Surprise, Surprise

by S. Larabee Tanner

Author's note: This is my first posted M7 fic, so please be gentle with me. Thanks to Luna Dey who beta'd for me, and to my friends and fellow list members who allow me to try out my fics on them.

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven and all related characters, concepts, etc. are the property of CBS, MGM, and Trilogy and other Powers That Be. No copyright infringement is intended or, and no profit is being made.

Feedback: Feedback is welcome, but no flames please.

For weeks Chris had watched his best friend sneak off to the boarding house and slip in the back way. Larabee thought back over the last few weeks and remembered the day Vin started to sneak around. It just was not like Vin to behave this way. No matter how many times he tried to ask what was going on, the wily tracker managed to change the subject. When he saw the bounty hunter sneak off again, the man in black followed him, careful to stay out of sight.

Vin quietly made his way to the last room facing the front of the building. He whistled to whoever was inside as he slowly opened the door. After hearing a gun uncock, he let out the breath he was holding. He quickly walked in and shut the door behind him. A smile lit his handsome face when he turned to the occupant of the room.

Tanner crossed the room and gathered the young woman into his arms. He could feel her trembling ease as he held her tightly to his chest and kissed the top of her head. "Love, you should have stayed in Tascosa. This life style ain't good fer you or the baby."

She knew she was safe now and tried to calm the pounding of her heart. "This is where we belong," she said with conviction. "Besides this baby needs its pa as much as I need you."

The lanky tracker smiled as he continued to hold her close. He gently lifted her chin until he could touch her lips with his, and he kissed her deeply expressing all the love he had for her. He felt their child stir within her belly as he held her against him, and he knew he could not send her back. He needed to have her near, needed her like he needed air to breathe.

Vin stepped back far enough to remove his gun belt and knife, and he laid them on the bedside table. He took her hand and eased her toward the bed. "Sweets, come and rest. We don't have much time b'fore they start to wonder where I am." He eased himself onto the bed and pulled her down next to him, and waited for her to curl up against him.

She looked into his loving eyes as she snuggled against his chest. "Why don't you just tell them I am here and that we're married," she asked.

The tracker held her tighter as he considered her question. "It's safer fer you if I don't tell. Someday the time'll be right," he said sadly, as he tucked her head under his chin. 'I would never put either of you in danger,' he thought to himself as he drifted off to sleep.

Tanner woke a few hours later. He smiled as he gazed on the sleeping form of the love of his life, as she lay snuggled up next to him. Slowly, he wiggled out from under her arm, and eased out of the bed. He kissed her lightly on the forehead as he pulled the covers up over her, before he quietly made his way out of the room and headed back to his wagon.

+ + + + + + +

Chris waited until he saw the tracker headed for his wagon. He stepped out of the shadows and slowly opened the door to see the back of a young woman. Something seemed strangely familiar, and he frowned as he stared at her.

Sensing someone behind her the young woman spoke as she turned over. "Did you forget something….?" The words died on her lips when she saw Chris Larabee standing there.

"Chris!" She abruptly sat up on the bed, stunned at seeing her brother framed in the doorway. The last time she had seen him was when Adam was born. "I didn't expect to see you here. Are Sarah and Adam here too?"

The gunslinger just stood there for a minute, grief washing over him in a wave. He finally released the breath he was holding and knelt in front of her. "Lizzy, Sarah and Adam have been gone for three years now." Larabee reached out a tentative hand and laid it on her swollen belly. "What happened to you? Who's the.…" Chris froze instinctively when he heard the door open behind him. He locked eyes with Elizabeth and knew she understood what to do if the need presented itself.

"Get away from her Larabee," the tracker growled. "Beth, come here." He reached out a hand to his wife to draw her away from the gunslinger.

Chris stood and glared at Vin. "I will not, she's my sister."

Elizabeth moved to stand between the two men. "Vin, honey, please." She put a hand up to stop him from moving on Larabee. "Chris, Vin is my husband. We have been married for nearly a year."

Chris looked at his sister in disbelief and then turned to his friend. At last a smile spread across the gunslinger's face as Vin and he seemed to communicate without speaking. Both men offered her an arm. "Guess I'll just have to get used to having you around again, then." Larabee said, unable to disguise the happiness in his voice.

"Yes, you better," Elizabeth said as she took both their arms. Vin just shook his head at the unexpected turn of events.

The three headed for the saloon and sat her between them at one of the tables. Inez brought them a couple beers and a glass of water and smiled at Lizzy. "Inez, I would like you to meet my little sister, Elizabeth."

"Nice to meet you Senorita Larabee," Inez said politely.

Lizzy kicked Chris under the table. "It's Tanner," she said with a wink. "I managed to rope this one," she nodded toward the tracker. Vin blushed and Elizabeth gave him a nudge and chuckled at his embarrassment.

"Ah, so, someone made an honest man of him? Muy bein." Inez offered the young woman a welcoming smile and headed back to the bar.

"Lizzy, you shouldn't live like this, running from bounty hunters, not now anyway." The man in black could not hide his brotherly concern for her.

"I told her the same thing, but she wouldn't listen," Vin said.

"Now hold on both of you. My place is right here with my husband. You taught me that Chris. I don't want to find out someday that I am a widow through some paper or from a stranger. This baby deserves to know its father." She laid a protective hand on her round belly and gave Chris the female version of the Larabee glare.

The blonde backed down and shook his head. "Damned Stubborn streak! Don't know where she gets it from." He could not help but notice the look of adoration in their eyes when they looked at each other. He sighed in resignation. "Alright, but I don't like it."

Lizzy smiled and threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. "Thank you, Chris." Vin knew he could not fight them both so he gave up trying.

Buck could not believe his eyes when he saw her sitting there. "Lizzy, is that you? Wow, look at you!"

"Hi Bucklin, It's been a long time," she said as she hugged him.

Buck returned the hug enthusiastically and raised a questioning eyebrow at the two men.

"She's my wife, Buck," Tanner answered his silent question, and Chris nodded in agreement when Wilmington looked his way.

One by one the other members of the team were introduced as they joined them at the table. The evening was spent enjoying stories of Chris as a child, much to the gunslinger's embarrassment.

The hour was growing late when Vin noticed Lizzy's eyes starting to droop. "If ya'll will excuse us, I should be getting her to her room." The tracker stood and offered his wife his arm.

"It was nice meeting all of you. Good night," Elizabeth said as they took their leave.

Vin smiled as he escorted his wife back to the boarding house, knowing that tonight he could stay to wake up to feel her beside him for the start of a new day.

The End

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