Necessary Apologies

by Wgang

Disclaimers: I don't own Magnificent 7. I wish I did, I'm just borrowing them.

Notes: Thanks to Mog for letting us play in her ATF playground. I watched the episode Manhunt again and just had to write another story, I just hate that ending.

Summary: Buck's actions have Vin taking off. Can he convince the sharpshooter to stay in town?

Buck walked out on the balcony-leaving Dolly in bed, life was going good for him right now. Four Corners was a nice little town, he had JD to dote over, and the women were plentiful and like the one he had just made love to a lot of them were willing. The best part was the fact that his old friend Chris Larabee was in town and looked to be settling down and even enjoying life at times. Buck would like to think that it was because the blond had found a family in the six men he worked with and the fact that Mary Travis seemed to like him, but Buck knew that wouldn't be the real reason.

Vin Tanner the long haired scruffy Texan who was a bounty hunter now tracker and sharpshooter was the real reason Chris Larabee stayed, the reason he smiled and the reason his nasty temper was under control more often than not.

Tanner brought out the best in Larabee hell Vin brought out the best in most people and while Buck admitted that fact he was also jealous of the younger man though he was trying to work on it. Especially after the fiasco with Chanu when Vin had been treated like shit by not only a lot of the townspeople but by two of his so called friends. Buck and Ezra had not stood by Vin and supported him, thinking that the quiet man had not done enough to save Claire, and had helped Chanu escape custody. After all Vin had lived with the Indian for many years could they really trust his judgment.

They had been so wrong and now even after a couple of weeks had passed since Claire had been murdered by her own father Buck felt the guilt flood him at the way he had talked to and treated Vin, he knew that Ezra had felt the same way. Oh they both had apologized and Vin had gracefully accepted their apologies but the tracker was ill at ease around them, with him more than Ezra. In fact Buck had seen Vin and Ezra laughing with each other earlier in the day, the ladies man couldn't remember the last time Vin had talked let alone laughed with him.

Buck figured it had to do with that night right before Chanu had escaped, he had been in the saloon listening to the men rant and rave about stinking Indians and how they all needed to die, they weren't fit to be around decent people.

Vin had walked into the saloon and headed to the bar. Inez had served him a beer and that was when it started.

Slurs, insults and downright filth had been tossed at the shy unassuming man, Vin never acknowledged any of the words just drank his beer smiling a little at Inez letting her know that everything would be okay.

Before Claire Buck would have stepped in and stopped the verbal abuse, hell the men wouldn't have been brave enough to talk to Vin that way but they thought Vin didn't have the backing of the rest of the seven except for Larabee of course.

Stupid idiots, only Buck and Ezra were to narrow minded and brainless to trust in Vin and follow his lead.

Chris would stand by Vin no matter what, JD didn't have a prejudiced bone in his body, and neither did Josiah or Nathan.

Vin had turned around right before he left the saloon and met Buck's eyes. The big man had felt those blue lasers shoot right through him and he felt like he was found wanting and it pissed him off. Buck had raised his chin and dared Vin to say something.

A shadow had crossed the blue eyes, Buck would have sworn that it was sorrow, loss and disappointment that he noticed in the younger man's eyes but it was gone so fast he couldn't be sure.

Vin had left the saloon and Buck had not seen him again until he had arrived at the Indian village and proved that Chanu was innocent. Buck had felt like a bull had kicked him in the stomach and he knew that Ezra had felt the say way when they had found out that Claire had been murdered by her own father.

Vin could very easily have thrown their pettiness in their faces but he didn't. On the way back to town they had apologized not knowing how to make it up to Vin. Vin had just commented that everyone makes mistakes and had let it go or seemed to.

Buck had noticed that while Vin was letting Ezra tease him again he barely said two words to Buck though he was always polite.

Buck figured it was past time to talk to the tracker and he would have to be careful, Chris was like a mother grizzly bear when it came to Vin and the claws had been out for the last two weeks. Anyone looking at the tracker sideways had to deal with Larabee's temper and cutting words. Vin had tried to talk to his friend but Chris had told him loud enough for everyone to hear that anyone who had a problem with Vin had a problem with him. Since then everyone had taken to lying low.

Yeah Buck thought tomorrow I'll get Vin aside apologize again and see what I need to do to make it up to the younger man.

Buck smiled as he made his decision then he heard talking below the balcony and stealthily snuck out to see who was on the boardwalk leaving Lilah his current lady friend asleep in bed.

Buck recognized Chris and Vin's voices and figured they were sitting next to each other and since it was late in the night they were just shooting the breeze but as he started to go back inside to leave them to their conversation he heard Vin say something that filled him with fear.

"I'm leaving tomorrow for Tascosa. I figure it's time to clear my name, besides its not like I'll be missed by most folks around town," Vin said refusing to look at Chris not wanting to see the shocked look in his best friend's face.

Sure enough the reaction was just what he expected.

"What the hell does that mean. I'll miss you and so will the rest of the guys. You have a lot of friends around here. Damn it Vin they won't let you get two words out of your mouth before they hang you?" Chris snapped the fear and anger evident in his tone of voice.

"I'm sorry Chris. I know I've made some good friends and you...well you're like a brother to me but ever since the whole Chanu and Claire thing it just hasn't been the same."

"I thought Buck and Ezra apologized so who's been giving you a hard time, I'll go straighten them out," Chris promised already thinking of ways to make whoever was upsetting Vin pay for it.

Vin sighed, "They did apologize. Ez even sat down with me and explained why he said what he did and reacted the way he did. It was something that happened to him a long time ago. I understood it, but you know what's to say it won't happen again in the future. I can handle the slurs and comments from strangers but not my friends. You know for a while I was questioning myself and that isn't good for a man with a bounty on his head, I let what Buck and Ezra say bother me and make me waver in my thinking and question my instincts."

Chris noticed what Vin didn't say.

"What about Buck? Did he sit down and talk to you?"

Vin licked his lips and glanced away from Larabee for a minute then he turned and looked into his friend's face.

"You know as well as I do that Buck has resented me from the very beginning. I hoped that he would get used to us being friends but I don't think that will ever happen and I don't want to come between the two of you anymore."

Chris leaned forward and replied, "The only person who has put you in the middle is Buck. Buck and I were best friend a long time ago, we went through some bad times and then went our separate ways. Buck and I are friends...good friends. What you and I have Vin is so much more than what Buck and I have. You and I...well it's like you said we're brothers...hell more than brothers. It's uncanny how we can read each other without saying a word; I need you with me Vin. You keep the darkness of my past away or at least far enough away that it's bearable. I'd like to know who has been hassling you, but if you're still intent on going to Tascosa then I'm going with you."

Vin shook his head at his stubborn friend.

"Just some of the local cowboys particularly from James spread. Seems even with all the evidence and a confession they don't believe that Claire was killed by her father and blame me for Chanu being free."

Chris growled, "They hurt you physically?"

"Cowboy, don't worry about it. I can take care of myself."

"Who the fuck hurt you?" Chris said clearly gritting his teeth as he automatically began to finger his gun just itching to put a bullet in the men who had hurt his brother.

"The night before Chanu escaped from jail a couple of the James hands jumped me in the alley behind the saloon. I had just left after having a beer and it wasn't pleasant. Shit, Chris I didn't know half the words they called me in the saloon but I held my ground until my beer was gone, then when I left they were waiting for me. They landed a few good ones on my ribs and stomach before they took off. I think my sore ribs was a reason I couldn't fight Chanu off, then a few days ago I had some guys corner me but they took off when they heard Josiah and Nathan coming."

"You were beat up and didn't tell anyone. Damn it Tanner you don't have to do everything alone. How are you feeling now?"

"Yeah after we got back to town from the village Nathan checked me over real good. He wanted to check the marks around my throat and he saw all the bruises. I'll be fine, still just a little sore."

Chris sighed he was so pissed off. At Vin for not saying anything sooner about the crap he had been dealing with, at Buck and Ezra for making the young man doubt himself, hell it seemed like he had a reason to be pissed off at just about everyone.

"Vin If tomorrow you still want to go to Tascosa then I'll come with you. There is no way that I am going to let you go by yourself, they'll hang you without thinking twice about it."

"Chris if you come with me they'll hang you to and I don't want that to happen," Vin argued.

"They're not going to hang anybody and I am coming with you. You will not leave without me. Got it?"

Vin reluctantly nodded his head.

"Okay, I'm going to turn in, I suggest you do the same thing. I'll see you tomorrow."

Vin watched as his friend headed on over to his room for the night. Tanner waited for a few minutes then headed to his wagon, he knew what he needed to do and it was for Chris's own good.

Buck quietly went back inside and got dressed, he had planned on having another tumble with Dolly but after hearing the conversation between his two friends he knew he had to go and talk to Vin.

Buck cursed under his breath as he tried to find his boots wasting precious minutes. Finally he was dressed and hurried towards Vin's wagon.

What he found when he got to Vin's wagon made him very uneasy? After calling out Vin's name because he sure didn't want to get his head blown off, he peered inside the wagon. All of Vin's belongings, which numbered very few, were gone.

Buck knew then that Vin was leaving tonight, that way he would insure that Chris wouldn't be with him and the older man wouldn't be in danger. Buck was surprised that Vin would break his word to Chris but then realized that Vin had never promised Chris that he would wait for him. An omission that Buck was frankly astonished Larabee didn't notice.

Buck always figured Chris and Vin were so in tune with each other that they knew what each other was thinking and doing most of the time.

Chris was tired though, the whole thing with Chanu, worrying over Vin, and angry with everyone for doubting Vin. Of course Chris and Josiah had been gone for a couple of days taking a prisoner to another town for the judge and they had just gotten back that day, any other time Buck was sure Vin wouldn't have been able to get by with anything, Chris would catch it immediately.

Buck dashed into the barn and was met by Vin's Mare's leg pointing right at him; he quickly raised his hands and smiled.

"Whoa, Vin. It's just me, wanted to talk to you."

Vin frowned at Buck but put the gun away and continued to pack his saddlebags.

Buck wandered closer and leaned on the wall just watching the younger man efficiently pack his bags. Buck felt sad as he figured out that Vin had packed so many times before when leaving a place that he could do it probably with his eyes shut. That told him a lot.

Vin had never really had a home, which in little things the tracker had mentioned about his past was the truth. Now that he had a home and a brother in Chris he felt he had to leave and a big part of that reason was Buck Wilmington.

"Vin, where are you going?" Buck asked knowing full well where the tracker was headed but wanted to see what Vin would say.

"Just have some business to take care of. None of your concern so you can go back to whatever you were doing," came the calm comment.

"Thought you told Chris you weren't going to Tascosa until tomorrow morning. Looks to me like you're planning on leaving now, it's not like you to lie to Chris."

Vin whirled around hot at the accusation.

"I didn't break my word, I never promised to wait and..." Vin snarled then he stopped. How the hell did Buck know where he was going?

"You taking to listening to conversations that have nothing to do with you?" Vin said his tone hard as he glared at the bigger man.

"It didn't start out like that. I was with Dolly whose room is right above where the two of you were sitting. I was about to go back inside when I heard you say you were going to Tascosa. Since that comment scared the shit out of me I decided to listen in on the rest. As far as having nothing to do with me, you're wrong. I heard everything you said and I know that you didn't tell Chris that I was in the saloon that night and did nothing to stop the verbal assault by all those men. I should have, but I didn't and I'm sorry. I didn't know anyone would be waiting outside to jump you though; you have to believe me that I wouldn't have let that happen. I made the mistake of thinking that you would side with Chanu just because he was an Indian. I let my emotions rule my thinking. I was so upset about Claire being kidnapped and probably raped by Chanu that I forgot you are a man of integrity, honesty and insight. If you thought there was more to the story than just an Indian taking a white girl then I should have listened. I also want to thank you for not telling Chris about the saloon, he would have lost it, knowing that I let you be screamed at and threatened like that and did nothing to stop it. You got no idea Vin of how guilty I felt when I heard that the Reverend killed Claire not Chanu. I had condemned him just for not being white and treated a good friend like the enemy. I hope you can forgive me and I really don't want you to leave town," Buck said his blue eyes locking with Vin's as he talked, he wanted to make sure Vin knew he was telling the absolute total truth.

"I forgive you Buck, emotions were running high and I understand that. But it really hurt that you sat in that saloon and let them say the things they did and never stuck up for me. It got me thinking if maybe my gut was wrong about everything and I can't start questioning myself like that. I have to go with my feeling and believe in them if I didn't a bounty hunter could sneak up on me. I would think you would be thrilled that I was leaving, I won't be the way of your friendship with Chris," Vin commented as he finished packing turning around to face Buck.

"You were never in the way, I know I acted like it but I was jealous. Chris and I have too much past between us to be like we were before. I make him remember what he lost and you make him realize what the future could hold and that's a good thing...a real good thing. Chris needs you Vin and if you go off and get yourself hung then that man won't be long for this world. He'll either go to Tascosa to kill every person who hung you regardless of whether they wear a badge or not, drink himself to death or just let the next hotshot gunfighter kill him. That man needs you like he needs air to breathe, you brought him back into the light, don't let him slide back into the darkness," Buck was practically begging Vin to understand the ramifications of his leaving.

Vin licked his lips and looked away then glanced at Buck.

"You don't like me and eventually there will be another situation come up and if we don't agree then what?" Vin demanded, he felt his determination to leave wavering especially since he hadn't wanted to leave town to begin with.

"Then I'll remember this conversation and we'll talk. If I don't then you have my permission to hit me over the head, tie me down and make me listen. I like you Vin; I just let my jealousy keep you at arms length. Give me another chance...please?" Buck said taking a step towards the younger man.

He could tell Vin was having second thoughts about leaving besides he knew that the young man didn't want to leave Four Corners, he didn't want to leave people he was thinking of as family and he sure as hell didn't want to leave Chris Larabee.

Vin opened his mouth to respond when a harsh voice said, "Oh isn't that sweet and here I thought you had more sense than that Wilmington. I heard your comments about Tanner concerning that Indian and thought you were finally seeing the light, Tanner shouldn't be around decent people."

Vin whirled around and started to pull his gun when he saw that there were two men in the barn and they already had their guns out so he dropped his hand.

Buck to refrained from pulling his gun, but he did move another step closer to Vin.

Lou and Don Dalkins stood side-by-side smiling at the two men they had gotten the drop on. They had hated Tanner ever since the quiet spoken man had interfered with the fun they had been having with one of the saloon girls. The rift they saw building between Tanner, Standish and Wilmington thrilled them. They had heard about the bounty on Tanner's head and had decided when Tanner was alone they would kill him and go get the money.

Now it looked like their plan wasn't going to be so easy since Wilmington was changing his mind about the Indian lover.

Buck replied, "Vin is one of the most decent people I know. Drop the guns boys, Vin was right about Chanu and the rest of us were wrong."

"Don't really give a shit about that fucking Indian or the stupid bitch that died, we want Tanner's bounty," Don said motioning with his gun for both men to take their weapons off and drop them to the ground.

Slowly they both complied as Lou laughed, "Hell yeah, Tanner's worth five hundred dollars, I personally don't see it but money is money. Course a dead man is easier to control and that's the way you're going to Texas...tied across the saddle of horse face down."

As the two men raised their guns Buck hastily said, "Everyone will be able to hear the gunshot, you really want Chris Larabee busting in here and finding out the two of you shot the man he considers his brother."

Now not being the two brightest men around they of course made the wrong decision.

Lou shrugged his shoulders, "Don't really give a shit. Larabee don't scare me, he comes in here and he'll die to."

As Don raised his gun Vin let fly the switchblade he had palmed hitting Don in the chest killing the man immediately.

Lou screamed in rage and fired his gun; Buck dove at Vin landing on top of the sharpshooter shielding him from the other man.

Buck rose up and saw that Vin had been shot in the shoulder. The tracker was slowly blinking his eyes and the ladies man realized that Vin had hit his head on the barn floor when he had been knocked down.

Hearing a noise behind him, Buck turned and crouched putting himself between Vin and a gun bearing Lou.

"Now you both are going to die and Tanner will die slow for killing my brother," the man snarled as he started to squeeze the trigger.

A shot rang out Buck flinched sure that he was about to meet his maker, he felt Vin grasp at his back and sent a prayer that someone would arrive and save Vin from Lou.

It took a second for Buck to realize that he had not been shot, he opened his eyes just in time to see Lou fall to the floor, blood oozing from the bullet hole in his back.

Glancing up Buck saw Chris standing in the doorway. The enigmatic gunfighter had on his characteristic black jeans, black shirt was unbuttoned and he had only his socks on his feet.

Chris put his gun back in its holster and hurried across the floor to his friends.

Buck turned and together they got Vin to a sitting position and checked his wound.

Vin hissed in pain as his buckskin coat was removed and his shirt was pulled from his injured shoulder.

Vin turned and glared at Chris.

"You can try being a little more careful cowboy and what about your rule about shooting people in the back?"

Chris glared right back.

"Fuck the rule and I could be more careful but right now if you weren't hurt I'd beat you half to death. You were fucking leaving without me. How could you we had an agreement," Chris snarled as he heard yells from outside, help was on the way.

Vin softly replied, "I couldn't let you die, I couldn't stand the thought of seeing you hang with me."

Chris started to snap back another comment but Buck jumped in.

"Enough Chris. Vin had changed his mind when the Dalkins jumped us. Besides I overheard your conversation and Vin didn't give his word to you so he didn't break a promise," Buck pointed out as they helped Vin to his feet.

"You overheard...overheard our conversation. What the hell? I figured out Vin didn't give his word that's why I showed up knowing the damn bullheaded mule would try this," Chris growled not knowing which man to be more pissed at.

As they helped Vin towards the door Buck quickly explained how he overheard their talk.

Chris was about to blister Buck up one side and down the other when Vin said, "Let it go Chris. Buck and I talked and everything is fine. I'm staying in Four Corners unless you continue to be so cranky, yelling and being an all fired ass then I'm out of here for a few days."

Buck laughed he couldn't help it, even hurt and tired Vin could still reduce Larabee to speechless confusion and irritation.

Josiah and Nathan ran up, with the doc ordering the preacher to pick Vin up and take him to the clinic.

Vin tried to argue but at the looks he received from his friends he decided he better just shut up.

Josiah swung Vin up in his arms; Nathan hurried on ahead to get his instruments ready to get the bullet out.

Ezra and JD took charge of taking care of the bodies.

Buck moved back to Vin's horse with Chris following him. Silently the two men unsaddled the horse and together they carried the saddlebags to Vin's wagon.

Pausing by Vin's wagon, the two men looked at each other.

"Talked him out of it, huh?" Chris commented.

"Yeah, well I figured I'd been as ass long enough, wasn't right for Vin to pay for something he was totally innocent of."

"Not right for you either Buck. I need to tell you that I never blamed you for Sarah and Adam dying, oh I said I did because I had to blame someone but I knew better. So I guess this is a night for apologies. I am sorry for treating you the way I did for so long and I want to thank you for keeping Vin here."

Buck felt tears prick the back of his eyes, he had always figured Chris would never talk to him about his family's death after all the blond had said in a fit of drunken anger that their deaths was all Buck's fault.

Buck swallowed heavily looked like he had another thing to thank Vin for, the slim tracker had given him his best friend back.

Together the two men put Vin's belongings into the wagon and then headed to the clinic.

Climbing the stairs they heard Vin arguing with Nathan about taking his clothes off, insisting there was no need to take his pants off, he'd been shot in the shoulder not the ass.

Chris chuckled and glanced at Buck who was smiling. It was relief to hear Vin arguing, it meant he was not hurt as bad as he could have been.

Opening the clinic door Chris calmly said, "Tanner, get your pants off or I will shoot you in the ass then Nathan can remove two bullets out of your stubborn hide."

Vin glared at his friend then looked at Buck who was smirking behind the blond.

Buck raised his hands in surrender but his smirk never left his face, it just got bigger as Vin growled under his breath and allowed his clothes to be removed until he wore was his long johns.

Buck was surprised when he saw how thin Vin really was, of course he hadn't ever been a big guy but with all the worry the last few weeks it looked like he had lost some more weight. Well they'd all make sure to fatten the boy up.

Buck couldn't teasing Vin so he whistled, which caused Chris to quickly hide his grin and Vin to take a step towards him clearly intending on doing him bodily harm.

Josiah calmly wrapped a massive arm around his friend's slim waist and picked Vin up and laid him down on the cot.

Vin started up but Josiah put a big hand in the middle of his chest.

"You will stay right there brother until Nathan sees to your wound. It is bleeding quite a bit."

Chris stalked across the room at that comment the humor gone from his face, as he wanted to see Vin's condition himself.

Buck to sobered up and followed the blond to stand by Vin's bedside.

Sure enough the wound was bleeding sluggishly and Vin was already exhibiting signs of fever.

The blue eyes were bright and the cheeks were flushed.

Chris pressed the back of his hand on Vin's forehead and wasn't happy at the heat he felt there.

Chris pulled up a chair and sat by Vin's uninjured side reaching out to grasp the slender hand in one of his.

A firm squeeze on his hand told Chris that Vin was glad he was there with him, something that Vin would never say out loud.

"Damn Vin. A little gunshot wound and inside of thirty minutes you got a temperature. You must be a little delicate," Buck teased. He had seen the nervousness in the expressive blue eyes as they had looked at Chris for reassurance.

Shit it was times like this when Vin was injured that he realized that the sharpshooter wasn't much older than JD.

Buck's comment had the desired effect. Vin totally forgot about what Nathan was doing as he turned his glare on Buck again. Buck marveled that Vin's glare was almost as deadly as Larabee's.

"Shut the fuck up, Bucklin," Vin snarled then his mouth clamped shut as Nathan began digging for the bullet.

Chris's hand was in Vin's vise like grip as Nathan dug for the bullet, damn why didn't Vin yell like a normal person or pass out. Hell he had been shot it was allowed.

Finally Vin sighed and the body went limp as he succumbed to the pain and the lack of sleep.

Nathan cried out as he found the bullet and pulled it out. Pouring carbolic over the wound he wrapped it up and put Vin's arm in a sling to help keep it immobile.

Getting a bowl of cool water and rag Nathan was going to start wiping Vin down to help keep the fever down.

Chris took it and told him to go on and get some sleep; he would wipe Vin down and stay up with him.

Nathan and Josiah headed off to get some sleep; Buck pulled up a chair and sat down next to Chris.

A few minutes later there was a quiet knock on the door, Buck got up and informed Ezra and JD of Vin's condition and told them to keep an eye on the prisoners, someone would spell them later.

Buck watched as Chris wiped down Vin's face, neck, shoulder and arms as carefully as he had seen him do the same thing for Adam.

"I think I finally got it Chris. JD is like a kid brother to me, that's how you look at Vin isn't it?"

"Yeah, Buck it is. When I looked across that dusty street when they were going to hang Nathan and met his blue eyes it was like I had come home. Vin saw me clearer in that second than anyone in my whole life even Sarah and he totally accepted me. I can't really explain it; it was like we had grown up together, and there were no secrets between us. I didn't replace you with Vin, Buck, you are and always will be my best friend, Vin is my brother," Chris explained turning his green eyes to his old friend.

Buck flushed with pleasure.

"I could never replace you either stud. Looks like we're going to have our hands full with these two boys, trouble seems to just follow them around. Tell you what you can show them how to scare the shit out of people with just a look and I can teach them how to get the ladies," Buck said with a big grin.

Chris just shook his head, Buck would never change and that was just the way he liked it.

A soft voice however said, "Please Bucklin, my stomach is already upset and listening to you jabber is making it worse. I sure as hell don't want any lessons from you about women."

The two men glanced down and saw that Vin was awake smiling up at them.

Chris clearly saw in Vin's eyes that he had heard the whole conversation and was pleased with what he heard. Chances were they wouldn't discuss it but it was known between the two of them just how they felt about each other.

Chris reached out and rubbed the cloth across Vin's forehead making the younger man frown.

"You go get some sleep, cowboy. I'm fine," Vin protested.

Chris felt his brothers forehead and thought he felt a little cooler but there was no way he was leaving Vin until the fever broke completely and there was someone to keep an eye on the man.

Vin had a very bad tendency to slip away from the clinic before he was completely healed and Chris wasn't going to let him do it this time.

"I'm not leaving you until your fever is gone, so quit complaining," Chris ordered.

Vin pouted, "Stuff your fucking order Chris. I'm fine."

Buck wanted to laugh out loud he really did. No one but Vin Tanner would have the guts and audacity to say that to the deadly and bad tempered Chris Larabee.

Chris was dumbfounded, you would think he would get used to Vin throwing his orders back in his face but damn if the man didn't shock him every time he did it.

The two men just glared at each other neither one wanting to be the one to blink. Chris just continued to rub the slim body down much to Vin's embarrassment.

A long conversation then took place between the two men and not a word was spoken.

Chris 'I'm not leaving Vin.'

Vin 'I'm fine Chris. You get some rest.'

Chris 'I'll get rest tomorrow when Nathan is up with you and the fever is gone.'

Vin thought about arguing some more but sighed he knew when he was beaten but you just wait until Chris was in this bed, paybacks were hell.

Buck had watched the two men and knew they were doing that silent talking creepy stuff they did. He could also tell when Vin surrendered to Chris's orders.

Buck stood up and rubbed his chin as he mused out loud.

"I wonder if sweet Dolly is still in bed. I left that little filly all nice and warm in my bed, I think I'll just go back and keep her company," Buck just grinned at the looks on his friends' faces.

"Thanks, Bucklin," Vin called out his blue eyes looking right into Buck's.

"Yeah, Buck, thanks for everything," Chris added.

Buck smiled at both men knowing what each man was thanking him for.

"No problem boys. Just the two of you stay out of trouble for a while so I can go visit Dolly."

Buck was whistling as he shut the door.

Chris looked at Vin and there arms snapped together in the handshake they reserved for each other.

Brothers not by blood but by choice, it made both men whole and made their future look brighter.

That is if they didn't kill each other first.

The End