The Silent Father

by MMW

Disclaimer: Without Prejudice, the characters of “The Magnificent Seven” belong to MGM, Trilogy, etc and are used here without permission. The ATF au was created by MOG in “A Birthday In The Present”. No copyright infringement is intended.

Note: This idea came to me in June of 2003. I wrote the idea as a drabble, but the idea wouldn’t go away. I finally decided to write it as a fic and silence that voice.

Warning: Adult Situation

He sat before the gravestone, silent tears falling down his face. He knew Chris had been here earlier because he had watched Larabee leave. They both came every Father’s Day, only Chris didn’t know about Buck’s trip. It was something Buck would never be able to tell Chris, a secret that would die with him.

“Hey, Adam,” Wilmington said, his voice choked with tears. He reached out a hand and brushed the lettering on the headstone. “Miss ya buddy. I know you’re happy and safe with your ma.” He swallowed the lump in his throat. “I suppose ya know too that I’m your pa and I love you, son.”

As the tears continued to fall down his face, his thoughts ran back through time to the one and only time he and Sarah had betrayed Chris.

+ + +

“And where exactly have you left my husband?” Sarah demanded with a smile, smacking Buck’s hand with the back of her spoon as he stole a cookie.

“He got caught up at work with the bigwigs. He said he’d be home late,” Buck informed, shaking his smarting hand and savoring the fresh-baked confection. “Any news from the doctor?” he asked quietly.

Sarah’s head dropped slightly and a sigh escaped. She and Chris desperately wanted a child, well, a whole lot of children, but in three years of trying, they’d had no luck. The fertility doctors they were seeing were running out of ideas and they just didn’t have the money to try artificial insemination. “Not yet,” she admitted softly.

Buck heard the hurt and anxiety in her voice and walked over to hug his friend and offer support, his gentle heart nearly breaking at the unspoken admission. “It’ll work out,” he assured softly. “And then you better watch out because Uncle Buck is going to spoil your kid rotten.”

A gentle laugh escaped the woman whose head was resting on the rogue’s chest. Looking up, a twinkle entered Sarah’s eye as she offered a small smile. “Then you’ll have to deal with me,” she advised.

“Ooo. I’m shaking in my boots,” Buck teased back, earning another laugh.

Extracting her self from her friend’s arms, Sarah turned back to continue working on dinner.

Buck had just opened the refrigerator to retrieve a beer when the phone rang. Hearing the clatter of a knife on the counter, he straightened and looked over as Sarah moved quickly to the phone. Allowing the door to close, he walked over and stood near his friend to lend what support he could.

Watching the delicate face fall and tears jump to the beautiful eyes, Buck could only assume it was bad news. When Sarah’s body began shaking in silent sobs he reached over and put an arm around her waist to lend support.

“Thank you, doctor,” she sobbed out, finally, managing to hang up the phone with Wilmington’s help. Once the phone was in its place she turned and burred her face in Buck’s broad chest.

His heart breaking at the despair he witnessed, the ladies’ man wrapped his arms around his friend and held tight, speaking soothing nonsense words as he let her cry herself out. When the sobs slowed, he felt Sarah pull away slightly and let her go.

Looking up, Sarah met the compassionate blue eyes and saw concern and love. “We can’t…” she began before closing her mouth and swallowing.

“You can’t have children?” Buck asked, his heart breaking. If anyone deserved children it was his friends. He knew they would make excellent parents.

Sarah shook her head. “Chris…” she replied before tears started to pour down her face once more.

Understanding the answer, Buck couldn’t help the surprise he felt, but the fresh tears drew his attention. Growing up as he had, he had always been very sensitive to women’s needs and nothing broke his heart and tore through his defenses faster than an upset woman. “Hey, there,” he soothed, leaning down and kissing Sarah’s forehead before drawing her closer. “It’ll be alright. Maybe the doc is wrong. Maybe there’s another way…”

A loud sob escaped the young wife as she shook her head ‘no’.

At a loss as to what to do, he gently led Sarah to the living room and settled on the couch, still holding the weeping woman.

He wasn’t sure how long they’d been sitting there, or when Sarah had ended up in his lap, but as her sobs quieted and she stilled, he suddenly became aware of their closeness and the response of his body. “Better?” he asked. Sarah sniffed and shifted a little before freezing in his arms. Closing his eyes and knowing his friend had felt his response to her, he was about to apologize when she turned to face him.

He tried to look away, tried to swallow, tried to say something – anything – that would put an end to the situation that was developing, but nothing would come out. As he looked into Sarah’s beautiful eyes, he could feel all his walls crumbling, feel that deeply ingrained part of him that refused to allow a woman to suffer come to the forefront. For in Sarah’s eyes he read, sorrow, pain and need. But what silenced him was the terrible loss that he read there. It was a loss he’d seen only once before when his mother had miscarried his younger brother. It was a pain he would do anything to stop.

Keeping her eyes locked on him, Sarah reached up and cupped one hand behind Buck’s head, lifting her head, she kissed him softly and slowly. Breaking the kiss slightly, she leaned in for a second kiss, this time escalating the intensity until Wilmington had no choice but to respond.

When everything was over, the two lay naked on the floor of the living room, Sarah’s head resting on Buck’s shoulder. With the need and passion quenched, he closed his eyes against the fact that he had just had sex with his best friend’s wife. The images in his mind, though, weren’t those of the betrayal he expected to see in Larabee’s green eyes, instead it was the soul-deep loss in Sarah’s.

Feeling her shift, he opened his eyes once more and found himself staring into those beautiful eyes once more. In them, he could no longer see the intense pain or the loss that had broken his heart and his defenses. What surprised him, though, was the complete lack of guilt in those same eyes. He had been ready to deal with that, to take the blame, to convince Sarah that he was the one who had started things and she was little more than a victim, but he realized, he didn’t need to do that.

Moving up his body, Sarah planted one last kiss on his lips and then rose, gathered her clothes and headed toward the shower.

Watching her go, he waited until he heard the water running before standing, collecting his own clothes, dressing and leaving.

Work and his own need to think kept him from returning to the Larabee home for the rest of the week. That weekend, though, he had no excuse not to show up. So with some trepidation, he stepped out of his truck and headed toward the kitchen door, just as he always did.

A smile lit his face as he saw Sarah, a wet dishtowel in hand, chasing Chris who was protesting his innocence around the kitchen. He couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of his fearsome friend’s antics.

Buck’s laughter alerting the couple to his presence, Chris quickly took shelter behind Wilmington.

Realizing that whatever he had feared hadn’t come to pass. Buck wholeheartedly joined in the games, thankful that there was no awkwardness or guilt.

+ + +

”It was about two months later that Chris told me Sarah was pregnant,” Buck confessed to his son’s gravestone. “She was so happy, so radiant. It was everything they wanted, everything they deserved…”

“Eventually you were born and your mom and dad were the proudest parents ever to walk the face of the Earth. I beamed with them, knowing that you were my little boy and knowing that you had the best parents possible.” Tears stung the dark blue eyes once more. “We got lucky, though. You got my mom’s blond hair and Sarah’s eyes.” He wiped away the tears staining his face before continuing. “I swore to Sarah I would never tell you or Chris about it. And I haven’t. Though, I almost did once. You see, after you and your ma were… well… weren’t here anymore, Chris was hurting really bad. He was doing stupid stuff, stuff that would get him hurt or killed.”

“One night he was really drunk and he was spoutin’ off all sorts of horrible things at me. Then he looked at me and said, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to lose a son’. I was hurting just as bad because I’d had to be silent for all those years, but right then I almost told him, almost broke my promise.” Buck looked off toward the horizon. “I didn’t though. I didn’t want to ruin the good memories I knew he would want someday. So I just stood there and took his abuse.” Looking down at his hands, he admitted softly, “I left him alone soon after. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to mourn too.”

For several minutes, the only sound that filled the graveyard was that of grass rustling in the wind.

Finally, with a sigh, Buck stood and moved until he stood directly in front of the grave marker. Reaching out he traced each letter of the name before staring at the too few years recorded there. “I sure do miss you Adam Bucklin Larabee,” he whispered before standing straight and leaving the cemetery.