Character Focus: Chris, Josiah, Vin
Summary: Epilogue to Silvia's The Punching Bag (If you haven't read The Punching Bag, you should read that first). There are several stories that appear to have either the same name or similar theme there, I just wanted to voice my idea of an epilogue.
The hours had passed and neither man moved. Finally the silence was broken by a softly voiced question.
"Brother, have you figured out why?"
For a long moment Chris neither moved nor spoke. He simply stared at the bruised form lying deeply asleep, held there by the pain medicine and sedatives. The only sound was the soft beep of the monitor in rhythm with Vin's heartbeat.
Josiah waited patiently; he knew Chris would talk given time.
"It was because of the easy silence."
Josiah was not a man easily shocked. He wasn't shocked now; he was confused.
"The easy silence?"
"With Sarah the silence was easy. We could sit and not talk. We didn't need to talk. I could be perfectly happy just sitting in her presence."
Chris turned slightly to look up at Josiah. He was hoping the older man would understand. He laughed inwardly at the irony of the situation. The man who would most readily understand was lying battered and bruised in the bed in front of him. The battering and bruising inflicted by the very man who needed most to talk with him.
Vin, please forgive me.
"What does this 'easy silence' you shared with Sarah have to do with Vin and how he ended up being your punching bag?" Josiah understood more than he let Chris know. He knew in order for Chris to truly heal he would need to voice his feelings out loud. Only then would Larabee be able to forgive himself and finally let go of his guilt.
"I started to enjoy the simplicity of Vin's and my friendship. I realized I wasn't feeling the pain. I was thinking less and less about losing Sarah and Adam. I was losing them I was I was forgetting them." The last words were spoken so softly and in a voice heavy with pain and guilt.
"Were you forgetting them or were you moving past the grief that prevented you from living?"
"It started to feel good to wake up on the weekend and know Vin or you or one of the guys was coming to the ranch to work. Used to be the weekends were full of memories and missing Sarah and Adam. Now, Vin is usually there. We don't talk much. We just work and it's it's --"
"Easy." Josiah breathed out the word and watched as Chris absorbed the import.
"Chris, you've been on this road for a while now. What pushed you to the edge?"
"It's Thanksgiving next week. I started thinking about how this year I would cook the turkey just the way I liked. I would be able to fix the stuffing the way I liked and not put in all the extra things that Sarah used to put in. God, Josiah, I was looking forward to it!"
Josiah remained quiet watching as Chris hung his head into his hands and rubbed his hands through his hair several times as he calmed himself.
"So, where do you want to go from here?"
"I don't know, Josiah. I don't know anymore. I just ""Chris...
Chris' indecision disappeared as Vin's voice, weakened by pain and drugs, reached both men.
Josiah watched as Chris went to Vin's side and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm here, pard. It's okay. Everything's okay. Just rest.""Don't want you thinking to hurt yourself...
"It's going to be okay. I promise.""Need to stop hurting yourself."
"I will, somehow, I will."
Chris watched as Vin's eyes drifted shut and his breathing evened out again as he slipped peacefully back into the healing sleep that he needed. Closing his eyes tightly he kept his hand on Vin's shoulder as he vowed mentally. I will.
Josiah watched as Vin's vital signs showed he, again, was deeply asleep. Before long Josiah watched as Chris too drifted into sleep. He nodded his head in mildly amused patience as he watched Chris' head bob slowly, ever so slowly lower until it gently settled on the bed next to Vin's arm. Josiah watched and waited until he was sure Chris was sound asleep. Then he quietly approached and eased the man into a slightly more comfortable position so that he was reclining in the chair instead of slumped over the bed.
Spreading a blanket over Chris' slumbering form, he laid a pamphlet in his lap, dimmed the light and slipped from the room.
The next morning Chris struggled to figure out where he was. His ears informed him of a soft yet steady beeping. His neck reported that he had slept at an inappropriate angle. His back reported, rather angrily, that it had not been properly supported. Wincing as he straightened himself into an upright position, he heard the sound of paper striking the tile floor. Curious, Chris leaned over and saw the pamphlet. Picking it up, he looked at the front.
Closing his eyes tightly Chris fought with the emotions in his mind. Then the beeping of the heart monitor broke through, and he opened his eyes and took in the black and blue form of his best friend. Taking a deep breath, he opened the pamphlet and began to read.
Author's Note: The title and this epilogue are inspired by a song written by the Dixie Chicks. The song is called "Easy Silence."
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