If You Live That Long

Vin sees to it that Ezra does live long enough to meet them at the livery at dawn

"Meet us at the livery at dawn, if you live that long."

Ezra glanced up at the man-in-black's face, annoyed by the knowing smile that touched his mouth. One more quick look at the gold amulet in the man's hand, and he knew his decision was pretty well made. Now all he had to do was get out of the saloon in one piece.

Flashing his derringer back and forth at the angry gamblers, he kept them back as he made his way to the door. One last glance at the men standing at the bar, specifically at the man in buckskins, the only one who had bared his gun in preparation to defend him, and Ezra quirked a smile when he met the piercing blue eyes. Yes, there was something behind that look, and he paused long enough to wink at the man before backing out through the bat-wing doors.

Outside on the boardwalk, Ezra glanced backwards to see if the path was clear, and kept on backing away until he was out of a clear shot line from either windows or doors. With no one appearing in pursuit, Ezra reset his derringer into the sleeve rig and walked across to his room at the hotel. Yes, the man in buckskins was probably right. It was time he was leaving town. Of course, that was his plan all along; the shooting game was usually his farewell display, but the offer to join in defense of an Indian village wasn't part of his usual exit strategy. Nevertheless, it was an interesting offer, and the lure of gold was always worth considering.

He took the time to gather his things, checking out the window every so often to make certain no one from the saloon had decided to seek revenge. He packed as much as he could into the one valise he could carry on horseback. If he did follow the gold, he'd pay the hotel manager to store the valise, if not, it was ready if he had to leave on a minute's notice. His valuables, however, were carefully stowed in a small leather case that fit snugly into his saddlebag. The cash he'd haphazardly stuffed into his pocket as he left the saloon was tidied into his billfold and secured in his inside jacket pocket. The last thing he did before heading out to the restaurant for dinner was to reload his derringer and shoulder gun, this time using all real bullets.

Stepping out of the hotel's front door, he looked up and down, making sure none of the disgruntled losers from the saloon were lurking around with thoughts of retribution. The only person he saw standing and waiting was the buckskin-clad man from the saloon, leaning on the wall just outside the saloon doors, but looking remarkably unthreatening. In fact, if Ezra wasn't mistaken, the man was smiling at him. Well, then. This could be interesting. Ezra knew who the man was, or thought he did. In his few days in town, he'd noticed the man sweeping up and working in the hardware store, but the transformation to shootist had been a bit of a surprise. The man had appeared to be quiet and a bit gentle. Not to say that he wasn't quiet, but it was clear there was more behind the 'gentle'. The 'more' made the man more intriguing to him, and Ezra took a small chance, tilting his head toward the restaurant, issuing an invitation to the man to join him, pleased when he got a nod in answer, and the man started across the street.

By the time Ezra got to the restaurant, the man was waiting for him outside the door. It amused Ezra that as they went in together, they shared a preference for the table at the back and in a corner where they had the security of a wall at their backs.

As soon as they were seated, the waitress was there, offering drinks and telling them what the dinner choices were, and they took a moment to order. Their beers arrived immediately, and Ezra took a long drink of his while he waited for the woman to be out of earshot.

"I take it you drew the short straw, Mister..." Ezra let the word hang between them in expectation that the man would supply his name.

"Tanner. Vin Tanner." The man smiled. "And weren't no straws drawn."

The name wasn't familiar to him, so Ezra offered his own name in turn. "Ezra Standish, at your service."

Tanner chuckled, and Ezra saw his point, smiling in return. He wasn't exactly in a position to be of service to anyone in this town anymore.

"If no straws were drawn, am I to surmise that you chose to see that I make my way out of town?"

"Nah, if that was all that mattered, we'd have left you on your own, take your own chances." Tanner shrugged. "I figured to make sure you lived till dawn so you could go with us."

It was said so easily, so matter-of-factly that Ezra hardly knew what to make of it. "What makes you think there is any chance at all that I'll be going with you?"

An inelegant snort told him more than words what Tanner thought of his denial. "Larabee had you before you got out of the saloon. Could hardly keep your eyes away from that scrap of gold."

Larabee. "Chris Larabee?" he asked. That was a name he'd heard in his travels. Now the scene at the cemetery was starting to make more sense. The boldness, the supreme confidence in facing down the drunken cowboys, all that fit well the reputation of a gunslinger.

Tanner stared at him, a harder look around his eyes. "Yeah. That a problem for you?"

"Not at all," Ezra assured him, "just a bit surprised to find a man of his notoriety in this backwater."

"Everybody's got to be somewhere." Tanner relaxed back into his chair, taking a sip of his beer. "Look at you. Fine dressed gambling man out here in this same backwater."

Ezra looked hard at Tanner, searching for a hint that he was being made the butt of a joke, but saw nothing. "Touché." He leaned back, mirroring Tanner's relaxed pose. "So, it would appear no one belongs in this town, yet here we all are."

"For now," Tanner nodded, "or we could all be dead in a week."

"What a cheerful thought." Ezra took a long drink of his beer and glanced around the restaurant, surveying the faces out of habit. It was later than the usual dinner hour, but the dining room was still nearly full. He was momentarily surprised to see the man in black and his mustached friend just coming in the door, then laughed at himself. Where else would they go to eat? This was the only restaurant in town.

Returning his attention to Tanner, Ezra gestured towards the two who had just come in. "What motivated you to join forces with them to defend the Indian village? I presume from your earlier comment that it wasn't the gold."

Tanner glanced over at the two men, nodding at them, then looked back at Ezra. "Hate to see peaceful people taken advantage of. They don't know how to fight, and without some help, they'd end up slaughtered." He smiled, a quick smile that had a touch of ferocity in it. "And them two looked to have been in a fight or two before, figured that helped to even the odds." His smile gentled. "Bring you along and let your wiliness loose out there and we should have those Ghosts on the run."

"Five men against seasoned soldiers?"

"Six. Doc's got a friend who'll come along."

Ezra bristled. "That man is not a doctor."

"Not official, no." Tanner tilted his head. "That what you don't like about him? Or you just living in the past?"

Taking a deep breath, Ezra considered how much he wanted to say about the healer. Yes, it could be said he sometimes had issues with coloreds. But this time the man brought his own issues, claiming that Ezra cheated at cards and doing his best to drive him out of town. Hell, the damn man never sat in on a game, what complaint did he have over what Ezra was doing? But for the moment, he decided, the less he said, the better. "We had a bit of an altercation a few days ago. I fear both our heritages added to the animosity, but that was not the basis of our argument."

His explanation seemed to be enough for Tanner, and further talk was interrupted by the arrival of their dinners. The meal was satisfying, but nothing fancy, simple meat and potatoes, well prepared for what it was. They both had a second beer, and were finishing those as the empty plates were cleared away.

Dinner over and the last of their beer gone, Ezra knew it was time to make his next move. "Mr. Tanner, I have a bottle of fine whiskey in my room, if I could interest you in a night-cap." He held Tanner's gaze as he waited for the answer, knowing he'd read everything correctly when the smile on Tanner's mouth reached his eyes.

"I'd be pleased to share a whiskey with you."

He carefully masked his excitement as they left the restaurant and headed for the hotel. It was rare to find a man who shared his interests, and even more rare when it was a man as attractive as this one.

Once they were inside his room, Ezra hung up his hat before uncorking the bottle on the dresser. Pouring into two glasses, he turned to hand one to Tanner, startled to find the man standing right behind him. He managed not to spill a drop, however, and Tanner took the glass, their fingers touching as he did.

Tanner was close enough that Ezra was trapped against the dresser, but rather than try to get away, he welcomed the illicit thrill of being confined. He watched the motion of Tanner's Adam's apple as he swallowed the drink, felt the confinement of the man's arms as the glass was put on the dresser. "Mr. Tanner--" he began, unsure of his words for once.

"Vin. Figure what we're about to be up to, you should call me Vin."

"Vin." He still didn't know what he was going to say, but he liked the feel of the name on his lips. And he wanted more on his lips. His drink untouched, he put the glass on the dresser, then slid his hand into Vin's hair and pulled him in until their mouths met. Tentative at first, lips warm and seeking, Vin tasted of dust and whiskey, beer and their recent dinner.

Vin reached inside Ezra's jacket, then took half a step back, chuckling. "Might do well to take off some of these guns."

Ezra grinned in embarrassment; Vin had run into his shoulder rig, and then there was the sleeve gun and his regular side-arm. "Yes, I suppose under the circumstances, a few less weapons would be appropriate." He shrugged out of his jacket, knowing his concealed armory would amuse Vin, but he kept his thoughts to himself and simply unbuckled his guns, laying them carefully on the top of the dresser, then looked at Vin. "I don't suppose you plan to wear yours all evening, do you?"

"No." Vin's smile was still soft and open as he pulled off his coat and unbuckled his gun-belt. The sawed-off Winchester and knife were laid on the dresser next to Ezra's guns. Without the big coat and the gun, Vin was beautiful. The soft calico shirt outlined his broad shoulders, the canvas pants curved over his ass and down his thighs, and all Ezra wanted was to get him out of them.

"Much better," Vin said softly, moving to close the space between them, one hand at the back of Ezra's neck, holding, his fingers warm and strong, guiding him into another kiss, his other hand ghosting over the front of Ezra's pants, teasing at his crotch, and Ezra was hard and wanting, pushing forward, needing more.

Now both of Vin's hands were on Ezra's pants, making quick work of the buttons, pulling out his cock...

"Hell and damnation." Vin's words were soft and awed, and Ezra didn't open his eyes, not wanting to see Vin's reaction to his size, not wanting to know that once more he'd have to settle for a helping hand or spreading for the other man because he was larger than the man could handle.

Vin's hands stroked him, held him, curled over his balls, and he did what he always did, told himself it would be enough. But what he felt next was more than he hoped for, the moist warmth of Vin's mouth, tongue and lips tight on the end of his cock, Vin's hands stroking hard while he sucked. He made the mistake of looking down, seeing the lips stretched over him, cheeks hollowed as Vin sucked, the thin veil of Vin's hair giving it a surreal touch. The sight was more than enough, for suddenly he was exploding in Vin's mouth, his knees buckling as he came, and he caught himself by his elbows on the dresser.

"I ain't that good at that, so I'd guess it's been a while," Vin said after a moment, then smiled as he wiped the corner of his mouth on his sleeve and stood up, pulling Ezra back to his feet.

As he attempted to gather his senses, Ezra realized that this wasn't going to be one of his more usual encounters. This man, Vin, wasn't pushing him around to spread for him, wasn't pushing him to his knees to suck him. What he was doing was not helping Ezra regain his senses at all. Deep kisses that now tasted of himself along with the whiskey, hands working on removing more of his clothing, stroking and exploring as skin was revealed, and Ezra felt useless standing there, his mind still muddled from his orgasm.

He knew he wanted one thing, though, and he brought his own hands into play, starting with Vin's bandana and shirt, then moving down to the buttons on his canvas pants. The body that was revealed was more beautiful than he expected, well-muscled, smooth skin, round, tight ass, strong thighs... And Ezra laughed softly. They were both standing there with their pants around their ankles, boots preventing the easy removal of the garments.

"Damn boots again," Vin mumbled.


"Nothin' important." Vin knelt down, taking hold of Ezra's boot. "Pull your foot out." He did, then Vin held the other boot for him. Rocking back from his kneeling position to sit on the floor, Vin pulled off his own boots and then stood up, stepping out of his pants. "That's better."

And it was. Ezra leaned over to pick up his own pants, barely straightening them before dropping them on top of his guns. The lighter moment with the boots had given him time to focus, and now all he wanted was to touch Vin, to explore every inch of him. He wasted no time making that happen, stepping up and wrapping his arms around the other man, one at his waist, the other holding the back of Vin's head, guiding as he leaned in to find his mouth.

Tongues seeking, teeth clashing, Ezra moved, slowly pushing Vin back toward the bed, following him down when Vin hit the bed and folded backwards at his knees. He landed on top, pressing his body down against Vin and trapping Vin's hard cock between them. He kissed and kissed until Vin started thrusting into him, then leaned up, grinning, and without any preamble, turned and dove onto Vin's cock, taking the length fully down his throat. The strangled "oh fuck!" had Ezra laughing deep in his chest, and he held on as Vin thrust up wildly. He knew he was good at this, and he took great pleasure at being good enough at it to have Vin incoherent. With his free hand, he stroked Vin's balls, then further down between Vin's ass-cheeks and over his hole, teasing gently, pushing a little harder each time Vin whimpered, finally breaching the muscle with a fingertip.

Vin's legs dropped open, pushing wider, his ass shoving down onto Ezra's finger, then thrusting his cock up into Ezra's mouth. The thrill of sending this man into such mindless rutting had Ezra breathing hard around each thrust, and he worked to keep Vin suspended between his mouth and his hand, pushing the pleasure higher and higher until, with only a long moan as warning, Vin exploded, filling Ezra's mouth and throat, and he swallowed what he could, letting the rest run down his chin, savoring the salty bitterness.

Vin's fingers tightened in his hair and he looked up, nearly undone by the soft smile he saw. Vin pulled gently, and he followed the cue, moving to lie next to the other man, held in a loose, sweaty embrace. He looked at Vin, reaching up and touching his face. "You certainly have one a hell of a way of looking out for a man."

Vin's smile broadened. "Lookin' out for more than just you."

It took him a minute to sort that out, and when he did, he smiled, impressed. So, the man's impulse to watch out for him was as much to satisfy his own needs as to ensure an extra hand to protect the village. It appealed to his mercenary nature as much as his hedonistic nature, and lying there with Vin, drifting into sleep, he wondered if he'd lost his mind in agreeing to any of it. No, he thought, not lost his mind. Maybe temporarily lost his wariness of a bad deal, but not his mind. How could this be a bad deal, though, with gold on the line and an attractive man in his bed? And how better to rest than entwined with that very attractive man...

Ezra woke, wondering how long he could ignore the pressure in his bladder. Moving away from the comfort of his bed and the man in it was far from his first choice. However, bodily functions rarely gave in to choices.

Shifting carefully, he slid out from under Vin's arm, doing his best not to wake him. He contemplated the chamber pot, then chose to pull on pants and boots for the trip outside. It was worth the inconvenience to avoid the odor in the room.

The night was cool, and from what he could see, the saloon had closed. So, the best estimate would be somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, but not close enough to dawn to stay awake. He held his breath as he stepped into the outhouse and relieved himself, then took a moment to walk to the street, breathing deeply of the night air. Cool and crisp. Just right for clearing his head and thinking. Except that the only thoughts he had were to get back to his room and that exceedingly interesting man in his bed. Shaking his head and laughing to himself, he turned, heading back inside, taking the stairs two at a time.

He was startled to find Vin awake; he should have expected it even as quiet as he had been, but Vin's smile calmed his momentary unease.

"Bit early to be up." Vin's voice was sleep-rough and sent a thrill up Ezra's spine and down into his groin.

"Call of nature," he answered quietly.

"If you've answered that call," Vin said, throwing the blanket aside, "come answer this one." Even in the dark of the room, the spare moonlight lit Vin's body, showing the planes of muscle. It was hardly an invitation he could refuse, so he wasted no time stripping out of his pants and boots.

He hesitated a moment, just standing there to look at Vin. He rarely had such beauty to himself, and he wanted to commit it to memory. Broad chest with large flat nipples, lean waist, Vin's hand resting on his belly, just above the dusky cock that lay erect, waiting for him.

Waiting no more, as Vin reached that hand out to him. He leaned in and took it, letting Vin pull him onto the bed and guide him on top, exactly where he wanted to be. He shifted enough to let his own hard cock lay next to Vin's, and at the same time, Vin spread his legs wide. So close to what he wanted, but he didn't ask, just enjoyed what he had, thrusting slowly against Vin, exploring with tongue and mouth. It was all good.

Or, he thought it was until Vin pulled back. But he held his confusion and waited as Vin looked him in the eyes. The look was searching and deep, and he felt a frisson of fear that it was all falling apart. But the hand stroking him and the smile dispelled that, as did Vin's soft words. "You got some grease?"

Grease? It took a moment for him to process the question, and when he did, he lost no time reaching for his tin of lanolin cream. "This should do."

Vin nodded, then spread his knees wider, opening himself in invitation.

Ezra swallowed, trying not to show his surprise or his excitement. "Are you quite certain? I don't get this offer very often..." He trailed off, giving Vin the chance to change his mind, praying he wouldn't take it.

Vin chuckled, a low sound unlike the one Ezra had heard from him before. "I know better than to ask a man to stop after he's started. I won't lie to you, it's been a while and I might ask you to slow down. But yeah, I want it, and even though you haven't asked, I figure you do, too."

He did. Very much.

Slowly, Ezra told himself. And carefully, very carefully. Scooping out a good quantity of the cream, he took his time with Vin, gently opening and stretching, doing his best to be sure that Vin was ready for him. As he knelt between Vin's legs, his fingers deep in Vin's ass, his own cock hard and aching, he knew that something was changing in his life, and that he had lost control of it. He also knew that he welcomed the change as long as Vin was involved in it.

"Ezra, now, dammit!" Vin's groan was like that last chuckle, low and deep, as deep as Ezra's hand in him.

Ezra wanted to laugh, it was bubbling up inside him, but instead he slicked himself and guided his cock home. He slowed at Vin's hiss of discomfort, pressing in so slowly that he was shaking, stopping when Vin's breathing hitched. It seemed an eternity before he was balls deep inside the other man, but once there, he was still with the sweetness of it, appreciating it while he waited for Vin's tension to ease.

A few seconds and a few deep breaths and Vin's body relaxed and welcomed him. He started to move, long slow strokes, lost in the feel of the heat around him, the hands grabbing his ass, stroking his back, gripping hard enough that he knew he'd have marks in the morning and welcoming that, the mouth beneath his, teeth and tongue clashing and needing. But most of all the soft noises that told of the pleasure they were both feeling.

He shifted, leaning up to allow him to thrust deeper, and was rewarded by long moans. Ezra bit his own lip to keep himself from making too much noise. Watching Vin beneath him, his head back hard on the pillow, his eyes shut tight, his hand working his cock, it nearly undid him. He knew he wouldn't last much longer, the sensations building and coiling in his belly as he moved, driving harder and faster until he could contain it no more. His body erupted in long spasms of bliss, and it was so exceptional he thought he was going to cry.

But Vin wasn't there yet, so he kept moving slowly as Vin stroked and pulled himself, touching the corded tendons in Vin's neck, leaning down to cover Vin's mouth with his own as Vin came, swallowing the sounds he made, loving the feel of Vin's body around him as his muscles clenched, the feel of Vin's body under him as they were spattered with Vin's release.

Vin's hand stilled, his body trembling, and Ezra stilled as well, knowing this was a difficult moment. Very carefully he pulled back, sliding out of Vin as slowly as he had entered. He lay down next to him, pulling Vin into his arms. They were sweaty and sticky, and to Ezra it was the best thing he'd felt in years. A niggling corner of his mind urged him to get up and get a cloth, and he knew it was right. He needed to check that he hadn't hurt Vin in any way. But he didn't want to move from where he was, either. Taking a moment to lie there would be fine, especially as Vin seemed inclined to do the same. He reached to Vin's face, pushing a few errant strands of hair out of his eyes. If he was looking for confirmation of Vin's satisfaction, the broad grin on his face would be more than enough, but he didn't need to confirm what his body already knew.

Giving Vin a quick kiss, Ezra slid out of bed, smiling and shaking his head at Vin's momentary look of confusion. He poured enough water into the wash basin to wet a cloth, cleaning himself quickly, then rinsing the cloth and moving back to the bed. Vin nodded his understanding and allowed him to clean and check, shivering a little at the touches. Before Ezra was ready, he grabbed the cloth out of Ezra's hand and tossed it toward the wash stand, pulling Ezra back into bed.

Ezra settled in next to Vin. "How long before dawn?"

"Few hours. Long enough to rest up for the ride." Vin chuffed out a laugh. "Not long enough that I won't be feeling this, though. I'll be thinking on it and remembering."

Me, too, Ezra thought. "I suppose I should come along to be sure you survive."

"Didn't doubt you would for a minute."

No, I don't imagine you did. Ezra closed his eyes, relaxing into Vin's embrace, letting himself drift toward sleep. He had complete confidence that Vin would wake in time and see that they were both at the livery at the appointed hour.

Yes, this could turn out to be a most fortuitous turn of events for him, in more ways than one.