Vin Tanner sighed as he looked out over the desert spread out under the dawn's light. He loved this time of day, loved sitting on this high perch watching the sun rising.
Although he was for the most part a solitary man, he had come to love it more when he had company, but that was because he loved the man who some days kept him company here. He loved the sturdy body that would sit between his legs, leaning back against his chest, head resting on his shoulder as he murmured the quiet poems that seemed to sing to him in this place into an attentive ear.
He would never know how Ezra did it, but the gambler always remembered every word and would write them down in a book he kept just for Vin's poems. He supposed he should be grateful to Ezra for writing them down, else they would be lost forever. He never thought to bring paper and pencil to write them as he thought them up and most just slipped away, forgotten, soon after they left his lips. But Ezra preserved them, saying he liked to have them to read when they could not be together.
He sighed again, then tilted his head listening to the sound of horse's hooves on the hard packed dirt trail. Only a few people knew about this place and his affinity for it. He smiled at the word. Affinity. Ezra had taught it to him.
Ezra. He knew about this place of course, but he was gone to St. Louis to visit his mother. Was supposed to be playing in a poker tournament in that fancy gambling casino that Maude had bought. So, it shouldn't be him.
Chris knew, but he'd just stop on the trail below and holler up at him to come down.
Josiah knew, too, and you never could tell about the preacher. He might stand down and holler up or he might decide to climb up.
Whoever it was had decided to climb up.
He rose and turned, expecting to see Josiah.
Ezra Standish grinned up at him as he climbed the final few feet to join Vin on the outcropping. "Good morning, Mister Tanner," he greeted cheerfully.
"Ez? You're back." He said, realizing how stupid it sounded even as the words left his mouth.
"I am." Ezra sounded inordinately pleased about it. He strolled casually over to Vin and past to take his usual place just back from the edge of the rock outcropping, leaving just enough room for Vin to take his usual place behind him, between him and the boulder that they always sat in front of.
Vin didn't hesitate to slip into place behind Ezra, wrapping his arms around the gambler and hugging him tightly.
"Thought ya was gonna be gone for a month or more? You lose all your money in that fancy gambling hall of yer ma's?"
"Not at all. I did quite well at the tables actually. In fact that is why I have returned so early. I missed you and something came across the table that made me think of you and as you know we gamblers are superstitious, so, I decided that it was an omen that it was time I returned to you."
"Really? What was it?" Vin asked curiosity piqued.
Ezra slipped a hand into his pocket and then drew it back out. Holding it where Vin would see he opened his fist to reveal a rough bluish crystal.
Oblong shaped it was about an inch and a half round and three inches long.
Vin reached for it and Ezra let him have it. Turning it in his hand, Vin frowned. "Ain't quartz, is it?"
"Indeed not." Ezra chuckled. "That, Mister Tanner is a diamond. A rare blue diamond of the type referred to as a 'blue water diamond' because when cut and polished it is the color of deep blue waters such as that lovely mountain lake you are so fond of."
"That's how it reminded you of me."
"No love. I know you are not one for looking at yourself in mirrors but it is also the color of your eyes. That is why it reminded me of you and why I want you to have it."
"Ez, this is a pretty fair hunk of rock. It must be worth a fortune. I can't---"
"You can and will. I thought at first of having it cut into two stones and having matching rings made with them but then I realized that you are not the kind of man that goes in for fancy do-dads. Besides in cutting a stone something is always lost. That stone as it is, is approximately thirty to forty carets. Cutting it would produce, at most, two fifteen-caret diamonds or one twenty caret. I want you to have it just as it is to remind you that I love you, just as you are. "
He took Vin's hand in his, curling the fingers to close lightly around the diamond. "This diamond, as rough and raw as it is, is beautiful and valuable and you, my love, as rough and wild as you are, are beautiful and valuable. Your love, your loyalty and your trust are the most valuable things in my life and I need to know that you understand that and that you know how thankful I am that you are part of my life, how thankful I am that you love me."
"Ain't got nothing to give you in turn, Ez."
"I don't need anything in turn. The love, the safety and security I feel when I am in your arms is more than enough. It is worth more than all the diamonds and gold in the world."
He sighed softly and relaxed back into Vin's arms, his head coming to rest against Vin's shoulder as all the tension drained out of him.
"It's so good to be home, in your arms, where I belong." Ezra murmured, snuggling deeper into Vin's embrace.
Vin hugged him gently, the diamond, held loosely in his hand as he bent his head to press a kiss Ezra's neck. "I love ya, Ezra Standish."
"Ah know." The soft words where a contented sigh.
Vin smiled and held his lover as the rising sun, turned the world to gold around them.
Now it was a perfect day.