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Chris Larabee was in a bad mood. Actually, he was in an extremely foul mood, the scowl lines on his face much deeper than normal, the intense moss green eyes cold, flat and hard beneath the low brim of his hat. Townsfolk who were skittish around the gunslinger before simply scurried out of his way when they saw the black apparition prowling the street. They figured it was safer up on the boardwalk and out of sight of the notoriously quick-tempered blond. Not that Chris cared what they thought of him. Hell, he didn't care what anybody thought of him. His business was his own and he intended to keep it that way.

But he was good goddamned and tired of looking after a bunch of whining, complaining, piss-ant, redneck farmers who thought the world began, existed and ended behind the long arm of a plow. And the hell of it was, this latest group of homesteaders weren't even the first ones to try and settle here, but they sure were the most persistent. The local ranchers were acting loco, what with all the damned fences going up and cutting off their free range. Chris had already lost count of the number of times in the last week alone that they'd ridden out to save some poor, dirt-loving bastard from getting his fool neck stretched by a bunch of irate, liquored-up cowhands.

He was just about at the point of throwing up his hands and letting both sides kill each other before telling one Honorable Judge Orrin Travis just how far up his ass he could stick this job!

Some things just weren't worth a dollar a day plus room and board!

Shaking his head in exasperation, Chris stepped up onto the wooden boards and pushed his way through the batwing doors of the saloon. Inside, it was crowded and noisy, the air filled with the stench of whiskey, cigars and sweat. But the irate gunman didn't let it slow his steps one bit. He needed a drink and God help anyone who got in his way!

He smiled grimly as the sea of human bodies parted before him, the noise level dropping as he made his way to the bar. Even the music from the corner piano died away until all that was left was the chink of Larabee's spurs and the tinkling of glasses on the bar. Chris kind of liked that when it happened, knowing that his mere presence made a definite impression, the unspoken body language of intimidation a powerful balm to soothe his angry soul.

One man, obviously drunk, didn't move fast enough and Chris halted, glaring at the idiot before a well-intentioned friend pulled him out of harm's way. Full lips curled back in a soundless snarl of displeasure, the gunslinger's irritation was obvious in the taut quick lines of his face and the precisely controlled movements of his body. Only an incredibly foolish man would tempt the Devil to dance, and today, there just weren't enough mindless fools about.

Reaching the bar, Chris laughed silently as the first of the faint-hearted skipped out the door, his sneer of derision widening as one coward after another darted through the opening and into the street beyond. It was like watching rats desert a sinking ship and would have been comical if the gunman wasn't so pissed off to begin with. Not even asking first, Chris reached for the nearest bottle of whiskey, grabbed a shot glass from behind the bar, and then poured himself a generous measure. Lifting it, he slammed the drink back, downing the amber liquid in one fiery gulp before inhaling deeply and pouring himself another.

To hell with 'em! To hell with 'em all!

Chris saluted himself in the mirror over the bar and was on his fourth, or maybe it was his fifth, shot when his gaze collided with a pair of twinkling blue eyes in the reflecting glass. An image appeared, tall and lanky, slouched hat with buckskin pants and fringed jacket, long strands of auburn hair strewn carelessly about surprisingly broad shoulders. The angular face came in to focus and Chris forced himself to look away.

Vin was here, in back of him, in the saloon, and the look in those eyes, that small crooked smile meant just one thing.

The tracker was mocking him and damned if Chris knew what to do about it.

Any other man and he would have taken great pleasure in wiping that smug grin clean off his face before stomping the ugly cuss into the dirt, but this was Vin... his best friend... a man he trusted above all others, trusted with everything... except the truth.

Chris pursed his lips and shook his head. He wasn't going to go there so he might as well stop those kinds of thoughts right here and now. Then, not knowing what else to do, he saluted Vin with his glass and tossed the whiskey back like it was water. He didn't miss the small frown of disapproval aimed in his direction, wasn't pleased by the censure in those sparkling eyes, on that handsome face, but Chris swore he'd be damned if he'd change his ways for anyone no matter who they were or what they wanted. And that included a certain smart-mouthed, scrawny-assed, no-account tracker from Texas!

To hell with you!

Almost defiantly, Chris poured himself one final drink, threw the shot back as sharply as those that preceded it, then turned on a booted heel and stalked out of the saloon. He felt those eyes stab into his back, could almost feel the sharp knife edge slip between his shoulder blades, and just barely resisted the urge to squirm. Vin's behavior only served to infuriate the gunslinger who decided that at that point in the day, he'd had enough. The town could go to hell for all he cared, but it would do so without Chris Larabee.

The angry figure stalked off down the street towards the livery. Moments later, a large black gelding and its equally dark rider raced out of town as if the very demons of hell were fast on their heels!

Vin Tanner sighed as he watched Chris Larabee ride out of town and shook his head in disgust. Leave it to Larabee to do everything the hard way. The man just never seemed to learn, did he? Running away never solved nothing and yet, Chris was an expert at doing just that. Whether it was diving headfirst into a whiskey bottle or gouging those damned spurs into his horse's side, the man left a trail of smoke behind him that Custer would've envied.

Lord, if he didn't know better, Vin would swear the gunslinger was a coward with a yellow streak down his back a mile wide and purt near as long!

Eyes narrowed against the sun's bright glare, Vin absently scratched his ear as he waited for the dust to settle. He stood hipshot inside the door of the saloon, deep in thought, before his lips quirked in a small amused smile. Chris had been growling and snarling and snapping at man, woman and beast alike ever since they got back from Sedona. The same place where they entertained themselves with pretty saloon girls, whiskey, cards and even more whiskey until well into the early morning. Come dawn, they were both still drunk, staggering out of bed to hit the trail much too early for either man's liking. And it didn't taken long for the heat to catch up to them in their decidedly inebriated state.

Vin suggested they stop at a spring-fed pond he knew about, one that afforded lots of privacy and fresh water year round. When Chris grunted his approval, the tracker led them off the main trail and up into the rocky hillside. A short time later, it felt out-and-out sinful to strip down to his union suit in that little piece of heaven before jumping feet first into the icy cold pool. Chris let out a startled yelp that sounded like a pack of Comanches were coming after his scalp, and Vin nearly laughed himself silly watching the gunslinger back-pedaling for shore just as fast as he could go.

But something happened as he watched Chris scramble out of the water only to stand shivering and cursing, wearing just the lower half of his long-handled underwear. The gunman was soaked clear through to the bone, blond hair plastered wetly to his head, arms wrapped around his chest, all that white, creamy skin just prickling with goose bumps while his pants clung to his hips and legs like a second skin.

Vin could see everything... just the way God made him.

The tracker saw everything.

And it did something to him inside, his heart flipping over inside of his chest. He sobered up faster than a Baptist drunk at Sunday go-to-meeting and damned near drowned from gaping at the man.

Goddamn, but Chris was beautiful!

All hard bone and firm muscle; gleaming, wet flesh; glittering eyes and full mouth; those broad shoulders tapering to his narrow waist; tight buttocks and long, lean legs... all of him standing there shivering in next to nothing while the hot sun beat down on his naked flesh. Vin swore softly. Damn if Chris Larabee weren't prettier than any saloon whore he'd ever seen!

Next thing Vin knew, he was swimming towards Chris with slow, lazy strokes while staring at places he knew he ought not to be staring. He couldn't help it. His eyes were drawn to the very center of the gunslinger's body where the fabric was plastered so tight against him that it outlined every shrunken inch of the man's cock. And damned if that still wasn't an impressive sight despite the cold water!

Vin found himself wondering what Chris's shaft looked like, all hard and swollen and flushed, next to the downy skin of his belly. Wondered how it would feel, how hot and smooth it would be, what it would taste like, whether or not Chris made noises in the back of his throat when he was getting sucked off. His imagination eagerly supplied the erotic images he was pondering as Vin swam closer still.

His feet touched the sandy bottom and with a start, Tanner realized his own cock was getting hard just thinking on it!

Jesus Christ!

Having lived on the edges of polite society, Vin certainly wasn't adverse to the idea of having a little fun with another man. He'd just never considered having that kind of fun with Chris. Hell, the man had been married and fathered a child. And yet that was precisely what the tracker's body was telling him it wanted to do. It took Vin by surprise to find that he really wanted to fuck his best friend. The problem was did his best friend want to fuck him?

That thought gave him pause but it was already too late. He stood facing Chris at the water's edge, his own brazen erection slowly rising from beneath the pink woolen fabric, his eyes lifting to the gunman's face while barely resisting the urge to fondle himself.

Vin also fully expected to be dead in three seconds flat.

But Chris said nothing, just stood there staring right back at him, his face and eyes unreadable, while all around them the desert burned and hissed from the midday heat. Then that enigmatic gaze flicked down the length of his body, the touch of those green orbs like a physical caress that quickened his breathing and sent more blood pooling in his groin. Vin nearly groaned out loud at that look.

Then Chris turned away, without responding, without saying a word, and Vin was left to gaze at the length of the man's back with a bewildered expression on his face. Surely that was the heat of want and desire flickering within those fierce green depths? Or was that just the tracker's imagination... or possibly wishful thinking on his part?

Vin didn't know and he didn't get the chance to find out.

Reaching down, Chris picked up his clothes and quickly dressed before mounting his horse. He silently waited for Vin to do the same. They never spoke of it, never mentioned it, and it was as if the entire incident never even took place. Except that deep down, Vin knew it had and he was pretty certain that Chris hadn't forgotten it either. So what was he going to do about it?

It was like the two of them were dancing in circles around each other, neither one advancing but both too stubborn to retreat. It became a game of sorts to see which one of them could provoke the other fast enough, hard enough, high enough, until they finally gave in and let loose this building frenzy between them.

Oh, Vin tried to exorcise this forbidden desire of his for Chris, with countless glasses of whiskey, long trail rides and obvious flirtations with some of the town's working girls. Hell, he'd even bedded more than a willing few, much to Buck's everlasting delight. But it was all a smoke screen, a camouflage, a way of hiding what it was he really and truly wanted.

And Chris was no better.

Vin watched him courting Mary Travis, spending time with her boy, doing chores around the house for her, dressing for Sunday supper and walking her to church. But there was no heat, no flame, no desire between them and Vin knew that every time Chris walked away from her, the gunslinger's soul got a little bit colder as he denied his inner feelings time and time again.

Something needed to change.

And then those damned sodbusters came traipsing down the street, stirring up trouble and dust until it was thicker than fleas on a dog. Moreover, the town's regulators were caught square in the middle of it. The homesteaders had legal claim to their land but the cattle ranchers obeyed no law but their own. As fast as one of the farmers put up a fence, here came a group of cowboys just itching to tear it down. The whole situation was a powder keg and Vin reckoned it wouldn't take much more to turn it into an all out range war.

It was obvious Larabee felt the same way and Vin didn't envy him his task. As the appointed leader of their small band, it was Chris's ultimate responsibility to keep the peace, to settle disagreements and keep the bad element in line. It weighed heavily on the man's shoulders, demanding his time and attention, all of which grated against the blond's innate need for peace, solitude and quiet. Vin watched as Chris's oftentimes volatile temper and uncertain mood deteriorated further and further each day.

Last night, and again this morning, Larabee nearly blew his fuse. The gunman got into another heated argument with Buck over something stupid and JD made the mistake of trying to step between them. Chris angrily shoved the kid out of the way, sending the boy sprawling. JD landed hard on his butt in the dirt. Buck, as usual, came to the youth's defense and took a swing at Larabee, all of which left JD escorting Buck over to Nathan's clinic to find some witch hazel to put on his busted lip.

Even the gambler didn't escape Larabee's wrath, but then again, Ezra always seemed to be an easy target for Chris no matter what he did. Word about town said Standish overslept his morning duties which earned him a royal dressing down from the man in black, complete with all the cursing, growling and snarling which made the Larabee temper legendary. The going bet was that it would take Ezra at least two weeks to get the teeth marks out of his ass.

So that left Vin as well as Nathan and Josiah. But Vin supposed the three of them didn't really count as Nate was off visiting Rain for a couple of weeks, while it was that time again for Josiah's solitary pilgrimage to the convent in Vista City to see his sister. And Vin, well... Vin knew Chris was avoiding him so he made every effort to just stay out of Chris's sight.

Not that it was hard to do because in fact the tracker really wasn't staying out of Larabee's way so much as he was dogging him, following the man everywhere he went but staying hidden, out of sight, watching and waiting patiently while he tracked the older man like a bloodhound on a scent trail.

And when Chris went to ground, Vin was going to be there.

So it wasn't unexpected that he followed the irate gunman to the saloon, having witnessed Chris getting caught in the middle between a sodbuster and a couple of ranch hands down at Potter's store. When it was over, the two cowboys were in jail for disturbing the peace, one nursing a broken nose while the other whined about his bruised ribs. He listened from the window as Chris ordered them to "shut the hell up" before he gave them something to really complain about. The poor sodbuster was left to pacify an outraged Gloria Potter.

Vin sighed deeply. Thinking hard on it all, the tracker supposed he just might need to do something about the mood Chris was in or else the whole town might burst into flames. It'd be a helluva thing to have to explain to Judge Travis and Vin wasn't sure he wanted to be around were that to happen. Travis might be an old man but word was he made a right ornery bastard when he was of a mind.

Yep, Vin supposed it was high time he took the edge off of Larabee and he knew just how to do it too.

Turning, Tanner walked to the bar and helped himself to a full bottle of whiskey. He grinned at the bartender, raised his fingers to the brim of his hat and saluted, before tucking it under one arm. In no apparent hurry, Vin meandered outside, whistling tunelessly as he made his way down the street. He patted the bottle tucked beneath his elbow. The whiskey was his insurance, an added incentive in case Chris proved to be more than his usually difficult self. And heck, Vin figured a snort or two wouldn't hurt him none either. Nothing like a good shot of red-eye to get the blood pumping and the juices flowing... as if the memory of Chris's near naked body wasn't enough to get him there already!

Yep, Christopher Larabee was an arrogant, sorry sonuvabitch and a mean-tempered drunk to boot, but Vin reckoned he knew a way to soften the man up. He snorted with amusement when he realized that softening Chris up was the last thing he wanted to do to that man!

It was at least a mile outside town before Chris let the big gelding ease up. It made no sense to punish the animal by letting his anger have free rein. Pony's black coat was already slick with sweat and he was blowing a bit. Chris knew it'd be foolish to run his mount into the ground.

With a gentle pat against the heavily muscled neck, Chris silently apologized to his horse before clucking softly to the gelding as they headed for his cabin. With a deep sigh, the gunman settled into the saddle, content for now to simply listen to the clip-clop of Pony's hooves while his body swayed gently with each stride. The mid-afternoon sun was warm and Chris wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of a sleeve.

There was almost a calming, monotonous rhythm to the sound of Pony's gait and Chris had to admit, he was definitely in need of some peace and quiet. He'd been so damned irritable over the last couple of weeks that when Buck accused him of being pricklier than a porcupine in June, he'd wanted to swing at the man so bad he could almost taste it. Of course, that didn't stop him from punching Buck in the mouth today when they argued over what to do with the latest bunch of rowdies to hit town.

And damn that fool JD for trying to get between them! When was that kid ever going to learn? It was his own fault that he ended up on his backside in the dirt! He should know better by now than to get between him and Buck.

Larabee shook his head in exasperation. This business was getting out hand and he was going to end up putting a bullet in somebody before too much longer. And right now, it was a tossup to see just who that somebody would be, one of those dirt-loving sodbusters, a cow-punching trail hand or one of his own men. Hell, at this rate, he might just shoot himself and be done with it!

And wouldn't they have fun explaining that one to Judge Travis!

Chris snarled his irritation, a slight flick of Pony's ears and a bob of the large black head the only indication that the horse was aware of his rider's unsettled emotions. The gunman had trained the animal himself, breaking the feisty young black colt to hand but keeping his boundless spirit intact, establishing a gentle harmony between horse and man that had served Chris well over the ensuing years. But today, the even-tempered gelding seemed to be quieter than usual, walking with his head low and neck relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world. With a start, Chris realized that his own damned horse was trying to pacify him!

He gave a sigh of relief when the wooden structure finally came into view. The cabin wasn't anything fancy or grand but it suited his purposes. He'd originally bought the place a ways out from town just looking for some peace and quiet, never truly intending to settle. Chris was surprised by how quickly it became his bolt hole when the whole world seemed to have gone crazy and tilted off of its axis. At times, the gunslinger wondered if having this place to retreat to was the only thing keeping him sane.

Because this entire business was getting out of hand.

Oh, he didn't mean all that shit between the ranchers and the homesteaders. No, that had been going on long before Chris came to town and took a job as one of seven regulators, and it would still be going on long after he and the others had moved on. Farmers and cowhands always seemed to butt heads no matter what part of the country they were in.

No, to be truthful, it was this entire business with one of the other six regulators in particular that was escalating and for the life of him, Chris couldn't decided what he wanted to do about it, let alone if he actually wanted to do anything about it all.

Shit! He never should have gone to Sedona with Vin!

It all started out simple enough. Run a couple of errands for Judge Travis and deliver some papers to a lawyer in Sierra Leone, then swing back by Sedona to look at some horses Chris heard about. Unfortunately, none of those scrawny mustangs were worth their time or money so they headed to the saloon. The two of them spent the night drinking, playing cards and being pawed by just about anything between the ages of sixteen and sixty with two legs and wearing a skirt.

Chris didn't remember most of what he said or did in that saloon, just knew that by the time one of the whores hauled him upstairs, he was drunker than a skunk. He passed out, dead to the world, once she got him in her room, which was okay by him since he wasn't particularly interested in her in the first place. Then, adding insult to injury, as if his hangover wasn't enough, she pelted him with a scathing rebuke and threw him out of her room before the sun was even up. From the look on Vin's face, Chris reckoned the younger man met a similar fate.

There was no point in staying in town after that seeing as how they'd worn out their welcome, both men agreeing, albeit reluctantly, to saddle up and head home. And it was a miracle he survived what could only be called the ride from hell. The heat was unbearable, his stomach churning with each step his horse took, his head pounding beneath the sun's merciless rays, his mouth drier than a West Texas wind. It was with a profound sense of relief that he grunted his assent when Vin told him about the spring and suggested they hole up there.

But nothing had prepared Chris for the icy cold shock of that water closing over him as he jumped in. Hell, the least Vin could have done was warn him about it seeing as how the man had been there before. But no, the tracker didn't say a word and like a trusting fool, Chris followed him in with both feet.

It was a decidedly sobering experience.

He yelped as he went under, the cold literally taking his breath away while sharp daggers of sensation pricked at his skin. His entire body went frozen and numb at the same instant that the shock of it sent an explosion of light racing through his skull. His cock felt like it was turned inside out and his balls contracted painfully, pulling tight and hard against his body, until it felt like they were about to shoot through the top of his head. Even his teeth hurt and Chris couldn't swim for shore fast enough. Crawling out a moment later, he stood there miserable and shaking, swearing heatedly under his breath while his teeth chattered from the chill. Goddamn!

Why the fuck didn't Vin warn him?

But then he heard the soft laughter coming from behind him and turned to find Vin swimming slowly in his direction. There was a gleam of bright mischief in the tracker's eyes and a broad grin on his face and Chris could have cheerfully punched him dead in the face right then and there. Vin knew and didn't say one damned word!

Sonuvabitch, no-good, stiff-necked Texan!

And Chris was still gasping, trying to get his breath back, when all of a sudden, he noticed right where those blue eyes were fixed. Goddamned if Vin wasn't staring at his cock, and with his underwear plastered against his skin, Chris knew there was absolutely nothing that the tracker couldn't see. Not that Chris was shy or ashamed or anything. Far from it, but there was just something about another man staring at you so... personally and knowing you couldn't do a thing to stop him.

And why the hell was Tanner looking in the first place?

Yeah, it was childish and silly and something he could remember worrying on as a youth, what with boys being boys and all. But it suddenly became a matter of wondering just how he measured up to the other man. At least, that's what Chris told himself as he let his own eyes drift down the length of Vin's body when the tracker emerged at the water's edge.

Because despite that god-awful faded pink union suit Tanner was wearing, well, there was absolutely nothing that Chris couldn't see either! And that included a certain part of Vin's anatomy that seemed to be a mite bigger than expected after having been dipped in such cold water. Damned if Vin didn't have a hard-on!

And the hell of it was, Vin standing there smiling and wet in next to nothing left him speechless. Chris wasn't able to think of a thing to say, his heart doing flip-flops inside his chest, making him dizzy. Of course, none of which was tolerated by his queasy stomach or the blinding headache that threatened to explode right through his eyeballs. Unwilling to disgrace himself by losing whatever was in his belly, Larabee turned away, much preferring to humiliate himself in private rather than face more of Vin's laughter.

But the glimpse of Vin's body was enough to leave a definite impression on the gunslinger's mind. In fact, he hadn't been able to get it out of his head, his now sober green eyes drifting time again to his riding companion and wondering just what Vin looked like under that union suit. Try as he might, Chris just couldn't stop his wayward thoughts and he shifted restlessly in the saddle. His mood soured even further as Larabee tried to keep his increasing discomfort, and his burgeoning erection, from becoming noticeable.

Not that he'd thought about Vin that way before. Hell, Chris had never thought about any man that way before. At least, he didn't think he had?

No, he was sure he hadn't.

Chris Larabee was and always had been a notorious ladies man, nearly as popular with the fairer sex as Buck. He didn't earned the moniker Bareback Larabee by accident! And so what if he didn't spend much time with any ladies lately? So what if he couldn't remember the last time he got laid? Saloon girls, including the scrawny one in Sedona, were a dime a dozen and all a man had to do was have money and be breathing to get some willing whore to give him a few quick moments of sweaty release. That was no reason for him to start thinking about Vin Tanner that way, was it?

And what the hell was that look in Vin's eyes all about? It was almost as if he were sizing Chris up like a side of beef in a butcher shop and the Texan was a starving man. At least, Chris thought that was hunger he'd seen on Vin's face. Now, thinking back on it, he wasn't so sure. The blue eyes had glittered with amusement, a lopsided grin curving the shape of his mouth as Vin swam closer. But then he'd emerged from the water and those eyes changed, still glittering but becoming darker, deeper, filled with... what?

And Vin'd had a hard-on...?

Chris snorted with disgust. Vin was a man's man, for chrissakes! Although, come to think on it, he didn't often see the tracker in the company of women, the other night's saloon whore being an exception rather than the rule. But what was so unusual about that? Vin was a very private man. Just because he didn't give Buck a run for his money didn't mean the Texan wasn't getting any. And he for damned sure wasn't one of them funny cowboys, deep blue eyes and long hair notwithstanding! And then there was that face...

Larabee shifted in his saddle, suddenly uncomfortable again. What the hell? And why was Tanner following him around like that? It wasn't as if he was missing Chris's company or his witty conversation. Hell, neither of them said more than a handful of words on any given day, and even then, it seemed like half of them weren't even necessary. It was getting to be downright creepy, never knowing when or where the younger man would turn up. And the way Tanner was always watching him, keen blue eyes tracking his every move, the sharp hawk-like gaze studying him. Chris could feel it, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling with awareness just before he'd turn and find Vin there.

What the hell was that all about?

It made him feel like he was being... like he was being... tracked... hunted...

That thought brought Chris up short, his horse snorting with displeasure at being reined in so close to its desired goal. Dinner and a fresh bed of hay waited just a few more steps beyond and the big black tossed his head impatiently.

But the gunslinger sat motionless, lost in contemplation, brow furrowed as he puzzled over this new thought. Was Vin deliberately hunting him? And if he was, then why? Why was he following him? Why was he staring at him? What did he want and why the hell couldn't Vin just come out and say it? What were those looks all about and what had that look back at the watering hole meant? Did Vin think he'd been staring back at him? Because Vin'd had a hard-on...?

Shit! Larabee shook his head and cursed silently. Goddamn, sorry-assed tracker wasn't even there and he was still making him nuts!

With a determined sigh, the gunslinger urged his horse forward, seeking the relative peace and quiet of this small plot of land he called his own. He needed the escape, however briefly, from town, from his work, his thoughts, but most of all...

... from Vin Tanner.

"Yer ass is mine, Larabee. Ya jes don't know it yet," Vin murmured as he lowered his spyglass and returned it to his coat pocket. He'd spent the last few minutes or so watching the blond-headed gunman move around the corral and small shed, taking care of Pony and cleaning out the stall. He could tell from the tense set of Chris's shoulders and the scowl upon his face that the man was struggling with something, his lips constantly moving in a litany of words that Vin was still too far away to hear.

But that was okay because it meant Chris was thinking, pondering on something and trying to get it all worked out in his head. And Vin had a pretty good idea what he was pondering about. He chuckled softly. It was usually best to let Chris work a problem through before approaching him. Better chance of not getting shot that way, but Vin didn't figure to let Chris have the time to work his way through this one. No, too much time to think and the stubborn bastard might very well shoot him first and ask questions later.

And Vin didn't reckon on getting plugged... leastways, not with a gun!

Grinning, the tracker reached down and patted his horse's neck. He didn't wait but a few minutes after Chris rode out of town before heading to the livery and saddling up his horse as well. There was no real rush. It wasn't like he didn't know where Larabee was going and it wasn't like he didn't know what the man wanted. Vin was no fool. He'd seen that look before, that restlessness, that silent yearning. He knew what it meant. And the hell of it was, he wanted it too!

That, in itself, surprised him because until that day outside of Sedona, he'd never thought of Chris like that before. Not that Vin wasn't without experience in such matters, but it had been a while and wasn't something he actively sought out. At least, not with someone who was a close friend. But he had to admit that since the other day, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about it, thinking about Chris, seeing him standing there all wet and nearly naked, his clothes plastered tightly around his cock and balls like a second skin, wondering just what it would feel like to fuck that beautiful body.

Vin groaned and shifted in his saddle. Damn, it was getting so he couldn't even think about the man without getting a hard-on, let alone all the fevered dreams that had been bothering him since they returned to town. And he was willing to bet that Chris was suffering from the same problem. Sexual frustration could be a mighty powerful force to be reckoned with and Chris's irritable mood and vicious temper were shorter than a fuse on a stick of dynamite.

The problem came in trying to decide whether or not to let that fuse burn until the stick exploded... or to put out the flames which just might lead to a different type of explosion all together! Either way, Vin reckoned it'd be one hell of a bang and heaven knew, he wasn't above getting his fingers singed.

Nudging his horse forward, Vin murmured, "C'mon, boy. Got us a fuse ta check."

Chris was busy fixing a broken board inside Pony's stall when he heard his horse call out in greeting. It was purely an instinctive reaction on his part to reach for his gun belt that was wrapped around a nearby post. Sliding it over one shoulder, he turned, right hand stroking the butt of his revolver as his eyes narrowed against the bright sunlight. It only took him a moment to recognize the large, blaze-faced gelding and the outline of his rider.

Dammit, what the hell was Vin doing here? Following him again?

He sighed irritably and draped his gun belt back over the post. Brushing the dirt from his hands, Chris stepped forward, moving out of the shadows, as he waited for Vin to ride in. Shading his eyes against the sun with one hand, Chris nodded his head in greeting, his gaze inquisitive and slightly troubled as he watched Vin approach. He tried to tell himself that there were a thousand different reasons for Vin being there but it didn't take a genius to figure out that the younger man hadn't wasted much time in following him out of town.

The question was... why? And why did his heart start racing as soon as he recognized the horse and its rider? Why were his lips now drier than the Arizona desert? Why was there a secret thrill shivering through his body and heat pooling in his groin? Goddamn it! He'd come out here to get away from all of this.

Vin could only stare as he reined Peso to a halt beside the corral. At some point in the past few minutes, Chris had removed his hat, gun belt, coat and outer shirt, leaving him wearing just those unbelievably tight black pants and his dingy gray undershirt. He stood unmoving in the bright daylight, tension evident in the taut line of his body, left hand shading his eyes while the sun's rays warmed his blond hair. Vin had an itch to run his fingers through those golden strands, wondering all the while if they would feel as soft as they looked. His hands tightened reflexively on the reins as he silently acknowledged that there was only one way to find out.

Dismounting, he tied Peso to the corral fence before turning back to face Chris. The tracker tucked his thumbs into the waistband of his pants, leaned his weight on one hip, and simply drank in the sight of the man he planned to seduce. Chris looked good... damned good... and Vin could feel the excitement rising within him, heating his blood and making his cock pulse. His eyes targeted Chris's mouth when the gunman's tongue snaked out to wet his lips, and Vin bit back a low groan as he realized he was incredibly jealous of that particular appendage. He shifted uncomfortably when the gunslinger did it yet again.

Shit! Vin swore silently. If he didn't know better, he'd think Chris was doing that on purpose. The man seemed to have no appreciation for his own appeal or how crazy Vin could get just over that tongue of his. But then again, Chris didn't know that yet, did he? And Vin reckoned it was high time he enlightened the man.

"Afternoon, Chris."



"What're you doing here? Trouble back in town?" Chris dropped his hand to his side and simply stared at the younger man, his expression unreadable.

"Nope," Vin answered succinctly. "No trouble."


Chris sighed with exasperation. "Then what brings you out here?"

"Came lookin' fer ya," the tracker answered honestly.

"Well, you found me. Whatddya want?"

Vin nearly smirked at the question, wondering how Chris would react were he to simply order the man to strip. His lips parted in a lopsided grin as the tracker reckoned he'd probably get his ass shot so full of lead that it'd take two weeks for Nathan to get all the buckshot out of his butt. Leave it to Larabee to do things the hard way. But then again, perhaps if he gave the gunslinger a choice..?

Tanner moved back to his horse and opened his saddlebags. "Was wonderin'..." he drawled, turning and holding the pilfered whiskey bottle in the air."...whether ya wanna do this the easy way 'r the hard way?"

Chris stared at him in confusion. "Do what?" he asked suspiciously.

Vin simply smiled even bigger. "What ya been wantin' fer the last coupla weeks now, cowboy."

"And what would that be?" Chris responded with a dangerous edge to his voice.

Vin just snorted and shook his shaggy head. Surely Chris couldn't be that dense. No, the man knew what he meant. It was there in the glitter of those cool green eyes, the hidden secret knowledge, that clandestine desire. Chris was just trying to deny it and Vin wasn't about to let him run away again.

"Guess ya cain't never do nothin' the easy way, can ya, Larabee?" the tracker retorted, a trace of laughter in his voice.

Chris could feel his temper rising. Vin was playing word games with him and the gunslinger simply wasn't in the mood. What the hell was Tanner talking about? Then of their own accord, his eyes drifted down the length of the tracker's body, stopping abruptly at the significant bulge straining beneath the buckskin pants. His breath caught in the back of his throat as memories of that day outside Sedona flooded through Chris's mind.

Vin all wet and nearly naked, eyes glittering with heat and mischief, the long hair hanging in wet strands around his face, that smirk upon his lips, his graceful movements through the water while the union suit hugged his body closer than a lover's hand. Yeah, he knew exactly what Vin was talking about, what Vin was offering, and a sudden thought struck him. Was that why Vin was stalking him? Because of what he thought passed between them at that watering hole?

And what did pass between them that day? A look? A glimpse? A question?

It was one thing to desire another man, to admire his body, but to act on that desire... and why in the hell was he even considering it? Why was Vin?

Disgusted with himself, Chris shook his head, turned and walked away. They'd both roast in hell for what they were thinking and he already had enough strikes against him as it was. He couldn't afford to add one more. His voice floated over his shoulder as the gunslinger headed back to the small shed.

"I'm busy, Vin. See ya back in town."

He wasn't prepared for the solid weight that hit him squarely in the back, knocking him off his feet and driving him to the ground. All the air left his body in a rush making Chris lightheaded and dizzy, his limbs weak and unresponsive to his commands. Instinctively, he knew it was Vin who had attacked him, that knowledge tempering his basic instinct to retaliate and slowing his reflexes. But it was precisely that delayed response that allowed the tracker to gain the upper hand.

Chris could only grunt as both arms were dragged behind him, could only gasp for air as leather straps encircled his wrists, binding them together and pulling on the corded muscles of his shoulders. What the hell was going on here? He sucked in a deep breath, finally able to speak as the weight left his back.

"What the hell?" he rasped in a choked voice. Flipping himself over, Chris glared up at the tracker who stood grinning from ear to ear. "Goddammit, Vin! What the hell do you think you're doing? Get these damned things offa me!"

"Now, Chris," Vin offered soothingly. "I'm only doin' this fer yer own good, cowboy an' I know yer gonna thank me fer it later."


Chris tried to kick him but Vin merely danced away, a mischievous chuckle floating on the air as he moved around behind the prone figure. Carefully placing his hands beneath the older man's arms, he helped Chris to his feet, quick to move out of range as the gunman turned to face him. Satisfied that everything was going according to plan, Vin backed slowly towards the shed, a self-satisfied smile on his face as an enraged Chris Larabee followed his every step.

"Stand still, you little shit, so I can kick your scrawny ass!" Chris growled at him.

Vin feinted sideways as he murmured, "I's kinda hopin' you'd come up with a few other things ya'd like ta do ta m'ass."

He knew Chris got the point when those impossibly green eyes darkened and glittered dangerously, a feral expression crossing the handsome face as the full lips pulled back in a soundless snarl. Backing further into the shed to afford them some privacy, Vin was careful not to let himself get trapped inside one of the stalls. He left himself enough room to maneuver so that when Chris lowered his head and charged him, Vin swiftly stepped aside and avoided a head-butt to his stomach. Chris plowed past him, a harsh grunt escaping him as his shoulder connected with the wall.

Turning, Larabee fixed the tracker with a heated glare, his breath coming faster and harder from anger and exertion. He lunged again but Vin was ready, easily side-stepping and unable to stop the large grin that covered his face as he watched the blond fly past him. Chris was like a wolf caught in a trap, fighting so hard against the restraint and almost ready to gnaw his own leg off trying to set himself free.

Only Vin didn't intend to let him go free. This wolf he planned on keeping.

For several minutes, Chris continued to charge the tracker, twisting and turning, lashing out with his legs, snarling and cursing viciously when he missed his target. Vin never knew Chris had such a wide-ranging vocabulary and merely chuckled at every foul word that flew from Larabee's mouth. The blond was panting heavily, sweat running down his face and back, before Vin decided to make his next move.

Taking a rope off the wall, Vin waited until Chris charged past him before twirling the lasso in his hand, neatly looping it about the blond's feet. Tugging sharply, Chris stumbled and went down, the breath once again knocked from his body, grunting loudly, as Vin moved in to secure his prize. A quick twist and pull of the rope and Chris's legs were bound tightly together. Vin flipped the gunslinger over onto his back, then rose to his feet and stood grinning down at the other man.

"Guess some folks jes gotta do ever'thin' th'hard way," he sighed sadly.

"Goddammit, Vin! You let me up from here right now or so help me..!"

"So help me, what?" Vin teased unmercifully. "Don't look ta me like ya..!"

Vin chuckled, stepping back as Chris spit at him, the insult losing most of its force when combined with the wisps of hay sticking out of the blond hair and across the broad chest. The long, taut body literally trembled with outrage but Vin's keen eye could detect the hard edge of hunger underlying the angry emotions, the restless tension begging for release, the significant bulge straining beneath the tight black denim. Chris could fight it all he wanted but Vin knew the truth.

"Don't look ta me like yer in no position ta be makin' threats, cowboy," he drawled thoughtfully. "Course, I c'uld jes up an' leave ya like that. Ride on back ta town. Mebbe suggest ta one of th'others that ya might need checkin' on. Be a helluva thing ta explain how ya come ta be trussed up like that."

"You sonuvabitch!" Chris growled threateningly. "What the hell do you want?"

Vin hunkered down beside the prone form and tipped his hat back, pretending to consider Chris's question before his lips parted on a broad grin. "Ain't you got that figgered out yet, pard? Always knew ya's thick-headed but there's some things it don't take much smarts ta figger out, even fer a dumb bastard like you!"

Chris let his head drop sharply to the ground, biting back a groan of frustration at the teasing smile on Vin's face. The tracker was playing games and as much as Chris tried to deny it, he knew exactly what kind of games Vin wanted to play. But something was holding Chris back, some invisible fence he wasn't sure he could cross, something keeping him from admitting, to himself and to Vin, that the game begun two weeks ago was very much on his mind and in his blood.

And then the decision was taken from him as Vin moved to squat behind his head. Hands encircled his armpits and Chris felt himself being pulled backwards along the floor and into the nearest stall.


"Time's up, cowboy!" came the soft reply.

Chris tried to squirm out of Vin's hold, twisting his body and digging his heels into the ground, but he had no leverage. He bucked backwards, attempting to catch Vin with his head and ended up cursing as pain shot up his arms when the tracker dumped him on the floor. There was a soft rustle of hay and then Vin was standing in front of him, a crooked grin on his face and an unholy gleam in the younger man's eye. Chris bit back his words of annoyance and settled for giving the man a hard-edged glare.

Vin merely chuckled at the look on Larabee's face, his blood heating at the sight of the long, lanky body laid out helplessly before him. "Now, is that any way ta look at a man who's 'bout ta give ya what ya been hankerin' fer? Yer makin' me feel a might unappreciated, pard."

"I'll give y'somethin' t'appreciate if y'don't let me up from here," Chris answered in a tight growl.

The tracker appeared to consider it before answering, "I might... after you 'n me finish some personal business first."

With those words, Vin removed his hat and tossed it to the side. His hide jacket followed before nimble fingers moved to release the gun strapped to his thigh. Draping his gun belt over the same post as Chris's, he then removed the hunting knife at his waist. Once all his weapons were discarded, Vin's fingers went to the front of his red shirt, his blue eyes taking on a decidedly predatory gleam as he slipped loose one button after another. It wasn't until he was pulling the garment off and down his arms that Chris spoke again.

"Vin, what are you doing?" the gunman rasped through his suddenly dry throat.

Tanner looked at him as if to say he was dense before throwing aside his shirt and moving to kneel astride Chris's prone form. Chris tried to wriggle away but Vin trapped him with his knees, imprisoning the gunman's thighs in a firm hold. Leaning over his friend and soon-to-be-lover, Vin fisted his hands in the front of Larabee's shirt and pulled up slightly.

"What's it look like I'm doin'?" Vin drawled softly. "Gettin' down t'business, pard."

And then those skillful fingers were working the buttons on Chris's shirt while the gunman looked on with an expression akin to sheer horror on his face. Vin would have laughed if it wasn't for the glimpse of near panic he spied within the startled depths of Larabee's eyes.

"Don't worry, Chris," Vin soothed quietly as his fingers teased open the dark gray shirt. "I won't bite... yet!" he promised huskily before swooping in to place a soft kiss upon full firm lips.

Startled, Chris would have protested but it was over as quickly as it began, a fleeting taste, no more, of the other man's mouth, and he couldn't stop his tongue from sliding across his lips to sample the small offering he was given. His eyes widened at the unexpected thrill of pleasure that shot through him, the contact all too brief, yet easily igniting his senses until he yearned for more. He struggled to contain the groan that gathered in the back of his throat, begging to be released. It felt so wonderful... those lips tasted incredible...

... if only Vin would just...

Then reality came crashing in and Chris's brain fairly screamed at him to stop. Dammit, what the hell were they doing? What was Vin thinking? This was wrong. By every law known to man and then some, this was wrong. If they did this, if they got caught, they might both end up getting shot or worse. And Chris wasn't anxious to be the guest of honor at any midnight necktie parties!

"Vin, stop..!" Chris managed to gasp. "We can't..!"

Dark eyes regarded him with a hungry gleam.

"Yeah, we can. 'Sides, who's gonna stop us?" Vin asked before tugging Chris's shirt free of his pants, opening it wide to reveal the gunman's smoothly, muscled chest. Vin stared before whistling in appreciation of the expanse of warm, ivory flesh revealed to his hungry gaze. His keen eyes ardently admired the rounded curve of pectorals and the light dusting of golden chest hair that separated the two small brown buds of male nipples.

"Damn, Chris!" he exclaimed breathlessly. "Ya been hidin', pard. Been wantin' ta git another look under them black clothes ever since th'other day."

Vin referred to the afternoon near Sedona, and against his wishes, Chris couldn't stop the rush of memory that flooded through him. His unruly body was only too happy to help him remember his reaction to the sight of Vin, wet and nearly naked, swimming slowly towards him and the decidedly lustful look on the man's finely chiseled face. Larabee shivered uncontrollably as blood surged hotly to his groin.

"Not hiding nothing," Chris gritted out through clenched teeth.

Vin snorted softly as he traced a finger over Chris's ribs. "Nope, don't reckon ya could. Not as tight as them pants are. I seen more'n a few of the ladies givin' ya th'eye an' some of the men folk hereabouts too!"

Chris bristled at the hidden innuendo of Vin's words. "Like hell they were. And the only man I've seen giving me the eye is you," he bit back and damned himself for noticing.

The tracker cocked his head to the side and continued to stroke Larabee's chest as he replied, "Well, ya wouldn't of seen me lookin' if'n you wasn't lookin' back. And I gotta say, y'was doin' a lot more'n jes lookin', Larabee."

"What the hell does that mean?" Chris growled suspiciously.

"It means..." Tanner paused, then ran his other hand down to the gunslinger's crotch, the tantalizing stroke of his fingers over the denim-covered bulge earning him a sharp, hissing gasp from the man beneath him. "...either ya started carryin' a second gun, cowboy. Or I'd say yer damned glad ta see me!"

Chris sucked in a harsh breath at the feel of those fingers sliding over his groin. There was laughter in Vin's eyes. It left Chris feeling a bit foolish as he realized the only person he was deceiving was himself. The want and need awakened at the watering hole outside of Sedona hadn't diminished one bit, and had in fact continued to grow. And the more it grew, the more short-tempered and irritable Chris was as he wrestled with the feelings he'd discovered for his best friend.

But what about Vin? Was that an answering need and want reflected within those dark blue eyes or was it just wishful thinking on his part? A momentary aberration dreamed up in the heat of the moment to explain away his own reaction and subsequent guilt?

But if it wasn't, then why was Vin here? And why was he stroking Chris's cock through the cloth of his pants? And why was Chris enjoying it so much?

Shit! He swore silently. None of that mattered. You couldn't change facts and the fact was, this was wrong. Legally, morally, ethically and just about any other way Chris could wrap his mind around it. It was wrong; they needed to stop... now!

Vin had to stop, for both their sakes.

"Goddamn it, Tanner!" Chris snarled viciously. "Get your hands offa me and get the hell offa my property!"

Vin shook his head. Chris was fighting the attraction between them. The proof of what they both wanted pulsed beneath his hand. He could feel heat pouring from the man's body, wanted to immerse himself in that fire, to have his senses set aflame, to lose himself in the scent, taste and feel of Larabee's passion.

But if Chris didn't shut up... he'd rather put that mouth to a much better use but if the gunslinger wasn't willing to cooperate, then Vin had ways of handling that.

The tracker removed his bandana, waited until Chris opened his mouth, then shoved the cloth inside. The surprised look on Larabee's face was almost comical and Vin bit back a laugh at his outraged expression. Chris immediately grunted and tried to spit it out, but Vin simply looped another leather strap around his head, firmly securing the cloth before leaning back to survey his handiwork.

Vin received a murderous glare before Chris began to curse loudly in spite of the gag. But his words were muffled, the tone strident and obviously angry, but it was no less than Vin expected. Reaching up, he patted Chris gently on the cheek.

"Jes leave ever'thin' ta me, cowboy. All ya gotta do is enjoy the ride."

With a wink, Vin scooted back and lowered his hands to the front of Chris's pants. Frantic wriggling followed a muffled protest from the captive body between the tracker's legs. Tightening his grip, Vin kept working to ease the material aside and free the large bulge straining against the fabric. His task would have been easier if Chris cooperated, but Vin was not to be deterred. He wanted this, had dreamed of it, for two weeks now and he wasn't going to let this chance slip away. Chris might try to deny what lay between them, but Vin had been studying on it for some time.

His eager hands released the last button and without looking up at his intended partner, Vin inserted his fingers into the waistband of Chris's pants.

"Best hold still now, Chris. Wouldn't wanna damage nothin'."

Then he was easing the denim and underwear aside, grinning as he recognized the same clothes Chris was wearing before. It brought back vivid memories and Vin nearly groaned at the painful ache filling his cock. He slid the material over Larabee's narrow hips, pulled it from underneath him, down the curve of his taut ass. His desire growing, Vin tugged Chris's pants to his knees, panting raggedly as he laid eyes on the long, thick cock that sprang free of the denim and wool.

Vin reached out with one trembling hand to touch it, thrilling to the feel of silk and heat filling his palm, and his eyes lifted to find glazed green orbs staring back at him. Sweat glistened on Larabee's chest, his nipples pebbled and hard with anticipation. The blush of arousal covered the fair skin, the lean torso rising and falling with each stuttering breath as the muscles of Chris's belly contracted at the feel of Vin's fingers holding his shaft.

"Yeah, part of ya's damned glad ta see me," Vin teased as he tightened his grip.

Chris whimpered in the back of his throat, his eyes closing on a wave of pleasure as those fingers squeezed him, the warmth of Vin's hand igniting even more fires deep in his gut, setting his nerves aflame. This was crazy. This was insane. They might both be shot or hanged or worse. But God, he didn't care! Chris wanted this more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life. It was wrong and still...

He wanted Vin and to hell with everything and everyone else!

Vin's hand lowered to the base of his shaft, stroking, squeezing, caressing before long, slim fingers slowly worked their way back to his tip. Chris felt lightheaded, drunk, dizzy, his hips lifting slightly as another muffled cry escaped him. Oh God, he needed this... wanted it. Faster, harder, more... just more... and Chris bucked beneath the hand holding him so intimately.

Encouraged, Vin stroked his hand over the length of the gunman's shaft, playing the supple body in an increasing rhythm of pleasure, movement and sensation. Knowing just when and where to apply pressure, when to touch, when to release, the tension mounting as Chris gave in to his body's demands, the tide of rising excitement filling the lean frame with each tug and pull of the tracker's fingers.

Soft cries slipped from beneath the gag in Larabee's mouth, the green eyes open again, flashing with heat and fire, emerald depths darkened by lust and need, the color of passion riding high over the lines of Chris's face. Those glittering eyes demanded, begged, needed, wanted everything Vin could give him and more... harder... faster... deeper.







And still Vin's hand kept the rhythm, relentless, never-ending, tugging and pulling on Chris's flesh, driving him towards a mindless ecstasy. Lost in a firestorm of want and need, his head tossed back and forth upon the hay in wanton abandon. He groaned in protest when that hand abruptly released him. Tears filled his eyes and he cried out at the sense of loss that swept through him. Loneliness such as he'd never known caused his heart to ache, tore the very breath from his chest, left him trembling and gasping raggedly against the pain assaulting his soul.

Seeing the effect his touch had upon Chris, the tracker's own body responded in kind. He knew he'd made the right decision. This secret desire he'd discovered was like a living thing inside of him, growing and feeding upon each look, each touch, each sound that passed the sullen lips until there was no denying what he craved more than his next breath of air.

But Vin wanted even more. He wanted more than just jerking Chris off in some stall filled with hay and manure and the smell of horses. He wanted to touch and be touched, kiss and be kissed, fuck and be fucked, love and be loved.

The tracker pulled his hand away and couldn't help but smile at the harsh cry of protest torn from Chris's throat. He had every intention of finishing them both but not quite like this. He wanted more... for himself and for Chris.

Vin's hands moved to the opening of his pants, quickly released the buttons, then slipped inside to free his own throbbing erection. A quick tug and pull divested him of the two other shirts he wore, his sweat-slicked chest now bared to the glittering gaze that seared his flesh with its velvet touch. A crooked grin tugged at his lips, knowing that the desire reflected within those heated depths burned for him. Vin reached down with one hand to stroke the solid length of his own cock.

"Got me one helluva hard-on here, cowboy. Reckon we'd best do somethin' 'bout that 'fore either of us goes blind," he murmured huskily, laughing softly at the hitch in Chris's breathing and the wide flaring of those intense moss-green eyes.

Curling his lithe frame downwards, feeling slightly drunk with the power he held over the bound man, Vin's tongue snaked out and he licked at the tip of Chris's cock. Tasting the pearl of liquid gathered there, the slightly sweet and slightly salty taste of his lover, his gut quickened at the fiery rush of need that shuddered through the length of his body. God, he wanted to devour this man! Swallow him whole and feast upon his body until they were too tired to move let alone fuck!

Opening his lips, Vin took Chris's shaft into his mouth, curling his tongue around the hard, hot length, lightly raking his teeth over the sensitive head before letting it slide toward the back of his throat. When Chris groaned and thrust up against him, Vin's hand moved to restrain the slender hips, his thumb gliding over the jut of bone and soothing the heated flesh beneath his touch. He set a slow rhythm, his other hand cupping firm, swollen sacs, soft fur tickling his fingertips and warming his palm.

Chris stared, mesmerized by the sight of that mouth surrounding his cock, the moist heat consuming him, licking him, scraping across his highly sensitive flesh then gently suckling his length. He groaned, his hips bucking upwards, frustrated by the teasing and the restraint of Vin's hand upon his body. When the tracker's other hand slipped even lower between his thighs, Chris unconsciously eased his legs apart, his movements hampered by the denim bunched around his knees and the rope binding his ankles. Agile fingers communicated approval with a firm squeeze and he sucked in a harsh breath around the gag, eyes fluttering closed as his blond head dropped back into the hay.

Feeling that final surrender sweep through the long-limbed form, Vin knew Chris had quit fighting and given up trying to control his body's reactions. Free now to explore every inch of the warm, silken skin, the tracker breathed in through his nose, inhaling the rich, earthy scent of sweat, male sex and Larabee, while his lips and teeth worked the long length of stiffened flesh. Deliberately relaxing his muscles, Vin took Chris deeper, sucked harder, his tongue wrapping around the shaft that now leaked its precious fluid into his greedy mouth. He swallowed convulsively, fighting the urge to gag as the tip rubbed against the back of his throat, controlling the very reflex that would deny him what he wanted. When Chris shuddered, Vin swallowed again, sealing his lips around the gunslinger's body and sucking harder, moving faster, wanting to draw this man inside of him, his world spinning out of control as he took Chris closer and closer to the edge.

Eyes closed, neck arched with pleasure, Chris swore Vin was trying to suck his balls out through his dick! And it felt so intense, so strong, so powerful and needy that the gunman couldn't have cared less if he succeeded. His entire being was centered on the primal forces surging through his body, the rapid beat of his heart, the ragged rhythm of his breathing, the fire shooting along every nerve ending and searing him to the core. He wanted to cry out, to scream with the burning intensity of it, and the fact that he couldn't only served to further heighten the sensations. His blood started to boil, the familiar tingle gathering at the base of his spine, knew he was getting close and urged his straining body to go even higher. Felt the liquid relief begin to spill from his tip...

... and then a firm hand closed tightly around the base of his cock, cutting off his release. He could only whimper as that hot mouth was withdrawn from his body. But just as quickly, the firm lips returned, this time ghosting across his hip, teeth nibbling at his waist, mouth sucking at his navel as Vin moved upwards along his body. As fast as a snake, the younger man flicked his tongue over each of the hard male nipples, laughing silently at the hiss of breath before nuzzling his face into the sparse golden hair covering Chris's chest.

Lifting his head, Vin found the wildly beating pulse at the base of the gunslinger's neck, sank his teeth into the skin over it, surrounded it with his lips and tasted the salt-slicked flesh. He could feel the rasp of air vibrating through the long column of Larabee's throat and the hard, pleasure-filled shudders that shook the slender frame. Easing himself down, Vin settled his weight on top of Chris, stretching out over his lover and letting him feel his blatant arousal.

Naked skin touched bare flesh and Vin couldn't help but groan as he moved even closer. Gasping now, he slid his pants lower, wriggled his hips, rubbed his aching cock against Chris's thigh, thrust against that hard body while frissons of delight shot through him like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Adjusting himself so that his thick shaft lay next to Chris's, Vin took both of them in his hand, pressing and squeezing them together, shuddering hard as pleasure washed over him and fire shot through his veins.

His hips moved of their own accord, his cock sliding through the circle of his firm grip, grinding against the gunslinger's hard length, encouraging him to join the rhythm. With a low growl of hunger, Chris thrust back, the touch of Vin's hands and the feel of his cock more than the blonde's mind and body could bear. The tracker rewarded him with a gentle nip against the soft skin of Chris's neck, the body beneath him shivering at the delicate bite even as Chris angled his hips upwards, seeking closer contact like a moth to a flame.

And they began to dance, moving as one being, finding their rhythm together, bodies slick with sweat, skin flushed with pleasure, cocks hungry, hard and seeking. Needing to see Chris's face, needing to watch the play of passion across the handsome features, Vin lifted his head, his eyes captured and held by the glittering black fire that stared back at him. All traces of the controlled, icy reserve that usually filled the gunman's gaze were gone. Only a narrow circle of green remained to outline the lust-darkened orbs, an intense heat washing over Vin in waves of flowing, molten lava as those eyes drew him down into their silent, dark depths.

They moved as one... one body, one mind, one heart, one soul... not knowing where one ended and the other began, no longer wanting to be separate, each having been alone for so long and finding in the other that which was missing, wanting only to be whole, complete, healed... saved.

Faster and higher they rode, Vin's harsh cries mingling with the muffled groans that slipped from behind the gag held tight in the blonde's mouth. Hands ached to reach and touch, hold and caress, and Chris's arms trembled with need as he clutched frantically at strands of hay and the dirt floor beneath him. He wanted to taste, kiss, stroke and pet, his frustration mounting because he couldn't, the sensations more intense because he was helpless in the younger man's hold.

Good God, had anything else ever felt so fine!

And then with a final, savage thrust, Vin sent him flying, his body hurled into the dark abyss, his soul winging skyward as waves of fierce, hot pleasure coursed through his ravaged frame, his muffled cry of completion a keening wail that pierced the very air around him. Dimly aware of the warm, wet liquid splattering over his belly and chest, Chris struggled to breathe past the cloth filling his mouth, air rasping harshly in and out through his nose. A strange roaring noise filled his ears, like the rush of a giant wind, and the edges of his world sparkled in colors of gray, white and black.

God, he couldn't breathe! Was he suffocating? Or did Vin kill him?

It was a curious sensation, one that the blond didn't fully understand and could not fight, a wonderful lethargy consuming his senses even as a black void rose up to claim him. Knowing Vin held him close, Chris surrendered to it willingly.

Pulse racing, his own breathing ragged and just as harsh, Vin lifted his face from where it was buried against the side of Chris's neck. His hands were sticky and wet with the evidence of their mutual release and his body still trembled violently in the aftermath of his climax. A sated grin crossed his face as Vin decided that getting off with Chris was everything he had hoped for and so very much more.

Wanting to let his new lover know how content he was, the tracker left a series of warm kisses along the length of Chris's collarbone, only belatedly realizing how still the man beneath him lay. Pulling back, Vin looked down and was startled to find the blond head turned away from him, the lax features still covered with sweat, hair sticking wetly to the man's forehead and temples. But Chris's skin was pale, nearly white, his breathing too shallow and fast. A stab of fear cut through Vin at the sight of long, dark lashes lying softly against the translucent flesh of the gunslinger's cheek. Chris's glorious green eyes were closed and Vin searched frantically for a pulse at the base of the other man's neck.


Relief washed over him when he found it, beating slow and strong and steady. Vin breathed a silent prayer of gratitude. For a moment there, he thought he might have killed Larabee!

Grinning again, eyes full of mischief, the tracker released the bonds he'd used on his lover, removed the gag before turning Chris on his side to free his hands and arms. But the gunman offered no protest, made no attempt to help, even when Vin placed him on his back and straightened each of the man's long limbs.

Vin chuckled softly. Larabee was out cold!

Picking up his bandana, the tracker quickly cleaned up and dressed, all the while keeping a covert eye on the man lying motionless inside the horse stall. He stood for a moment, debating whether to wipe him off and straighten his clothing, but there was just something wickedly satisfying about letting the gunslinger come to like that. Besides, Chris looked so relaxed and peaceful, not exactly words he usually associated with the volatile gunman. It would be a shame to disturb him.

And if nothing else, Vin honestly admitted that he loved seeing all that bare skin covered with the liquid evidence of his release. It was like his mark upon the gunslinger's body, along with the various bites and bruises he'd inflicted as well. No, somehow, he just didn't want to get rid of that just yet.

Grinning widely, the tracker grabbed a saddle blanket from a near by rack and covered Chris's privates. It wouldn't do to leave the man exposed to the elements and any one else who might just happen to chance by. Chris had a fierce temper and could get madder than a cornered grizzly with a sore paw. He'd likely come gunning for Vin's ass were he to leave him like that. But then, Vin could think of worse things for Chris to come gunning for!

Chuckling openly now, Tanner returned to his horse and mounted up. With a last look at the unconscious figure, the tracker rode off towards the tree line, stopping at a respectable distance and finding a place in the shade to rest. He'd keep an eye on the place, and Chris, until the gunslinger came to and was back on his feet. It seemed the least Vin could do without getting himself shot on sight.

And after that? Well... after that, who knew? He'd just have to wait and see what Chris's next move was going to be and pray that Larabee's revenge wouldn't be anything too painful. But knowing Chris, well...

Vin grinned, feeling his pants grow tight in anticipation.