by Tonny

Part 9 of the Stupid collection

“Of all the stupid things! Haven’t ya learned anything from that idiotic stunt ya pulled, the one that got ya shot? Ya have ta do something stupid again, have ta play with yer life again? Stay put from now on or so help me, I’ll kill ya myself!”

Shit, Nathan was really pissed, Chris realized.

Hands were helping him up, moving him back under the covers of the bed.

Oh God! He didn’t think it would still hurt so much. Time had been a bit fuzzy, but Buck had told him he’d been in the clinic for almost two weeks. He should have been able to walk out to the porch by now, shouldn’t he?

He’d been asking to be taken outside for days and all Nathan had to say was ‘no’. He was getting so very, very tired of the word ‘no’.

A steak? No! Some burrito’s then? No! Whiskey? NO! Sitting outside? No!

No, no, no, no!

When Chris finally felt good enough to open his eyes, he saw that all six peace keepers were standing around him, looking at him. They were looking at him as if he’d committed a crime. It made him uneasy.

“Just... wanted to go to the porch. Sit outside...” he told them. Well, he’d meant to tell them, but he still wasn’t up to more than that pathetic whispering.

He hated this!

“Chris, you almost died,” Buck said softly, accusingly.

Chris opened his mouth to tell his long time friend that a walk to the porch was hardly going to kill him, when he saw the fear in the ladies man’s eyes. He looked at the other faces surrounding him and realized he saw that same fear in five more pairs of eyes as well. Fear for him, he suddenly knew.

It hit him in the gut, hard.

These men had been afraid he would die, and that fear was still there.

Real fear, as if they didn’t want to lose him....

God, he was only just coming to terms with the deep friendship he and Vin were feeling, he didn’t know if he was up to five more men staking a claim on him. He didn’t know how to deal with that... with the dependency he now recognized in those eyes.

He certainly wasn’t up to acknowledging it.

“I... I just wanted to see the sky,” he whispered and turned his head away, shutting them all out.

There was silence. Then a voice mumbled, “Chris?” Chris didn’t react; he didn’t know what to say. He only knew that it had seemed like the right thing to do when he decided not to go for cover after saving Lizzie Potter, but to take out the bunch of gang members that were suddenly right there in front of his gun.

He and his friends had been pinned down before that, pinned down good. By going for those gang members he could stop anyone else from getting hurt, and he had. Well, alright, except for himself as it turned out, but he could accept that. Now he discovered that his friends couldn’t except it and had been hurt after all, by him.

Footsteps left the clinic. Vin would still be there though, he just knew it.

“Chris?” the tracker’s soft drawl asked.

Chris opened his eyes, but didn’t look at his friend. He looked at the window just off to his right, at the sunlight he saw playing there.

“I really want to see the sky again, Vin. Looks like a blue one.”

“Yeah, it’s blue. Sunny and blue.”

“With... with clouds?”

“Yep, there are clouds,” another voice spoke up. Buck! Buck was still there as well? Chris turned his head and saw his two friends standing at his bedside. Both looked at him with concern, with... care.

He swallowed.

“Go and get that chair ready, Tannerboy. I’ll bring Chris,” Buck told the tracker. Vin smiled a grateful smile at the ladies man and hurried outside with some pillows in his hands.

“I can w... walk, Buck,” Chris declared, pushing himself up excitedly. He was finally getting out of here! He managed to get his feet over the side of the bed, but would have pitched forward if Buck hadn’t caught him. God, it was unbelievable how long some stupid bullet wounds kept a man weak!

“I can see that!” his long time friend groused. “Yer real chipper on yer feet. Sorry Chris, only way we’ll let ya outta here is in my arms, like a baby.” Chris glared at the grinning ladies man. He didn’t stop his long time friend from picking him up and carrying him to the porch though. He was willing to suffer some indignation, if it only got him out of the clinic!

Soon he was laying back in Nathan’s extremely comfortable rocking chair, covered in heaps of blankets. The sun was warming his face, the wind was blowing through his hair and the sounds and smells of the town drifted up to him. He had two good friends as company and above his head was the most astonishingly blue sky, filled with soft, white clouds.

“Look,” Buck said lazily. “That one looks like a giant cat. See? Ready ta jump that other white cloud.”

“Yeah, and the one behind him has something of a grouchy bear on his hind legs, ready ta eat that cat’s tail,” Vin drawled, sounding completely at peace with the world.

Chris smiled, looking up at the shapes as well. After a while he felt like he was drifting along with them.

“Damn!” the tracker suddenly grinned. “Look at that one! Don’t it just look like a horse with some bird head?”

Chris choked. All of a sudden his sight was blurry.


Chris didn’t answer, the memories of many a sunny afternoon where crowding him. Those moments when chores were done and the horses didn’t need feeding yet, laying in the meadow behind the house, Adam half on his chest, looking up at the clouds and trying to see things in them. Adam’s giggles when he made up some silly figures for his son.

He remembered running through that meadow, chasing Sarah, her laugh chiming like bells when he finally caught her. He had loved to silence that beautiful laugh with a deep kiss. A kiss that would last until Adam would throw himself at them and he would end up under his wife and son, his arms full with his family.

He looked at the sky again, trying to hide the tears that threatened to overflow.

“Adam loved looking at the clouds and seeing things in them. He loved it when we made up silly ones, like the one you just saw,” he heard Buck tell Vin.

“Aw, Chris, I’m sorry.” A hand grabbed his shoulder. Chris looked at the young man who had become such a significant part of his life and saw the deep sympathy in the blue eyes. It gave him a good feeling inside and he smiled at the anxious face.

“It’s alright, Vin, it really is.”

He thought about the other five men who also played an important part in his life now and about having Buck back beside him. He remembered the fear that had gripped him when that same realization had hit him inside the clinic, and he felt it slowly dissipate, leaving him with a sense of wonder.

“It’s just good to do this again,” he told his friends. “To look at the sky and gaze at the clouds. It’s been too long....”

He had to close his eyes for a moment. Vin’s hand squeezed his shoulder, Buck’s hand was gripping his. Their comfort surrounded him.

Maybe he could live with this after all.

Yeah, well, if Nate would let him live that is, when the healer found him sitting here....