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Rating: G

By LaraMee Deux




January 31st, a time for reflection on the end of one year and dreams

Of what the coming year would bring.

The seven men, the peacekeepers of the dusty little town, sat together In the dimly lit saloon. Around them townspeople, business girls and travellers drank, talked, argued and celebrated the last day of the year in their own way. The men kept track of what was happening around them with the practiced eye of lawmen, monitoring the crowd for signs of trouble.

Josiah Sanchez sat back in his chair, taking in the eclectic group of

individuals that had come together to become a brotherhood. Men who might otherwise never had more than a nod in passing for one another had fate not intervened. He smiled at that thought, at the sense of humor fate must have, placing such diverse individuals in one another's lives. He looked at each man in turn, marveling at the way each maintained their own identity while blending with the others in perfect harmony.

'Well,' he thought to himself, smiling as he watched Buck fussing at JD, 'perhaps not perfect.'

JD had been driving them all to distraction with more of his tasteless

jokes that only he found humorous. Buck, sitting next to him, was doing his best to get the young man to stop. Occasionally he wrapped one arm around the Kid's neck or put a hand to his mouth, trying to stop JD from talking.

Next to them sat Ezra Standish. The elegant young Southerner looked put upon as he was forced to dodge Wilmington's long arms as he wrestled with Dunne. On the other side of Standish sat the two who had quickly become the glue that held the group together. Chris Larabee and Vin Tanner watched their friends antics with their usual quiet stoicism. From time to time a grin would touch their faces, barely restrained by Larabee but given full rein by Tanner. They spoke quietly to one another, a private discussion that no doubt focused primary on the business of watching over the town.

Sanchez turned last of all to the seventh member of their little group. Nathan Jackson watched the trio of their more animated friends with that broad, easy smile of his. The dark, handsome, healer laughed that warm, deep laugh of his as they all watched Buck grab JD's bowler from his head, threatening it with a pitcher of beer if their youngest member didn't stop the jokes.

Laughing with the others, the former preacher continued his musings. New Years Eve, a time for reflection upon the past and hopes for the future. Hopes. With a slight nod to himself, Sanchez considered his hopes for each of his brothers.

For JD he wished patience. Young Dunne was far too eager for maturity; to be everything he could be. He wanted to make a name for himself; to be accepted as a peer in every way with his surrogate other brothers. He often forgot that life is a journey to be enjoyed rather than hurried through. Josiah wished that "the Kid" would allow himself to be just that more often… a kid.

For Buck he wished fulfillment. Beneath the quick smile and twinkling eyes, the big gunman had a need to be needed; to care for others. He found an outlet for some of it in his relationship with JD, but there was a need for more. Josiah wished that Wilmington would find the person who could truly provide a vessel that could be filled with Buck's fostering and big, loving heart.

For Ezra he wished contentment. None knew exactly what the young gambler's life had been before their meeting, but all had an idea. With a mother like Maude, it wasn't a difficult assumption. The gambler had never felt a part of anything before, Sanchez knew that from conversations they had had. Even though he had been accepted into their little brotherhood, he continued to consider himself an outsider. Josiah wished that the young man would finally know the recognition and sense of belonging he deserved.

For Vin he wished his name. The young man had lived a hardscrabble life, fighting for most of what he had. The one thing Vin had never lost was the heritage of his name. It was something he had to be protective of though, something that was threatened by deceit and a perverse fate. Josiah wished that Vin would know the joy of being able to clear the black mark on the name Tanner, so that he could once more share the pride of his inheritance with the world.

For Chris he wished the restoration of his soul. Unlike most of the

other men, the gunslinger's need was easily known. The murder of his family had burned through his soul as the fire had burned through his home. It had stolen not only the lives of his wife and son, but the essence of his own life. Josiah wished for Chris the acceptance not of what had happened, but only the finality of his loss. He wished their leader the peace of mind that would allow him to truly live once more.

Finally the oldest member of the little group that had been called the

Magnificent Seven, as well as the Larabee Gang and even seven

sons-of-bitches, turned to his closest friend. He studied the profile of their healer, Nathan Jackson.

For Nathan he wished acceptance. Not simply the acceptance of those who were blind of anything save his color, but his own acceptance of his gifts. Jackson had been blessed with a great heart filled with compassion, as well as the ability to heal the physical wounds of his fellow man. However, the former stretcher bearer was always the first to point out his lack of formal knowledge of the healing arts. Josiah wished for his friend the acceptance that his gifts were strong with or without knowledge gathered from books.

Josiah smiled, knowing that he would never voice his wishes for his

brothers aloud. Instead he went to the bar, returning to the table with a bottle of good scotch whiskey and seven glasses. Filling each glass, he distributed six of them to his friends and raised the seventh.

"Brothers, a toast. May you each find your hearts desire and recognize it when you do. May your fondest wishes come true in the coming year." As the other six men smiled and offered words of agreement, seven glasses clinked together to seal the toast. From outside, the sound of the little church bell rang out, announcing the passing of the year. Seven men sat together, facing the new year together.



And if I may, I will echo Josiah's toast for each of you…those I have met and those I hope to meet in the future. May you each find your hearts desire and recognize it when you do. May your fondest wish come true in the coming year. ~~LaraMee