The Visitors

by Melody Byard

Disclaimer: Don't own them, never will own them and I am too poor to make any money off of them. I'm just in it for the GREAT pics. of Ezra and reading the great fan fiction of the seven written by some wonderful writers. So if you want to sue me then let me tell you all I own are two Siamese cats and you can't have them and anything else I have is rented.

Notes and dedications: There have been many speculations as to the names of Vin's and JD's mothers, so for this story I have named Vin's mother after my late Grandmother Byard and as to JD's mom I just liked the sound of her name. I dedicate this short story to Anna Elizabeth Taylor Byard who died before I was born, whom I learned to love through the many wonderful stories told to me by my Dad, and whose spirit is still felt and greatly missed in our family. By the way, Great Creator is the way the Society of Friends refers to the Lord. Thanks to Edgar A. Poe, Vincent Price, Alfred Hitchock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For keeping me up past midnight, hiding under the covers of my bed, and for making me take a second look at my shower. I also asked Sue if it was okay for me to use this story to answer her Halloween challenge considering it is a repost of the old one and she said it was okay with her. So this reposted version is also an answer to her story challenge.

Note to my beta readers: Debbie, Debby, Kerry, Luanne, Robyn, SueN, Peggy, Penny,and Wynde without whom there would be no story : ) Thank you and MAJOR HUGS for beta-ing my story.

Warning: You might want to keep those Puffs ready just in case. : )

An eerie fog descended upon the quiet town of Four Corners, winding its cold and clammy fingers across the dusty boardwalks. The mist slowly rose, bringing with it three shadowy forms, moving slowly down the main street and toward their destination. It was All Hallow's Eve. The one night each year they were unleashed from their from spirit bonds and allowed again to play a part in the lives of those they still loved. The moon,peeking out from behind its cloudy covers cast its ghostly light over the boardwalk,illuminating the path for the three silent women. As the moonbeam retired back behind its cloud, the three ladies appeared at the threshold of the town's clinic. One of the ladies looked down the stairs and watched as the mysterious fog slowly took on various forms of spirits beginning to walk the earth.

The room was lit by a softly burning oil lamp sitting on the young man's desktop. They quietly approached the healer's bed, stopping to cast their gazes over his sleeping form.

"It's a shame that we can only do this once a year," said one of the women, throwing a quick look at her companions just in time to see them nod in agreement. She had a slight form with black hair that fell well below her waistline.

"We don't have much time to complete our visits, ladies. It's almost midnight and our time here will soon be gone. We will have to wait yet another year before we can do this again. Besides, the others are waiting for news on their loved ones," the blonde woman said, gently reminding the others of their time constraints. She was the smallest of the three, yet she bore the strength that spoke of her leadership for the small group.

"Do you think that our plan is still working, Sarah?" the third woman asked her.

Their leader cocked her head slightly and considered the events of the past year. Finally, she nodded before answering her friend's question. "Yes, Belle," she said with a smile. "Our plan is still working, and it will continue to work as long as Mr. Jackson is kind enough to keep patching up our men."

"You must remember, though, we did not consider how far others would go to commit their immoral deeds against our men," reminded the black-haired woman. "Will our plan still be working when we come to visit next year."

Sarah looked back down and slowly studied Nathan's face as if she were seeing directly into the man's heart and soul, trying to see if the ex-slave had the ability to continue to heal these brave men. After several minutes, the others watched as she smiled with some relief.

"Yes, Elizabeth," she said, reassuring the worried woman. "Our plan will still be in effect next year. Mr. Jackson is an excellent healer with a kind heart who refuses to let any of our men come to permanent harm."

Sarah knew that her friends were not questioning their plan, but were just worried about its success. She gently placed her hand on Nathan's shoulder and said, "Yes, ladies. Mr. Jackson has a kind and gentle heart and he will continue to heal our men until the day that the Great Creator calls him home." The other two women pondered her words thoughtfully, then nodded in agreement.

"Come, my friends. Our time here is running short and we do have several other visits to make," Sarah said. She waved her hand through the air and the three found themselves in the back room of the rundown church. After smoothing back their hair from their angelic faces, the three ladies studied Josiah Sanchez, who was fast asleep, snoring loudly. The bear-like man was hugging an open book to his chest where it had fallen. His gray hair was lightly ruffled, nestled in the worn pillow. They noted that his woolen gray blanket had been carelessly kicked to the floor next to the table that had a small candle still burning on it. The three ladies looked down on his slumbering form, stifling their giggles behind their hands as they took in the scene before them.

Elizabeth stepped forward and moved her right index finger over the forgotten book,causing it to move silently from his slumberous grasp and fly across the room to the bookshelf where it was quietly put away. Then Belle glided to the side of the bed and waved her hand over the striped blanket that had fallen on the floor, causing it to rise softly and cover Josiah's slumbering form.

"Well, at least we don't have to worry about him when it comes to watching out for our men," Sarah said, blowing out his candle and plunged the small room into darkness.

"How true. He treats them all like brothers," Belle softly replied.

"Come along, ladies, we must be off to our next stop," Sarah said, gently prodding her companions toward the door as she once more waved her hand through the cool air.

Within seconds, they were standing inside the smoky interior of the town's saloon. Loud music and boisterous laughter danced through the air as men relaxed after a long day of work. The ladies moved further into the establishment to stand near the poker table that was located in the center of the room. Belle peeked over the shoulder of the man clad in a red velvet jacket and grinned.

"He has a full house!" She excitedly exclaimed to her friends.

"Do you think that he will ever feel completely at home here? Realize that the others are not only his associates but also his true friends?" Elizabeth asked Sarah.

"It's been three years since we started our work. He has been a bit slow in accepting this truth but I believe that Mr. Standish has truly found a place he can call home among friends who care about him," Sarah replied, making her way over to the table in the corner of the bar where a man in black sat drinking alone. Wanting to give their friend privacy, they remained to watch Ezra win yet another round of poker while Sarah visited with her husband.

"Hello, sweetheart," she called out softly, as she sat in the empty chair next to Chris."You must know that we started this plan for a reason, my love. I could no longer stand to watch you go through life in so much pain. It broke my heart to see you throw everything away in your anger. You even pushed Buck away! When that happened, I knew that I had to take drastic measures to bring you back into the world of the living, whether you wanted to or not."

She fell silent for a few moments as she looked over the large room. "Yes, my love, I can understand how you felt, that you wanted to die so that you could be with Adam and me.But you were needed here more." Sarah motioned with her hand as she said, "These men that we have brought together, here in this dusty town need you more than Adam and I do right now. The Great Creator helped us in bringing them together, you know." She smiled once more, "He has a much bigger plan in store for you and your friends." She paused,lovingly running her eyes over his weather-beaten face before continuing, "I don't know what that plan is, but I do know that it is extremely important."

She leaned over the scarred wooden tabletop toward his ear and whispered, " Chris, I have been watching over you and know that you have been fighting against opening your heart to another woman. You mustn't fight anymore. You must learn to share your love again. Mary is a good woman. Someone that I would be proud to call a friend. Let her in, Chris. She is exactly what you need. I want you to know that I have even met her husband, Stephen. He has become a dear friend to me and also approves of your relationship with her. Why, he is even helping us with our plan. So don't worry, my love, you have my blessing." Sarah then leaned over and pressed her cool lips to his cheek. Smiling, she watched as her husband raise his right hand to gently caress the cold spot where she had just kissed him and saw a small smile flit across his face.

Feeling complete, she turned to watch Belle descend to where Buck was holding court at the bar, talking to yet another beautiful woman. She shook her head and rolled her eyes as Buck attempted to woo the woman. Belle then looked up at the man who had taken her son under his very overprotective wing and smiled broadly.

She lightly placed a small hand on his rough sleeve and said, "Mr.Wilmington, I would like to thank you for taking such good care of my son this year. I am extremely grateful for all that you have done for him. I must admit that when I first met you, I had my doubts about your character. But they all soon vanished when I saw how my son looked up to you and how much you cared about him. I knew then that no matter what happened in life, he would always be safe because of you, and for that I am truly grateful." She stretched on tip-toes and kissed his cheek, giggling as the tip of his mustache slightly tickled her lips. Buck stopped in mid-sentence and looking a bit confused, he touched his now cold cheek. He shook his shaggy head and smiled before returning his attentions back to the young woman.

Sarah stood and took one last look at Chris before gliding over to where her friends awaited her. She watched as Elizabeth gently squeezed Ezra's shoulder in a show of support before turning to face Sarah. "Are we ready to resume our travels?"

"Come, my friends," Sarah said, as she tossed one last kiss in her husband's direction."We have two more stops to make before the clock strikes midnight." At that pronouncement, the three travelers found themselves enjoying the sounds and smells of the great wilderness located just outside of town where Vin Tanner sat astride his horse, taking a break from his nightly patrol. Sarah and Belle stood aside and watched as Elizabeth moved closer to her son.

"Hello, my son," she whispered softly. " I am so proud of you, Vin. I am glad you have not forgotten you are a Tanner and have finally found a place to call home. I can now rest a lot easier knowing you are finally safe and sound among friends. I know you worry about that bounty that was placed on your head. Just remember, the truth will always come to light. When it does, you will finally be free to live your life without any worries. I can't stay as long as I would like as we have lingered longer than usual. It is now time for me to go." She paused once more, looked lovingly up at her handsome son, and softly added, "I love you, I will always love you no matter where you are." She then kissed his unshaven cheek and smiled when she heard her son answer softly to the wind, "I love you too, Ma."

Elizabeth then turned to the others and silently acknowledged with a nod of her head that she was ready to go. Sarah waved her hand once more and the three found themselves inside the brightly lit jail where JD Dunne was keeping watch over his drunken prisoner. Belle levitated over to where her son was seated behind a desk. She watched fondly as he read from yet another one of those dime store novels he always had his head buried in.

"Hello, son. I can't tell you how proud I am of you and these men that you ride with. You have made me very happy that you have found a place for yourself in this part of the world. I know that you still feel bad about using the money I saved for your education to come out West instead. But I can see how happy you are and how much you have learned from your friends and that makes me glad that you followed your heart instead. Yes, my son, for once I am glad that you didn't listen to me and chose your own way in life. I am and always will be proud of you, JD. I'm so glad that you found a new family to share your love with."

"I can't imagine what would have become of these men had Sarah not come up with her plan to bring them together. Chris would still be lost in his own guilt and misery, Buck wouldn't have you to care about and remind him of how much he loves life, Nathan almost certainly would have been dead, Josiah would have never had the chance to be needed by the town and his friends, Vin would be alone in his fight to clear his name,Ezra would still be alone without ever knowing the value of friendship, and you, my son. You wouldn't have found this loving family to guide and protect you as I would have chosen to do."

Belle smiled tearfully and leaned down to whisper in her son's ear, " I love you, dear one," and kissed her son's cheek. She turned to Sarah and Elizabeth and nodded that she was ready to go.

"It's midnight ladies and it is time for us to go home and trust all will be well when we return next year," Sarah said reluctantly. She waved her hand once more and the three spirits found themselves surrounded by other spirits who were leaving Four Corners to head back home. All Hallow's Eve was over and All Saints Day was just beginning and with it, the destines of seven entwined souls.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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Posted October 10, 2000