Heading Home

by Twyla Jane

The disclaimer is and always will be I don’t own ‘em and never made a plug nickel off ‘em. Wish I did. This story ain’t beta-ed the mistakes are mine and mine alone. This is the answer to Julia’s October challenge. Five of the Magnificent Seven are headed to Tascosa to clear Vin's name for good. How will they prove he's innocent now that Eli Joe is dead? Two of the Seven are left to protect the town. Who will take the opportunity to terrorize Four Corners? Write along one of these tangents and see where it takes you. Okay Julia this is where it took me. A small scene. A few thoughts from the boys. This is the ending for my story "While the Cat's Away" 11/22/01 . It's been suggested there should be a middle... what do you think?

The warm sun caressed his face, feeling better than he had the right to be he smiled as he gazed up to see the underneath of Chris’ stubbled jaw with a unlit stub of a cheroot clenched between his teeth. The man that held him steady was watching as the wagon kicked up dust behind them. Although he would never admit it to the boys Vin was comfortably numb from a healthy dose of laudanum. The tracker was happy to be returning to Four Corners a free man. Occasionally the others would ride close to check on him he could he hear Josiah’s deep rumbling voice coming from the front of the wagon while watching as Sanchez’s mount lope along behind. The sky was blue as far as he could see, soft clouds floated suspended far above. It had been along time since he could just look without worrying, the constant need to be on alert had been tiring. Vin took a deep breath the cool air was refreshing. He shifted against Larabee to ease the discomfort in his back. The movement had his friend staring down him. You okay? The scruffy tracker managed an awkward nod and a weak smile, to which Chris responded to by patting a blanketed arm, after awhile he was asleep again oblivious to the wagon’s bone jarring ride.

Buck nudged his gray in towards the buckboard. Damn… Tanner was still pale from his ordeal. The long trek to Tascosa had been rough on all of them. He shook his head and grinned as a worried Chris leaned over Vin checking him over. Buck snorted. The man had the gall to call him a mother hen. He was glad that this whole ordeal was over. This journey had been hard all of them especially on the kid. Wilmington hoped his young friend would never change. Even though it made him cringe as he remembered the way JD charged in guns blazing after Vin. . His mind kept going over what had happened and he was thankful that things turned out the way had. It would have been a good way for the kid to get himself killed standing off the posse the way he had but the older man understood that Vin’s life was on the line. JD Dunne he knew and loved, as a little brother, wouldn’t have done it any other way. Buck knew it was best not to dwell on what might of happened. As he did the dread that had been dogging him since they had ridden out of Four Corners was gone. Replaced with relief and a sense of happiness, as they got closer to home.

The young sheriff hadn’t veered far from the group he stayed close enough so that he could see his fallen friend. He couldn’t seem to forget that at one point he thought that man was dead, that he had arrived too late to help Vin. But by some miracle he had made it there and held off the angry posse. JD still couldn’t believe that Tanner was alive, but there he was cradled against Chris with those ever-observant blue eyes watching the world passed by smiling freely for the first time that Dunne could recall. Even Chris had relaxed some since leaving that town and the accusations behind for good. JD knew that the Tanner name was important to Vin but the fact that they survived was more important. As they rode he would catch Buck staring. JD knew he scared Buck, hell he scared himself but at the time he had no choice so he went on instinct alone. He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. Thank you Ma for lookin’ out fer us. With his heart feeling lighter the young man urged his horse to pick up the pace a bit.

Occasionally the former preacher would glance back at his passengers. Listening to the men behind him, no one had said much today not since they loaded Vin back into the back of the wagon and headed out of Texas. He had prayed and the crows were held at bay. Sanchez thought about the telegram that they received from Four Corners. There had been some trouble, in the end it had be resolved the last of Cactus Pete’s gang was dead. Ezra on the other hand was driving Jackson crazy, Josiah smiled, which meant Standish was recovering and so was Tanner. By the grace of God they had survived. Halleluiah Brothers…

The dust kicked up behind them as the wagon rode over the uneven trail lurching as a wheel went into another furrow. Larabee maintained a steady grip on his friend. Odd, the feeling of peace that had enveloped him after leaving Tascosa, it had been a long time since he had felt that. He had a certain perspective on life and it had changed in an instant in a way it had the day his wife and son had died. The burning rage that he been carrying had slowly ebbed away during the past two years he spent amongst his friends. All that remained now was a few small embers, he would find his justice but now there were more important things in life. Chris felt Vin move around and glanced down at his friend. The Texan’s crooked grin spoke volumes. It’s good to be alive. Yep that it was.

The five lawmen were headed for home.