows, his nose, his mouth, his jaw. “Sounds good ta
me,” he agreed soberly. “Reckon I get kinda tired of havin’ the
ground yanked out from under me on a reg’lar basis. Be nice knowin’
there’s somethin’ I can hang on ta.”
sighed, his smile fading, his gaze drifting toward something only
he could see.
at that change of expression. “Jist cain’t stop thinkin’, can ya?”
a wry laugh and gently urged Vin off him, then sat up. “I guess
the past few days have just given me a lot ta think about.”
resignedly and sat up, well familiar with Chris’s tendency to turn
everything over in his mind until he’d sorted it through and made
sense of it. “Reckon so.” He rose to his feet in a single lithe
motion and held down a hand to the gunman. “Let’s get cleaned up,
an’ you c’n tell me what all’s got yer brain churnin’.”
that hand and let Vin pull him to his feet. As he rose, he tightened
his hold on Vin for a moment and gazed deeply into the younger man’s
eyes, drawing the peace he saw mirrored there into himself. He envied
Vin’s ability simply to take the world as he found it, to accept
life as it came to him and fit himself into it as best he could.
He wished he could cultivate that in himself and let go his need
to rail and rage at circumstances he could never hope to control
Vin sighed, arching a brow and shaking his head, “ya really are
gonna gimme a headache!”
and let go his thoughts for a while. Throwing an arm around Vin’s
shoulders, he walked with the tracker to the spring, where they
washed the sweat and semen from their bodies with water refreshingly
cool after the heat of the day. Chris even persuaded Vin to let
him wash his hair, his long, strong fingers kneading and massaging
the tracker’s scalp until the man damn near purred.
the day’s heat to dry the water from their bodies, they dressed
with some reluctance, neither quite ready to return to town but
knowing it couldn’t be put off much longer. Too much work remained
to be done. They’d ridden out only to assure themselves that the
ranchers really had learned their lesson and weren’t planning any
reprisals. But a kind of peace, however sullen and however temporary,
seemed to have fallen, and the two grudgingly realized that they
were needed back there more than out here.
Part of the
price of having their peacekeeping duties returned to them …
was determined to have some coffee before they left, so he made
a small fire and put on a pot. Chris stretched out on his blankets,
propping his back against his saddle and allowing his mind to wander.
He thought of nothing in particular and everything in general -
a town in ashes, people struggling to carve a decent life and a
promising future from an unforgiving land, ranchers willing to destroy
what they couldn’t control, and the land that was the ultimate prize
patiently waiting to see whether the rule of law or the law of the
gun would prevail.
men caught in the middle, men of violence entrusted with keeping
the peace, empowered to use their guns to protect the law …
up as a shadow fell across him and saw Vin holding a cup of coffee
down to him, one eyebrow raised. He sat up and took the cup, his
mouth twisting into a wry smile. “I was thinkin’,” he explained
Vin sank gracefully
onto his haunches, a cup of his own in one hand. “Ya don’t say.”
his eyes and glared at the younger man. “Irritatin’ sonuvabitch,
ain’tcha?” he growled.
the glare with an insolent grin. “’S a gift.”
in disgust. “And my curse,” he muttered. But his vexation quickly
faded and he frowned thoughtfully, his gaze again taking in the
untamed countryside around them. “You ever wonder how long this
is gonna last?”
and settled himself more comfortably, sitting cross-legged on the
blankets and cradling his cup between two long-fingered hands. “I
try not to,” he rasped, a note of sorrow creeping into his soft
voice. “I seen so many other things go away … I ’member the first
time I ever seen a Comanche village or a buffalo herd. Both of ’em
seemed ta stretch inta forever, both of ’em so beautiful an’ so
powerful ya jist knew they’d always be there. Couldn’t imagine the
world without ’em.” He sighed heavily and bowed his head. “Only
ain’t either of ’em like that anymore. Comanches are goin’ on the
reservations, an’ I ain’t seen a true herd of buffs in I don’t know
when. ’Course,” he grimaced in pain and shame, “I reckon I’m partly
ta blame fer that.”
Chris urged gently. “You didn’t know that would happen. You were
just doin’ what you had to do to survive.”
“Yeah, I know,”
Vin sighed. He raised his head then and looked steadily at Chris.
“But that’s kinda the point, ain’t it?” he asked. “Sometimes fer
one thing ta survive, another’s gotta die. Or at least be changed.
’At’s what’s happenin’ out here, Chris. In the past, there ain’t
been nobody out here ’cept Indians, a few ranchers, miners an’ ornery
half-outlaw cusses like us who didn’t have nowheres else ta go.
It’s a hard land an’ only hard men survived it. But all that’s changin’.
Folks are comin’ and bringin’ families. They’re buildin’ homes an’
towns an’ tryin’ ta create somethin’ that’ll be here long after
they’re gone. They got a new way of lookin’ at things, a new way
of doin’ things, and fer their way ta survive, the ways of the Indians
and the hard men, our ways, are gonna have ta die. Or change.” He
shrugged. “’At’s jist the way it is.”
down into his coffee, then looked back up at Vin. “So where does
that leave us?” he asked softly, voicing the question that had plagued
him since Bryce had stepped off that stage and announced himself
as the new law. “What happens to us ‘hard men’ when we ain’t needed
slightly and regarded his partner with a loving patience. “Y’ain’t
as hard as ya think y’ are, Larabee,” he chided gently. “An’ there’s
more ta you than yer gun.” His eyes softened. “You was one a’ the
ones who come out here ta build somethin’, remember? You’re more
like these folks than ya know. You’ll find yer place. You’re too
smart not ta.”
Chris breathed, studying Vin intently. The tracker was young, resilient
and smart despite his lack of education. But he was also as wild
as the land itself and could no more be shackled to a plow than
could a wolf. And then there was that goddamned bounty …
Vin let his gaze slip away from Chris’s and
stared out into the distance, shaking his head slightly. “I don’t
know,” he breathed. “Ain’t quite got that part figgered out yet.
Cain’t scout fer the Army with my poster all over ever’where, sure
as hell cain’t go back ta bounty huntin’. Ain’t no more work fer
a buff hunter …” His voice trailed off on a slow, soft sigh and
his shoulders rose and fell in a shrug. “I don’t know. I’ve tried,
but …” He turned resigned blue eyes back to Chris. “Ain’t sure there
is a place fer me. If there is, I sure as hell cain’t see it.”
softly. “Then maybe you’re not lookin’ in the right place,” he said
quietly. He put down his coffee, reached for Vin’s and set it aside,
then leaned forward and grasped the tracker’s hands in his own.
“Could be your place is with me,” he said in a low, intense voice,
his green eyes deep and warm. “Could be that you and me will find
our places together. Could be that’s the only place either of us
really has - with each other.” He stroked his thumbs slowly over
Vin’s knuckles. “I don’t know. I just know that I’d a helluva lot
rather meet whatever’s comin’ with you than without you.”
at Chris for long moments, startled by the gunman’s words yet feeling
their truth echoing in himself. He dropped his gaze then to their
joined hands, saw how right they looked and fit together and knew
that rightness extended to every aspect of their lives. He lifted
his gaze back to Chris’s face and gave a small, soft smile.
a plan ta me,” he breathed unsteadily, his blue eyes shimmering
that smile and felt the light in Vin’s eyes sinking into his own
soul. He leaned forward and tenderly brushed Vin’s lips with his.
“Ride with me, pard,” he whispered against the tracker’s mouth.
“And it won’t matter what changes come.”