Tidia and Hawk
Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven are owned by Trilogy and MGM. I am just borrowing them and do not make any profit.
Comments: This started as a joint writing project between me, Tidia and Hawk. Unfortunately due to real life Hawk was unable to finish. This is a first Magnificent 7 fanfic attempt for both of us. The facts about the Comanche tribe are true due to a little internet research. Thank you to MOG for being a great beta reader! Comments are greatly appreciated at email@example.com
Archivist's Note: This fic was previously hosted on another website and was moved to blackraptor in September 2006.
Four Corner's Sheriff Office
Buck looked up when he heard the squeak JD's chair made as the young man leaned further back in the chair. Buck had gone to the jail to check on Dunne; at the moment the jail cell was not housing any prisoners and since Buck was recuperating from a long evening he had decided to take up residence on the jail cell's bed.
"Can I interest you fine gentlemen in a game?" Ezra said as he entered the jail.
"Sorry Ezra, I'm minding the office," answered JD. His chair squeeked a little more as he adjusted his feet on the desk.
"And how about yourself, Mr. Wilmington?" Ezra drawled, his hands shuffling a deck of cards.
"Well, Ezra, I am trying to get some well earned rest," grumbled Buck. "That young missy plain tuckered me out last night." Buck thought whistfully of young Miss Kelly.
"Not aging gracefully, Mr. Wilmington?" Ezra chuckled.
Next Nathan came in, "Has anyone seen Josiah? I was supposed to help him with the church, but he is not there. Hey Buck, are you ill or something?" Nathan walked into the jail to check on Buck.
"No, Nathan, I am not sick. I am trying to sleep, trying, but no one is letting me," Buck said swatting Nathan's hand from his forehead.
Josiah came in, "Brother Nathan I apologize. The Widow Martin needed some assistance which took me away from the church. Is Brother Buck feeling ill?" Josiah had also stepped into the cell. His large build filling up the cell.
"No Brother Buck is not ill! He is trying to rest! Why don't you all go and fix the church?" Buck's voice getting louder with each word.
"I just want to tell you all I am going to work on the ranch," stated Chris as he entered the jail, his spurs softly clicking on the wood floor.
Buck stood up and pushed Josiah and Nathan out of the cell and shut the door behind them. "That's it! Everyone out! There is nothing going on in Four Corners that needs our attention. The only thing that needs my attention is this bed." Buck said flopping back down on the bed and turning his back on the men.
"My, someone is in an exceptionally foul mood this glorious day...." Ezra retorted.
"Ezra!" Buck growled, and with that the five men left the jail.
The men were talking on the front porch of the jail when JD interrupted,
"Uh, I think you need to take a look at who's coming."
Five sets of eyes saw the Indian riding slowly down the street in their direction. He stopped in front of the office, but did not dismount.
"I am looking for Vin Tanner. I was told that he was in Four Corners," the Indian said clearly. He looked over each man with disgust.
"Well, Mister you were misinformed," J.D. answered quickly.
Chris looked up at the man, the sun causing him to squint, "Why are you looking for him?"
The Indian looked over the five men standing before him, " It is concerning a personal matter."
Chris and the other men were well aware of the bounty on Vin's head, and were not about to see their friend taken away for a crime he did not commit.
Vin appeared in the jail's doorway, "Chris it's okay." Vin put his hand on Chris's shoulder. He had silently drifted up from the boardwalk, and saw the scene taking place. "I know him. It's been a long time Eagle Feather, " Vin said as he extended his forearm to the man on the horse.
The man grinned and dismounted from his horse. Without the sun in his eyes, Chris could see the man was roughly his age and about 6 feet tall. He had long hair caught into a braid. He was wearing a blue shirt, buckskin pants and high riding boots. Chris knew from the boots that he must be Comanche.
"Yes it has been my brother," Eagle Feather said as he hugged Vin. "How have you been, Scout?"
"Not too bad. Trying to stay out of trouble. How about you and Father?" Vin smiled, and Chris could see a sparkle in Vin's blue eyes.
"Father is doing well. We were passing through this area, and he wanted to see his favorite son."
"Favorite son! Since when?" Vin grinned back.
The Indian, laughed, "He wants you to come by the camp tonight." Eagle Feather looked over at the other men, " you may bring your friends also." He looked at them with more curiousity now than with disgust.
"Tonight then Eagle Feather," Vin answered as his friend mounted his horse.
The men watched the Indian ride out of town, and then shifted their attention to Vin.
"So, Mr. Tanner are we to be honored guests of the tribe this evening?" Ezra inquired, but not looking at Vin directly.
"Yeah, Vin I didn't know you had a brother?" J.D. asked, curiousity was eating at him.
Vin was still watching Eagle Feather leave the town. Nathan, Josiah and Chris had not asked any questions.
"I was married to Eagle Feather's sister." Vin stated and walked across the street, leaving five shocked men in his wake.
"Can someone let me out of here now," Buck yelled from his cell.
Riding to the camp
"So Vin, when were you planning on telling us about this brother of yours?" asked JD as they were riding later that evening. The evening was cool and although it was dark the moon shined enough to light the way to the camp which was less than a mile outside of town.
"Yeah Vin, why are we even going to visit tonight?" asked Buck. The men had been talking amongst themselves all afternoon about what had happened outside the jail. Chris had not taken part in the discussions, preferring to remain silent.
"I don't have a brother. I was married to his sister." Vin sighed.
The six men were silent for a moment, taking this in, then Ezra spoke. "Why Mr. Tanner, I was unaware that you are a married man."
"I'm not. I said I was married." He knew Buck, JD, and Ezra wouldn't stop hounding him until he told them his story.
Vin kept riding, not speaking for a while. He felt the wind pick up the hair that was touching his shoulders. Just when the others thought he wanted to keep things private, he spoke again.
"Her name was Fire Heart. But, don't mention her name in camp since the Comanche don't talk about the dead. I met her when I was with the her tribe." With that, he fell silent again, seemingly lost in memories.
"Well hell, Vin, you'd better say more than that! I'd like to know what we're riding into," said Buck, thinking of the times he had been with women that he was not supposed to be with. Many a husband had threatened Buck with bodily harm.
"All right, all right. I met up with the Comanche when I was a buffalo hunter. I'd fallen ill and Fire Heart had been out gathering food and found me. She brought me back to the camp to rest up. She helped take care of me. I noticed her then - hell, anyone would have. She was beautiful." Vin told the story while staring straight ahead, transfixed by the scenery.
"By the time I was well enough to leave, winter had set in, and the tribe convinced me to stay. They showed me about how to track people, as well as animals, and about horses. The Comanche are known for being the best riders. Because of the horses they had, the tribe had to be on alert for people wanting to steal them. I was part of the group that watched over the tribe."
"I kept talking to Fire Heart, and although women are not allowed to speak at council meetings, she had a lot of opinions she shared with me," Vin smiled. "I'm not a man for settling down, and she understood that. Before long, we had fallen in love. I wanted to spend forever with her."
Vin paused for a moment, remembering. Nathan prompted, "So you got married?"
"Yeah. Comanche women are not allowed to choose their husbands so I had to have the Chief, Chief Silent Hawk, choose me for his daughter," Vin smirked. "And by marrying her, I became a full member of the tribe, and a member of her family. The next year was the happiest of my life. Then Fire Heart told me she was going to have my child." Vin looked up at the stars. They twinkled as if prompting him to continue. "I was the proudest man alive. I tried to convince her to stay in camp until the baby was born, but she wouldn't listen. Eventually I gave in - she always ended up getting her own way. She would go with me saying she was gathering food. One day, she and I were out on patrol when we spotted something. The settlers who lived near the tribe's winter camp didn't like us being there - not that anything had ever happened. I reckon some fool got everyone riled up that night. Something happened to him, and he decided to blame the Indians. Anyway, we saw them coming and turned to ride back and warn the tribe when..." Vin's voice broke off. The only sound that could be heard where the clip, clop of the hooves angainst the terrain and the crickets chirping.
"What happened, Vin?" Josiah asked gently.
"We had made it halfway back when a group from the town caught up to us - guess they were trying to attack from two directions. Man asked me if I was going to help get rid of those savages, and I said no, I was going to warn them. He had his gun out, and he said that he couldn't have anyone warning them, and made to shoot me. Fire Heart pushed me out of the way, seeing what was going to happen. I shot him, but not before he shot her in the chest." Vin's voice had taken a monotone quality.
Vin's eyes looked downward, "I couldn't bear it. She was everything to me. She died in my arms, telling me to warn the others." Vin felt his hand's clench the reins he was holding. "Well, I went crazy for a while, holding her. Completely forgot about the townspeople coming. When I came to and brought her back to camp, the town had already been there. They hadn't killed everyone, but they had done what they came to do - the tribe was moving on."
"Everywhere I looked, people were injured because of what the white man had done - what people like me had done. I knew if I had made it back instead of going crazy, more people would have survived. I should have been able to save Fire Heart. Father and Eagle Feather never said anything. I couldn't stay with them, knowing what I had done. So I left, and became a bounty hunter. Hadn't seen any of them until today."
In the Camp
By the time they had reached the camp, Vin could see the glow of the fires welcoming him home. As he dismounted Chief Silent Hawk came forward to greet him and his friends.
"My son, it has been a long time," the Chief said squeezing Vin's shoulder. Silent Hawk was a stocky man of short build. His hands however were large and encompassed Vin's whole shoulder in their grasp.
"Yes it has. Too long Father," Vin said smiling at the Chief. "These are my fellow peacekeepers," Vin continued to introduce his friends.
The Chief scrutinized the men, " I am glad that you have found another tribe, Scout. Maybe they even keep you out of trouble? " The Chief playfully slapped Vin's cheek.
JD chuckled at the comment and Buck cleared his throat.
"Come now, the tribe has prepared a celebration in your honor." The Chief and Vin led the way with the other men following behind. Buck playfully punching JD. Chris hesitantly joined the group.
The tracker was enjoying himself amongst the tribe, they had given him a warm welcome- seemingly putting the past behind them. Vin sat next to the Chief and Eagle Feather. The boys also seemed to be enjoying themselves,except for Chris who sat slightly away from the group. Vin went over to him,
"Hey pard, you having a good time?" Vin said, searching Chris's passive face. The black shirt that Chris was wearing reflected the glow of the camp fires.
"Vin, about you being married and all. I....." Chris said hesitantly, looking directly into the eye's of his friend.
"Chris, it's okay. Ain't no one can change anything now," Vin said as he looked into the fire, remembering a time long past.
"No, Vin, I need to tell you. . .," another presence interrupted them. Chris's shoulders filled with tension.
"Do you remember me Scout?" a young girl giggled. She was a small girl who reached up to Vin's hip. Her hair was cut short, up to her chin, as was the custom for the Comanche women. The length of her hair only excentuated the largeness of her brown eyes.
"How could I forget you, Little Dove. Look at you all grown up," Vin smiled at the girl who must be about 10 now.
"I never forgot you. I knew I would see you again," Little Dove glanced at Chris, and her face turned into a scowl. "I never thought I would see you again!" and she spat at Chris.
Eagle Feather ran over, " My daughter, why do you disgrace me?" He grabbed his daughter roughly by the shoulders.
"Father, this man- he was there. I remember the white man in black! I remember seeing them coming on the ridge. He rode with those men who came," Little Dove crushed her face into her father's tall frame.
"No, you must be wrong," Vin tousled Little Dove's hair. Bending down so he could be face to face to her, so he could reassure her-his friend had nothing to do with that terrible day.
"Vin, she is not wrong," Chris stated staring at Vin. Chris breaking the contact first.
"Chris, what are you talking about?" Vin said incredulously. The other men seeing what was happening surrounded the group.
"I was trying to tell you. . . It was after Sarah died. . .I was living in a bottle. . .I ended up at this small town, and took up a place at the saloon. This man comes in all riled up about the Indians and how they stole his horses. He offered to pay a few bits to anyone who would teach them a lesson. I needed the money, so I went..." Chris said haltingly. He looked at Vin, who's face was a mask of stone. "When we reached the ridge before the village, I saw that the village was filled with women and children. I couldn't go through with it. I threw the man back his money and I rode off." The crowd had gone silent.
"You rode out..." Vin grounded out between clenched teeth. "You couldn't warn them or help?" Vin's eyes flashed with anger.
"Vin, I was a different man. I didn't care about nothing or no one. I know it's a poor excuse," Chris said reaching out to Vin.
Vin stepped back from Chris, "You could have made a difference. You could have stopped some people from dyin'." Vin turned his back to Chris and walked to the edge of the camp.
"I think it is time we leave," Josiah's voice carried over the silence of the crowd. The men began walking toward their horses. Josiah went to have a few words with Vin. He came back to the other men alone.
"Brother Tanner has decided to stay with the Comanche for a few days." The men glanced at him. "He just has to work some things out."
"He is in good hands," the Chief said as he watched the men mount their horses. "You," he said pointing at Chris, "are a changed man, he will realize this. He is speaking from guilt. My son always understands." Chris nodded and spurred his horse back to town. The men followed leaving a wake of dust.
In Four Corner's Saloon
Ezra went through the saloon's door first and took out a bottle, some glasses and began pouring out the whiskey. The others came up to the bar. Chris looked into the shot glass and swirled the liquor around.
"Chris, why didn't you say anything before?" Buck asked.
"I didn't know. You know Vin never talks. Heck ,we didn't even know he was married, " Chris sighed. "And I wanted to forget. Forget about those Indians...forget about Sarah and Adam too...and lose myself.. ."
"I just keep thinking," Nathan said looking outside and rubbing his neck, "what if you didn't save me that day and get involved."
"Brother Nathan, hanging was not in God's plan for you," Josiah said.
"God's plan, Josiah? Was it God's plan for me to let those people get slaughtered?" Chris said refilling his drink.
"I think all of us could use some more libations," Ezra said filling up the now empty glasses again.
In the Indian Camp
Vin sat staring into the fire. Reliving the moments when Fire Heart died and the destruction he had let happen. Chris had let it happen too. Maybe it was time to move on from Four Corners? thought Vin. My best friend, I thought I could trust him....
"Scout, your thoughts are heavy," the Chief said staring into the fire. "You think of my daughter, I think of her also. She was like the ember that glows briefly. Her glow warming and helping others."
"She should have burned longer..." Vin said, his voice a hoarse whisper filled with emotions.
"No, it was her time. She would not want..." the Chief made an exaggerated motion with his hands, "this guilt to consume you, or your friend."
"My friend! My friend did nothing!" Vin spat out.
"Did nothing-the same as you...perhaps you see a part of your soul in him?" Vin turned to face the Chief, his blue eyes wide at the statement he had heard. The Chief looked back at him and Vin could see no maliciousness in his eyes. The Chief patted the tracker on his shoulder and retired to his teepee.
Vin was left again staring into the fire and the sounds of the prairie seemed to echo one word, "Guilt."
Four Corner's Saloon
Chris saw the sun rise over the whiskey bottle in front of him. The others had long since left, knowing he wanted to stew in his own demons. He had to see Vin, and try to explain. Explain how he wished he could take away the hurt he saw in Vin, his friend's, blue eyes. The hurt he saw in his own eyes when he thought about Sarah and Adam. The guilt. He carried it everyday. He should have been there, he could have saved them.....The thoughts surrounded him until he thought he couldn't breath anymore. He had to go and see Vin.
As he entered the stable he heard muffled voices. They hadn't noticed his approach so he hid in the shadows to judge if this group were friend or foe.
"Those Indians will be moving on soon, and taken their gold with 'em." cackled one voice.
"Not iffen we take that gold away from them first!" stated another.
"Are we sure they have the gold?" questioned another voice.
"Yep, my brother saw them a tradin' back a ways. And that Chief, he had a little chest filled with it!" said another attacker.
"Well, boys I am guessin' it is time we relieve them Indians of their gold," the leader said.
Chris heard rustling and the men saddled up and made their way out of the stable. He counted ten men that were heading toward the Indian camp.
He had to warn Vin! Larabee quickly saddled his horse, he knew of a short cut. He prayed it would give him enough time.
As he rode out J.D. yelled out to him,
"Chris, where are you going?"
"To help Vin-to do what I should have done years ago!" Chris said spurring his horse to ride faster. Out of the corner of his eye he saw J.D.'s puzzled expression.
Vin had fallen asleep, by the time he awoke, the fire had become just glowing embers.
'She was like the embers. . ' Vin thought of the Chief's words. She lived each day to the fullest. Enjoying the day's new adventure. Vin was the same, never putting down roots. Always looking for a new adventure and new things. A wave of sadness filled him. She would not want this -this self pity and guilt. Maybe that is what made Vin connect to Chris. Vin was on the cusp of what Chris was, a man with a hole in his soul. Vin feared he would let the guilt consume him too. But together; his soul's brother, as the Chief had put it, together they would help each other- and heal.
An ember snapped out, landing on his hand and singing the exposed skin. You always were impatient Fire Heart, it just took me awhile to figure it all out, Vin thought, a smiling dancing on his lips.
"Scout? Father asked me to tell you to join us for a morning meal," Little Dove said shyly, not knowing what to expect from Vin.
The tracker grabbed her outstretched hand and let her lead him away from the embers. They were making their way to the teepees when Vin saw a man on a horse charging towards the camp. Vin went to his mare's leg and placed Little Dove behind him. He relaxed when he saw it was Chris.
"Chris, why are you here?"
"There are ten men coming this way!" Larabee said, coming down from his horse.
"Damn! When will these people have some peace!" Vin yelled for the others to gather, warning them of the men who were coming.
Vin took out his spyglass and saw that the men would be there momentarily. He hoped this time the camp had enough warning, if the men could get on horseback then they had a chance. The Comanche were most effective on horseback.
In the Indian Camp
But Chris did not give them enough of a warning. The men came roaring into the camp, shooting at anything moving. Some of the Indians had armed themselves, but not enough. Already Eagle Feather was down, with a shot to the shoulder. He was valiantly continuing to fight. Chris and Vin had each shot a man, but the others had quickly dispersed into other areas of the camp.
Chris saw them coming. Five men, his men, coming to save his sorry hide. The attackers were no match for Ezra, Josiah, Nathan, Buck and J.D. But one attacker was still not distracted. Little Dove had stepped out of her hiding place after seeing her father shot. She screamed, Vin jumped up from his place beside Chris and hurdled himself toward her. The bullet burned past his temple sending him into black oblivion. Chris sent a bullet into the attacker.
"Vin!" Chris yelled, running over to his friend. Little Dove was whimpering. Larabee rubbed her back in consolation, but he was focused on Vin, and his stillness. Ezra was at Chris's side taking the girl in his arms and bringing her to her father. Chris turned Vin over to see blood over the young tracker's face. "Vin, you can't go like this! Vin!" Chris squeezed his hand.
Vin squeezed Chris's hand. "Nah, cowboy, I am not gonna die," Vin smirked, "who's gonna help me with my demons?"
"Nathan! Vin is hurt!" Chris said looking for Nathan while holding on to Vin's hand.
"Chris I'm fine," Vin said struggling into a sitting position as a wave of dizziness spilled over him leaving him sagging against Chris for support.
Later on that evening
Vin stood on the outskirts of the camp breathing into his harmonica, intrigued by the sounds it made.
"Vin," Larabee greeted the tracker.
"Chris, nice evenin'."
"The Chief told me they are leaving in the morning," Larabee said as he focussed on the horizon.
"Yep, told me the same thing. I mighten ever see them again."
Chris nodded, " Vin, about Fire Heart, about everything. . ." Chris exhaled a long breath.
"No need to explain, cowboy. I understand in here," Vin pointed to his heart, "and in here," Vin pointed to his head. His hand brushed the bandage causing him to wince.
"I'm not a cowboy," Chris said a grin twisting on his lips, and happy to know that his best friend would be staying.
The Chief looked over and saw the ember dance on the wind.
"The Great Spirit calls you, finish your journey my child."