Chapter 22

Tesla reined in his horse beside Coyo's and looked over the terrain. They'd reached the summit of a long low ridge—had ridden the better part of a day to get here. All scrub and small trees, it wasn't much different from what was behind them, maybe a little more green.

A creek ran along the base of the ridge. They'd crossed it when they'd ridden up, and the water looked clean. The horses had approved it, anyway, and when Tesla had said as much to Coyo, he'd confirmed that it was good for drinking—at least in the spring when the levels were high.

Coyo moved again, walking his horse along the ridge now, looking for the shelter he'd described to Tesla…where he'd lived in his season of self-imposed exile. Tesla followed, pressing a hand to his side. It ached from the ride, but not too badly—it'd be okay by morning. He inspected the land as he rode, making a mental map of the area, automatically taking note of any food sources he recognized. It was a hard habit to break.

The ridge was northwest of Esperanza and afforded a good view of lands north and west. A far outpost, basically, was what they were establishing. The lowlands north of the ridge provided an easily traversed path from the Rio Grande and the mountains beyond it. Esperanza hadn't been threatened often, but when it was, it had usually come from this direction.

Earlier in the day, while they'd been giving the horses a rest, Coyo had explained that he'd often wanted a sentinel based here, but that the living was too harsh for most people. Esperanza's defenses were tight enough that it had never suffered heavy losses, but advance notice would be a distinct advantage if a major attack were ever launched.

Coyo whistled and beckoned Tesla over to where he'd brought Nahua to a stop. Tesla walked his mare to where a shelf of limestone cropped out, creating an overhang. It was deep enough that Tesla would have once called it a cave—before he'd seen the one at Esperanza.

Tesla smiled to himself as he looked it over—if they were going to try wilderness living for a while, this wasn't a bad place to do it. Deep shade carved into dense rock, the site was hidden from view and would stay cool in the summers, warm in the winters. Tesla dismounted and secured the mare, then followed Coyo in to take a closer look.

Coyo left to scout the area, making sure that they were the only people on the ridge. Not much chance of finding anyone, there were no known communities for tens of miles, and the land was barely hospitable. The creek below might support two people, but never a town.

It would be impossible to live out here without help—and that's where the deal with Esperanza had come in. Besides manning a far outpost, Coyo still served as security counsel…as did Tesla, now. They would ride back to town once every couple of weeks, maybe less often as time wore on. They'd bring dried game meat and other food they'd foraged, spend the afternoon meeting with security and government, and restock their food supply.

While Coyo was gone, Tesla unburdened the mare and, favoring the side of his injury, began to haul the packs from both her and Nahua up to the overhang. He dug through the packs, removing food for a late lunch, and when Coyo returned, they left the overhang to eat in the sun.

That afternoon, they spent a couple of hours on housekeeping—unpacking gear and planning the best arrangement of space. Pallet at the north end, food storage and cooking equipment opposite that. They decided on a spot for an outside fire pit, but didn't build one yet. Drying racks in the sun, leaving open the central part of the overhang for general use. Coyo rigged a trip-wire across the opening, and cranked it tight. Tesla must have been looking at him oddly, because when he caught Tesla's eye, he shrugged and said, "Li and me…we were sleeping."

As the sun began to drop low in the sky, they bathed in the creek, riding the horses down so they might drink their fill and graze at the banks. The water was shallow, only a foot deep in the fast sections, so they couldn't submerge, but splashing and pouring was good and the supply was essentially endless.

Tesla soaped his hair and torso and Coyo poured from a bowl to rinse him. When he kissed Tesla, quick and warm, Tesla shivered. But when Tesla pressed in, looking for skin on skin, Coyo drew away, a preoccupied frown in place.

"We need to get back up to camp." Touching Tesla's shoulder with his fingers, he amended, "Wait. A few quiet days here, and I'll feel better about it."

Tesla nodded. Couldn't blame a man for being a little jumpy…not when he'd seen what Coyo had. He took the bowl from Coyo and rinsed him, sluicing water over his head and back, then handed him the soap. "How about I head up and start supper?"

"No fire tonight. Tomorrow."

Another nod. "All right. A cold one then. Set us up to turn in." The sun was already setting.

Peeking one eye from under a lathered skull, Coyo said, "I'll be up in a minute."

He showed up while Tesla was looking through the food stores, trying to decide on a meal; he hadn't been the one to pack the food, so he wasn't entirely sure what was available. When he looked over at Coyo, he was running fingers through his hair, combing out snarls, and he had his clothing draped over a shoulder.

Tesla raked his eyes up Coyo's frame—tight, hard, rippling sinew, and bit his lip. No. Back off. Give him a day or two. Tesla forced his attention back to the food. There was lots of…stuff…in here that he didn't recognize. But that was Esperanza for you. He pulled another sack out and shook the contents into his palm—shriveled-up ugly looking things they were.

Coyo looked over Tesla's shoulder. "Not food. Should I help?"

Tesla scowled. "Yeah, you're in charge. What the hell are these?"

Smiling, Coyo pulled out a package that had been squirreled among the others. He opened it to reveal a pre-packed meal of meats and cheese. "That, mi amigo, is peyote."

Tesla knew no more than he did a moment before, so he just gazed at Coyo, putting on his best patient face.

Flashing a wicked leer, Coyo said, "It makes a most excellent tea, but maybe not for tonight."

Oh. That.

Tesla stared at the pods in his palm, then back at Coyo, but Coyo simply lifted an eyebrow and said, "It was your idea."

Grinning, Tesla put the buttons back into the bag.


Between the two of them, they assembled a dinner. Once they'd satisfied themselves, it was full dark, but there were no dishes to clean so that was all right. They secured the food and then made their way to the bed. Tesla was glad for it. His energy level needed a few more days to get back up to par, and he was all out.

While Coyo went out for a final piss, Tesla crawled into the bedding, curling on his side under the blankets to shut out the cold air, shivering with delight at being out here. It had always been a love-hate affair with him, sleeping alone, far away from people. But the unhappy part of that had been tied to the danger, the scarcity of reliable sustenance, running from a posse, trying to find the next place to stay. That and the fact that as much as he liked solitude, being a loner of one got old fast.

But none of that applied tonight. No one was after him, he knew he wouldn't starve, and in the darkness, he felt the covers graze over his skin as Coyo slipped in behind him. Sighing, Tesla relaxed from his curl, molding his body to match Coyo's and drawing Coyo's arm around his waist. Coyo snaked his other arm underneath Tesla in an embrace, and then buried his nose in Tesla's hair, drawing the tip of his tongue along Tesla's neck.

Tesla craned his neck, asking for more, and Coyo supplied it, sucking, softly at first, then harder. "Ah, Coyo…"

Slipping fingers into Tesla's mouth, Coyo shushed him with a low hiss.

Exhaling silently, Tesla acquiesced, and began to suck on Coyo's fingers, communicating his want that way, rolling his tongue between the knuckles and pushing his body back against Coyo. Oh please, no waiting for tomorrow.

Coyo ran fingertips along Tesla's thigh, along the line that was so sensitive, then began to fondle Tesla's erection, pinching the tip, running a finger along the underside…teasing. Tesla moaned—asking for more—and the fingers in his mouth pressed down on his tongue. Tesla renewed his sucking, an acknowledgment. Yes, I'll be quiet, but oh. God.

Dark and so still, Tesla heard the occasional breeze as it brushed through dry grasses, heard Coyo's breaths and his own, so quiet, but distinct in his ears. The hand that had been playing him left. An instinctual dismay touched him, but now Coyo ran those fingers up along the cleft of his ass, and they were slick, pressing up against his sphincter now, massaging…and Oh. God.

Coyo had come into bed intending to take him, no questions, little foreplay, just moving up behind him, greasing him up, and sliding in. Tesla pushed back, a beggar, his dick jutting now, eager. Slippery fingers probed him—doing a shallow, easy fuck. Then they were gone, Coyo shifted, and Tesla felt the tip of his cock, pushing…

Tesla gaped and let his breath out in a long exhale around Coyo's fingers, mindful of the silence, experiencing the entrance, the stretch, so smooth, so…God. He heard Coyo, the restrained gasp of air as he slid home, the hushed exclamation of desire.

Wrapping his arm tightly around Tesla's pelvis, Coyo pulled him close, and they fucked, Coyo thrusting in a steady rhythm as Tesla stroked himself. Tesla let his mouth hang open as he breathed in gasps and submitted to Coyo's exploration, fingers tracing the edge of Tesla's teeth, drawing lines along his tongue. Coyo sucked on Tesla's back, hard, also striving for silence…there were teeth in the suck, they would leave a reminder for morning.

If he listened closely, Tesla could distinguish the noises of their coupling—the whisper of the blankets with each flex of Coyo's hips, the slurp of his own fingers as he stroked himself. He even heard the slick, moist sound of the fuck itself, each entrance, each withdrawal…

As he focused on it, that sound drove him to distraction, brought his orgasm that much closer—he wanted to cry out, to groan at the very least, but he did neither, only panted. The vocal restraint heightened his need, directed the energy of the sound elsewhere, into the receptive push of his hips, into the pulsing of blood in his cock.

Coyo bit at Tesla's back, mouth open wide, pressing his incisors in hard, desperately seeking purchase. Then he jerked, and in a brutal thrust, slammed deep into Tesla, clamping his arm on Tesla's pelvis to keep him immobile. The bite eased but was replaced by hot bursts of breath. The sound, the heat, they reverberated through Tesla, and he stopped his own stroking to focus on Coyo's climax.

But he'd been so close, and now Tesla gripped himself in a tight, desperate fist and jerked once, twice, and as the spasms receded in Coyo, Tesla came in a violent fit of tremors. He forgot then, about being quiet, and let a cry escape into the air, but Coyo silenced him, clenching the hand at Tesla's lips into a fist and forcing it into Tesla's open mouth roughly. Tesla bit, stifling his cries against Coyo's fingers as the tremors rushed through him and he drained himself into his hand, feeling the pulses arrive one after another as his seed squeezed hot between grasping fingers.

Tesla listened to how their breathing steadied into the low rise and fall of deep ease. Coyo brought a towel to Tesla's abdomen and wiped the stickiness from his fingers and stomach, then pressed down on Tesla's shoulder so that Tesla looked up, trying to see into Coyo's eyes in the darkness. His kiss was deep and embracing, communicating content satisfaction, drowsy passion, love, and Tesla returned it in full measure.

Collapsing back onto the pallet, Coyo pulled Tesla back into an embrace and laced his fingers through Tesla's hair. The whisper was so quiet, it might've been inaudible if it hadn't been brushing past his ear. "Te amo, Pecoso."

Spanish. It sounded affectionate. Te amo, Amato…beloved. Tesla decided to let it pass fluidly tonight. He'd ask about it in the morning—what it meant. He filed the phrase away in his mind so that he wouldn't forget. Te amo, te amo.

Finally, speaking into the night, Tesla whispered, "Are you so concerned…to be so quiet?"

He felt the expulsion of warm air at his neck when Coyo chuckled, thought he could feel the smile. "No…" Coyo bit lightly on Tesla's shoulder. "…but shh…"

Tesla drifted off shortly after, nestled comfortably in the crook of Coyo's body, listening to the soft snores of his lover over the muted trickle of water far below.

A/N. So, umm, yeah. That's it. If there are any outstanding issues, loose ends, things that bug you, anything like that, y'all probably know by now that I welcome your input.

One thing that I do feel compelled to leave a note on: Kevin. Okay, like from a story perspective, this feels done. I mean, Kevin did what was right, and it's not like he's been left in hell or anything. He is reasonably happy with his life. But, ummm, between you and me, there is this sadness in my heart still. So I am hoping to actually write a series of quick one/two/three shots, these would take place after this 'honeymoon', and erm.... do y'all like threesomes? ^^ Cause it seems only right. :) If I don't write them, know that Kevin got drawn in peripherally to the happiness, and rest easy. Okay?

Perennial thanks to all readers, rec'ers, fave-ers, and especially, reviewers, because y'all took the time to keep me charged and up and gave (and I bet will continue to give) me valuable insight.