Dark Angels

by Cattraine

Disclaimer: Not mine, I just opened the cell door and let 'em out.

Warnings: BIG FAT WARNING!!! This is my first story. This is also an AU. A dark AU, hence the Dark Angels title. This universe is the direct result of all the smarm that has been showing up online lately. (You know who you are.) These character's personas are dark. So; if you long to step into Mary Sue Travis's starched knickers, think Ezra walks on water, believe that Sarah is an angel and was the love of Chris's life, that Vin is a fragile flower....walk on by! You have been warned. Don't come bawling to me because you don't understand the concept of the delete button. This universe is CLOSED for now. MIne! All mine! I am working on a handbook, and several other Dark Angel stories to follow.

Rating: Slash. Explicit M/M sex. Why else are you here?

Pairing: C/V, some C/B

Notes: I decided that if Mog could make them an ATF team, I could make them badass bikers. One of the things that always irritated me about the M7 series was the attempt to take men who essentially made their living by shooting people into heroic ideals. Boring! Thanks to Joe Lawson and SueN for inspiration. Thanks to Leslie for Josiah's chili recipe!

Alternate Universe "Dark Angels"

Four Corners, New Mexico
Little Sisters of Mercy Convent

Josiah Sanchez straightened from his crouch near the rose bed to check the position of the sun. Still time to to feed these beauties before they were supposed to pick up Chris. He beamed at the mass of rich red blossoms bobbing in the summer breeze, took a deep breath to inhale their heady fragrance; opened the burlap bag of bonemeal and...scowled. Damn. Half empty. Not enough of his special blend to do a proper job on the dozen bushes in this bed. He would have to mix up a new batch of his special recipe. Frowning again, he tried to remember if he still had enough of the main ingrediant stored at Nathan's.

"Brother Sanchez! Brother Sanchez!"

Josiah looked up to see the diminutive, black clad form of Sister Eustace tottering towards him as fast as her cane would aid her fragile bones. A broad grin split his craggy face. Josiah adored the nuns at Mercy convent, and feisty, eighty year old Sister Mary Eustace was a special favorite. "Brother Sanchez! We have a dozen more orders for the young plants! This internet is a wonder! You must thank your young friend again for setting up the website for us!"Josiah beamed down at the excited little nun. Clad in traditional habit complete with veil, and wearing a pair of thick coke bottle bottom glasses, she DID resemble the "Sister Mary Penguin" of JD's nickname.

"I sure will Sister, JD will be glad to hear that. Now I can start on that new bed of floribundas." He gently patted the small, wrinkled hand on his arm as he carefully guided her to sit on a nearby bench. The convent rose gardens produced superb, sturdy plants. The proceeds of sales from these plants went to charity. As head gardener for the Sisters, Josiah could say with pride that the nuns were superb 'rose rustlers'; adept at rescuing hardy antique varieties from old cemeteries and homesteads.

They chatted happily for a few minutes, admiring the lush beds fragrant with bloom, and swarming with happy bees. Soon, Josiah took his leave of the elderly nun. She watched as the big man carefully gathered his tools into the wheelbarrow, and wheeled them back to the potting shed. A few minutes later, a thunderous roar ripped through the peaceful morning as he tore down the drive on his ancient chopper; his battered leather vest flapping in the wind, the dark winged logo prominent on the broad back.

A tiny smile quirked Sister Eustace's wrinkled face. "Dark Angels indeed !" She snorted in derision, remembering some of the whispers and rumors she had heard about the big man and his friends. Nonsense. Total nonsense. "Just because those boys were fond of roughhousing and motorcycles everyone assumed they were part of a gang..."

Jackson Mortuary and Crematorium 7:15 A.M.

Nathan Jackson rolled out of the wide platform bed, careful not to disturb his sleeping wife. He gently tucked the eiderdown comforter back over her bare shoulder. 'Woman insisted on that quilt, said if he insisted on keeping their apartment over the Mortuary at refridgerater temperatures, at least she would be warm.' In the silence habitual to the dark man he padded nude across the cool white and blue room to the bathroom. After a quick shower, he emerged to dress in the clothes he had carefully laid out the night before.

Glancing at the clock, as he went down the hall, he tucked several knives on his person. Nathan never went anywhere without at least three blades at hand. He shrugged into a sharply cut leather jacket, checking his pockets automatically for keys and shades. As he headed out the front door, he was stopped in his tracks by the angry buzz from the large glass terrarium in the corner. "Nearly forgot to feed Fang." He paused to open a cabinet, then carefully flipped up the hatch at the top of the tank to topple a startled mouse inside. Looked like the big snake was hungry and in a temper. The small drama was over in seconds after the forked black tongue flicked out to scent; then the powerful, fist thick coils sprang. Nathan watched reverently. The battle of Life versus Death was one he never tired of. Five minutes later he was astride his immaculate Nightwing, and joining Josiah Sanchez at the foot of the drive.

"Morning, brother."

"Good morning Josiah."

"Ready to face the Larabee temper this fine summer day?" Josiah shared a broad grin with his best and oldest friend. They made a sharp contrast. Josiah in his worn leather vest, dusty jeans and battered work boots, the chain around his powerful neck strung with charms, fetishes, carved bone beads and a heavy cross. Nathan, sleek as a big, black cat in his midnight blue polo neck and sharp black leathers. His only ornament a silver skull set on a cobra chain necklace. He looked like an extra out of Blade.

"Reckon Chris is going to be pissed anyway. Any word from Vin?"

"Nope. Boy wouldn't call anyway. Wild as a deer."

Nathan sighed. Shit. Larabee's temper rivaled that of any diamondback. Side by side the two big men thundered dead center down the highway towards Blossom's. The state trooper parked behind the billboard studiously kept his attention on his powdered doughnuts and coffee. It was too goddamned early in the morning to tangle with any of the Dark Angels.

Blossom's Gentleman's Club (i.e. Buck's Titty Bar) Apartments above. 7:30 A.M.

Buck Wilmington crawled from under the silk sheets with a piteous groan, narrowly avoiding a kick to the head from a slender manicured foot. Goddamn. It was morning already. Soon time to face the wrath of Larabee. He was NOT looking forward to facing down a pissed off, horny, alcohol deprived Chris. Hence a bit of overindulgence of his own the night before with whisky and women. He carefully levered himself to a sitting position, sighing with relief when his head didn't immediately fall off. Patting Ruby's shapely behind, he was just in time to catch the ankle of the slim foot that lashed out again from the bed's third occupant. 'Hmmm. Candy apple red polish...must be..he flipped back the sheet to check, "yep. Judy.'

Standing up queasily, he staggered for the shower and the potential bliss of several gallons of hot water pouring over his throbbing head. Chris was going to be in the mood from hell, and he knew exactly whose ass that Old Dog was gonna chew into first. Goddamn. Where the fucking hell was Vin?

Ten minutes later he was standing at the foot of the stairs bellowing for JD to hurry up and get his scrawny ass in gear. Lydia, seated at the bar, looked up from the night's receipts and

frowned. The curvy redhead sighed. The man could charm the diamonds off a dowager one minute, and bray like a jackass the next. And he NEVER gave up...right on cue he turned a beaming smile her way. "Lydia, darlin' you are a sight for sore eyes..."

"Can the crap, Buck. It's too damned early." She shook a fist full of bills warningly at him, only to have him catch her hand and plant a wet smooch on it. She sighed again. "Give it up Buck. You know goddamned well I'm a lesbian."

Clamping a hand to his heart, he turned wounded eyes to her. "But darlin', that's SUCH a waste..."She smirked back at him, and winked. "Not to Inez, hon."

They both snickered together wickedly before sobering. As co-owner of Blossom's, Buck's fruitless 'seduction' of the lovely Inez was an ongoing joke for them both. Lydia and Inez had been together now for almost three years."Has he called...?"

"No darlin, not a damned word. Boy might as well as fallen off the face of the earth. He got word on rumors of a hit put out on Chris, next day he was gone."

Buck leaned over the bar, and poured himself a quick gutwarmer. He lifted the shot glass to Lydia. "Hair of the dog, darlin." He slung it back quickly, and whistled. Regarded the bottle with new respect."Damn. Anything you need before I go darlin?" This with his patented leer, and glance down her cleavage.

She rolled her eyes, and smacked his arm. "No Buck. But that Travis woman has been hanging around again. Claims she's doing a story on strip clubs, and working girls. Wants to interview some of the girls. Snooping for info on Chris more likely. " She frowned, and tapped one long nail against the oak bar. "That woman is trouble, Buck. She's got it bad for Chris, and keeps telling herself it's business."

Buck frowned, smoothed his moustache. 'Travis woman was blind, as well as a tad dim, but damn; she was a fine...' He winked at Lydia. "Don't worry about little Miz Travis, darlin. Let her interview a few of the dancers, and waitresses, keep her busy." He gave a deep sigh. "Just keep her away from Casey and JD. Them two can't keep their mouths shut to save their lives...especially if..." He frowned, and met Lydia's eyes squarely; suddenly deadly sober and serious. "I think Casey's started to use again, Lydia. If she has, she's got to be dealt with. I don't care how fond of that little bitch JD is, Chris won't tolerate it. You know how much he hates druggies. Sooner shoot them than look at 'em. And if she gets JD hooked..." He let the rest trail off, and Lydia nodded slowly in agreement.

"I'll keep an eye on her Buck. The Travis woman too. She will probably be back here tonight, hoping to catch Chris."

"Don't worry about her, old Buck's got the goods on her. She keeps it up, she'll learn the hard way that nobody threatens us." He straightened, dropped a quick kiss on her cheek and loped for the door, bellowing again for JD.

Upstairs, Back bedroom
7:45 A.M.

JD Dunne jumped at Buck's second roar, nearly toppling backwards on his ass, as he bent over the glass coffee table snorting the thin line of white powder. 'Shit. If Buck found out he was using coke.....hell, if CHRIS found out, he was a dead man.' Larabee refused to tolerate any weakness in his organization.

He glanced over at Casey. She had passed out on the sofa the night before, and was drooling all over the cushions, her long curly hair covering half her face. 'Either too much booze....or worse..."'

JD checked his bright-eyed reflection in the hall mirror as he ran for the door. He was the weak link, and he knew it. He just didn't want to be the one pushing up Josiah's roses.

Kensington Townhouses, 8:00A.M.

Ezra Standish protested vigorously as he was ungently escorted down the stairs of his chic condo. Buck and Josiah kept a firm grip on the smaller man's biceps and propelled him briskly along. A petite Asian girl in the uniform of the local Catholic High School watched them go from the top of the stairs. Josiah shook his head. 'Hope to hell she's at least eighteen.'

"Now Ez, ya gotta BE there when Chris gets out. He'll be pissed if you ain't." Buck boomed jovially into the wincing thief's ear.

"Mr. Wilmington, ah implore you...why do correctional facilities insist upon such ungodly hours...ah have not yet had mah coffee...it is far too early for..."

He paused in mid tirade to glare into Buck and Josiah's grinning faces. "Pissed! Pissed?? The man is going to be irate! Not only has he been incarcerated for the past three months in that wretched hellhole of a jail without the benefit of alcoholic beverages, or the company of the fairer sex, but upon release he will shortly learn that his dearest friend has been missing for a month! Pissed is an understatement, sir!"

"I know Ez. Believe me, I know."

"One reason to stick together brother."

"What evah for? To present a larger target? I think NOT!"

Despite his struggles Ezra was lifted and plopped firmly into the sidecar of Buck's beloved Harley Flathead. The southerner flatly refused to buy his own motorcycle, declaring them deathtraps. However he had no such qualms about equally fast and dangerous automobiles, and had been sternly warned by Chris more than once about stealing flashy, high profile, and easily recognizable cars.

Today, the Flathead was being driven by a widely grinning JD, who had eschewed his own sleek Katana, so that Buck could ride Chris' big, black Harley. The boys had been joined by Raphael, the twins Tiny and Yosemite and a few other hangers-on from the chopshop. They were grinning widely at Ezra's protests. The man was a notorious nightowl, rarely rising before noon.

"Coffee! Ah need coffee! Good lord. Mr. Dunne, must you hit every pothole in this road to perdition? Coffeeeeee..!" This last a despairing wail as the gang roared down the road.

Motorists on their way to work, took one look at the cycles roaring up in their rearview mirrors, and immediately veered to the side of the road to allow free passage. They might ignore an ambulance or a fire truck, but never a Dark Angel.

Four Corners County Jail 8:30A.M.

"Alright, Larabee. Your ass is out of here."

The portly, perpetually sweating deputy jailer rolled the cell door back with a crash. Chris yawned, and rolled lazily off the top bunk to land lightly on his feet. The burly man with the bruised face and swollen black eyes in the lower bunk flinched involuntarily, careful to keep his eyes averted. He had learned the hard way that the lithe, handsome blond was the notorius leader of the infamous New Mexico biker gang, the Dark Angels. It was a lesson he would never speak of, or forget.

"Later, punk." Larabee purred.

With that soft slur he was gone, strolling down the jailhouse corridor like he owned the place, sleepily scratching his belly. The man left in the cell listened carefully to the chorus of greetings and catcalls from the other inmates that followed the lean blond's progress. Hearing the outer cells door slam open, then close again, he relaxed for the first time in two months.

Blinking in the bright morning sun, Chris took a breath of clean fresh air gratefully. It was good to be out, good to be in his own clothes again. Neon orange was not his color. His denim shirt was long gone, a casualty of the bar brawl that had got him arrested in the first place. Now he wore only a pair of tight black leather jeans, his worn engineer boots and the vest sporting the Dark Angels logo; that of a kneeling, pentinent figure sporting a pair of defiant, upraised black wings.

It had been a damned long three months, and Chris was hungry. Hungry for a rare steak, a bottle of old Kentucky bourbon, and the taste of a certain tangle haired Texan's mouth. The last three weeks had been the roughest. Chris had pulled time before--hard time-- but this had been different. He had missed the company of his young partner fiercely, and the nagging itch at the nape of his neck that told him that something was not right had been growing over the past several weeks.

Top of the list Vin had not made an appearance in weeks. Buck and Josiah had visited. Buck full of piss and vinegar as always; yammering on about the latest additions to his stable of girls, the latest fights at the Saloon, business being good at the chopshop, the horse sale coming up in Taos...all the while deftly steering Chris away from the subject of the shy Texan.

Granted, Vin hated enclosed spaces with a passion; especially jails, but he had not hesitated to visit Chris in the first months of his incarceration. Sitting across the battered table in the visitor's room, blue eyes alight with laughter at Chris misfortune. Teasing him with a few soft words in that slow drawl of his. Accusing him of getting soft and slow...must be getting old...Chris felt a shit eating grin cross his face at the memory of his obscene reply, and the laser heat of Vin's return gaze. Boy had used more words that day than Chris had heard from him in a month. Usually, Vin was lanconic to the point of muteness. Shy as a feral cat. Ez swore he had never heard more than two words from Tanner in the entire time he had known him.

Still grinning at the memory, he combed a hand through his spikey blonde hair, absently fingered the scar that zagged through his left brow, then dropped his hand to his neatly cropped goatee and scratched vigorously. Goddamned chemicals in the institutional soap made him itch like a sonufabitch; it was a wonder that shit didn't take the hair off a man's balls. The roar of the boy's bikes as they filled the parking lot caused a small gaggle of office workers to flutter hastily past Chris into the relative safety of the building.

"Ladies!" He held the door open with a leer and wink, causing the youngest to blush and simper. He snorted. 'Wonder if this is where Buck recruited his last batch of girls for the titty bar. Sure looked alike. All big hair, soft cow eyes, and fruity perfume. Makes a man hunger for something lean and hard , with silky, cedar scented hair and smooth golden skin over whipcord muscle.'

Welcoming whoops and whistles from his boys greeted him as they lined the bikes neatly up at the curb. His answering smirk and good humor evaporated as he ran an eagle eye along the line. He felt his insides start to clench, and a knot of rage start to unfurl. Vin was not there.

"Where's Vin?" The noise died, and eyes slid uneasily away from his face. Coldly he turned an accusing gaze to Buck as the big man dismounted from the Harley, his hands held out palm up in a placating gesture, a hangdog expression on his handsome face.

"Where's Vin, Buck?"

"Now Chris, ain't nothin happened to Vin. he's just gone AWOL for the time being. Took a little trip south, ain't got home yet." He stopped in front of Chris, and cautiously held out the bike keys. Chris's fists clenched, and he clamped down hard on an urge to throttle the life out of Buck. The Ladies man shuffled his feet uneasily at this sign of impending rage, and swallowed hard. "How long has he been gone?"

"Been nigh three weeks now."

With a snarl, Chris pounced. One hand wrapping around Buck's throat, the other fisted into his T shirt. "Three weeks!" he hissed into Buck's reddening face. He resisted the urge to drive his knee into the other man's vulnerable groin. "Three fucking weeks, and no one thought to tell me?"

"Now Brother Chris....." Josiah spoke soothingly,"We expect him back any day now."

"Yeah Chris, you k-k-know Vin, he'll be back , probably on his way home n-n-now, and pissed off 'cause he's gonna miss your homecoming p- p-party." JD stammered, wide eyes on Buck's gasping face.

"Amigo. Vin can take care of himself. You know this for a fact." Raphael added quietly.

Ezra, for once, kept his mouth clamped firmly shut.

That fact more than anything cut through Chris's red hot rage. Vin COULD take care of himself. He had done so since he was five. His mind flashed back to their first meeting. He had been doing a dime in Yuma for assault with intent to kill, and Vin was in for armed robbery; set up by that bitch Charlotte and her shithead husband. May they rot in peace.

Chris was leisurely showering, the few other prisoners carefully keeping a respectful distance. Fresh from a stint in solitary, and in a foul mood, every con in Yuma with half a brain knew Larabee was alpha of the Dark Angels. That fact had been indelibly etched into their minds after Hector Matemores turned up dead. Found with his head in a toilet, and a surprized look on his scarred face. The minor jefe in the Mexican Mafia had made the mistake of insulting Chris in front of his boys, and then swaggering away. Chris had just smiled, and waited.

A commotion at the far corner of the room caught Chris' eye. A gaggle of tattooed Aryan Nation skinheads were trying to drag a fresh piece of ass into the end cubicle. Problem was, the 'ass' was fighting back. Larabee watched without much interest, annoyed at having his shower interrupted.

Suddenly , there was a low feral snarl from within the writhing melee of bodies; followed by the unmistakable crunch of broken bone, and a thin squeal of pain. Blood squirted in a graceful arc to splash the wall. Two of the Aryans fell back; one to crack the back of his skull on a nearby sink and slump in a boneless heap, blood dripping down his ruined face. The other dropped to his knees clutching his nuts and whimpering softly. The cursing, grunting bodies parted momentarily and Chris caught a glimpse of their victim.

He was slim and wiry, lean muscle under tanned skin; long,tangled, sunstreaked light brown hair, and a feral tiger smile on the most beautiful face Chris had ever seen on a man. There was no way in hell that he could win. He was up against a half dozen hardened cons, all taller and more heavily muscled. One was edgeing in close, shiv in hand, even as Chris watched. Yet the kid laughed as he fought, blood trickling down his chin.

Intrigued, Chris found himself moving closer. The deadly dance continued , the now wary Aryans circling their prey like hounds around a wildcat. They weren't worried about being disturbed. The guards in this shithole always looked the other way. A bit of rape now and then kept the tension down, less for them to deal with. The boy spun, threw a punch into one snarling face, then whirled to kick the kneecap from under the man circling behind him. Somewhere, he had learned to kickbox. Cursing, the man stumbled back. The kid was breathing harder now, starting to tire, fighting to keep the wall to his back.

Another skinhead made the mistake of venturing too close, and got a kick in the teeth for his pains. He flew back to land hard at Larabee's feet, teeth scattering like chiclets out of a gum machine. Chris raised his head, and moss agate green locked with sky blue. All the shit in Chris's world, up to and including Sarah's betrayal faded away. The kid's snarl faded to a

bemused smile. He quirked a questioning brow. Chris smirked, wrapped his soap in his towel, gave it an experimental twirl and waded in, careful to stomp the downed Aryan's balls as he went. "Chris Larabee."

Chris casually punched the man nearest him in the belly, following that up with a whallop to the back of the head from his homemade soap mace, then drove his knee hard up into the man's

soft belly.

"Vin Tanner." Vin spun and took out another of the tattooed fools with a high roundhouse kick to the head. The others, suddenly cognizant of the fact that 'Bad Ass' Larabee was casually kicking their asses, backed off. "

Ain't none of your business, Larabee!" The big, pockfaced asshole with the knife snarled. Chris gave him a hungry shark grin. "It is now. Cletus. Unless you want my initials carved on your fat ass,I suggest you move on ."

Cletus Phelps hungrily eyed the young man standing shoulder to shoulder with the Dark Angel, then reluctantly moved back. It wasn't worth a piece of ass, even one as fine as this, to end up in the prison morgue. Or worse. Larabee, the psychotic son of a bitch, would wait patiently until he was released, and he would end up under the Undertaker's knives in Jackson's mortuary. He shuddered, gooseflesh pimpling his body. Every rival biker in New Mexico knew that more bodies went into that funeral home than ever came out. Nathan Jackson's cool reptilian patience, combined with Josiah Sanchez's homocidal fury made for formidable enforcement. People who bothered Larabee ....disappeared. And you KNEW better than to ever order the chili at the Saloon. Or, God forbid, the barbeque.

Chris was abruptly recalled to the present by Buck's strangled gasps for air. Slowly, he released the big man. Buck staggered back with a groan of relief, well aware that he had gotten off easy. One hand went up to tenderly massage his throat. "Goddamn, Old Dog...."

He breathed softly, wary eyes on Chris's face.

"Sorry." He wasn't really. The urge to strangle the life out of someone was still there; but Buck was his oldest friend and he deserved better. There was never a more loyal man than 'Big Dog'. Buck had stuck by him through thick and thin; through the Navy Seals, a thousand brawls, even his fiasco of a marriage to that slut Sarah.

'Bitch had gotten his boy killed. Run off to meet that damned reporter, Stephen Travis. Car bomb took all three of them. Was only meant for two, but Adam had stayed home sick that day..... Wonder if Miss Mary ever realized that there were two sets of luggage in that truck that day. Hubby sure wasn't planning on coming home to her bed that night.'

Cool green eyes met Buck's squarely. He knew Buck loved him, was a bit in love with him. Had been for years. It was the reason Buck had tolerated the abuse Chris had spewed over him after Adam's death. Buck had been there, through the blackest rage and the deepest despair. He had never hesitated to offer a broad shoulder to lean on, his mouth or ass for sex, his big body for a punching bag. He trusted Buck as he did few others, he took shameless advantage of Buck's boundless good nature, and in his own way he loved him like a brother, but he could never love him back the way Buck craved.

Buck was a born slut. Sex was a compulsion for him. He would fuck a snake if he could get it to hold still. Women were his greatess weakness, and he was incapable of not fucking any nubile female who spread her legs. Chris knew damned well that Buck had fucked Sarah after they were married. The only reason he was still alive, was that Chris also knew that Sarah had initiated the affair out of spite, knowing Buck couldn't resist. The one thing that Chris Larabee could never tolerate was infidelity. Even the thought could piss him off. Strange, because Chris had his own slutty moments, especially when drunk. It was a twisted and bitter fact; but at heart it was quite simply the way he was, he demanded total fidelity.

He reached out and plucked his keys from Buck's fingers.

"You got the bitch seat Buck. We'll talk back at the Saloon." He climbed on his bike, and revved the engine. "Don't I always?"Buck rolled his eyes theatrically, then scrambled to hop on behind Larabee. The Dark Angels whooped like banshees, took a noisy, derisive spin around the parking lot, then roared off down the highway. They ignored the obvious unmarked car at the corner.

Inez' Saloon, Four Corners Outskirts, Across the highway from Blossom's

The welcome home party had stalled before it even began, and it was a sober group gathered in the Saloon that afternoon. Chris had snarled at any friendly approach, and had entrenched himself firmly into his favorite corner table with a full bottle of Jack Daniel's. He had refused lunch, or even a glass. When one of Buck's girls, Nora, had made the mistake of an attempted seduction; she had quickly fled, scarlet-faced, and nearly in tears. Inez sighed. Only Larabee could manage to humiliate a seasoned whore in three seconds.

Ezra, Nathan, Josiah and Raphael were quietly playing cards by the front doors, intent on keeping a low profile. Buck sat at the bar chatting with Inez as she polished glassware, and oversaw the evening setup. He groaned silently to himself, one eye on the quiet figure at the corner table, and tapped his shot glass in frustration against the bar . For once, Buck Wilmington was at a loss. He didn't know what to do other than wait until Larabee drank himself insensible, then dragged his ass upstairs to a bed. Hopefully, he wouldn't take it in his head to go on a rampage before the liquor took effect. Buck wasn't in the mood to be a used as a punching bag, nor did he want Larabee sent directly back to jail. Hell, he just got out!

He turned hopeful eyes to Inez. "Darlin, have you...",

"......heard anything from Vin? Nada." She finished the glass she held and carefully racked it.

He huffed in frustration. "Boy picks the worst goddamn time to disappear on one of his jaunts....." He paused , catching a flicker of some unknown emotion on her pretty face. "What?" She gazed back at him, mouth pursed thoughtfully. He gently grasped her hand. "What? Tell old Buck. What have you heard?"

She answered slowly. "It is not so much what I have heard, but what I suspect....." She leaned forward, and lowered her voice in confidence. Dark heads close together, neither of them noticed the suspicious, bleary glare from the back table.

"Remember, the rumor of the hit that was supposed to happen to Chris while he was in jail? The one that the Alvarez familia in Chihuahua put out? Because he would not deal with the drugs? Guns and cars yes, but never drugs and women? I believe that Vin...." She tilted her head towards the small TV on the end of the bar, then tapped the remote to raise the volume. There was a gaudy funeral procession in progress onscreen; complete with weeping black clad women, and grim, armed men in ill-cut suits.

The CNN announcer breathlessly intoned: "So far there are no suspects in the assassination of retired Mexican general Edwardo Alvarez. The general was killed with a shot to the head right on the front porch of his hacienda. However it is believed that the shot came from a high powered rifle from more than a mile away. There are no suspects in custody at this time and there are rumors that the rival Sanduval family is involved........"

Buck whistled. "Daammn." He turned incredulous eyes to Inez. "Goddamn. Ol Vin .."

"....went straight to the source. Si. "

"Shit! That's cuttin' the head off the snake alright. He's damn near started a gang war in Mexico just to protect Chris?"

"Si. It will be a long time before they try to move their goods through here again."

"Do you think he made it out okay? Should be home by now..."

The brittle crash of a half empty bottle against the bar behind them snapped their heads around. Larabee glared at them through bloodshot eyes, then shoved roughly past , weaving up the stairs to the living quarters above. He had heard everything. Inez turned wide eyes to Buck, only to find the big man already on damage control, moving quickly to follow.

Chris kicked the apartment door open with a snarl. Shit.'Vin....what in hell were you thinking, Cowboy?' The old killing rage was back with a vengence. His hands shook with the abject desire to strangle the life out of the idiot who had called that damned hit. 'Only Vin already beat me to it....where the hell are you? Not dead....just not ...dead.' He stumbled over to the liquor cabinent, bent and fished out a fresh bottle; ran a frustrated hand through his hair. His head was spinning with the desire to DO something NOW, but he couldn't think clearly, and he wasn't sure he wanted to. Vin could take care of himself. Vin was the master of survival.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to choke the aggravating little son of a bitch , take a belt to his ass, or just fuck him senseless. He snorted with frustration and threw himself down in the battered leather armchair facing the door, twisting off the top of the bottle and tossing back a shot as he did. Movement at the doorway caught his eye. Buck was standing in the doorway, watching him sadly. 'Probably thinks I'm gonna go off on another bender again. Damned mother hen..' He smirked and raised the bottle defiantly, took another deep swig, ignoring the burn.

"Chris...Old Dog...." Buck approached the chair slowly, squatted at Larabee's feet, cautiously placed a hand on his knee, and shook it gently. "Ya don't need that shit, pard. Vin'll be home before you know it."

"Yeah, Buck. You know that for a fact, huh?" Bitterly, Chris took another gulp; narrowed speculative eyes on his old friend's face. "Ya know what's best, huh, PARD?" He snaked a hand out, and grabbed Buck's hair, yanked him roughly forward onto his knees between Larabee's thighs. "You gonna take care of me, Buck?" he purred into Wilmington's startled face.

He took a slow sip from the bottle, lazily ran a pink tongue along his lower lip; watched as Buck swallowed hard, and the pupils of his dark blue eyes dilated as his face flushed with desire, eyes riveted on Chris's mouth. A small smirk quirked the corner of Chris's wide mouth. 'You are so damned easy Bucklin.' "You gonna comfort me in my hour of.....need.....?" He released Buck's hair, slowly ran a teasing thumb over the man's jaw, ending with his thumb pressing gently into the corner of Buck's mouth. Just as Buck groaned, turning his head to taste; he withdrew his hand, running it slowly down the front of his worn black leather pants.

Eyes intent on Buck's face, he flicked open the top button, then slowly slid his hand down and squeezed the prominent bulge there. Buck's eyes dropped to Chris's crotch hungrily; "Jesus God Chris!" Chris reached out again, this time hooking his hand behind Buck's head and gently pressing his face into his groin. "You thirsty...Buck?" Buck moaned, control long gone, as he nuzzled into Chris's crotch, big hands making short work of the button fly. He pulled the thick cock free, sighing with pleasure as he inhaled Chris's rich musk. With a groan, he lapped hungrily at the fat head, swallowing the thick drops of pre cum, cupping the heavy ball sac in one gentle hand. Happily he nuzzled the lengthening cock, rubbing it gently with his moustache.

Chris leaned back in the chair, head tilted back, eyes slitted in pleasure, one hand knotted into Buck's hair, the other lifting the bottle languidly to his mouth. Buck's dark head began to bob gently, as he suckled hungrily, one hand wrapped around the bottom of the thick shaft, the other milking Chris's silky sac steadily. The only sounds in the room were that of the men's quickening breath, the wet slurp of Buck's mouth, the creak of the chair, as Chris slumped and spread his thighs wide, allowing Buck easier access.

Buck was in bliss, had just lifted his mouth to take a deep breath and nuzzle the soft skin of Chris's belly when the icy cold barrel of a gun nudged beneath his left ear. He froze. Motherfuck. Vin was back. For long seconds all Buck could hear was the surprisingly loud tick of the wall clock. 'Never heard the kid come in....ya never hear Vin until its too damned late. Must be that old Colt .45....Jesus, what an embarrassin' way ta go! Least it ain't the sawed off shotgun...' The barrel behind his ear never wavered, and he raised his eyes to Chris' face, suddenly needing to see the other man's expression. Suddenly, the barrel was gone from his head, and the strained silence was broken by click of the hammer being cocked.

Chris never said a word, his eyes were fixed on Vin's. Vin was white with rage, mouth set in a thin line; but his narrowed, icy blue eyes held a world of pain. He looked tired, face wind chapped and sunburned, tangled hair tied back in a long tail, clothes dusty, body road weary. But the hand holding the gun to the back of Buck's head was steady as a rock. Chris said nothing. There was nothing to say. They were not the type of men who apologized, made excuses, or fumbled with explanations. What was, simply was. He had fucked up, and there was a price to pay. They stared at each other, Buck forgotten between them.

All he could do was let his eyes speak for him. 'I missed you Cowboy. You weren't here, and I wanted you.' Vin lifted the Colt in one smooth motion and leveled it between Chris's eyes, cocking the hammer as he did so. Chris never flinched, met his gaze squarely, reaching for that unspoken bond that had stretched unbroken between them from the moment they met. The look of betrayal in the younger man's eyes stabbed through his gut like a cold knife.

He knew he was the only living soul who had ever touched Vin with tenderness, had shown him love. Of them all, Vin was the one who should have been the golden child. Both his father and grandfather had been Texas Rangers, and he had been a cherished son from birth. That all ended when Vin was five, when he had been witness to the murder of his entire family.

After that, a stint in a string of hellish foster homes had ended when he ran away from the last, leaving his alcohol sodden caretaker slumped dead in front of the TV. The man's throat was slit with a boning knife. Vin had had to stand on a chair to reach him. He was eight years old. From there he ran wild on the streets; growing up as feral as any alley cat and twice as dangerous. Life had honed Vin with a sociopathic edge. It had taken a bewildered little boy and molded him into something quite different. He was a stone cold killer.

Where Chris's temper flared up quick and flickered red hot like heat lightning on the horizon, Vin's rage burned ice cold. He trusted only one person, allowed only one person to lay hands on him; and that person had just betrayed him. He had killed men for less. Vin stared hard at Chris. Unfamiliar emotions flooded him. The only one he could name was rage. 'I trusted you.' he eased the hammer down, stepped back, holstering the gun in one smooth motion. He turned, and was gone, as soundless as a ghost, leaving Chris bereft.

Chris leaned his head back against the chair, eyes closed. Numb. The pain hadn't settled in his heart yet. At his feet Buck slowly cleared his throat, and started to sit back in preparation for climbing shakily to his feet. His eyes snapped open, and he stared coldly at Buck's sweaty face. " Oh no, Buck."

Buck froze again, recognizing that rattlesnake gaze, seeing how close Chris was to the edge. Chris stood slowly, one big, hard hand reaching almost tenderly for Buck's head. "Finish what you started. If I lose him, it ain't gonna be for nothing." He pushed Buck's face roughly back into his groin, and held him there as he slowly, tentatively began to work Chris's cock again. Chris took an absent pull from his bottle, green eyes bleak as he stared unseeingly across the room.

Halfway down the stairs, Vin reeled to a stop, back against the wall, breathing hard. He closed his eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. 'Goddamn son of a bitch Larabee. More of a slut than Bucklin. I ain't running no more. Cain't make me run. Gotta take a minute, got ta get my head together. Think.'

He ran an unsteady hand over his face. He had to get his shit together. Decide what to do now. His world had gone from secure to shit in zero to sixty. 'Should be used ta that by now. Ain't gonna be Larabee's bitch, leave that ta Bucklin. Gotta take my time. Rest. Maybe stop by the ranch, load the bike. Head up to the rez, see if Charlie Truehorse is still bounty hunting.' That settled in his mind, his face impassive, he headed on down the stairs.

Inez looked up from swiping down the bar, bright smile fading when she saw the look on Tanner's face. He nodded at her, tilted his head toward the kitchen inquiringly. She nodded and called an order back to Carmelita in rapid Spanish. When he nodded again towards a dusty bottle she brought it and a glass and set them before him. The Saloon wasn't officially open for business now. The only occupants were a few of Larabee's men. Josiah, Nathan and Raphael were still talking quietly in the front booth. Ezra had managed to wheedle JD into giving him a ride home to catch up on his sleep. Buck's girls had headed over to Blossom's to prepare for the evening's work. Inez watched with worry as Vin seated himself at the end of the big U-shaped bar, his back against the wall where he could see both entrances as well as the door to the toilets. He avoided the table he usually shared with Larabee.

Her suspicions were confirmed when Buck stumbled down the stairs ten minutes later. The big man's face was flushed, hair standing on end, mouth swollen. He also sported the beginnings of a hell of a black eye. His eyes widened in surprise when he saw Vin still seated at the bar. When he unthinkingly started towards him, Vin raised his head and the desolate look in his eyes warned the big man not to push his luck. It was the exact look mirrored in the face of the man upstairs. Flushing, Buck turned away. A steaming Inez grabbed Buck's sleeve and towed him back into the kitchen. She slapped him so hard it made his eyes water.

."Hijo de la puta! Idiot! What were you thinking? WERE you even thinking?"

With a snarl, he grabbed her wrist hard. "Inez!" Stopped at the deadly flash in her dark eyes, and the warning prick of the sharp butcher knife she held in her other hand. He sighed, eyes contrite. "No, I wasn't thinking. I never can think when it comes to Chris. I can't say no to him, Inez." He gentled his grip, squeezed her hand in apology. Softening, she lowered the blade. He slid his arms around her, lowered his head to her soft hair. She returned the hug, patting his back gently.

Chris lurched down the stairs, not really sure where he was headed, just needing to move, get some fresh air. He stopped dead in his tracks at Inez's irate glare. Hands on her hips, she tilted her head towards the back corner. He followed her nod, and swallowed, feeling his heartbeat quicken. Vin was still here, his head bent over a plate of food; nearly invisible in the dimly lit alcove. Buck was seated at the curve of the bar, moodily sipping a beer. A few of the boys were in the front booth, carefully intent on looking elsewhere.

Larabee slowly moved towards the bar, slid up on a stool in a position diagonal to Vin's. Chris knew Vin was aware of him; but he kept his eyes on his plate, wolfing down the mound of enchiladas and beans as though he had not eaten in a week. 'When' s the last time you ate Cowboy? Been too busy watching my sorry ass to take care of yourself."' He was at a loss, unsure of how to approach Vin, how to fix this. All he knew was that he was determined not to let Vin leave the Saloon, certain that if he did, Chris would never see him again.

He flinched when Inez slammed a steaming plate down in front of him with a bang and a snarled command; "Eat! Before you fall on your face!" Muttering to herself in Spanish, she stalked back into the kitchen. He was certain they were specific expletives and maledictions aimed at his head. Inez was fond of Vin. He stared sourly down at the plate of scrambled eggs liberally laced with jalapenos. Shit. Woman was trying to poison him. There was a muffled snort from behind him, and he whirled to glare daggers . Josiah ducked his head and was quick to point out something of great interest on the worn menu to Nate. Raphael took a hasty gulp of beer. Buck kept his head down, broad shoulders hunched.

Chris had just picked up his fork, when the bell over the door jangled. Two swarthy Hispanic men pushed inside. One was short and slim with a pocked face and thick moustache, he wore jeans, a plaid shirt, and a denim jacket. The man behind him was taller, broader, long black hair in a tight braid down his back. Despite the heat outside he had on a long tan duster. They paused just inside the door, blinking in the dim light,then focused on Larabee.

"Chris! Amigo! Como esta?" The smaller man smiled broadly and stepped forward, spreading his arms wide as he did so. Startled, Larabee swiveled towards the newcomers.

The next few seconds seemed to happen in slow motion. He saw the wicked thin blade drop into the little man's hand as he stepped close; at the same time his companion sidled to the side and brought up a sawed off shotgun from under his coat. Two booming shots so close together that they sounded like one rang out from the corner behind Chris, as he felt their passage past his left ear. Twin bright red holes blossomed between the eyes of the Mexicans, and they crashed in a sprawling heap onto the floor, legs jerking convulsively. Stunned, the Saloon's occupants could only stare.

"Holy shit!" Buck swore, and jumped to his feet. He circled the corpses, kicking the shotgun to one side. He glanced in awe back at Vin. In a split second he had drawn, and made two perfect shots across the shadowy bar to take out the would be killers.

"Madre de Dios!" Raphael whistled, and knelt next to the smaller man, tucking the Colt that he had drawn too late back into the holster at the small of his back. He plucked the wickedly sharp skinning knife from the lax hand and inspected it. Nathan quietly locked the front door and drew the shade. Josiah leaned over and eyed the dead men with unholy interest. Inez took one quick look, then turned to make sure Carmelita remained in the kitchen. Vin sat back down, wiped his mouth with his napkin, and resumed eating.

"You know these assholes Chris?" Buck prodded one of the dead men with distaste, scowling. Nearly getting gutshot put him in a pissy mood.

Chris frowned, squatted down next to Raphael for a closer look. "I think this one runs with Benito Delgado." He indicated the smaller man with a nod. "I don't know the other one."

"Chato Alvarez." Raphael whistled softly. "He is--was, El General's primo enforcer."

"Compost now." Josiah rubbed his palms together gleefully. "Big boned too."

"As long as he stays out of the damned barbeque, I don't care !" Nathan scowled at the big man. He resumed rifling the dead men's pockets, placing his findings in a heap to one side. Wallets, ID, ammo clip, a pair of brass knuckles, a few pesos, ammo clip, keys, switchblade, another ammo clip, a fat wad of cash, and a rather nice mother- of- pearl and jet rosary. These last two items Josiah appropriated. He grinned at Nathan. "For the sisters." Nathan rolled his eyes, and sighed. They were all going to Hell, he didn't care how much penance Josiah did. Raphael grinned and handed Nate the dead man's knife; knowing his fondness for blades. Weapons were examined and either discarded or appropriated. Buck tucked a nice little pearl handled derringer into his vest pocket for Ez's collection.

Chris took charge. "Josiah, Nate, make sure they disappear. Take my truck." He tossed the keys to the Ram to Nathan. "Raphael, Buck; take care of their vehicles. Take 'em down to the shop if you have to. Somebody call Ezra, and see what he's heard lately about Benito's business hours. Specifically, if he still closes that shithole of a bar every Tuesday night so he can gamble and run drugs out of the backroom. Meet me back here tonight." He gave his friends an wide shark grin, which they returned. The rival Delgados had been muscling in just a tad too far on Dark Angel territory lately. Time for some old fashioned payback.

"We're gonna give ol' Benito a little visit." Cleanup was quick. He stood back and watched as Josiah neatly rolled each corpse up in one of Inez's tablecloths, then helped Nate haul them out the back door. Inez bustled out with a mop and bucket. Buck and Raphael headed out to check the parking lot. That done, Chris turned to the back corner, and its silent inhabitant. Time to try and make amends. He ran a nervous hand through his hair, and slowly walked back to Vin. He slid onto the stool next to him. The man had just saved his life, and he didn't know what to say. 'Best start with basics...' "Thanks, pard."

Vin kept his eyes on his plate. Silent, unyielding as stone. His hair was coming loose from the old bootlace that knotted it back, and a hank of it swung down shielding his face. Chris clenched his hands, fighting the urge to brush it back from that strong jaw. He inhaled deeply, breathing in Vin's scent; wind, sun, a hint of motor oil and gunpowder, sweat, cedar. He cleared his suddenly tight throat. How the hell to get back in Tanner's good graces? He counted himself lucky to still be alive after that stunt with Buck. He'd been thinking with his dick instead of his brain. It was clear that Tanner felt as strongly about infidelity as he did.

They had never talked about it. He had never really thought of himself as being in a relationship with another man. But thinking back now, he realized with something of a shock, that he was. He and Vin had been together since their time in Yuma prison, and that was almost four years ago. Since that time, he had not had a real sexual relationship with anyone but Vin. What had started as convenient and a solace had evolved into something more. He had screwed a lot of Buck's girls in the early days; after Sarah had burned him so badly,and again after his release from Yuma; but he hadn't fucked any of them more than once, and could barely remember their names. He was well and truly burnt out on women in general. Hell, he had used Buck as well, after Sarah.

In the end though, Vin was the one he always sought out, whom he slept with. Slept together sometimes so closely entangled that Vin had to pry himself from a sleeping Chris's arms just to take a piss. Chris had been blind and stupid, and he couldn't blame Vin for nearly blowing his head off. No wonder he had been hurt.

Vin wadded his napkin up and pushed his plate back, ready to leave. He was tired, still angry, and not in the mood to deal with Larabee. It had shaken him when he saw how close Chris had come to dying a few minutes ago, and he wasn't ready to deal with that yet. Worse, he was close enough to Chris to touch, and if he touched Chris now he might kill him. A strong , calloused hand wrapped around his wrist, and he was startled into looking up into Chris' s eyes. What he saw there confused him. "Don't go, Cowboy. Let me make it right."

Vin snorted in derision. "Ain't yer bitch, Larabee. Go find Buck, you want a easy fuck."

Chris slid his hand down, and entwined his fingers with Vin's, and held tight. Vin jerked in reaction. Chris' green eyes were steady on Vin's face. "No, Vin. You ain't nobody's bitch, and you ain't easy, but you are my man, and what if I'm the one who wants to be fucked?" Intent, he leaned in so close that Vin could feel his breath. His eyes never wavered. Vin straightened up, and blinked in shock. Larabee was stone sober and serious. Chris Larabee, alpha of the Dark Angels, was offering up his ass. It didn't get no more serious than that.

Vin took a deep breath. Shit! Larabee never failed to surprise him. The man was the ultimate alpha male. Yet he was ready to offer Vin his cherry to make things right between them. That fact stunned him. It also aroused him. In the past Vin had always yielded to the older man. Chris was a hell of a fuck. He never failed to satisfy. He was a wild man in bed, and had no qualms whatsoever about oral sex; but he had never offered up his ass before. Vin had never presumed to ask. Vin licked suddenly dry lips, saw Larabee's eyes drop to his mouth, and it suddenly dawned on him how much power he had over this man. Heat flared through his body, pooling in his groin. He looked at Chris, and saw that heat reflected back. He jerked his head towards the stairs. "Alright. Let's see what ya got." Chris gave him a wide leer, and as one they rose to go, only then realising they were still clasping hands.

Vin pushed Larabee through the door and slammed it shut behind them. Both men were breathing heavily, faces flushed. Chris turned to face him, white teeth flashing as he peeled his vest off and dropped it on the floor. He backed slowly towards the wide bed at the back of the room, toeing off his heavy boots as he went, hands dropping to unfasten his leather pants. If he was nervous it sure as hell didn't show. He was grinning at Vin like an old dog fox. "Come and get it, Cowboy." he purred throatily.

Vin snarled, showing his own teeth "Yer a slut, Larabee!" He shrugged off his own heavy black motorcycle jacket; dropped it where he stood, then paused, swallowing hard.

Chris laughed softly. "I never denied it Tanner!" He dropped his pants, kicked them away, to stand naked with his hands on his narrow hips. "You're falling behind, Cowboy."

Vin hissed in frustration; normally nimble fingers fumbling to remove his shoulder rig. He draped it over a nearby chair, quickly following up with the smaller holster clipped at the small of his back, the knife on his belt, and other assorted hidden armament. Chris quirked an amused brow. "You carrying a cannon too, kid?"

"You'll get that soon enough, Old Man." He peeled off his flannel shirt, quickly followed by a henley, and an undershirt; barely remembering to kick off his boots before he dropped his jeans.

Chris sprawled back on the bed, legs wide, one hand lazily dropping down to scratch his lean belly. Bright eyes avidly watched the lean Texan strip. He smirked at Vin's growing frustration. "Need a hand...mmmpphh!" Vin pounced, and Chris suddenly had his arms full of Texas Wildcat.


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