Disclaimer: Not mine
Series: Two of Seven Sequal to Plus One Makes Three
Rated: Hmmm, Iíd guess at least an R for off screen implications of m/m sex.
Thanks go to Sue for her never tiring beta work. And to Marcaich who always encourages me to keep writing. :-)
Summary: Vinís healing and Chris get a few words in. Buck and Ezra come to terms.
It had taken Vin more than a week to feel well enough to walk on his own. Most of his wounds were pretty well healed, but his heart ached at the thought of having to chose between his lovers. But then again, Ezra hadnít come back around since Chris had confronted him with Vin there. Maybe the gambler had learned his lesson. He sighed as Josiah brought him his dinner. The preacher had been a good friend during this time, thought heíd hadnít brought up the subject of lovers, heíd hinted that he would not judge, if Vin decided to go back to that life. Chris had kept his distance, but talked with Josiah every day about Vinís condition. Heíd offered to let Chris stay at his place, no strings, while he healed, but the sharp shooter had declined. He felt safe in the church with Josiah and thatís where he stayed.
Ezra and Buck had continued their heated, passionate, but seemingly emotionless relationship. Chris would talk to Buck, but ignored Ezra all together. Today however, he had run into the gambler in front of Mrs. Travis, to stay silent would leave the woman to suspect trouble. "Good morning, Mrs. Travis, Ezra."
Ezra nodded and headed past. "Is something wrong, Chris?" Mary asked watching as Ezra hurried away.
"Why do you ask?"
"No reason, just seemed a little strained between you and Ezra."
"Nope, everythingís fine."
"Letís go see." He grabbed her arm and headed toward the church. Vin sat on the porch and didnít look their way. "Vin."
"Heís still tired Chris, maybe you should come back later." Josiah nodded to Mary. "Mrs. Travis."
"We just wanted to see how you were, Vin." She stepped closer. "Youíre looking well."
"Thank you Mrs. Travis, but Iíd rather be alone, if you donít mind."
"No, couse not." She stepped back and smiled a weak smile at Chris. "Come on, Chris, let him rest."
Josiah pulled up a chair and sat down beside Vin. "Sooner or later, youíre gonna have to talk to him."
"Tell me what happened Vin."
"I wanna go inside."
"Nathan said you needed the sunshine."
"Please." Josiah nodded and helped Vin inside and to his bed.
"Now you wanna talk."
"Vin, itíll do you good to get it off your chest. You know you can trust me."
Vin settled back on the pillows and took a deep breath. It still pained him to breathe or move too quickly. "Screwed up, thatís all."
"My life, Chrisí life and now Ezra."
"Sins of the flesh." Vin nodded and Josiah gently took his hand. "Love or lust, Vin?"
"You do, did you love either Chris or Ezra?"
"Both, wellÖ" Vin looked down. "Ezraís a great guy and all, made me feel good when Chris started seeing Mary."
"But are you in love with Chris?"
"In love, yeah, guess you could say that."
"I can tell, way youíre both acting."
"No one was suppose to know, now the whole town does."
"No, they donít. Just seems like it."
"Well thatís something I guess."
"Why donít you talk to Chris, get this out in the open?"
"I donít think Iím strong enough to handle that yet."
"What about Ezra?"
"He doesnít want to talk to me, hasnít been around."
"You know why."
"Yeah, reckon I do. Itís justÖ"
"Want me to find him?"
"All right then, get some sleep."
Vin scooted down and closed his eyes, sleep soon claimed him.
Buck took a deep breath as he collapsed beside Ezra. The gambler laughed and looked over at him. "You do that so well."
"Why, thank you." Buck leaned up for a kiss then Ezra was off the bed and cleaned up. "Where ya going?"
"Itís nearly seven p.m., I can smell the money downstairs, just begging to be won."
"You know it wouldnít hurt if you stayed for a few minutes afterÖyou knowÖthis."
"Why linger and spoil the moment?" He leaned down and captured Buckís lips, tickling the furry upper lip with his tongue. "Besides, itís not like weíre married or anything. Donít have to ruin the moment with unnecessary pleasantries." He continued to dress as Buck watched.
"Well, I guess youíre right, but it would be nice to hold you. I do care about you, Ezra and for more than just this." Ezra stopped for a moment and stared at him. "You knew that, right?"
"Course I did, why would I let myself be led astray by a mere scoundrel. I care for you too. Itís justÖ"
"I know, I know and if by some chance I forget, Iíll have you to remind me." Buck crawled off the bed and came over to him.
"You know," he hugged him tight and began kissing his neck. "Those cards arenít going anywhere." He nuzzled the sweat-covered flesh with his lips and Ezra moaned.
"Buck, I shouldÖoh godÖ" He gave in as Buck dropped his pants back to the floor and kissed him hard on the mouth. "Mr. WilmingtonÖ" Buckís hand caressed his cock and he groaned. "This is not fair."
"Allís fair in love and war, Ezra. Or didnít you know that?"
Chris sat outside the small church. Josiah had asked him to sit and Listen for Vin while he attended to some business. It was more of a ploy to get Vin to talk to Chris than anything else was and it had worked. Vin came out on the small porch and sat down. Chris was there the next instant helping him in the chair. Vin hadnít looked up, hadnít noticed that it wasnít Josiah helping him.
"Youíre welcome." He caught the hint of fear in the sharp shooterís eyes as he looked up. "How ya feeling?"
"Chris, what are you doing here?"
"Josiah had some business, he asked me to watch out for you." Chris sat down in the chair beside him. "Should have been this way from the beginning you know, me taking care of you."
"Didnít have a choice where I was, in the beginning."
"Now that youíre stronger, come out to the house, let me take care of you."
"Is that what you really want? Thought it bothered you that I had been with Ezra."
"Look, thatís in the past," Chris met Vinís eyes. "Isnít it?" The younger man looked away.
"You pushed me away, Chris. Told me that Mrs. Travis was more important than me. I donít see whatís changed between then and now."
"I have." Vin met his eyes. "Vin I care about you. I havenít felt this tore up inside since Sarahís death, I donít know what I would have done, if I hadnít been able to get to you in time."
Vin watched as the tears welled up in his friendís eyes. "Take me back inside."
Chris helped Vin back inside the small church and to the back room. Once they got inside he tried to get Vin to sit down, but he refused. "Anything I can do for you?"
"Yes," Chris raised an eyebrow and Vin waved him closer. Once the blonde got within grabbing range, Vin gripped his head and pulled him close. "Tell me Iím more important than Mary."
"You know you are."
"Vin, youíreÖ" Chris hesitated and Vin shoved him back. "I shouldnít have to chose, I donít feel for her, what I feel for you."
"Tell me what you feel for me, Chris."
"I donít know, please Vin, youíre not being fair here, you went to Ezra."
"Cause you pushed me away. Tell me you love me Chris. Tell me you want us to spend the rest of our days together, good and bad. Together, without Mary, without this town."
"IÖ" Chris hung his head.
"I donít like being shoved aside Chris." Chris just stood there. "I loved you, damn it, but that wasnít enough." Chris stared at him, the blank look on his face.
"All the time he had me, I kept thinkiní. I wonít see you again, wonít get to tell you what I feel. Now that Iíve had the chance, I see how much it wouldnít have mattered if heíd killed me."
"Donít say that, you do matter."
"Leave me be, Chris. Iíll get over what I feel, in time."
"And if I donít want you to."
"Maybe itís not your choice, anymore."
Chris turned and walked out the door as Vin sat down on the bed. Josiah was walking in just as Chris was leaving. "Everything all right?" Chris met the preacherís eyes.
"Take care of him."
"You can trust in that, my friend." Josiah hurried to the back and found Vin sitting on the bed, crying. He sat down cautiously and put his arm around the younger man. "Tell me what happened."
"Whatís the point, itís over." He pulled away and lay down on the bed. His muffled sobs filled the small room and Josiah left him alone for a few minutes. He walked out side and looked at the darkening sky.
"Lord, give me the strength." He turned and locked the church doors from the inside. Vin had grown still, but he could see the tears that stained the trackerís features. "Vin."
"Was it worth it?"
"Donít feel like talking right now, Josiah."
"But I do and since Iím your host, youíre obligated to make conversation." Vin looked over at him. "Tell me, when you and Chris would lie together, was it worth it?"
"Are you asking me about the sex, preacher?"
"I guess I am, itís not somethingÖ"
"To lie with another man, itís not suppose to be done."
"I figured that." Vin sat up and scooted up to lean against the headboard. "You still want to know?"
"I suppose not."
"If youíre asking if what I was feeling when it was happening or if I think the relationship with Chris was worth it, Iíd say yes to both. I loved him."
"He hurt me and besides, he wonít be able to forgive me for Ezra."
"Why did you go to Ezra?"
"I told you, Chris pushed me away."
Josiah nodded and sat down on the edge of the bed. "Yes, but if your lover does that, shouldnít you try to work out your differences, instead of seeking the company of another."
"I donít know, suppose so. Not real good at this relationship thing."
"What does that mean?"
"Sins of the flesh."
"I know, but whatís done is done. I canít go back and not sleep with Ezra."
"Would you?" He could see the turmoil in the trackerís eyes. "Iím sorry, I know youíre tired."
"Heís my friend, he was thereÖ"
"If you could change it, would you?" Vin nodded and looked down. "Bet Chris would like to know that."
"I told him to leave, not the other way around."
"I can find him."
"No, no, itís okay. I said the words, told him what I felt, but he couldnít. He doesnít love me, Josiah."
"I think youíre wrong."
"Does it matter?"
"It might." Josiah scooted up and touched Vinís arm. "Ezra will be sad to lose you, Iím sure."
"Yeah, wait a minute." Josiah was up and headed out the door. "Josiah, donít you say a thing to Chris, not if youíre my friend." Josiah laughed and closed the front door. "Josiah, I just want to be alone." Vin sat back and sighed. If Josiah was determined to find Chris and tell him, what could he do? He smiled and got up. He could leave.
Ezra held up a clean shirt and turned back from the mirror to see his lover smiling and watching him. "One might think you want nothing more, but the use of my body."
"One would be wrong." Buck stepped up and wrapped his arms around the gambler. "Is it so terrible for me to want to spend the entire night beside you?"
"I suppose not, butÖ" Ezra turned back toward the closet.
"Nah," He spun his lover in his arms. "Donít say that, just come on and lie down with me."
"Buck, there is money to be made down stairs andÖ"
"You want money?"
"What?" Ezraís mouth hung open.
"Money, you want money to sleep with me?"
"Are you insinuating that I get paid for this?"
"I donít know, you tell me. Every night, itís the same. Get laid, get paid."
"You do not payÖI would not take money for thatÖ" Ezraís anger was very evident.
"I donít pay you, but you get paid all the same after youíre with me."
"Buck I believe youíve taken on a demon and itís possessed you to the bone. I am appalled that you would imply that I wouldÖ" Buck seized him and held him tight.
"I didnít mean that the way it sounded. I just get tired of making love and you taking off. Just once Iíd like for you to stay with me all night." Buck let the struggling man go and got dressed. "Iím going to get some air."
Ezra finished dressing and headed down stairs to the casino. His usual table waited with several men ready to take his money. He sat down and concentrated as best he could with his heart and mind on Buck. He saw Chris out of the corner of his eye and sighed. "Well gentlemen, whose deal?"
Chris watched the gambler for several minutes before heading out into the street. He saw Josiah sitting out front of the church, but avoided the man. Instead he mounted his horse and rode out to his small cabin, to be alone and to think about what Vin had said.
Buck drank six beers and turned in for the night. He caught Ezraís eye and nodded to him. His heart felt heavy. More so than it had in a long, while. Heíd truly began to get fond of the gambler, but whom was he kidding. The gambler was there for no one, never had been. He wondered how Vin had managed to capture his heart. He sighed as he went into his own room and stripped down to his long johns. The bed had a chill and it cut through him. He wrapped the blanket close to his neck and tried to Fight off the loneliness as it threatened to claim his heart again.
Ezra lost the last two hands of cards, along with $30; he decided to call it a night and headed up stairs. His hand lingered on the knob to his room for a moment, and then he walked further down the hall and stopped in front of Buckís door. He knocked softly and heard the soft, Ďcome in. He cautiously entered the rom. "I hope youíre not sleepy."
Buck sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes. "Nah, what do you need?"
"To make amends, it seems." He stepped close to the bed. "I never meant to hurt you, Buck. Life just hasnít been kind to me in a long while and when something good comes along, I have the tendency to push it away"
"You didnít push Vin away."
"No and perhaps that was my mistake, the young beauty became more trouble than he was worth."
"You mean that?"
"I mean, " Ezra stood and took off his coat. "If youíll have me, Iíd like to stay here tonight, with you."
"Until the cursed sun streaks through the window and makes me get up."
"Got to be up before then."
"Then I should stay in my own room? Is that what youíre saying?"
"No," Buck got up and stepped close. "Stay, please. Iíll kiss you good bye when I go, maybe bring you breakfast in bed later."
"Not necessary." He nudged Buck back down on the bed. "The breakfast, that is."
Buck laughed and pulled Ezra on the bed with him.
Vin struggled with the saddle of his horse. It took him twenty minutes just to get it on, the cinch was almost not worth the trouble. Once he had finally got it done, his side ached, as did his arms. "Crazy."
He pulled the horse from the stall and took him out the back doors. He sighed as his first attempt to mount failed and decided to work on the edge of the coral fence. It was dark, two a.m. dark and he was so tired. He climbed in the saddle finally and leaned over the horn. The horse must have sensed that he was in trouble because he circled the stable and headed toward Chrisí house on the outskirts.
Buck collapsed against the sweat soaked sheets and chuckled. "How do you do that?"
"Do what?" Ezra asked lying on his chest and fondling the sparse hair he found there.
"Make me cum so easy. When Iím inside you, itís incredible."
"Iíll take that as a compliment."
"You should, Ezra, you should."
"At least Iím good at something."
"Donít be daft, youíre good at a lot of things." Ezra sighed and Buck pushed him back so he could stare into his eyes. "Donít put yourself down when youíre with me."
"Then sleep. I wonít bug you early, I promise."
Ezra leaned up and kissed his lover softly, gently. "Nite."
Chris sat on the front porch of the small house and sighed. The feelings inside him were making him nuts. He couldn't determine if there were real or just a mass of loneliness, trying to find a vent. Nah, they were real, at least his feelings for Vin Tanner. From the first nod on the street when they first met, he knew the buffalo hunter was special. The night was filled with singing creatures that fell silent as a horse approached.
He retrieved his boot gun, watched as a horse stepped around, and bit the bush in his front yard. "Hello?" The horse took a step back and a figure leaned off the side and fell right into Chrisí arms. "Vin? Oh God. Vin, talk to me."
"Tired." It was the only word Vin muttered before he fell asleep in Chrisí arms.
Josiah searched the town for his friend before finding Nathan and warning him that something had happened to Vin. "When did ya see him last?"
"Last night sometime, he was upset, but I didnít think he do anything this stupid."
"Have you told Chris?"
"Canít find him either?"
"Donít think theyíre together, do ya?"
"Nope, donít think so."
"Then you better find Buck and Ezra, Iíll get the kid and the horses."
Buck turned over and smiled. Ezra was on his stomach, but pushed as tightly against him as was possible. Any more so and Buck would be on the floor. "Well, well. Iíll just have to make room other ways." He slid on top of Ezra and began kissing his neck and shoulder.
"Time to get up, already?"
"Buck Wilmington youíre incorrigible."
"Yes, I am." The knock at the door made them both groan and Buck rolled off the side of the bed and stood up, wrapping a sheet around his bottom half as he did. "Yeah?"
"Buck, Nathan, we got trouble."
Ezra got up quickly from teh bed and ducked behind the closet door. Buck pulled the door open. "Whatís going on?"
"Canít find Vin, he took off last night."
"Oh man, did you check with Chris?"
"Not yet, but Josiah says no."
"Well, best go find out, you guys check town. Ezra and I will head out to see Chris."
"Ezra, you gonna find him, he ainít answering his door."
"Iíll find him. No problem."
Chris turned over and sighed. Vin had not said anything since he had brought him inside and put him to bed. The sharp shooter muttered something and snuggled against him. He carefully got up and moved the younger manís hand to the bed. It wouldnít be long before someone, everyone came looking for Vin. He couldnítí leave him there alone, so he waited. Waited to see who would stop by first.
To his relief, it was Buck and Ezra. He took Buck aside, "Why did you bring him?"
"Good morning to you. Have you seen Vin?"
"Heís inside, sleeping." Ezra was down in a flash and headed inside the small house. "Hey." He grabbed Ezraís arm and pulled him to a halt on the porch. "I didnít say you were welcome here."
Buck took Chrisí other arm and squeezed. "Let him go." Chris looked back at Buck, but Buck refused to back down. He turned back to Ezra and released his arm, the gambler nodded and headed inside the small house.
"Whatís going on, Buck?"
"Nothing that concerns ya, Chris. Ezraís out of your way, thatís what you wanted."
"So, what does that mean? Youíve taken him to bed now?"
"Maybe, so what if I have?"
"He canít be trusted?"
"Oh and you can?" Chris stepped back and shook his head. "You pushed Vin away to Ezra, now youíre upset. You canít have it both ways Chris, either Mary or Vin, you have to choose. Ezraís with me now, our relationship doesnít have anything to do with you."
Inside the small house, Ezra listened to every word. He was upset by how Buck had come to him but he felt a little more secure with the argument that followed that statement. He sat down beside Vin on the bed and touched his face. The young man stirred and looked up at him sleepily. "Ezra?"
"Yes, last person you wanted to see, Iím sure."
"Nah, just not sure where I am." He sat up and looked around the room. "Chris?"
"Outside with Buck."
"Howíd I get here?"
"Not sure of that, but half the town is searching for you."
"Worried as was Buck and myself." He smiled. "Have to admit it was strange finding you here, with Chris. But Iím glad youíre in one piece."
"Ezra, Iím sorry."
"No need, Mr. Tanner. We all make choices."
"Iím choosing to be alone, I was trying to leave town. Guess I wasnít quite strong enough."
"You didnít intent to come here?" Vin shook his head. "Then by all means, we should help you leave." Vin started to sit up but Chris and Buck came through the door.
"Get away from him."
Ezra sighed and stood up. "Mr. Tanner wishes to leave."
"Is that right?" Chris pushed Ezra back.
"Chris, leave him be, itís doesnít have anything to do with him."
"You want to leave? You came to me last night Vin."
"I didnít come to ya, Chris. I was trying to leave, get away from you guys."
Ezra smiled at the younger man. "You see Mr. Larabee you donít have your hooks in as deeply as you think."
"Let me talk to Vin alone." Chris demanded, seeing Ezra sigh and nod, Buck followed him out. Chris sank to his knees beside the bed. "Look, I didnít get a chance to talk to ya, before they showed up. Please, stay a little while, letís talk."
"What about the town, they need you."
"The town can survive for a few days without me." He chanced sitting beside Vin and Vin allowed it. "This is more important than the town."
"Why didnít you say this before."
"I spent the night thinking Vin, I need you, need you real bad. Before I came here, I was drifting, trying to find Sarahís killer and just living in the moment. I hadnít thought about a future, Vin, not really. Not until you came to me that first night. I was rude and harsh, but I do care about you." Chris turned away. "Itís been hard trying to reconcile the fact that IímÖ" He met Vinís eyes. "That IÖfeel, what I feel for you, another man. Iím not making much sense, am I?"
Vin took his hand and Chris looked up. "Yeah ya are." Chris gripped his hand and squeezed lightly. "How about you tell Ezra to come in here a second, I need to finish some things."
"I need to talk to him a bit. I need to tell him Iím sorry, that I do want to stay here."
Vin smiled at the spark of happiness in Chrisí eyes. "Yea, I do."
Chris leaned against the porch, his eyes staring a hole in the ground. "You gonna be okay, pard?"
"Sure, now that things are back like theyíre suppose to be."
"Suppose to be?" Buck laughed a bit, "This was suppose to happen."
"Never hear of fate, Buck?"
"Sure, but you think that these two guys snatching away our hearts is fate?"
"Donít you?" Ezra closed the door behind him and nodded to Chris.
"Mr. Larabee," He extended his hand and after a few minutes, Chris shook it. "Youíve won a wondrous prize, be mindful and donít take him for granted."
Ezra stepped close and met Chrisí eyes. "Or youíll answer to me."
"And me." Buck said, handing the reins of Ezraís horse to him. "Letís go."
"Tell everyone weíll be in town sometime tomorrow, after heís rested."
"No problem," Buck winked down at Buck. "Donít do anything I wouldnít do."
"OH haha." Chris smacked the dappleís rump and Buck and Ezra took off toward town. He turned back toward the small house and sighed. The weight on his shoulders had lifted a bit, but not entirely. He still had to make things right with Vin. As he pushed the door open, his heart skipped a beat. Vin had stripped off his dusty clothes and was lying on the bed, half asleep. When he approached Vin opened his eyes and smiled up at him. Maybe concentrating all his strength on making Vin happy was going to be worth it. He was sure of it the second Vin reached out for him.
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