Summary: A Chris and Buck moment. Chris needs some time to cool off and Buck is there to lend a hand. Will help if you have read Goin' Fishin first, but not necessary.
#2 in A Day in the Life collection
This was written for my good friends Retirw and KT the Opinionated in answer to their question, "What in the world did you do to Chris?" I value your friendship more than you could ever know.
Chris Larabee was not a happy man, and when Larabee wasn't happy, people stayed out of his way. Well, with the exception of Buck Wilmington and Vin Tanner. Since Tanner was last seen hightailing it out of town with the man responsible for the gunslinger's current foul mood, Buck took it upon himself to attempt to calm his long-time friend.
Buck had seen Chris at his worst, and if his temper hadn't reached that point yet, it did the moment Buck walked into the bath house and burst out laughing at the sight of his friend.
Chris stood in the middle of the room, the deadly Larabee glare firmly in place and currently directed at the laughing man. The effect slightly diminished by the white liquid, literally covering the man's face and upper body, dripping to form puddles on the floor at his feet.
Gaining control of his emotions, Buck put on a poker face even Ezra would admire. "Hey, Pard!" You feeling okay? You're looking a mite peaked today, a touch pale." Guffaws once again rang from the jovial man as he wheezed out, "saw me a zebra once . . . ."
"Buck!" The word rang out like a rifle shot and effectively stopped that particular train of thought.
Chris unbuttoned his sopping wet shirt and removed the clinging fabric, letting it fall to the floor with a plop. Buck provided a chair after Larabee almost fell while attempting to remove his now speckled boots. Sitting down, the man allowed Buck to tug first one, then the other of the damp boots off.
The sharp, "Not a word!" stopped any comment Buck might have made as white liquid dribbled out of the second boot.
Chris peeled off the clammy jeans and moved to the steaming tub of water, leaving white footprints in his wake.
Wilmington suppressed a chuckle as he imagined the water actually making a sizzling noise and steam rising as first Chris' body then head submerged in the tub of water, just like a hot pan when rinsed in a cool stream.
Chris' head soon broke the surface of the water, only white streaks remaining in the blonde strands. With a sigh, he leaned his head back against the tub and closed his eyes. "Standish?" he asked.
"Last I saw, him and Tanner were riding out of town." Buck supplied. "Figure Vin thought putting some space between the two of you about now would be a good idea.
"Reckon he was right,' Larabee snarled.
Hearing Buck moving around the room, Chris opened his eyes to see the man collecting the pile of soggy clothes, "What do you think you're doing?"
"Mrs. Potter asked that I collect it for her. Figured washing it for you was the least she could do to make up for young Caleb's part in this. Mary's planning to clean your boots. Billy's awful upset."
"I'll have to talk to him later, where are the boys now?" Chris asked, hoping his reaction hadn't scared the two youngsters too badly.
"Mary had a bucket of soapy water and scrub brushes waiting. Last I saw, those two young tricksters were busy scrubbing away your 'paint trail'. It's how I knew where to find you. Looks like Josiah's got himself some free helpers for the next week. Seems they 'borrowed' some of the whitewash he was using to paint the church." Wilmington just shook his head and chuckled. Preacher's feeling a mite sheepish 'bout his part in the whole mess. Figures he was careless, shoulda kept the whitewash out of the children's reach."
A knock sounded and JD's voice could be heard from the other side of the door. "Buck, it's JD. I got a change of clothes from Chris' room."
Buck opened the door and grabbed the clothes from JD, "Did ya get it?"
JD gave an affirmative nod and took the sodden pile from Buck, "I'll give this to Mrs. Potter. How's Chris?"
"He'll survive," Buck commented before closing the door.
Placing the black clothes on a shelf, Buck pulled the bottle and two glasses from the pile. Pouring a generous amount into one glass he handed it to Chris, "Figured ya could use this."
Chris downed the shot and sighed, "What was Standish thinking, putting idea's into impressionable minds?"
Wilmington refilled Chris's glass before straddling the chair and sitting down. Taking a drink himself, Buck crossed his arms against the top of the chair back and leaned forward, "Seems Billy and Caleb have been dealing with a bully and Ezra shared some of his 'methods' for dealing with 'problems' when he was a youngster. Most were harmless."
"You call the bucket that flew past my face harmless?" Chris growled.
"That was an accident, I think it was the shock, when they realized it was you rather than their intended target . . . well, made the youngsters lose their grip on the bucket." Buck chuckled, "Can't you just see their faces when they realized it was 'Bad Ass' Chris Larabee that they drenched?"
Wilmington realized the worst was over as a smile, finally, broke over Chris' face. "Yeah, I guess it was a case of wrong place, wrong time. Hope I didn't scare the boys too bad. I'll have to talk to them later, but we'll let them stew a bit."
Filling Chris' glass again, Buck smiled, "Hey, Pard, remember when you were ourting' Sarah and you decided that Henry Carlson was payin' her too much attention, so you put molasses on the privy seat? Then, Sarah's pa ended up sittin' in it. . . ."
Chris laughed, "Buck, let's keep that little story between us."
"So what, are you going to do about Ezra?" Buck asked.
Chris looked at his friend, a wicked smile on his face, "Standish? . . . Standish will pay!"
Outside, two young boys diligently scrubbed the porch. Upon hearing the laughter emanating from the room, they both breathed an audible sigh of relief, before returning to their work.