Disclaimer:I own no rights to the Magnificent Seven. It is the creation of the Mirisch company, MGM, Trilogy, and John Watson. They own the rights, along with CBS and TNN. I make no money from writing this, or any other, fanfiction.
Warnings: This is a deathfic. I have only written one other, as a tribute to the late Anne Haney. I don’t like deathfics. However, I love my cyber cyb and fellow h/c diva, the Muse. She has asked for months for me to write this for her. It’s her birthday… I can’t deny her any longer. However, hon, be careful what you wish for!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUSE!!
Acknowledgements: As always, my stories are dedicated to the Muse. She who has seen me through a lot of hard times and helped me smile through more tears than I care to remember. She who pushed me through the last year of grad school when I was ready to shuck it all. She who held my hand through the trying times after graduation. She who mothered not only me, but three wonderful children. I love her with all my heart. She is my best friend.
Chris Larabee tossed and turned on the mattress in his rented room. The bed squeaked, protesting his actions, but he didn’t even notice. He was trapped in the living, wide awake nightmare that had ridden his heels since just after dawn.
Mary Travis was dead.
His mind went back to that morning, once more replaying the events leading up to the young widow’s death. As he had all day, he struggled to find some hint of what had gone wrong… what he could have done differently. But he hadn’t found a thing.
The newspaper editor had just returned to town, having taken a few days to travel with her son, Billy, back to his grandparents. Orrin and Evie Travis had taken over the day to day care of the young boy after the murder of their son, Steven.
Mary had returned with fire in her eye, having heard rumors that the railroad was going to try and buy out the town of Four Corners. While she acknowledged the fact that Four Corners was little more than a handful of buildings and a dusty main street, she felt it was more than worth saving. Before returning home, she had already sent out telegrams and letters, attempting to find out whether or not the rumors were true. Had wired ahead to warn Chris and the other men. By the time she stepped down from the stage, there were already several less than cordial responses to her inquiries.
As she stood on the road, looking with a loving eye around the little backwater town, she had spotted the gunfighter. He had touched his fingers to the wide brim of his hat, smiling at the beautiful young woman. As he steeped down from the boardwalk, intent only on the thought of spending time with the blonde widow, he didn’t notice the man approaching her from the opposite direction. He was close enough to hear their exchange, but not smart enough to see the signs of what was going to take place.
"Mrs. Mary Travis?"
"Yes, may I help you?"
"You’re the newspaper editor?"
With exasperation, the blonde said, "yes. What may I do with you, mister -- ?"
"My name isn’t important, Mrs. Travis, but why I’m here is."
"And that would be?"
"Stopping you. You’ve stepped on far too many toes. You had damn well better let things alone… no need to put your pretty nose into things, the railroad doesn’t want to have to defend its actions to you… or anyone else."
"Ah, so you’re a lackey for the railroad," her face screwed up in disdain. "Well, let me assure you – "
He saw her green eyes widen enormously, her mouth drop open with a soft cry. And then he saw the gun. Starting across the street, he cried out, "MARY!"
Things moved in slow motion, each devastating second stretching into an eon. The man fired his gun, only inches from Mary Travis. Even as the stranger raised his weapon, Chris had his raised as well, firing at the murderer. His bullet entered the man’s brain, spraying blood and brain matter across the stagecoach door. Across the beautiful face of the dying young woman.
Mary cried out once, her own blood spraying across the coach, mingling with her killer’s blood… sprayed across the falling body of the stranger that cut short her life. Her body jerked. Her knees buckled. She turned to lock eyes with the blond gunman. She fell to the ground. Her body was grotesquely entwined with that of her attacker.
"MARY!" Larabee screamed her name, even though he was nearly at her side. He stumbled, tears falling down his handsome face. He crumbled to the ground beside the widow. Violently he shoved the stranger away, all but kicking the man away from the lovely young woman. Gently he lifted her into his arms, tenderly brushing loose blond locks back from her face. A face all but transparent as the color drained from it. "Oh Jesus… Mary, I’m sorry. Oh God, I am so sorry."
With a trembling hand, she reached up and wiped a tear from his face. "Don’t… Chris… not your… not your fault."
He leaned down, delivering a gentle kiss to her forehead. As he did, he felt her breath against his throat. Heard her sigh softly. Sitting back, he looked down to see that her eyes were locked on some point far away, the light ebbing from the emerald orbs. He watched as she stilled, her body going limp in his arms. He almost saw her soul floating into the air above them.
He didn’t remember a lot after that, just pieced it all together from the bits and pieces he did recall, along with what Buck told him later.
Nathan arrived, along with the others. Gently, while Buck held his black clad arms back, he lifted the woman into his arms, carrying her to the undertakers.
Wilmington lifted him to his feet, practically carrying him to the saloon.
He had begun drinking.
He couldn’t get drunk.
It was his fault.
The day passed.
People came and went.
Food was placed in front of him, going uneaten.
Ezra and Josiah saw to the murderer’s removal from the street.
His name, according to his identification, was ‘F. W. Laurence’.
It didn’t matter who he was.
Mary was still dead.
They had carried him to the jail, leaving his body there until after Mary was taken care of.
He wasn’t fit to share the undertaker’s with her.
Chris wanted him taken to the dessert.
Let the carrion feed on him.
He drank until the saloon closed.
He still wasn’t drunk.
Buck took him to his room.
Put him to bed.
Took all of the guns as he left.
The hours passed, and he tried to sleep.
The hours passed, and he couldn’t sleep.
Finally he rose.
Dressed in his best clothes.
They would hold Mary at the undertaker’s until Orrin could bring the rest of the family to say good-bye.
She would be laid to rest beside her husband.
Mary Elizabeth Williams Travis would join Steven Francis Travis once more.
Billy was an orphan.
He wouldn’t stay to see that.
Couldn’t stay to see that.
He would say good-bye to her alone.
He would say good-bye to the town.
He would say good-bye to his friends.
He would say good-bye to his life.
Taking a deep breath, Chris Larabee picked up his saddle bags and left the room for the last time. He strode through the early morning light, not seeing or hearing the few people awake to see or speak to him.
Didn’t see or hear his best friend, as Vin Tanner tried to talk to him.
Didn’t see or hear his oldest friend, as Buck Wilmington tried to stop him.
He walked to the undertakers. Entered the darkened room. Lit a single lantern. Looked one last time into the beautiful face. Yearned once again for the future he had come to realize he could never share. Had never dreamed that this would be the reason.
He left the undertakers.
Walked to the livery.
Readied his black gelding.
Behind him, six men gathered, feeling the loss of their brotherhood. They walked to the undertakers. Surrounded the single coffin. Looking down, their eyes widened. They looked at one another.
The lamp light caught the glitter of gold over the dead woman’s heart.
It was a wedding band.