Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Character/Pairing: Vin, Peso
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Say What Friday: "Be good and you will be lonesome. Be lonesome and you will be free."
Word Count: 1,208
Date Written: 4 August 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
Vin sat astride Peso, looking out over the horizon. This seemed as good a place as any to bed down. He could see no sign of enemies or unfriendly natives. He could see no sign of anything moving or living really except for the animals. A frog chirruped somewhere in the near distance while two deer drank from the stream. The mother’s head was lifted, her ears moving back and forth. She was ever vigilant over her fawn, and he knew if he so much as shifted in his saddle, she’d run.
So he didn’t move. He just sat there, as still as a statue, and watched Nature’s world unfolding around him. The light grew ever dimmer until, finally, the mother and baby hurried along their way, the mother nudging her baby’s wobbly legs with her head, urging her to hurry up lest they be caught outside their den by predators.
The worst predator of all, he thought, finally moving from Peso’s saddle, was man. There were far too many men who would have taken the opportunity he’d just been given to kill those innocent animals, but he’d only ever kill for food or protection. Even then, he thanked the souls of the animals, as the Indians who had raised him had taught him to do, and used every bit of the gift they gave him with their final breath. Still, even if he’d been starving, he wouldn’t have killed that mother, not with her young child right beside her.
He removed Peso’s saddle for the night, unfurled his sleeping bag, and turned back to his horse. He took the last apple out of his pocket and held it under his nose. Peso nudged him, making Vin’s sky blue eyes widen. “What? I’ve got some jerky left, little bit o’ it anyway. Eat, boy. We got a ways to go yet.” But he was going to have to find them some food tomorrow or they’d both end up going hungry.
“You thought I was gonna give you the last bite we had, didn’t you?” He chuckled. “I may be generous, but I’m not that generous.” His horse blew a hot, ticklish breath across his palm as though disagreeing with him. If Vin had had to choose between himself and Peso starving, he would have chosen himself every time just as he’d spent his last peso to save his life from the man who’d had him before and had been beating him. Vin hadn’t known where his next meal was coming from, but he hadn’t been able to stand idly by and let the bleeding, weakened horse be beaten to death.
“Look at you now,” he said, chuckling, as Peso finished off the apple. He raised his head and scratched the place between his brown ears that always itched. “Beat that man would eat his own tongue if he saw you now. I told ‘im you had a lot of good in you.” His hands ran down the sides of his neck, stroking him, easing his tired muscles, and always remaining on the lookout for ticks or other things that did not belong on his loyal steed. “You just needed someone who gave half a damn to bring it out of you.”
Peso whickered. His tail whisked. He nudged Vin’s shoulder with his nose. Other men might have thought he was trying to get more food, but Vin understood his true intention. “Yeah,” he said softly, “I know I’m not like other men.” Peso whinnied, and Vin smirked. “I know it’s a good thing,” he added, nodding.
His gaze lifted from Peso’s face to look out at the darkening night. He wasn’t like other men; that was exactly why he had trouble settling down and was always on the move. It wasn’t just that his past was nipping at his heels and he had to keep moving if he was going to outrun it. There was nowhere left in this progressing world where he still felt like he belonged. He didn’t fit in with any group of men he’d found yet, not since his tribe had been wiped out by the white-skinned devils. It was funny, he thought without a smile, how the natives had always referred to white men as white-skinned devils but had never once thought of him as one.
They had been his family, and sometimes, Vin wondered if he’d ever find another place where he belonged -- or if he even wanted to. His morales weren’t that of other men. He couldn’t turn a blind eye to injustice or cruelty, regardless of rather it was animals or human beings upon which it was being heaped. He had to help where help was needed and would give anything to save an innocent soul, just as he’d spent his last bit to save Peso that fortunate day. The horse had since become his best friend, and it was a peso very well spent.
Peso whickered, blowing another breath out from between his teeth and laying his ears backward against his head. Vin chuckled and cuffed him under the chin. “I know, I know,” he said agreeably, “too much thinking.” He ruffled the spot between his ears again. “Good night, fella.”
He walked over to his sleeping bag, laid down, and looked out again over the hillside. He was just in time to spy a cougar sipping from the same stream where the deer had been earlier. Vin checked to make certain his mare’s leg was at the ready, complete with ammunition, but the sound of cocking back his rifle to check the bullets made the big cat scat. Vin would have only used it if he had needed to. He laid it down beside his sleeping bag within easy reach and turned his attention back to the future.
He doubted he’d ever find a place where he belonged again, now that his home had been so utterly destroyed and his people all but completely wiped out, but they would be riding right into a town tomorrow. There wasn’t much to Four Corners, from everything he’d heard, but it should have enough supplies to keep them going for several more weeks. “Get some rest, big boy,” he called to Peso, who was now munching on sweet grass, another reason why Vin had chosen this spot to rest. “Tomorrow’s gonna be a big day.”
He yawned and then smirked at his own joke. Every day seemed almost the same out here on the range. There were the occasional strangers with whom he had to deal, sometimes tousling, but for the most part it was just one day after the next with only his horse for companionship. That was fine by him, Vin thought. He might be lonely, but he was free, and there wasn’t as though there was anyone else who would share his morales or the life he had chosen.
Folding his arms underneath his head for a pillow, he smiled underneath the big, night sky filled with the moon and stars shining down upon him. Yeah, he was doing just fine without human companionship. Still it might be nice to have some friends, to have a family again. His eyes slid shut. Oh, well, a man could dream.