Secrets From The Past

by Steelknight

Feedback: Always welcome

Disclaimer: Don't own them; Wish I did they'd have more fun being with me! (EG) But alas it's not to be, all characters of The Magnificent Seven are copyrighted by MGM, Trilogy, Mirisch. No money's been made from this story and if there had been Ezra would have it not me.

Ain't no better place to start the day from, I thought, as I lay in bed. Looking across the room I can see Vin's still asleep.

Good, reckon he needs it; he's still got some healing up to do. Damn Bounty hunter shot him in the back last month. It was the last thing that bastard did though, I saw to that myself.

Tell ya, I don't scare easy, but holding him as he lay there bleeding in my arms. I was scared; so scared I was going to lose him.

Good friends are pretty rare, and Vin, well he's my best friend, the brother I never had and losing him would just about kill me.

Hell he looks almost innocent as he sleeps. I know better though. The man's a regular Texas tiger if someone's stupid enough to get him riled.

Yep, still sleeping, good that means I'm making the coffee and breakfast today.

We've been pards for what? Must be ten years now, where the hell did all that time go?

I remember the first time I ever saw Vin Tanner. From that very first minute, I knew that Vin was someone I wanted to know. I knew that he was going to change my life. I just didn't figure on how.

Vin had been on his own pretty much since his ma died when he was a kid. It took a lot to convince him to move out here with me and be my partner on this spread. For more than five years I'd ask him and he'd turn me down, finally I asked him "Why?"

He told me that he'd learned a man needs a place to call his own.

I agreed with him. Then I told him I'd learned a man needs friends and a home, and I didn't see why we both couldn't call the same place home, us being friends and all.

Besides, there was no one I trusted more to watch my back and with all the trouble I get into, seems my back needs watching more than most.

He just laughed, shook his head and said "Then let's go home, pard!" And that was that.

It took a while but we managed to add a little more to it every year.

We both still stay in the old shack for now, but the ranch house is getting closer to being done all the time. Should be able to move in by the end of the month.

We could have finished it a lot sooner I reckon, but neither of us mind sharing space together and it gave us time to build a huge barn and get us a nice little herd of ponies to breed. The stud we bought is the best there is in these parts. Folks talk about the quality of our ponies.

The sun's just about up. I doubt Vin will sleep much longer, ain't that often he sleeps this late.

Only time he lets his guard down and relaxes is here at the shack with me. He says it's 'cause he knows I'll always watch his back. He's right too. I will.

Even though we finally got the bounty lifted from Vin's head, he still sleeps with one eye open. Old habits die hard and that habit has helped to keep him alive.

Every now and then, we still get a bounty hunter in town with Vin's old wanted poster in his hand and that hungry look that a five hundred dollar reward will bring to a man's eyes.

The past never quite goes away. It might leave you be for a while, but it always comes back to haunt you one way or another.

As I drink my coffee and watch the sun rise, I think of the day we met ten years ago. And I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had been watching him sweeping up in front of that store. He looked like he might be the quiet type, and you know that's the type you have to watch the closest.

Young, somewhere in his twenties I'd say, tall, long dark brown hair, looked like he had a good build from what that apron didn't hide. I kept watching, wondering how or if he would react to the goings on.

It isn't every day that a bunch of trail hands gets all liquored up and decides to lynch someone.

Isn't every day you see some woman grab a gun to try and save the life of a colored man, only to have one of the trail hands ride into her, kicking the gun, making it discharge, and knocking her down into the middle of the street.

I'll be damned though if she didn't get right back up and start yelling at folks, demanding to know if they're going to let this hanging happen.

Well, that seemed to have decided him. I saw him turn and enter the store then come back out loading a rifle, followed closely by the store keep.

From where was I standing, I could just barely hear them.

"You walk off with that rifle and you're fired!"

I bit down harder on my cheroot to stop the laugh that his reply almost caused.

"Hell I'll probably get myself killed. Now I got to worry about a new job, too!"

I couldn't help but admire the spirited cuss.

I saw him look up then, almost like he was searching for something or someone that he hadn't seen, but knew he would find if he looked.

I was surprised when those blue eyes met my green ones. I've never felt the like before, it felt... well, it almost felt like... like we had connected somehow.

The surprised look in his eyes showed me he felt the same thing. I gave a quick nod of invitation. He answered it with one of his own.

As I started walking down that street, he fell right in step with me. I couldn't stop myself from giving him a quick once over now that he was closer. I liked what I saw.

His blues eyes held a fire inside that warned a body not to mess with him or they would regret it. He wasn't overly muscular, but he was strong and wiry.

We didn't say a single word as we followed that mob... I knew we had just met, but having him at my side like that, it was like he belonged there.

When the gunfight was over, we had saved Nathan and met JD. Vin and I finally spoke for the first time.

Weren't any more than a quick exchange of names and how long we'd both been in town. Going by the way he dressed, I asked him if he was a buffalo hunter. His reply of "Among other things" got my curiosity up.

But, before anything else could be said, that woman shows up in our faces. I just knew she'd be the pushy kind. She starts sprouting off that she's with the Clarion News. She seemed to think that should have meant something to us.

But I didn't have any interest in her, and from the expression on Vin's face it was a shared feeling. When she asked us "Where are you going?" all it took was a quick meeting of our eyes and she received the same answer from both of us.


Vin, Nathan and I stepped up to the bar and ordered some well earned whiskey. It was Vin who first noticed we had company. They weren't exactly the type of people that you would expect to find in a town. They wanted to hire us to protect their village from 'The Ghosts Of The Confederacy'.

Vin didn't seem too eager at first. Then he decided. He wasn't planning on dying with a broom in his hand anyway.

I tried not to give in to another smile, because from his expression it was pretty plain to see he was looking forward to the fight ahead.

The first thing to do was to get together some more men, and I knew right where to find one. I asked Vin if he would be willing to give me a hand. Then I explained just how and what needed to be done. The look of pure mischief that lit up his eyes was all the answer I needed.

When Buck came rolling off the roof into the street, I knew Vin had done all I had asked.

I could see the pleasure in Buck's eyes when he saw me for the first time in years. He hadn't changed a bit. First thing he did was give me a hug,course since all he had on was his pants around his ankles, his long johns and his hat, it looked just a little strange.

It caught the attention of a few town folk, not that anything like that ever bothered Buck.

When Vin came around the corner and asked me if Buck was with us, I saw the many questions in Buck's eyes. He asked me if Vin was with me. I answered him with a nod.

For just a moment, I thought I saw something more in his eyes. Maybe loss, jealously, but I was never really sure what it was I saw there.

Buck should have known by now that although him and me could be pards, things weren't the way they used to be anymore.

I remember meeting Josiah and Ezra.

Didn't think too much of Ezra at first glance. He was just another con man. And when he got himself in trouble, I figured it was his problem not mine. 'Till I saw Vin reach for his gun. He must have seen something in that gambler that I didn't. Funny thing was, I trusted his judgment.

Turned out Ezra didn't need anyone's help. He proved he was fast with both his gun and his wits. He showed promise, and I thought we just might have a need for a wildcard like him.

The village and the fight are kind of hazy after all this time.

What I'll never forget though is that first sunset Vin and I shared on those rocks overlooking that village.

He surprised the hell out of me when he told me if anything happened to him to take his body to Tascosa, Texas, because there, I could get five hundred dollars for it.

I couldn't help myself; I wanted to hear his story so I asked him "How come you're so valuable?"

Vin told me that after the buffalo had run out that he had became a bounty hunter. And as he was going after a bounty named Eli Joe, Eli had framed him for murder.

Because of that, he had gotten a hefty bounty on his own head. While he was telling me this, Vin's eyes met mine as he told me that he figured if a friend collected his bounty that he would get the last laugh.

His trust in me had left me speechless. All I could do was smile at him in wonder. I swore to myself then that I'd happily ride to hell and back again, so long as he was with me.

It really doesn't seem that long ago. Vin's up, I can hear him moving around. A couple minutes later he came out, refilled my cup with more coffee and sat down beside with me a big smile.

He greeted me with his usual "Morning, Cowboy!"

I smiled. It was then I noticed the paint on his face. "Where'd the paint come from pard?" I asked.

He got this guilty look on his face as he told me couldn't sleep last night so he took a lantern and started painting one of the finished rooms in the house.

I knew better than to tell him he shouldn't be painting. Instead, I told him next time just to wake me up and I'd join him. Told him that he gets enough work done around here during the days, he doesn't have to work nights, too.

He laughed, saying he reckoned he owed it to me.

I asked what he meant and his blue eyes sparked with mischief. He figured where I wasn't ever going to get that five hundred dollars he promised me, that hedidn't think I'd mind taking it out in trade. With all the work to be done he'd just work a little harder to settle that debt.

I couldn't look him in the eye, but I did keep my voice light and my body relaxed as I laughed with him. We both knew he only meant it as a joke, yet deep inside my heart went cold with guilt.

The past never quite goes away. It might leave you be for a while, but it always comes back to haunt you, one way or another.

And secrets from the past always try their best to see the light of day, but my secret won't. I'll take it to grave with me; I swear I will.

Vin will never know the reason I came to Four Corners, the reason those bounty hunters haunt me as much as they do him.

I always make it point of knowing who is in town. I knew Vin was in Four Corners that day.

Like I said, the first time I saw him, I knew he was someone I wanted to know, someone who was going to change my life.

My secret, the one I will take to my grave, is that the first time I ever saw Vin Tanner it was on a wanted poster.

And I'd just decided five hundred dollars might make it worth my while to try my hand at being a bounty hunter.

The End

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