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Budding Family

Title: Budding Family
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Character/Pairing: Chris, JD, Buck, Ensemble
Rating: PG/K+
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Mysterious Month of May: “Skipped, skedaddled, decamped, absconded. In other words, he’s gone and don’t ask me where because I don’t know.”
Warning(s): None
Word Count: 1,434
Date Written: 29 May 2017
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.





“Skipped, skedaddled, decamped, absconded. In other words, he’s gone and don’t ask me where because I don’t know.” Buck slams his cards down on the table, his mustache shaking with such swift vigor that it looks ready to pounce off of his angry face. "And I don't care!"

"One," JD starts, "you've been spending too much time with Ezra. You're starting to sound like him, and two, what the Hell do you mean you don't care?!"

"I MEAN I DON'T CARE!" Buck thunders, shoving his chair back away from Ezra's table. "Good game, Ez," he mutters, shaking his head and glowering one more time at the Kid before stalking away.

Josiah sighs and folds his cards. "They just need some time alone, Kid," he tries to explain to him.

"Am I only one that sees that this could be a problem?!"

"Chris goes off all the time on his own," Vin remarks, stretching leisurely back in his seat. "We all need some time to stretch our legs."

"But look at what happened the last time none of us went to check on him! He almost died!"

Vin's face falls. The whole table grows serious and solemn for a moment. Ezra even folds his cards, but then he remembers it's only been a single afternoon. "Mistah Dunne, as much as we appreciate yoah concern for our dear leader, it is has been barely a single afternoon without his guttural instincts ticking on every one's nerves -- "

"That don't mean he ain't in trouble!" JD exclaims.

"We all share your concern, Kid, but give the man some time. You know he likes being alone."

JD glares at Josiah as the Preacher begins picking his cards back up, but as he walks away from the table, Josiah looks at the others. "Think he's right to be worried?" he asked.

"Nah. This is Chris." Larabee can handle just about anything thrown at him. His imprisonment two weeks ago was a unlikely happening and never would have happened at all if his captors hadn't gotten the jump on him. There were many sly dogs after him, though, almost as many as Vin had nipping at his own heels. "If he don't show up tomorrow, I'll ride out and find him."

"We shall all go with you, Mistah Tanner," Ezra remarks quietly, laying a card down and resuming play.

JD shakes his head and keeps walking, slamming the doors of the saloon behind him in his wake. He stomps out to where his horse is already waiting. "Come on, girl," he mutters, gathering her reins in his hand, mounting, and turning them both away from the saloon. "We ain't taking no chances." He's already lost too many people he's loved; he's not at all eager to add to the list.

"DAMN IT!" Buck roars at the bar, slamming his mug down and making Inez jump.

His friends look up. Vin's sky blue eyes meet Buck's blazing gaze. He sighs and folds his cards. "Come on."

Minutes later, JD looks up with a grin as the other five men join him. "You do realize he's gonna skin us alive if he's fine?" Buck snaps.

"Yeah." The Kid grins as he nods his head. "But I'd rather be wrong and skinned than have him in trouble and us not know it again."

"There ain't much trouble Chris can't handle," Vin muses.

"But it happens. It happened just two weeks again. The Kid's right: It's better we know our fears are unfounded, brothers, and he's fine than risk a repeat of what happened before."

"He shouldn't be riding this far out yet any way," Nathan comments. "I told him he ain't ready for this."

"Chris don't listen to anybody," Buck grumbles, bringing a deep bark of laughter from Josiah. Vin chuckles, then Ezra, and soon, they're all laughing. It's only when Vin distinguishes Chris' trail and takes the lead that they fall silent again.

They've gone about forty five minutes out of town before JD comments excitedly, "Hey, there is!" Watching Larabee, JD frowns. "But what's he doing? Is that a -- "

"Aw, shit," Buck grouses. "We better turn back now."

"But -- "

"Kid, just shut up and move it. He doesn't wanna be disturbed."

"Too late," Josiah's deep voice informs the group. "He's spotted us."

"Then there's only one thing to do," Vin speaks with a soft calmness that stirs his friends into sitting down and watching. He rides a little closer and dismounts by a cactus. He bends, picking a single flower from the base of the cactus, and moves on toward Chris on foot, Peso trailing behind him. Even his horse seems unusually quiet as Vin closes the distance between him and Chris.

Buck's mustache trembles, but he nods and swings down from Beavis. He pats his horse and drops his reins before following Vin's lead, picking a flower from the cactus' base, removing his hat, and approaching Chris and the wooden markers at which he kneels.

"Buck," Chris growls when his oldest friend gets close. "What are y'all doing out here?"

It's Vin who answers him as Buck patiently fixes his eyes on the marker. "We came to check on you, pard. Way you rode out . . . We didn't want a repeat of two weeks' ago."

"Man needs some time by himself sometimes," Chris grumbles, but before he can say more, Buck speaks.

"Hey, Sarah."

Chris bristles. "You know this isn't her grave -- "

"I know that," Buck shoots back, "but I figure you can talk to her, erect this in her honor, I can too. Not like I don't talk to her every dang day any way." He jerks his head backward to the other four men approaching on slow, quiet, and honorable feet, each with their hats removed, their heads bowed, and skinny, scraggly flowers clutched in their hands. "These're the men I been telling you about. See? He ain't by himself any more."

"N-No, ma'am," JD adds, coming to a stop just behind Buck. "He ain't. None of us are any more." He looks shyly around at his friends.

"Guess you could say we all got us another family," Josiah comments.

"Not that it means we miss you and the others we lost any less," Nathan adds beside the Preacher.

"But we don't plan on letting any of us go any time soon," JD almost whispers, his throat choking with emotion.

Nathan nods his head toward Chris. "You got a stubborn one there, Missus Larabee. Reckon he probably didn't listen to you much better'n he listens to me."

Buck snorts. "Hell, no, he didn't!"

"Buck!" Chris hisses, but there are tears glittering in his green eyes as he finally looks up at his friends gathering all around him. "Hmph." He snorts. "You're right," he says quietly and ignores Buck clutching at his breast. "But so are you." He looks up at Josiah respectfully for just a second before looking away again and pushing himself up off of the ground.

Dusting the dirt off of his trousers, he heads for the cabin he's been working on. "Got a stew cooking inside. Not much, but I reckon we can make it pass. Got a couple o' cans o' beans too." He doesn't look back, just keeps walking ahead of them before anybody can spot the unshed tears in his eyes.

A small smile plays over Vin's mouth. "Reckon that's about as much of a 'thank you' as we're ever gonna get." He lays the flower down before the marker and stands, touching two fingers to his hat brim again in a salute as he looks down upon the simple, wood markers. "Ma'am," he says quietly, "you took good care of him while you were here, but we got him now. We'll take good care o' him fer you an' fer us." Standing, he leads the way following Chris.

"Amen," Josiah murmurs, and as each of the other five men walk by the markers, they leave a flower behind them.

Buck's the last to leave and whispers her name on the wind as he does so. "Sarah." The wind whistles pass him, and he smiles as he looks up at the setting sun. She'd like this, he thinks, this place and this budding family. She'd like their new friends and the changes that are slowly taking place in her husband. He looks up, and a sunbeam almost seems to wink at him. He nods and smiles back, knowing she's somewhere up there beyond the clouds, smiling down upon them and watching over them for the rest of their lives.

The End

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