Step by Step

by Amelia

The school of hard knocks had taught Vin determination if nothing else. No one would ever call him a quitter. "You're a Tanner, don't ever forget it." His mother's words resounded in his head as he picked himself up yet again.

Concentrating on moving, Vin did what he had to do. His movements slow and forced, another step taken, his one hand reaching again, grabbing and then letting go, his other hand pulling from behind. A progress he noticed taking more time than he thought it would or wanted to take. For each, the pain he felt tore at him deeply. Again the same pattern, the same movement repeated, the pain becoming a part of him, like breathing it was there, a fact. A fact that wasn't as important as why he had to do it, it was just what had to be done. And in doing for one was hurting another, a pain that pierced his heart and soul. For that alone was almost crippling.

He couldn't think on it, he couldn't look up to see by the sun how long he'd been going; if it had been minutes or hours. For any break in the rhythm he was in, Vin knew he might not be able to get going again. His head down, slowly with each grab, each pull, each foot forward, he was getting that much closer to home. His mind only knowing one focus, his one hand reach, grabbing, pulling, his foot moving forward, his other hand pulling from behind, bringing it with him. Over and over the pattern stayed, slow but sure, he would not stop, refused to quit, he could not fail.

Reaching out, grabbing, pulling, it came with the pull. His foot faltering without the stable rhythm that had been. Letting go quickly to grab another hold, but it didn't let go, instead it held tight stopping his pattern, his movement. "No" he cried inside his mind, the words a silent scream vibrating against his head. "No, I can't stop. I can't!" Though he yelled, it floated out as a pained whisper.

"Mr. Tanner, Vin. It's all right now, it's all right. We´re here, you can rest now. We shall take over getting you two home." Ezra tried to reassure Vin, to reach him through the delirium he appeared to be in.

Vin raising his head, realized Ezra was really there, turning as careful as he could and looking back, he saw Nathan and Buck bending over Chris on the travois. And Josiah and JD reaching to unhook the rig from Peso's shoulders and belly. Seeing where JD's hand was going, Vin yelled in a pained voice, "NO JD, NO don't touch him."

JD and Josiah both jerking their hands back, watched as Vin hobbled toward them, realizing it was to Peso he was going.

Vin met his horse's, his friend's eyes, before putting his forehead to Peso's. "Thank you for dragging Chris and I'm so sorry for making you do it" he told his long time friend. And with that, he finally collapsed, all his reserves gone.


"Are you sure he's going to wake up soon?" Chris asked Nathan for the third time.

"Yes, I'm sure. He was exhausted yesterday when we found ya. It was a good thing Pony had come running back here to town, so we knew to go looking for you two. I tell ya, I still can't believe he was standing, much less using the wooden fence of Richerdson's property to pull himself along and lead that horse of his, pulling you on the travois," Nathan answered as he helped ease Chris back onto his stacked pillows before asking, "Have you remembered anything yet of what happened?"

"No. We were riding out to check on Nettie's place since she´s gone visiting. I remember Vin calling my name - and then nothing," Chris tiredly answered as he rubbed his head.

"What Josiah and Ezra figured is something caused Pony to rear, throwing you off. And when he came down it was against Peso's side, making him be pushed sideways as he reared on to the fence breaking it. They found a section of Richerdson's fence broken about a quarter of a mile past where we found you. With the gash on Peso's front leg and chest, Vin's broken ribs and his entire body one giant bruise, the way it was, if fit with what they saw." Nathan reported.

Chris looking over at his friend knowing it had to have hurt Vin to build a travois and put him on it. And how deeply it must have hurt his heart to have to hook Peso to it and drag him as hurt as the horse was. "Who's looking after Peso?"

"JD and Tiny. They cleaned out the gash and have been changing the salve and bandage every six hours, It's looking good. JD stayed in the stable with him last night, just to watch for any signs of infection. He won´t be able to be ridden for a while, but Peso's going to be all right. Just wish we knew what made Pony rear up on you" Nathan assured.

"Coyote ran out."

"Vin!" Chris called,

"Yea I'm here Larabee.." A tired Texan drawl floated out.

"Vin, how do you feel?" Nathan wanted to know.

"Like Peso fell on me."

Hearing the smart ass remark, Chris relaxed knowing his friend would be all right.

The End