Four Corners was quiet at the moment. There was only a couple of drunks in the jail. Ezra Standish was on duty, playing solitaire while he waited for Buck to relieve him. It was nearly midnight. Ezra figured he could still get up a game in the saloon after he left the jail.
Buck came in nearly half an hour late, but Ezra didn't say much just handed over the keys and left.
He was walking towards the saloon when he heard a harmonica. Glancing around he spotted Vin Tanner, sitting on the steps to the general store, quietly blowing into the small mouth organ.
He stood a moment listening then diverted his path to walk over and sit down on the steps below Vin, leaning back a bit and closing his eyes to listen.
After a moment Vin stopped playing, curiosity in his eyes.
Ezra turned his head to look up at Vin, "Please, Mister Tanner, do not cease on my account. I joined you here so that I might better enjoy your rendition."
Vin considered that for a moment, "Chris and them calls what I play noise 'stead of music. Figured fer sure ya'd agree with'em."
Ezra shrugged then said, "I can not say that I disagree with their evaluation completely. Surely one could not dance to the... sounds you coax from that instrument nor sing to it, still it is a pleasant enough sound." He paused before adding, "Perhaps it is less the sounds themselves than the... images that they invoke."
"What'da ya hear when I play?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"I know what I'm playin'. I wanna know what ya hear... or what images it in-- invokes as ya said."
"That is... I... am not certain that I can explain."
"Well... uh... Play."
Ezra remained silent as Vin began to play again. He really wasn't certain that he wanted to tell the tracker what the music reminded him of. It was a precious memory of one of the few times he'd been truly happy as a child.
Vin played for several minutes before he faltered slightly.
Ezra realized that Vin was about to stop again and he didn't want him to. He was truly enjoying sitting there listening to the tracker's noise as the others called it. Perhaps only because doing so allowed him to be near the handsome man. Alone in what was a fairly intimate setting, sharing something that the others did not understand. Fearing that if he did not speak the man would get up and leave he took a deep breath and began in a soft voice, not wanting it to carry across to anyone else.
"It takes me back, Mister Tanner, to a rare happy time. A summer day." He paused until Vin began to play more strongly again, "I was nine that summer. Mother foisted me off on great aunt Oleana. She was a widow, eighty if she was a day. Her husband and she had spent sixty years planting and tending a fruit orchard with apple, peach and cherry trees. She was one of the few relatives that did not view me as free labor. She said a boy should be allowed to be a boy and I spent that whole summer free as a lark, running barefoot and shirtless through the orchard. There was a slow moving creek that ran through the back of the orchard, the bank lined with weeping willows."
He fell silent a moment listening to the sounds Vin was making on the harmonica, "When you play Mister Tanner I can close my eyes and be that little boy again. Lying on the soft warm grass of the creek bank, my feet danglin' in the cool clear water, the sun warm upon my face. I can hear the wind blowin' soft through the leaves, smell the scent of cherry blossoms floating on it, feel the water running across my feet. There was a gaggle of geese that lived in the creek and I can hear them honking and hissing.... Squirrels chasing each other around the tree trunks... a jaybird squawking at them when they got too close to her nest. There was this big ole box turtle lived in the creek. He was so big I could sit on his back and he could still walk. Biggest turtle I ever saw...." His voice trailed off. Lost in the memory.
After a moment Vin stopped playing and said softly. "What I'm playing... it's the sound of the wind in the pines up in the high lonesome mountains. Clear bubbling stream runnin' through a green valley... bluebird singin'.... The prairie...."
"Tall grass rustlin' in the wind...." Ezra murmured.
"Waterfall...." Vin whispered,
"Sparklin' and clear. Rainbows formin' in the mist...."
"In the clear pool below the falls...."
"Ya can hear them splashin'..." Vin reached out a hand to flip the gambler's hat off so that he could run his fingers through Ezra's hair.
Ezra turned to look at him, his eyes dilated in the dim light. "Yes."
Vin's fingers slipped through his hair and the hand glided across his shoulders so that the arm encircled him, drawing him close as the tracker bent to brush his lips across the gambler's.
A softly spoken, "Yes." As the gambler's eyes drifted closed and he leaned into the embrace told Vin that the kiss was welcome.
The kiss was gentle, a slow tender exploration.
After a moment Ezra drew back. "We need to take this somewhere more private, Mistah Tannah."
Ezra shook his head slightly, "Creek. I want ta hear the music of the water while you make love ta me."
Vin smiled and brushed his lips across the gambler's one more time. "Yer a romantic, Ez."
Ezra ducked his head, resting it against Vin's chest as he confessed with some trepidation, "It's where Ah go to dream about you..."
Vin laughed softly, "Reckon we just been missin' each other, then. Cause it's where I go ta dream about you."