Main character: JD
DISCLAIMER: These Characters do not belong to me (but if they did, I'D share… probably.) That said, this story was written purely for self entertainment and no money is being made, has changed hands, or has been paid out for the contents therein. Special thanks to my Beta - Van, who made this piece so much better than it began as, and to "S", (who has threatened me with a Death by Larabee-Glare if I mention her by more than that) - it's totally her fault that I got into fan fiction in the first place. Without her encouragement (nagging), constructive criticism, and long talks on characterization, I might still be writing pathetically depressing purple poetry, and what prose I did write, would NEVER be finished…
~Constructive Criticism will be graciously accepted
~Flames will be used to toast marshmallows
J.D. Dunne gave a final stroke of the brush across the back of the big black stallion before he settled the saddle pad on him. He swung the saddle over the proud stud's back, his memory taking him back to a simpler time. He knew he should be getting inside soon. Paperwork was calling him, but he needed a break. He'd been working on ranch reports all morning. He deserved to take some time for himself.
"Come on Mag," he crooned. His granddaughter always shook her head at his affectionate nickname for the stallion. Registered as Wondrous Magnetism, out of Magnificent, J.D. had always called the black Maggot-ism with grin. He never explained why to his family, but he always thought Buck would have appreciated the joke. He knew Chris would have. That man had always had a wickedly dry sense of humor, and he loved watching J.D. fluster Buck. As he finished saddling the horse, he took a moment to appreciate all those two men had done for him. The rest of their friends had influenced him as well, but J.D. knew he wouldn't he where he was today if it weren't for his two mentors.
He swung up into the saddle, and left the yard at a cantor. If he didn't leave quickly he knew his granddaughter would be nagging him to go inside out of the cool mountain air. At eighty-six, he'd had a good life, raised three children, and been gifted with four grand children, with one great-grandchild on the way. He'd outlived his son, and his Casey had passed away two years ago. He wasn't going to hide away in the house like an old man. He knew his time was coming to an end. He was ready. But he wasn't going to just sit around and wait for Death.
As he rode across the ranch, he thought back to the day Chris had left it to him. Larabee had lived fast and hard, and it eventually took a toll on his body. Chris had left the ranch to him and Buck jointly, with the wish that they would raise horses, the way he and Buck had once done. Wilmington had finalized the plans with him, and then crawled into a shot glass for a week. When he crawled back out, he asked J.D. if he'd mind keeping the name of the ranch the same. J.D. had quickly agreed. What better way to keep the Larabee Legacy alive?
Josiah Sanchez hadn't lived long after Chris had passed. He'd taken up the life of a Missionary again, sharing the word of the Lord with the poverty stricken and protecting his 'flock' with the strengths the Lord had given him: sage advice, a soothing voice, and fists of steel. None of those strengths stood up to a knife in the back by a hot-headed youth angry at the world.
Nathan Jackson had settled down with Raine on the Reservation. He'd fathered his own tribe, and passed away in his sleep at the age of eighty three. Two of his sons had gone on to become licensed doctors. One of them was a lawyer.
Vin Tanner had finally cleared his name, with Chris's and Ezra's help. He'd settled down with a pretty Texan girl only to lose her a few years later to influenza. Vin had then headed up into the mountains, and only came out for supplies. He'd visited a few times after Chris had passed, but his appearances soon trickled down to once a year. Five years after they lost Chris, Vin was gone as well.
Ezra had headed to the city and became a lawyer. He'd never married, but ended up adopting a passel of children under the guise of making them 'apprentices'. The city air eventually did him in, but his 'children' had continued his legacy of mentoring and adopting the kids that the city threw away.
And Buck? Buck was there to see every one of J.D.'s kids born. He'd become the doting uncle, traveling between the ranch and town, staying with J.D. for a while, and then leaving to visit his ladies. He interrupted a stage robbery just one week after J.D.'s youngest child was born. He ran off the bandits, but not before taking a bullet to the chest. He'd managed to make it to the ranch before he'd collapsed from his injuries. In the end he'd lost too much blood. J.D. and Casey buried him in the meadow next to Chris.
J.D. was the only one left of the seven men that had come together to keep the peace in the dusty little town of Four Corners. He turned his horse for home, shaking his head at the maudlin turn to his thoughts. He had work to do. Horses to groom. Bills to pay. Kids to annoy. When he reached the barn, he untacked his horse and set to grooming him. He let Maggot out into the pasture when he finished, and slumped against the wall of the barn, suddenly tired. Maybe he'd just sit here and rest for a few minutes…
"Come on you lazy brat, we got things to do, ladies to visit." J.D. looked up and saw Buck standing over him.
"Souls to save," came the deep tones of Josiah.
"Wrongs to right," J.D. could practically hear the grin in Nathan's voice.
"Cards to play," Ezra added.
J.D. looked up. They were all standing there in front of him, looking like he remembered them so long ago. Vin stood silently beside a quietly smirking Larabee. "Boys, let's ride," Chris ordered. J.D. stood up, his body more limber than it had been for years, and followed them out of the barn, never noticing the smiling face of the old man slumped in the corner he'd been in moments before.
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