"Artie, give me a break."
Artemus laughed softly and touched Jim's shoulder. "Sorry, just messing with you. Look, asshole, are you gonna feed the horses today?"
"Not until you haul your huge, hairy butt to the galley and make me some vittles."
Both men laughed. Jim edged closer and traced a blunt-tipped finger up Artemus' chest. Artemus pushed the hand away. "Don't try to seduce me. We have chores to do."
"Seduce you? You?"
"Yes, me, now hush." Artemus stretched and managed to nudge most of Jim's body off the bed. "Where ya going?"
"Nowhere." Jim rolled back and up, getting comfortable on top. "I swear I'd get more rest on a bedroll."
"Be my guest." Artemus wrapped his arms around Jim and squeezed. "Can you move your cock?"
Jim wiggled his hips. "Sure. Why?"
"It's poking me in the balls!" Artemus tried to push Jim off. Jim laughed, and they struggled until Artemus gave up with a sigh. "Okay, fine. Hurt me. I don't care."
Jim looked down and made sure nothing was being squished. "Happy? For a tough guy, you sure complain a lot."
"You're the tough guy. I'm the sensitive one." Artemus thumped Jim's head with a finger. "Notice my big brown eyes, nice smile, and a heart of gold. You, on the other hand,-"
"Oh shut up. It's not my fault I have these stupid eyes, a strut, and hands big enough to slap the shit out of someone." Jim groaned. "Did I miss anything?"
"Besides the bad attitude, not a thing." Artemus gripped Jim's brown hair and shook him. "That strut is definitely your fault!"
"You love it. Everyone does." Jim smiled and stuck his finger in Artemus' ear. "Let go, and I won't shoot."
Artemus released him and laughed. "We still need to get out of bed."
"I still don't see why. I'm not all that hungry." Jim rolled off Artemus and wedged himself between his partner and the wall. "The horses were fed late last night. They're fine."
"I can't believe you want to be lazy." Artemus moved to his side facing Jim and kissed his forehead. "That's usually my job."
"You and I always divide the work evenly. It's my turn to be lazy." Jim put his hand on Artemus' hip and spread his fingers. "I tell you what. You be the gunslinger today. I'll be--wait a minute--what are you?"
Artemus laughed again. "Your overly emotional sidekick with a talent for explosives and languages, who manages to save your ass weekly, despite harrowing difficulties, and I also get the girl."
Jim dipped his head and licked Artemus' nipple, sucking. Artemus grasped the back of Jim's head and pushed down. They moved together for a moment, and Jim came up for air. "You can have her. She always has marriage on her mind."
"Lydia didn't." Artemus pulled Jim up and kissed him gently, nibbling his lips. "Lily didn't."
"Sorry about that." Jim put his head in the hollow of Artemus' neck and shoulder. "I really was."
"I know. It was a fool ass notion. I thought I'd lost you, so I grabbed onto her. She didn't much like it." Artemus wrapped his arm around Jim and tugged them closer. "You ask Lydia to marry you?"
"Artie, we both fucked her. It seemed like a bad idea." Jim sighed. "What about Colonel Sanchez?"
"No, I didn't ask him to marry me!" Artemus bit Jim's ear. "Shit head."
Jim laughed and pinched Artemus' nipple. "I thought for a while that we were getting another partner."
"He didn't much like gringos." Artemus' hand found Jim's and they laced them together. They kissed, and Artemus put his leg over their bodies. "Admit it, you liked him too."
"Too thin. I like a man with meat on his bones." Jim wrapped his free hand around Artemus' neck. "You need to gain some weight back."
"I was sick!" Artemus kissed him again. "You managed to disappear the entire time I was in the hospital. Just like you, always shipping me off."
"I was there every night." Jim shut his eyes and freed his hand. "You know I can't stand it when you're hurt or sick."
"Why?" Artemus kissed Jim's eyes. "Tell me."
"No." Jim sighed and relaxed. "I'm going to sleep some more."
"If I die, you won't be alone."
"I know, but I'll be lonely." Jim opened his eyes. "I'll go feed the horses."
Artemus smiled at him. "But we're comfortable."
"On this little bunk, rarely." Jim tugged Artemus' ear. "You always do this."
"I like to talk. You don't, but you're me today." Artemus kissed him deeply, pushing his tongue. "So, I'm going to fuck you, and you're going to talk."
Jim shook his head. "Rule number ten in the gunslinger handbook - Gunslingers are always on bottom."
Artemus stared at him, rolled to flat, and laughed. "Christ, you always make me laugh. And then have your way with me while I'm reeling."
Jim smiled, but didn't move. "It does seem to work, but today I'll take a page from your handbook."
"I have a handbook?" Artemus got off the bed and stretched. "Wait. I know the one. The one I wrote on explosives. How To Get Big Bangs."
Jim stretched on the bed and took up all the room. "Now that's funny." He laughed and found a blanket to pull over his body. "But, that's not it. Like my Great-Aunt Maude used to say, If you can't pluck a chicken, eat oatmeal.'"
Artemus laughed and left the bedroom. "I have no idea what that means."
"I never do either." Jim laced his hands behind his head. "The reason I don't take care of you is because I'd do a crappy job, and you'd croak for sure. I'm selfish and lack the basic emotions needed to do a good job."
Artemus came back in the room and said, "I heard that. I didn't leave."
"Now that's a rotten trick." Jim sighed. "Go piss. I'm done talking."
"You don't lack basic emotions."
"Ask anyone. I'm the iceman. Cold. I push people away, if I don't shoot them." Jim threw the blanket off and stood up. "You know it. I know it. Forget it. When you're really sick, go to a fucking hospital. I'd feed my horse and wander off, forgetting you."
Artemus put his hands on his hips. "You're a very passionate man, but you don't give it away to just any stranger that walks in the door!"
"Like you?" Jim stepped past Artemus and headed for the lavatory. "I do have to piss."
"I am not a fucking slut!" Artemus was one step behind Jim. "I discriminate!"
Jim covered his ears until he stood over the toilet. He pissed and didn't look at Artemus.
"Jim." Artemus pushed his face close. "You really think that?"
"Of course not." Jim shrugged. "They keep us moving so much, we're lucky if we have time to fuck each other."
"That's what I think." Artemus sighed and pissed. "How do we get these reputations?"
"You tell me. You like to talk." Jim stood in the hallway. "Bed or clothes, I can't decide."
The Wanderer gave a big jerk, and they both grabbed a wall. Artemus groaned. "Where the fuck are we going?"
"You curse like a sailor. Next stop Ð San Diego. Remember?"
Artemus took Jim by the hand and headed for the bedroom. "We better hurry."
"Not a bad idea." Jim went along, but stopped to glare at the bed. "Let's do this on the sofa, more room."
"How about I bend you over the desk?" Artemus laughed and picked up the blanket. "Fold that."
Jim slowly folded the blanket and put it at the foot of the bed. "You're overdoing it, as usual. I'm not that bossy."
"Liar." Artemus leaned against the top bunk. "Remember what happened to the billiards table?"
"You blew it up." Jim smiled. "The bunks?"
"Good idea. Why didn't I think of that?" Artemus laughed and sat down. "They'd probably just put new ones in. Think, Jim."
Jim sat down next to him and dropped a hand on Artemus' knee. "Colonel Richmond finds an excuse to wander the train every time he's aboard. I think he suspects."
Artemus looked at his feet and sighed.
"You shit! You told him!" Jim shoved Artemus down and straddled him.
"Don't bang your head."
"Thanks, I won't." Jim paused. "Give me one good reason I shouldn't bust you in the mouth!"
"We never hit each other, not really, unless we're putting on a show. We're always kind and gentle." Artemus smiled up at him and put his hands on Jim's chest. "Please don't hit me. Yes! I told him. He was bragging about how he was finally going to get his hands on your sweet ass. I told him to forget it!"
Jim groaned. "Shit. He's not my type. Relax. I'm not going to hit you, not right now. Later, maybe. Kind and gentle? My ass."
Artemus laughed. "We haven't gotten in a fistfight for, uh, two weeks?"
"That's about right. You shouldn't have told my date I had the pox!" Jim wiggled down to lie flat on Artemus, pillowing his head on him. "I should've hit you harder."
"Your face was priceless. I was horny for you, not some cheap whore."
"Only because I'm free." Jim smiled. "You love a good bargain."
"That's true." Artemus caressed Jim gently. "But that wasn't it. You were wearing those dumb glasses. That's not a disguise, but they do make me horny."
"That's the only reason I wear them." Jim shut his eyes and groaned softly when a hand touched him low. "You certainly are hard."
"Tell the truth. You're jealous, aren't you?"
Artemus peeled open one of Jim's eyes. "Your cock is only bigger by one half of one inch. That's nothing."
"That's not what you say when I'm putting it to you." Jim looked down. "Yep, it's good to be the highest-ranking officer on this train."
"You gloat about that far too much for your own good. Just for that, I'm not going to suck your cock, ever." Artemus grabbed Jim's balls. "And I'm twisting these off."
Jim jerked and hissed. "Stop! Please! I'm sorry. Christ! Really. I mean it!"
"And people say you'd never beg for mercy. They just haven't grabbed you by the balls." Artemus released them and kissed Jim, hard.
"I never beg! Well, not often." Jim licked his lips. "I heard a rumor about you the last time we were in Washington."
Artemus poked Jim in the stomach with his finger. "Tell."
Jim smiled. "You're hung like a horse and can go all night long. Two things I certainly didn't know."
"It's nice to be appreciated!" Artemus glared at him. "You didn't tell them the truth, did you?"
"Of course not. I shrugged. It's not my place to set them straight." Jim shut his eyes again. "Say, what do I have to do to get laid around here?"
"Figure out a way to get us a bigger bed. My cock needs the room." They both laughed. "Seriously, where do these people come up with these crazy ideas?"
"Haven't you read the handbook? Jim and Artie Ð Everything You Need to Know." Jim smiled and began to rub Artemus. "Ready?"
"You bet. When we get to San Diego, we're buying a better bed."
"With whose money?"
"Yours. I heard you were whoring out your ass. Give me the money." Artemus caught a breath. "That feels good."
"For now. I will hurt you. Why do you say things that make me want to punch you?"
"To get a rise out of you."
Jim thrust his hips. "See. I'm fine. Shut up. People are stupid. Now, roll over. I want top."
"Forget it!" Artemus put his hands on Jim's shoulders. "It's my turn."
"Bullshit. At that stable, last week, you pushed me against the wall and let me have it, but good." Jim kissed Artemus. "It was rude, and now it's my turn."
"I was rude?"
"Yes, all that foul language you whispered in my ear." Jim pivoted them around until he was on top. "You know every dirty word known to man."
"I was having some fun." Artemus sighed and slumped his shoulders. "Admit it, you always wanted to be taken hard by some stranger."
"Artie, you know I'd kill them. And for that matter, you would to." Jim traced Artemus' lips with his finger. "We're discriminating fuckers."
Artemus laughed, sagging down. He laughed until tears came. "I'm weak. Go ahead. Do your best."
Jim smiled. "I will. Let's go to the desk."
"That was my idea." Artemus griped Jim's ass. "I should get top."
"No. Move. Now. I'm through talking and ready to start fucking." Jim got off the bed and stared down at Artemus.
"Jim, dear, -"
Jim grabbed Artemus by the hair and started walking. "Once more, and I'm telling all of Washington the truth."
"No, no please, don't." Artemus put his hands on Jim's fist and followed him. "Lie for me. I deserve it."
Jim laughed. "I don't lie. You know that."
Artemus pinched Jim's ass hard. "Liar."
Jim jerked and shoved Artemus, not hard, at the desk. "Bend over."
"Yes, sir." Artemus bent over the desk. "It's so unfair. Everything you say is taken as God's own truth. I tell the truth, and people assume it's a lie. Drives me crazy."
Jim nudged Artemus' legs further apart and said, "Shit. I forgot the salve."
Artemus leaned straight up and put his hand over his asshole. "Forget it. Forget! It!"
Jim laughed. "I'll go get it. Don't move."
Artemus flipped around and watched Jim leave the parlor. "I'm going to go make some coffee." He went to the galley and started a fresh pot. Jim came up behind him and swatted his ass. "James!"
"That's me. I told you not to move."
"Yeah, but you didn't mean it." Artemus grinned. "I can always tell."
"I was hoping for some coffee this morning. I couldn't find the salve. Did you use it all on that Mexican fellow?"
Artemus blushed. "I'll go get it. It's in my saddle bag."
"I thought so. I told you not to mess with him." Jim pinned Artemus against the cabinets. "You never follow orders!"
"I do! I do! When I hear them." Artemus put up his hands. "I didn't. He'd left town."
"But you wanted to. I swear." Jim ran a hand through his hair. "He would've killed you. Please, please, listen to me every now and again."
Artemus opened his mouth, shut it, and tried again. "Okay. I'll listen, but you do lie!"
"Of course I do. Frequently. I enjoy it. People always believe me. It's fun. Are you happy? Next time I warn you off some fellow, listen!" Jim shook him. "I heard him bragging in the saloon about killing a man for brushing against him."
Artemus turned a little pale. "Why didn't you say so?! You never tell me why. You're always issuing orders and dashing off!"
"We were in a hurry! Damn it!" Jim rubbed his face. "And then I forgot. That's why you should go to the hospital!"
Artemus took a deep breath and started laughing. He leaned and kissed Jim. "My sweet James, you always take care of me. I'll do better, I promise."
"Now who's a liar? And that's the last one today, or I swear I'm throwing you off the train." Jim leaned against Artemus and gently kissed him. "I'm not lying."
"I know. Jim, you are one of the good guys, but if it's all the same to you. I'll go to the hospital."
"Excellent decision." Jim sighed. "Hate me for it. Please."
"Okay," Artemus said. "Why don't you go get comfortable somewhere on this train and I'll bring us some coffee."
"Why are you being nice?"
Artemus shrugged. "I want top, and I'm hoping for the guilt to get me there."
"I thought so." Jim laughed. "You never change."
"You neither. I always thought you sent me to the hospital so we could find pretty nurses."
"Well." Jim shrugged. "Okay, you got me, but the other stuff is true too."
"James my boy, you need to relax." Artemus steered Jim to the sofa and pushed him down. "Sit. I'll get the coffee."
Jim shrugged. "I'm still getting top."
"James, my dearest love, you've lost this battle," Artemus whispered at the coffee pot. "You might as well surrender."
Stroking his cock, Jim waited for the coffee. "Bottom wouldn't be so bad, but next time it is my turn. Damn it."