Disclaimer: The boys are the property of MGM, Mirisch, and Trilogy Entertainment. I do not own them or make money from them but oh boy if I did...
Characters: Old West. Vin and Chris, OC
Feedback: Yes please. I think this is a sort of 'companion' piece to The Brave for Mother's Day. Once Vin had met with Sarah I wanted Chris to meet Vin's mother (sorry for the schmaltz).
Chris Larabee was dying. He had known it for a whole day now. Even if he had not already known he was dying he would have known he was going to die in this place. It was cold, so cold. The flat rock he was laid on was leeching the remaining heat out of his body. If he could have moved without pain there was no where to move to. He was trapped. Entombed. A wall of rocks cutting him off from the outside world as surely as death would. And soon. He had that to look forward to at least.
He was bleeding to death slowly but surely and the cold would overtake him before he gave up the last of his blood to this place. Ironic wasn't it? A quiet almost peaceful death. When for the last few years he had sought a bloody violent death at the hand of a faster gun. That had been his intended penance. His punishment chosen to fit the crime of letting his wife and son die.
Would he see Sarah and Adam where he was headed? He hoped not for he was going to Hell. His few acts of decency in Four Corners wouldn't be enough to tip the scales in his favor. With a sigh he closed his eyes for the last time.
The words were so softly spoken he had to strain his ears to hear them.
He struggled to open his eyes again. A familiar leaning figure, thumbs tucked in an ever present gun belt, casually examined the wall of rocks before turning back to look down at him from under a slouch hat.
"Ya done it this time, Cowboy. Reckon yer not gettin' out of this predicament on yer lonesome, Mister 'get the Hell away I don't need no help' Larabee."
"If you must stand there crowing like a cockerel on a dung heap Tanner, at least stop calling me Cowboy. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Cowboy."
Chris squinted up at his friend's unshaven face drinking in the brilliant smile and the dancing blue eyes once more, "Who is that with you? She's beautiful," he blurted out.
That couldn't be right could it? Vin Tanner could not be standing there and he could not have been joined by a woman who looked a few years younger than Vin himself was.
"This is my ma," replied Vin Tanner proudly, "I wanted ya ta meet her afore I go away with her. Mama, this is my friend Chris Larabee. I am rightly proud ta introduce y'all. Chris has been a real good friend. The best a man could ask fer. He watched my back plenty, Mama."
"Pleased ta meet ya Chris an' I thank ya kindly fer watchin' over my little man. I know it ain't always been easy fer ya he bein' such a stubborn an' ornery little scamp an' all."
"Aw Mama," blushed Tanner looking incredibly boyish.
"It wasn't all that difficult really. He paid me back tenfold, Mrs. Tanner."
"Ya cain't be callin' me Mrs. Tanner I ain't standin' fer it. Call me Honey my family did. Ya see I used ta keep honeybees afore I died. Anyway yer family now."
Now it was Larabee's turn to blush.
"I'm rightly sorry ta see ya like this. I was kinda hoping ya could save my boy one more time. I kin see how yer fixed an' ya ain't able ta. I am truly sorry. Ya don't deserve ta die all alone."
"Save Vin? Surely he's safe back in town, isn't he?" asked Chris confused.
He knew he had left Vin with Ezra Standish guarding prisoners in the jail. Vin had argued of course, demanding to travel with Chris to meet the judge. Chris had overruled him saying it was a job easily carried out by one man. Wrong again, Larabee. He should have never sought shelter from the storm inside this cave. Vin would have known the cave wasn't safe with that weird creepy sixth sense of his that sent icy prickles skittering up and down Larabee's spine when he made those spooky pronouncements. Some times Tanner acted like he already had one foot in another world.
"Try not to throw one a yer tantrums in front a my Ma. She ain't used ta yer kinda language. If ya cuss in front of her I's have ta be havin' words with ya," warned Vin. "Got myself shot in the back Chris, keeping that heroic kid J.D. Dunne, alive when them prisoners tried breakin' out."
Tanner glanced at Honey Tanner who nodded in agreement with him, "In the next hour, Cowboy," he answered with the careless shrug of one buckskin fringed shoulder.
"No, Nathan will save you. He always expects the worst and then you amaze us all with that damn Tanner tenacity. You're too damn ornery to even die when expected Tanner."
"Thought I made my feelin' clear on the cussin' an' cursin', Larabee! Not in front a Ma," rasped Tanner.
"It's awrighty jus' this once, honey bee. Chris is jus' a mite upset at ya an' him dyin' so far apart. He always thought ya'd be together when one of ya passed over. That there would be time at least fer one last handshake. Ya see Chris, Nathan is out ridin' with Buck lookin' fer ya. Ya bein' gone fer so long an' missin' meetin' up with the judge an' all. They don't know 'bout Vin."
"Honey, please can't you make Nathan turn back? Vin can hang on a while longer if he knows Nathan is on his way back."
"It don't work like that do it, Mama? Ya need ta be dyin' afore she can talk ta ya. Buck an' Nathan's goin' ta ride right past ya an' carry on goin'. They won't turn back 'til they reaches the river. I can't wait that long it jus' ain't possible, Cowboy. Don't be sad Mama will take real good care a me."
"Chris, it's how things are jus' meant ta be. Ya can't change what's already been decided without riskin' yer immortal soul. Please don't upset yerself. Sarah an' Adam are goin' ta be a waitin' fer ya. Yer gettin' this last chance ta see my boy ag'in 'cause Sarah sacrificed her chance ta be the one ta bring ya over."
"Me and Vin aren't going to the same place?"
"No, honey chile. My little man has a higher price ta pay than ya fer the things he's done," explained Honey.
"I done bad things Chris. I knows it an' it's right. At least I get ta see ya an' my Mama one more time afore I go."
"No, it isn't right Vin. Hell it's what's been done to you that's not right. Don't be so damn accepting!"
"Chris, yer cussin' ag'in."
"You think that's cussing? Wait until I get up on my feet then you'll hear goddamn cussing! Honey, when will Nathan and Buck ride past here?"
Chris struggled to his knees then up on to his feet taking ragged breaths as the pain knifed through him.
"In the next half hour. They won't even see the cave, they won't know yer here."
"Where's Pony?" barked Chris.
"Larabee! I look like I want ya yellin' at my Ma? Pony is waiting outside. Ya know he won't leave ya," snapped back Vin.
"He will if he hears gunfire," said Chris checking his gun and staggering sideways from the loss of blood, "Honey, if you can tell me when Buck and Nathan are near enough to see Pony take flight. I can hope Nathan and Buck will chase him down and that Pony will lead them here."
"I can do that fer ya, Chris. Are ya thinkin' Nathan an' Buck can dig ya out? It ain't goin' ta happen, Chris. There's too many rocks. I'm real sorry fer ya," she answered.
"No, I am hoping they will go back town to get help from the others and then leave Nathan behind in Four Corners to save Vin."
"Ya really think ya can change things, Chris? I don't think ya can but ya'll be surely answerin' a mother's prayers if ya do. Vin will leave here if yer plan works an' won't ever know me an' him was here. Ya should know ya might not go ta where Sarah an' Adam is if ya take this risk fer my boy an try ta change things. I reckon that's too high a price fer ya ta pay, so why don't we all jus' wait fer ya ta pass over peaceful?"
"No, I am willing to take the risk," decided Chris.
"No, Cowboy. I ain't wantin' ya ta risk it," begged Vin.
"If ya want I'll stay with ya 'til the end so ya ain't alone when ya cross over," offered Honey Tanner.
"Well, please just don't call me Cowboy like your no good coyote of a son does and I'll be much obliged to you," smiled Chris.
"Vin, darlin' if ya go back ya must hang on fer Nathan. Can ya do that fer Chris, honey bee? Promise yer Mama now," she said brushing his hair out of his eyes so she could see the tears he shed for Chris.
"I promise Mama."
"That's my little man."
+ + + + + + +
"He's gone, Honey. It worked?"
"W-when, when will I know whether I'm going to Heaven or Hell?" he looked into eyes of smoky darkness.
"We'll both know soon."
"Don't be on the worry I'm comin' with ya. Ya see, I helped ya change things so I go with ya now ta where ever it is yer goin'."
"No!" a devastated Chris cried, his voice becoming weaker, "You never told me that. I wouldn't have risked that nor would Vin!"
"I know, honey chile."
"It isn't right that you should share in the blame, it was my decision!"
"Well, we're bound together fer ever because of what we feel fer Vin so I reckon it's right. It won't be long now, hold my hand an' let's wait an' see what's been decided. Yer family now an' maybe mother-love will count fer somethin' with the one that gets ta decide."
+ + + + + + +
The words were so softly spoken. Larabee had to strain his ears to hear them.
"Join ya?" asked Vin enviously eying his friend's coffee.
"Not a chance. You are sick."
"Ain't sick jus' shot is all," grumbled Tanner sulking like a child just denied candy.
"How's your back?" glowered Larabee trying not to laugh at his friend's expression.
"Fine. How's yer head? Nathan sure does tiny stitches I cain't hardly see yer wound."
"Better now my ears have finally stopped ringing. Buck should have warned me to cover my ears before he had the bright idea of turning back and using that old stick of dynamite."
"Ya should have let Nathan stitch up yer head right away instead of makin' him leave ya behind with only Buck ta tend ya. Lucky Bucklin still had a lucifer left ta light ya a fire an' keep ya warm an' get some fluids down ya. Still I surely thank ya fer somehow knowin' I needed Nathan ta come back an' save me."
Larabee looked at the man in the next bed deciding he still looked like death warmed over in the gloomy confines of Nathan Jackson's clinic but at least he was alive.
"Ya know when the boys carried ya in here Chris, I could almost swear I saw my Ma with ya, holdin' yer hand in hers."
"Did she look happy? Was she smiling?" asked Chris urgently needing to know she had been allowed back where she belonged.
"Yeah, Chris. One a them special smiles a mother has fer her child but it was jus' fer ya. I were real glad ta see her. Sometimes Chris, I kin hardly remember what she looked like an' it hurts my heart."
"Honey Tanner was truly beautiful, Vin. Anytime you need reminding just ask me."