Wagers of Sin
"I'll see your horse washing and raise you a full body massage." Ezra Standish's lazy drawl carried across the nearly empty saloon.
[Huh?] Chris Larabee's whiskey sodden mind couldn't quite wrap itself around the words he thought he'd heard as he blinked awake. For the moment he left his head lying on his folded arms next to the empty whiskey bottle on his table. He could still hear the interminable rain falling on the tarpaper roof of the saloon. It had helped him drift off to sleep. He turned the words over in his mind. [No. That couldn't have been what he said.]
Then Vin's voice said, "Dammit, Ez, what'da I got that can see a full body massage?"
"Dawn patrol, Mister Tannah. A dawn patrol will see anything short of a French wager."
[French wager? What in hell is a French wager?]
"'kay, I'll see the massage with a dawn patrol and raise you... a tongue bath." Vin's voice was amused and husky.
[A what!?] Larabee was awake now.
"That is a French wager Mister Tannah." Ezra drawled. "French wagers are not allowed at this table. If you seriously wish to make that bet we will need to adjourn to mah room."
"You ready for bed, Ez?"
"Depends... are ya comin'?"
"Not yet... but if ya keep doin' that ah will be." Vin drawled back at him.
Larabee slowly turned his head towards the table where he knew the two men were sitting and cracked one bleary eye.
As his vision slowly cleared he could see that the two men were sitting not quite exactly opposite each other. Ezra's coat was hanging on the back of his chair, his tie was undone and the top button of his shirt was unbuttoned, his boots were on the floor beside his chair with his socks tucked in the top of them. Vin was sitting sprawled out in his chair. His legs spread even farther apart than usual. Ezra's left foot rested in Vin's lap, the toes slowly stroking the rigid length of the tracker's cock.
Vin was smiling at Ezra, "Ya got talented toes, Ez."
Ezra chuckled, "Now, Mistah Tannah, I would think that you would be aware by now that *all* my body parts are talented."
"Yeah... but some are more talented than others."
"Really? And which part would you say was the most talented?" Ezra teased, laying his cards face down on the table, the game apparently forgotten. He withdrew his foot from Vin's lap and leaned across the table towards the tracker.
Vin dropped his cards on the table as well and reached across to cup Ezra's chin in one hand as he ran the thumb of that hand across the gambler's full lower lip. "Reckon ya know the answer to that. I'm real fond of that mouth of yours...."
Ezra's tongue flicked out to lick his lower lip and tease the tracker's thumb.
"... and yer tongue... it's real talented and I don't mean at wrapping itself around them five dollar words of yours." Vin stood as he spoke and shoved his chair out of the way as he shifted his grip and pulled Ezra to his feet. Tangling his hand in the gambler's hair he claimed Ezra's mouth in a searing kiss.
Ezra moaned into the kiss, his cock springing to attention in his pants.
Vin crushed the gambler to him then began backing him towards the wall. Vin broke the kiss and began planting small soft kisses along Ezra's jawline following it up to nibble at the gambler's ear lobe.
Ezra moaned and clung to the tracker. "Oh, Lord! Vinnnn!"
Vin pulled back and turned them to put his back to the wall, pushing Ezra's hands down to his waist.
The gambler slid down Vin's body to bury his face against Vin's crotch, mouthing the tracker's rigid cock through the material as his nimble fingers worked at the waistband of the tracker's pants. Seconds later the tracker's cock sprang free and Ezra dove on to it with a desire-filled groan.
Vin leaned back against the wall, his head tilted back, eyes closed as his hands tangled in the gambler's hair while the dark head bobbed over his cock.
[Dear God! Ezra's sucking him off!] Chris Larabee was a man of the world. He knew all about two men "helping each other out" on a long trail but he'd never seen a man go at another man's cock the way Ezra was going at Vin's. Mostly on the trail it was hand jobs or one man "taking" the other. He'd never seen a man willingly suck off another. [Hell, working girls charge extra for that.]
He couldn't take his eyes off the two men as Ezra quickly brought Vin to completion. As the gambler released the now limp cock Chris could see a trickle of cum escaping the corner of Ezra's mouth. [Jesus! He swallowed!]
Vin pulled the gambler to his feet and bent his head to lick the cum from Ezra's chin then once more claimed the gambler's mouth in a long deep kiss. Without breaking the kiss he began to back Ezra towards the stairs to the second floor where Ezra's room was.
As they neared the stairs, Ezra pulled back, "The game pieces...."
"I'll get'em before anyone gets up." Vin promised and continued pushing Ezra toward the stairs.
"Still out. It'll be okay. Come on." Vin assured.
Ezra stopped resisting and allowed Vin to guide him up the stairs.
Chris waited until he heard Ezra's door close before raising his head off the table and standing to slowly make his way over to the abandoned game. There was no actual money on the table, just pieces of paper cut into approximately the size of paper money.
He picked one up and tilted it into the light so that he could read it. Each corner had a one in it with a circle around it. In the center of the paper was hand printed, 'One horse washing.' He turned it over. On the back in block letters was 'Private Game Piece, Regular'.
He picked up another. The circles at the corners of this one had a ten in them. In the center was written, 'One Dawn Patrol.' He shifted through until he found the one that said 'One tongue bath.' The back of it was slightly different. The printing on it read, 'Private Game Piece, French' and the denomination was twenty.
He continued sorting through them, shaking his head at some of the items the two men were playing for.
A 9x13 pan of peach cobbler. [That had to be Vin's idea! He does love his peach cobbler.]
One hair washing with French shampoo. [Ezra. No doubt about it.]
One hot bath. [Reckon that could be either.]
One bubble bath. [Ezra.]
He looked for more of the French Game Pieces trying to find out exactly what they were, but apparently the "tongue bath" was the only one on the table.
He sighed and walked over to the door standing there a long moment watching the rain coming down just beyond the boardwalk. It had been raining for a week. The whole world seemed sodden. The street was an ocean of mud. He really didn't feel like braving it to make his way to his room at the hotel, even if his slicker was hanging on the back of his chair.
He went back to the table and sat back down, dropping his head onto his folded arms in the same position he had been in when the other two men had left.
He was still there snoring lightly when Vin came down the stairs just before daylight to gather up the game pieces and cards and to carry them up to Ezra's room.
He roused up when he heard Inez asking what Vin wanted for breakfast before he left for the dawn patrol. Leaning back in his chair he rubbed his eyes, "Mornin' Cowboy." He greeted Vin.
Vin grinned back at him, "Mornin', Cowboy."
"You don't have to go on patrol. Ain't likely anybody will be up to no good in this weather."
"Naw, ain't likely. Need to check the bridge 'cross the creek going to Nettie's. Didn't look good yesterday. Might be gone today. That bluff over by the Simpsons' was starting ta crumble too. Need to make sure it ain't slid... or iff'n it did that weren't nobody caught in it."
Chris nodded. Sometimes the weather itself was the biggest enemy. He sighed and looked out the open door at the still falling rain. "Thought this was supposed to be the desert."
"Edge of the desert. Mountains ta the west. This time a'year can get some messy weather." Vin finished up his breakfast and stood, grabbing his slicker. "I'll be back 'round noon." Then he was gone.
The saloon remained mostly empty, with only the other peacekeepers braving the inclement weather to meet up for breakfast and find out what Chris wanted them to do.
Chris, Buck and JD did a turn around town after breakfast while Nathan checked on some patients and Josiah did a little work on the inside of the church. They were all back at the saloon, drinking coffee and talking when Ezra appeared shortly before noon and immediately headed across the street to Mrs. Potter's.
Chris shook his head as he watched the gambler pick his way across the street, balancing delicately on the boards that had been laid down for the ladies to keep them from getting their shoes so caked with mud when they had to cross the street.
Ezra was both wearing his slicker and carrying an umbrella. He came back carrying a wicker basket and hurried up the stairs to his room. When he returned to make a second trip across the street most of the other peacekeepers moved out to the porch of the saloon to watch his balancing act as he waltzed across the boards.
Buck couldn't help grinning as he watched the gambler hop lightly from one board to another. Turning to Chris he said, "Graceful, ain't he?" unaware that Vin had said almost the exact same thing a few months before.
Reminded of Vin by the remark, Chris grinned and nodded, his mind returning to the night before and the brief scene he had witnessed between the gambler and the tracker. Had he really seen that or had it been a drunken dream? When he'd awakened this morning to the sound of Vin and Inez's voices, the cards, game pieces and Ezra's boots had been gone... if they had been there at all.
Ezra made one more trip across the street, returning laden with some carefully packaged item then went back up to his room.
Mrs. Potter's boy Josh arrived shortly after that hurrying up to Ezra's room then returning to the saloon kitchen to carry up the water Inez had been heating for Ezra's bath.
By one o'clock Ezra was starting to show sighs of near panic. His usual poker face was gone, replaced by a concerned frown that the others had seldom seen. He had been up and down the stairs at least five times and he had just walked out on the porch looking up and down the street for what had to be the tenth time in the last fifteen minutes. He'd sit down at the table with the others for a minute or two then jump-up and look out the door. He'd circle back to the stairs and up to his room then come back down a minute later and go back out the door.
Chris finally snapped. "God dammit, Ezra! Sit down! You're making me dizzy!"
Ezra sat, pulling out his deck of cards and beginning to shuffle them... for about two minutes.
As he popped up once again, Chris grabbed his arm. "I said sit down! What in hell is wrong with you? I ain't ever seen you fidget like this."
Ezra dropped back into his seat and grabbed his watch popping it open to glance at it. Then with exaggerated casualness he took out his deck of cards and began to shuffle them. After a long moment he asked very, very casually, "Should not Mister Tanner be back from patrol by now?"
[Gottacha! You're busted Ezra Standish. That 'I don't care about anybody else' attitude is a sham. You're worried about Vin.] Aloud he said, "Weather's gotten rougher. Reckon maybe he holed up somewhere."
"He said he'd be back by noon." Ezra protested.
Chris looked at him, noting how Ezra was very studiously looking at his cards as he began to lay out a game of solitaire. [He ain't even asked if we want to play poker.] Chris caught Josiah's eye and raised a brow in askance.
Josiah nodded then said, "He probably planned to be... but things happen..." he noted the way Ezra's hands tightened on the cards, the knuckles going white at the words, "... like Chris said the weather has gotten worse. He probably just decided to wait it out until it slacked up again."
Ezra stared at his cards, avoiding everyone's eyes as he muttered, "He wouldn't do that, not today."
Chris cocked an eyebrow at him, "What's so special about today?"
"Nothing!" Ezra replied, too quickly and too emphatically.
"Uh-huh." Buck grinned. "Wanna run that one by us again?"
"I beg your pardon!" Ezra snapped at Buck.
Buck just chuckled, "Ya know, Ez, for somebody that makes a livin' lyin', you sure are piss poor at it sometimes. You know that? Worryin' about a friend ain't nothing to be ashamed of. So, how come Vin wouldn't find a place to hole up today?"
Ezra sighed and tossing his cards on the table rubbed a hand across his eyes. "He would wish to collect his poker winnings. There is a pan of peach cobbler waiting for him in my room and I can assure you that no mere flood is going to stop Mister Tanner from reaching that cobbler."
"You played poker with Vin for a peach cobbler?"
"We often play for such items when he is either out of cash or does not wish to risk what little he does have."
"And he won?"
"We have both won various items at different times. We don't always collect immediately but can call the debt due at anytime. For instance he owes me four dawn patrols which I can redeem at anytime. He has been saving up his winnings for the last several weeks and chose to cash them in today."
"So what all'd he win?" Buck demanded.
"That's none of your business!"
"Well, hell maybe we'd like to get in on this." Buck insisted. "If we knowed what we could win."
Chris waited until Ezra had reached for his beer and was raising it to his mouth to drink before deadpanning, "Don't reckon you'd want a tongue bath, Buck... least wise not from Ezra."
He was amply rewarded by his men's reactions.
Josiah, Nathan and Buck all gaped open-mouthed, looking back and forth between him and Ezra.
Ezra spewed his beer clear across the table and all over Josiah.
"That's not--- how? You were awake last night!" Ezra sputtered between coughing up his beer.
Chris helpfully pounded him on the back. "Yep."
JD just looked confused and asked, "What's a tongue bath?"
Everyone turned to look at Ezra.
"What?" he demanded.
"It's your game piece," Chris grinned. "Up to you to define it."
"That is a special game piece only used in a private game with a special player and as such it does not need to be defined for non-players."
"So, how does one get to be a special player?" Buck insisted.
"You don't." Ezra said flatly.
"You saying that Vin is the only one that you use that game piece with?" Chris asked his voice quietly serious now.
Ezra turned to face Chris, his answer equally short and serious. "Yes."
"I still wanna know what a tongue bath is." JD pouted. "I don't suppose it's washing somebody's tongue?"
"Washing... washing somebody's tongue?" Ezra couldn't help himself; he cracked up. He collapsed face first onto the table his shoulders shaking with laughter. One hand pounded on the table as he snorted and howled.
Chris patted his back soothingly.
JD looked offended a said, "I don't see what's so funny."
"Me neither," Nathan put in. "I never heard of a tongue bath before."
Ezra continued to chortle as he raised his head to hoot, "Tongue bath, bathing a tongue. Oh, my, Lord!" He wiped his eyes as he tried to stop laughing.
"Want me to tell'um?" Buck inquired.
"Oh, please, be my guest," Ezra waved a hand at him in a go ahead gesture.
"Well guys, a tongue bath ain't rightly a bath, it's more like a drying."
"Drying?" JD asked, in a puzzled tone.
"Yeah. Well, the person getting the tongue bath usually bathes first but the one giving it is sorta drying them off."
"With their tongue?!" Nathan got it, and blushed dark enough for it to be visible in spite of his dark complexion.
"Exactly," Ezra had finally managed to get a hold of himself. "They lick the other person dry."
"Lick.... Dry...?" JD stammered, turning bright red. "All... all over?"
"Of course all over." Ezra replied in exasperation. "It wouldn't be any *fun* if all they did was lick a hand dry or something."
"Still ain't told us what all Vin's cashing in today." Buck redirected the discussion back to his original question.
"Oh, all right! It's not like he's cashing in any of the French game pieces. There's the peach cobbler, a hot bath with bath salts, a shampoo with my good French shampoo, and a full body massage. After riding patrol in this weather I assure you that he will be looking forwards to all of it. The hot bath will take the chill out of his bones and the massage will relieve the aches and pains he is certain to have after a morning spent in this dismal precipitation. Which is why I am concerned that he is this late. He specifically told me that he would be collecting the debt at noon today."
"He told me that he'd be back at noon, too." Chris said thoughtfully. "He would be back if he could. Reckon maybe we ought to go look for him. He said he was going to check the bridge on the road to Nettie's, then the bluff over by the Simpsons'." He pushed back his chair and stood up, grabbing his slicker off the back of his chair.
The others did likewise.
Ten minutes later they were riding out.
Half an hour after that they came across Vin, leading Peso along the road and, swearing under his breath at the limping horse. He looked up at the sound of their horses' coming towards him.
When they reached him, he asked, "What are you fellas doing out here?"
"Looking for you," Chris informed him. "You okay, Cowboy?"
"Yeah, dang horse just threw a shoe and I had to walk him back."
"Reckon you're real ready for that hot bath you got waiting on you." Buck put in with a grin.
Vin scowled at him.
"Don't get all grumpy, pard. Ole Ezra was about to drive us all crazy with his fidgeting. We made him tell us about your winnings."
Vin turned to Ezra, blue eyes going wide.
"Not all your winnings, Mister Tanner. Just the ones you are cashing in today."
"So, you want to ride with me or Ezra?" Chris asked, cutting the conversation short.
Vin looked at Chris for a long moment a silent question in his eyes.
Chris nodded and Vin smiled.
"Reckon I'll ride with Ez."
Chris turned his horse away as Vin mounted. He muttered to himself, "Thought you might."
Vin leaned back in the tub of hot water with a sigh. It felt wonderful, especially after the long walk in the cold rain.
Gentle fingers ran through his hair and he turned his head into the caress. He blinked open his eyes to look at Ezra who sat on a chair beside the tub.
Ezra smiled at him. "Tell me when you are ready for me to bathe you and wash your hair."
"Think I'll just soak a bit first. Hot water feels real good."
Ezra smiled at him and continued to play with his hair. "I thought it might."
After a moment of silence Vin ventured, "The guys didn't have much to say on the ride back in...."
Ezra chuckled. "Indeed not."
"Reckon from what they did say, Chris and Buck at least know about us?"
"I fear that in my anxiety concerning your tardiness, I may have revealed more than I should have to our comrades. I believe that all of them know, even if they have not all as yet realized exactly what they do know. I suspect that young Mister Dunne is still trying to wrap his mind around the definition that Mister Wilmington provided him with for the term 'tongue bath'."
"Tongue bath! You told them about that?"
"Not hardly. Apparently Mister Larabee was not quite as oblivious as we thought last night."
"He heard us talkin'."
"I suspect he did more than hear us. If you will recall, the conversation concerning the tongue bath being a French wager immediately preceded a few moments of far more physical 'fun'."
"Yes, well since he hasn't shot me yet, I assume that he has decided that our 'fun' is none of his business. He did make a point of ascertaining that I do not accept French wagers from anyone but you."
"What we got ain't fun, Ez."
At Ezra's offended look, Vin hastily added. "What I mean is, it *is* fun. But it ain't just fun. We're for keeps."
"Indeed we are, however that does not preclude our having fun." He grinned his most wicked grin. "So, shall I bathe you now so that we may get to the fun."
"Hell, Ez, having you bathe me is fun."
"But not as much fun as what comes after." Ezra assured him.
Vin laughed aloud this time and sat up, leaning over the edge of the tub to pull Ezra into a kiss, making sure to get the gambler's shirt wet as he did so.
"Vin!" Ezra chided, when he finally broke the kiss, "you got my shirt all wet."
He reached to unbutton it and take it off.
"No." Vin told him, his raspy drawl huskier than usual. "Leave it on. I like the way it clings to ya when it's wet."
Ezra sat back, a smirk crossing his face. "You do, huh."
"I do. Now get over here and give me my bath. We got some real sinful fun to have."
"Yes, sir!" Ezra said with a grin and a snappy salute.