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This is a re-written version of a little story I wrote last winter for the stampede challenge - since it's cold out there again - I thought I'd post the re-done version for the C/V Deluge - This is the slash version.




Prequel:

It was a cold night and Buck was in a hurry, he'd stopped by to entertain Blossom, and after an invigorating hour was nearly back to the saloon. He stopped suddenly as he heard a voice coming from the wagon he was passing, Vin's wagon. He leaned a bit closer and regconized the tracker's familiar drawl, it was the words that surprised the ladies man...

"Now, now ladies, jist calm down, there's enough here fer both of ya, just let me git this thing open... now Miz Lily, be nice to Louise, I'll take care of ya both in a minute."

Buck's jaw dropped, his mind racing...damn, two at once, didn't think the boy had it in 'im. No wonder he keeps telling Chris he's plenty warm in that there wagon. He smiled as he continued on into the saloon for a nightcap and to see if any of the girls were still around, thinking about Tanner and two gals all cozy in that wagon was making him horny.




The next morning:

It was the coldest winter anyone in Four Corners could remember and it seemed to be getting colder each night. And despite the bitter nights, Chris and the five other regulators couldn't convince one scruffy, ornery, stubborn as a mule tracker to use his room at the boarding house. Every time they tried to get him inside he insisted that he was plenty warm in his wagon and to mind their own business.

Today, after Mrs. Potter had found old Mr. Shelton, one of the town drunks, dead and frozen solid behind her store when she opened this morning, Chris was determined that he would find a way to get the younger man to move inside.

Inez had even asked the men to hang a heavy oilcloth inside the batwing doors of the saloon. The bar was frigid. Even with the extra door most of the tables were clustered around the stove as the seven drank coffee and ate breakfast.

Vin had sneezed several times when he arrived and Nathan gave him several long looks before the Texan growled at him that he was fine and to leave him alone. Chris watched and worried, he had tried everything he could think of over the past week and Vin was still sleeping in that cold, drafty wagon. He also knew that the more he pushed the less likely it was that Vin would agree with him. So he was racking his brain for a way to get the man inside until it warmed up.

Seeing the looks that Chris was giving him Vin decided to set the man straight before he started to nag him about sleeping inside again.

"Turn that glare somewhere else, Larabee," he rasped, then sneezed before continuing, "I ain't gonna be moving inta that boarding house, I done told old Mrs. Smeed to give that room to someone else."

The town was over full and with the cold spell, all the rooms at the hotel were full, as well as every other accommodation. No one wanted to be out at night in this weather.

Well, no one except one long haired tracker who, according to everyone who had an opinion, should know better.

"Damn it, Tanner," Larabee growled, "You ain't got the sense of a mongrel dog, didn't you hear...old man Shelton froze to death last night 'n I don't want to have to look in that wagon and find your sorry ass frozen solid tomorrow."

Tanner's eyes turned that icy blue they did when he'd been pushed too far, "then don't look inta my damn wagon tomorrow cause it ain't none of yer business where I sleep." He stood up and stalked out of the saloon.

Chris was so busy thinking about the slim tracker and how cold he must be sleeping in that wagon he never noticed the looks that Buck had been giving Vin all morning. But Buck certainly noticed the exchange between the normally close pair.

Buck leaned over Chris's shoulder, "Smooth, Larabee. You know maybe he's not staying in that wagon alone, maybe he found someone warm and soft to cozy up to and just don't want to let on. I'll bet he's keeping warmer than you think with some sweet little woman."

Chris responded by rising, leveling his glare at Wilmington and replying, "Buck, JD is right, you are so full of crap. I know as well as you do that just isn't the case... and I can't figure out a way to get that fool inside, so I've had it, if he wants to freeze his ass off, who am I to stop him."

Buck just leaned back and smiled, "I got five dollars says you're wrong..."

Chris looked at him, knowing by the tone that Buck knew something that he wasn't telling. "Spit it out, Wilmington," he growled.

"Well, Chris," Buck crowed, "I was just coming back from my visit with Blossom last night and happened to hear him talking to someone in that wagon of his, and while I ain't naming names, she...or, I should say, they weren't complaining.

"You telling me he had two women in there with him?" The glare deepened.

And Buck just smiled.




The day passed slowly, most folks staying tucked inside, avoiding the freezing wind and getting caught up on those chores that were waiting for just that kind of day, mending socks, cooking up a big pot of stew and other close to the fire activities.

Even Chris, who spent most of the day up in his room stewing. Pacing, and swearing, he and Vin had been keeping company for several months and he thought that they were together as in, not seeing anyone else. Now Buck said that Vin was spending the night with two women. Sure, he'd told Vin that they should stay apart for a few nights, with the cold spell the boarding house was so full that he was afraid someone would notice Vin coming and going from his room. He told Vin that he should stay in his own room for a few nights. Then he moved out to that damn wagon...that freezing cold wagon. So for the past few nights while he'd been fretting about how cold it was and trying to get Vin in out of the weather, the little two timer was stepping out on him.

How could he do that?

Didn't he know that Chris loved him?

By five thirty it was getting dark out and the temperature was dropping. The seven gathered at the boarding house for dinner. It was Thursday and that meant chicken and dumplings. Even though the meals were included with their monthly pay and rooms, Vin didn't always show up preferring to hunt and cook for himself much of the time.

But he never missed chicken and dumplings.

Chris wasn't the least bit hungry but he knew that Vin would show up for those damn dumplings. He just wanted things to be the way they were. He needed to talk to him alone, needed to find out why Vin was avoiding him, he hadn't told Vin that he didn't want him, just that they needed to be careful for a few days.

The conversation was steered away from the standing conflict by Josiah who knew that neither man was likely to back down. Both men spent the entire meal glaring at each other but avoided any arguments. After dinner the men headed to the saloon for an evening of cards and drinks.

Except Tanner, who was headed out for a late patrol. He was surprised and a little annoyed when Chris joined him.

"Just keep yer mouth shut about the damn room, Larabee." He rasped out, knowing that the man was just concerned for him, but still annoyed that he wouldn't let it drop.

Chris spent the patrol in silence, trying to figure out how he could convince Vin to stay in his room tonight. Since Vin had given his own room, maybe he could invite Tanner to bring his bedroll up stay with him and no one would be suspicious. That way they could be together, Lord, he wanted the man back in his bed, the past nights had been torture. Not only had he been alone and missing the sexy warm body, but he'd spent the nights fretting about how cold the younger man must have been... seems like he'd been wrong about that. By the time they returned to town he was getting angry again and decided against asking Vin to join him, he'd had enough rejection for one day.

They arrived back in town chilled to bone, took care of their horses in silence and headed to the saloon planning to spend time in front of the warm stove at Inez's for a few hours.

The others gradually headed off to bed.

Finally there was only Ezra and a traveling salesman finishing off an evening of cards, and Vin and Chris.

As Vin rose to leave Chris had cooled off some so he reached out, put a hand on the buckskin covered arm, and asked softly, "Vin...you know I'm just worried about ya?"

The younger man nodded and replied just as quietly, "Know that, Larabee, if'n I didn't I'd a taken yer head off by now...but I really am okay, I got my buffalo hides and a wool blanket and it's right cozy." He smiled, started to say something more, then shook his head and ambled out. Pulling his coat closed and his collar up as he stepped out into the frigid air.

Chris just shook his head and swore softly, resigned to the fact that there was nothing else he could do short of hog-tying the stubborn fool, not that that didn't have a certain appeal about now. He thought about their relationship as he finished his drink, thinking that maybe he'd been wrong, maybe the younger man didn't want to be stuck with a bitter older gunfighter. Maybe he decided that he wanted a family. That was something that Chris had once, now maybe Vin wanted one too. He threw back the last of his drink, sighed, and headed up to his room.

Even inside it wasn't particularily warm tonight, Chris took off his jeans and shirt but pulled on his warmest longjohns and two pairs of socks before crawling under a thick pile of blankets.

He woke a short time later, aware that it was still the middle of the night and shivered, a blanket had slipped off and was letting in a cold draft. He shaked out and arm and pulled it up but couldn't get back to sleep. He there for a little while then finally rose, and wrapping himself in a blanket, walked to the window. His room looked out over the street and Vin's wagon was only a short way down the block.

He couldn't see a thing.

The windows of his room were totally iced.

Even the fire that still burned in his fireplace couldn't keep the windows clear. He tried to scrape a space so he could see out but the ice was too thick.

He stalked back to his bed, crawled in, and pulled up the covers.

And still couldn't sleep.

He got back up, paced to the window and swore, even under the heat of his best glare it was still iced up.

Was Vin out there...cold, alone, or was he curled up with some saloon girl?

He headed back toward the bed, muttering as he did... "God damn, uppity, stupid, stubborn, scruffy..." and was starting to get back in when he stopped, cursed some more, and reached for his clothes.

As he exited the boarding house he noticed that Ezra was just starting to close down for the night. He stalked away before the snoopy southerner noticed him and asked what he was doing up at this hour.

As he reached Vin's wagon, moving silently, he told himself that all he was going to do was peek in and see if Vin was all right.

To see if he was warm.

That he wasn't checking up on him.

That he didn't think Buck was right.

He trusted Vin...didn't he?

Well he'd know soon, one way or the other.

He leaned over, listening, and thought he could hear a soft snore. It wasn't like Vin to sleep so soundly that someone could approach his wagon without waking.

He leaned closer, and could definately hear something...was it a wheeze? Larabee had already been worried when he'd left the boarding house, now he was close to panic, he remembered how Vin had sneezed this morning, and now, hearing the odd whistling noises he was sure that he was getting pneumonia. Pulling open the canvas curtain at the back, Chris put a knee on the floor of the wagon, easing himself inside, his eyes soon adjusted to the dark and he could see a large mound.

Was it a big enough mound for two?

The top layer was a buffalo hide so he really couldn't tell, so Chris leaned over and placed a hand gently on the hide.

It was hot. Well, maybe not hot, but warm anyhow, how could that be, was Vin running a fever too?

He started to move closer, putting his knee down on the edge of the hide...and was attacked.

There was a blood curdling shriek and, as Chris jumped in startlement, the bed of the wagon exploded into motion as first one dark body leapt up and over him, then another, and another. It seemed like there were dozens of careening bodies. He jerked back trying to avoid the sharp claws, pulling his colt out in an automatic action and just as the gun cleared his holster Chris overbalanced and fell backwards, ass over teakettle back, and out of the wagon. The gun discharged as he landed with a thump on the hard, frozen ground.

He lay there for a moment, stunned as he watched the numerous small bodies as they flew out of the wagon and ran down the street.

"What the hell!" Chris yelled, just as Ezra ran up.

Ezra had indeed noticed Chris as he left the boarding house and, being an innately curious person, Ezra had followed, watching as Chris approached the wagon. He looked forward to the inevitable, entertainment when Larabee once again tried to strong arm Vin into the boarding house.

The last thing Ezra expected was to witness a banshee shriek followed by the sight of the darkly clad man flying out the back of the wagon onto his backside as a dozen or more irate cats came flying out like the hounds of hell were after them.

The gunshot, which luckily missed hitting any of the fleeing bodies or, as far as Ezra could tell, anything else would, no doubt wake half the town. He glanced around, wondering who would show up first.

Then he heard the voice from inside the wagon.

"God damnit, Larabee," Vin drawled out, "Ya jist had ta stick yer nose in. We jist got all curled up an warm and now ya scared 'em all away..."

His voice dropped off as he reached the back of the wagon and saw Ezra standing there watching. As he shook his head in exasperation, more figures appeared as first Buck, then JD, Nathan, and Josiah arrived to find out who was shooting and why.

By the time they arrived most of the cats were long gone, except for a couple who were still cowering under the blankets and a couple of the most curious ones who peeked out of the back from beside Vin.

All they saw was Chris lying on the ground at the back of the wagon, Vin inside, glaring at the supine man, and Ezra watching with a wide grin on his face.

"Aw Hell, Chris," Buck scolded, "didn't I tell ya to leave that boy alone. Did he finally get smart and shoot ya?"

"Didn't shoot anyone, Bucklin," Vin groused, "one minute I's fast asleep then the next minute he's got the whole place in an uproar and he's shooting at a poor, innocent kitten."

"I never shot at a kitten!" Chris protested. "And what the hell are all them animals doing in that wagon with you?"  

"Well someone fired yer gun, Larabee, and it weren't me." Vin grinned now, enjoying Chris's discomfort as yet more people showed up wanting to know what all the excitement was about.

"As fer the cats and me, we were...unlike certain individuals... minding our own business trying to get a decent night's sleep."

"All I was doing was checking to see if you were frozen solid yet and then those demon spawned cats attacked me."

Vin just stared at his friend, who was finally picking himself up off the street. He tried to figure out why the animals had panicked, then realized what must have happened.

"You crawled inta the wagon?"

Larabee nodded, "Just to check..."

Vin nodded, pondering a bit, then he continued.

"I'm thinkng ya stepped on someone's tail... that would make 'im cry out like that, and then the others, well... with that shriek and you shootin' at them, well they jist got scared. You know what ya did, Larabee?" Vin stated, grinning even wider... "Ya started a cat stampede."

Larabee glared while everyone else laughed.

"That'll teach ya to go sneaking inta other folks beds uninvited." Buck chortled, wondering where Vin was hiding his woman, or women.

"As fer why they were here," Vin continued, "when it gets this cold they come in and curl up under the hides with me ta keep warm. And they's about the best bedwarmers around. Like I said, I don't need to be inside to stay warm."




Forty minutes later the town was quiet again, everyone back in their respective beds.

Well almost everyone...

Vin and Chris were snuggled together in the wagon and, gradually as the living blanket returned. He introduced them to his partner, greeting each small body as they arrived. "Hey, Miz Lily," he greeted the small fluffy cat as she curled up, "sorry this ornery old cowboy scared ya, this here's Chris, and since he caused such a ruckas it ain't likely that anyone is gonna come anywhere near this wagon tonight so we're kinda gonna make up for lost time."

Looking up he saw yet another of his gang arrive... Lil' Bucklin, he explained to Chris, had gotten his name for his moustache-like markings...and the fact that he had the biggest balls that Vin had ever seen on a cat. Then Ginger arrived, a half grown orange cat and old Walter, a black and white cat with the rattiest coat and kinkiest tail Vin had ever seen. A little while later came Louise, Parnell, Blossom, Ruby and Inez, who, Vin explained had earned her name by constantly smacking Lil' Bucklin whenever he made amorous advances.

As he called them by name Chris suddenly realized what Buck must have heard the night before. Vin must have been talking to the cats and, listening to the names, Buck must have assumed that Vin had a woman with him...he started laughing.

"Uh, Chris," Vin looked at him like he'd lost his mind. "What's so funny?"

"Buck...and me, too." he realized that he'd spent the entire day thinking that Vin had cheated on him because Buck had heard him talking to a cat. "I'm an idiot."

"Knew that, Larabee," Vin drawled, grinning at the look on his lover's face.

"No, Vin... Buck heard ya last night and told me you was with a woman...and I was jealous."

"You were jealous?"

"Yep."

"Of me 'n a cat?"

"Didn't know she was a cat..." a pause then.

"He thought I's with some girl?"

"Yep."

"That's good."

"Why...Oh, I see, now he'll be telling everyone that you got a gal, and no one will suspect us."

"Knew you was a smart fella."

Chris looked around at the numerous furry bodies surrounding them and the small space and wondered how they were gonna be able to move, let alone make love.

Vin saw the looks and smiled, "You got a one track mind, Larabee."

"Well it's been almost a week and I been missing you..."

"They'se smart critters, we start ta move an they'll git outta the way..." he grinned, "don't have ta shoot 'em."

With that he turned, taking the blond in his arms and kissing him gently. "Missed you, too." he murmered, parting the warm lips with his tongue.

Chris responded, deepening the kiss as the taste of his lover ignited his passion. They quickly moved from slow and gentle to fast and rowdy. Clothes being shoved aside and down to find heated flesh beneath. They were soon naked underneath the buffalo hide. Their cocks hard and moist as they rubbed together. With his usual agility Vin slid down, licking and kissing as he went, until he reached his goal. He inhaled the scent that was pure Chris then took him into his mouth. Larabee bucked as the warm mouth engulfed him and within minutes he was pouring his seed into the willing receptical. When he had milked him dry, Vin slid back and kissed him sharing the salty-sweet taste. Then he nudged his semi-alert partner. "Over, Larabee."

Chris complied, eager to feel the Texan's hard length inside him, it had been too long. After coating his hand and cock with a good amount of saddle oil, Vin opened and stretched the small bud and was pushing into that tight, hot, channel. He paused as he heard the catch in Chris's breath as he adjusted to the fullness that was his lover. Then, as pain turned to pleasure, he pushed back signaling to Vin that he was ready. It didn't take long, Vin pulled out, then pushed back in, harder and faster until they were both lost in that place where they were one being, one marvelous, contented, amazing creature floating on clouds and shuddering in absolute completion. Vin's hand snaking around at the end to encircle Chris's, once again hard member, just as they both reached the final precipice and flew over.

They awoke from their doze a little while later, still entwined.

"You know, Vin," Chris mumbled, "this wagon really is warm."

"Told ya."

Vin cracked open an eye then and spotted one of the cats sitting along the side of the wagon watching them with a familiar look on his face. The cat was solid, glossy black with deep green eyes.

"Ah...Chris," Vin whispered, "got one more critter I want ya to meet." Chris opened his eyes and looked at the cat that was glaring at him.

"This guy here, his name's Cowboy. He's kinda my favorite...cat that is."




Epilogue - A couple nights later:

Buck was returning to the saloon from another visit with the lovely Blossom, it was late, after midnight, as he passed the wagon. He noticed that it was bouncing and rocking pretty hard and he thought to himself... "How the hell does Tanner get any sleep with all them cats jumping around like that?" Then he shook his head in wonder and headed into the saloon for a drink.

THE END