Disclaimer: This story is the product of different minds coming together to have some fun. We have ownership over any new characters but the rest belongs to others (such a shame!).

Rating: NC-17 (If you are under 18 or don't like m/m relationships turn back now!)

Pairing: (V/E)

Authors' Note: Writing this longer slash story was my way of celebrating being on holidays!!! It has caused me numerous problems along the way but it is finally finished.

When It Happens

By Ladysmiths

Vin glanced at the well dressed man sitting at the gaming table reaching for his winnings. Ezra was in his element, a different town with new people to con, no wonder he looked so content. Vin smiled slightly, when Mary had asked if someone would go to Fenton to collect a part for her printing machine, Vin had jumped at the chance to escape Four Corners for a while. Watching Ezra happily relieve these people of their earnings, he realised why the gambler had been so eager to accompany him.

Ezra grinned at his hapless opponent as he dealt the next hand, this had certainly turned out to be a lucrative trip. Ezra had hoped that the mechanism Mary needed might take a few days to get to Fenton, but it hadn't worked out that way, and now that they had what they came for, Vin was determined to leave in the morning. At least Ezra was going home with some monetary remuneration, although the feelings he'd come to sort out still hadn't been resolved. He raised his eyes towards the bar and caught Vin smiling at him. Ezra gave him a slight nod, which the tracker returned. All of a sudden Vin's posture changed, and his eyes flashed with fear. Ezra casually turned around, to find out what had unsettled Vin. Ezra watched a burly, dark haired drifter saunter into the Saloon, but he didn't recognise him. Ezra again looked to Vin who had turned around, finished his drink and was now heading towards the side exit. Ezra became worried when the guy who'd just entered followed Vin. Ezra decided it would be best to finish this hand, he didn't want to make his departure too obvious or to attract unwanted attention.

Vin had recognised Hudson immediately, he was one of the more well known bounty hunters, and one of the most brutal. Vin hoped he hadn't been seen, he planned to get to his horse and ride out. He was sure Ezra would figure something was wrong and meet him outside of town in the morning. It had started drizzling and Vin shrugged deeper into his coat. Suddenly, a pair of arms reached for him. Vin swung around, his fist connecting with his assailant's face. Before Vin could deliver another punch, someone else grabbed him from behind. Damn, he knew Hudson didn't work alone, he should have foreseen this. The guy Vin had hit was standing front of him, Vin couldn't help grinning slightly when he noticed that he'd broken that nose.

"Somethin' funny?"

Vin just shook his head, but continued grinning.

"You're gonna pay for this," drawing his gun, the bounty hunter took aim at Vin.

Hudson came out leaving the door of the Saloon slightly open, "Hold it."

"Why, he's wanted dead or alive."

Hudson snatched the gun away from his partner, who then left Vin alone with Hudson and the guy holding him.

"You gonna come peacefully?" Hudson had moved so that he was only inches from Vin.

Hudson was a head taller than Vin and much broader. Vin tried to struggle, but the grip the other man had on him was too tight.

"Guess that's a no," the thread of light that was coming from the doorway allowed Vin to make out Hudson's malicious smile.

Ezra stepped into the doorway in time to see Hudson deliver a blow to Vin's head. Ezra winced as Vin's head snapped to the side. He drew his gun, "That's enough."

"Who the hell are you?" Hudson didn't like interruptions.

Ezra kept his gun trained on Hudson, watching the man who was holding Vin, "What's going on here?"

"This man's wanted, and he's my bounty."

Ezra hated this, technically Hudson was right and Ezra didn't think he'd listen to explanations or excuses, "It seems a little premature to be staking a claim."

Hudson was becoming irritated, "See that gash on his head, that's my stake. I've also got someone talkin' to the sheriff right now. He should be along to lock Tanner up any second now."

During this interaction Vin felt the other man's hold loosen, taking the opportunity he pushed back elbowing the guy in the stomach. Hudson leaned forward to help his associate, but Ezra flew at the large man knocking him off balance.

Both Vin and Ezra started running just as they heard the sheriff coming around the corner.

Ezra followed Vin down the rain spattered streets and could have sworn he heard the tracker laughing. What in God's name was wrong with the man, he'd almost been caught, beaten or at worst killed. They were now not only running from bounty hunters, but also from the law. And they were getting wet and muddy. Vin abruptly turned into an alley and Ezra almost slipped as he traced Vin's footsteps.

Vin leaned back against the wall and crouched behind a broken wagon that had been left there, trying to catch his breath. Ezra lowered himself in front of Vin, the alley giving them some respite from the rain which seemed to be getting heavier with every moment. Once Ezra's eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the alley, he focussed on the man in front of him. Vin's hat had flown back while they had been running and Ezra watched rivulets of water run down Vin's hair and mix with the blood on his forehead.

"Are you okay?" Ezra reached up and tentatively felt the wound.

Vin flinched slightly at Ezra's touch, but didn't move, "Just a scratch."

Ezra had begun to absently brush Vin's hair away from the laceration, when he realised what he was doing he quickly took his hand away. "Uh, yes well. Were you laughing before?"

Vin chuckled, "I guess."

"I fail to find any humour in this situation."

"It's just that we were running, and for that moment I was free again." Vin knew that Ezra couldn't quite understand, but he didn't know how to explain the exhilaration he'd felt any other way.

Ezra removed his own hat trying to shake some of the water off, "We're soaked."

"Rain never hurt anyone," Vin smiled as he leaned forward to brush some droplets off Ezra's jacket.

Ezra could feel the other man's warm breath on his face and raised his gaze to meet Vin's. They stared into each other's eyes checking for discomfort, but only finding desire. Vin moved his head closer, until their lips met. Ezra leaned into the kiss as Vin gently coaxed the gambler's mouth open. Vin hesitantly slid his tongue past Ezra's delicious lips. Ezra also pushed his tongue forward until it hit the tip of Vin's. They broke away from each other and Ezra licked his lips, tasting where Vin had been.

Both men jumped when they heard someone trudging past the alley, and ducked down lower behind the wagon.

"We need to get the horses and ride out of here," Vin whispered.

"I agree," Ezra nodded. "Um, which way to the livery?"

"Vin hid a grin, "This way."

* * * * * * *

The horses picked there way across the relatively unused track. The rain had returned to just a light shower, but the ground was still slippery. Vin was leading them back home along a more obscure trail, with a terrible feeling that they were being followed.

"We need to rest," Ezra was tired and he was sure Vin was too. It was now past midday and they'd been riding since late last night.

"There's an Indian reservation just a little ways up ahead," Vin stated. "They'll help us."

Ezra was aware that Vin had lived with various Indian tribes, and if Vin said these people would help then he trusted that. Neither man had spoken about what had happened in the alley, and Ezra hoped that Vin had felt the same sensations he had.

"What was that?"

"Excuse me?"

Vin had already dismounted and was reaching for his gun. Ezra didn't like the apprehensive feeling he was getting and reached for his weapon. Before he could draw someone grabbed him and pulled him off his horse.

Vin didn't have time to take out the guy who held Ezra as Hudson strode towards them, his gun drawn. Vin knew there was a third person, and spun around trying to catch a glimpse. He noticed him a little way up the cliff with a rifle, aimed directly at Ezra.

Vin lowered his gun and indicated Ezra, "He just wanted the money same as you. If you're nice, maybe he'll split it with ya. Hell, I don't care who takes me in."

Ezra stayed silent. Vin had given him the perfect opportunity to get out of this, but there was no way he was going leave Vin with these people.

Hudson scowled at Vin, "We asked around. You two rode into Fenton together. If he was taking you in, he would've by now."

"Look, either way you've caught me. Leave him outta this."

Hudson fired, and Vin watched in horror as Ezra slumped forward. Without thinking Vin lurched forward into Hudson, causing the bigger man to drop his gun. As they both scrambled for it, the third bounty hunter, who had the rifle started firing trying to distract Vin. Finally, Vin felt the cold steel of the gun and aimed it at Hudson. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Vin spun and fired, hitting the guy who'd been holding onto to Ezra. Hudson took that moment of inattention to tackle Vin. Suddenly the sound of horses was heard and when Hudson looked up he saw a row of Indians on the edge of the cliff, rifles and arrows pointed in their direction.

Hudson and his surviving cohort edged their way back down the trail, knowing they were outnumbered. Hudson figured he'd go back to Fenton and ask around some more, maybe someone there knew where Tanner and his fancy dressed friend had come from. He'd get his bounty eventually.

Vin crawled to where Ezra was and gently turned his friend over. Vin felt as though he'd been winded when he saw how pale Ezra was, he'd been shot in the side just under his ribs, and Vin realised the bullet hadn't exited Ezra's body. One of the Indians came down and helped Vin lift Ezra onto his horse. Vin climbed on and held Ezra as they rode in silence towards the reservation.

* * * * * * *

Vin quietly entered the cave where Ezra lay. The cave was situated just outside the reservation, once Vin had laid out their bedrolls and blankets, it became the driest, warmest and safest place to put Ezra. The Medicine Man had removed the bullet, and fed Ezra a mixture of herbs daily. He was washing Ezra down, mixing the water with some leaves for the fever. The elderly Indian had stayed by Ezra's side, chasing Vin out every so often so that the younger man would get some fresh air. Vin still needed some time to recuperate from the head wound he'd received. Upon seeing Vin, the Medicine Man shook his head, there had been no change.

Ezra had not regained consciousness since being shot, and his body was chilled and clammy from the fever that just didn't seem to break.

Vin placed a hand on the Medicine Man's shoulder, "I'll be heading back to Four Corners in the morning, we're already a couple of days late. Would you mind looking after Ezra until I can get back with some more help?"

The Indian nodded.

Vin sighed and took hold of one of Ezra's hands, "I really wanted to be here when he woke." Hopefully Ezra would understand that Vin needed to warn Four Corners, just in case Hudson figured out where they were from. He also wanted to bring Nathan back here to check on Ezra as well. Sensing that Vin wanted to be alone with Ezra, the Medicine Man left as quietly as Vin had entered.

Ezra became aware of a tingling heat in his feet, but the feeling was overridden by a tearing pain in his side. He tried to remember what had happened. Oh no, Vin. He tried to open his eyes, but couldn't find the energy. He recalled Hudson and being shot, however was unable to work out what happened to Vin. Ezra forced himself to concentrate and sensed that he was safe and that Vin was close. The pain in his side was forgotten when the sensation he'd felt in his feet began slowly moving up his legs. Forcing his eyes to open, Ezra blinked a few times as the image of a man kneeling beside him came into focus. Ezra's sight was a little blurry, but he was able make out Vin slowly moving up his body, his hands almost touching Ezra's skin. Ezra closed his eyes once more and relaxed as he felt Vin's heat wash over his body. Vin's hands hovered over every part of Ezra, and finally stilled when they reached his chest. One hand stayed where it was while the other continued over Ezra's neck and stopped just over his face. Ezra couldn't resisting and flicked his tongue out to lick Vin's hand. Ezra raised his head slightly and began kissing, sucking and tasting the only thing that had made him feel remotely better. Much to his dismay, the hands moved its way back down his body and Ezra tried to arch into the heat, but Vin always seemed to be just out of reach. Suddenly the sensation was gone and Ezra fell into a peaceful sleep, his body now burning.

The next morning Vin was just finishing breakfast when Ezra stepped up towards the fire with the Medicine Man supporting him.

"You're awake!" Vin's voice reflected his relief and concern. "Should you be walkin' around?"

"I'm feeling surprisingly well, for having been shot."

The Indian nodded, "His fever broke last night, and is completely gone this morning."

"I'm glad you're better Ez," Vin smiled as Ezra sat down next to him indicating he wanted some food. "I'll be leaving soon to go back to Four Corners, I'll get Nathan to come and look after you."

"Mr Tanner, I do not need Mr Jackson to look after me. I'm perfectly well enough to ride, and I'm coming with you."

The Medicine Man shook his head and ambled off to check on his tribe, leaving the two men to fight it out themselves.

"Ez, you've been out for two days and you still look deathly pale. You can't possibly be fit enough to spend the day in a saddle."

"These Indian remedies have cured me completely. I can't even remember which side I was injured on."

"The left. And you still shouldn't be riding already."

"Well then, wait an extra day. I'll prove to you that I'm on the road to recovery and then we can both go home."

Vin knew he'd lost the argument. Ezra really wanted to go with him, and he had to admit he would prefer to have the gambler close by to keep an eye on him. "Alright, we'll head out tomorrow."

Ezra had wanted to ask Vin about last night. He'd believed that it was Vin that had drawn out the fever, but Vin hadn't mentioned anything or even indicated that he was even there. Ezra figured that he must have been hallucinating, probably caused by his increasing attraction to the tracker.

Vin put an arm around Ezra's shoulders. Ezra smiled, at least the kiss in the alley hadn't been a dream, and he was pretty sure that he was lucid now.

* * * * * * *
Continue to Part 2

Divider Bar courtesy of BOON DESIGN