Disclaimer: I do not own them or make any profit.
Summary: Chris Larabee is the last.
Warnings: Angst and character death but please remember I am the sappy, fluff factory of writers so just see what you think. Mild profanity
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The gambler had run out on him.
Chris Larabee sat at a table hidden in the shadows of the saloon. The other customers left him alone and that was just fine, he had his whiskey. He took a long drink from the bottle, closing his eyes tightly against the burn, against the pain.
He had buried Ezra Standish today.
The whiskey wasn't helping anymore. To be honest, he thought to himself, it never did but at least for a while it would make him numb. The pain was still there, crushing his chest and making his eyes sting.
He was alone. They were gone, all of them now. Ezra had been the last but they had all left him. Damn assholes.
He took another drink and glared at the patrons at the bar. Everyone was working hard to ignore his presence. Fine, let them ignore the broken down drunk in the corner, he didn't need any of them. He closed his eyes against the pain again and this time his eyes watered a bit. He choose to ignore the fact that he hadn't taken a drink to cause such a reaction.
Ezra was dead, that irritating, long-winded pain in the ass had been buried with the others in the graveyard of Four Corners. Years ago when it had come down to just the two of them, Standish had taken it upon himself to keep him from dwelling on the past, on missing the others.
The conman was with the others now and Chris was with the whiskey. He snorted to himself, somehow feeling that the southerner had pulled a fast one over on him. There was nothing now, no one, to keep him from feeling the soul deep ache of loss.
At least Ezra had gone quickly, it looked liked he had stepped out into the hall from his room to come down to breakfast and he had just dropped down dead. Chris had found him and was strangely comforted by the fact the man's face wore a smile. Wonder what he saw, Chris thought idly to himself, taking another drink.
Chris didn't remember much else; it was all lost in a haze of alcohol. He knew that he had sat on the floor beside the gambler, he remembered the feel of the fancy coat Ezra had been wearing and the deep green color. He remembered looking up and seeing the Doc and Billy Travis and the looks on their faces had sent him running for the bottle.
No, the slippery little weasel hadn't suffered and Chris was glad. It would have torn him up all over again to have it like what they went through with Vin. That thought made his chest hurt even more and for a few seconds he just concentrated on breathing. He didn't want to remember Vin dying but he couldn't seem to stop his own thoughts.
Pneumonia. The damn fool never told anyone he was sick and by the time they had found him in his wagon, it was too far-gone. Maybe if Nathan had been alive, they could have saved him but the healer had died from a fever the year before and the new doctor couldn't do anything. He and Ezra had watched their friend struggle for breath until he just wore himself out and slipped away from them.
God but he missed Vin, missed all of them! Josiah had died in his sleep, Buck had died trying to protect a working girl from a drunken cowboy who turned out to be a wanted man and J. D. had died trying to protect Buck. Chris sighed heavily, those two wouldn't have survived the others death, that thought was the only comfort the rest of them had at the time.
He had no one to comfort him now. No one who remembered gunfights in the street, J.D.s hat, that demon excuse for a horse of Vins, Bucks laugh, how Josiah looked when he got Old Testament or the way Nathan would roll his eyes when one of them got hurt. He looked toward the stairs half expecting Ezra to come down looking for a card game.
There wasn't going to be any more poker games now.
It hurt!! Damn it all to hell but he hurt!!
Why? Why him? Who did he piss off so badly that he was the one left? Did God hate him that much? Hadn't he already gone through hell? He had found his heart again in this sorry ass excuse of a town. The memories of fire had died down a little and he had found some small measure of happiness in those smart mouthed no good sons of bitches that had made up his world.
Chris let his arms cradle his head on the tabletop, his whiskey forgotten. He finally let the tears fall silently, tears for Ezra, Vin, Nathan, Josiah, Buck and J.D. but mostly he let them fall for himself.
He was alone with the thing he hated most in the world, himself.
He slept some, not long he knew because he could hear the clink of glasses and the low murmur of voices. He raised his head and looked around blearily. It was nighttime not surprisingly, he had drunk the day away. He looked at the less than half-full bottle of whiskey and decided to leave it. He started to get up and go to his room but when he looked up, what he saw paralyzed him.
The saloon was empty except for the table in the center. A raucous game of poker was in full swing and the participants were enjoying themselves to the fullest. There were insults and laughter and good-natured teasing along with what looked like a large amount of alcohol being consumed.
Chris ran a shaking hand over his face, he was dreaming he told himself, just a dream brought on by the rotgut, but it was the best thing that had happened to him all day. He opened his eyes and looked at the scene before him with a deep longing that shook him to the core.
They were there. Sitting in the old familiar chairs, wearing the same clothes and hell looking like they hadn't all aged thirty years but were as young as when they had first met up. The hands that held beer glasses didn't shake, voices were strong again and their eyes were bright and shone with vitality.
His chest hurt once more but for a whole new reason. Chris was so thankful for this vision, dream or whatever the hell it was. He knew it would rip his guts out when he woke from it but for now, he just wanted to watch them and hear their voices again.
Buck was teasing the kid about something and J.D. was swatting the big man's hand away. It sounded like he was trying to tell one of his God-awful jokes to Nathan and Josiah. The black man and former preacher were laughing but more at Bucks antics and jibes than at the joke.
Chris took a deep breath as tears streaked his face, Vin sat there just like he always had next to an empty chair where Chris himself usually sat. Ezra was on the other side of the tracker and the gambler was in his element, flashing that gold tooth of his and dealing cards with all his old charm and grace.
He watched as Vin nudged Ezra and got his attention and then they both said something to Buck about Miss Maggie and the whole table then erupted into laughter. He could hear them, honest to God, hear the clink of poker chips, the sound of the cards hitting the table the bits and pieces of Vins Texas twang or Ezra's southern drawl.
He slowly stood up and inched closer, he was terrified he'd do something to wake himself up but he couldn't stop himself. He just wanted his brothers back so badly. He saw them so clearly, Bucks smile, Josiah's twinkling eyes, the kindness in Nathan's and J.D.s grin.
Ezra started dealing, calling out the game and everyone started gathering up chips and cards, and then the damdest thing happened. The gambler looked up, met his eyes, and asked with a smile, "Shall I deal you in now Mr. Larabee?"
The rest of the seven looked up and smiled at him, calling out greetings and Vin called to him " Hey pard sit your ass down and help us lose to Ezra."
"You got it cowboy." Chris Larrabee said with a smile sitting down at the table with his friends and they were seven again.