Twenty Years Later

by Carole

Chris Larabee looked out over Four Corners, a cheroot clenched tightly between his teeth. Clad in an old battered poncho that had seen better days, he wore an almost wistful expression as he compared the present day town to the one that had existed during the early days of the Magnificent Seven.

Once a dusty, lawless town on the verge of being swallowed up by the surrounding desert, Four Corners was now a thriving, peaceful community.

The Magnificent Seven had changed notably as well. As a body, they were older, grayer, wiser - although Chris wasn't too sure about the wiser part - and, if the truth be told, a bit slower, although their youngest member often made up for that with his still-youthful exuberance.

While it had been awhile since the Seven had ridden together in any official capacity, all six of his friends, after leaving for various reasons and lengths of time, had eventually returned to Four Corners. And now, twenty years later, Chris's extended family consisted not only of his friends, but also their wives and children.

Still lost in thought, Chris's attention was caught by movement across the street. Vin Tanner, still favoring an old buckskin coat and munching on an apple, had just exited the general store. As Chris watched, Vin suddenly stopped in his tracks, his head swiveling and his eyes searching.

Chris grinned as Tanner's gaze found him. The tracker nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement, a smile forming on his own face.

For a second, Chris was transported back in time, to the moment that the two men had first exchanged glances across that same dirt street, then Larabee tilted his head toward their favorite saloon in invitation. When Vin nodded again and took a step forward, Chris moved out into the street as well.

Striding together toward the saloon at the end of the street, both men smiled as they were joined, first by Buck, and then by Ezra, Josiah, Nathan, and JD in turn.

A look of contentment crossed Chris's face, a look that was quickly echoed on the faces of his men, and the years seemed to melt away as the Seven, forever linked together by an unbreakable bond of brotherhood, walked side-by-side in perfect unison.


July 2005