Magnificent Seven Slash, The Runaway by Raven Davies

Chapter I

"Usually, people believe their motives and emotions are known to themselves alone,
yet few things remain concealed from an intelligent observer
with time to see, to consider, and to speculate."

Louis L'amour

The focus, of his dark blue eyes, was returning to normal; the vivid colors, falsely created in a young man's mind, faded into the subtle, soft hues of the desert. Different shades of green, against a tan background, spiked and pointed in different directions; each arm of the saguaro reached for the sun's rays, or sprawled slowly over the cracked, hard sand. On some sunny days and full moon nights, their shadows took on strange forms of snakes and demons, coming directly for him, reaching out to ensnare him, turning his euphoria to terror. Vin Tanner's visions and apparitions, however, were usually pleasant; and he remembered everyone distinctly--the good and the ugly--fixating his mind in the unreal, while he went about his days in seclusion.

His mind slowly returned to the reality from which he wished to escape; and although hungry and tired, he remained alert, his latest vision too entrancing to allow sleep. Food deemed necessary, but unwanted; he would try to keep it down longer this time. Standing took a little maneuvering, to regain his balance on wobbly knees, but he managed to stagger into the shelter, which he had built on his arrival. Perfect for storage, the rock and mud structure, with the brush entwined roof, protected him and his two horses from the draining Mexican sun and the ferocious sand storms, as did the rocks watching his back. The craggy, quarter-moon shaped outcropping also provided life-giving water for the trio.

"How far have you wandered today, Peso?" Vin called softly to his favorite horse, as he picked up the hackamore, while his thoughts meandered from here to there. Standing erect, he stretched out thoroughly, making a snapping noise that alleviated the pain of his slightly crooked back. Concentration grew more difficult each day; yet he never forgot his two companions. Letting out a short, sharp whistle made his dry lips crack and bleed, but he did receive a loving response from the white-blazed, black gelding. A whisper of a snuffle came from between the rocks, as a sole animal trotted out and affectionately greeted him with a warm nose nuzzle of his neck and a delicate nibble of the thin man's outstretched hand.

"Good boy." Vin snuggled his face into the horse's muscular neck, lacing his fingers through the mane that was tangled with brush burrs and cactus prickles. "Best we clean you up, my friend. Sorry, boy, ain't been taking very good care of you and Chico. Feel like a short lope?"

The steed seemed to understand the man who stood whispering lowly in his ear. A whinny of a soft reply, a ticklish rub to the neck, and a pull at the man's flowing hair, showed Peso's eagerness and friendship, and readily lowered his head to accept the rawhide bosal placed around his sensitive nose by a gentle hand. Slowly pulling the headstall up with one hand, Vin folded an ear, tucking each under the braided rawhide to rest comfortably on the crown of the horse's head. Once the mecate rein was flipped over the black head, and the forelock and mane smoothed down, the tracker took a flying leap onto his unsaddled horse; and happily, the two compaņeros headed out into the desert at an easy canter, followed by his newly acquired gelded Mustang. Both horses required exercise to maintain their endurance, speed, and agility; and with Tanner's calming presence, the two animals had become inseparable during their long journey. Imperative to maintain a spare, easily managed horse over a long distance ride, Chico had become a treasured part of the quiet man's need for devotion and loyalty, and the pale golden animal seemed always willing to participate in both.

With the wind blowing through his lengthening hair and Peso's warmth between his legs, a feeling grew stronger than just a man and his horse. Riding bareback, the muscled black body, under his nearly naked buttocks and genitalia, always aroused Vin who had shed his warm clothing for fine white-cotton pants, a long flowing white shirt, and the faded red-to-pink bandanna securely tied around his head. Holding tight with his thighs, he pleasured himself by moving rhythmically with the gelding's gait, pushing the crease of his butt down hard while stimulating his cock. The action created vibrations that reached far into his wanton virgin cavern. How much he wished someone to take him, to penetrate and rub his most sensitive and erotic points of need. Many a lonely drifter had tried, either with subtle hints or threatening gestures, which often ended with the aggressor wounded or dead. For Vin Tanner, however, he had waited for only one, but once found, the possibility ended in unrequited love and disappointment. The thought of a blond-haired gunslinger, and the continuing motion under him, ignited his pole to harden, making him stir even deeper. With a sad smile and still in a minimal euphoric state, he put the textured rope in one hand, while the other eased his now throbbing cock and hard cajones, lifting them away from the erotic impact of Peso's back.

His arousal increased, requiring an urgency to return to the security of his hideout to climax his desire. Coming in at a full gallop and quick Quarterhorse sliding stop, Vin slipped off the animal to attend to his aching pole, while Peso and Chico headed straight for the water to drink. Skilled hands pumped up and down, increasing the pressure until the purple veined shaft released its tension and fell limp once more. The twitching, he felt internally, remained unsatisfied, however; and he pressed on his lower back and above his crotch to ease the giddy sensation within. All would be taken care of with a cold dousing in the pool beneath the small waterfall, to rinse off the dust and the odor of sweat and sex. Unfortunately, the smell was his own climax of a man's natural need, but a dreamy smile of satisfaction melted his mouth into a softer, gratified look. He could at least enjoy part of his wantonness alone; and he slowly traced and moistened his parched lips with his tongue, to finalize his solo performance. A sorry attempt to relieve the painful cracks, but a touch of jojoba oil soothed the bleeding splits and made his suntanned skin feel smoother and moister.

"Okay you two, enough fun. Now food... snake or hare... maybe lizard?" Vin patted and stroked his long-time companion, removing the hackamore, and allowing the horses to graze amid the tall grass growing along the stream. Procurement of nourishment was an easy task for the native-trained tracker, and within twenty minutes, he had killed a snake, unsheathed its skin, and had pieces frying in a small metal skillet, along with a few peeled pads from the nopal cactus.

The evening's coolness settled upon him; the desert heat dissipated into the refreshing scent of night blossoms. Vin grabbed his blanket, wrapped it tightly around his thinning body, and huddled by his small fire. He ate what he could, and his state of enhanced consciousness ebbed, replaced by a deepening depression that clouded over him. Always an after-effect of chewing too many buds, along with nausea, he shivered violently to face the next dreaded phase. By habit, Vin reached for a half-dozen, fresh, gray-green buttons, but immediately stopped. His survivor instincts took hold, understanding the importance of fully digesting his dinner for as long as he could.

He also needed sleep; as time, places, maybe years, seemed lost to him. Now too difficult to remember what went before (his one quest nearly conquered), this night became one of attempting to recall how long he had been safe, away from crowds and noise. Thoughts of fierce, cold winds made him shiver; February came to mind; but the start of his journey had dimmed over the months. Spring: he remembered the season marked by the growth of fresh peyote and the budding of flowers on the cacti. With the onset of summer, temperatures raised to fire hot, blowing in a few violent sand storms, accompanied by a couple of torrential downpours. Gladly those days had passed quickly, safely protected within the walls of his rock home; but the weather finally shifted, becoming slightly cooler, calmer, and exceedingly pleasant for the desert dweller. Thinking clearer, as he stared at the fire, he realized fall had arrived with the disappearing blossoms and the peyote turning into hard buttons. Vin sensed the time, but many factors played cards in his uncertain reality.

Unable to sleep, he languidly arose and wandered over to a small sophora tree still clinging to a few dying blossoms--those intoxicating, but deadly purple-pink flowers--the scent of which could kill you if enclosed in a small space. One small petal crushed, mixed with jojoba oil, and then brushed through his lengthening hair, would have him sound asleep without too much damage. One of the few items he still carried was a brush; and he returned to his campfire to look upon the vast darkness of his desert, while raking the mixture through his tangled mane. The aroma eased the depression, and he thanked the tree of many names for always leading him to the place of his youth--peyote country--his home.

Fully intoxicated by the beautiful scent of dreams, he allowed himself to drift back to the day he decided to leave the town they called Four Corners. Regret was not the emotion felt, under his growing peaceful state, or the loneliness; he was use to the latter and the former never crossed his mind. In the dusty, disquieting town, he felt more alone in a crowd of friends than he did in the silence of solitude. Vin had lived with the guilt too long and the reactions of the others to his different ways. They did not trust him, although the pretense of friendship remained. The expression 'watch your back' had taken on a new meaning, considering he lead the pack, scouting for pitfalls ahead, leaving his six friends to follow. The saying spooked him; its constant repetition, whenever he mounted up, created more guilt, more mistrust, and even fear. The unknown emotion, for the keen-eyed tracker, deadly sharpshooter, and former bounty hunter, grew out of proportion in his befuddled head. Out of his peyote-induced state, away from his heightened senses, his anxiety became irreparable, inducing memories of his last twenty-four hours in the small town.

Vin had been struggling over another reading lesson with the Widow Mary Travis one late afternoon, when Chris Larabee walked into the Clarion Office. With a seemingly growing affection, the blonde woman and the equally blond gunslinger left him to his writing exercises, while they stepped into her private quarters. The young tracker's heart sank; he wanted to run; and run he would. Unfortunately, before he could extricate himself from the chair, the couple emerged arm-in-arm, with Mary wrapped in her warmest coat and smiling jubilantly. The woman's simple expression ignited a repressed fury in Tanner's mind, believing Mrs. Travis had won the only thing he desired.

"I'm taking your teacher out for dinner, Cowboy." Chris teased with a flirtatious grin and a twinkle in his eye.

"I'm finished anyway, so I'll lock up, Mrs. Travis." He could say nothing further, with the lump in his throat constricting his Texas drawl.

"Thank you, Mr. Tanner. I'll see you tomorrow then."

"No ma'am. Have business tomorrow." Tightening his gag reflex, he thought himself safe.

"That will be fine; the next day then." Mary smiled at him sweetly and rather smugly, seeming to egg him on, daring him to lunge at her neck and to strangle her where she stood. The woman turned away, however, before seeing the deadly squint aimed at her back, as she nonchalantly headed toward the door.

Larabee also missed the look, sidling over and leaning heavily against his young friend from behind. Tanner stopped breathing at the touch of the handsome gunslinger, nearly swooning when a hard grasp tightened around his shoulder and a chin came to rest on the other. Chris Larabee gave his right-hand man a strong squeeze: a sickening, paternal squeeze.

"Your writing's looking good, Vin. Keep it up, so the rest of us can read those poems in your head." The hot breath and soft voice vibrated right next to the keen ears of the tracker. He felt a shiver run up his back, and his pole instantly pushed up and against his pants. As Chris moved back, his clean-shaven cheek brushed softly passed Tanner's wavy, brown hair, forcing the younger man to swallow the tortured sigh and excited moan. "See you later, Cowboy," the gunman, unknowingly, uttered a soft, seductive whisper of an endearing term, as he turned away and followed Mary out the door.

Vin put his head between his arms, which rested on the table, and gasped for air. Trying to calm his sexual desire had become intolerable. He no longer could hide the feelings; his shame added to his guilt; anger and jealousy filled his heart. Vowing silently that he would never again be teased, tortured, and humiliated, he gathered his papers without care, threw them into a nearby basket, and scrawled a short note, shoving it between the pages of Mrs. Travis' book. Just a few words precisely printed, 'Thank you, ma'am', the line resonated with sarcasm, but so subtle, no one would perceive or interpret the hate-filled words, particularly the beautiful blonde woman stalking his best friend. Her sudden change to a sweet innocent, from the roaring mountain lion that originally confronted them all, appeared nicely staged for the gunslinger's benefit. Vin recognized the difference, witnessing the personality switch, while protecting a wagon train of misplaced pioneers that he also quested to forget. The strange escapades of both he and Chris, on that fateful sojourn, had created a riff between them; and the two men never returned to the close, trusting friendship they had first shared. For unfathomable reasons to Tanner, the gunman refused to see through the woman's devious manipulation of breaking the bond between the two quiet friends. The tracker seemed the only one detrimentally hurt.

The multi-talented young man, with a dangerous notoriety of his own with a large bounty on his head, had pulled himself together that evening with a profound decision, and went in search of Josiah Sanchez, and then on to find Nathan Jackson. Asking them both to meet him for breakfast early the next morning, upon his return from the night patrol, they had hesitantly agreed, although somewhat perplexed as to why Tanner wished to speak with them, or to anyone for that matter. A very quiet and shy man, unless provoked, Vin had caught them off guard when he requested their help with confusing personal business; but he trusted these two friends, a defrocked preacher and a black-skinned healer, both of whom would be sympathetic to his reluctance in handling the puzzle contained within four little books he carried.

His last night dragged on, wandering the streets, looking down alley ways, investigating open doors that should be locked, and ensuring a few drunks got home safely. It was a quiet, uneventful menagerie of nightly activity for the town, which had grown too large. His plans, to earn a few coins and quickly pass through Four Corners, had gone awry after one strange day when a blond-haired stranger, dressed in black, caught his eye. What might have been, with the straight-through-your-soul stares, the quiet two-word whisperings, and the occasional lingering touches, had led to nothing. Vin had tried his best; but Larabee, although giving off fleeting interest, did not respond to the tracker's inexperienced attempts of seduction. Tanner's anxiousness and disillusionment would soon be lost memories.

He had gathered his few belongings and ensured Peso was brushed and re-shod. A long, hazardous journey lay before both man and beast, but they would set out together as always. Dawn spread across the sky, in all its purple, pink, and golden light, when Vin headed for the saloon, walking straight past three of his six working partners, no longer feeling comfortable in their presence. Finding the empty table at the back, he could face and see everything that came and went through the batwing doors, definitely watching his back.

"Come join us, Vin?" JD Dunne had spent the night watch with him, and now enjoyed an enormous breakfast for one so short in stature. The youngest of the seven never gave up on Tanner, and tried to entice his scruffy friend in a little conversation before retiring.

"Nope." The curt reply perked the ears of the three men, as did the low growl in the soft drawl when Vin ordered a whiskey. Their tracker had been up all night as well, but remained wide-awake, squinting and watching everything without a movement of his shadowed, half-hidden face. The broad-brimmed, slouched hat had been chosen for many reasons.

Buck Wilmington and Ezra Standish, who sat with the optimistic, young greenhorn, said nothing, but discreetly looked at each other, wondering sadly. In the last few months, since Larabee's fiasco with Ella Gaines, and the attempted assassination of Mary Travis over statehood, which the tracker severely troubled over, Vin had become a stranger, seldom mixing with anyone, except for Josiah and Nathan, and even that had become a rarity. At this very early hour, Ezra had not yet been to bed and excused himself to climb the stairs for his daily four hours of sleep. Buck, on the other hand, had just arisen, having escorted a lovely woman out the backdoor of the saloon, before engaging in an enthusiastic breakfast of bacon and eggs, and anything else the barkeep could muster up. Some things had not changed over the past five or six months since they all came together to save a Seminole village from a crazed Confederate Colonel.

Tanner sat staring into space, yet seeing and hearing all. Sipping very slowly on his whiskey, an unusual occurrence for one who seldom drank, he did not withdraw the glass from his lips on hearing the familiar sound of jingling spurs. The musky odor, of the blond-haired man, gusted through the opening doors, while whipping the black duster around Larabee's long, thin legs. Vin's uncanny sense of smell and hearing intoxicated him with unwanted desire, sending goose bumps up his legs, back, and neck, but he refused to look when the adjacent chair scraped along the wooden floor. Moving nary a muscle, the tracker did feel the unseen shiver run up his back; and he had nowhere to run.

"A little early for someone who doesn't drink much?" Chris had questioned, with deep concern etched in his face.

"You ain't my father, so stop treating me like a kid." Vin uncharacteristically snapped at the simple, worried question, while squinting at the intruder sideways with a cold look that could freeze a rattlesnake from striking. He returned his gaze to his drink, which he set down gently. The company was no longer to his taste and the whiskey not much better. Getting up slowly, he pulled his hat down further over his forehead, adjusted his gun-belt that buckled low around his narrow hips and tied around his thigh, then quickly covered the sawed-off shotgun with his fringed jacket and threw a few coins on the table.

"Maybe not, but you sure could do with a damn good hiding, considering the way you've been acting toward your friends." Chris threatened with a bemused smile on his face, while pondering the hostility and the odd formality of a single word.

"And you think you're the one that could do it? Not without me killing you first."

Knowing the younger man only spoke when he meant what he said, this was no idle threat, but Larabee's countenance did not change, and he hid his confusion under a daring squint to retaliate. "Probably, and I'd enjoy it too." Chris feigned a laugh beneath the scowl, but his teasing received an intense glare from the deep-blue eyes.

The sensitive tracker seethed with the hurtful words, and with no requirement to retaliate, he stormed out, leaving behind a bewildered and upset gunman. Chris and Buck looked questioningly at each other across the room. One shrugged his shoulders; the other shook his head. No one could understand or get a civil word out of the young man since he put a bullet in the assassin who had been paid thousands of dollars to kill Mrs. Travis. This little verbal exchange was all they had heard from him in weeks.

With an hour to kill, before meeting with Sanchez and Jackson, Vin took the opportunity to have his usual twenty-minute catnap in the livery. He hated the boarding house, the hotel, especially the saloon rooms, which left him in the stable even on the coldest of nights. A covered wagon seemed home for a short while, but he hated the confinement of that as well. Finally settling into a routine, he found a warm home in his horse's large stall in the barn, using the heat generated by friendly four-legged bodies and heaps of straw. Each soft, gentle snuffle gave him comfort; the smell of the outdoors gave him freedom. As he fell asleep, he wondered when Chris would remarry and start enlarging his cabin to accommodate Mrs. Travis and her young son. Again, his heart fragmented into ragged little pieces, adding to the misery Larabee created by threatening and embarrassing him in front of the others. Mentally broken and emotionally bruised, Tanner accepted his only recourse.

Always on time, without owning a watch, Vin had entered the saloon doors, just as Nathan and Josiah sat down. Quickly joining them, he explained, in a handful of words, his need for their assistance at the Four Corners Bank. The two men glanced at each other in surprise, wondering at the thought of Vin Tanner having money; but the younger man smiled, assuring them it would not be much. He handed them several little books from various banks where his bounty earnings had been sent from grateful lawmen. Vin had no idea what they were used for, just a record of places for money honestly earned; and he was unsure if he had actually been paid. Josiah studied the locations of the banks: El Paso, Tucson, and Santa Fe, along with Four Corners, where the young man deposited one of his five dollars every month. The Four Corners account remained the only one updated and current, with very little in it, but obviously saving for something special. Josiah and Nathan hoped it would be a warm new coat, or something more useful than another toy like his shiny harmonica, which he could not play but always carried. The spyglass proved a necessity and well worth purchasing, but they were in the dark about that particular treasure as well.

With the four books in hand, the three men headed for the bank. Sanchez sat down with the manager to discuss putting all of Vin's accounts into the one in Four Corners. The banker appeared very gracious and happy to accommodate them by sending wires to the other banks; and now that Vin could sign his name, he passed Power of Attorney, on his behalf, over to the two troubled men. Still confused, they both agreed to take care of whatever assets he had; and after the final signature on the paper, the banker informed them it would take a few days before total amounts could be tallied and the documents finalized. Noticed immediately by Josiah and Nathan, sudden agitation overcame the younger man who looked bewildered as to what to do; his sapphire-blue eyes darted frantically between the two much larger men. With the disquieting demeanor tensing the face of their unnerving comrade, the preacher and the healer each took one of his arms, and escorted him back to the saloon for breakfast, sitting far enough away from incoming traffic.

"Can't wait that long." Vin grumbled, scanning the premises, while his mind fought for another way to deal with the delay.

"Sounds like you're leaving us, brother Vin?" Josiah pushed back his chair, to balance on the delicate back legs, while he studied the nervous wringing of Vin's hands, not a usual habit of the steady-handed sharpshooter. Unfortunately, the group had only known each other a half-dozen months, and all seven had secrets they wished never revealed. Tanner had been the most elusive regarding his life, and perhaps, his true nature was finally being expressed. The preacher could only guess as he waited for an answer.

"Going on a vision quest."

"What's that? Some kind of native ritual? Means you'll be coming back, don't it?" Now Nathan's concern heightened. Vin did not respond, but swallowed his whiskey straight down, making him take a sharp gasp of choking air. His eyes widened in shock at the sudden harshness of the taste.

"It's a journey, Nathan; a journey to find yourself and what your future may hold." Sanchez's gaze never left the much smaller man who visibly trembled under the scrutiny. "Am I correct, Vin?"

"Yeah, something like that." The soft, raspy drawl quivered slightly. "While I'm gone, thought if I needed something, I could wire y'all to send money. Probably won't need it. Never have before."

"We'll do that, son, but why leave now? We need you; the town needs you. What's wrong, Vin?" The preacher leaned forward and put his hand on the smaller man's shoulder. Strong and rough, but gentle and kind, the hand felt overpowering in its weight; and Tanner slouched further into his chair from the load the touch carried.

"Y'all can handle what needs doing. It's time, Josiah." The tracker remained focused on his gut-wrenching drink, but an unheard entrance and a hand on his shoulder stopped the only thing moving: the beating of his heart.

"What are the three of you so intent on this morning? You should be sleeping, Vin." Chris interrupted and sat between Nathan and his biggest worry. Redeeming himself, in Tanner's eyes, was his only reason for being there, trying a kinder approach than the one used at dawn's breaking. The unnerving conversation had been a dismal failure, and the gunslinger tried again, adding more concern to his comments.

"Nothing you'd be interested in." With anger in his reply and no eye contact, Vin arose from his chair and walked away, without uttering another word. They were the last words he said to his friends, but not the final ones he heard.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Larabee yelled in frustration at the fringed back of a suede jacket, and only his stare followed his best friend out the door. Startled wounded eyes darted back and forth between the two other men at the table, begging for answers.

"We don't know neither, Chris, but we're going to lose him for a spell." Nathan sighed, watching through the window to see the thin figure cross the main street and into the town's only bank.

"Did he give a reason?" Worry created a deep furrow in Chris' brow, and confusion clouded his pale green eyes. He had no answers and only one question: why?

"A lame one, although, considering what we know of him, it could be true. He's heading out on a vision quest, and don't ask me why, Chris. Don't make much sense, but maybe he needs some breathing space. Reckon it best to give him a chance. He's a loner; and it's been a long time to be surrounded by so many people. Town's probably getting too big for him." Josiah played with his food, pausing in deep thought and coming up with a philosophical idea. "The change is possibly not one at all, but who he's always been. Ever since your disagreement over Mrs. Gaines, and then saving Mrs. Travis, he's withdrawing to another place in his head; a place we can't touch or reach." Josiah pushed away his unfinished breakfast; his countenance changed to fidgeting with his fingers that brushed over the table.

"Both events are in the past and neither situation warrants leaving us."

"I don't know, Chris. He thought he was doing right by you, giving you important information on your wife and son's murderer, although not knowing what was to play out. And then that assassin's rifle... he stroked it like a man touches a beautiful woman... rather disconcerting, if I do say so myself." Josiah continued his thoughts aloud.

Nathan hung his head to look at his own wringing hands, not wishing to expound further on the debate, in case his own disturbing idea came into play, lighting a fire in the gunslinger. He quickly changed the subject with an irrelevant question. "Where's the gun now?"

"Haven't seen it since the trial, and it's not important." Chris lied, and continued with what truly mattered. "I thought Vin felt at home here--feeling safe, protected, and useful--maybe for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, you may be right, preacher man, but I don't have to like it. When's he thinking of leaving? Did he say when he'll be back? If your guesses are right, he's leaving for good." Larabee put more sentences together than the other two men expected, and his eyes showed what they seldom saw: panic.

"Probably won't leave for a few days, and if he's truly going on a vision quest, he'll be back." Josiah Sanchez, who was their strongest man physically and the wisest in matters of the human condition, tried to sound optimistic, but failed.

"Might have time to get to the bottom of this before he runs." Chris grimaced, tightening his face, exposing the deep lines that ran down his sunken cheeks. His frustration showed, etched on his handsome, delicate bone structure, and seen in the alarmed eyes.

"Wish you luck, Chris. Hate to see the boy riding alone."

"Me too, Josiah. Me too." Larabee sighed, focusing steadfast on the batwing doors, which continued to swing back and forth from his friend's angry departure.

Nathan Jackson also followed the young man's trail out the doors, believing in keeping his thoughts hidden until proven. Time would come for the truth; time would come to lose another.

Not the type for good-byes, Vin went straight back to the bank to speak further with the manager whom agreed that Nathan and Josiah could sign the last of the paperwork on his behalf, allowing him to expedite his escape from forces only he understood. From the bank to the livery, Vin strolled nonchalantly down the street, hiding his urgency to run to his waiting horse, already saddled, outfitted, and ready to go. On reaching the patient animal, he mounted up and left Four Corners that February morning, without being seen, without saying good-bye, and without turning to look back.

Finally putting to rest the last time he had spent with the people he once thought were friends, Vin Tanner could slowly fall asleep next to the comforting fire. The little town and its inhabitants existed no longer, as the heavenly scent in his hair filled his nostrils with hauntingly beautiful poison, deadening his memories, to float away in sleep forever. Tomorrow, he would harvest more euphoria.


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Chapter II

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