Life, Ten Years Later
This is my contribution for the tenth anniversary challenge.
Warning: One of the main characters is DEAD.
Ezra turned around and saw a young boy that looked around nine. "Yes?"
"This letter came for you," the boy said as he held out a white envelope.
Ezra took the envelope and handed the boy a gold dollar coin. The boy smiled, tightly clutching his newly received coin. "Thanks, Mister Standish!" Ezra watched as the boy left his establishment and turned to face the bartender.
"I will be at my house if I am needed, Mister Garrett." Ezra didn't wait for a reply as he left the fancy high-stakes casino/hotel that he and his wife owned. He didn't have far to walk. Just a couple of blocks. He walked into the nice sizable house that he owned and called out, "Darlin'? Li-Pong?"
Li-Pong hurried out of the kitchen. "I was making supper." Ezra took a moment to stare fondly at his wife. No matter how many times Ezra told her that they had a cook for a reason, his little spitfire always insisted that she do some of the cooking herself.
Giving his head a slight shake, he said, "We received a letter from Casey and Vin."
She smiled. "Wonderful. What does it say?"
"Haven't read it, yet." Taking the silver letter-opener off of his Mahogany wood desk, he neatly sliced through the top of the letter. After he and Li-Pong were situated on the couch, he started to read.
Li-Pong and Ezra,
Vin and I have wonderful news. I'm pregnant and am due in three weeks! We wished to make sure that the pregnancy went okay before telling anyone. If you are able to, we hope that you and Li-Pong can make it back to Four Corners for the birth. And, bring those two adorable boys of yours. We haven't seen them for so long.
We have also written Buck to try and make it. How have you and your family been? The casino/hotel doing good? Hope to see you all.
Casey and Vin
Li-Pong smiled happily and clapped her hands together. "I am so happy for them. They have had a hard time."
Ezra nodded in agreement. Everyone had thought that Casey and JD would end up getting married, considering the young sheriff had courted her for a year. But they had surprised everyone when they had broken up and Casey had went away to an Eastern teaching school. Vin had went to Tascosa, determined to clear his name. And he had. He had managed to find a witness to the shooting and had convinced the man to testify on his behalf.
Three years later she had shown back up in Four Corners. Six months after that, Vin had started courting the young woman. Exactly one year after she had arrived back in town, Casey and Vin were married. She had took a job teaching at the local school and Vin worked with Chris breeding and selling horses. Casey and Vin had been trying for six years to have a child. Casey had had two miscarriages but it looked like they were about to get their little bundle of joy. Li-Pong and Ezra looked at each other, thinking the same thing. They would be heading to Four Corners, New Mexico.
THE NEXT MORNING
Ezra, Li-Pong and their two twin sons Aaron and Alan were sitting in their seats on the train waiting for the train to pull out. Not only were the two seven-year-olds happy about not having to go to school for the next few weeks (Li-Pong would be schooling them until they got back to San Fransisco), they couldn't wait to see their Uncle Vin and Aunt Casey. They couldn't wait to see all of their aunts and uncles. It had been so long!
As the train started to move, Ezra noticed his wife put her right hand on her stomach and her left hand in front of her mouth. "Are you alright, dear?"
Li-Pong nodded. "My stomach's a little upset."
"Do you need to go to the lavatory?"
Li-Pong shook her head just as a woman walked by pushing a trolley. "Would you like anything?"
"Three juices, one coffee and some crackers." The woman smiled and handed him all of the requested items. He handed a juice to each of his sons and one to his wife, along with a small pack of crackers.
"Thanks," she said softly. Li-Pong had a pretty good idea what was wrong with her, but she decided to wait to tell Ezra.
ONE WEEK LATER
After a week on the train, the whole Standish family was more than ready to reach the end of their journey when they arrived in Four Corners. After Ezra rented a horse and buggy, they were off to the Tanner residence. Chris and Vin were in the corral, trying to break the new mare as Casey sat on the porch watching.
All activity stopped as the horse pulled the buggy into the yard. Ezra helped Li-Pong down, then got their two sons out of the buggy. They were eager to greet Vin and Chris, but Ezra stopped them. "Wait until they are out of the corral, boys."
"Okay, Pa," both boys replied as they hurried to the porch to hug Casey. She smiled and decided to stay seated in the wooden rocking chair. With her stomach, getting up and down was a chore.
"We'll have to get the others over here tonight for dinner," said a smiling Casey. After Vin and Chris greeted the Standish family, the three men got onto horses and headed into town to obey Casey's orders.
"Buck already here?" asked Ezra as they rode toward town.
"Yep. Arrived yesterday evenin'," answered Vin. Ezra noticed that Vin couldn't stop smiling. He was happy for his friends. They were going to be able to finally extend their family.
THAT EVENING--SIX PM
The men were sitting on the porch, talking, as Li-Pong, Nathan's wife Rain and Buck's wife Margaret prepared supper. With Casey helping as much as she could. The children were playing a game of tag in the yard. The children playing were Alan, Aaron, Rain and Nathan's six year old daughter Lara, and Buck and Margaret's five-year-old daughter Marilyn and three-year-old son Buck JR.
"So, everyone's been okay?" asked Buck. The other five men nodded.
"Pretty good," answered Chris. "Vin and me have been raising and selling horses. Got a good reputation." Chris had never remarried. The townsfolk had been expecting him and Mary to wed, but in the end it didn't happen. Chris was still mourning his late wife Sarah and son Adam. She had been his one great love. They all knew that Chris would never marry, again.
"Margaret and me are doin' pretty good. The kids are good. Marilyn will be startin' school next year," said a smiling Buck. They could all tell that he was proud of his family. Nobody had ever expected Buck to marry. They had all thought that he would be the lovable womanizer until he died. But, then, Margaret and her theater troupe had arrived in Four Corners to put on a play and Buck had fallen in love with her.
He started courting her, making sure that her reputation didn't get ruined. When it became time for her troupe to move on, he had been heartbroken. But three weeks later she had shown back up. She had fallen in love with Buck and couldn't bear to be away from him. Two weeks later, they were married. That had been the beginning of the end for the Magnificent Seven. Buck and Margaret had moved outside the town limits and had started a cattle ranch. In the six years they had been married, the B&M Ranch had become the biggest one in New Mexico.
When Buck and Margaret had moved, Ezra had decided to head to San Fransisco. It had always been his dream.
"What about you, JD? Ready to settle down, yet?" asked Ezra. Even after ten years, they all saw JD as the "kid". He still wore the same bowler hat that he had worn the first day that he had met all of them.
JD smiled and shook his head. "Not yet. Maybe in a coupla more years." They were all proud of the man that JD had become. He was still sheriff of Four Corners and kept the town law abidin'.
"What 'bout you, Nathan? Family doin' good?" Nathan smiled and nodded. "Couldn't be better. Stayin' busy with the kids and helpin' folks." Nathan had moved to the Seminole Village and had married Rain. He was still patching people up and setting bones when it was needed.
"Well, it looks like we all have wonderful lives, gentlemen," said Ezra. The other five men nodded.
"Too bad Josiah isn't 'round to see it," said a saddened JD. They others grew quite. Josiah had died in a fire six years before. He had been visiting his sister Hannah at the convent when outlaws showed up looking for sanctuary. The nuns had allowed them to stay providing, of course, that nobody was hurt. Two days later, the outlaws had ridden out. But not before they set fire to the convent. Josiah had helped get the nuns and his sister to safety. But before he could get himself out, the building had collapsed in on itself and trapped Josiah. He had been crushed to death.
He had been buried on the hill overlooking where the convent had been. It was beautiful there. Lush green grass and daisies. Whenever any of them could, they tried to visit his grave. Let him know that they hadn't forgotten him. And they were always telling the children about their Uncle Josiah.
"Yeah, yeah it is," said Vin. "But maybe he's finally at peace." They all knew that he had had a lot of demons he had wrestled with when he had been alive.
Before anyone else could say anything, they heard a loud screech from inside the house. Jumping up, they all ran inside. The kids and the women were in the kitchen. They could see Casey bent over, holding her stomach. Vin rushed to her side.
"Casey! Are you alright?"
"It's... it's t-time," she panted through a contraction.
"Now?" Vin asked in a very unmanly like squeak. Casey just gave him a 'duh!' look. Vin and Chris got Casey to the bedroom and situated onto the bed.
It had already been planned that Nathan and Rain would deliver the baby. Shooing, everyone out of the room they got to work.
In the sitting room, Vin couldn't help but pace back and forth. Finally, Chris had enough. "Vin!," he snapped. "For Godsakes, sit down!"
Vin sighed, seeing that he was getting on his friend's nerves and scaring the children. "Sorry," he said as he wrung his hands. He hated feeling helpless. All he could do was look at the closed bedroom door and hope that everything went smoothly.
Every time they would hear a muffled scream, all of the guys would flinch. Li-Pong and Margaret just winced in sympathy. They had both been through what Casey was going through. But it would be worth it in the end.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was really only five hours, they all heard a cry. The bedroom door opened and a smiling Nathan was standing there holding a tiny baby.
"Congratulations, Vin. It's a boy!"
After staring at Nathan for a moment, Vin jumped up and whooped. He ran over to Nathan and peered down at the baby. His and Casey's miracle. "Casey alright?"
"She's fine. Just tired," Nathan replied. Vin and Nathan walked into the room, followed by the rest of the 'family'. Casey gave them all a exhausted smile. "Have you thought of a name?" asked Li Pong.
Casey and Vin looked at each other. Looking back at the others, Vin answered. "Meet Vincent Josiah Tanner."
"He's so adorable!" gushed Margaret.
"We would like to ask all of you to be his godfathers and godmothers," said Casey.
After everyone had agreed, Rain ushered them to the door. "Let's let the tired mother rest." Everyone left the room except for Casey, Vin and their son.
A WEEK AND A HALF LATER
The Standish family was back home. The kids were at school and Ezra was home for lunch. Li Pong decided now was the time. "Ezra?"
"Yes, dear?" he asked looking up from his soup.
"Ezra, you know how I've been sick for the past few weeks?" Ezra nodded. He had been trying to get her to go to the town doctor, but she kept refusing. "Well, I went to the doctor this morning before you came home from lunch. And, Doctor Jadded confirmed that I'm pregnant. About a month along."
Ezra was silent and still for a minute. Then he jumped up, grabbed Li Pong and gently swung her around. He was ecstatic.
"I love you, Li."
"I love you to Ezra.."
Eight months later the Standish clan, along with the rest of the 'family', welcomed eight pound nine ounce Elizabeth Rosa Standish.