Disclaimer: These Cowboys don't belong to me. I'm only saddling them up for a 'ride' or 3 and will return them to MGM, Mirisch and Trilogy when we're done. No copyright infringement intended. Written for fun. No profit made.
Category: Romance, angst
Warnings: Some language, some angst. Also weaved in some table-clothed Ezra, some "Serpents" and "Chinatown" references into the story.
Feedback: Yes please at email@example.com
Author's Notes: I have borrowed the names of horses used in other fan fiction. These names appealed to me. Hope I haven't ruffled any feathers. Thank you to whomever thought up these names.
Thoughts are denoted by */ /*
Flashbacks are denoted by +++++++
Sunset's dusky glow painted the sky as Chris Larabee astride his black stallion Solon sidestepped the sagebrush surrounding the trail that led directly into Four Corners. "Almost home boy," muttered the dark-clad man. Chris then patted the horse's mane. Solon snorted in agreement. The gunslinger and leader of the regulators of Four Corners had spent a few days at his shack outside of the town. As they rode closer into the town, Chris kneed his horse into a fast trot while his hands loosely held the reins. The dark blond man's face softened as he thought of the man who was his lover and had stolen his heart. And the hazel-eyed man was now ready to admit it to the gambling, emerald-eyed thief.
*/I'm aching to see Ezra... hold Ezra... kiss Ezra. If he don't shoot me first for the way I treated him the last time I saw him. Standish plumb scared me out of my mind when he took that bullet meant for Mary, so I tore into him but good at Nathan's clinic when we got him there. And then two days later after assuring myself that Ezra would be all right, I lit out for my cabin, needed to clear my head. Hope my jade eyes has forgiven my churlish behavior. Churlish? I've been spending too much time with Ezra. I can never spend enough time with Ezra/* swirled through Chris's mind.
Solon's hooves stopped in front of the jail as Chris reined him in to greet the two men sitting in the chairs on the boardwalk in front of the sheriff's office. "Everything quiet, Buck, Josiah?" asked their leader. Josiah's rumbled reply of "All's well brother," and Buck's nod told Chris all he needed to know. The black-clad man continued on his way to the livery. Chris dismounted his stallion and was about to hand over the reins to Jimmy the stable boy when he heard Ezra's voice crooning to his roan horse Chaucer. A slow smile curled the gunslinger's lips and brightened his eyes as he told Jimmy that he would settle Solon for the night.
Earlier that night, in the saloon at Four Corners, Ezra P. Standish, dressed in his fine plum trousers, matching dark-wine jacket, and dressy white shirt graciously gathered his winnings from the evening's poker game. "Thank you gentlemen for a profitable evening." The three salesmen traveling the territory shook their heads in disgust and made their way to the hotel. The chestnut-haired man looked over the room, and nodded to Vin who stood by the bar, surveying the room.
Ezra's glance skimmed over the seven lawmen's regular table for it was empty. */I miss Chris terribly but I would wager that my absence does not affect our illustrious leader at all,/* ran through the seated man's mind. The gambler's dexterous hands shuffled the deck of cards automatically as his mind raced on */Perhaps, your leader does not miss you, but what about your lover of the past several months?/*
The Southerner's emerald orbs lost focus of the saloon as he flashed back to the day he and Chris had become lovers.
It had been less than a stellar afternoon for Ezra that fateful day. He had lost everything in a game of chance except for his hat, boots and the tablecloth which he had wrapped about his hips before walking down Four Corner's main street to the bath house because he wanted to be presentable before his game that night. The gambler determined to ask Will, the young man who worked at the bathhouse by filling the tubs with buckets of water, to run to the saloon and ask Ms. Recillos to retrieve some clothes from his room, hand them over to Will who would then bring them back to him so he could once again be properly attired.
Ezra was intent on his conversation with the young man but that didn't mean that he wasn't aware of the presence of another patron in the building. "Good afternoon, Mr. Larabee," the russet-haired man drawled and then tipped his hat to the bathing gun- slinger. Will sped off. Ezra turned around and bent his head down to untie the cloth knotted at his waist before he slipped into a refreshing bath.
Chris had been relaxing in the tub with his eyes closed when he heard Ezra's greeting and so opened his eyes a crack to answer back. Nearly swallowing his tongue, his hazel eyes wide, Chris's first thought was that the vision of Ezra's almost bare back was a product of his strong longings for the jade-eyed man that had been growing in intensity these past twelve weeks. The dark-blond's second thought was that he had to touch the gorgeous fantasy in front of him before it disappeared. The lean man got out of the tub quickly, dripped his way over to stand behind the gambler and then his callused left index finger gently feathered down the rippling muscles of Ezra's spine.
The shorter, more compactly built man froze as he felt the tender touch upon his back. His nimble hands stilled within the folds of the material he wore, his green eyes blinked in shock as he croaked out "Mr. Larabee? What are you doing?"
The gambler's questions were interrupted when Chris rasped out, "Beautiful, soft like I always thought." The taller man's finger now stroked across Ezra's shoulder blades.
"You've imagined what my skin would feel like?" Ezra stuttered uncharacteristically.
The entranced blond barely heard Ezra. The hazel-eyed man stepped closer to his jade-eyes and with his right hand knocked the gambler's hat which flew off and landed on the floor a few feet away. The fingers of his right hand ran through and tousled silky chestnut locks, while his left hand circled around the gambler's chest and began mapping that well-defined area. Chris's breath fanned the back of Ezra's neck as he whispered throatily, "Yeah. Wished I could taste and kiss you too, Ez." Putting action to words, the taller man pressed his lips to the spot where Ezra's neck met his shoulder. The emerald- orbed man quivered as he felt the kiss down to his toes and he heard Chris continue, "Umm... Sweet. Don't ever want to wake up from this dream."
Ezra spun around quickly, dislodging the cloth at his hips so it pooled around his boots. Gambling with his heart and soul, the Southerner dusted a couple of butterfly kisses along the hazel-eyed man's stubbly jaw line before locking his lips onto Chris's lips. Ezra's arms encircled Chris's spine, as Chris's arms slid around Ezra's back, anchoring the men to each other. They finally had to break apart for air. The gambler's jade eyes glowed as he stared into glittering amber eyes and exhaled softly, "This is no dream, Mr. Larabee, but a wondrous reality. Wishes do come true."
The dark-blond man's soft gaze sharpened as the Southerner's words penetrated his fogged mind and the tall, lean man registered that it was no fantasy and that he had actually kissed and held a bare Ezra in his arms. It also hit the gunslinger that they were in a public place, so he gruffly answered "They sure do. Even in bathhouses, but anybody can walk in here and nobody but me gets to see you like this, got it Ez?" and raised his arms from around the shorter man's waist to pick up the discarded tablecloth at Ezra's feet. The former Union major made short work of retying the cloth around the hips of his jade eyes. Chris felt muscular arms hug him tightly for a moment then shivered as he heard a rare rumble of laughter from the gambler.
"Rather possessive aren't you, Mr. Larabee?" chuckled the gambler as he smoothed a stray blond strand of hair off the forehead of the taller man.
"Damn straight, you're all mine Ezra. And could you call me Chris when we're alone?" responded Chris as he moved away to find a towel to wrap around himself. The chestnut-haired man replied "I am possessive as well, and no one gets to see you in all your glory, except me, Mr. Lara... Chris" as the hazel-eyed man returned to him with a question in his eyes which he immediately voiced, "Don't want to be alone tonight Ez. Will you come to my room...?" The Southerner surprised the blond man with a quick, fierce kiss to the edge of Chris's mouth. After Ezra kissed Chris, he muttered "I will be at your door within the half-hour after a rapid bath." Ezra unwrapped his cloth and slipped into a tub.
The gunslinger nodded his head, gave the russet-haired man heated looks while he dressed then growled, "Half an hour, Ezra." before he stalked out of the bathhouse, nearly colliding with Will as the young man returned with the gambler's clothes.
Eleven minutes later, Ezra rapped on Chris's door which was immediately yanked open and the Southerner had been impatiently pulled inside.
The shattering of a shot glass brought Ezra back to the present and from his recollections of that first time with Chris. */I missed my poker game that night, but I won my heart's desire,*/ The gambler grinned at that thought but became melancholy at his next thoughts */How much longer do you think your trysts with Mr. Larabee will continue? He's been away for a week now.*/ Squaring his shoulders as he stood to shake off these unsettling thoughts, Ezra decided to take a stroll to the livery and check on Chaucer, his faithful steed. And the dun stallion listened very well and never divulged anything.
Before he went to the livery, Ezra made one stop at the general store, and made a request of Mrs. Potter. Once that was safely in his jacket pocket, the jade-eyed man sauntered over to the livery, his thoughts centering on Chris Larabee once more as he passed Solon's empty stall on his way into Chaucer's stall.
*/Ezra, just because you yearn to be with Chris at all times, good and bad does not mean that Mr. Larabee craves the same. In all probability, Chris does not feel for me as deeply as I feel for him. Yes my body assuages his physical needs but does he want my heart, my spirit? Like I desire his?/*
Chaucer's ears perked up as he spotted his rider and snickered a greeting. The dun mount sensed his human was sad so he ambled over and started sniffing at Ezra's jacket pockets. This always made his rider smile and it was no different this time. One of the Southerner's hands reached up to stroke behind his roan's ears while the other hand retrieved the packet of sugar cubes for his horse. Chaucer eagerly licked the treat from his human's hand and neighed happily as Ezra chuckled "You always brighten my mood, Chaucer."
After the roan finished his treat, he waited expectantly, he knew what came next. The gambler took off his jacket, folded it over the stall door, hung his hat on the peg on the stall wall, rolled up his shirt sleeves, and picked up the brush to groom Chaucer's coat until it shone. As Ezra brushed his steed, he alternately poured out his heartache and sang to the horse.
Immersed in his task and crooning a lullaby the green-eyed man assumed the noises he heard was of Jimmy stabling a horse. He did not realize that the regulators' leader had returned until he heard the distinctive sound of Chris's spurs clinking against the ground. The clinking stopped Just inside of the dun stallion's stall. Ezra's body stiffened slightly as he continued to groom Chaucer. The Southerner greeted the gunslinger with a cool "Good evening, Mr. Larabee. I trust your sojourn of solitude went well. It was fortuitous that it was a relatively peaceful week and your expertise was not needed."
The dark-blond's grin died as he saw the gambler's posture and heard the cold inflection in his lover's voice. "Shit, I messed up but good if Ez don't even want to see me," mumbled the taller man under his breath. Chris took a deep breath, rested his shoulder against the box wall separating Chaucer's stall from Peso's and said, "Ezra, look at me... Please."
The lean man knew that the Southerner could not resist 'genteel' manners as the green- eyed man called them.
The gambler dropped the brush close to his steed's feet, set his face into a stone mask and pivoted around slowly. His back ramrod straight, one hand hooked into his gun belt, the other arm hanging casually at his side Ezra stared impassively at the hazel-eyed man .
Hazel eyes cataloged his mate for any signs of lingering pain due to the bullet wound that the auburn-haired man had suffered ten days ago. The dark-blond man didn't see any but what he did see made him cringe inwardly.
Ezra's face was devoid of any expression. It was the blank, smooth mask that Ezra usually wore when his mother visited. And Chris hated it.
The gunslinger wasn't good with words that was Ezra's forte, but the tall man wanted to wipe that look off his jade eyes' face.
Chris straightened his body, slung his hat back so it fell onto his back, took off his duster, and draped it across his arm as his long legs took him three steps closer to his gambler.
Ezra watched and waited mutely.
Rough-worked hands spread the duster upon the hay in Chaucer's box. And then the blond man sat Indian style on top of the duster and motioned for the chestnut-haired man to do the same. The Southerner stood undecided for a second then strode to the edge of the duster opposite his lover and folded himself into the Indian sitting position.
Callused, tanned fingers unconsciously reached for their smooth, fair counterparts of Ezra's hand and when they found them they intertwined with them tightly. The tanned fingers hung on as the fair ones tried to tug themselves out of the hold.
"Mr. Larabee, my hand." chided Ezra who was stilled and silenced by Chris's gruff "Please jade eyes, I need to touch you."
Chris's hazel eyes warmed to a whiskey-colored hue as he gazed deeply into emerald orbs. Words flew out the usually taciturn man. Anguish and anger threaded the blond's voice, "Ezra I am sorry for the way I treated you last week. It was wrong of me. I know it, but you hurt and scared me real bad. You left with the money and then got shot. It appeared that you had run out on me again and when you got hurt I lost it, because I love you so much. And if you had died, I would've too. It nearly killed me thinking that you could leave Four Corners, leave me taking my soul and heart with you. And you know how I react to pain. Didn't want to take it out on you any more. So I headed to my cabin to sort myself out. Decided to come back and show you how much I love and need you, so you won't ever go again."
Chris finished talking and waited for Ezra to say or do something... anything.
Ezra was usually very unflappable but Chris's confession had him gaping in shock. The gambler was half afraid that he was asleep and that this was a dream. But the warmth of entangled hands and the vulnerability that lurked in almost always steely hazel eyes convinced the Southerner that he was awake. Hope for a future with Chris began to unfurl in the russet-haired man's chest though he first had to discharge his own ire and hurt.
Ezra scooted closer to Chris until their kneecaps were touching, fingers still intertwined. Jade eyes darkened with emotion as they drowned in gentle amber ones. The gambler's honeyed tone huskily whispered, "Apology accepted. Though you know what hurt so much, Mr. Lar... Chris?" At Chris's sad shake of his head, Ezra's own pain and fury spilled over. "Chris, your lack of faith in me hurt. You believed that l loved money more than you. Yes the fortune was a temptation as Mr. Sanchez can attest to but you are my greatest fortune, more important than any riches. I was going to bury the money at the hidden well by the outskirts of town until the danger passed. Yet you believed the worst of me. And then I saw the assassin and I knew there was a more pressing threat that had to be addressed. I could not let any of the six of you, especially you be wounded or mortally injured. That would have destroyed me as well, for you are the beat of my heart. So if I was willing to sacrifice myself for any of you, how could I not do it for Mrs. Travis who was indirectly responsible for keeping the regulators here in Four Corners when her father- in-law, the Judge Travis hired us to keep the peace? Then I was shot and I yearned for a look, a word, a discrete touch of comfort from you but there was nothing just you tearing into me again. You ran out on me. You ran out on me, Chris. And I had not broken my promise to you."
The gambler began to lightly pummel the gunslinger's chest with his free hand. Chris held him and let him vent for as long as he needed to.
Ezra's voice hitched as he stopped speaking and pummeling. Chris sighed and tenderly pressed his forehead to Ezra's and exhaled. "Sorry jade eyes. My fear won over my love but never again will I run. And neither will you. Deal?"
The jade-eyed man nodded for Chris had captured his lips in a hungry kiss. They had been apart too long and one kiss led to another and another and another until they lay sated in each other's arms. Ezra and Chris happily drifted off to slumber.
Morning found the lovers spooned together on the gunslinger's duster. Chris woke first as usual, and smiled at how closely Ezra was curled around his body. Ezra began to stir as he felt Chris whisper "Morning, jade eyes. I love you," then the blond man caressed one lightly shadowed cheek before moving out of the Southerner's arms. The gambler muttered "Good morning, Chris" and nuzzled his face against the gunslinger's back before the blond could completely sit up and put his pants and short jacket on.
As both men dressed, Ezra noted the now stained coat of his lover and made a mental note to purchase a new duster for Chris.
Chris had just pulled on his shirt as he felt Ezra's chin settle on his shoulder while the muscular forearms of the gambler circled around the gunslinger's torso. The hazel-eyed man lightly rested his arms upon the arms enlacing him. The blond's hands covered and squeezed the ones underneath his.
This was a natural nestling position for Ezra and Chris.
Both men were very content this morning; Chris sniffed the air appreciatively as the smell of coffee brewing in the hotel wafted over to the livery. Ezra on the other hand dared a question he was curious about, "Chris?"
The blond man replied "Yeah, Ez?"
The auburn-haired man asked, "Why do you call me jade eyes?"
The hazel-eyed man responded, "Wo Chin had a small piece of jade that his uncle had given to him. He showed it to me once and it reminded me of your eyes. And the boy told me that jade was a rare and much treasured jewel. Just like the jade, you're real special to me and that's why I call you jade eyes."
Ezra couldn't speak because of the lump in his throat and his eyes misted with tenderness and love as he mutely thanked the Deity above for the rough diamond of a man within his own arms.
Alarmed at Ezra's silence, Chris turned his head a bit to the side to look at the gambler and half-smiled at the soft look on Ezra's face.
Ezra then nestled his cheek against Chris's and both men knew that this was the beginning of a deeper and stronger bond between them and that nothing would ever tear them apart again.
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