by SueN.

Once inside the cabin, struck anew by the reality of what was happening, Chris felt all his former uncertainties hit him again in a rush. Vin had moved to the bed and was standing beside it, had stripped off his hide coat, boots, bright red bandanna and slouch hat, and was now unbuckling his gunbelt. Watching the man divest himself of all the items that seemed to make him so uniquely him, Larabee felt a sudden stab of fear.

This was it, then. They were shrugging off layers, breaking down walls, going beyond even that unfathomable bond they already shared to find a level of intimacy he had never imagined they would seek. And once they had reached it, he knew, there would be no going back.

What he and Vin did here, today, would either strengthen them or destroy them, and he wasn't sure he was ready to take that chance.

Vin, however, was. Sensing the change in Larabee's mood, he hung the belt that held his mare's leg from the bedpost, then turned to the older man. Seeing every doubt, every fear, written in that face, he crossed the distance between them in a few steps, his eyes seeking and snaring Chris's, his hands reaching at once for the older man's and holding tightly to them.

"It's all right," he assured him softly, smiling slightly. "We ain't gotta rush inta nothin'. I don't want you doin' nothin' you ain't sure about."

"What about you?" Chris asked, studying the younger man intently. "Are you sure about this?"

Vin's smile widened and he stepped closer his still, pressing himself against Larabee. "Oh, yeah," he breathed with absolute certainty, feeling his love for this man in every part of his body, feeling that love giving life and strength to his body. "Ain't ever been surer of nothin' in my life. You're it fer me, cowboy. Yer all I've ever wanted, 'n ever'thing I never thought I'd have."

"Show me," Chris whispered pleadingly. "Show me how sure you are."

Vin needed no more invitation than that. Still smiling, his deep blue gaze locked on Larabee's dark green one, he reached up and began unbuttoning the man's dark red shirt, his long, nimble fingers lingering over each button, tracing circles around it against Chris's chest before slipping it through the hole. As his hands progressed lower, he leaned closer and pressed his mouth to Larabee's jaw, just under his left ear, and worked along it, kissing, licking, biting, his lips, tongue and teeth moving with a tantalizing slowness, a delicious thoroughness. He loved the taste of this man, loved the scent of him, the feel of him, wanted nothing more than to take those into himself and feed his soul upon them.

Chris shivered and gasped as that mouth and those hands ignited a white heat beneath his flesh, as wave after wave of intense, almost unbearable pleasure swept through him. Tanner's teeth scraped over his chin, that warm tongue laved down its cleft, and then that glorious, talented mouth was sucking hungrily, sending fire shooting along his every nerve.

"Jesus, Vin!" he groaned harshly.

Tanner laughed softly, his breath puffing against Larabee's flesh and drawing another shudder from the man. "Like this, do ya?" he whispered.

Chris wanted to answer, but couldn't; he was rapidly losing the power of speech, the power of thought. Now Vin's mouth was moving down his throat, and he lifted his head to give it greater access, closing his eyes and clutching helplessly at the younger man to keep himself from falling.

Oh, God, God, where had this pleasure come from?

Vin licked and kissed his way down that long, inviting column, found the Adam's apple and seized hungrily upon it, sucking slowly, losing himself in Chris. He'd wanted this man for so long, could barely believe he now had him. And the reality of it was far better than any dream he'd ever had.

Before Chris knew it, he was being stripped of his shirt, and he let it go without a single twinge of unease. Then Vin was pulling off his undershirt, and he felt the kiss of cool air against his naked chest. But that kiss was immediately replaced by one from warm lips, by the exquisite movements of that hot, questing mouth against his flesh, by the slow slide of callused fingers down his sides, and he knew then what Tanner had in mind.

Goddamn tracker was trying to kill him.

A hand drifted down to his thigh, untied the thong that held his holster in place and easily untied it, rubbing slow circles through his pants in the process. Then Vin's hands came together at the buckle of his gunbelt and began unfastening it, their fingers igniting a hot, throbbing ache in his loins, a deep, driving need in his hardening flesh. Tanner stripped the gunbelt from him and dropped it to the floor, then returned his hands to Larabee's pants. He slid the backs of his fingers lightly down the fly, finding and rubbing the tight bulge at the gunman's crotch. As the blond gasped sharply and shuddered violently, Tanner abruptly closed his mouth hard about one brown nipple, biting and sucking ravenously. Larabee yelped and shuddered again as hot waves of pain and pleasure erupted through him.

But it was a helluva way to die!

Vin teased the taut brown nub with his teeth, biting down on it as he laved his tongue against it, fulfilling every dream he'd ever had about this man. Larabee's body was more beautiful than he'd dared imagine, and he intended to know and taste every inch of it before he was through.

He went back and forth from one nipple to the other, taking his time with each, licking, sucking and biting them to pebble hardness, delighting in the harsh, breathless moans he drew from the self- controlled man. He was determined to shatter that control, to leave it broken ruins at Larabee's feet, to have the man writhing and screaming in helpless pleasure and begging him for more.

And he'd give the man all he could take.

Chris groaned thickly as those hands moved slowly down his crotch, lingering over each button before pushing it through its hole, then howled as sharp teeth bit deeply into a pectoral. Pain seared through him, then a wet tongue lapped at the bite and warm breath blew across it, turning the hot pain to even hotter pleasure.

"Oh, God!" he whispered. "Vin..."

Another button slipped free, and again those teeth bit into him, tearing another cry from him. Then came the tongue, the breath, a tender kiss, and what little thought remained to him disappeared entirely. Only sensation remained, and the deep, desperate ache of rising, raging need.

Oh, God! GodGodGodshitGod...

Vin marked both sides of Larabee's chest with his teeth, making his claim on the man visible. Then, when the pants were undone -- and Larabee undone with them -- he gripped the waistband, snagging the underpants as well, and pushed them down, slithering slowly down Chris's body with them. Within moments, he had the gunman stripped of boots and pants, then, on his knees, he began licking, kissing, biting and stroking his way back up the long, strong legs, delighting in the contrast of hard bone and iron muscle beneath tender flesh. He blew soft puffs of air through the golden hair sprouting from that flesh, tongued the hollows of Chris's knees, bit and sucked at the sweet flesh of his inner thighs.

As he made his way up those beautiful legs, the warm, heady scent of the man's sex engulfed him, filled his mind, his soul, and brought his own flesh to rigid, aching fullness. He could feel himself straining urgently against his pants, desperately needing release, but he ignored, for now, his own pain, his own want, and concentrated solely on pleasuring Chris.

And never more than now had Larabee realized just how fierce, how focused, the tracker's concentration could be. The man seemed to know where every single nerve in his body was and hit them all, sending frissons of fire, of pain, of pleasure, along each one, until his whole damn body was a quivering mass of molten hunger. Breathless, wordless cries escaped him, hard shudders racked him, lightning danced before his eyes and thunder pounded in his ears.

Still the storm only intensified.

Vin slid his hands around to Chris's ass and claimed his firm, full cheeks, slowly kneading the taut mounds of flesh. At the same time, he licked his way up one crease between Larabee's thigh and groin and down the other, neglecting, for the moment, the thick, twitching staff of leaking flesh between them. From the gunman's groin, he licked his way to his balls, blowing against them, sliding his tongue over the crease between them, then drawing the lightly furred sacs into his mouth and sucking at them, humming deep in his throat.

Larabee bucked wildly and cried out sharply as bolts of fire jolted through him, as the tracker's sucking and humming sent shards of white-hot pain shooting from his balls into his cock. He cried out again and drove his hands into Tanner's hair, pulling that wondrously talented mouth still closer to him and thrusting his hips frantically, feverishly, consumed in fire of the younger man's making. Sweat poured from his flesh and his breath tore from him in ragged, heaving gasps, and still Tanner tortured him.

But Vin, recognizing Larabee's torment, knew it was time to end it. Releasing Chris's balls, he rose shakily to his feet and took the man's hand, leading him the few steps to the bed. Laying Chris down upon it, he settled himself between those beautiful legs and turned at last to the thick, leaking cock, his appetite whetted by the powerful musk wafting from it. Unable any longer to deny himself this, he pressed his tongue to the underside of the rigid staff at its base and licked slowly, slowly along its hard length, reached the wet, spongy head and traced circles against it, then licked his way along the top back down to the base. But with Chris's tantalizing taste now in his mouth, he could no longer resist the allure, and licked his way back to the head, then took the thick flesh into his mouth.

Chris bucked wildly and screamed as that hot mouth engulfed him, as Vin seemed to swallow him whole. He cried out again and arched off the bed, writhing in mindless agony as the firestorm of pain and pleasure pounded through him.

Vin clamped down hard on Larabee's hips to hold him still and sucked at him, feeding ravenously on the man. He'd wanted Chris for so long, had been determined from the first to make him his. Now that he had him, he was determined not to waste a moment with him, to waste a morsel of him, but would savor every taste and store each one away in his soul.

He'd known famine far too often not to appreciate a feast when he had one.

Chris clutched at Tanner's hands and thrust himself further into that glorious mouth, his whole body arching, the cords of his neck standing out as he drove his head into the mattress. The heat within him was rising, raging, churning, building into a violent boil. He felt it at the base of his spine, in his tightening balls, the hard- edged tingling that seemed to vibrate in every part of him. Another cry tore from him and he arched again, then screamed aloud as he erupted into a flaming tide.


Tanner caught the hot stream that jetted forth, swallowed hungrily the streaming, salty essence of the man he loved, took every drop into his mouth and milked Larabee for still more. He sucked furiously at his spurting cock, tore a hand from his hips to squeeze his balls, needing all of this man he could get. He drained Chris dry, worked him until he was empty, and only then did he let the slack and softened flesh slip from his mouth and slither up the naked, trembling body to claim the beautiful mouth with his own.

Chris groaned and closed rubbery arms about the slim body atop his, tasting himself upon the lips that possessed his. He still couldn't think, could do nothing save react to his own instinctive, incredible need for this man. That need pulsed in his blood, was seated in his flesh and his bone, misted in every breath he took. He had no idea when it had become a part of him, but knew with unshakable certainty he'd never again be without it.

Vin lifted his mouth from Chris's and slid himself to the gunman's side, smiling into his soft and sated eyes. "So," he rasped quietly, gently brushing the sweat-sodden hair off Larabee's high forehead, "got it figgered out yet?"

Chris laughed softly at hearing again the question Vin had asked earlier. "Yeah."

Tanner arched a brow. "And?"

Larabee's smile turned wry. "Seems I've wasted a whole lotta time." He raised a still-unsteady hand to stroke Vin's face and gazed deeply into the shimmering eyes that held such love for him. "Don't know why I didn't see it sooner. I'm sorry."

"'S all right." He leaned over and kissed Chris again. "Ya see it now, 'n that's what counts. You jist needed ta stop fightin' yerself, needed ta stop tryin' ta see what wasn't there 'n open yer eyes ta what was."

Chris chuckled and pulled the younger man closer. "I gotta say, pard, you got one helluva way of openin' a man's eyes."

Vin's quicksilver grin lit his whole face. "Some of us're jist natur'ly gifted, cowboy," he drawled.

Chris laughed again and pulled Vin to him, kissing him soundly. Then, abruptly, he pushed the tracker away and frowned up at him. "It occurs ta me," he said in a low, stern voice, "that I'm the only one lyin' here naked. Now, why the hell d'you suppose that is?"

Again, Tanner's brow rose and he shot the gunman a withering look. "I reckon 'cause somebody in this bed's a selfish bastard who never thinks'a nobody except hisself. While I was busy tendin' ta you, you coulda been strippin' me, but you jist sorta stood there. Now, I ain't complainin', mind, but seein's how you brought it up--"

"After what we just did," Chris scolded, "now you're gonna make me shoot ya?"

Vin leaned over and nuzzled at his ear. "Was kinda hopin' I'd git ta shoot somethin' m'self," he breathed.

Chris growled and abruptly flipped the Texan onto his back, climbing atop him and smiling wolfishly down into startled eyes. "What's the matter, boy?" he asked in a low, hard voice, his green eyes gleaming wickedly, "Ain't you ever had a bounty turn on ya before? That's what happens when you get cocky." At that word, he ground his ass into Tanner's crotch, tearing a strangled squeak from the younger man. "Like you said before, pard, it's a fine line 'tween hunter and hunted."

Vin swallowed hard, his eyes wide, his heart quickening in his breast. A warm, dark flush spread through his flesh, and an answering heat ignited at his crotch. He was acutely, painfully aware of the tightly leashed power of the lean body atop him, could feel that power coursing through muscles coiled to strike. He'd opened Larabee's eyes to the pleasure that being with another man could bring, had taught him what delights it held.

But he'd forgotten just how fast a learner the man could be.

"My ma always said," Chris murmured, bowing his head toward Tanner's, "that a gift requires a thank you.' So," he swept his lips lightly, lovingly over Vin's, "thank you."

Vin shivered and groaned as that mouth took his in a deep, demanding kiss, as Larabee cast aside gentleness for hunger, as he was engulfed in the older man's power and passion. Chris shifted off him and sat up, and he was borne up into the man's embrace, imprisoned in strong arms and crushed against that broad chest, caught fast in a snare he wouldn't have broken for anything in this world.

Chris buried his mouth in Vin's with a low growl, devouring him with a rapacious hunger. His tongue demanded entry, and Tanner gave it willingly, withholding nothing from the man. Their tongues touched, tasted, twined, joining in an intimate dance, while their lips crushed ever harder, as if they sought to meld by sheer force alone.

Tanner's taste went straight to Larabee's head, more intoxicating than the finest whiskey. But he needed more, much more, and, like a drunk needing to slake his thirst, or a starving man needing to feed his hunger, he began stripping the tracker of his clothes, unable any longer to endure any barrier at all between them.

Vin was no help at all, was much too intent on exploring the body imprisoning him to lend any aid to his own undressing. His hands kneaded Chris's broad shoulders, memorizing the play of hard muscle beneath soft flesh, and raked down the long back, clawing, scraping and stroking, learning the blessed feel of this man. He growled menacingly as Larabee reached back and gripped his wrists, as his hands were torn free and pushed to his own sides, and, instinctively, he fought back.

"Easy, pard, easy," Chris soothed, never lifting his mouth from Vin's. "Just lemme get your shirt off, then you can get back ta work."

Vin bit down on Chris's lower lip. "Best hurry, then," he snarled around that lip. "Got a lotta work ta do."

"Might wanta let go of that," Chris warned, touching his forehead to Vin's and glaring into fierce blue eyes. "I'm gonna need it later."

Still holding Larabee's lip between his teeth, Vin gave a feral grin. "Might jist take it fer a trophy," he murmured. "Y'know, some folks say I ain't no more'n a savage."

"I've heard that," Chris said, smiling as best he could with his lip held prisoner. "Fact is, Tanner, I'm countin' on it."

The frank desire in that low, warm voice went through Vin like a heated blade, searing straight to his cock. As he shuddered and gasped, Chris pulled his lip free and tore off the tracker's shirt, finding two undershirts beneath it.

"What the hell?" he asked sharply, poking a finger into Tanner's chest. "You are under there somewhere, right?"

"Fuck you," Vin retorted. "I git cold easy. 'Sides, a little work never hurt nobody."

"Yeah, but you ain't a little' work, Tanner," Chris groused, tugging both undershirts over the tracker's head and arms. "You're a lotta work, and you always have been."

"Reckon so," Vin whispered, leaning forward and pressing his mouth to the pulse at Larabee's throat, "but I'm worth it."

"Goddamn... uppity... Texan," Chris breathed unsteadily, closing his eyes and rolling his head to one side as Vin nuzzled at his throat. "Gonna shoot... your scrawny... ass..."

"Uh-uh," Vin grunted, nibbling his way to Larabee's collarbone. "Got other plans fer that. Jesus, you taste good!"

Chris groaned harshly as Vin sucked at the corner of his collarbone, as the younger man easily awakened the need he'd thought was sated. But his cock was surging once more to throbbing life, straining against the answering fullness at Tanner's crotch and reminding him of yet another barrier between them.

"Still got too damn many clothes on, pard," he said roughly. "I need ta finish unwrappin' my gift."

Vin raised his head, lifted glittering eyes gone almost black with desire to Larabee's darkening green ones, and nodded. Without a word, he slid off the older man's lap and rose to his feet, unbuttoning his pants with trembling hands and pushing them down from his hips. He was intensely aware of Chris's gaze on him, following his every move, and a sudden wave of shyness hit him. He knew it was ridiculous, knew it was far too late for any timidity or hesitation between them, but couldn't help himself. Chris was so damn beautiful, perfection itself in his eyes, and part of him feared that he wouldn't measure up, that he would somehow disappoint the man whom he wanted only to please.

Lord, what if Chris really did think he was scrawny?

He needn't have worried. As Larabee watched the tracker slowly undress, his breath caught in his throat and his heart hammered wildly in his breast. His eyes widened as he stared, and his mouth went dry.

Goddamn, he was beautiful!

His lean frame carried not an ounce of fat upon it, was as sleek and sinewy as a cat's, his taut muscles rippling with a lithe and tensile power beneath smooth skin. Strong shoulders topped a slender chest that tapered down to narrow hips and a flat, tight stomach. His legs were long and slim, and, between them, nestled in a thick thatch of brown curls, his cock stood full and erect, tearing another harsh gasp from Chris.

Jesus God, what had he done to deserve this?

At that gasp, Vin lifted his head and looked at Chris, and felt all his uncertainties melt away. The man was staring at him in unabashed wonder, heat flashing in his smoldering eyes, and he was suddenly embarrassed to be the object of such frank adoration.

"Ain't gotta stare," he said softly, bowing his head and shifting uncomfortably on his feet. "Ain't nothin' here worth the effort."

"You're wrong there, pard," Chris breathed, getting to his feet and standing before the younger man. Reaching out, he slipped a hand under that down-turned chin and lifted until Vin's eyes again met his. "You're about the finest damn sight I've ever seen, Tanner, and don't you ever think otherwise, you hear?"

Vin licked his lips and nodded slowly, mesmerized by those luminous green eyes. Chris's thumb was lightly stroking his chin, and he couldn't remember ever having felt a more loving touch in his life. Had never in his life felt more wanted than he did right now.

Chris watched all the age, all the toughness, all the hardness, fade from that face, from those twilight blue eyes, and felt his heart clench as he beheld the true youth and soul-deep beauty of the man before him. Drawn irresistibly into that beauty, he bowed his head and leaned forward, capturing Vin's mouth with his in a kiss as hungry as it was tender. He slipped his arms around Tanner and pulled him close, cradling the smaller man tightly to him and worshiping him with his mouth.

The force of that kiss swept through Vin like a mountain thunderstorm, all but tearing his soul from its moorings. His knees buckled and he clutched at Chris, then felt himself being lowered to the bed. Larabee's mouth never left him, and he never wanted it to.

Chris lay the tracker back against the mattress and took his place atop him, thrilling to the feel of Vin against him. As his mouth continued feasting on Tanner's, he swept a hand slowly down his body, tracing the hard curve of ribs, the supple steel of muscles, the surprising satin of his flesh. Every inch of the tracker was a revelation to him, and he cursed again his own foolishness at having denied himself this for so long.

But maybe he could make up for lost time, now that he'd come to his senses.

And in coming to his senses, he proceeded to strip Vin of his. He launched a shattering assault against the tracker's mind, body and soul until he had him writhing, gasping and moaning in near- delirious arousal. He licked, kissed, stroked, bit and fondled his way over every inch of Vin's body, starting at the tops of his feet and working his way up with agonizing slowness, learning the scents, tastes and textures of the man, memorizing every scar and mapping every freckle.

Freckles, his mind marveled. Who would've thought the tough-as-rawhide tracker would have soft skin and freckles?

He also discovered that the deadliest man he'd ever known had a number of places where he was hysterically ticklish, and he explored every one. The soles of Vin's feet, the bend of his left knee, on his sides just beneath the ribcage, the spot just below his navel -- he attacked them all, delighting in the peals of laughter that escaped his squirming lover.

His lover. The thought brought him up short, and he raised his face from Tanner's belly to gaze into his darkly flushed face, for the first time realizing the true extent, the true nature, of his feelings for the tracker. His lover. More than that, though, far more... the man he loved.

Vin stared into his eyes, saw their widening and the sudden comprehension flooding their depths, and smiled slightly. Knowing intuitively what had just struck the gunman, he reached down and ran unsteady fingers through the thick, sweat-damp blond hair.

"Sorta takes yer breath away, don't it?" he drawled.

Chris nodded and breathed, "Yeah. But then," a slow smile curved about his wide mouth and his green eyes gleamed hungrily, "so do you."

"Y'ain't so bad yerself, cowboy," Vin rasped. "Could look at you all day."

"You look, then." He winked. "Me, I got other plans." And he bowed his head once more, tonguing the shallow dip of Tanner's navel, then sliding his mouth slowly downward to the bed of brown curls and the thick flesh that rose so tantalizingly from it.

"JESUS!" Vin yelped and bucked as the tongue that was his torment and his delight lapped cat-like at the junction of his cock and groin, as the gunman brought all his formidable attention to bear on his aching, throbbing flesh. Slivers of pain drove into him as Larabee's teeth nipped at him, and fire shot through him as the man slid his tongue along the prominent vein. A fingernail pushed back his foreskin and scraped across the weeping slit, while callused hands fondled his balls. He cried out harshly and bucked again, then howled aloud and arched off the bed as that hot, wet mouth closed about him.

Chris grabbed the thrashing hips to hold them in place, then took Vin as deep as he could. The tracker's taste and pungent scent overwhelmed him, and he sucked hungrily at him, needing as much of the man as he could take into himself. He'd never been with another man before, had no experience from which to draw, but he knew what brought pleasure to him, and used that now with Vin. Still sucking, he freed one hand from Tanner's hip and slid it to his belly, rubbing slow circles there, then brought it down to his balls. Working with the same rhythm as his mouth, he kneaded and rolled them in their sac, intensifying his actions when he felt them tightening.

Vin arched his back and knotted his fingers in the bedding, thrusting into that all-consuming mouth and nearly sobbing as hot torrents of pain and pleasure pounded through him. Harder, higher the raging tide rose, sweeping him helplessly along on its current. Then Larabee began to hum, and he screamed as he exploded into shattering release.

Chris swallowed eagerly the hot juices spurting into his mouth, greedily drank his lover into himself. The salty fluid poured over his tongue and he gulped it down like a man dying of thirst. Only when he was certain there was no more did he relinquish the flaccid flesh and slide up to gather Vin into his arms, reclaiming his lips in a soft and gentle kiss, sharing with Tanner what he had shared with him.

Breathless, drained and shaking, Vin curled himself about Chris's body and laid his head on the older man's chest, closing his eyes and taking strength from the steady beating of Larabee's heart. That beat echoed in the throbbing of his own now, he knew; they'd been joined in so many ways they'd never be separate again.

Finally, they were as they had been meant to be.

Chris cradled Vin to him and ran a hand gently through the damp, tangled mass of his hair, smiling slightly in amazement at what had happened, and what was happening still. He was, he realized, perfectly content, for the first time since he'd laid Sarah in the ground. He lifted his head from the pillow and kissed Vin's hair.

"What was that for?" Tanner asked drowsily, his spent body drifting toward sleep.

"For everything," Chris breathed, tightening his arms about the smaller man.

Vin smiled lazily, his heavy eyelids closing. "Oh, that wasn't ever'thing, cowboy," he murmured. "Not by a long shot."

Chris arched an eyebrow in surprise. "There's more?"

Vin gave a low, throaty chuckle, then forced his eyes open and raised his head. Resting his chin on Larabee's chest, he smiled crookedly and drawled, "Hell, yeah. 'N I plan ta show it all to ya."

Chris felt a twinge of uneasiness at the unholy glint in those eyes. He'd always thought Tanner's shyness around women meant he was inexperienced, but, watching him lick his lips now like a wolf about to feed, he had to wonder.

"Why is it," he asked warily, "that when you look at me like that I start ta feel like I'm gonna be your dinner?"

The wolfish grin widened. "Well, y' are right tasty." Blue eyes gleamed brilliantly. "Reckon I c'd suck on yer bones all day."

Chris couldn't suppress the shiver that low, husky drawl sent through him, and wondered again if Vin were trying to kill him. "You need ta be kept away from civilized people, you know that, don'tcha?"

Vin tilted his head slightly to one side, his eyes impossibly wide and impossibly deep. "You gonna make that yer job?" he asked in a raspy whisper, running a forefinger over Larabee's chin. "I'm told I c'n be somethin' of a handful."

"I'll bet you can," Chris breathed helplessly. "But," he warned, "I better not ever catch you in anybody's hands but mine."

Vin's eyes went wider still, then he slid up slightly and bowed his head, nuzzling lightly at Larabee's cheek. "If ya did," he whispered against the whisker-roughened flesh, "would ya kill 'em?"

Chris shivered and groaned. "Yeah."

Vin nibbled at his chin. "Would ya kill me?"

"Hell," Chris gasped, "I oughtta kill you now. Save myself a lotta trouble in the future."

"Mm," Vin agreed, nipping at the gunman's throat, "prob'ly would. But you'd miss out on a lotta fun, too."

"You're an evil bastard, Tanner," Chris whispered hoarsely as that mouth worked its way down his throat. "My own personal demon sent from hell ta torment me."

"Yep." He tongued the notch in Larabee's collarbone. "But you love me, don'tcha?"

Chris arched a brow at that, then gripped Tanner's head and raised it from his chest. "Cocky bastard, ain'tcha?" he growled into that startled face. "What makes you think I love you?"

The startlement quickly faded. Pulling out of Chris's hands, Vin sat up, straddling the gunman's lean hips and regarding him with a smug smile. "I'm a tracker, remember?" he drawled. "I read sign fer a livin'."

Chris grunted. "I thought you took in men for a livin'."

Vin nodded. "Yep, that, too." He leaned forward and set his hands on Larabee's shoulders, "Got you, didn't I? Took me a while, I'll grant ya that, but I got ya. Once I mark a man, he don't ever get away."

Chris raised a hand to finger the tender bruises near one nipple. "You mark all your bounties this way?"

Vin shook his head slowly and leaned lower still. "Nope," he breathed, "jist you. Wanted ta make sure you knew you was mine. Could brand ya, but," he bowed his head and nipped at the corner of Chris's mouth with his teeth, "I figgered you'd like this way better."

"Evil," Chris gasped, closing his eyes and twining his arms about the body draped over his. "Pure evil."

"Reckon so."

"You're lucky I don't have my gun."

Vin scraped his teeth down Larabee's chin. "Could get it fer ya."

"Mm." Chris tightened his arms about Vin, swept his lips over the tracker's cheek. "Maybe later. But I am gonna kill ya."

"Yeah, I know." He kissed Larabee, then slid to his side and lay down, curling close to the gunman and slipping one leg between his two. "I live in constant fear."

Chris drew Vin's head onto his shoulder and wrapped his arms about him. "You're a smart-ass, you know that?"

"Mm hm."

Chris watched the blue eyes close, felt the slender body grow heavy with sleep, and saw perfect peace fall upon the face that so seldom knew its touch. "And you're right," he said softly, placing a gentle kiss to Tanner's forehead. "I do love you."

"Told ya so," Vin murmured. "Damn uppity cowboy." He snuggled closer and sighed contentedly. "I love you, too."


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