Five Days' Journey Into Night
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em or the show they rode in on.
Ezra Standish clomped up the saloon's back stairs; even his boots chafed. He felt tired and ill-used. Delivering and verifying documents at two court trials for Judge Travis hadn't been a difficult chore, just time consuming, utterly boring, and exacerbating in its officiousness. Finally released late yesterday evening, he had foregone an opportunity for a final game of high stakes poker at the local hotel and gone to bed early enough to rise with first light.
A full day's travel, at a forced pace, had him back here in Four Corners, where he wanted to be. He'd been gone for five long days and longer nights, away from this place he now considered home. Just that admission was a major change in his view of life. He knew he did not look his best, face wan, thin, and roughly bearded with a day's growth, clothing disheveled, dirty. He tugged his hat brim a trifle lower as if to hide, though there was no one to see him here behind the Standish Tavern. His hand slid up the rough-hewn wooden banister, a delicate touch preventing splinters. Starlight was sufficient illumination, his eyes no longer blinded by the bonfires lit out on the main street of town.
He ran a finger inside his shirt collar, the itch of trail dust irritating, as he pulled an iron key from an inside pocket with his other hand. The handle of the door on the plain second floor landing was stiff as he shoved his key in and hinges creaked as he gave the door handle a firm yank. Wake the dead. Shoulders slumped with exhaustion, he paused for a moment to listen, but though he could hear muted late evening sounds from the saloon below, the hallway he was entering was quiet.
It was too bad he'd been unable to use the telegraph in the last town, but the lines were down. He'd wanted to let his friends know he was coming back early. Let Chris know. Ezra smiled. Soon, he promised himself. Closing the door behind him, Ezra paced slowly down the short corridor, the thin carpet masking the sound of his steps. A single gas lamp, wick turned low, hung at the far end, near the banistered staircase to the main saloon. It bled a weak, bluish light on the hall. Enough to find one's way.
Just as he pressed a hand to the doorknob to his room, sounds from within stopped him. He froze, listening. The bed creaked slightly and he heard a soft sound, somewhere between a groan and a grunt. Swallowing against the dryness in his throat, he checked to make certain he was at the correct doorway. Yes, his. He withdrew his Remington and carefully cocked it, muffling the sound against his trouser leg. With extreme care, he keyed open the door and crouched low, pushing the door open with one booted foot, slowly and steadily.
Whatever slight noise there had been, now it was silent. Ezra rocked forward on his boot heel, other leg still extended and began to shift his weight toward the front foot. A loud click came out of the dark. That was a big revolver cocking.
Tilting his head to one side, Ezra quietly asked, "Chris?"
Silence, then, "Ezra."
Both men eased their weapons. A rough scraping sound, then the brilliant flare of a sulfur match. Ezra's dazzled eyes followed the flame to his bedside lamp which was lit by a steady hand. He let his gaze travel back up the hand to bare muscular arm, then strong bare shoulders and back, rumpled blond hair and Chris' squinting frown already turning into a smile. "You're back early."
Ezra came into the room, straightening up from his crouch, smiling in turn and shutting, locking the door. Turning, he came over to sit on his bed, beside Chris who lay stretched out, unclothed, on his stomach on the down mattress. Ezra couldn't resist resting his hand on the small, hard ass, his hand curving gently up to touch the narrow hips and long, sleek spine-lined back. "Yes." He began to stroke the tender skin, smoothly, rhythmically. Up and down, over the delicious curves and into the sweetly dark line of the twinned cheeks. "What a nice surprise to find waiting for me in my bed."
The pale skin began to glow, and Ezra realized that Chris was blushing – all over. Charmed, he leaned down to steal a kiss and stared, further astonished. "Chris?" He hesitantly touched Larabee's neck. There, visible now, beneath his lover's chin, was one of Ezra's plain black cravats. It drew a wide black line around the man's neck, ending in a half bow there at his jaw. Ezra's other hand automatically went up to touch, a smile gathering on his face.
Chris' clear hazel-green eyes met Ezra's soft green ones. "Missed you and wasn't getting any sleep on my own."
"So you came here." Ezra's other hand joined in, the elegant, slender fingers gently completing the black bow that now rested at the blond's clavicle as he twisted over slightly on one hip and shoulder, offering himself to Ezra. Ezra breathed deeply of the scent of Chris, warm and musky, moist and sharp. A faint tang of whiskey and tobacco, leather and sweat. The sweetest of perfumes could not compete.
Under Chris' body, the white sheet was dark with another bit of cloth. "And what's this?" Ezra fished loose one of his older undershirts, not yet laundered. He sent a quizzical look to his lover.
"Needed to touch you, couldn't." Chris touched the necktie around his neck. "This helped." Chris reached up now and threaded his fingers into Ezra's copper-gleaming, light brown hair, then curled the tips so that he gripped Ezra's scalp and could pull him down and closer. "Needed to smell you, that helped." He nodded to the shirt now in Ezra's hand. Then Chris dragged Ezra's head down until their lips were just a breath apart. "Needed to taste you -" And then they touched lips, pressing until teeth clicked and scraped and Ezra was falling down onto the bed, sliding his hands up Chris' shoulders to his neck, to hook into the impromptu collar.
The kiss surged on, the men both pushing as if each could somehow become the other if only they climbed deep enough inside. It had been a very, very long five days apart.
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