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Author's Chapter Notes:

Thank you to Mog for creating the ATF AU.

This slashfic is a sequel to and follows on from the end of my general story, ?An Early Bath?, so if you haven?t read that, then you may find the basic premise of this piece a little confusing. To be truthful, I?m not really sure where this slash story came from, as I?d never thought I?d be able to write in this particular adult genre ? but then, life?s full of surprises! And yes, I can hear you sniggering, Tarlan!

I give special thanks to my husband, for continually supporting me in my creative writing. Thank you, Jean, for doing the proofing honours.


….And Then to Bed

Chris Larabee glanced across at his silent companion, as he turned the Ram into the mile-long dirt track leading to his ranch. He and Vin Tanner had eventually got all of their angling equipment packed up and stowed into the truck, and both were now looking forward to a hot shower and getting into some clean, dry clothes. Eating a hearty, warming lunch was also high on their list of priorities on this wet and unseasonably chilly day.

The pair had left Mike Browne from Team Four, at the river as the only remaining representative of the ATF Bureau’s fishing squad. The middle-aged man was a regular and highly successful angler, and had already landed six enormous fish that morning. Doing well in the Mayor’s inter-Bureau competition was a matter of pride for Chris and his men, but he wasn’t unduly worried about his team’s collective efforts at this final event. Denver’s ATF team were still in first place on the overall scoreboard, and there was always tomorrow to make up for today’s unexpected and premature finish. The senior agent had resolved to come back at first light to try and make up the lost afternoon’s fishing and, having already decided to stay at Chris’ for the night, Vin was in complete agreement with his team leader.

The blond agent slowed the vehicle down as he came to a particularly muddy patch on the road. "Better take it easy here. The last thing we need is the truck getting bogged down," Chris murmured to his abnormally quiet friend.

Vin hadn’t said a word since climbing into the Ram. After his joking comments to Chris following his near death experience in the fast-flowing river, the sharpshooter had withdrawn into himself, almost as if he was embarrassed by what had happened.

Not that Chris was going to allow the other man to wallow in self-pity or, worse still, sulk. Vin had had an unfortunate accident but neither man had been injured - with the exception of the Texan’s ego, of course - so the blond stoically ignored his friend’s sullen mood.

"I’m easy, Vin, but do you want to take the shower, or use the bath? We’ll both have to use my bathroom though, ‘cause I still haven’t finished grouting the tiles in the one next to the guest bedroom," Chris explained to Vin, as he pulled the truck into his normal parking spot.

"I don’t mind," Vin mumbled listlessly, as he unclipped his seatbelt and re-adjusted the blanket he was wrapped in.

Chris’ eyes narrowed, his lips thinning into a straight line as he turned to face the morose-looking sharpshooter. "How long do you plan to keep this up, Vin? The rest of the day? All week? A month? Look, we had a little incident, and we need to get ourselves sorted. You’re not hurt and nor am I, so we can pick up tomorrow where we left off. Period. Or are you worried about what Buck might say, because you lost his outdoor gear?"

Vin knew that Chris was starting to get annoyed with him, but he just couldn’t help how he felt. It wasn’t often he suffered a defeat at a sporting activity; the sharpshooter was a supreme athlete and usually came out on top in whatever sport he participated in. But Vin had been forced into taking part in the angling competition, and the morning’s fishing had started disastrously, worsening when the inclement weather had arrived. Things had disintegrated totally after Vin had fallen into the river and, although the younger agent was feeling slightly guilty about letting his team-mates down, there was another, more insidious reason for his growing depression.

The sharpshooter’s emotions were in tatters, his thoughts wildly chaotic, but he couldn’t possibly tell Chris about his ever-increasing terror and self-flagellation. How could he possibly explain something that he didn’t really understand himself?

"Nope, I ain’t… too bothered… about the clothes. I’ll replace them fer Buck when I get back to the city," Vin replied at length.

Chris said nothing, but he heard the hesitant catch in his friend’s voice and knew he had to get the younger man talking. Well, the pair had the remainder of the day available to them, so there was no time like the present for thrashing out whatever had upset Vin. Having now made the decision to confront the sharpshooter about the morning’s events, Chris felt somewhat happier. Puffing out a resigned, sighing breath, the blond gathered his own blanket around him, and prepared to make the sprint through the rain to the house.

The pair were soon inside, and immediately heading towards the kitchen to put fresh coffee on, Chris paused in the doorway as he gestured to the staircase. "Look, you take the shower, but could you start filling the bath for me, please?" the older man requested.

It didn’t take Chris long to organise the coffee machine and, after taking two clean mugs out of the dishwasher, he reached for the bottle of cognac in a top cupboard. "Hell, I know it’s only midday, but I reckon we both need a shot of this," he muttered to himself, as he splashed a generous measure into each mug. Satisfied that the coffee would be ready by the time he and Vin finished their ablutions, Chris then headed up the stairs to his bedroom.

*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*

Vin stood under the shower, head tilted upwards and his eyes closed as he allowed the warm spray to massage his face, neck and shoulders. He’d already shampooed and rinsed his hair, and as he turned off the water and reached for the shower gel, the sharpshooter heard the bathroom door click. As Vin worked the soap over his skin, he heard Chris let out a long, exaggerated sigh, accompanied by the sound of quiet splashing.

"Now this is more like it, pard," the senior agent called out to his friend, as he lounged back in the water.

"Yeah, I was beginning t’think I’d never get warm ag’in," Vin responded distractedly.

The room was hushed for a few minutes as Vin put the water on once more and finished his shower. Chris concentrated on washing his hair and had just sunk underwater to rinse it thoroughly, as the sharpshooter emerged from the shower cubicle.

Vin wrapped a towel around his waist and grabbed a smaller one from the rack to dry his dripping hair. The room was eerily silent but, as the Texan looked at the bathtub and saw the other man lying under the water, the hand towel fell from his slack fingers, and he suddenly started to shake.

Chris was enjoying his relaxing bath and starting to feel more human again. The almost overly hot water was seeping into his chilled bones and soothing knotted muscles that he hadn’t realised were tense. As the blond shifted in the tub and ran his fingers through his water-inflated hair, he experienced a fleeting impression of panic and fear. Something was wrong.

Copious amounts of water splashed onto the tiled floor as Chris surged upwards to a sitting position in the bath. Paying no attention to the widening puddles of bathwater, his concerned gaze fell on the stock-still form of a white-faced Vin Tanner.

"Vin! What the matter? Do you feel dizzy, or sick? Dammit, say something, Vin!"

Chris hurriedly clambered out of the tub, truly frightened now by the other man’s total lack of response. Grabbing his towelling robe from the hook on the back of the door and shrugging into it, the blond threw a towel around his neck before rushing over to his friend.

"Vin, what’s wrong?" Chris’ soft voice was filled with worry, as he put a hand on the younger man’s arm and tapped his friend’s damp and icy skin. The other must be sick, and the senior agent now bitterly cursed his mistake. He should have driven Vin to the hospital straight after resuscitating the sharpshooter, but the man had been adamant that he was uninjured after his dip into the river.

Vin stared vacantly at Chris’ hand clamped around his forearm, but his ashen face was devoid of expression, as if he couldn’t comprehend what was happening. He still said nothing as his friend gently led him from the bathroom and eased him down onto the bed.

"Vin?"

Chris crouched down in front of Vin, his hands resting on the other man’s knees as he worriedly scanned Vin’s blank features. Fear and helplessness bubbled up inside Chris, but he was at a loss as to what he could do. He didn’t know what was wrong with Vin, although he was fairly confident the sharpshooter had no physical injury. This was some kind of psychological problem, of that he was certain; the blond had picked up the echo of distress in his friend and could feel the tension in the other’s trembling body. "I won’t be a second, pard," Chris murmured, fervently hoping that the younger man had heard him.

Going down the stairs at breakneck speed, the agent flew into the kitchen and poured coffee onto the cognac in the mugs. Tipping an almost obscene amount of sugar from the storage canister into Vin’s drink and giving it a rapid stir, he then grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and quickly returned to the bedroom.

Sitting on the bed next to the rigid backed and motionless sharpshooter, Chris lifted the mug to Vin’s mouth. "Drink," he ordered in a tone that brooked no refusal.

Vin obediently sipped the sweet liquid, grimacing a little as the strong alcohol registered on his taste buds. As the heat of the cognac laced coffee began to warm and revive him, he could feel the tremors easing slightly and was able to take the mug from Chris.

"Are you feeling any better?"

The sharpshooter nodded curtly at the other's concerned question, not quite trusting himself to speak. Taking another swallow of the fortifying coffee, Vin surreptitiously watched Chris out of the corner of his eye as his friend sipped at his own drink. He had no answers for the older man, and couldn’t even understand what had caused him to freeze in horror in the bathroom. No, that wasn’t strictly true. Why was he trying to evade the issue? He did know what had sparked the terror that had temporarily robbed him of his faculties.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Chris asked in a quietly sympathetic voice, easily reading the uncertainty and discord in his friend.

"I…I could’ve got ya… killed today. That river… we nearly didn’t make it, Chris. I should’ve bin more careful, but I was riled up somethin' fierce ‘cause of the weather, and…and… Lord! It was stupid… stupid…. stupid!"

The mug wobbled precariously as Vin’s anguished words tumbled out, and Chris hastily rescued the vessel. Placing both mugs on the bedside table with the bottled water, he then sidled closer and put a comforting arm around the younger man. This was a breakthrough after Vin’s desultory attitude of the last couple of hours, although Chris realised he needed to get some dialogue going to make his friend open up even further.

"It wasn’t stupid, Vin, it was an unfortunate accident. And we’re here and both in one piece, none the worse for wear. I admit, you did scare the shit out of me, and when I saw Buck’s hat floating in the water, I began to believe what Josiah always says about his crows. I thought for one awful moment, that I’d lost you. But thank the Lord we both managed to escape relatively unscathed."

"It should never ‘ave happened. I failed ya, Chris," Vin mumbled, still unable to make eye contact with the other, but he didn’t attempt to pull away from Chris’ firm hold.

"Where the hell did that come from?"

The sharpshooter didn’t answer the other’s astonished and angry-sounding question, but his long fingers picking nervously at the edge of the towel spoke volumes to Chris. The senior agent was beginning to get his head around his friend’s inner turmoil, and knew he had to give the other some reassurance before the younger man was eaten up by guilt. "You’ve never failed me, Vin. It just isn’t in your make-up. Ever since you joined the team, you’ve given one hundred and ten percent, and covered all of our asses. Countless times. If it wasn’t for your skill with a rifle, and your expertise at reading a dangerous situation, then I reckon all of us would be pushing up the daisies by now," he stated truthfully.

"That’s different, ‘cause that’s m’job. But…. we were off-duty. It was s’posed t’be fun, a leisurely day fishin’, but I nearly…. Jeez, I nearly drowned ya," Vin whispered, his raspy voice cracking with emotion.

"This pity party ends here, Vin!" Chris replied sharply. "I won’t have you kicking your chin and getting worked into a state just on the basis of an unforeseen accident. It could as easily have been Mike, or me who went into that river, and you would have done exactly the same thing for us without even thinking about it. It’s history now and we move on. Got it?"

"I… I hear ya, cowboy."

"Good. That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said since we got home," Chris responded, giving Vin’s shoulder a sympathetic squeeze.

"Home," Vin breathed faintly, as he grabbed the older man’s hand in a strong clasp.

There was such an intense note of longing in that one word, that Chris felt his throat constrict. Hazel eyes met blue, and the blond agent tightly clenched the other’s cold fingers, whilst his thumb absently rubbed Vin’s palm. "Yeah. I like to think that this is your home as much as mine. After…the fire…. Well… I was alone, and this house, it had become a barren shell. But then this scrawny, scruffy, damned ass-kicking Reb breezes in and…"

"Hey, ya yella topped, mean-eyed Yankee! Not s’much of the breezin’ in - if ya don’t mind," Vin interrupted, his features brightening as he shot a mock scowl at his smiling friend.

"Seems I can’t mind that much – otherwise I’d have shown that cocky Texan the door… and fairly pronto!" The older agent’s face was suddenly serious again, and he let out a snorting breath. "I dunno, pard, it just feels like you belong here, as if it was meant to be."

Vin chuckled, but he didn’t release Chris’ hand. He never wanted to let go of this man, and the sharpshooter knew he was incomplete, would be destitute without the wealth of friendship and camaraderie that Chris imbued him with.

"I ain’t never felt as happy and contented as when I’m here wit’ ya, Chris," Vin replied, his eyes softening as he gazed at his closest friend.

"Yeah, I feel it too. The place doesn’t seem quite as…. Sad and empty when you’re out here. It’s like I have part of my family, or my life back…. And I like to think that Sarah’s given the seal of approval for you to spend time here with me."

There was such genuine honesty and commitment in Chris’ whispered statement, that Vin’s heart suddenly skipped as he realised how much love and admiration he had for this man. "Reckon she must’ve bin a helluva woman, if her spirit’s willin’ to let me share yer life. I’m honoured t’be yer friend, Chris."

Chris inched even closer to Vin, and tightened his grip on the other’s shoulder. "That works two ways, pard. You saved me from myself, brought me back from the brink of desolation and self-destruction, and that’s something I’ll always love you for."

"Aw, hell! Yer making me blush, cowboy! An’ folks might get the wrong idea, if ya carry on hugging me like this."

Chris shrugged dismissively at the younger man’s comment, taking additional courage from the fact that Vin seemed unflustered by his candid declaration and hadn’t tried to pull away. "I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks. This is just between us, Vin. We’re in our own private space, and what goes on behind our closed door is our business."

As he spoke, Chris absently stroked the other’s bare shoulder, and he felt rather than heard the shuddering breath Vin sucked in. There was something erotic about sitting on the bed, with his arm clasped around the virtually naked sharpshooter, and Chris could feel a fire steadily building in his loins. It had been many years since he’d felt a sexual attraction for another man, and the blond wondered what had suddenly changed to make him entertain the idea of making love to Vin. He’d never thought of his friend in that way before. Had he? Maybe it was connected to their forthright discussion, but Chris now desperately wanted to see how far this new openness would take the pair.

Vin closed his eyes, happy for the moment to relax under the gentle ministrations of his friend. The sharpshooter’s normal defensive barriers had dissolved, any remaining tension and worries melting away as he leaned into the other man and let him caress his shoulders and back. Chris’ therapeutic touch was exquisite, and as the older man increased the pressure, Vin could feel his cock starting to twitch beneath the damp towel.

"Mmm, that feels good," Vin sighed blissfully, as Chris massaged the kinked muscles in his neck. The sharpshooter had surrendered himself fully to the other’s hand, but still a small part of him questioned his body’s unexpected responses. "Chris… I think ya should… stop… ‘fore I….ahh!"

"It’s okay, Vin. You know you can trust me. Just let your body take you where it wants to go," Chris interrupted, his tone soft but commanding. Without missing a stroke of the massage, he climbed onto the bed behind Vin, kneeling upright as he continued to work on the younger man’s shoulders with both his hands.

*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*

The sharpshooter could feel Chris’ warm breath on his neck and ears, and he didn’t repress the shiver of desire that coursed through him. This feeling of belonging felt right. He’d never felt so completely at ease with someone like he did with Chris, and it had been many years since he’d experienced such an aching need in his belly and groin. And that sexual demand sent a growing desire shooting along his now bulging cock, causing his hardening balls to tingle and swell.

Chris was aware of the other’s mounting excitement and was heartily relieved that it matched his own soaring ardour. But he didn’t want to startle Vin by acting too quickly, or force the sharpshooter into doing something he might regret later. The dynamics of their unique relationship had suddenly altered in some way, and it appeared that they were about to embark on a one-way voyage of discovery. But both men had to be certain before taking this next momentous step.

"Vin, have you ever been with a man before?" the blond asked cautiously.

"Ya mean…. like…. makin’ love wit’ a fella?" Vin countered, turning his head slightly so he could see his friend.

"Yeah."

"Nope. But I’m guessin’ ya have."

Chris detected no hint of revulsion or repugnance in Vin’s statement so, taking a deep calming breath, the older man prepared to take the plunge. "You guessed right. When I was a freshman at college, I had a thing for one of the seniors, and…. well, we experimented a little…. I suppose he was just as curious about it as me."

Vin spun around on the bed and faced Chris. "Did ya love ‘im?" he wanted to know.

"No. We were both kinda lonely and just wanted some company, so it didn’t last long. Shortly after we broke up I met Sarah, and I knew straight away that she was the woman for me. I just chalked it down to a youthful fling, and then got on with the rest of my life."

"Did ya ever tell Sarah?"

Chris pursed his lips, and as the older man lowered his eyes, Vin knew the answer. "There ain’t no shame in not coming clean, Chris. Ya must’ve had yer reasons but, knowing how much ya an’ Sarah loved each other, I don’t reckon it would’ve upset her. An’ it don’t matter none t’me neither," the Texan declared in a slightly defensive voice.

A radiant smile suddenly lit up Chris’ face and, lifting a hand, he gently cupped the sharpshooter’s chin, pulling the other nearer to him.

Their lips met in a crushing kiss and, as Chris played his tongue along Vin’s front teeth, he immediately felt the sharpshooter’s mouth open. To the older man’s heightened senses he could taste a honey-like sweetness in the other’s mouth, mingling with the brandy and coffee they’d drunk ten minutes ago. Nothing could stop the inevitable now and, as the kiss ended, Chris looped his arms around his friend’s bare torso, pulling the pair of them onto the centre of the bed.

The towel around the Texan’s waist slipped at the movement, and as Chris tugged at the material and threw it across the room, Vin shot his partner a crooked grin. "Now ya know I love ya, but ya ain’t playin’ fair, cowboy. This is m’first time, and yer expectin’ to feast yer eyes on m’body, but yer hidin’ yer own pair of walnuts under a robe!"

"Walnuts? Walnuts! You’ve got a damned nerve, Tanner! You could have at least said plums, or apricots, or better still a pair of apples!" Chris snorted, but he grinned insanely as Vin started to unfasten the belt on the bathrobe.

"Nah, walnuts gotta be nigh on closest to the truth. They’re hard, ain’t they?"

Chris slipped his arms out of the robe, and relaxed back against the pillows as Vin tossed the clothing onto the floor. "They don’t come much harder. And they’re all fired up and ready for you, pard," Chris growled huskily, drawing Vin towards him and wrapping the man in a tight embrace against his chest.

Holding his lover in one strong arm, Chris’ other hand traced a line down the Texan’s body. The well toned flesh under his exploring fingers felt deliciously warm and supple, and the blond caught the faint whiff of soap and musk; that indefinable aroma of a recently showered man. The mere presence and smell of Vin was overpowering Chris now, but still he kept the pace deliberately slow, as he worshipped his virgin lover’s body with his hands, eyes and mouth. His skilful tongue had already teased a provocative path around the sharpshooter’s ear, and Chris’ mouth had become more urgent as he nibbled at Vin’s neck and shoulders.

The senior agent could hear the other’s breath getting faster and, as Chris slid his hands over Vin’s rigid nipples and chest, he felt the quickening beat of the sharpshooter’s heart, as the man’s excitement climbed. This satisfying discovery only served to intoxicate the blond further and, as his hand reached for Vin’s hard erection, he smiled broadly when his friend shivered and gave an ecstatic gasp. There was no mistaking the younger man’s need and Chris clamped his fingers around the thick shaft, savouring the warm firmness as he began to slowly work the taut flesh up and down.

An animal-like sound tore from Vin’s throat and, as his face lifted to Chris’ and their mouths met again, he also reached for his lover’s throbbing manhood. The men were in equal possession of one another, totally at ease, and there was no awkwardness or embarrassment as the pair became embroiled in the first exhilarating delights of foreplay. They were completely in unison, and their lithe, muscled bodies moulded together in perfect harmony, whilst their long legs intertwined like ivy clinging around lattice.

Feeling the warm, sticky moisture of pre-cum on his fingers, Chris broke the lingering kiss. As he pulled away from Vin and crawled down the bed, he dropped feather-light kisses on the other’s chest, flat stomach and down-covered thighs. Kneeling between his lover’s strong, tanned legs, the blond took the younger man’s cock into his mouth and began to suck and tempt it with his questing tongue.

Vin moaned, and his left hand curved behind Chris’ head, his fingers playing with the other’s short hair as his companion lovingly coaxed him towards his climax. That hot, furry tongue seemed to be everywhere at once, flicking back and forth over Vin’s inflamed balls, before meandering along the starkly prominent vein running the length of his cock. The sharpshooter was floating in a sea of pleasure, and he wriggled on the quilt as the fiery tip of his lover’s tongue lapped at the oozing slit in the head of his manhood. The younger man knew then he’d been marked and claimed, seared by the power of Chris’ love; and that love had a demanding physical presence to it, one which Vin’s body couldn’t and didn’t want to resist. As the older man’s teeth gently nipped at the swollen head once again, the last vestiges of the sharpshooter’s control ebbed away and he didn’t think he could quell his burning need any longer.

"Oh, Lord! Chris…. I cain’t….Shit!"

Vin’s words were lost as a guttural groan escaped his lips, but Chris paid no attention as he pumped the other’s straining shaft with his mouth, whilst gently squeezing the sharpshooter’s distended balls with his hand. He could taste the saltiness of his lover’s semen and, as Vin tensed and moaned loudly again, Chris swallowed voraciously as the Texan’s hot release suddenly erupted into his mouth.

Never before had Vin experienced such selfless loving from a partner, and he knew now that his previous encounters with women - not that there had been many - had been shallow, insubstantial acts of lovemaking. There had never been a consummate sense of love and mutual ownership, until this moment of spectacular enlightenment in Chris’ bed.

As Chris came back to lie beside Vin, the sharpshooter looked in wonderment at his lover, his blue eyes transfixed whilst drinking in every perfect detail of the other’s handsome face. There was something different about Chris now, and Vin stared at the older man, as if digesting some new facet to his friend’s persona. He’d never really noticed how attractive Chris was until this point in time, and the Texan felt a possessive surge of love for the other, that made his heart ache. But it wasn’t just the overt physical appearance of the blond that had suddenly overwhelmed the sharpshooter.

Looking at the older man now with the eyes of a lover, Vin saw the other’s hidden tenderness, plus a compassionate understanding that amalgamated with a puissant strength, toughness and temerity. It was this finely balanced wealth of qualities, which made Chris not only one of Denver’s finest and most accomplished ATF agents, but also a great leader of men.

"Lord, yer so goddamn beautiful! An’ it ain’t jes’ on the outside. Apart from Sarah, has anyone ever told ya that, cowboy?"

Chris smiled, as he propped himself up on his elbow and studied his bedmate. "Nope. But the reflection of my soul lies mirrored in your eyes, Vin. Any beauty I have equals yours, and it’s shared within our hearts and minds together," the older man murmured, as he tenderly stroked Vin’s damp, tousled hair.

"Jeez, an’ Josiah says that I weave a tapestry wit’ words! That was pure poetry, Chris."

"Nope, this is poetry."

Chris had wriggled closer to his partner as he spoke, his hips jutting forward as he pushed his hard cock against Vin’s now relaxed member.

"Chris, I ain’t too sure how…. I want t’give ya… like ya did fer me. What should I…?"

Vin stopped, suddenly wondering whether he should make the next move. The older agent had instigated everything thus far, but making love with a man was very different, and Vin didn’t want Chris to think he was na´ve, or maybe even clumsy. What did his friend want him to do next?

"Vin, I’m not expecting anything from you, and I don’t want to force you into doing something you’re not ready for, but… I care for you – love you. And I really want to… to come inside you," Chris said in a quiet voice.

Vin gulped audibly, but his blues eyes were steady as he gazed at his friend. "Then that’s what I want ‘n’ all. But… I ain’t never…. Do I have t’lay on m’stomach, or….?"

"That’s not the way I do things, Vin. When I share a bed with my lover, I like to see them in front of me. But first I need to get something," Chris replied, as he swung his legs off of the bed.

Vin sat up, frowning in confusion as he heard the other rummaging through the small cabinet in the bathroom. Reaching across for the bottle of mineral water, the young agent gulped down some of the cold liquid as he waited for his friend to return.

*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*

"Are you okay, pard?"

Chris’ soft enquiry startled the Texan out of his silent reverie. Putting the bottle on the bedside table, his eyes followed his partner as the blond crossed the room, placed a damp washcloth on the bedside cabinet, and then perched on the edge of the bed. Vin’s attention was now fixed solely on his friend and, answering the concerned question with a brief nod, he then held his right hand out to the other man.

Words had no place in this enjoining of brothers. As their arms melded together in the clasp that was exclusive to the pair, Chris saw utter trust and devotion in the clear azure pools of Vin’s eyes. And that beautiful image of his naked lover, sitting so near to him on his previously lonely and empty bed, made Chris’ heart flutter. Leaning closer to the younger man, he stroked a gentle fingertip around that handsome and impossibly angular jaw line, before tenderly kissing Vin’s slightly parted lips.

Any apprehension Vin may have felt now dispelled, and he began to respond to Chris’ seductive kiss. His cock shot upright again, its straining head purpling as blood rushed into Vin’s aroused member, and his hands suddenly made contact with his partner’s equally ramrod straight manhood.

Reluctantly breaking the embrace, Chris stretched across for one of the pillows, and then placed it lengthways down the bed, before unscrewing the lid to the jar he’d brought from the bathroom. "Vaseline. And it helps to have a pillow under your back," he explained, sensing the younger man’s unasked questions.

"Reckon next time we’ll be better prepared," Vin murmured, as he arranged himself on the bed.

The sharpshooter couldn’t believe how matter of fact and normal his voice sounded, although feeling the strength of his partner’s love constantly reinforcing him, he knew there was nothing to fear. He was impatient now to feel Chris inside of him, and wanted to be completely as one with this man whom he loved as much as life itself. And he could sense the same need and desire in his friend. The emotional connection between them had always been present, but now the pair were about to be indisputably linked, in a wondrously physical way. Their hearts, minds and bodies would be laid bare to one another, and they would be forever bound by the power of their love.

Although Chris was eager for his friend, he wanted Vin’s first intimate experience with him to be nothing short of perfect, so he placed the open jar on the bed within easy reach, and then covered the other’s body with his own. The senior agent groaned as his skin came into contact with Vin’s, and grinding his hips into his lover’s, he gasped anew as hot desire assaulted him. Both men were at the peak of physical fitness, their lithe, firm body’s having a tensile strength which had no hint of soft pliability, but it was the sharpshooter’s delectable form beneath him that was so irresistible to Chris. Not since Sarah had he felt neither such powerful emotions, nor a sexual craving like he had now for Vin.

"Shit! What have you done to me, pard?" Chris muttered, closing his eyes against the onslaught of sensations bombarding his body.

"I ain’t done nuthin’ yet. But if ya don’t let them loaded hombres go real soon… waal, then I reckon they might jes’ explode," Vin drawled, as he grabbed the cheeks of Chris’ ass and briefly pressed his lover tighter into him, emphasising his own need.

Reaching for the jar, Chris quickly scooped out a large globule of jelly. Pushing away from his partner, the blond knelt between Vin’s legs once again and began to stroke along the crack of the younger man’s ass. The tips of Chris’ fingers found the tight ring he was looking for, and he smoothed cream around the now flaring hole.

Vin had surrendered his body fully to Chris, but was still unable to stop the shuddering gasp as he felt his lover’s fingers slide forcefully inside him. "Oh, Jeez!" the sharpshooter moaned, his stomach clenching as a transient pain from the invasive action sent ripples of excruciating ecstasy coursing through him.

"Relax, Vin. The pain will quickly pass," Chris soothed. Flexing his two fingers apart, the blond stretched his partner’s slackening muscle, working that glorious channel in readiness for his eager shaft.

The younger man drew in a shaky breath, his hips now moving in slow tandem with Chris’ sure and even motions as the other expertly prepared his lover’s body. Vin’s balls felt like an electrical charge had been passed through them, and he writhed in pleasure when his lover’s thumbs worked their way upwards to momentarily caress his erect and straining manhood. That fleeting initial pain from penetration had receded quickly, and Vin now yearned for his friend to give his all. "Aw, hell! Yer… killin’ me, Chris. I want ya t’fill me…. ‘causeI’ve bin runnin’ on empty fer too many years, cowboy," he gasped, shivering anew as a fresh wave of lust gobbled him up.

Grasping the sharpshooter’s thighs, Chris deftly positioned his friend’s body until his own straining cock was only inches from the other’s well-lubricated ass. Offering the Vaseline jar to Vin, Chris nodded briefly, smiling in gentle encouragement as the younger man tentatively got some on his hand.

Chris panted feverishly as Vin reached for him, and began to hastily slather the unctuous cream along the length of the blond’s rigid manhood. His excitement had virtually reached breaking point by now, and the older man knew he couldn’t hold on for much longer. Hazel eyes fastened onto his lover’s blue pair and, as Chris squirmed forward to plant an ardent kiss on Vin’s mouth, he gently thrust his greased cock into the Texan’s body.

A muffled groan slipped past Vin’s lips, but Chris pressed closer into his friend, pushing the sharpshooter down in an almost ruthless embrace. Holding the other’s lean frame firmly in his arms, the blond slowly speared his hearts desire with his weapon of love.

An exquisitely hot agony filled Vin as his lover’s engorged cock plundered his back passage, but when he thought he couldn’t stand the enormous pressure inside him any longer, the sensation abruptly changed. There was a demanding need filling him now, and he wanted – was desperate - to feel more.

"Move, Chr… ris!" Vin implored, his normally quiet voice loudly impatient as he broke the scalding kiss. Unable to contain the emotions carrying him along, the younger man nipped at Chris’ neck with his teeth, spurring the other on to greater passion.

Chris required no additional stimulation; his shaft was buried deep inside his partner, the other’s tight muscles encompassing him, causing wave after wave of joyous rapture to cascade through his groin and gut. The blond quickened his tempo, and as Vin choked out a ragged, sobbing cry, Chris knew he’d hit the sweetest spot within his new love. And it wouldn’t be long before the older man’s own orgasm overwhelmed him; Chris could feel the delightful crescendo of heat building in his loins, and each inward thrust seemed to intensify the heady and breath-stealing emotions pummelling at his heart, mind and body.

Heat, lust and breathtaking desire consumed Vin and, as he frantically sought out his partner’s lips yet again, the glutinous stickiness of his exultant climax covered both men. This tangible substance of shared love coated their sweat-slicked skin, merging the flesh and binding them together for time immemorial. It was almost as if in that instant of equal possession they had become one entity.

A mere few seconds after the sharpshooter’s tumultuous release, Chris let out a whooping groan, collapsing onto his lover’s chest and shuddering as the force of his own ejaculation gushed into Vin’s body.

"Good Lord!" Chris muttered breathlessly in Vin’s ear, as the mind-blowing sensations of their fervent lovemaking oozed away.

"Now shouldn’t that be, ‘Good Vin’?" the sharpshooter demanded in an impish tone, as he playfully nuzzled and licked his partner’s neck.

"Well, if this is you being ‘good’, I can’t wait to have a ‘bad’ Tanner in my bed," Chris responded, as he shifted his position on the bed, and came to lie next to the sharpshooter.

"You weren’t so bad yerself, cowboy," Vin remarked with a crooked grin. "But I reckon we might have t’practice some," he added, his raspy voice sincere as he planted a chastely tender kiss on Chris’ sweaty forehead.

"I can’t see that being a problem, can you?"

Vin gazed at his friend, and saw in the other’s emotive eyes, that other half of himself that he’d been seeking his entire adult life. It was much more than friendship, and even a greater depth of feeling than brotherhood. It was akin to a total fusion of two like personalities and hearts, an interweaving of souls at the deepest level within. They had been unwittingly moving towards this moment for some time, and both men had finally found utter contentment in each other. No words were needed between them as a verbal declaration of their love; the link had been forged at their initial meeting, and had now been cemented in a powerfully symbolic way that transcended mere speech.

"Nope. Reckon I’ll be hard pushed t’keep m’hands offa ya now," the sharpshooter replied at length.

The pair had managed to get themselves under the quilt. Chris reached over for the damp washcloth, and then lifted the cover up and off their bodies.

Vin had wordlessly accepted the square of material from Chris. Leaning up a little, he casually swiped it across his waist and lower body, before sponging off his friend’s semen smeared stomach and groin.

Chris relaxed back against the pillow, one arm lightly supporting his lover’s back as the Texan finished wiping them both clean. The older man couldn’t have moved if he’d wanted to, so he simply gave in to the basic pleasure of having the man he loved tend to his personal needs.

As Vin completed the chore, and then accurately lobbed the soiled cloth through the open bathroom door, he gave a wry chuckle.

Chris adjusted the quilt back over them, contentedly sighing as he drew his partner closer into him. "What’s so funny?" the blond enquired.

"I was jes’ thinkin’ how this kinda reminded me of the orphanage in Texas. Strange how somethin' can bring back a memory when ya ain’t…." Vin’s comment abruptly ended, when he turned his head and saw the look of sheer horror and suspicion on the senior agent’s face.

The sharpshooter felt the other’s body stiffen beside him, and his blue eyes widened in alarm as he realised what he’d implied. "Aw, Hell! I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout peedy… peeda…. Y’know, like them Bible totin’ preachers an’ the choirboys ya read of in the papers…. Aw, damn, this ain’t comin’ out right, Chris. The orphanage warn’t dodgy like that. It’s just being in bed while it’s still daylight outside," – he pointed to the window, by way of explanation – "made me r’member the Sunday night ritual, afore a new school week."

Chris frowned, completely lost and confused by the younger man’s seemingly abstract train of thought. "You’re gonna have to chuck me a line, Vin. I’m a reasonably smart guy, but you’ve thrown me with this one!"

Vin gave an exaggerated sigh, tutting in amused exasperation as he turned on his side to face his lover. "So much fer all that fancy college l’arnin’! Ya ain’t bin listenin’, Larabee!"

"I listen. But sometimes even I have trouble with certain ‘Tanneresque’ statements," Chris grumbled.

"Alright, what did I say as we left the river this morning?"

"Would that be with, or without the colourful expletives?"

"Godammit, Chris! If I didn’t know better, I’d say I had Ezra ‘tween m’sheets right now! An’ I’m mighty particular about m’bed mates too, ‘cause I bet Ez wouldn’t be half as much fun."

"That’s not a wagah ah would take, Mistah Tannah. Mothah would be mortified," Chris drawled, doing a fairly good impersonation of the loquacious Southerner. "And what do you mean – your sheets? This is my bed, remember?"

"It was yours, cowboy, but it’s ours now. Which brings me back to m’point. Jes’ pin back those ears…. Not that they ain’t nice ears as they lay right now…. An’ yer neck’s mighty fine too. A bit stiff mebbe, ‘specially when ya get riled, and that vein of yers in the head starts to bobble like a dawg’s nose smellin’ a thick, juicy steak …. But then, ya’ll cain’t help not being a Texan…. ‘cause in Texas, everythin’s bigger, better, faster an’ tastier…. An’ we’s get these orn’ry twisters that blow…"

"Vin!"

Chris’ bellow of irritation caught the younger man unaware, and he jumped a little in his partner’s loose embrace. "I ain’t deaf, so I don’t know why yer yellin’, Larabee," Vin muttered in an aggrieved tone.

"Christ Almighty, Vin! We don’t get more than two words out of you normally, but you’re working that jaw like it’s going out of fashion. The orphanage?" Chris prompted, in a slightly calmer tone.

"Oh, yeah. Like I told ya, it was allus the same on a Sunday night, ‘cause it was lights out at eight o’clock sharp."

"So?"

Vin grinned, his hand coming up to lightly stroke Chris’ cheek. "Waal, reckon I’m saying I don’t mind getting back into that old routine. There ain’t nuthin’ wrong with an early bath, and then to bed!"

Chris smiled broadly. The smile grew to a chuckle, and then transformed into a full belly laugh. Tears of laughter rimmed his eyes, and he dragged the unresisting sharpshooter on top of him. "Vin, has anyone ever mentioned how funny you are? And I do mean funny ha-ha! Seems to me, you ever get tired of law enforcement, Vegas might be your next career move," Chris said dryly.

"It’s a deal, cowboy. But only if ya’ll be m’straight man."

"I ain’t exactly straight, pard, but I am your man!"

At Chris’ whispered reply, Vin gazed solemnly at his lover for several seconds, before his seeking mouth locked onto the blond’s. As their kiss deepened, neither man heard the distant rumble of thunder, or the sound of wind-lashed rain hitting the windowpane. The pair of ATF agents were mesmerised by each other and the world outside was removed from reality, as they once again lost themselves in the glorious and heady temptations of their newly discovered love.

FINI

This short story was my very first attempt at writing a slashfic. So if you enjoyed this piece, I would appreciate being told – and receiving feedback may well encourage me to write another one. Thank you. Susie, September 2004.