DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters. "The Magnificent Seven" belong to MGM and Trilogy Entertainment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’d be a happy woman if Vin belonged to me.....but no such luck. I have not made any profit out of writing this, so please don’t sue me. It would not be worth your while.
"My Love of a Lifetime"
Written for the Vin Fanfic and Discussion Group Christmas New Year Celebration.
Vin stepped out onto the patio and searched the limited light. He spotted Chris’ shadowy form resting comfortably in one of the chairs.
“Hey, Cowboy. Mind if I join ya?”
Larabee grunted agreeably.
Vin leaned against one of the posts and stared up at the stars. “Ezra’s talking about us all getting together next week for Christmas. Haven’t really celebrated Christmas since I was a kid.”
Chris didn’t reply. He appeared lost somewhere in the darkness that led to the mountains behind the ranch.
The pair enjoyed the solitude for almost fifteen minutes before Chris spoke. “Christmas Day. Adam’s day.”
Vin turned to look at Chris from the chair he had settled in.
Larabee smirked and he glanced at Vin. “He used to be up before dawn, waiting for Santa Claus. Sarah’s mother was English and so Sarah always called Santa, Father Christmas. One day I was talking to Adam and I realized he wasn’t saying father. He was calling him Farmer Christmas. He thought that was his name,” Chris chuckled. “Buck used to dress up as Santa each year and deliver Adam’s presents, but he always arrived on the old tracker. Adam put two and two together and thought he was Farmer Christmas.”
Vin smiled. “So I bet Christmas Eve was a late night, trying to get him to bed.”
Chris shook his head slowly. His voice contained a distinct sound of pain when he spoke next. “Christmas Eve was Sarah and my night. Our anniversary.”
“You were married on Christmas Eve?”
Chris drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. “We met at a Christmas Eve party so Sarah insisted that we be married on that day.” Chris turned back to Vin. “Buck would baby sit for us and Sarah and I would spend the evening together. Just us.”
Vin didn’t comment. Chris wasn’t looking for a conversation, just an ear. Larabee didn’t often open up like this, but inevitably, when he did, it was to Vin.
Vin raised an eyebrow.
Chris grimaced. “This year would have been our 10th wedding anniversary and that’s tin.” Noting the confusion on Vin’s face, Chris explained. “Each year is supposed to be something. Your first is paper. Twenty-fifth is silver. Tenth is tin. I always gave her…” His voice faded. “I won’t be able to again.”
Vin frowned. He felt his friend’s pain. Chris sighed, rose, brushed Vin arm in silent thanks for letting him unload and then disappeared inside.
Vin remained on the porch for a long time, staring up at the stars and reflecting on what Chris had told him.
The late afternoon sun had finished its journey across the sky and was now descending. Lengthening shadows fell over the land allowing the night chills to extend their fingers. A lone figure sat cross-legged on the ground in front of two crudely made crosses. Behind him was the burnt shell of a small ranch house.
Chris simply sat. He’d arrived about half an hour earlier. Since the day he had met her, he and Sarah had spent Christmas Eve together. They always would.
I guess I’m doing okay. The words remained locked in his grieving mind. Buck’s good… hasn’t changed. Still causing me headaches. Don’t know what the hell I’d do without him mothering me.
Liam is… well, he hasn’t changed either. Chris shook his head. I don’t know what to do about him. Trouble follows him. Buck thinks Liam makes the trouble and… hell, I don’t know. I know you and Buck agreed on that, but… Sarah, he’s my brother. What the hell am I supposed to do?
Chris fingered his hat which sat in his lap.
Josiah and Nathan are well. Hannah’s on some new drugs and they’re showing promise so Josiah has high hopes. Nathan’s family visited for Thanksgiving. They’re real nice people. Explains a lot about Nathan.
Of course, Ezra is going to be the death of me. He and Buck are like an atomic explosion waiting to happen. Earlier this year, the two of them were selling tickets to joy flights on a new top secret aircraft. Raising money for charity. Chris snorted. Ezra has a heart the size of the Grand Canyon, but he’d die if he thought anyone knew.
J.D. finds Christmas a difficult time. He acts really happy and bubbly but his father always seems to cause problems for him. He took us by surprise last year, but we’re ready this year. The boys are going to protect him. Buck wants to switch the kid’s cell phone off so he can’t take any calls on Christmas Day. I’ve tried to tell him he can’t interfere because it involves J.D.’s family but Buck doesn’t care. You know Buck. He can’t help himself.
Chris smiled just a little. He’s had a hell of a time, but he just keeps bouncing back. You’d have wanted to mother him. He’d have hated that… well, he’d have pretended that he hated it. Vin doesn’t like to fussed over but I can see in his eyes how much he appreciates the fact that we care. I guess he’s become my rock… like you were, but in a different way.
Vin and Buck… all the others. They’re a motley group, but they’ve become my family. I’d be lost without them. You’d have loved them all, Sarah.
Chris mind wandered in nothingness as the sun disappeared and the light of the moon blanketed the ranch. The wooden crosses were so stark… so bland.
Miss you. Miss you all the time. Bed’s empty without you. House is so empty without Adam.
Chris swallowed and he fought the grief that was welling in his eyes.
The approach of a motorcycle had him wiping the tears before they could fall. Strangely, Chris felt a sense of relief. The headlight weaved up the drive and the motor died. Boots crunched on the ground behind him.
Chris exhaled and glanced back over his shoulder. He could see Vin clearly in the moonlight.
“Ain’t here to interrupt, but I have somethin’ for you. I ain’t stayin’.” Vin handed Chris something about the size of a sheet of computer paper. It was dark and heavy and had a chain linking the two top corners. “Here.” Chris accepted the flashlight and shone it on what he held. It was a tin plaque that contained a poem.
A lump the size of a fist formed in Chris’ throat as he read.
“I… I know it isn’t my business, but you said you wanted to give Sarah something special for your tenth anniversary. Something made of tin. I wrote that and had Yosmite stamp it into the tin. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t say the right thing, you can just…”
Chris raised his hand for Vin to stop. “No, No, it’s… it’s perfect,” he choked out. The two men stared at each other.
“I didn’t know Sarah so I just had to go on what I was able to sense from you.”
Chris blinked slowly and his voice trembled. “You got it right, Cowboy. You got it right.”
Vin gave Chris a smile of encouragement. “I’ll see you tomorrow at Four Corners.” He turned and headed for his bike.
Chris rose to his feet, overcome by a sense of need and loneliness.
Vin pulled his helmet on, started the bike, rode across to Chris and offered his arm. Chris grasped and held it tightly -- longer than usual.
Vin nodded his understanding. That was the amazing thing about him. He always simply understood. Vin shut the bike off, dismounted, walked to a tree a dozen feet away and settled on the ground leaning against it. He removed his helmet, tipped his head back and shut his eyes.
A silent guardian. Vin wouldn’t intrude. He wouldn’t say anything… he’d just be there and right now, for some reason Chris couldn’t explain, he needed him to be around.
Chris shone the light on the plaque again and this time read the poem slowly.
You are the LOVE of a LIFETIME…
and the special soul mate I always hoped I’d find.
You are my very own, one perfect person,
everything I always hoped for…
my secret dream that swept me off my feet.
You have a gentle soul that
I always want to be close to,
an amazing way of touching my heart.
I have such an immense amount of thanks
and appreciation for all of this.
And if it’s okay with you…
I will go on loving you forever…
Happy 10th Anniversary, my Love of a Lifetime
It was perfect. It said everything Chris felt. He wasn’t surprised by that. Vin understood him better than anyone. And Vin was right on both accounts. Chris had wanted to give Sarah something for their anniversary and she was, his love of a lifetime.
The tears that had threatened to fall earlier now did.
For five hours, Chris sat on the ground in front of the cross reminiscing about the good times and the bad, for now they were all important – all he had. And Vin waited silently.
At midnight, Chris accepted that it was time to let go for another year. His anniversary was now yesterday. Larabee ran his fingers over the raised lettering of the plaque he held, rose, walked to the cross that bore Sarah’s name, and hung the plaque over it.
He stood for several more seconds and then made his way to the car. Vin mounted his bike.
The two exchanged a glance. Thanks, Vin.
“Any time, Cowboy.”
Before following Vin down the drive and back to the family that loved him, Chris looked over at the grave of his wife and whispered, “Happy Anniversary and Merry Christmas, my Love of a Lifetime."
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© Dec 2006 Aussie Lass. : This relates only to the creative property in this story. The distinctive way the story unfolds, the specific dialogue and unique situations are mine. I acknowledge that some of the characters and settings belong to the owners of "The Magnificent Seven" and I thank them sincerely for turning a blind eye so I can borrow them. (g) No infrigement of copyright was intended and no profit has been made from this story... so, please don't sue me. It wouldn't be worth your while.