Author: The Phantom Black Sheep.
Disclaimer: They aren't mine, although I bet you anything that if I were to stand on one end of the room whilst the real owners stood opposite me. The boys would come to me. (The fact that I'd be holding a bottle of redeye holds no relevance.)
He was watching again.
He could feel it, those dark eyes burning into his back, drinking in his movements like a dying man in the arid desert. Ezra was made conscious of every little move he made because of those two, intense eyes. Both the things he craved for, and the very things he feared.
Why were they looking at him? Why were they studying him and filling him with that golden warmth he longingly clung to?
They were filled with something, something intense but what, he couldn't work out. Was it just Chris was moderating him, making sure he didn't cause undue trouble in his town? Or was it something else? Something he hoped for, even dreamed for.
Long ago had he tired of tonight's game, it was mundane, his marks too easy. Yet still he sat here, and here he would remain until he had claimed as much as he could of that stare.
That was all he could ever have of Chris. That burning gaze. That was his alone; he didn't care if it was filled with disgust or contempt. It was something Chris acquired only when watching him. Ezra treasured the feeling of being singled out, having something to be remembered by, no matter how minute or unpleasant the reason was.
He'd never had that before. He'd always been one of the many. A gambler, a con man, a Southerner. Never 'The'. He'd never been *The* gambler, the thorn in someone's side, the person one turned to for comfort. It wasn't in his blood and the thought that for the first time in his life he was someone's 'The' filled him with both excitement and an unexplainable glow.
He was the man Chris chose to stare at.
One of the ranch hands seated at his table muttered something quietly and Ezra gave a small chuckle in response, though he wasn't listening. Not really, he could have just smiled and nodded in agreement to how much he wanted to be killed, but he didn't care. Just as long as he was 'The.'
A shadow fell over him at that moment, darkening the luxuriously soft green velvet of the gambling table and sending a chill down his spine, a strange combination of both fear and anticipation. Only one person could do that, only one man could cause him to shiver just from the slightest of contact or even the slightest hint of his scent. Chris.
"Game over," the growling voice, which plagued both his dreams and nightmares constantly, sounded behind him. The man was standing so close to his chair that he could feel the sweeping fabric of his duster brush against his elbows, Ezra unconsciously moved his elbow back, wanting more of that fleeting contact whilst disguising his movement by glancing over his shoulder.
"Excuse me?" he asked, none of what he felt colouring his voice. He managed to bight down on the inside of his cheek to keep the gasp that wanted desperately to slip past his lips wedged in his throat.
He knew Chris had been close to him, but not that close, if it weren't for the lethal glare on the slightly sun kissed face, he would have been unable to resist the urge to reach up and brush those surprisingly soft-looking lips with his own.
"I said game over, sick and tired of you makin' trouble here cause of your greed."
He did gasp then. A small, almost untraceable breath of exhaled air. All of his previous hopes were washed away, annihilated by that single statement.
'Stupid.' He berated himself. 'Stupid, stupid, stupid!' How could he ever be so presuming as to think anyone could ever feel for him? How could he ever mistake that look, as one tinted by need, the same need he felt? He could never be 'The' he could never be anything to anyone, least of all Chris.
Slowly, his moves defeated and limp, he gathered together his winnings, wanting nothing more then to leave them. The very sight of them disgusted him at that moment. They were inanimate objects, yet they were the closest he would ever get to having something constant, they were the only things which would give him any worth or value whatsoever. He smirked in self-loathing at that thought. The only thing he could ever stand a chance of winning over had no soul.
With a stilted nod to the men around the table and to Chris as he climbed to his feet, trying in vain to regain some of his shattered dignity and confidence, he turned and began to walk towards the saloon doorway. Each step taking him further from the man which occupied every one of his waking thoughts, each step took him further from the reason he lived, and the reason he wanted nothing more then to crawl into a corner and die quietly.
Every footfall took him further into the empty abyss, otherwise known as his future.