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Author's Voice of Warning (aka Author's Note): English is not my first language; it's German. This is the best I can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize. The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are.....
Link to the official Denuo site: http://home.arcor.de/larabee/mag7/denuo.html
Ezra adjusted his hat and leaned more comfortably back against the bales of hay, feet crossed at the ankles, a book in his hands. He had discarded his jacket, since it was rather warm already. It lay neatly folded over an old chair close by, a spot of color in the grayish brown surroundings. A cantine of water sat next to him and he ran a tongue over his lips, as much as to wet it, as it was an unconscious gesture of appreciation of the sight before him.
Chris Larabee, stripped down to the waist, covered in sweat, was a sight to behold. The black shirt had been discarded some time ago and he wasn't wearing his long johns due to the warmth. Ezra followed the movement of muscle under the tanned skin, as the blond nailed several boards back to where they were supposed to go. A storm had swept over the land in the last two days and several ranches and farms had been hit badly. Nettie Wells had been one of them and since she had no husband to work repairs, Vin had organized the help instead. He and Chris had ridden out yesterday to assess the damage and see what they needed. Today they had come back, with boards, nails and whatever was needed.
And Ezra had come along. Not that he had planned to do any handiwork. He was able to use tools, he knew how to repair a fence if the need arose, but when Chris had asked him Standish had been aware that none of that was really on the gunslinger's mind. Ezra had had a rather cagey feeling lately, confined to town as he was because he was still recovering from a gun wound, and getting out under supervision would appease Nathan. Then there was the fact that it meant being close to Larabee, even if it wasn't as close as he might wish. But just watching his lover work made up for it. Ten times.
Nettie had rented a room at the boarding house as long as it took to fix the roof and the other storm damage, so the three of them were alone out here. And Vin knew about Ezra and Chris, which didn't mean the two of them played it any different than normal. Letting their guard down now might make them careless when they were back in Four Corners. So Ezra settled back to simply admire the... topographically unique sights. He and Chris hadn't done more than just lay together in bed ever since Ezra had been allowed to sleep in his own room again. There had been some more intense touches, but nothing physically challenging.
Chris looked up from his work, giving the boards a critical once-over. Pleased with the result, he grabbed a towel and wiped off some sweat. He walked over to where Vin had earlier placed a bucket with fresh water. Tanner was currently out trying to scare them up some lunch, which left the two men alone with each other and the subliminal tension of having no one around to keep them reined in.
"Enjoying yourself?" Larabee asked as he wiped his lips, droplets of water falling to the ground.
Ezra gave him a dimpled smile. "Immensely."
He was actually feeling great. Just getting out of town had helped. As much as Ezra was a city boy, being confined to the saloon and his room had driven him up the walls. Not being able to leave when he wanted to was like imprisonment. Ezra understood Nathan's concern. The injury had been bad and he had lost a lot of blood. The scar still twinged now and then.
Chris gave him a broad, open smile and Ezra found himself returning it, his eyes lighting up. The gunslinger walked over to him and Ezra couldn't tear his gaze away from the lithe figure. He had seen him completely naked so many times already, but it was always a view he enjoyed. Right now, he could enjoy a partially clothed Chris, covered in sweat, out in the open, just the two of them. His eyes traveled down the long legs, then up to the tempting round butt cheeks.
Just the two of them....
Chris effortlessly climbed onto the bale of hay and knelt over Ezra's lap.
"Chris..." Ezra began, wanting to tell him that this might be a bit too risky, but the lips sealing his mouth stopped him.
Ezra answered the leisurely kiss, opening up under the gentle pressure, the book falling out of his hands. He put them onto the denim clad hips, pulling Chris closer as the taller man balanced himself with his arms against the bale behind Ezra. They nipped and kissed and licked at each other, teeth tugging at earlobes, lips and skin. The gambler let his arms slide around the slender waist as he gave some of his attention to the long column of throat, hearing Chris rumble appreciatively. He came back to the tempting mouth, drawing the tongue in again, moaning.
Finally they separated, Ezra breathing a bit harder. "Now I feel even better," he whispered, running one hand over the firm ass.
"Good," Chris answered again, grinning.
He flicked at a lock of hair, smoothing it back. He kissed Ezra's forehead, then leaned his against it. They stayed like that for a while, Ezra wrapping his arms more firmly around the man. He ran his hands over the drying back, tracing the vertebrae he felt, the muscles, the scars. He nibbled at a collar bone, licking at the patch of skin.
Chris simply buried his head in the chestnut hair, relaxing for the short time they had. Neither had any sexual intentions at the moment. It was just incredibly nice to sit together, enjoy the company, and not having to think about getting caught. They had done it before, but always safely behind the doors of a room.
"Vin might come back any minute," Ezra murmured, not really willing to let go of his lover.
"Mm-hm," was the answer.
"I know he knows about us, but this might be a bit awkward."
Ezra chuckled softly and nipped at the skin again. "I'd love to stay like this, Chris, but we should not embarrass our friend more than really necessary."
Larabee drew back, hazel eyes sparkling. He claimed the gambler's lips for another kiss, deeper, more demanding, full of promise. "Later," he whispered.
Ezra smiled. God, he hoped so. Except for that one time at the cabin, which had been a week ago, they hadn't even been in touching distance lately. There had been some cowhands making a ruckus in the frontier town, then the storm had hit. Ezra was used to the frustration of not touching, but the last week Chris had been more absent than ever. They hadn't even been able to sleep in the same bed.
"Later," he confirmed, sighing in displeasure as the warm weight on his thighs disappeared.
Larabee tousled the mussed up hair, drawing a yelp from his lover. He laughed as he looked at the disheveled gambler, enjoying the view of the not-so perfect styling. Ezra shot him a haughty glare and tried to finger-comb his hair back into style, removing some of the hay that was now lodged between the strands.
Vin had rather quickly caught them a lunch, gutting the two rabbits where he had caught them. He would skin them the moment the fire was going. Walking back to Nettie's ranch house, he stopped as he discovered Chris and Ezra sitting together. Closely sitting together. Actually, Chris sitting on top of Ezra, kissing him gently, leisurely, slowly. The gambler's hands were keeping the taller man close as he answered the kisses, and Vin quietly slid into the shadows of the house, not wanting to interrupt. His watchful gaze took in the surroundings, but he found no trace of anyone else there or approaching.
Ever since he had confirmed for himself that the two men were an item, Vin had also noticed how well they actually hid it whenever there was anyone else around. even out here, with the only other person being Tanner, who knew about them, there was no indication to their close relationship. Vin was aware how much control this had to take and he felt pained for Chris and Ezra that they had to keep a lid on their emotions. Few people actually understood that love knew no gender sometimes. For men and women to chose their own gender for love was seen as a sin in the eyes of the church and an abomination for the townsfolk. So they had to hide.
Coming out here, Vin had been pleased that Ezra had come along, even if it meant just sitting and watching. He liked the Southerner, they shared a good friendship, and since being out here meant being close to Chris for Ezra, Vin had made efforts to give the men the necessary privacy. Up until now, they hadn't used it.
The tracker smiled as he watched Chris hug Ezra, holding him close, kissing and nipping along the jaw line. An open smile was in the gunslingers eyes and he was relaxing into the sensual strokes of his lover. Ezra's injury had shocked the older man and Vin knew Chris had wanted to be close to the gambler, but he couldn't show him more concern than any other. So he had stayed away, except for one rare visit when Nathan had been called away from the clinic for most of the day. Vin had made sure they had had the necessary privacy. Just like now. He doubted they would start ripping each other's clothes off, but just the simple contact seemed to do wonders.
Chris reluctantly separated from his lover, touching him reassuringly, then tousled his hair. Vin had to laugh silently at the expression in Ezra's face. It was also his cue that he could approach. Both men were far enough apart not to be embarrassed that he had 'caught' them -- even though both knew that he was in on the secret.
Larabee shot him a smile and Ezra simple raised both eyebrows, a similar smile on his lips. Both men's eyes were sparkling and Vin couldn't help but shoot them a teasing look. It was good to see them so much at ease, even if they weren't doing anything suspicious.
"I see you procured us lunch," Ezra remarked.
"Yep. I'll get a fire going," Vin answered lightly. He looked at the repaired wall. "Looks much better already."
Chris nodded. "We should be done by nightfall, with the roof and all."
Vin had to agree. There were a few shingles loose and he had already fixed some of the new openings. "I'll stay here over night. Just in case someone's getting funny ideas. You'll be at the cabin?"
Chris had to smile. It was a blatant hint, a Tanner-style shove toward the obvious, which he hadn't even thought about. His cabin was close by, so he and Ezra could stay there for the night and then return to Four Corners.
"Yep," was all he answered.
Vin shot him a grin. Ezra rolled his eyes, but there was a sparkle in them that told Vin that his friend understood.
The rest of the day passed pleasantly. Repairs progressed and Ezra alternated between reading and watching them work. Especially Chris. It was hard not to watch his lover and he wondered how it all looked from the outside. Did he appear disinterested? Neutral? Or were the emotions he felt plainly visible? Vin knew about them, so there was no way to gauge a reaction there. Ezra didn't feel suicidal enough to test his emotional strength on one of the others. He had only agreed to come along because it had been Vin with them. If it had been Josiah or Nathan, he would have declined. He would never risk discovery.
The ride to the cabin was short and progressed more or less in silence. Vin had made up camp for the night at Nettie's ranch, to guard it against possible plunderers. They took care of the horses, Ezra aware of how often Chris glanced at him.
"Something the matter?" he asked teasingly as he slung his saddle bags over one shoulder.
Chris raked his eyes over him, slowly, with an almost predatory smile, and Ezra felt a tingle race down his spine, right to his groin.
"Yes," the man in black answered, voice low and dangerous.
"Can I offer any assistance with the problem?"
His throat went dry as Larabee walked slowly over to him. "Oh yeah," he growled.
Ezra allowed himself a smirk. He rested a hand against the chest so close to him and then let it wander south. Chris closed his eyes as he cupped his arousal, squeezing gently.
"I think I have discovered the nature of your problem, Mr. Larabee," he breathed.
Chris could only groan.
"Now let's work on a solution," the gambler added, smiling wickedly.
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