“A Face To The Reason”
“I felt the coldness of my winter…
never thought it would ever go.
I cursed the gloom that set upon us,
But I know, that I love you so.”
Rain Song” ~Led Zeppelin~
THREE WEEKS LATER...
Buck stood at the window to their hotel room, gazing
out over the town, waiting for Ezra to finish getting dressed. “You sure you’re up to this?” he asked.
eased into his scarlet jacket and put on his hat. “Sir, I have been ready since before we moved in on Garrison Jones’
Three weeks ago that was and Ezra, though healing nicely, was still somewhat weak from the shock his
body had gone through. The bullet had sliced into two of his lower ribs on his left side and it had taken Nathan some time
to clean out the fragments in order to be certain none remained too close to the lungs.
Buck was also tenderly nursing
the shoulder wound left him by the now very much deceased and scalped Calder.
He still shuddered when he saw the man’s
scalp hanging from Vin’s saddle.
Still, he would not begrudge his young friend the trophy. It was more a mark
of his emerging from the pit of hell Calder had dug for him during that horrible and lengthy torture.
Ezra moved up
to Buck’s side and gazed with him to the town they were getting ready to leave. “It appears neither of us won
the bet,” he said.
Buck chuckled. “Neither one of us considered Nathan would be receptive.”
put his hand on Buck’s shoulder. “If you would, sir. I am ready to leave this place.”
Buck took his
time, allowing Ezra to use him as a crutch as he gingerly walked down the steps and out of the building to where their horses
awaited them. “Chris wants to move at a slow pace anyway,” Buck said, “So no jarring the ribs for you.”
are healing. It is more my stamina that is in question.”
“If you say so, Ez.” Buck smiled.
they reached the boardwalk, Buck looked around and pushed Ezra into their favorite alley, behind those boxes no one saw fit
to get rid of, thus shielding them from prying eyes. “I’m damn well going to miss this alley, Ez. It seems our
most cunning moments of tempting fate occur right here.”
Ezra smiled. “Well, sir, there is such a thing
as the law of averages. It is a good thing we are leaving this town before those averages catch up to us.”
grinned. “Chris and Vin may understand this, but I can’t wait until we get far away from this town. I’ve
been needing to do this all morning.” He quickly pulled Ezra into a kiss, unwittingly knocking the gambler’s hat
from his head. Ezra found himself both appalled and longing at the same time, for Buck never tasted better to him than at
He quickly took in a breath. “Well, sir, if someone should ask why we are hiding in this alley,
you can quite honestly say I needed to catch my breath or stumble where I was standing.”
Buck grinned. “Glad
to know I take your breath away, Ez.”
Ezra glared at him. “Your confidence in pleasures of the flesh is
only superceded by your modesty, Mister Wilmington. Let us proceed to our appointed rendezvous, shall we?”
reached down and snatched up Ezra’s hat, handing it to him. “I believe you dropped this.”
it and put it on his head. “Just be a gentlemen, sir, and allow me some sense of dignity as we move forward from this
Buck chuckled as he helped Ezra over to his horse and then to mount it. “Seriously, though, Ezra,
you’ll let me know if you…”
“I assure you, Mister Wilmington, should I feel the need to slip
from my saddle, you will be the first to know.”
Buck nodded with satisfaction and mounted his own horse. “They’ll
be waiting for us at the church.”
The two moved their horses into a walk and headed for the church at the end
Chris stood beside Vin who was seated on the church steps. Josiah leaned against the doorframe
to the entrance of the church and JD leaned against the railing opposite Chris.
Judge Orrin Travis walked over and
handed Chris a folded piece of paper. “I was hoping this would get here before you and the others left,” he said.
warily took the paper wondering what could be of such vital interest for the Judge to want them to receive the information
before leaving town. He unfolded it, read the contents and smiled. “To Judge Travis, this is to inform you that the
information given by your men succeeded in sealing the investigation of one Beauregard Phelps in relation to the now deceased
Garrison Jones. Dealings within the area of abusive contracts for Opium trade has led us to Phelps’ involvement, and
we are pleased to announce that Beauregard Phelps is now in custody and is awaiting trial. With the evidence given, Mister
Phelps will be serving a very long sentence. Tell your men they need no longer concern themselves with Phelps’ dealings
in Opium, or any subversive connections to Garrison Jones’ estate. Signed, Reginald Barker, Circuit Judge; State Court
was grinning by the time Chris finished reading. Chris started to hand the paper back to Travis, when he stopped. “I
think Vin should have this, Judge.”
“Of course. By all means.”
Chris handed the paper to Vin
who skimmed over the words for a long moment. “I believe I’ll commit this to memory, Judge.”
chuckled. “I believe you will, Tanner. Where are Buck and Ezra, have they decided to not leave?”
Buck has gone to retrieve Ezra from their...I mean...his hotel room,” Josiah informed. “They should be here in
a few minutes.”
JD pointed, “On his way now.”
over, leading his horse, now loaded with his gear as well as saddle boxes tied to the back for supplies and medical tools.
“Nathan,” Travis held out his hand. “I’m glad you’ll be going with these men, although
losing your services will be a great loss.”
Nathan shook the Judge’s offered hand and inclined his head.
“Appreciate that, Judge Travis, but Doc Evans is a fine doctor. The town will be in good hands.”
that as it may, to lose even a quarter of you seven men will be a loss keenly felt in this growing city.”
for a few weeks, but nothing significant will linger,” Chris said.
Travis looked at him a bit warily. “Do
you have a message I should relay to Mary when I see her?”
Chris turned to him, his face blank. “Just thank
her for her friendship and for helping Vin with his reading. He’s come a long way thanks to her. Tell Billy to keep
practicing the fishing.”
Travis nodded, clearly disappointed that Chris’ message contained nothing more.
“Then there was nothing more than…”
Vin stood, “Here they come,” he said and pointed.
and Travis turned to see Buck and Ezra riding over.
Chris cast Vin a grateful look. He wasn’t really certain
he could explain to Travis his feelings for his daughter-in-law, or rather lack thereof. Vin merely winked back.
Buck and Ezra drew near, Travis straightened his collar and cleared his throat. “Gentlemen,” he said. “I
am sorry to see you leave as will the rest of the town.”
Buck shook his head. “I can’t say I’ll
be sorry to leave, Judge. No offense. But this town has become too small, like Chris keeps saying. And after all that’s
happened, I think he and Vin feel a bit caged in.”
Travis turned to Vin. “Indeed, I can imagine. Vin, I’m
very sorry for all that’s happened to you.”
Orrin pulled out an envelope
and handed it to Vin. “The reward money for Calder. It came through yesterday, but I wanted to wait for the appropriate
time to give it to you. Both of you should be able to start fresh wherever it is you decide to settle. There’s three-thousand
“Three-thousand?” JD piped up. “Damn, Vin, you won’t have to worry about
anything with that kind of money.”
Vin gave him a fond grin. “JD, this money is for all of us.” He
reached into the envelope and pulled out five hundred dollars, then handed the rest to JD. “Without your help, JD, we
couldn’t have made it close enough to the house. I wasn’t up to snuff, and we needed that extra reach you gave.
Use the money for that spot of land you were thinking to get for you and Cassie. She’s coming back this winter right?”
backed away, “Vin, it’s too much. I just shot a couple of guards. You both will need this money.”
took enough to get us by, JD. Please…take the money. Use it to start that life with Cassie. It’s our wedding gift
Chris moved closer to Vin. “Take it, JD. Vin and I have already agreed this is what we want.”
sadly took the envelope. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”
Chris reached out and shook JD’s
The younger man took in a deep breath, standing tall. He must have grown at least five inches in the last five
days. Chris knew he would be leaving a man behind as opposed to the kid who had ingratiated his way into the Seven some three
“You found your soul now,” JD said. “No need to go searching for it.”
JD. No need to search for it this time, but a need to keep it safe. And there is one place Vin and I need to go before we
take that northerly direction.”
“That guy Davis?” Josiah asked.
Chris nodded. “He
wanted me to let him know when I found Vin. I thought I’d let him know in person.”
we’re ready to move out,” Buck announced. He noticed that Nathan’s horse was loaded with supplies and that
the healer was dressed in the serape’ that Josiah had given him. “Nathan, you coming, too?”
heading out for Vin. MacAfee was kind enough to put me in touch with a Chinese healer who helped me learn a technique called
Acupressure. If Vin ever gets wounded or injured, I can ease his pain somewhat without the need for laudanum, or morphine.
I’ll be around them long enough to make sure Chris learns, and maybe from there I can decide what to do.”
shook his head, a grin spreading over his face. “Damn, what those Chinese people can teach our own doctors. Makes one
wonder why we don’t have more of them around here healing us.”
Nathan chuckled. “Thanks for that,
Buck. I’ll try not to let that shatter my confidence any.”
“No offense meant, Nate. Especially after
you and Doc Evans took care of Ez and myself this last go ‘round.”
Nathan turned to Josiah and the two
close friends exchanged warm looks. “I’ll send you word as soon as I find a place to settle, ‘Siah.”
that my friend. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”
Chris stepped up to Travis and shook the Judge’s
hand. “It’s been an adventure, Judge.”
“More often than not, I would think. It’s been
a real advantage to have you and the others here, but a new form of law will be coming into town next week. It seems there
is no choice but to turn the page onto a new chapter.”
Chris said nothing in response, only tipped his hat as
he moved over to Josiah and held out his hand. “Preacher, I never thought I would say this to anyone in my life, but…God
bless you, Josiah.”
Josiah smiled and gripped Chris’ hand between his. “He already has, Brother.
Chris nodded once to JD and went to mount up as Vin said his ‘good-bye’s’.
to JD he said, “Remember what I taught ya’.”
“Always, Vin. I’ll do you proud.”
know you will. And, if you could, JD, I’d appreciate it if you…”
“I’ll take care of Marcus’
grave, Vin. Anything special you want me to do for him?”
“Recite a few words for him, from time to time,
JD. I’ll do so as well, but he inspired you, too.”
“He did, Vin. And it would be a pleasure and an
Vin gazed deeply into JD’s young and exuberant brown eyes. “Take care of yourself, JD. You’ll
always be in my thoughts.”
JD swallowed. “You, too,” he choked. And quickly stepped back to keep
the emotion from flowing over.
Vin then went up to Travis. “Sir, it’s been a pleasure working for a man
as just as you are.”
“Thank you, Son.”
The two exchanged knowing looks and Vin knew in that
moment that Travis knew exactly who he was and had never bothered to move on the bounty. A warmth of protection flowed over
Vin, and he knew it came from Travis. “Why?” he asked.
“Because you remind me of my son, Vin. And
because no matter what, I know you’re innocent. Take care and when you get where you’re going…don’t
let me know.”
Vin smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
He then went to Josiah who gazed upon him with
tears in his eyes. “No sooner do we get you back, young poet, then you leave us again.”
Vin looked down.
“This time I’m leaving of my own free will, ‘Siah.”
“That you are, my friend. Free as
a bird soaring above the clouds.”
He pulled Vin into a gentle embrace. “Spread your wings, Vin.”
said nothing, unable to trust his voice to keep from breaking. He nodded once to Josiah, turned and moved to his horse.
dismounted and went up to JD. “Well, Kid, I guess this is it, then.”
“Will you ever come back this
way?” JD asked.
“I’m sure I will. I’ll let you know where Ez and I end up.”
better,” JD said and the two hugged fiercely.
“Stay strong, JD. Stay sharp.”
Buck reluctantly released his hold. “I never thought I’d say ‘good-bye’ to
you,” he said.
JD shrugged. “I’m grown up, now, Buck. I don’t need someone watching over me.”
turned to Vin and Chris who just gazed at them both with knowing. “We all need someone to watch over us, JD. Any man
who says different…”
JD nodded. “I hear you,” he agreed.
Buck held out his hand to Josiah.
“’Siah, watch over him for me will you?”
Josiah took his hand and gave it a firm grip. “Never
fear, Brother. The lamb will not stray too far from the fold.”
Josiah then went up to Ezra and held out his hand.
“May you both find what you’re seeking, as well, Ezra.”
Ezra took his hand, a sincere sorrow in
his voice when he replied, “Thank you, Mister Sanchez. It has been a very great honor serving with you.”
honor is all mine, Ezra. Oh, what shall I tell your mother if she should arrive here again?”
he turned to Buck and smiled. “Tell her that I’ve finally found my pot of gold.”
a bit at that. “I’ll do that.”
When all were ready, Josiah, JD and Travis waved them off as they
headed out of town…for the last time.
“I guess nothing can stay the same,” JD sighed.
Son. It’s all part of living. Come on, I’ll buy you and the Judge a drink.”
“Well, now, it
appears that some things never change, then,” Travis observed. The three smiled and headed over to the saloon.
the other three kept their distance, Vin and Chris took a moment beside Theodore Marcus’ grave, now covered with entwined
rose bushes and flowers. Vin said nothing as he knelt by the grave and rested a tender hand over the grass-covered mound.
Chris, his hat in his hands, stood very close, giving Vin all the time he needed. Not to mention the fact that he
also needed some time with the memory of the man who had opened up the world of words to Vin and breathed a life into them
that no one ever thought possible for the scruffy tracker.
“He brought us together,” Vin said. “You
know that, right, Chris?”
“Yeah, Vin. I know. Both times. First with his death, and then when I was without
hope of ever finding you again. I asked him to watch over you, wherever you were. That same day you came back to me.”
stood, turned to Chris. “I’m here, but I feel no sorrow over his loss anymore. It’s like he’s not
“He’s not, Vin. He’s proved that to me time and time again. The man loved you
as much as he loved his craft. He’s been with you all this time.”
“Then leaving this place, where
he can rest…”
“You won’t really be leaving him, Vin. Just where his body rests. His spirit
will move on with us.”
Vin put his hand to Chris’ face, gently caressing a stubbly cheek. “Did you
want to spend a moment here?”
“He’s already got my thanks and will continue to get it as long as
I live. I think we can ride on, now.”
Chris took Vin’s hand and kissed the tracker’s palm.
walked back to their horses, mounted and rode out to meet the others.
One month later…
they entered into the town, heading for the General Store, Vin, being flanked by Ezra and Buck, was careful to not let his
face be seen by the local law.
Chris dismounted Pony, patting the black’s neck with fond affection. The horse
had been well taken care of until Chris could return the mount he had traded for him. Reunited with the horse seemed to make
the entire picture complete now.
Nathan dismounted his horse, as well. “I’d like to get some supplies
while we’re here.”
Chris nodded once and the two entered the store to inquire as to whether or not Bill
Davis had been seen lately.
The owner looked at them funny. “Bill Davis? Are you kin?” he asked Chris.
a friend, why?”
“Well, friend, Davis has been dead the last three years.”
Chris felt his insides
turn to liquid. “He what?”
Nathan drew closer to offer support. “Are you certain?” he asked.
right. Died of influenza.”
Chris was unwilling to believe the news he heard was not misunderstood. “We’re
talking about the Bill Davis that lives out about two hours from here, due south?”
“That’s the same
one. Yup. Died alone, right out there on his farm. His horse broke free and were it not for some travelers telling us about
it, none of us would have gone out there to find him.”
“But that’s impossible,” Chris protested.
“I was out here not three months ago, he helped me. Gave me food.”
“Nope, sorry, friend. Whoever
helped you, it wasn’t Bill Davis.”
Chris, too shocked to say anything more, headed out to where he had
tied his horse. “Chris?” Vin asked.
Buck and Ezra looked at each other. Nathan followed Chris out.
is it, Pard?” Buck asked.
Chris turned to Vin. “They’re saying that Davis has been dead these last
Vin straightened in his saddle. “Want we should go out to his farm and check it out?”
I can’t believe what they’re saying.”
“Maybe it’s a father they’re talking about.
Maybe who you saw was his son?” Nathan suggested.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s got to be it. Listen, Vin and
I will head out there. You boys get us some rooms at the hotel and we’ll be back in a few hours.”
assuredly, sir. Are you certain you do not wish some company on this excursion?” Ezra asked.
Ez. Thanks, but you boys look like you’re about ready to fall off your saddles. Go get settled. Vin and I will be back
“And I need to get us some supplies,” Nathan said. “I’ll get those and meet you
at the hotel,” he told Buck.
Buck tipped his hat in response. They were all too tired and weary to make much
more conversation than was necessary.
Ezra, himself, had been vastly quiet for the last week.
and turned to Vin. “He’s got to be there,” he insisted.
“Don’t worry, Cowboy, we’ll
find out what’s going on.”
But when they arrived at the farm, what Chris found was a place
that had been beaten down by weather and age. No crops in the field and a shack and barn both broken and crumbling.
and Vin searched the barn, the entire area around the house, only to find a small graveyard off to the side with one tombstone.
Vin walked up to Chris who gazed at the words carved against weathered wood; ‘Here lies William Davis Born 1835 died
Chris fell to his knees. “I can’t believe this,” he whispered.
Vin knelt beside
him and put a comforting arm around his shoulders. “I know ya’ believed he was there, Chris. And I believe he
was there for ya’, too. After hearing the tales Josiah always spoke about, it doesn’t surprise me none.”
God, Vin. He helped me to find you. He told me to go back to the beginning. He gave me food, took care of Pony for me. Gave
me a place to sleep. That shack right there,” he pointed to the dilapidated building, practically ready to topple over
with the next high wind that would tear through that valley. “It couldn’t have come to this state in only three
months. Not three months!”
“Easy, Cowboy, easy.” Vin held him close. “What matters is that
he knew…and he knows even now who we are, and he helped you when you needed him to. Let it go, Cowboy. Just let it go.”
held him close. “God, Vin, I don’t know what to make of this.”
“It was a gift to ya’,
Chris, that’s what ya’ make of it. A gift you and I both needed. I needed ya’ to come back for me, and Davis
must have known that. He gave ya’ the direction needed to find your way again. Like Marcus gave me that one time. Josiah
once described Angels, or guides as those who help us on our journey. It’s a good thing, Chris. A very good thing.”
lifted uncertain eyes to Vin and pulled him into a lingering kiss. “Do you know what you do for me?”
responded with a kiss of his own. “About what ya’ do for me. Let’s go back to the town and get some sleep,
Cowboy. I don’t know about you, but a nice bed sounds good about now.”
Chris sighed. “I don’t
know if I have the strength to do anything more than sleep, though.”
“Lying in each others arms, Chris,
don’t think that’s not enough.” Vin stood and helped Chris to his feet. “Tomorrow we head north?”
nodded. “Tomorrow we head north.”
They both slowly, almost reverently, mounted their horses. Chris turned
back to the rundown farm. “Whoever you were,” he whispered. “Thank you for bringing me back to Vin.”
Ezra emerged from the poker table with a sizeable winning, and Buck had to chuckle in spite of his weariness.
“Damn gambler is going to make it so I don’t have to work a decent job.”
Nathan grinned as he drank
his beer. “And that’s a bad thing?”
“Not if we’re going to end up traveling all over
God’s green earth,” Ezra remarked as he sat down and pocketed his money. “I believe that should take care
of the rooms and our supplies for the weeks ahead.”
“Then you two will be going out with Chris and Vin?”
“That’s right, Nathan. You?” Buck asked as he took a swallow of his own beer.
shrugged. “Well, I do sort of feel like an odd man out with you four.”
“Chris and Vin may need you
in the days, months ahead, Nathan. You know how to take care of Junior. It eases Chris’ mind to have you close by. I
guess what I’m saying is, if our arrangements are making you uncomfortable…”
“No, you all have
been very discreet. It’s not that. It’s just…I get a little lonely, myself. I’m thinking of heading
back to Rain’s village, or some reservation that needs a healer. Chris knows enough of what I know to help Vin if such
a situation arises. And he can always tell the local healer where they end up about Vin’s condition.”
if it is the way you feel, sir,” Ezra said, “then you must abide by your instincts. However, I will miss our camaraderie.
It’s taken some time to find common ground between us, sir. I would like for it to remain the way it is.”
smiled. “Well, I suppose a few more months in the saddle with you boys couldn’t do me anymore harm than it’s
At that moment Chris and Vin headed over to their table carrying their own mugs of beer and sat down.
did you find?” Buck asked.
“It’s exactly what they said,” Chris replied. “Damn place
looks like it’s been deserted for years. And we found his grave.”
Buck leaned back, somewhat shocked by
the news. “Then who…”
“It’s best we don’t try to analyze it, Bucklin,” Vin
said. “Maybe when we get to where we’re going we can write and ask Josiah what it means. But for now, I’m
just content to know whoever it was that helped Chris that time…was there to help him.”
that,” Ezra said and lifted his mug of beer, to which the others lifted theirs.
Ezra and Buck looked at each
other. “I’m rather tired, Mister Wilmington, shall we retire to our room for the evening?”
“Thought you’d never ask, Ez.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key, handing it to Chris. “Room
seventeen is yours, boys. Bought and paid for. Enjoy.”
He stood and finished off his beer, following Ezra up
Nathan chuckled at the sudden spring in Buck’s step when following his lover.
about you, Nathan?” Vin asked.
“I’ll be up in a minute. Thought I saw a very lovely lady that was
looking my way a few minutes ago. Maybe I’ll get some company of my own tonight.”
With that Chris grinned
and stood. “Have a great night, Nathan, you deserve it.”
Vin stood with Chris and tipped his hat to the
healer. He leaned over and said, “I don’t know if I ever thank you enough, Nathan.”
me plenty, Vin. Now you two go on. We’ve got a hard ride before us tomorrow.”
Vin smiled and turned to
follow Chris up the stairs.
Nathan turned to the woman who by now had made her way over to his table. Young and beautiful,
with dark skin and black hair that glistened under the glow of the candlelit fixtures hanging from the saloon’s rafters.
“Hey, handsome, care for some company tonight?”
Nathan smiled. “Why, yes, ma’am. I certainly would.”
next morning, the five men were more rested and able to withstand the thought of another day in the saddle.
before the town awoke from its sleep and just before the sun began to rise. The tip of its illuminating glow pierced the horizon,
turning the morning sky red and blue and gray.
Vin sat his saddle and watched the sunrise, in all of its mesmerizing
tranquility. He had seen a few of these sunrises the last few weeks, but none as glorious as the one that morning, possibly
because all things were now behind them. No strings left untied, nothing left undone. It was truly time to move on through
the days waiting for them starting with that morning’s sunrise.
Chris watched the glory and splendor with him.
“Never thought I’d get to spend anymore of these with you,” Chris admitted.
Vin breathed in deeply
the cool morning air. “You know some of the stories you read to me, where the hero rides off into the sunset?”
they ever ride off into a sunrise?”
Chris leaned in and whispered, “Why don’t we find out?”
turned to see the others were ready. “Head for the bright star, fellas, then turn left.”
on till the next chapter,” Buck finished.
They urged their horses to the street and headed for the edge of town.
“And may the wind turn the pages, softly,” Ezra said.
Chris smiled at Vin, “And let them be filled
with a Poet’s words.”
~The End of “The Poet’s Heart Trilogy~
Ravyn, Heart Quest, White Raven)
Author’s Note: My thanks to Diamondback, who inspired the very last
few lines in this, my final offering to the Magnificent Seven fandom. It was a joy to write and read in this fandom for seven
years, as it was this fandom that pulled me into the realm of Slash. Chris and Vin will always have a place in my heart, but
the time has come to move on. Thus, this swan song. I want to thank Nancy, Teresa, Renegade, Judy, Kathy, Clara, Jo, Annie,
and all the others who cheered me on with this story to bring it to its conclusion. My thanks also to Nancy at Blackraptor and Laramee
and Judy for the means to post our stories. You guys go above and beyond the call of duty.
To all writers and readers out
there, it’s been a joy. Thank you, and take care all!
Hugs and love,
It’s time to fly a
“little left of heaven”
Find out more about Myristica’s original Slash E-books. Coming soon!!
click on the below link for updates to future E-book releases!
Where the heart, as well as heat, move you a little left of heaven.