Dust and Dreams

by Jane Davitt

Chris likes riding up ahead, where he can be the first to meet trouble coming, but today he's riding behind Vin, close on his heels. Dust is flying up in a choking swirl and his eyes are stinging, but it's worth it for the view.

Vin rides in a loose, easy slouch most days. Chris barely notices; how else would a man ride? But he's noticing today. Vin's shoulders are tense, his horse responding with an irritable head toss as Vin's unbalanced weight shifts again.

If he was a cruel man, he'd have made a joke about ants in pants, but he knows what's got Vin struggling to find a soft place to sit and he just grins, spits out grit, and remembers the night before with a certain fondness until his own horse neighs a warning. He shakes his head at himself and rides up front again in a self-imposed penance, giving Vin a sidelong smile as he passes him and getting a rueful one back, with enough sweetness there to let him know Vin isn't regretting a thing.

Chris lets his reins slide through his fingers the way Vin's hair had done in the darkness, wind-tangled so his fingers had been frustrated, teased. He licks his dry lips and tastes a memory of salt and whiskey and Vin, their chapped lips fleetingly gentle against each other before the fire rose between them and a man watching from a distance could be forgiven for thinking they were fighting not fucking.

The others are waiting at the agreed meeting place; looking ahead, Chris can see them under a stand of trees; a darker clump of shadow, a glint of sun on metal. He glances back at Vin and his lips twitch in a grin.

"Want to race?"

Vin gives him a purely disgusted look, sets his teeth, and takes off, leaving Chris to chuckle, urge his horse forward with a click of his tongue, and eat Vin's dust for the second time that day.

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