Disclaimer: I do not own or profit from the use of the Magnificent Seven characters. Thank you to MOG for the creation of the ATF.
Comments: Thank you to Shawna and MOG for betaing. I need to send her something happy after this :0) Kim thought there should be a section on my page called Last Words. This is the second of four of these types of stories I have planned. The other two will be set in OW. The lyrics at the end are by Beth Neilsen Chapman.
Archivist's Note: This fic was previously hosted on another website and was moved to Blackraptor in September 2006.
She could still remember when she typed those two words, 'The End,' on the article about the homeless in Denver. She had been freelancing locally, contributing articles to various newspapers in the area. In fact, after Billy woke up from his nap, she was personally going to deliver the piece to Lorraine at the Clarion. She shuffled the papers together, placing them in a folder so they wouldn't get crumpled. Checking the time, she knew her son would be up soon. He was only two years old, and needed his nap as much as his mother needed the free time. She wondered what her husband, Stephen, was doing right now in Yugoslavia. Some days she wished she could go with him and be a "real" reporter. She hadn't expected on having children right away, and she was surprised when she found out she was expecting one year after the couple became husband and wife. She went to her son's room, and as she gazed at him all those feelings about leading the rigorous life of a reporter faded away. His shiny blonde hair and sweet sleeping form was a reminder she was where she needed to be at this time in her life.
And Stephen was where he needed to be. He was already entrenched in journalism, covering a job with the Associated Press, when Mary, then in her senior year in college, met him. It was his passion for justice and revealing the unfairness of the world that made her fall in love with him. He was unlike anyone she had ever known. They decided to get married, his parents thrilled their only child was finally getting settling down. Mary's parents had passed away a long time ago, and it was comforting to belong to the Travis clan.
Stephen was in Yugoslavia covering the rising turmoil that was brewing between the Croatians and Serbs. In his last phone call two days prior, he promised to be home by Christmas, two weeks away. Her husband kept his promises and she was confident he would be home in plenty of time to pick out a tree. Then she would make decorating it a big event with her family-her son and her husband. During the last two months he had been away, the phone calls had been sporadic and letters intermittent. She worried about him, as he did about her. He needn't worry. His father, Judge Orin Travis, would not let anything happen to his favorite daughter-in-law and grandson.
The doorbell rang twice in quick succession. She ran to the door, opening it up before the chime woke up her son.
"Mary?" said the recognizable figure before her.
"Hi, Lorraine, I was coming down to see you later this afternoon," Mary said, puzzled as why the editor was at her door. "What's up?"
"Mary, I don't know what to say. . ." Lorraine said hesitantly, a hitch in her voice. She stood frozen in the doorway even though Mary had gestured for her to come inside.
Mary knew what this visit meant. Usually they just called. It had happened many times during the past few years. The paper was not interested in her story. "Lorraine it's okay, if the paper doesn't want my article. . ."
"No, it's not that, " she said sobbing. Mary had trouble making out the next few words. "Through the AP wire. . . Stephen. . . was murdered."
Stephen was murdered. Stephen was murdered. The repetition of words ran through her brain like a singsong.
Lorraine was still speaking to her. "Mary, I am so sorry. Is there something you need? Anything I can do for you? Call people?"
Mary did not hear the questions. She walked away, leaving Lorraine in the open doorway.
Stephen was murdered. She didn't understand what it meant.
She went into her son's room, picked up the sleeping boy and held him tight to her. He wiggled in her grasp, uncomfortable at being woken up and squeezed strongly. Mary only knew that this was her only connection to her husband.
That was where Judge Travis found her an hour later. Rocking, her son in her arms in his room, still not comprehending what had happened. This was never supposed to be the ending to their story.
Four years later she found herself contemplating the past as Billy played under a tree nearby. Their feet had made footsteps in the snow covered grass at the cemetery. Four years since that phone call. Four years of seeing her husband's smile on the face of her son, and being reminded she was alone.
She read the tombstone, Stephen Travis- beloved father, husband and son. She thought of the word beloved, and what it was saying to her. Stephen would want her to find love, to be loved. She draped the green, pine wreath over the stone, obscuring the name.
A man had entered her life in a way of sorts this past year, Chris Larabee, an ATF agent. They didn't really have a relationship, not really an understanding either. He was just someone in her life that she felt connected to. He had been widowed and even lost a son.
She didn't realize she was saying this out loud to Stephen. When she did she smiled, realizing he always wanted to know what she was thinking. She missed him. She felt one tear slide down her cheek. She didn't want to cry with Billy nearby. She took a deep breath, and touched the cold stone,