To See the Stars
Disclaimers: The Magnificent Seven and its characters are the property of MGM, Trilogy Entertainment, the Mirisch Corporation, and the Hallmark Channel.
Chris Larabee removed the cheroot from between his teeth, dropping it to the ground and pounding it into the dirt beneath his feet before heading for the wagon parked in a nearby alley.
Striding across the empty dirt street, he suddenly stopped, his eyes drawn to the celestial display that stretched out above the small town of Four Corners.
The perfectly round moon, in a center stage position with twinkling stars serving as a backdrop, brought a sudden, unexpected hint of emotion to the black-clad man's eyes.
He took a deep breath, his mind drawn back in time. A wistful smile touched his lips as he remembered the long-ago moment he'd spent with his family under a similar night sky. He could still see Adam, standing out in the yard, staring in awe for several long minutes before insisting that Sarah come out of the house to see the sky as well. The loving couple, along with the small boy who'd been lifted into his father's arms, had gazed wondrously into the heavens until the air turned cold and bedtime beckoned.
Chris rubbed the back of one hand over his face before turning to face the buckskin clad man beside him.
When blue eyes met slightly damp green, Vin softly asked, "Ya okay?"
Hearing the concern, Chris graced his friend with a small reassuring smile before motioning toward the sky. "Just remembering."
"Yer boy?" Vin asked with an uncanny insight.
Chris sighed, nodding. "He loved to see the full moon. One time he practically dragged Sarah out of the house, just to see it."
"I 'member watchin' the sky when I's little, too," Vin commented, smiling at the memory. "One time I stayed up all night, layin' out on the grass, jis' t' see the stars."
"I did that, too," Chris admitted with an answering smile.
"Jis' somethin' 'bout the night sky..." Vin's voice trailed off in contemplation. "Don't rightly know what it is."
Chris shrugged. "Been a long time since I did any stargazing."
"Same fer me. Too busy watchin' m' back t' be lookin' up, I guess."
"Yeah." Chris sighed heavily at the reminder of the bounty hanging over Vin's head.
"Ain't nothin' like it," Vin said softly, longingly. "Open sky 'bove ya, nothin' 'round fer miles." Glancing over at his friend, he confessed, "Been feelin' closed in lately."
"I know." Chris paused, then added, "Maybe it's time you did some stargazing."
"Mebee so." Vin tilted his hat back on his head. "Ya comin' 'long?"
A small smile teased at the corners of Chris's mouth. "You gonna stay up all night?"
"Lay out on the grass?"
"Look at the stars?"
"Yep," Vin repeated for the third time, his eyes twinkling. "Might do some ponderin', too."
Chris quirked one eyebrow. "Pondering, huh?'
"Yep. Best place fer it." Vin hesitated for a short moment, then added, "An' mebee ya could tell me more 'bout Sarah an' yer boy."
Suddenly feeling more at ease, at peace, with the bittersweet memories that had flooded his soul, Chris nodded. "I'd like that." He met the tracker's gaze. "And you won't have to worry about watching your back."
Both men reached out at the same time, sealing their words with a familiar forearm grip. As Chris released his hold, he glanced over at the sharpshooter, his eyes warm with gratitude. "Ready to ride?"
With an answering nod, Vin fell in beside the gunslinger. "Let's go."
"And when we finish our patrol..."
"We'll head out t' do some stargazin'," Vin finished, his steps matching those of the other man as they headed for the livery.