Genre: Western, Drama, Romance
Warning: AKame pairing; vulgarisms, violence
Summary: Once upon a time in the west... During the wild period of the United States formation, two young men became close friends and lovers, before they had to go separate ways... After a furious search, Jin managed to find his younger brother Leo, who is now a leader of the feared gang - ´Black Riders´. And after Kazuya helped the remaining Indians of Blackfeet Tribe move into the reservation, he was able to track them down and so the two met again... But will they overcome the new obstacles and old enemies? And does their affectionate relationship even have any chance in those cruel times?
Thank you: To seiko22 for always supporting me; To atago4 for awesome beta-reading; And to Kamenashi Kazuya and Akanishi Jin for being who they are...
AN: So... This chapter is something like ´Moving on´ no. 2. But this time, you might enjoy also some AKame moments... ^^v
Let me know how you liked them!
I´m really grateful for every opinion or advice and always happy to know my readers.
Your comments are my best reward and kick me off to try harder and keep writing.
Thank you for them, no matter how long or short they will be.
Chapter one // Chapter two // Chapter three // Chapter four // Chapter five // Chapter six // Chapter seven // Chapter eight // Chapter nine // Chapter ten // Chapter eleven // Chapter twelve // Chapter thirteen // Chapter fourteen // Chapter fifteen // Chapter sixteen // Chapter seventeen // Chapter eighteen // Chapter nineteen // Chapter twenty // Chapter twenty one // Chapter twenty two // Chapter twenty three // Chapter twenty four // Chapter twenty five // Chapter twenty six // Chapter twenty seven // Chapter twenty eight // Chapter twenty nine // Chapter thirty // Chapter thirty one // Chapter thirty two // Chapter thirty three // Chapter thirty four //
When the spring night spread its dark blanket over the hidden camp, the atmosphere around the small fire was quite relaxed. Just the idea of Horace Tabor fuming over not only the stolen money, but also the lost rights for the Cursed Mine´s profits made the Black Riders keep smiling and for that moment, they considered the revenge on the Lieutenant Governor for their lost friends to be sufficient.
“I´m still a bit shocked, though,” Ryo said after they finished their late dinner, seated on pelts as close to the flickering warmth as was possible. “I´ve never thought that Tabor´s wife would be… like she seems to be.”
“Me neither,” Kame reacted from the opposite side of the campfire, still with that thoughtful expression he had ever since they had left Leadville. “It was just a short encounter, but she really is an admirable woman.”
“I´m shocked about something else then,” Koki joined the discussion with a satisfied sigh, since his stomach was finally pleased enough. “Why would she want to stick with someone like Tabor? Giving us those papers and all…”
“I´d say that she just wants to get the best out of their divorce,” Jane, sitting with her legs folded under her and covered with the warm blanket, added her opinion shrugging. “I´d do the same.”
“Then I´m glad you don´t have a reason to,” Leo noted with an exaggerated relief, gaining a smack over the shoulder from his girlfriend, while Jack tried to suppress his amused chuckling unsuccessfully.
“But still, that doesn´t explain why would she tell you to take that deed for the mine as well. It will influence her badly too, won´t it?” the black-haired Rider objected.
“You´re right, both Tabors have been involved in the mines´ business from the very beginning,” Nick confirmed.
“Maybe she´s not such a cheapskate as her husband,” the blonde Rider offered one explanation.
“I don´t think that we´re able to explain Augusta Tabor´s motives properly,” Kame assumed, altering the half-burnt sticks on the edge of the fireplace.
“And it doesn´t matter, does it?” so far silently smoking Cullen summarized. “I don´t see a single reason why we should care, since we´ve got what we needed.”
Kamenashi didn´t seem to agree with that statement completely, but he had enough respect towards the older man to keep quiet. On the other hand, Leo nodded slowly: “True enough… And it was quite easy for once.”
“Deservedly so,” Ryo stated with a sad smile.
A short, pleasant silence fell upon the camp, before the leader of the group straightened up: “All right, we should get some rest, guys. I want us to be on the way again with the first sunbeams. Who is up for the first watch?”
“No watching, but a great idea about sleeping, Chief,” Koki got up too and yawned. “Even though it´s damn too wet for that all around here, really…”
“You´ll live through it. We cannot risk a bigger campfire,” Ryo scolded him mockingly.
“I know, I know…” the blonde one´s eyes suddenly beamed, as every time when he had one of his ´super´ ideas. “Hey, Kame-chan, would you mind to warm me up during the night? You obviously did so well with Jin before…”
The Riders began to laugh except for Kame, who looked at Koki rather reproachfully and for quiet Jin, whose dark eyes literally stabbed the blonde one. And also except for Jane, whose expression turned more than thoughtful at that moment, as she eyed all three guys.
Suddenly, the brunette stood up and gently, but unexpectedly pushed grinning Koki from behind, so that the Rider staggered and fell upon surprised Ryo. His weight made both guys roll away, right into the wet grass in each other´s arms.
“It seems to me that you have your own bed-warmer,” Jane declared and the camp resonated in another common laughter; with even Cullen watching the two amusedly, while Ryo was yelling at howling Koki to get off him.
Jane was aware of the curious look of the second youngest Rider, but she avoided it and added on the fire instead, wondering if there was any chance that the blonde Rider might have discovered a certain secret…
It took some time before the campsite calmed down completely, but it did in the end. Jin volunteered for the first watch by himself, and his expression was so morose that nobody even tried to join him.
Everybody was already breathing regularly, robed in their blankets and Cullen and Nick were even snorting a little. The rain completely ceased away, so the flames stopped hissing and beamed in the night with the bright light.
After he polished his revolvers and hid them into their sheaths again, Jin stared into the fire, wondering just how to stop Tanaka from making those stupid jokes. The blonde one´s behavior pissed him off unnecessarily, he knew. He should have ignored it, but he just couldn´t prevent that sparkle of burning anger awakening inside of him every time that jerk behaved as if he wanted to seduce Kame or something…
One of the body shapes, which were lying in the wide circle around him, just at the boundary of light and dark, started moving and shortly after that a slim figure joined Jin at the fire. The older one didn´t have to look to know who that was. Kame hugged his knees, while keeping the blanket over his shoulders and he didn´t say anything.
“It´s not a time for your turn yet,” Jin noted very quietly and placed one thick branch at the edge of the campfire, to let it dry off a little first, before he would add it in the middle of it.
“I know…” the younger one replied.
A few moments passed in silence, with both youngsters watching the flames. None of the other sleepers moved, only Jack murmured something in his sleep.
“Are you upset?” Kazuya whispered finally.
Jin glanced at the younger one shortly. In the flickering fire, Kame´s skin seemed to be even softer then Jin knew it was and his disheveled hair threw sharp shadows over his eyes. And he looked somewhat vulnerable, as he sat there cuddling himself in a ball; a total opposite of that decisive Rider who led them during the robbery right in the center of Leadville.
Suddenly, Jin was reminded of how young Kame was, only twenty-one years; at least that was the last information the younger one told him back in Montana. And he could still deal with all those recent events so composedly, and more wisely than Jin himself. But like everybody else, Kazuya also had a weaker side, a soft spot he didn´t show very often to anyone, including Jin. He didn´t deal well with feeling unsecure about something…
The worried look of those brown eyes tore Jin off that strange line of thoughts. He realized that he didn´t say anything for too long and that probably misled Kame to a wrong conclusion.
“Not with you,” he assured the younger one.
Kazuya sighed and for a short moment, his head turned in the direction, where a certain blonde Rider was sleeping: “He enjoys it only more if you get angry…”
“I realize that, I just can´t help it…” Jin murmured unhappily and looked away. “I´m sorry if… If I´m too grumpy.”
It was not easy to admit aloud that he behaved foolishly, but Jin was not so blinded with own moodiness not to see that Kame was influenced by that hidden conflict as well.
No reaction could be heard from the younger one for so long, that Jin had already started to feel even worse for being so selfish. But then Kame suddenly moved and his warm breath tickled Jin´s cold ear: “It´s all right, I like you even with your grumpy side.”
Jin turned to him smiling: “I´m quite relieved to hear that.”
They kept looking at each other for a while, motionless, neither of them bold enough to cross the line with the rest of the gang around.
“When is your birthday?” Jin spilled what wandered through his mind, just to distract himself.
Kazuya raised one of his neatly shaped eyebrows: “What´s up with this question all of the sudden?”
“I´ve just wondered how old you´re,” Jin shrugged. “You told me you´re twenty-one last year...”
“Well, already twenty-two, actually. I was born in February.”
“In February?” Jin repeated in astonishment. “When we were already back together? Why didn´t you say anything?”
Kazuya patted a finger over Jin´s lips to remind him to keep his voice down and only then he answered whispering: “I didn´t even realize it. There were so many things going on and this wasn´t anything important, so…”
“Not important?” Jin cut in, forcing himself to remain quiet. “No way, we should have celebrated it!”
“Well, we can still celebrate my birthday next year, if there is a chance… Or yours,” Kame proposed smiling softly. “When were you born?”
“In July,” Jin replied slowly with his mind was a little blank, since he was enchanted by a sudden change of the younger one´s expression. That smile suited Kazuya much more than a gloomy face.
“Good, we didn´t miss that one then,” the younger one stated contentedly and before Jin knew it, he placed a tender kiss on his lips. Already that short touch of his finger before stirred something in Jin´s stomach, but Kazuya´s lips were naturally a much bigger deal. “It´s really nice that you care about something like that,” Kame noted, when he pulled away.
Quickly, before the younger one could escape too far, Jin raised his hand and pressed it against the back of Kame´s neck.
“I think it´s only natural,” he whispered, before giving him the kiss back, only a little deeper one, his desire flickering in it. It was almost impossible to resist when Kame´s lips went to meet him, warm and soft and inviting… But he had to. Jin broke away as soon as he felt that he was losing control and soothed Kame´s skin gently, before he let him go.
“Rather go to sleep before I won´t let you,” he said hoarsely and turned towards the fire.
“How thoughtful of you…” Kame appreciated more amusedly than gratefully and slipped away from his reach before Jin could reconsider.
“More like stupid, I should just lean you over some tree…” Jin murmured for himself, but the younger one managed to catch the words.
“We´ll make up for it some other time,” a whispering promise was heard from under the blanket before it went motionless again.
Jin smiled at that: “Sure, we will…”
After a short run up the stairs, Danny found the door of Mr. Cameron´s office open, so he just walked in, knocking on the door-frame shortly. Math always took the room for himself, every time the quarry´s manager was absent. It was the same that week; with Cameron on the trip to Wyoming, his usually so neatly arranged table got messy with cigarette stubs and sticky rings after many glasses of drinks.
The young errand boy didn´t see the face of his boss first, as his view was covered with the stretched newspapers, showing him only the headlines as “BLACK RIDERS VS. GOVERNOR: I will make them pay, Tabor says” or “MORE CLASHES WITH SIOUX: Ten soldiers´ lives lost” and also “INFLUENZA OUTBREAK in Hereford reaches its climax”. Just a thin strip of smoke, which was rising from behind the rim of the paper, let him know that his superior was sitting there.
“Chief, we have…” Danny started only to be interrupted by a lazy, hoarse voice from behind the newspapers.
“What do you think about it, Danny?”
“About what, Chief?” he asked, recognizing that self-absorbed tone, which meant that at that moment, Math Grenet wouldn´t listen to anyone except himself.
“About the Riders´ intentions…” the temporary quarry leader put the papers down on the dirty table and pulled a half-burnt cigarette out from his smirking mouth. “After this, just where do they want to go now, huh?” Math Grenet pressed the glowing tip to some line in the article, which he had been reading so far. Danny felt the creeps on his back, when the man precisely burnt out two words from it.
“I don´t know, Chief,” he said just for the purpose of reacting somehow, though he was sure that Math didn´t want his opinion. The news about that robbery spread like a wildfire, considering it happened just two days ago. The Lieutenant Governor obviously splashed out with his funds to raise the ruckus in all big newspapers publishing companies.
“Stealing so much money directly from Tabor was a risky move,” just as Danny expected, Math kept talking more for himself than towards him. “They hadn´t done something like this so far… They needed money and they needed them quickly, but for what a reason?” Grenet put the cigarette back between his lips and swung in the chair.
Danny frowned. Ever since Math came back from not a very successful trip to one of the Leadville´s mines, he was obsessed with those Riders and nothing except many shots of quality alcohol combined with fucking could distract his attention to another direction. Danny even heard some arguments between him and Cameron, since the gunslinger wanted to set off searching for them on his own, but the manager insisted on him keeping a low profile, since so many soldiers were roaming around because of those Sioux issues.
Danny couldn´t even remember just how many times he ended up serving as a mere way for releasing Math´s anger and frustration, either in his bed, or leant over the table or even over the wall of the tool shed. He clenched his hands into fists to stop them from shaking, which took over him when he remembered that. It was awfully hard to give up on even the rest of his dignity, but there was no way out for him anymore…
“Our guards caught an Indian spy on the hill above the quarry, Chief,” he announced loudly to get the man´s attention.
“What?” Math Grenet finally looked at him. “Why didn´t you say so right away?” he doused the rest of the cigarette in the glass of weathered beer.
“I tried to…” Danny sighed a little.
“Where is he?” Math snapped, as he got up and reached for his gun belt.
“They´re just bringing him, downstairs,” he replied, already tired of being ignored.
“Fine. He better be a talkative one, I´m sick of those stupid red skins already.”
That was no wonder… They had many incidents with the Indians recently. Sioux ambushed their deliveries a few times, but so far they didn´t dare to get close to the quarry itself, as it was well-guarded. But Danny was not surprised that one of them appeared in the end, since the place was built up on their territory. It was one of the things, which kept Math in the quarry all the time and his mood quite bad.
Grenet stomped out of the office, with Danny following him down the stairs not very happily.
The Indian spy was very young and very skinny, but he made up for his figure by hot-blooded pugnacity. It took three men to hold him down on his knees, when Grenet wanted to kick into his stomach.
“Where is the rest of your annoying red friends?” the gunman repeated his question coldly.
After the Indian gathered some breath, the flood of probably very abusive words in Sioux language was the only response to the interrogation, just as before. Grenet spat at the floor.
“Little shit… Tie him up and lock in the cellar. We´ll leave him there till tomorrow, without any water. He will cool down then…”
Once the guards with the still resisting Indian were gone, Math turned to Danny, who watched the ugly scene from the corner.
“Tell Horst that there´s no need to strengthen the guards, but I want to them to be more cautious.”
“Yes, Chief,” Danny nodded.
“Then call Marty for me, I want him to arrange a constant watch in the city,” Grenet added, already pulling a pack of cigarettes out from his pocket.
“A watch? Why?” Danny asked confused.
“Don´t ask me stupid questions, kid,” his superior hissed. “If they go this way, I won´t let them pass just like that…”
“You mean the Riders?” he figured. “But Mr. Cameron said that we shouldn´t…”
“Fuck Cameron! I´m in charge here now!” Math snapped, making Danny forget any objections.
“Yes, sir… Should I participate too?”
“Later. Now deal with those errands and then grab some bottle and dinner for me in the kitchen. Got it?”
Danny gulped down: “But… But I was supposed to have a day off since this evening. I wanted to…”
Grenet crossed the space between them and grabbed his chin into two fingers: “Are you defying my order, Danny?” he asked with a dangerous shine in his eyes.
“No, sir…” he replied a little shakily, feeling the shivers again, just under that touch.
“Good. Then move it, I don´t want to wait for you the whole evening.”
Echoes of hammer´s hits over the anvil resonated in the front yard and continued further into the streets of Denver outskirts. The blacksmith´s children were playing hide and seek around the house, while their father kept working at the forge. And a faint fragrance of some lunch being prepared by Mrs. Emerson was leaking from the half-open window. It was a calm picture from the day of one family. But there was something more hidden under it. As the completely full stalls with the still saddled horses and a group of gunmen, waiting quietly in the room that usually served as the dining space.
Suddenly, the hits stopped, as well as the childish shouts. The front door opened with a quiet shriek and all men in the room reached for their guns at that sound. Someone´s heavy steps stomped across the corridor and another door got opened quite vigorously. A blonde youngster froze at the doorstep, when he found himself being targeted by four revolvers.
“Hey, hey! Take it easy, guys! It´s us!” Koki yelled alarmed.
“You didn´t knock how we agreed to,” Cullen growled, slowly pushing the weapon back to its sheath, as well as Leo and Jin, who were waiting in the room with him and Jack, who straightened up from a crouched position next to the entrance with a sigh of relief.
The blonde Rider entered with a not very regretful expression: “It´s was too complicated,” he snorted and put two obviously heavy sacs at the table.
“I remembered it, but he walked in sooner than I could stop him, sorry,” a voice of another person going in was heard in the corridor and right after that Ryo appeared, with Jane behind his back. The three of them went shopping, to gather some missing supplies for the trip to Hereford.
Koki rolled his eyes: “All right, I´m sorry!” he said, though it didn´t sound much apologetically. “You´re somehow too nervous, don´t you think?” he noted as he pulled a thick bottle from one of the bags and threw himself into the first free chair.
Leo frowned at him: “For a very good reason, Koki,” he stated coldly and then he snatched the bottle from the other one´s fingers sooner than he could drink from it. “I said no alcohol until we´re out of the city.”
The blonde one made a disappointed grimace and crossed arms across his chest.
“What about Kame and Nick?” Jin asked. “Did you see them somewhere nearby?”
“Yes, they´re coming back already too,” Jane announced. “They´re just waiting on the corner for a bit, so that we don´t go in here all at once.”
“Good,” Leo nodded. “Emerson is anxious enough already…”
“I´ve noticed,” Ryo said, looking out of the window. “He almost hit his thumb, when I came to tell him we´re back.”
“You can´t blame him,” the brunette reminded. “He fears for his family. If anyone would know that we´re here…”
“Stop inventing troubles, dear,” Cullen, who seemed to be even more sullen than usually, cut in. “We´ll be gone sooner that it comes to that.”
“They´re here,” Ryo announced the arrival of the last two gang members, who also had their task in Denver. Everybody remained on their spots waiting patiently, only Jin leant down to check the front yard, as if he didn´t believe what Ryo said.
The older Akanishi didn´t like to remain hidden along with his brother, while the others went out, but they agreed that for the moment it would be risky even for him to show his face around, since they were so much alike.
Nick and Kame came inside the room with serious faces and just as the first group they also carried some small bags, only much lighter. Except gathering the newest issues of newspapers, the two visited Nick´s friend – a local doctor, who once saved his life. The Riders gathered around the table to hear out what they had found out.
“The situation seems to be even worse than we thought,” Nick started talking in quite a pessimistic manner. “My doc is in contact with his acquaintance in Hereford only thanks to telegraph. The city has been completely closed down. The denizens in the close surroundings were afraid that the infection might spread, so they called the Army for help, which is in the control of the situation now. They do not allow any carriage to go out or even in. So, they are without necessary medical supplies…”
“They just let them die over there?” Jack jumped up from his chair. “Aren´t they supposed to help them?!”
“The official statement is that the situation is under control and they´re just waiting for the outbreak to pass…” the older man replied gloomily.
“How convenient for those who aren´t there…” Cullen noted in a dark tone.
Jane was just sitting there quietly, staring at the table, but she was pressing her hands in her lap so hard against each other they were shaking.
“Did you find out what should we bring in to help them?” Leo asked.
Nick nodded: “Yeah, but… Kame, can you please explain it?” he turned to the younger one, who was standing next to Jin behind Jane´s chair. “I´m not sure if I got it right…”
“There´s no real treatment against influenza,” Kamenashi started slowly. “Only some of the symptoms can be suppressed - mostly by quinine or willow bark. There´s no guarantee they will help, but they reduce the fever. The doctor said that his colleague is already almost out of these medicaments. We bought some from him, but he couldn´t give us much…” he finished not very positively as he placed two small bags and two thick dark glasses with liquid on the table.
“Where do we get more then?” Ryo wondered.
“He recommended us to stop by in Fort Collins,” Nick took the word again. “The local physician should have more than enough of both, he said. He wanted to send the delivery to Hereford, but it was returned unopened.”
“Fort Collins…” Jin repeated slowly and glanced at Kame. Now he knew what caused that troubled look in his eyes.
“Good, I was planning for us to go through there anyway,” Leo reacted. “That will be no detour for us, just…” the Riders´ leader looked at the blonde one. “Isn´t it close to that quarry you told us about?”
Koki stretched his arms above his head: “It is, why?” he didn´t seem to be much worried about it.
“It´s the city where I came across Grenet on my way down here,” Kame said in a somewhat stiff tone. “And I´m not very eager to repeat it.”
Leo looked at Kame carefully now, then at Jin and back to the younger one: “But isn´t he on the wanted list as well? He cannot show himself around much, right?”
“That´s true, but…” Kame hesitated.
“That bastard always means troubles and I suppose we all want to avoid them, don´t we?” Jin finished the thought instead of the younger one.
“That´s right,” Leo agreed thoughtfully.
“Since when you´re such wimps? We´ll just grab the medicaments and be on our way,” Cullen joined the discussion sharply. “If he´s in charge of the quarry, it´s highly unlikely he would notice you or our blonde clown during such a short time.”
“Or me,” Jin added darkly. “He knows me as well…”
“And what? It could also be that we will notice him...” Koki leant forward with a quite ugly grin. “I couldn´t be happier than to have an opportunity to pay him back…”
“For once I agree with you. We´re surely more than able to kick his sorry ass,” Ryo agreed willingly.
Kame didn´t object anything, but Jin could see he still didn´t like it. Well, if he was honest to himself, if he would spot that bastard´s face somewhere, he would be more than pleased to shoot his head off somewhere to the Moon as well.
“We will be solving this when, if ever, it comes to that,” Leo closed the topic. “Anything else?”
“We´re in the news again, of course,” Nick reacted, while he pulled the papers out of his bag.
“That was fast…” Jack murmured.
“Not really, I expected that,” Leo denied. “I suppose that the editors would rather avoid pissing the Governor even more than he is.”
“That´s right,” Cullen agreed. “I guess they had started typing as soon as the telegrams got to them.”
“They always hop around him like puppets,” Koki snorted disgusted, noticing the huge pitch black headline.
“Anyway, we need to move quickly,” Leo said, after he just glanced at the newspapers without any big interest. “The less time we spend at one place, the smaller chance for us to be spotted by someone too observing. Anything else interesting apart from that?”
“Yes, there´s one more thing we should consider…” Kame pointed at one article spread all over two pages. “A quite serious conflict arose between the Sioux Indians and the Army. If we travel as planned, after Fort Collins we´ll be going right through a war zone.”
Leo nodded: “That´s a good point, we´ll need to be very careful about that.”
“Yeah, it would suck to get in the middle of this…” Cullen growled, looking at the article as if it was something poisonous.
Then Leo rose from his chair: “All right, gather out stuff, we´ll set off in three groups, to make the fuss as small as possible. I will say thank you to Emerson for everyone. So, Ryo, Koki, Jack - you three go first, we´ll follow. Let´s meet up on the north crossroads, we´ll continue together from up there.”
Jin, Kame and Jane were in the last group leaving the stables behind the smithy and since the brunette went outside first, Jin used that moment to grab Kame´s elbow, when the younger one led his mare around him.
“It will be fine, Kame…”
“How can you know that?” the other one reacted quietly.
“Because we´re going together this time,” Jin replied with conviction. “And I won´t let you out of my sight,” he added calculatedly.
A faint smile brightened the handsome face a little: “Not even when I take a piss?” Kame asked.
“Not even then,” Jin confirmed and pulled Kazuya closer for a kiss. It was sweet and a calming one and Kame happily gave in to the sensation it brought him…
“Guys! What takes you so long?”
They tore away each other in the last second, before Jane peeked into the stables and stared at them for a while, the corners of her mouth twitching in a suppressed smile.
“Stop distracting each other and let´s go,” she mocked them and disappeared back outside, before they could say something.
The road between Denver and Fort Collins was heavily used, but also well-maintained. Travelling on it was comfortable and quick. The Riders continued towards the north in two groups, not to raise much of unnecessary attention from other travelers. They were proceeding fast, but even though they had to stop for at least a few hours for the night.
During their ride Jane´s suspicion about Koki was only getting stronger. Seeing his friendly chit chat with Kame, while Jin at the end of their group was watching them cheerlessly from behind and then noticing the blonde one´s mocking smile, as he placed his arm around the younger one´s shoulders, when they stopped to water the horses…
By the time they left the main road to make a temporary camp further from it, Jane was already certain and she just waited for her opportunity…
Quite relieved Koki was going back from the hidden spot behind some bushes, looking forward to the dinner, as their handsome cook promised to make his special potato mash. But suddenly a figure with long hair appeared in his way and pushed him back to the dark roughly.
“Jane! What are you doing?” the blonde Rider asked surprised, when he recognized the brunette´s face in the waning light.
“Just stop it, Koki,” she demanded and shoved him again, rather strongly, to emphasize her words. He staggered and had to find his balance grabbing on the subtle tree. “Don´t you see it´s already hard enough for them?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don´t play the stupid act with me. I know you know,” the brunette poked a finger into his chest. “So stop being an ass for once.”
The blond Rider stared at her wide-eyed: “I still don´t…”
“You know about Kame and Jin!” Jane interrupted him harshly, but lowering her voice.
Koki´s jaw dropped: “I… But… how the hell do you know?”
“It doesn´t matter. The point is that you should just leave them alone.”
The blonde one grinned, suddenly quite amused, once he knew what was going on: “Maybe they should just tell everyone, if the things continue like this…”
“Koki,” Jane approached even closer with a dangerous look in her eyes. “This is their privacy and we have no right to tinker with it.”
“It´s not like they cover it up very well, everybody will find out in the end,” the blonde one objected.
“You can see it once you know about them, yes,” Jane admitted. “But otherwise, they´re quite good in keeping it secret. If they want to tell us, they will do it, but we…”
“Fine, fine, I get it!” Koki rolled his eyes. “But it´s fun, so why should I…”
“Maybe for you, but it´s definitely not funny for them. Try being a little empathetic, will you?”
“Hmm, I think that you sympathize with them too much,” Koki murmured, not giving up completely yet.
Jane face-palmed herself: “Sometimes, you´re really hopeless…”
“Hey! It´s their fault they don´t trust us! They wouldn´t have to act in front of us at all!”
“Are you really so sure about that?” the brunette asked him quietly.
“Well…” he hesitated. It was true that probably not everybody would be so understanding…
“See? Just don´t provoke any unnecessary conflicts and behave normally.”
“Ok…” he sighed in agreement.
“Good boy,” Jane praised him and turned back towards the camp.
“But I do behave normally,” Koki murmured indignantly, when he was sure that Jane couldn´t hear him.
The cloudy sky didn´t seem to influence the usual afternoon rush. The streets of Fort Collins were busy as usually, with pitchmen extolling their goods on the square and with many carts going in both directions, their teamsters yelling at running kids and dogs. But in all that rush, there was one man who was obviously bored. He was sitting on the veranda of one of many saloons on the main street, reading the same newspapers for the sixth time and glancing at the busy street from time to time.
“How is it going, Marty?”
The gunman flinched upon hearing the voice, but once he made sure it was just a skinny boy with fair hair, he looked almost relieved then.
“It´s damn boring, that´s how it´s going,” he snorted.
“Nobody suspicious then?” Danny leant over the pillar, looking at the street full of horses, people and noise.
“Come on! This is just bullshit!” Marty slapped with the newspapers over the floor. “A group of gunmen, four, six or more, who try to behave inconspicuously while passing by the city? That´s too damn general description!”
The youngster looked at him: “You don´t want piss Grenet off, do you?” he asked quietly.
“Of course not,” he murmured, but didn´t want to give up on his complaints yet. “But how do you wanna spot a group like that in this mess!”
Danny shrugged and focused on the avalanche of people again: “You have your orders, so just follow them…”
“Oh, sure, I will. But even if they do go right through this street, I´d probably miss them anyway…” Marty assumed and then he noticed, that the boy was staring wide-eyed somewhere, not listening to him at all. “What? What are you looking at?”
“Over there…” Danny almost whispered. “Near the barber´s place…”
Marty followed the direction of his look and stiffened. Five riders were just passing around the public baths. They were pushed close to each other by the crowd, their faces covered with mostly black hats. And just a few meters behind them, Marty spotted four more riders, including one quite pretty woman, as they were trying to move forward the busy street in the same direction.
“I´ll be damned…” the gunman forgot his previous boredom within a second. “You think it´s them?”
“I don´t think… I know it,” the boy replied quietly, and not very happily.
Once again, just as many weeks ago, Danny recognized the white mare and her master. And this time, he could add an impressive black stallion to the list as well…
Shortly after the lunch time, they arrived to the crowded Fort Collins.
Kame tried to remain calm and not to be so pessimistic all the time, but he just couldn´t help to check on the faces of people they passed, subconsciously expecting that grinning face to appear out of nowhere. He couldn´t explain why he was so restless about it even to himself. Leo and Cullen were right that Grenet was probably hidden somewhere to avoid being ferreted by the Marshals…
After they finally managed to get through the busy main street, fortunately without any incident, they gathered in front of a small saloon in the outskirts, which was not far from the clinic of the doctor, who was supposed to have enough medicaments. This time, Jane and Nick were sent to deal with the purchase, chosen as the most trustworthy combination, while the rest of them headed to the taproom for some food, awaiting their return.
Cullen proposed that they could spend at least a few hours in the city, to let their horses rest a little, as well as themselves, before setting off to the more difficult part of their journey, as the roads further to the north and east were not so accessible. Leo agreed with it and since the landlady even offered them a quiet room along with the first round of beers, they accepted it gladly. Jack and Cullen used the opportunity right away, while Ryo and Koki ordered another round of beer in advance and Leo started to study their Colorado maps to figure out the best way to continue.
Not that Kame wouldn´t want to let his back and legs rest for a while, but he was still anxious to get out of the city as soon as possible. Sitting in the corner, he was staring at the surface of his beer rather gloomily, when he felt a slight kick under the table and looked up. Jin winked at him and got up.
“Madame, do you also have some free space in the stables? We could move our horses there…” the older Akanishi approached the lady behind the bar.
“Sure,” the sturdy woman nodded. “Not many guests in these days. Drag them back, my boy will take care of them later.”
“Thank you, Madame,” Jin smiled, he turned back to them and even before he opened his mouth, Kame was already on his feet as well.
“I´ll help you… Koki, you can drink the rest of it, if you want,” he offered the blonde one, pointing at the tankard.
“Thanks, handsome!” the thirsty Rider didn´t let the chance slip and was on it right away.
“Do you want some help?” Ryo asked, but Kame just shook his head.
“It´s all right, we´ve got this,” he refused and followed Jin out of the door.
The stables behind the saloon were not particularly big, but the Riders´ horses fit in there well, which was definitely better than letting them to be exposed to curious eyes in front of the main entrance.
There was also a spacious barn, connected with the stalls, which was filled with a strong smell of hay stored in its attic. A long ladder led up there, old and creaky, but still strong enough to hold the height of two young men, when they climbed up hastily…
“I can´t believe you dragged me up here,” the younger of the two breathed out heavily, once his mouth was finally free to speak.
“It didn´t seem to me that you were forced… You climbed that ladder all alone quite voluntarily,” the older one teased him.
Kame couldn´t help but chuckle in amusement. It was as if all worries flew out of his head to somewhere else, when he was with Jin, just like that, alone, in his arms. No matter that the older one was hovering above him, pressing Kame down into the soft and prickly pile with quite a… needy shine in his eyes.
“I wonder what you find so funny about this spot,” Jin commented, squeezing Kame´s wrists in his hold.
“Not funny, just… unusual,” the younger one replied, still with a smile playing on his lips.
Jin kept looking at him for a while, suddenly somehow thoughtful.
“Name me one usual place where we´ve made out so far,” he challenged Kame.
The younger one didn´t expect that and after a moment he realized that there was basically nothing he could reply to that.
“See?” Jin leant down to him again with a victorious smile and attached himself to Kame´s lips.
Kazuya sighed and eagerly went to meet him, savoring on the wet touch of Jin´s tongue. He felt the strong hands sliding down his arms to shoulders, then across his chest until they both managed to slip under Kame´s shirt and soothe his skin under it in the opposite direction.
The younger one used the opportunity of his hands being free, pressed against Jin´s shoulders and moving with his whole body, he rolled Jin over to his back, ending up sitting on his lap.
“Who said anything about making out?” he asked mockingly.
“You. Right now,” the other one replied immediately.
“Clever answer,” Kame admitted, tapping his fingers close to Jin´s collar bones gently. “But… They´ll be looking for us, if we´re away for too long…”
As expected, Jin put on quite an annoyed expression: “They have a beer to enjoy themselves,” he leant on his elbows to get himself higher, but Kame backed off.
Jin smirked, grabbed the younger one´s slim thighs and pulled himself up to sit, immediately capturing Kame in his hug again, as he circled his arms around Kame´s waist.
“All those days, running around, robbing safes, riding during the nights, watching that blonde idiot touching you… I want you for myself, damn it…” Jin finished his speech whispering and he placed a soft kiss on Kame´s neck.
The younger one shivered and buried his hands into the thick black hair.
“But you have me, silly. Always…” Kame pushed the other´s head back a little and leant down to kiss him this time. When he pulled away, Jin already had his hands under his shirt again, his fingers observing the skin of his back spot by spot.
Suddenly, someone´s steps were heard on the boards of the floor under them and Kame stiffened, listening to the sounds closely. Some tool made a noise as if being pulled out of somewhere. It was probably a stable man… Then he flinched, when he felt the greedy hands grabbing his butt.
“Don´t think I´ll let you go now,” Jin announced him hoarsely.
Kame tried to hush him, but Jin ignored it and pulled him even closer, and the younger one lost his breath for a while, when their crotches brushed over each other. Slowly, Jin dragged him down again, pulling Kame on the top of his body. The straw under them made a soft noise, as they lied down, and Kame tensely listened to the steps, which he still heard down there.
Jin, using his distraction, rolled the younger one over again and locked his lips with a heated kiss, while his left hand already searched for the bucket of the other´s trousers. Kame made a muffled sound of protest, but the older one continued purposefully, exploring deep inside his mouth. It felt so sweet, that Kame couldn´t help but shift against the other´s body, impatiently waiting for more touches.
Another sharp sound and someone´s swearing made Kame freeze, while Jin managed to slip under his trousers and made for his warming member. Kame pressed a hand against his mouth, when Jin soothed him down there. Jin absolutely ignored the fact someone was moving in the barn right under them and teased him again with the little fires in his dark eyes.
Kame´s breath got stuck in his throat for a while, as he almost choked on the excited sigh. He reached up and pulling himself up, he attached to the smiling lips, throwing one of his legs over Jin´s at the same time. Somehow, he managed to change their positions again, slipping away from Jin´s teasing. He pressed Jin into the hay pile this time, rather harshly and with a shortened breath, Kame kept looking to his eyes for a while. The steps finally headed out of the barn and gradually, the sound of them ceased completely.
Kame leant down then, closer to that burning look: “Now we can make out…” he said, as he rolled Jin´s shirt out of the way.
Jin´s eyes widened, when he realized that Kame didn´t stop with kissing his neck and nipples and stomach and went even lower, after pulling his trousers down in a torturing, slow move. And then those slim fingers finally touched his hard member, and a hot breath tickled it and that first lick made Jin almost moan aloud over how hot it felt.
That sensation was too overwhelming to think about any protests or proposals for something else. Jin was only able to bury his hands into the soft hair in his lap and close his eyes.
“That was… Damn…” Jin uttered once he controlled his fastened breathing again.
Kame, so far lying next to him, smiled and sat up suddenly.
“Come once you calm down,” he grinned at Jin and rushed through the hay to the ladder, leaving Jin behind to gather his senses.
It took some time before the older one finally managed to button his trousers and started to climb down as well. He found Kame under the ladder, smiling at him cheerfully.
“You…” Jin jumped down from the last partition and frowned at the younger one. “I was not done with you and you run off like that,” he complained, but he wasn´t really offended. On the opposite, he felt light and happy.
“I wouldn´t be able to get you down here otherwise,” Kame explained apologetically. “Sorry, Jin, but… We really should go back…” he added sighing a little, as he leant towards Jin and pulled some straws from his hair.
“Thanks, but I won´t do this for you,” Jin grinned. “You look too adorable with them in your hair…”
“Damn, where it is?” Kame started to search through his hair to get the dry straws out of it.
“Everywhere…” Jin reacted and grabbed Kame´s elbow.
Before the younger one could react, he pulled him close and captured his lips in a purposefully demanding kiss, to give him at least some kind of punishment for running off. And it worked just as Jin wanted, since Kazuya stiffened and then quickly gave in, sighing into the kiss.
Jin let him circle his slim arms around his neck and then suddenly pulled away: “You could have that if you didn´t run away,” he announced to his surprised face.
Kame was repaying Jin´s amused look for a while, before he just chuckled. Then they slowly turned towards the barn´s exit. And then, still half-hugging each other, they both froze on the spot. Somebody was standing there, staring at them wide-eyed. And it was Leo.