Come Home

by JIN

He’s sittin’ there watching me again. I can tell without even openin’ my eyes. I’m not gonna open ‘em, either. I’m not in the mood to hear about goin’ home. How many times do I have t’ explain it to the man? I always knew Larabee was stubborn, but this is gettin’ downright ridiculous.

I know him . . . he’s thinkin’ I’m the stubborn one; that I’m hurtin’ too bad and feelin’ too bad about everyone else t’ have a sound thought in my banged-up head.

I am hurtin’. Don’t think I ever hurt so much - inside and out.

But it doesn’t change anything. I can’t go back.

I spent the better part of this week tellin’ him that.

He doesn’t listen any better than I do.

Thought he had me over a barrel when he brought up Nettie. I could tell by that irritatin’, smug look on his face that he was sure that would do it. "Nettie needs you, Vin," he’d said, with those narrow green eyes that go right through me sometimes.


I’m the last person she needs . . . even if she doesn’t know it. That’s probably not what she said anyway. Thought he had me with that one – thought he knew that I’d do anything for Nettie.

Of course, he’s right about that. I would. Anything except put her and Casey and all the rest of ‘em in danger - again. Can’t even imagine facin’ ‘em after what happened.

"I know you’re awake, Vin," he says.

I sigh, "Aw hell, Larabee, don’t you have anything better t’ do than watch me sleep?"

"You’re not sleeping."

No, I’m not . . . haven’t been able to sleep much since it all happened. No matter how I turn or lay, I can’t get comfortable. And every time I close my eyes, I see it all happen again.

I don’t recall much after the fall. Reckon I must have made it to the livery; must have had help from Yosemite. I knew I was hurt, but I couldn’t think on it much. The pain in my heart was ripping me clear through, right down the middle. I thought Nathan was dead – and maybe Casey and Ezra, too.

Wasn’t sure where t’ go. Must’ve been Peso who made the decision t’ come t’ Larabee’s place. I looked up, and here we were.

Here we still are.

I open my eyes – figure I owe him that. Been puttin’ him out all week – layin’ in his bed, drinkin’ his whiskey, dependin’ on him for just about everything.

He’s got that look.

And it’s makin’ me mad.

"Stop lookin’ at me like that!" I holler, then feel myself blushing at my bad manners. How could I talk like that to the one man who stands beside me no matter what? After all that’s happened . . . this is how I treat him.

He puts his head down. I know him . . . he’s waiting; waiting for me to put my head on straight and talk it out. I can’t. I just . . . can’t.

"I can’t stand you feelin’ sorry for me," I finally blurt out. "I just . . . can’t . . . stand it, Chris."

"Then hold your head up, face your problems, and . . . come . . . home."

"Hold my head up? Face my problems? What the hell are you talkin’ about, Larabee? This ain’t got nothin’ t’ do with what’s in my head – it’s what’s on my head! Those men out there are real and they’ll come after me again. My problem is the price on my head, and until that’s gone – I ain’t . . . got . . . no . . . home."

"Thought you said home wasn’t a place. Thought you said it was a feeling."

There’s a reason I don’t speak much . . . ‘cause people can throw your words back at y’.

My head’s pounding. Usually I can keep up with Larabee, but not today. Not any day this week. Has it been only a week? Seems like a damn month. Seems like forever.

I groan before I can stop myself, and let my head fall back on the pillow. I’m so tired. Nothin’ makes sense anymore. Everything hurts. I feel him pull up the blanket, like he has dozens of times in the past few days. Sometimes, I even think I feel him touchin’ my face and my hair. Probably my imagination – Larabee wouldn’t be caught dead doin’ somethin’ like that. Felt good though. Felt like maybe he cared.

He shouldn’t care . . . be better if none of them cared. Be better if I just rode on out . . . be better if I never went . . . home.

+ + + + + + +

Chris went back to town the morning after he’d found Vin at his cabin. He hated leaving the injured tracker alone, but he had to check on his men and the town they’d been hired to protect. He was getting tired of wishing he was two people - if he could have split himself in two, he would have.

He stopped by Mary’s place first this time, thinking he might ease Nettie’s mind a bit, now that he’d found Vin. She deserved any consideration he could give her. He never made it to the door before she stepped out once more. Chris was thinking the old woman must have kept one eye peeled for him and Vin all that time.

"Well?" she demanded, her hands on her hips.

"How’s Casey?" the gunman asked, feeling a small hope that couldn’t wait to be acknowledged.

Nettie pushed a stray strand of hair from her eyes and sighed deeply. "She’s holdin’ on. I thank you for askin’. Now get on with it . . . you find him or not?"

Larabee nodded, unsure how much to say. The woman didn’t need to be carrying any more on those iron shoulders of hers.

She didn’t need to ask – she saw it in his eyes. The man was no different than his best friend; neither one of them could hide a thing from her. The only difference was, Vin knew it; Chris still thought he could get away with it.

"He gonna be all right?"

Chris looked down for a minute and swallowed, before meeting her gaze once more. "Gonna take some time," he finally answered.

Nettie nodded and said, "For all of us."

Chris watched her walk stiffly back inside before heading for the saloon. The air in the small town seemed different somehow – heavy and still – as if in anticipation of some terrible event. The townsfolk avoided him, and he couldn’t quite figure out why. He wasn’t storming or glaring or shooting – wasn’t even threatening to shoot. He was just making his way from one hurt friend to another.

Not that he cared. Let them think what they wanted. Narrow-minded people were the least of his problems.

Unless . . . he moved quickly up the stairs of the saloon to where the other men laid – worried now that the somber mood surrounding him could only mean bad news. He nearly collapsed in relief when he opened the door and spotted Josiah in the exact position he’d left him in yesterday.

Josiah turned when the gunman entered the room, and spotted his panic immediately.

"He’s holding on, Chris. Take it easy."

Chris let out a long breath and took a seat next to the preacher.

The two exchanged a meaningful look before Sanchez asked, "You find him?"

Another nod, another swallow, another half-truth, "He’ll be okay – needs some time."

Josiah gave him a dubious look before frowning, "All right, but just remember what I said."

Not particularly in the mood for one of the preacher’s cryptic ramblings, Chris gently squeezed the unresponsive healer’s arm, and moved on to the next room.

He smiled in relief when he found Ezra sitting up in bed. Finally he’d have some good news to take back to Vin.

"You look like shit, Ezra," he said with a cocky grin aimed at the pale gambler.

"Well, thank you, Mr. Larabee for lifting my spirits already this morning. It apparently is not enough that I must suffer the indignity of lying half naked in bed, being cared for by my . . . employer," he said, with a pointed glare at Inez, "must I also suffer your comments on my less-than-desirable appearance?"

Chris shook his head as he said, "Good to have you back, Standish."

"I am immensely grateful to be back." Turning a serious glance at the blond, he asked, " Nathan?"

"No change, that I can see," Larabee responded softly.

Ezra looked away for a long moment, before returning his gaze to the gunman. "And Mr. Tanner?"

"You know about Vin?" Chris asked, surprised.

"I know enough to realize that these horrific events could quite possibly destroy him."

It was simply put – for Ezra. And tragically close to the truth.

"I would suggest that you bring our sensitive tracker home promptly," the gambler added.

"He’s not ready," Larabee stated flatly.

"This is one wound time will not heal, Chris. What he needs is . . . us."

He may never get a handle on the gambler, Chris decided. Just when he thought he understood the man, he acted totally out of character. Either that or being hurt brought out the real man behind the charade.

Whatever the reason, Ezra had a point about Vin. Now if only he could get Vin to see it.

+ + + + + + +

There’s blood everywhere. He’s layin’ in it - almost floatin’. His eyes are closed and his face is white and the blood is as red as his jacket. I kneel down beside him, thinkin’ I should do something – should lift him up out of all that blood. I reach out to touch him, and suddenly he opens his eyes and sits up.

He’s only got one arm, the other shot off. I see it now, lying in the blood, and I pick it up – thinkin’ somehow I can put it back on. I’ve got to put it back on.

But before I can - before I can fix it – he says t’ me, "Now look what you’ve done, Mr. Tanner. You’ve crippled me! How can I make a living with one arm? I’d prefer to be dead. Better yet, I’d prefer you to be dead."

I can’t tear my eyes away from his white face, and I can’t let go of his useless arm, still hanging from my hands – and suddenly, I can’t breathe. I try to take in some air, to draw a breath, but a terrible, aching, heavy weight is pressing on my chest and I . . . can’t . . . breathe.


Chris is calling me, but I can’t answer because I can’t breathe.

"Vin! Wake up!"

He’s angry – or maybe scared. Don’t blame him – I’m scared myself.

"Come on, Vin . . . you’re all right now. Just open your eyes."

He’s gentle now, worried - and I know it’s another nightmare.

I open my eyes and try my best to draw in some air. It hurts like hell, but it clears my head some . . . enough that I can make out Larabee’s frown.

"I’m . . . sorry," I mumble.

"Don’t be," he says.

And I know he means it.

Doesn’t change the fact that I am sorry.

Sorry to be so much trouble . . . sorry to be such a problem . . . sorry I came . . . and so very sorry I stayed.

If only I hadn’t stayed . . . if only I’d gone on to Tascosa in the beginning.

Oh God, I’m so sorry.

Chris puts his head down and pulls his hands through his hair. I must have said it out loud again.

I know him . . . know that gesture, know what it means. He’s exasperated – he doesn’t know what to do with me.

He looks up at me after a minute and says, "Vin, please . . . just let it go. Ezra is fine, I told you that. Do you remember?"

I nod slowly. I remember him saying it – it’s the believing it I’m having a problem with.

"He got all his . . . parts?" I ask.

He dips his head. I’m not sure if he’s hidin’ a smile or rollin’ his eyes.

"I’m not so sure Ezra’s ever had all his . . . parts. But he’s in one piece, if that’s what you’re asking."

I take a deep breath and try to make my heart quit racin’ in my chest. I’m thinkin’ it’s never gonna stop. I’m thinkin’ I need t’ just get on up outa this bed and head on out. I’d have to ride Peso bareback, but that’s not a problem. Ain’t like I never did it before.

Don’t know what I was thinkin’ . . . comin’ here and botherin’ Larabee.

He’s givin’ me that look again.

I know him . . . he’s wishin’ Nathan was here to keep me from hurtin’; he’s wishin’ Buck was here t’ tell a tale or two and pass the time; he’s wishin’ Josiah was here t’talk some sense into me.

Truth is, I couldn’t stand havin’ any one of them here right now. I’d go plumb out of my mind fer sure. I just couldn’t look ‘em in the eye.

And I sure don’t want them seein’ me lookin’ this way . . . feelin’ this way . . . actin’ this way.

Don’t know exactly why it’s all right for Chris to be here with me – but it is. Peso’s a smart horse – dumping me where he did. I couldn’t be anywhere else with anyone else right now.

I figure Larabee knows that. I figure that’s why he keeps lookin’ at me like he does. I figure that’s why he keeps sighin’ and pullin’ his hand through his hair.

He doesn’t know what to do with me, anymore than I know what to do with myself.

+ + + + + + +

Chris continued to make the trip to town every morning. Six days had passed since the shooting, and it was determined that Casey and Nathan would live. It was almost anticlimactic. There was no grand realization; no profound moments; no great spiritual revival. But slowly and surely, they each gained just a bit, until finally it seemed that they were closer to living than dying.

Chris could hardly wait to ride back and tell Vin. He’d been cautious with his friend up until then, not wanting to offer him false hope that could be cruelly ripped away. He’d suffered enough.

Nathan had gradually become more lucid as the days passed, and finally, on that sixth day, he was alert enough to ask about Vin. Chris was beginning to have a little trouble keeping his secret from them all. He hadn’t exactly been forthright about Tanner’s injuries - feeling pressured enough about getting the tracker home as it was. And besides, not a one of them needed something else to worry over.

He was sitting by Nathan’s side that day when Buck stepped in. At Nathan’s question regarding Vin’s well-being, Wilmington chimed in, "Yeah – and just how many bones did he break this time?"

Nathan could hardly hold his head up, but he nearly bolted up at that. "What are you talking about, Buck? What happened to Vin?"

Chris glared at his old friend which, as usual, mattered not at all. With a small huff, he turned to the sick man in the bed and said, "He took a slight fall . . . but he’s . . . okay. Mostly. Nothing for you to worry about, Nathan."

"A fall? From where?"

Now Chris openly communicated his displeasure towards the rogue, who responded sheepishly, "Guess maybe I shouldn’t have brought it up."

Deciding honesty might be less stressful than all things the healer’s mind could undoubtedly conjure up, Larabee answered, "From the roof. But I’m taking care of him."

"You check for bleeding inside? He got any broken bones? You don’t get it set just right and he’ll feel it for the rest of his life."

As if he didn’t have enough to worry about . . . Chris was suddenly wishing he’d stayed out at the cabin and skipped his daily trip to town.

Nathan’s sudden burst of energy was petering out quickly, but he had enough breath to make a few last comments. "Just bring him home, Chris . . . put him in here with me. We’d all feel . . . a heap better about it."

All except Vin, Chris thought, as he watched Nathan drift off to sleep.

+ + + + + + +

It’s hurts so bad, but I can’t say it. Can’t tell Chris. I’ve caused him too much trouble already.

"You can tell me, Vin."

I hear Nathan’s voice, but I know it can’t be him. He’s dead. Chris says it’s not so, but I saw him that day . . . his chest blown wide open.

"Go ahead and say it, Vin. Say how much you hurt."

All righty then - I’ll say it, Nathan. I’m hurtin’ somethin’ fierce.


Everywhere. All over.

"You remember how many times I tried to help you? You remember how many times you gave me a hard time?"

I know, Nathan. And I’m sorry. I’d do anything to take it back . . . to take it all back.

"Can’t take it back, Vin. Can’t ask for my help no more. Can’t ever get away from that pain you’re feeling. You gotta live with it. Just like you gotta live with my blood on your hands."

Please, Nathan. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Please help me.

"Too late. Too late for all the times you argued with me. Too late for clearing your name. Too late to save me. Too late to save yourself, Vin. You get to live with it all now – feel that pain in every bone and every muscle and every nerve and every thought you have every day – ‘cause it’s never going away. It’s just too damn late."

I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry! I scream it over and over again, but he’s gone.

And it hurts so bad.

"God, Vin, what am I gonna do with you?"

I feel a strong hand on my arm, hear the anguish in his voice, and I turn my eyes to his face. Chris.

My face is wet and I know I’ve been crying in my sleep again. I hate that. I hate how it must look to Chris . . . how he must see me.

He came back from town yesterday and told me that Nathan and Casey were better. I don’t know if it’s true. He’d say anything to help me. He’s that kind of man . . . that kind of friend.

He told me they all want me to come back.


I’m the last thing they need.

People think I’m a loner . . . think I don’t need a lot of folks around; think all I need is the sun and the stars. It ain’t so. I’m not who they think I am. I want the same things everyone wants . . . a place t’ rest my head at night; friends t’ pass the time of day with; a reason t’ feel like I matter.

But who the hell did I think I was? I gave up my right t’ those things the day I picked up my gun and used it t’ make a living. Sometimes a man has t’ live with his choices a long time – sometimes, forever.

I can’t ever go back.

I’m the last thing they need.

+ + + + + + +

It had been the longest seven days of her considerably long life. Nettie pulled on her light jacket and hat, and sighed as she pushed away the terrible memories. There was no reason to dwell on it all. Casey was getting better, and there was only one thing left to set right – or rather one person left to set right.

"Thank you for staying with Casey, JD. I’ll be back as soon as I can," she informed the young man.

He nodded, but remained oddly quiet.

She’d avoided this discussion all week, but if she was successful in getting Vin back to town, he’d need Dunne on his side.

"You think Vin’s a good man, JD?" she asked.

He looked her squarely in the eye and answered, "The best."

"Then why don’t you want him back? Why you aiming all this anger at him?"

With a puzzled frown, JD explained, "I ain’t mad at Vin – I’m mad at the men who came after him." He paused before continuing, "But I don’t want him to come back until he clears his name. He should’ve done it a long time ago. It ain’t right that Casey was hurt, and I don’t want anyone else getting hurt."

"A lot of things ain’t right, JD," Nettie stated matter-of-factly. "You know better than anyone how good intentions can go horribly wrong. Fact is – people get hurt and bad things happen for lots of different reasons and ain’t none of them right. Ain’t right that Annie died. Ain’t right that Chris lost his family. And it sure ain’t right to let a good man – a good friend – walk out of your life because something might happen."

JD flinched at the mention of Annie’s name, but he didn’t look away from the older woman. Nettie liked that about the youth. He wasn’t afraid to stand his ground and look her in the eye. Fortunately, he caught on pretty quickly, too.

JD could have kicked himself after listening to Nettie. She was right, and he was glad of it, because when it came right down to it – he didn’t want to blame Vin, and he really didn’t want Vin to leave.

Nettie saw the change in the young man’s eyes immediately, and so she wasn’t surprised when he said, "Well then, I reckon you’d best get him to come home, Miss Nettie."

+ + + + + + +

I don’t dream about Casey, but I think about her all the time. Seems like every wakin’ minute, she’s there – sittin’ in the corner of my mind.

She’s just a girl. She had nothing t’ do with me.

At least the boys knew what they’d gotten into – who’d they’d signed up t’ ride with.

Not Casey. She’s just a girl . . . sweet and innocent and way too young t’ have t’ know what it means t’ take a bullet. Don’t know how I can ever see her or Nettie again.

I hear the sound of horses and a wagon outside, and I look to Chris. I can tell he has no idea who it is, either. We’re both wondering if it’s bad news . . . or someone come t’ see me.

My heart’s racin’ and my breath is catchin’ in my throat. Please don’t let it be bad news – but please don’t let it be anyone t’ see me.

Please, Chris – I can’t do it.

He sees it in my eyes. I know him . . . he’s thinkin’ I can’t hide away here forever; I can’t pretend like this never happened; I can’t run away from all of them.

But he’s wrong. I’m lookin’ at the window and wonderin’ if I can get to it in time.

He gets up and heads for the door, but it’s opened before he reaches it.

He heads Nettie off at the pass, standing in front of her – his hand pushing gently on her arm to hold her back.

I never felt so much for anyone in my life as I feel for Chris at this moment.

She’s peaking around him, set on comin’ over to my bed. I see her eyes fill with tears – she’s goin’ on the worry – over me. How can that be?

I turn my face away – I can’t bear t’ see her. I can’t bear t’ see her or talk t’ her or feel her.

"Nettie, let’s go outside and talk a minute," Chris says to her.

She must have agreed, ‘cause I hear the door close.

"Good Lord, Chris! He looks worse than the other three put together! What the devil are you thinking? Why haven’t you brought him back so we can tend him with the others?"

"It’s . . . complicated," Chris says.

He’s got that right.

"Not the way I see it," Nettie argues.

I got a feeling we’re all gonna know how she sees it real quick here.

"Put him in the wagon and drive him home."

Please don’t, Chris, I’m not ready.

"He’s not ready," Larabee says.

Thank God.

"It hurts him to roll over, Nettie. How do you think riding in the back of a wagon is gonna feel?"

Good move, Larabee. Appeal to her sympathy for my pain.

I can’t see her face, but I imagine her huffin’. It gets real quiet now, but I’ve got good ears – probably the only part of me that wasn’t messed up in that fall.

"I’d like to talk with him. Set him straight on a few matters," she says.

There’s a long pause, then Chris says, "Let me have a few more days. If I can’t get him to agree, you come back out and I’ll let you have him."

I don’t like the sound of that. But it buys me more time. A few more days and me and Peso will be headin’ for Texas.

"All right – but I’m not happy about it – and neither will anyone else be. You’re both needed back in town."

I’m the last thing they need.

"You sure about that, Nettie? The rest of the folks see it that way?"

So they weren’t all wantin’ me back. I figured as much.

"Gang came in last night. Buck, Josiah and JD took care of it – but it reminded everyone real quick how much they need you all. No one’s gonna give Vin any trouble, you can count on it."

Wonder how much talkin’ and threatenin’ she had to do to convince them all of that?

"Thank you for coming out, Nettie. I’ll see you in a few days," Larabee says.

Maybe she’ll see him, but not me.

Chris comes in and sits beside the bed, but I’m not lookin’ at him. I got a thousand thoughts whirlin’ about in my head, and I ain’t rightly sure which one t’ go to first.

"Guess you weren’t lyin’ t ’me about Casey," I say.

I’m not sure why I said it – just seemed to be the first thing that quit spinnin’ long enough fer me to grab hold of it. I know Nettie wouldn’ve come if Casey was still in trouble.

"Lying to you?"

I look at him now, and I’m kinda wishin’ I hadn’t because he’s got that look he’s only turned on me once before – when I told him about Ella.

"Lying to you?" he asks me again. His voice is soft, but his eyes most definitely aren’t.

He gets up so sudden, it startles me, and I almost give in and groan from the jarrin’ of my ribs. He’s pacin’ in front of the window – pullin’ that hand through his hair again. I’m wonderin’ if he’ll have any hair left by the time I leave.

He turns all of a sudden and says, "Why did you come here, Vin?"

I go with the story I’ve been tellin’ all week. "I told you – Peso brought me."

"That’s shit, and you know it," he says in that hard, flat tone that tells me he’s a mite miffed at me.

"Well, all right then, I’ll tell y’ why, Larabee."

He’s waitin’ and I’m thinkin’ . . . hell, I don’t know why myself, how can I tell him?

"Well?" he asks.

"Well hell, Larabee . . . look at you. Look how y’ are. I figured you wouldn’t mind all that much if’n I got you killed."

He pulls up short and stares at me hard. I don’t turn away – he doesn’t scare me. And then he does the damnest thing.

He laughs. And the more puzzled I look at him, the harder he laughs.

People think Chris don’t laugh much . . . smile, neither. They’re wrong. He can light up like a Christmas tree when somethin’ strikes him. Sometimes me and him get t’ laughin’ so hard, we can hardly keep a straight face and hide it from the others.

I got no idea what he’s laughin’ at now, though.

"Damn, Tanner. We’re both screwed up, aren’t we?"

"Reckon so," I say slowly, still not sure what happened here.

"Who would have thought some dusty little town could put its hooks in us? Who’d ever thought two men like us would find a . . . home."

I sigh and look away. It always comes back to this home thing.

"Why did you come here, Vin?" he asked me real softly now.

I seem to be havin’ some trouble keepin’ up with his train of thought. We talkin’ about lyin’, or how twisted up we are, or home?

Maybe I’ll stick t’ one question at time. Maybe I’ll just face up and answer that last one. He deserves an answer, after all.

"I came because . . . I was hurt . . . felt like I was gonna fall clean apart. And I knew . . . I knew you wouldn’t turn me away."

"And you know I’d never lie to you."

I nod. Yeah, I know it. I’m feelin’ like a real dog now, and hanging my head t’ prove it.

He sits down beside me again, and tips my chin up with his finger ‘till I’m lookin’ him in the eye.

"You came because you knew you’d be safe here. And you were right. You were right to come. And what you said about home being a feeling – you were right about that, too. Mostly. Home is a feeling. It’s one you get when you’re with the people you care about. It’s not only about being safe."

"Maybe not, but that’s a big part of it. No one should have to be afraid to be around someone they care about. Maybe I ain’t never had a real home before, but I know that much."

"None of us are safe, Vin. People get sick and get hurt and they . . . die, no matter where they live or who they share their lives with."

Damn, he’s good. And here I thought Josiah was the smart one. Doesn’t change anything, of course, but I got t’ admit – he’s good. He ought t’ think about speakin’ more often. People think Chris doesn’t talk much because he doesn’t know what to say. They’re wrong – he just thinks most things ain’t worth sayin’.

Guess I should feel honored that he’s carryin’ on like he is fer me.

"Four Corners is your home now, Vin – our home – whether you want to admit it or not. It’s our home because of what we found there . . .friends to ride with and friends to watch over; a place to rest our heads; a place to feel like we matter. You can’t change that now, Tanner. It’s in your heart and always will be, no matter where you go."

I feel tears in my eyes, and I try to blink them away.

I know all that. I know it better than any of the others ever will, except for maybe Chris.

And that’s exactly why I can’t go back. I just can’t let this ever, ever happen again. Why can’t he see that?

"I should’ve helped you clear your name sooner, Vin – we all should have. And once you’re up to it, that’s what we’re going to do."

He means that. He’d take that long ride t’ Texas with me. And if he did – if they all did – would it be all right then? Even if I cleared my name, would I ever really be free? I can’t ever forget what happened, and I don’t know if I can ever believe it couldn’t happen again . . . that it won’t happen again.

I sigh. I’m tired. I hurt. And I got all these jumbled up thoughts still floatin’ around in my head.

Chris pulls the blanket up over my chest and pushes the hair from my face, and I can’t believe how good it feels.

"You rest now, Pard," he says, as he pulls his book from his pocket and settles back in the chair.

I look at him one more time before I close my eyes. I wonder if he knows the truth. I wonder if he knows that he pretty much got it right that first day when he said that bein’ here was bein’ home. But it wasn’t because I knew I was safe – it was because he was here.

I wonder if he knows that somewhere along the way, I decided that wherever Chris Larabee hangs his hat is good enough fer me. Ridin’ with Chris is about as close as a man like me is ever likely t’ get t’ bein’ . . . home.


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