Best Friends and Brothers
Buck looked up expecting to see JD come bounding in wanting to share another of his infamous bad jokes. He was surprised to see the black clad figure of his oldest friend. He couldn't help remembering a time when Chris had worn other colors. But that had been a long time ago, a lifetime ago. In many ways it had even been a different man, but he was seeing more and more of that man lately. He attributed a lot of that to Chis' new "best friend" Vin. He focused back on his visitor when he heard his name repeated. Chris took the chair in front of the desk and waited for his best friend to answer him.
"Hey Chris, what's going on? Thought you and Vin were goin' riding. What brings you here?"
"Vin needed some time in the desert by himself. You know how he gets. Since when does a man need a reason to talk with his best friend?"
Chris notices Bucks eyes drop to the floor at the mention of best friend. He thinks he may have just got a clue as to what's wrong.
"Thought you might be bored." Chris offers as further explanation.
"Looking through the wanted posters. How 'bout some cards?"
"How 'bout some talk? What's going on with you lately, Buck?"
"What do ya mean? You talking about Miss Amy? "
"Not gonna work this time, Pard," Chris interrupts, a bit annoyed with the diversion tactic.
Buck decides to play innocent. "What's not gonna work? My usual animal magnetism? Seems to be workin' OK."
"I told you it's not going to work this time. You are NOT going to change the subject to women. You are going to talk about you for once."
"Heck Chris, I always talk about my self."
"No," Chris contradicts, "You tell stories. It's not the same, and you know it. Hell, that's why you do it. Don't even think about playing dumb, 'cause you aren't. Now answer my question. What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong. The town's quiet. JD's managed to stay out of trouble for a full week. Josiah's getting a lot done on the Church. Nathan's with Rain. Ezra's on a winning streak. Vin's off enjoying nature. You're happier than I've seen you in years. What could be wrong?"
The two friends are quiet for a while. Buck deals the cards and they play in silence. The two men know each other well enough and have played together often enough that no words are needed. Finally Chris puts down his cards and speaks.
"Remember when we talked about wanting little brothers?"
Buck grins. "Yeah. You thinking of JD?
"JD and Vin. You got your little brother, I got mine. Just like we wanted."
"You're sayin' Vin is your little brother?"
Chris nods. "Just like JD's yours. You sound surprised."
"Guess I was thinking he was your best friend."
Chris makes eye contact before responding, wanting Buck to understand.
"I all ready got a best friend. Don't need another."
"So we got new younger brothers but keep our old best friend?"
"If you want. I know I haven't been a good friend, say nothin' of best friend since . . . the fire. But I wanna fix that. If you'll give me a chance."
"You know I will."
"Yeah, I do know that. Just like I know I don't really deserve it. But I will earn it."
"You all ready have Chris. How many times did you save my life during the war? You shared your family with me. You earned it."
"Thanks. That is what's been eatin' ya lately isn't it? Thinking Vin was replacing you?"
"Yeah. It just seemed like he was bringing you back. Something I tried, but couldn't do."
"You may not have brought me back but you kept me alive so he could. You shouldn't feel like you failed. I wasn't ready to come back. I needed more time."
"Maybe I did to." Not wanting to dwell on a past that was painful for both of them, Buck brought the subject back to the present. "Then the way you two connected. Never seen you let any one in that fast. 'Cept for Sara and Adam. Guess him acting older than his age kept me from seeing him as a younger brother like I do JD."
"We all see JD as a little brother. You're right that it's harder with Vin. He may not be much older in years but he's lived a lot more."
"Now hold on . . ."
"I know JD didn't have it easy, that's not what I'm sayin'."
"I know ya ain't. I get protective."
"I hadn't noticed." This was said with obvious sarcasm.
"We all do with JD and I know I do with Vin."
Buck smiles, "Reckon that's what brothers are for."
They go back to the silent game of cards for a while. This time it's Buck who speaks first.
"As your best friend let me give you a piece of advice,"
"As long as it's not advise on women," Chris interrupts with a grin.
Buck pretends to glare back for a moment then finishes. "Don't let Vin hear you call him your 'little brother.' Not sure you could get away with it like we do with JD."
"Good advice. And speaking of the devil . . ."
Buck turns just in time to watch JD crash through the door.
"Buck! Chris! There's a fight at the saloon!"
By now both men are standing and they follow JD as he turns and runs back out.
The two friends walk down the street side by side.
Comments to: StephensJB@3maw.usmc.mil