Fandom: Magnificent 7 Series: None Rating: NC-17 Pairing: Ezra/Vin Archive: Starwinder's Title: Not Exactly Hearts and Flowers Author: Starwinder
Summary: Vin and Ezra exchange their first Valentine's gifts.
Not Exactly Hearts and Flowers
Ezra Standish sighed as he closed the door to his room and leaned back against it. He glanced at the clock on the dresser and sighed again. Two-ten a.m.
Valentine's Day was gone. He didn't know why he felt so disappointed. It wasn't as if he had had any plans. He knew his lover wouldn't be back before today. Vin, Chris and Buck had gone to deliver a pair of prisoners to the sheriff in Ridge City. They weren't due back for another two days... and with Eagle Rock Pass closed by the snowstorm yesterday, they might well not be back until next week.
He looked at the dresser again as he pushed off from the door and took a step towards it. The box beside the clock held his gaze now. Long and narrow, wrapped in brown paper, as plain and simple as the man he had bought it for. Vin Tanner didn't care for fancy.
He smiled to himself. Except perhaps in his men.
Old Nettie Wells had called Ezra 'that fancy man' and Vin had gotten that little mischievous smile of his and soon began calling Ezra 'my fancy man' in bed. Of course he had retaliated by calling Vin 'my scruffy tracker'. It hadn't taken long for "Fancy Man" and "Scruffy Tracker" to become their chosen terms of endearment. Terms that they could use even in public without anyone being aware of what the words meant to them.
Still... he had bought the gift, knowing that Vin wouldn't be back and uncertain as to the reception that a Valentine's gift, any Valentine's gift, might get from his fiercely independent lover.
What was the etiquette of their situation, anyhow? Did one buy one's male lover a Valentine's gift or pretend that the day did not apply to them? Unfortunately there were no books on the subject.
He chuckled to himself as he dropped down on the edge of the bed, tugging at his tie to undo it. Maybe he should write one.
What would the first rule be?
He snorted, in a totally ungentlemanly fashion and said aloud, "If he brings you flowers, shoot him. He has obviously mistaken you for a woman. Of course, if you really like him, make sure it's non-fatal."
"And oh, yes. Never, ever, damage the equipment. You never know when you might develop one of those terribly, annoying itches... way up inside you that can only be soothed by the application of a very special cream delivered by something long and hard."
He shifted restlessly on the edge of the bed. "Like the one I've got right now."
He stood again tossing the tie at the dresser, not really worried about where it landed. He was feeling pleasantly buzzed. He had drank several glasses of the good brandy that Inez kept under the bar for him. Not enough to get drunk, just enough to relax him a bit.
So why the hell wasn't he relaxed?
The wind chose that moment to shriek around the corner of the building and rattle his window, shaking it like a giant hand. A sharp clattering of sleet mixed with hail bounced off the glass and rapped on the clapboard siding.
That was why.
The light flurries of snow that had been drifting down off and on all day had turned into this, a freezing rain, mingled with sleet and hail... and Vin was out there somewhere on the trail in it.
He could only hope that the men had found a secure camp. Some place sheltered from the storm, perhaps one of the caves that Vin was so familiar with or an abandoned cabin.
He really didn't want to think of Vin huddled over a campfire, shivering in the cold while he... while he was safe and warm in his room.
A year ago he wouldn't have given it a second thought that Vin was out in such weather, although they had already been sleeping together for nearly three months at that time.
A year ago it was just sex, just a warm body to lay close beside on a cold night. A year ago Vin was just a familiar presence, not the center of his world.
Ironically, they had been returning from delivering a prisoner to Ridge City the first time they had slept together, the first time they had become intimate.
Bounty hunters had spotted Vin as they were riding out and had given chase.
It had not been full winter then, but still freezing in the mountains surrounding Ridge City. They had managed to lose the hunters just as night was falling, slipping off the trail and into a sheltered stand of trees. The hunters had passed them by and they had settled down for the night in the shelter provided by a tree with snow-laden branches hanging almost to the ground.
Unfortunately the hunters didn't go much farther and when they realized that they could see the light of the hunters' fire, they knew that they could not have a fire of their own. So, they had huddled, shivering in the meager shelter, each wrapped in his own blankets until the need for warmth moved them closer together and survival instinct led them into each others' arms and an ancient rhythm that warmed them from the inside out.
Not a word had passed between them, they barely dared to let a moan or gasp escape for fear that the sound would carry across the crisp night air to the hunters' camp, betraying their presence.
Daylight found the hunters moving farther away and they had broken camp, doubling back to take another trail.
Neither ever spoke of that night. Not even when they lay their blankets together again the next night and every other night till they had returned to Four Corners. Not even when Vin began to come, tapping on his door, late at night, quietly asking, "Can I come in?" both of them knowing full well that the question was actually, "Can I share your bed tonight?" or more crudely "Can we fuck tonight?"
Winter had given way to spring and spring to summer and still Vin came tapping on his door and still it hadn't meant anything.
So when had that changed? When had Vin become the most important person in his life, become the very center of his world?
Charlotte Richmond. Bitch that she was, she had also been the catalyst that moved them from fuck buddies to lovers. She had been the break in their routine that had forever changed the way they saw each other.
It was seeing Vin with her that made him admit to himself that he had feelings for the tracker that went far beyond those of two men scratching an itch for each other whenever the mood struck one of them. Watching Vin leave him behind, without apparently giving it a second thought, had torn his heart out, making him realize that his heart belonged to Vin.
He had simply wanted to die.
Then Vin had come back, leaving Charlotte behind on the wagon train and returning to town with them... with him.
It had been some time afterwards before Vin had dared to come to his door in the night, again, but he had come eventually, standing shamefaced at his door, quietly asking, "Can I come in?"
He had seldom ever taken Vin. He preferred the bottom. Vin preferred the top, but that night, as Vin had stood at his door, asking if they could resume their liaisons, they had both known that this time he would be on top.
Their coupling had been rough. He had been aggressive and demanding, claiming what was his, declaring his ownership.
Vin's submission was a declaration, as well, an acknowledgement that they belonged together.
They didn't speak of Charlotte or what Vin had done but as he collapsed over Vin's back following the almost violent coupling he had growled, "Never, again."
And Vin, limp and exhausted beneath him, had responded, "Never, again," the intent clear although the words were muffled by the pillow Vin's face was buried in.
Never again would either of them stray.
Then he had rolled aside and Vin had snuggled in close beside him, an arm wrapped around him, holding on tightly.
Later Vin had taken him, a slow gentle lovemaking unlike any coupling they had shared before.
Now.... He reached out to let his fingertips trail across the box on the dresser. Now he had bought Vin a gift, a Valentine's gift. Not exactly hearts and flowers but still a new aspect to their relationship. It was the first gift he had ever gotten for Vin. They hadn't even exchanged Christmas gifts although they had spent two Christmases in Four Corners.
The first year only Buck and JD had celebrated Christmas, exchanging gifts. He had spent the holiday in Willow Creek at a poker game. Vin had vanished into the wilderness. Chris had retreated to his shack with a bottle and his memories. Nathan and Josiah had decided on doing good deeds, taking supplies to the Seminole village and spending the day there.
Last Christmas they had had a party at the saloon. Even Chris had attended to everyone's surprise. The seven of them had drawn names, deciding that it would be simpler for each to only buy one gift, yet everyone would get a gift. He had gotten Josiah's name. Vin had drawn Chris'.
So, this was his first attempt at buying a gift for his lover. He could only hope Vin liked it.
He was still standing there, contemplating Vin's possible reactions when the knock came at the door.
Tap... tap, tap... tap. Tap... tap, tap... tap.
His head snapped up. That was Vin's coded knock!
He spun and strode to the door, lifting the Remington from his holster as he did so. No one but Vin used that knock but better safe than sorry.
He flung open the door, his gun pointed at whoever stood there.
Vin Tanner gave him that infuriating grin of his. Snow was still sprinkled across the shoulders of his capote, glistening in the light from the hallway lamp. "Gotta love a man that answers the door with a gun in his hand," he said.
Ezra stepped back, holstering the gun and waving Vin in. "I was not expecting you back this quickly."
Vin walked passed him and dropped his saddlebags in a chair, shrugging out of his coat and tossing his hat at the bedpost. "Smelled snow comin'. Told Chris iffn we didn't head straight on back after we handed them two over to the sheriff we wouldn't get back 'fore the pass was closed."
"Where are Misters Larabee and Wilmington?" Ezra asked as he took the dripping capote from the tracker and holding it at arms' length, looked around for somewhere to hang it to dry. He finally settled on the back of the chair that Vin had dropped his things in.
"Stayed over in Willow Creek. Didn't want to face the weather." Vin turned and caught Ezra's arm pulling him into an embrace.
"I wanted to get back." His voice had dropped to a husky whisper and he bent to nibble at Ezra's ear, making it plain what he wanted to get back for.
Ezra let himself lean into the embrace for a moment simply rejoicing in the fact that Vin was here with him, not still out in that godawful weather. Then he pulled back. "You need to get out of these damp things," he fussed.
Vin stepped away and picked something up off the chair where he had dropped his things. "In a minute." He turned back to Ezra, holding a long rectangular box. "I brung you something."
He handed it to Ezra. "Happy Valentine's Day."
Ezra froze for a moment, his mouth opening to say that it wasn't Valentine's Day anymore, then he clamped his mouth shut and smiled at Vin. His lover was not a man that marked time by a clock or days by a calendar. Vin marked time by the passage of the sun and the stars through the sky and the turning of the seasons. To him a day went from sunrise to sunrise. It didn't start and stop by some arbitrary mark on a clock face. Therefore to Vin it was still St. Valentine's Day.
He took the package, staring down at it for a long moment, "You didn't have to..." he began.
"Wanted to." Vin said simply.
Ezra smiled at him again.
He did, quickly tearing the paper away, unconcerned with trying to appear calm. His lover had bought him a present. He couldn't remember ever being so excited about getting a gift, not that he had ever gotten many. His mother was not one to observe such niceties as buying her son gifts for holidays or even his birthday.
He opened the box and blinked. It was a derringer rig. Why would Vin buy him another derringer rig?
Almost as if he could hear the question, Vin said, "Ain't like the other'n. Take a good look. This'n's a left hand rig. Saw it in the mercantile over at Willow Creek when we was going up to Ridge City. 'Membered how upset you got last summer when you broke your arm and couldn't wear your rig. That sheriff up there, give us the bounty on them fellows and Chris split it 'tween me'n Buck cause we was the ones that caught them. When we stopped on the way back, I got it for you."
"Vin... I... I don't know what to say. It's an incredibly thoughtful gift. Thank you." He grinned and turned to the dresser, apparently giving Valentine's gifts was now part of his and Vin's relationship. "I have something for you as well."
Laying the derringer rig, in its box, down on the dresser, he picked up the present that he had gotten Vin.
He handed the package to Vin. "Happy Valentine's Day."
Vin eagerly ripped into the package as impatient to see what Ezra had gotten him, as Ezra had been to see his gift.
He grinned when he saw what was in the package. "A Bowie knife." His voice held awe. "I always wanted a real Bowie knife but they're so expensive..." He swallowed hard as he looked up at Ezra.
"I dare say no more expensive than a left-handed derringer rig, which the original owner, no doubt, had to special order." Ezra said firmly. Then looking slightly embarrassed he added, "I, uh, had it engraved. I know that I'm not the poet you are but I wanted to... well, make it unique."
Vin lifted the knife from the box and stepped closer to the light, turning the knife do he could see the words etched on the blade.
Ezra almost held his breath as Vin began to slowly read the words aloud. He had deliberately kept most of them simple so that Vin would not have too much difficulty reading it.
"I went seeking a gift for a friend. I wanted some-thing that was like him. I found it here in this...tem-per-ed steel, as keen as his wits and as strong as his will." He looked up at Ezra, "Ya really think I'm like this knife?"
Ezra smiled and stepped in close, hands reaching out to grasp Vin's waist and pull the tracker to him.
Vin spread his arms, then reached around Ezra to lay the knife back in the box and lay the box back on the dresser. Smiling down at his lover, he let his arms close around the gambler.
"Most definitely, Mister Tanner, very like it." Ezra gazed up into Vin's face as he spoke. "Your mind and wits are as sharp as its edge. Your spirit is as strong as the steel it is made of." His voice dropped a tone to a husky whisper, as his hands ghosted over Vin's hips. "Your body is as clean-lined as its blade. It is a versatile utensil. It can be used to cut meat to eat or as a razor to shave or as an instrument of death... and you are versatile as well, you can do anything you set your hand to, whether it be killing a man or raising him to the heights of ecstasy."
Vin kissed him. Lightly at first then letting it deepen slowly.
Ezra moaned softly, a low sound of pleasure. His hands worked their way to the tracker's waist, tugging at Vin's shirt until it was free of his trousers and he could slid his hands under it to caress the cool damp skin. He drew back. "You're still chilled. We should get you out of these damp things."
"Uh-huh. Then you can warm me up... real proper like."
"Proper? I assure you I have no intention of being proper tonight."
"Good. Like it when you get all improper on me." Vin grinned at him. "All disreputable and ungentlemanly."
"You're incorrigible, tossing my own words back at me." He stripped away Vin's shirt and paused a moment to run his fingers through the slightly tangled hair, "Scruffy tracker." He murmured.
Vin reached to undo the buttons of Ezra's vest, "Got too many clothes on." He paused for effect then grinned as he added, "Fancy man."
Pleased chuckles accompanied the soft rustle of clothes being removed, then they were tumbling back on the bed, playfully wrestling, rubbing their naked bodies together, touching, caressing, letting the fire inside them build slowly.
The cold gray light of dawn was just peeking through the window when Vin blinked open his eyes. He lay still, listening to the sounds around him. The wind had died down in the night and there was little noise outside the room he lay in.
He heard soft footsteps in the hallway outside, moving away from the room, towards the stairs. That helped him identified the noise that had awakened him. It had been the soft closing of a door, probably the door of Inez' room across the hall. It was time for her to be up and beginning to prepare breakfast for the morning patrons of the saloon.
The footsteps faded away leaving only the soft sound of Ezra's shallow breathing. The gambler lay curled tightly against Vin's side. His head rested on Vin's shoulder, one arm curled around Vin's waist, one leg thrown over Vin's legs, pinning him to the bed.
Vin stirred, testing his ability to slip out of the bed without waking Ezra.
The body next to him tensed slightly, the arm tightening around his waist.
Not a chance... and he really didn't want to wake Ezra. The gambler could be down right grumpy if you woke him up before he was ready to wake up.
Didn't really matter, if they lay abed awhile anyhow. Wasn't like he had anything he had to do. No one had even expected him back today.
His glanced towards the dresser, at the derringer rig and Bowie knife, lying there in their respective boxes.
He grinned to himself. Not exactly hearts and flowers but the best damned Valentine's present he had ever gotten.
A warm hand slid down his naked hip and dipped between his legs as Ezra stirred against him. Smooth skinned fingers closed around his cock. A mouth nipped at one of his nipples. A warm, wet tongue flicked out to lick it before it was suckled into the moist heat of his lover's mouth.
Best damned Valentine's night he'd ever had, too.
Then rational thought deserted him as the mouth left his nipple and moved downward, the tongue dipping into his navel before the mouth moved on to close around his cock.