And Then There Were Three
Author's note: This is the Squeal to Surprise Surprise. 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 profits being made.
Feedback: Feedback is welcome, but no flames please.
Lost in thought, Larabee didn't hear the owner of the Clarion News calling him. His thoughts were centered around the young woman his little sister had become.
Mary watched a frown crease his handsome face. She knew it had something to do with the new woman in town she had seen them all with. She stopped in front of the man she was determined to make hers, crossed her arms across her chest, and cleared her throat. "Mr. Larabee."
The man in black looked up at the woman and nodded. "Yes, Mrs. Travis." He readjusted his hat as he stood.
"It's not proper for you and your men to be seen with that young girl." She pointed vaguely towards the jail where the sheriff sat talking to the girl in question. Chris leaned nonchalantly against the building where he watched the two of them interact. "Mr. Larabee! It's not proper for her to be seen in public in her condition. I don't see a ring on her finger. We don't need women with low morals giving ideas to our young people."
Chris Larabee glared at the blonde woman standing in front of him and forced himself to resist the urge to strangle her. Instead he pushed his anger down and voiced his own opinion. "Who my men or I spend time with is not your concern."
Mary took a step back and stared at the big man who stood frowning down at her. She couldn't believe the bitterness in his voice. "You're paid to protect this town not some young girl who got herself in trouble. It's not proper for her to be seen with you and your men in her condition. She shouldn't even be seen in public."
The gunslinger stepped closer to the irritating woman in front of him. At this moment he was not sure at all how that he could have admired her when he first came to town. Chris fought to control the anger that threatened to boil over at her. "It's not any of your business. I suggest you leave her alone or you can protect your precious town yourself," he hissed through clenched teeth. He stepped away from her and turned and headed for the jail.
With a huff Mary headed back to the Clarion, still determined to win the gunfighter's heart away from that little tramp. She just couldn't believe that he was so unconcerned with how things looked to the people in town.
Without saying a word, the blonde watched the two young people talk from the shadow at the side of the jail. He did not want to disturb them just yet. A smile light his face when he saw her toss her head back and heard her laughter that was so full of life. It was a sound that he had missed because he had stayed away from her so long in his grief.
The feelings that he thought had died with his wife and son slowly returned. There she sits, a grown woman and married to my best friend. Why do I still see her as that frail child? Larabee shook his head to clear his thoughts.
A smile crossed the handsome blonde's face when he heard JD telling his sister about the time that they got Ezra to wear that purple dress. He tried hard to contain the laughter that threaten to spill out at the memories it brought back.
Just then the sound of horses tearing into the town grabbed his attention away from the young woman. "JD, get Lizzy inside and stay there with her." Chris ordered without taking his gaze from the group of men heading for the bank. Larabee watched as people scrambled to get out of the way as the men and horses came thundering down the street. Automatically the gunslinger found his gun in his hand, and he glared as he watched two of the men harass a couple of young women who were trying to make into Mrs. Potter's store.
"But, Chris, I can..." Her words were cut off when the famous Larabee glare landed on her. "Not now Elizabeth. Just do as I say for once and do not fight me." He hated using that tone on her. He knew that later he would have to explain things to her, but for now he shifted his gaze to the young man standing with his sister. "JD!"
"Right! Come on Mrs. Lizzy. Let's get you inside." The youngest peacekeeper took her arm to lead her inside.
Elizabeth pulled her arm free, and the young woman sent her own version of the Larabee glare back at her brother. "I'm not a child anymore, Christopher." She turned on her heels and stormed into the office, slamming the door behind her. The crash of the door made JD jump at the force behind it.
The kid couldn't believe what he had just heard. No one had ever used the brooding man's full name. "Uhhh.. Chris?"
The blonde forced his gaze from the door of the sheriff's office to the stunned young man standing beside him. "She'll calm down. Just stay with her." A frown creased the man in black's already worried face. He knew the temper she was fighting to control all to well.
Dunne didn't fully understand what was going on between brother and sister, but he knew now was not the time to try to find out. "Sure Chris. I'll make sure she's okay."
With a curt nod the gunfighter turned his attention back to the group of men now standing in front of the bank. Some of the men were looking around as if taking in where everyone was, while others were busy checking their guns. The seasoned gunfighter's keen eye caught movement in the alley next to the bank. When he shifted his gaze he saw one of the men had moved down the alley and appeared to be working his way toward the back of the bank. He turned his attention back to the front and he saw two more heading inside, while the last three fanned out in front of the bank and down the street to take up guard positions.
The sheriff followed the gunfighter's gaze. It was apparent that there was going to be big trouble in town, and he quickly turned and went into the jailhouse to see to Lizzy. JD was thankful that he had quick reflexes as he ducked a chair that came flying his way. "Easy Ma'am. I'm sure he is only trying to protect you and your baby." Dunne eased the rest of the way in and pushed the door shut. With and effort he managed to hide the shock he felt at the temper he was seeing from the polite young woman who had just been laughing at his jokes.
"Protect me? Protect me! It's more like keep me locked up if he could." Lizzy threw her hands in the air before she sat in the chair behind the desk and heaved a loud sigh.
"Chris wouldn't do that," JD said, trying to calm the young woman. He over turned the desk then dragged one of the mattresses over and propped it up against the front of the desk.
"Oh yes he would," she proclaimed. "You don't know him when it comes to me. Geez, JD. He's my brother and I love him, but he'll never seen me as anything but a child."
"Why don't you tell me about how Chris acted toward you when you were kids. It might help both of us. I've never seen him act this way before." The young man handed her a canteen full of water before he made sure the bucket was full and pulled it over behind the desk.
"Oh, I don't know, JD. He got pretty embarrassed the other night." Her face wrinkled in pain, and she rubbed her back after she allowed the young man to help her to the floor out of the line of fire.
"Want me to get Nathan?" JD sensed something was wrong, and asked in a quiet, worried voice.
Lizzy took a deep breath and shook her head. She turned blue eyes, the female version of Chris's, on the sheriff and smiled. "No, it's just the baby moving. It's been very active the last couple of days. It's almost as if this child as trying to jump from rooftop to rooftop just like its pa."
The young peacekeeper stood to retrieve the other mattress for her. He trusted her to know if she needed help, so he took her at her word that she did not need their healer. "Why didn't Vin know you and Chris were related?" He asked trying to keep her mind from wondering and worrying about the others. After he pulled the other mattress over to where she sat, he helped her onto it and made sure she was comfortable.
"Well, Chris' father died when he was seven. When he was eleven his mother meet my father, and they married a year later." The sound of the gunfight starting outside startled her and she gasped and jumped violently. Lizzy closed her eyes and quickly gathered herself together before continuing the tale. "When he was thirteen our sister Anna was born, but she was killed by one of the work horses just before she turned one." The young woman hissed as another pain ran up her back.
JD moved quickly to her side when he heard her sharp intake of breath. The kid was unsure what was going on, and he did not have a good feeling about this at all. "Mrs. Lizzy are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay." She smiled up at big hazel eyes that were so clearly filled with fear. "This is nothing. Last night the baby kicked Vin all night." She giggled when she saw a smile cross his boyish face. Lizzy sat up slowly and placed one hand on the young man's knee and the other on the desk. After several tries, she managed to pull and push herself onto her feet. Lizzy stumbled as another wave of pain hit her and caused her to grab the desk to keep from falling.
The dark haired young man scrambled quickly to his feet and put an arm around her waist to steady her. "You should stay behind the desk."
Elizabeth shook her head and swallowed hard. "Can't natures calling me." A small smile lit her face for a second when she saw him blush.
"Here let me help you." He tightened his hold on her and led her to the back room of the jail.
The young blonde looked at the chamber pot and then looked back to her protector. "I can't get that close to the floor," she said.
JD bit his lip. "Oh right. Let me see what I can do about that." The young man looked around but didn't find anything. A smile played across his face as he patted her shoulder on his way out into the other room. He couldn't help but notice the toes of Lizzy's shoes where they peaked out from under the hem of her dress. She had crossed her legs as she tried to wait patiently. Quickly, he dragged a chair into the room and got it set up, but before he had a chance to leave Lizzy quickly sat down. JD blushed hotly and turned away as he tried to give her some privacy and also hide his embarrassment at the same time.
Lizzy cleared her throat. "JD?" He glanced over her shoulder. When he saw that she was ready, he helped her back into the front office and onto the mattress.
"Where was I? Oh yes, Anna." Elizabeth resumed where she had left off. "Chris was pretty tore up about her death. Our ma ...." Her words were cut off as she squeezed his hand while she rode out another pain. After she took several deep breaths, she noticed the look of pain on her guardian's face. "JD, what's wrong?"
"My hand, you're digging our nails into it." He lifted his hand for her to see. "Oh, I'm sorry." She quickly released her hold on his hand. She tried to keep the sounds of gunfire from her mind as she continued her story. "I was born a year after they buried Anna. Chris as afraid the same thing would happen to me I guess, because he never let me out of his sight when he wasn't at school."
Another spasm of pain hit her in her back and she squeezed her eyes shut as she waited for it to stop before she continued to speak. When it let up she picked up the tale again. "Our ma passed away from the fever when I was four. My pa thought it would be best if he and I went to live with his sister. He had no idea how to raise a girl. Chris was 19 and had just joined the army." Lizzy arched her back as another pain came. She grabbed for anything she could hang onto and her hand found the front of the kid's shirt.
The town's peacekeepers scattered the moment the gunfire started, in an effort to keep the gunplay away from the jail. Chris took in where his men were. Josiah was behind the wagon near the livery. Nathan and Ezra were just inside the saloon, but before he could see where Buck had taken cover he heard a loud shot ring out. The seasoned gunfighter jerked his head around to stare toward the bank, just in time to see one of the men out front fall. Larabee breathed a sigh of relief and turned back to searching for his own men. He spotted Vin on the roof of the hotel and sent a warning glare towards the young man who was family now. He received a nod in return and, he knew that Tanner had gotten his meaning. He turned his attention back to the fight, aware that when this was over he would have to have a talk with his brother about his roof top stunts. The blonde ducked as a bullet came his way. Chris reloaded and took aim; he fired hit one of the men who was trying to slip out with a saddlebag full of money. The lawman raised up a little more for a better view when he spotted Nathan making his way closer to the bank. The next sound he heard was one of the outlaws crying out in pain, followed by the mans surrender. "Alright here take it. Just get this out of me."
JD watched the pretty young blonde's face wrinkle in pain. He saw her trying to get comfortable and going on instinct he helped her lay on her side. She reached behind her back and pressed a hand to the small of her back. She tried to ease the pain in her back by rubbing it, but it was so awkward to try to do for herself. Dunne noticed the trouble she was having and offered to help. "Lizzy, can I help you in some way?"
A smiled crossed her worried face. "Yes, please. My back hurts so much. Could you rub it a little for me?" she asked shyly.
JD nodded. "Where? Here?" he asked as he put his hand against her back and began to rub in small circles. He couldn't hide the smile as he watched her relax. He did not want to frighten her but he really wished Nathan were here. "Lizzy, I don't know a lot about these things, but I don't think the baby movin' is causin' all that pain."
Elizabeth looked suddenly scared, but she nodded in agreement. "I think you're right, JD. This has been going on too long. It started last night. I just always thought it would hurt in my belly not in my back," she confided.
"What should I do?" JD was terrified that something would happen before anyone else could be here to help.
"Just stay with me," Lizzy said quietly.
Dunne was unnerved by what was happening, but he knew he needed to help keep the young woman calm. He swallowed hard, thought a moment, and then asked another question. At least talking seemed to help keep her mind off her pain and what was going on outside. "What happen after Chris joined the Army?"
"He wrote me a lot. He would visit as much as his captain would let him... Ahhhhhh shit!" Lizzy exclaimed, and shocked the young sheriff momentarily with her use of profanity. She reached up one slender hand and grabbed the young mans shirt once more to pull him close. "This baby is going to be here soon, " she hissed through clenched teeth.
JD stared at the glaring woman. There was no doubt in his mind that she was related to Chris. "I'll get Nathan." He could hear the panic creep into his voice. He just hoped she didn't pick up on it.
She shook her head no, as another pain took hold and she was unable to speak. "Not yet. Let him finish with those men." Relaxing her hold on the frightened sheriff's shirt. "Talk to me. Tell me about yourself growing up."
JD sat back and took her hand in his. He licked his lips nervously. He had never really talked about his past, but he knew she would never make fun of him. "Well, I don't remember my pa. Mamma said he ran out on her when she found out I was on the way." He gritted his teeth and tried not let on he was in pain every time she squeezed hi hand while he waited for her to ride out the pain. Dunne silently hoped the others would show up soon to help him.
When he saw Lizzy relax he continued. "I played with the couples children. The master of the house was a banker, and his wife was busy with her social things. My mother was their upstairs chambermaid. When I was little I use to get real embarrassed when they would bring their friends home. They would act like they were doing me a favor by playing with me, since I was the helps kid."
Elizabeth looked fondly at the face of someone who was near to her own age and she smiled. "I'd say you did them a favor."
JD brushed her damp hair from her face and smiled back. He wondered how she could be thinking of his feelings while dealing with all that pain. "Thank you. I was lost after mamma died. Then I found your brother and the others, and they have become family to me." He smiled down at her tenderly. "I guess that makes us like family too."
Lizzy nodded, and then her eyes flew open wide and she sat up as a severe pain hit. "GWAA I'LL KILL HIM," she screamed as she tried to ride the pain. "THIS IS ALL HIS FAULT!"
JD paled when he saw a gush of water wet the mattress. In a panic he jumped to his feet
and scrambled to the door. Heedless of the possible danger he threw it open and took a quick look around in search of his friends. When he did not see any of them he threw caution to the wind and shouted, "NATHAN!"
Nathan heard his name being called and ran from the clinic, followed closely by Chris and Vin. The others were left to tend to the wounded outlaws. They werent about to be left behind, so they quickly secured the door to the clinic and let it serve as a makeshift lock-up for now.
Nathan quickly reached the jail and when he stepped into the room he knew immediately what was wrong. He placed both hands on the kids shoulders and looked him directly in the eyes. "Go get my bag. Tell Josiah I need his help, and go get Mary. Then send Ezra for clean towels and sheets."
JD swallowed hard and nodded. "Okay. Is she going to be okay? She threatened to kill him. Should I get Vin?"
Before the healer could answer, a scream came from behind him. He heaved a heavy sigh; he still couldn't believe how loud some women got during labor. "She won't kill him. She is just saying it out of pain. Now, go.. hurry!"
The young Sheriff took one last glance at the young woman, who was about to give birth and then ran to do as he was told.
Vin heard the screams coming from the jail and shot Chris a questioning look. Both men took off on a dead run for the jail, only to have their path blocked by the healer.
"Move, Nathan! I need to get to her!" the worried sharpshooter snapped as he tried to push his way inside.
"No, Vin. Right now she'll take off your head. Stay here with Chris, and I'll let you in as soon as I can." The healer saw the concerned look on the young Texan's face. "The baby is trying to come. Right now she needs you to be calm and not panic."
Before the lanky man could reply, Larabee pulled him aside to let the others and Mary in. "Easy, Vin. Sarah threatened me too. It's best to do as Nathan says."
"But she's in pain, Chris!"
"Yes, but she won't be for long. Trust me! Once that baby is here she'll be okay." Chris grabbed the back of JD's shirt as he went by. "You stay here. I think the others can handle it."
JD gladly handed the bag to the healer. He felt an arm slip around his shoulders and he relaxed. The young sheriff finally paused and let himself think about what was going on.
"Easy Kid. If I'm right, our Lizzy is a pretty strong woman. You did a good job." The ladies' man praised the kid as he guided him to the chair next to a very nervous tracker. Wilmington leaned back against the post and smiled. "So Pard, tell us how you met Lizzy. Judging from what Chris told me, her father isn't the kind to let his little girl go easy."
Vin nervously fingered a locket that Lizzy had given him before he left after being framed. "I was up north hunting a bounty when I saw her in the general store." A shy smile crossed his face as he thought about how they first met.
The mustached man couldn't believe how easy it was to get the quiet young man to talk this time, especially about that part of his past that included his oldest friend's sister. Buck noticed that the sharpshooter couldn't sit still, and he couldn't resist a teasing comment. "Dang Vin, you're more fidgety than a long tailed cat in a room full of rockin' chairs."
Tanner glared at the ladies' man. "Yeah, well it ain't everyday that I become a Pa."
Larabee smiled and remembered how nervous he had been when Adam was born. He patted Vin on the shoulder reassuringly. "I know what you mean, but you'll survive it."
"That's easy for you to say," the sharpshooter snorted.
"Well, you will. I know you don't think so now, but you will," Chris soothed. "Now, why don't you finish telling us about how you met my sister."
"I was having trouble finding the molasses. She handed it to me, and when I looked up to thank her, I lost my heart to the delicate face in front of me." Vin looked up at his best friend. "She looked like one of those dolls like Mrs. Potter has in her store. Her pa, well I guess your pa too, cowboy, came over and introduced himself and Lizzy. She insisted that I join them for supper and I took 'em up on it."
"Martin wasn't my pa. He was my mother's second husband. My pa died when I was seven; that's why Lizzy has a different name. I kept my father's name. Martin treated me as if I was his own though," Chris explained. He eyed the young Texan closely and then began to grin as a thought crossed his mind "How did you get Martin to let go of his little princess? I know he couldn't have made it easy. She was all he had left to remind him of our ma."
The tracker chuckled softly. "He didn't make it easy for me. Even though I couldn't read or write I managed to keep in touch with her. It wasn't until I got shot hunting down a bounty that I knew I wanted to be with her the rest of my life. The doc that patched me up helped me write her pa to ask for her hand."
All four men got quiet when they heard noises coming from inside. They strained to hear what was going on inside the building behind them, and they could hear the young tracker's wife begging Nathan to make it stop.
Larabee sighed when he heard Mary gently urge the young woman on. He didn't know which was harder, being in there and knowing what was happening, or being out her and not knowing.
Inside, Lizzy held the ex-preacher's hand. "Please stay," she pleaded and tightening her hold on his hand.
"Sure, sister." The big man sat next to the young woman and tried to provide some measure of comfort.
Lizzy tossed her head from side to side as she rode out another wave of pain. She looked to the gentle bear of a man who sat beside her. "I'm scared, Josiah. What if my baby doesn't' make it?"
Josiah placed a gentle hand on her stomach. "Your little one will be just fine. It has the best of you and Vin." He smiled and watched her relax at the reassurance he gave.
Mary looked up at Josiah. "Vin's child?" she whispered.
Sanchez nodded in response, never taking his eyes off the young blonde next to him.
Vin clutched the locket in his hand and took a deep breath. "As soon as I could travel I headed back to their farm. I wanted to ask her in person. Her pa made me promise to protect her and allow her to see her family. When I agreed to that he allowed me to ask her."
The others with him watched his blue eyes sparkle with life at the memories he shared. "I think she was listening at the door because I didn't get that chance. She agreed right away, and we got married the next day."
Chris had to laugh. "That's my sister. She was never one to wait for things."
Vin grinned when he saw his best friend smile at the memories his story brought him. "That's one of the things I love about her."
Buck stood up straighter. "What happen when you went to leave the farm, and after you were framed?"
"Martin told me if she was treated wrong by my hand, he would send her brother after me. At the time I didn't know that he meant you cowboy." The sharpshooter gave the blonde a lop-sided grin.
Chris just shook his head. "What about after you were framed?"
"Well a few months after we got settled in a small house in Tascosa I went after Eli Joe and I got caught. The sheriff sent someone out to our place to bring Lizzy into town after he arrested me." Vin paused and braced himself for the punch that he knew was going to come for the next part. "He left us alone to talk. Beth wasn't happy at all, but she believed me." He leaned forward and focused his attention on his boots. "She helped me escape that afternoon... I think the sheriff knew she would 'cause he never arrested her for helping me."
He heard Larabee stand up and could feel the big man's glare on him. "I didn't go home. I ran. I would send her a message every few days to let her know I was okay and that I loved her and missed her very much."
Just as Chris was going ask the question they all where thinking, they heard a faint cry from inside the jail. The four mean were on their feet instantly as the door opened to reveal a grinning green-eyed gambler.
"Mr. Tanner, I hope you have plenty of ammo for that weapon." Ezra smiled and pointed the mares leg on the young man's side.
"Wha..." The tracker wasn't following the long-winded gambler, and he shot a confused look at the others.
Just then Josiah poked his head out the door, just as Mary handed the baby to Lizzy. The preacher saw the confused look on the new father's face decided clarification was in order. "He means you have a daughter," he explained as he pulled the gambler aside to allow the rest of them to see the child.
The man in black watched the longhaired man kneel by his wife and gently trace the sleeping child's face. "She's so small. Did you name her yet?" he asked after placing a gentle kiss on Beth's cheek. He sat down next to her and took her and his child into his arms.
Lizzy looked down at her precious gift. "Yes, I gave it a lot of thought." She looked up at her brother. He hadn't been around much while she was growing up, but they were still very close.
Chris knelt on the opposite side of her. Silently, he made a promise that this child would have her father and uncles around while she grew up. "Did you name her after Ma?" He knew the death of their mother had been hard on his sister.
Lizzy reached out and took her brother's hand. "No, I named her for the two people that mean a lot to me. Meet Christina Vanessa Tanner," she said as she looked lovingly at the tiny bundle in her arms.
Chris's head snapped up at the name. "I thought you would have given her ma's name?" The man in black sent an unvoiced question towards his new brother. The longhaired young man just shrugged. He had no idea where she got the idea.
"I thought about it when I talked to pa just before he died. He told me Anna was named after ma." She saw her brother shut his eyes at the painful memory the name rekindled. "So, I thought of other names, but nothing seemed to be quite right. Then I remembered something Sarah told me when Adam was born." Grief clouded the green eyes that she had always remembered for their warmth and caring. She squeezed the hand she still held in understanding. "She told me, if she had a girl she would have been named after her ma and you. It got me thinking. If I had a boy he would have been named Vincent Adam, after his pa and your son, but for a girl I wanted her to carry your name."
Tears came to the blonde's eyes, and he didn't even try to hide them. He just let them roll down his face without caring who saw them. "Can we move her yet? She really should be in her room." He looked to Nathan for his answer.
"Not 'til morning at the soonest. We need to give her body a chance to rest first." Nathan replied. He knew that Chris would be even more protective of Vin and Lizzy now.
The leader of the town's peacekeepers stood and turned to his men. "Buck, we'll need a place to hold any troublemakers. I don't want Lizzy and my niece near them. Ezra...." His words were cut off by a raised hand. "I shall retrieve Mrs. Tanners blankets and some clean clothing for her and the little lady."
"Thanks, Ez. I'm not sure where Beth would have put the baby's stuff." The tracker responded quietly. He yawned and laid his head against his sleeping love, and he struggled to keep from drifting off to sleep. He finally gave up and let sleep claim his, aware that he didn't have to watch his back for now.
JD looked over at the small family and noticed that Vin had fallen asleep. "Look Chris; Vin's asleep. I don't think he slept well last night. Lizzy said the baby kept him up all night kicking him." He stood and watched them for another moment before setting off to gather some things Chris asked him to get for the baby.
Larabee smiled down at his family. He knew that Vin would finally sleep and get some real rest. He would place his trust in the others to keep them safe.
"Try the trunk by the bed, Ezra." He glanced around to see what else needed to be done. "We'll need a fire in here." The peacekeeper watched the tiny form move in her mother's arms and smiled warmly, before turning back to the others. "Let's move boys. We need a guard outside til she's moved." Josiah took charge. "Chris you should sit; we'll handle everything." The big man pushed the gunfighter into a chair.
Without taking his eyes off his expanded family, Chris looked between his sleeping friend and his sister. "We have to clear his name, Josiah. I don't want his child to grow up like Lizzy did. She barely remembers our ma."
Josiah placed a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder, he knew that the blonde understood his meaning. "We will brother. Rest . we'll handle everything for a while." Then he left to get something for the new parents to eat and left Larabee to watch over the new addition to the sleeping family.
Mary moved up behind where Chris sat in the chair watching over those so dear to him. She gently cleared her throat to get his attention, and he turned to look up at her when she laid her hand on his arm. "Chris ..I .I had no idea I'm sorry ..I ." She struggled to find the words to apologize for the hateful way she had acted.
Chris patted her hand and nodded. "I am too, Mary."
"If you need anything, I'll be home with Billy," she told him.
"Thanks, but I think we'll be fine." He watched Mary turn and leave the room and then turned his gaze back to the tiny bundle nestled between Vin and Lizzy. Larabee gently picked up the small child and marveled at how much she looked like her father. He shook his head when the little person in his arms began to cry, and he smiled when she showed the Larabee temper that he and Lizzy had both gotten from their mother.
Quickly, he found a clean cloth Nathan had left behind and changed her.
"She sounds like you when you're mad." JD teased when he entered the jail with an armload of stuff. "Mrs. Potter sent these over. Oh, and this for Vin." He pulled out a bag of the sharpshooter's favorite candy.
Chris chuckled and grinned. "She loves to spoil him."
The kid nodded. "Yep." He sat the stuff down and then moved over to see the tiny baby better. He lost his heart as a tiny set of blue eyes twinkled at him. "I was afraid for her mamma. I can't believe this little thing caused that much pain."
Chris agreed as he remembered how it was all those years ago. "I was afraid too when Sarah had Adam, but when you see the reason for the pain it makes it worth it." His voice softened when he saw the little girl fall asleep in his arms. "My sister may look frail, but seeing this little angel, I know now she's pretty strong." He bent and placed the sleeping child between her parents. Chris knew there was nothing in the world he wouldn't do for them. These three were his life, and he needed them like he needed air to breathe. Gently he stroked his sister's cheek and said a silent prayer that she would never know the pain of loss that he had suffered. He looked at his sleeping friend, no his brother now, and made a silent vow. "No matter what it takes, I will see to it that you are cleared so you can be free to be a family, the way you are meant to be." With that he spread a blanket over the trio and settled back to watch over them while they slept.