The Beginning…?

by Jo

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirisch and MGM.

Comments: This is my first Mag 7 fic, so be gentle with me! I’m Irish, and the show has just stopped running here – booo! Love all 7, especially Mr. Larabee (as you’ll guess).

Feedback very welcome.

"I have to see her, Buck. She’s been running around in my head since I first met her."

The young Chris Larabee hadn’t been his usual cool, calm, collected self all week. His friend, Buck Wilmington, had never seen him this worked up about a girl before. The two were patching up some fencing at Larabee’s ranch.

"Well, her legs must be pretty darned tired by now. If you go to see her, her old man’s gonna shoot you or something, you know? Or were you too busy gazing into her eyes to remember what he’s like?" he pointed out.

"You’re one to talk about gazing into a girl’s eyes. I’ve never seen a man with doe-eyes like yours when you see a pretty girl."

"Aw. Shuddup. That’s just my way of making them want me even more. It works, doesn’t it?" he grinned.

Chris laughed. "Maybe I should try that with old man Hank – it might make him give Sarah a little freedom. I’ve rode past their place twice this week and there’s not a sign of her. He keeps that girl cooped up inside so much, it’s a miracle I got to see her in the first place," he said, putting down the hammer and leaning on the fence post.

"Guess you were just lucky. If that horse hadn’t been foaling, and Hank hadn’t been in town, she’d have been kept inside."

Chris thought back on how this girl had taken his heart from him on the day he met her. Of course, he didn’t tell Buck that she had "taken his heart", but he had clearly marked his territory in this case! Buck knew not to cross this line!

+ + + + + + +

Chris had seen the horse lying flat out on the grassy hill behind the old Connolly place as he had been riding past. He pulled up his horse and left it beside the house, before walking up the hill to where someone was with the mare. He knew that a man had moved in after old Bill Connolly had died; he hadn’t expected to find a girl of his age trying to help the mare give birth. The girl was kneeling down, looking tired, with strands of wavy brown hair about her face, which should have been tied back with the rest. She looked up at the handsome stranger’s face for a couple of seconds before saying,

"Mister, am I glad to see someone to help! I’ve been here for ages, and she’s not been much help." She nodded towards the mare, whose life was quickly slipping away. Chris rolled up his sleeves and, along with the tried girl, tried his best to take the foal from the mother. Twenty minutes later, the foal was sitting on the grass, looking around, with the dead mare lying behind.

"Pa sure isn’t gonna be pleased when he finds out that she’s gone," Sarah sighed, looking anxiously into the distance.

"There was nothing more you could have done, miss – I’m sorry, I don’t know your name," Chris said, at last having time to take a good look at her as he stood up.

"Sarah. Oh my, I didn’t even take time to say hello!" she said, as she took the hand the helpful stranger offered to help her up. She kept it in hers and shook it warmly, with a smile that went straight to the young gunslinger’s heart. "I’m Sarah Connolly. We’ve just moved here after Pa’s old uncle Bill died. Thank you so much for your help, Mister – " She broke off her sentence, waiting for him to finish it for her. It took him a few seconds to do that.

"Ah – Chris – Chris Larabee," he eventually spluttered.

"Larabee? I heard old uncle Bill mention you once – something about you having a good horse or two? Oh – " She suddenly stopped, looking up at the sound of a fast-approaching horse. "Pa."

"Don’t worry about the horse. Miss Connolly. There was nothing more you could have done. If you hadn’t come up here, you would have lost both of them." Chris tried to reassure her, but her hazel eyes were far from reassured. ‘Pa’ was almost alongside them now.

"I know, Mr. Larabee, it’ll be okay. I hope I can repay you sometime for all your help," she smiled again, before turning to the tall, pale man getting off his horse.

"What the hell happened here?" he growled, looking from his dead horse to the tall, thin stranger.

"She had real trouble foaling, Pa – she’s not even due yet. I couldn’t take it by myself, and – "

"You stopped this man and asked for his help? A complete stranger? Haven’t I taught you better than that?"

"Actually, sir," Chris interrupted, "I was just passing, and I could see that there was a problem, so I came to help. My name’s Chris Larabee – " He offered his hand to him, but did not receive one in return. Instead, he got a gruff reply:

"Mr. Larabee, my name’s Hank Connolly and we don’t need any help from you or anyone else, d’you hear? Now if you don’t mind getting off my property, I’ve got a horse to bury," he snapped, turning towards the mare.

"He was just passing, Pa. If he hadn’t arrived – " Hank glared at her, then at Larabee, before carrying on to check the foal. His daughter scowled at him behind his back. Chris turned to go.

"Thank you kindly, Mr. Larabee. Pa, I’ll take Mr. Larabee down so he can wash up. I’ll be right back," she called to him. He looked far from pleased.

On the way back down the hill, Sarah tried to explain her father’s behaviour.

"I’m sorry about that. You didn’t deserve it. He’s just a bit – protective – what with me being all he’s got left since Mama died."

"I’m sorry," Chris sympathised. There was a pause as they reached the house. Sarah pointed the way, saying "You can was up around there," before going into the house. She knew that Hank was watching the two of them from the height.

Chris was getting up on his horse when she came out again. She walked over with a little parcel in her hands. "It may help repay part of my debt," she explained, handing it over. "Baked fresh this morning."

"Appreciate that, Miss Connolly," he said, accepting it gratefully. "Well, guess I’ll be seeing you," he smiled as he left.

"I hope so," Sarah said to herself, watching him go.

+ + + + + + +

He told Buck the story that evening at the table, as they ate the biscuits. Buck, being Buck, wanted to meet the cook for himself, but, for once, he got rid of any ideas he may have had, judging by the look in Chris’s eyes. It was one he had not seen there before.

"Look, why don’t we ride out past their place? We might see something," Buck suggested, when the fencing was done. He felt that he had to do something to help his lovesick friend.

Connolly’s looked peaceful. In a paddock next to the house stood a nimble little foal. Chris got off his horse and headed towards it without a second thought. Buck stared.

"Whatcha gonna do? Chris? Chris?"

But Chris didn’t hear a word. Instead, he was gazing at the door where Sarah had just appeared.

"Oh, my," thought Buck.

"Chris – Mr. Larabee!" she called, before walking over.

"She remembers my name, at least," thought Chris. "Does she sound pleased, or am I expecting too much?" He took off his hat and grinned.

"Hey Miss Connolly! " he answered. "You can call me Chris," he continued, wishing that she would. "How’s he doing?" he asked, nodding towards the young foal, which trotted up to his adoptive mother to be petted.

"He’s coming along nicely, thanks," she replied. "And if I’m to call you Chris, then you can drop the ‘Miss Connolly’ – it’s Sarah, remember?"

"Of course I do," he answered shyly. He wasn’t used to being on first name terms with a girl so quickly, but Sarah was different. He knew that she wasn’t gonna be a girl he’d forget about easily. He was unsure of what to say next, so he took off his hat and looked at the foal for a minute. Hearing a small chuckle, he glanced up. Sarah was looking at Buck, who was grinning wildly at them both.

"Who’s your friend?"

Chris was slightly unwilling to introduce him. Buck had always been a winner with the ladies; until now, this hadn’t bothered Chris. What was happening to him?

"That’s Buck Wilmington." Buck waved back, startling Chris’s horse in the process and making him run off, in turn making Buck gallop after him until he could reach him to calm him down. Sarah laughed.

"I take it he’s not a horse-breeder, too?"

"You’re right, he’s not! He just came out here with me ‘cause he – " Chris stopped himself, with a twinkle in his eyes.

"’Cause he?" she prompted.

"’Cause he wanted to know if you had any sisters!" Chris chuckled. "I told him that you hadn’t, but he wanted to know for himself!"

"You can tell him that I’m sorry, but there’s only me! Doesn’t he like the look of me?" she asked curiously.

"Ah – " Chris stuttered, as he fiddled with his hat and lowered his head. She hadn’t noticed that his hair was so blond before. "Ah, I sorta told him that you’re not the girl for him."

"Why would you do that?" she asked with a tilt of the head, dragging out the awkwardness for him.

"Because – ah – I was thinking that you might be the girl for me," the handsome horseman murmured shyly. Those who knew Chris would have been astounded at how bashful he became in this girl’s company!

"I’m sorry," she began. Chris looked up, with a wave of disappointment about to wash over him. "I don’t think I heard you right," she continued. He slowly breathed a sigh of relief.

"Come on Sarah, you heard me!" he grinned. It never seemed to be so tough when Buck was doing this! She threw back her head and laughed.

"Okay, I heard you! I – Pa!" The smile faded as her father came around the corner, looking menacing.

"Mr. Larabee – just passing again?"

"Yessir. I saw the foal and came to see how he was."

"Doing nicely." He looked at his daughter. "You haven’t forgotten that talk we had, have you?"

"No, Pa, I haven’t."

"Good. Good day, Mr. Larabee." Seeing Chris was making no move to leave, Hank turned and walked away, muttering under his breath.

"We had a little talk about – uh – you," Sarah explained. "He thought you might be back." She looked around to see that Hank was out of earshot, but not out of sight.

"I guess he told you that you shouldn’t talk to guys like me?"

"It doesn’t matter if he did or didn’t, Chris. I’m old enough to make decisions for myself. And, in answer to your – suggestion – back there…" Chris looked at her hazel eyes, waiting for her to continue. "I was sorta hoping that I’d be the girl for you, too!"

Chris, the young gunslinger, was in a dream. "Really?"

"As you’ll find out, I don’t say things that I don’t mean. Look, why don’t we try it for a while – we’ve got nothing to lose, have we?" she asked, looking up at him.

Buck, back in position, grinned and said to himself, "Lucky Chris."

+ + + + + + +

Two years later, they were still trying, even if Hank didn’t approve. Far from it: he thought that nobody was good enough for his little girl. But Sarah and Chris felt that they were right for each other. The two of them were having a day out with a picnic by a quiet creek. Sarah and her father had been arguing about that "no good, hot-headed, beer-guzzling carouser". She got up at daybreak, threw a few things into a basket and walked the whole way to Chris’s place.

He had been surprised to see her coming along in her light blue dress, her dark hair bouncing over her shoulders with every step she took. However, he had not been surprised at her reason for coming when he heard.

"Seeing you’re not planning to hurry home, and I’m not that busy," he said, as he held her close, "why don’t we go for a picnic?" Sarah didn’t refuse! Soon, both of them were saddled up and rode off for the day.

Later, when they had finished eating, Chris lay back in his blue shirt and black jeans, looked up at the clear sky and sighed.

"What’s the matter?" asked Sarah.

"Just thinking." He brought himself up to lean on one arm.

"What about? The weather?"

Chris chuckled. "No, just thinking about the day I met you. Remember?"

"How could I forget?"

"I was just remembering something you said to me. You thanked me for helping with the horse, and then you said, "I hope I can repay you sometime.""

"So I gave you the biscuits," she continued the story, thinking back. "Why do you mention it? Haven’t I repaid you enough?" she asked, leaning over to gently kiss his forehead and run her hand through his fair hair.

"There’s one more thing you can do to pay off your debt," he answered, taking her hand.

"And what’s that?" she wondered.

"Become Sarah Larabee," he proposed.

"Sarah Larabee? Hmmm… Sounds all right, doesn’t it?"

"So? What do you say, Sarah?" he asked, thinking, "Please God, say yes, please God, say yes."

"Why not?" was as close to a yes that he got. "But I guess –"

"What?" asked Chris, sitting up now, sensing a problem ahead.

"But I guess we can’t just try this for a while, can we?"

"Nope, ‘cause it’s gonna be a very, very long while if you decide to go along with it."

"Okay then," she smiled, before kissing him and then lying back, looking up at the sky and sighing.

"Is that it? "Okay then" and our lives are changed forever?! Do you know how long I’ve been thinking about this?! Planning how to ask you?!" He laughed at her taking it all in her stride.

"No, I don’t know how long you’ve been thinking about this, but I know I’ve been thinking about it since the day I met you," she calmly replied.

"What?!" gasped Chris. She never failed to surprise him!

"I’ve always known we’d be together, darlin’."

"Sarah, what am I gonna do with you?" he laughed, leaning over and kissing his future wife.


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