Facing His Demons
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. The Magnificent Seven characters belong to CBS, The Mirisch Group, MGM, and Trilogy Entertainment
Warning: This is the death fic but none of the seven die
Josiah Sanchez watched the children at play. He sat back in his chair on the covered front porch and sighed.
Had it really been ten years since he'd arrived in Four Corners after the conflict at the Seminole village? It sure didn't seem like that long ago.
Watching the woman who was hanging wash on a line to dry, he got to thinking about an event that had occurred about eight years previous. An event that had altered his life even more dramatically than joining with his six compatriots . . . .Eight Years Earlier
Eleanor Mitchell slapped the reins against the horse that was pulling her wagon. She was dusty from the trail. She wanted a bath, some fresh clothing and a hot meal.
"It's not much further now," she muttered. "I think this is the town up ahead."
Guiding the wagon down the main street, she glanced around. She pulled on the reins and brought the old wagon to a halt before the jail house.
Vin Tanner looked up from his seat on the boardwalk watching as a wagon approached. Catching sight of the coffin on the back of the wagon the tracker rose to his feet. Bad news was coming for someone.
Vin stepped out into the street as the woman stopped the wagon.
"Morning," she nodded.
"Howdy. Can I help you?" Vin asked, tipping his hat. Vin noticed she was a trim brunette with green eyes. Perhaps his age or a bit older. It was hard to tell the way she was dressed. She wore an old pair of trousers, boots, a work shirt and a beat up cowboy hat. Her long hair was braided down her back. Her face was smudged with dust from the trail. She'd come some distance.
"I'm looking for a man. His name is Josiah Sanchez. Can you tell me where I could find him?" Eleanor asked.
Vin nodded, "That I can." He nodded toward the coffin. "Someone Josiah knows pass on?"
"His sister, Hannah."
Vin closed his eyes. Remembering Josiah's actions during the episode with Cyrus Poplar, Vin worried about how Josiah would take this news.
"Might be a good idea if I go with ya. I'm Vin Tanner. I'm a peacekeeper here in Four Corners. So is Josiah."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Tanner. I'm Eleanor Mitchell."
"Did you know Hannah?"
"Not well, but I was with her when she died. She asked me to come and see her brother."
"Mind if I handle the wagon? If you don't mind my saying so, you look a mite tired," Vin said kindly.
"Thank you. Is it much farther?" She asked as he climbed up and sat beside Eleanor, taking the reins.
"Nope." Vin slapped the reins and guided the wagon down the street to the church.
Stopping before the little house of worship, Vin assisted Eleanor from the wagon.
"Mr. Sanchez is here?" Eleanor asked.
"He used to be a preacher," Vin replied. "He's been fixing up this church. Miss Mitchell -"
"Call me Eleanor, please."
Vin nodded, "Eleanor, then - I'm not sure Josiah will take this news well."
"The loss of a loved one is never easy, Mr. Tanner."
"Vin. True but there are other circumstances. That's why I wanted to come with you." Vin gestured toward the stairs. "After you."
Eleanor mounted the stairs. Once inside the church, she removed her hat, as did Vin.
"Josiah - you here?" Vin called.
Josiah came out of the side room he occupied and smiled at his friend. He glanced curiously at Eleanor. "Hello."
"Josiah, this is Eleanor Mitchell. She needed to see you. Eleanor, this is Josiah Sanchez," Vin said.
"How do you do?" Josiah asked, shaking Eleanor's outstretched hand.
"A pleasure, Mr. Sanchez. Sorry, I'm a mess from the trail," she replied.
"That's quite all right. What can I do for you?" Josiah queried.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news for you, Mr. Sanchez. I just came from Vista City. Your sister, Hannah - she asked me to come and see you -"
"Hannah did?" Josiah glanced at Vin and back to Eleanor.
"I'm afraid she's died, Mr. Sanchez."
The preacher's breath left him in a rush. "Died," he whispered.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Sanchez. Everyone at the convent took ill. Small pox. I was passing through the town when I heard about it. I've had small pox you see - years ago. I went there and offered to help out. Once you have small pox, you can't catch it again," she said by way of explanation.
Vin looked at Josiah, "You all right, 'Siah?"
Josiah nodded slowly. Hannah was dead. He blinked, swallowed, tried to keep his wits about him. "Where is Hannah's body?"
"I brought her here. It was one of the things she requested - before she passed," Eleanor said softly.
"Take me to her."
With the help of Nathan and Chris, who'd come by when they caught sight of the wagon sitting outside the church, Hannah's coffin was brought inside.
It was set down before the altar. Josiah looked at the shiny varnished surface.
Vin looked at Eleanor, "Will you be staying in town?"
"Yes. I'd like to be here for the funeral. And I did want to speak with Mr. Sanchez a bit more."
"We'll take your wagon over to the livery. I'll leave your bags on the porch outside," Vin said.
Eleanor nodded to the three men as they took their leave.
She moved up the aisle to the spot where Josiah stood.
"I'm so very sorry for your loss."
Josiah glanced at her. "Thank you for bringing Hannah here."
"It was the least I could do."
"You said it was one of the things she requested. Did you - did you speak with Hannah?"
Eleanor nodded. "I was helping the doctor take care of her. All of the nuns took ill but Hannah seemed to be more afflicted than anyone else. I don't know much about her mental condition but toward the end she was very lucid. She wanted me to tell you a few things."
Josiah gestured toward a pew. "Please."
Eleanor cleared her throat. "She said to tell you it wasn't your fault. That she loved you. That she wanted you to remember that everyone has to fight their own demons and that you were strong enough to see this through. She said that you would understand that."
He nodded slowly, his eyes drifting back to the closed casket.
"Was there anything else?"
"No. But she did die peacefully. She passed in her sleep."
"Were you with her?"
Eleanor watched him for a few moments. "Well, I'm going to go get a room over at the hotel. See if I can get rid of some of this dust. When will the funeral be, Mr. Sanchez?"
"Tomorrow morning, I think."
"I'd like to be here if that's all right with you."
"Of course. Thank you, Miss Mitchell."
"You're welcome. I'm sorry I couldn't do more." She stood and left the church. Picking up her satchels that sat on the churches porch, Eleanor made her way across the street to the hotel.
Josiah lost track of how long he sat in the front pew, gazing at Hannah's coffin. There were long shadows in the church when he finally stood and lifted the coffin's lid to look at his sister one last time.
Tears in his eyes, he whispered, "Your fight is over. And mine has just begun."
The next morning dawned bright and clear. The peacekeepers had shown up in mass to be there for Josiah. Even Ezra Standish made it up at the ungodly hour of dawn to be at Hannah's funeral.
Several of the townsfolk, Mary Travis, Mrs. Potter, and Virgil Watson also were in attendance.
The undertaker's wagon was brought before the church. The seven loaded Hannah's coffin on the back.
Josiah raised his eyes to the sky. He hadn't slept much the previous night and he looked tired. He blinked the sun from his eyes as he caught sight of a woman he didn't know making her way to join the mourners.
She was beautiful. Dressed in a blue bustled dress, her long dark hair was shining in the sunlight. Her green eyes sparkled.
She bid a quiet good morning to the group. Then she turned her eyes to Josiah.
"Mr. Sanchez," she nodded.
Josiah looked down at her. "Do I know you?" He asked furrowing his brow.
She smiled, "I'm Eleanor Mitchell. We met yesterday?"
Josiah smiled, "Of course. I'm sorry."
"Don't be," she replied. "I'm sure that this is a trying time for you."
He said, "Thank you for being here."
"The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green Pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
The mourners stood around the open grave as Josiah read the twenty-third Psalm.
Vin and Chris were surprised how at peace their friend seemed to be. They hadn't been sure what reaction to expect. The previous night Josiah had spent quietly in the church, never once making an appearance in the saloon. And as far as they could tell he was stone-cold sober.
Josiah picked up a handful of dirt and dropped it onto the coffin. Everyone else followed suit and after saying a few kind words to the preacher, they began to make their way back to town.
The grave diggers stood by silently, waiting to complete their task. Eleanor was the last one to come up to Josiah.
"It was a very lovely service," she said. "You could tell, it came from your heart. I think your sister would have been pleased."
Josiah smiled at her. "Thank you. It meant a great deal to me that you were here." He extended his elbow to her. "Might I escort you back to town?"
Eleanor smiled and she was radiant. She slipped her arm through the big man's. "Thank you."
That was how it began. An unexpected meeting, perhaps guided by an angel.
"Josiah." Eleanor said as she stepped up onto the front porch of their house having completed hanging the wash. "You know the boys will be here soon. Can you get the children washed up while I check on the meal?"
Josiah smiled at his wife as he rose to his feet. "I will, love." He leaned down to return her embrace and he kissed her. She smiled up at him.
As Eleanor headed inside, Josiah turned to the young boy and girl playing outside. "David! Hannah! Come inside now. We have to get washed up for dinner. Your uncles, aunts and cousins will be here soon."
The two children whooped with joy and ran to their father.