The Spirit of the Wolf

by SilverWolf

Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. I don't own these characters. This story is not intended to infringe upon the copyrights of MGM, The Mirsch Group, Trilogy, CBS, or anyone else with claims. I neither seek nor receive any profit from writing this story

Feedback welcomed and gratefully received.

17 April 2001

for WolfSong …
Like the Spirit of the Wolf that resides in my soul so does your friendship
– honest, true and strong – without judgement, without expectation.

The Spirit of the Wolf resides in my heart
Mostly peacefully, yet ever wild
Running in time to the blowing wind
Dancing in the clouds that drift in the heavens

He breathed in deeply, savouring the thin, hot air. The radiant heat beat against his tanned face, his body warmed and for the first time in days relaxed. Here he could breathe again. While most men would find the heat oppressing and mind numbing, Vin Tanner revelled in it.

His view reached out across the land to where the blue ribbon of paved the highway of yet untamed land. Here the animals and nature were still free. Here nature was still in control of her destiny – denying the callused hand of man to mar the land.

The progress he had left behind a few short hours ago had not yet stretched into this fertile valley. Where the wild horses still roamed unfenced – by the manicured fingers of civilisation. Here, where he too, could be free once more from the confines of the town and the people he’d come to call home and family.

Only another half mile or so and he would be at his alter. The flat rock from where he could look as far as the eye could see and where his mind could see further. Presently the trail turned upgrade and became a little rougher as rider and steed passed through a short belt of timber, onwards past the short switchback courses that led up the hill. In places the trail was little more than a few feet wide, the tracker never once doubting the ability of his horse as it picked its was safely along the rough open ground littered with loose rocks and scree. Here the earth dropped away swiftly to one side in a steep, sheer-sided precipice. The land was deceptive – where it offered tragedy with one hand, with the other it gave way to an unsurpassed beauty.

The sun had begun its downward trek low behind the distant mountains gilded their serrated crests, sending long blue shadows creeping out across the range. Shadows had already begun to lengthen on the western timbered ridges – the only sound in the vast silence of the badlands was the steady rhythm of the black’s hoofs as they hit weather tempered shale.

A few minutes later Vin had reached his destination and ground tied the black. Freeing Peso of the saddle, Vin gathered some soft grasses and rubbed down the beast’s body. He felt the sculptured flanks shimmy under his hands, feeling the small charges of energy beneath his fingertips. He spoke in comforting tones to the horse while he massaged the taut muscles. "Just like always hey partner. You and me – where we belong." Vin cast his eyes across the valley below and heard the first feint whispers of sound from the creatures to whom the coming night, would soon belong.

Lost in his own thoughts, Tanner closed his eyes, breathing in slowly the life around him, letting his body and blood absorb every fibre of it. He felt the gentle breezed as it kissed gently at the side of his face and lightly whipped at his hair. Pausing for a moment from his quiet reflection, Tanner tilted his head and smiled.

Vin could hear the dim flutter of faraway hoofs. Swiftly the breeze carried the hoofbeats nearer. A familiar and non-threatening sound. Without having to look Vin knew to whose horse they belonged. A snorting sound issued from flaring nostrils and withers that sucked in oxygen. "Chris." Tanner quietly said.

The sun had gone down below behind the western sky – the redness had given way to the deep, cool hues of blue and indigo when horse and rider finally neared. The rider

moved his horse quietly so as not to disturb the dust that covered the flat rock like a blanket.

Had it been anyone else that had come here, Vin would have been disappointed, but with Chris it was not only accepted that he would follow – but expected. "Hey cowboy." Vin drawled, never opening his eyes.

Larabee grinned and dismounted. He saw the serene look on the younger man’s face and began to have second thoughts as to whether he should’ve ridden out here to be with him. His silent thoughts were broken by Vin’s soft voice.

"Y’plannin’ on standin’ up there all night or joinin’ me?"

"Ya don’t mind?" Chris returned, still uncertain if he’d done the right thing.

There was much about Chris Larabee that Vin did not understand – a vital, magnetic figure – a soft smouldering force that drew the younger man in, giving him peace. The black clothes that the man habitually wore, nor the glare that he imparted fazed the young tracker. Within his best friend, his brother and protector he found solace. "What’s there t’mind? I’m pleased you came." To prove his point, Vin moved over and let his best friend sit down.

Together the two men sat and watched the landscape change before their eyes. Night reached in from the east and the reds and scarlets in the west were swiftly swamped by the encroaching darkness that spread itself over the sky. A velvet blanket of raven brought to the land another spectrum of life. Night’s dark embrace brought with her treasures hidden from man’s view during the light of day. Stars danced in heavenly display while in turn came the moon, full and golden, to soften and make beautiful the night, bathing the plains in an argent glow and dappled them with cobalt shadows.

One wolf howled its maudlin song into the night air. It’s voice being quickly joined by its family. Offering up a chorus that spoke of unity and strength. The same unity and strength that Vin and Chris found within each other.

Wearily Chris lay back on his earthen bed and looked up at the star encrusted ceiling, listening to the horses as they settled for the night. From his saddlebag he pulled a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon. "Compliments of Ezra." He smiled.

Vin nodded, gripped the bottle by its slender neck and downed a large swallow. "Does Ezra know?"

"Not exactly," Chris laughed and reached out for the bottle.

For a while not a word was spoken between either man. No false expectations of each other no pressure to talk if the other did not wish to.

"Do you ever think about what it’s like t’be free?" Vin asked.

Larabee cocked his head to one side and shrugged his shoulders. "Free?"

"Yeah, free like them." Replied Vin listening once more to the song of the wolves. "The wolves – they are the free ones. Their spirit guides them. Lets them strive t’be what they wanna be. Sometimes I wish I was like them." The longhaired tracker took another pull from the bottle and let out a slow breath.

"What d’ya mean, Vin?"

"After my ma died, I spent some time in the orphanage. Guess I was ‘bout eight when some folks decided t’take me with ‘me. Hell, iffen I’d knowed better I would a run off sooner. Ol’ man Wilkes he always found me ‘n would drag me back. Used ta whip me good when he caught up with me too. Reckon after a while he got sick a me runnin’ away and he’d chain me up at night." Tanner’s voice was packed with raw emotion as he recounted his tale of his younger days.

Chris inwardly cursed at the man who had tried to break Vin’s free spirit, to take from him all that he had left.

"In the end after Wilkes decided he didn’t want me no more ‘n gettin’ shunted from one place t’nother, I didn’t know where t’go. Somewhere along the way I was taken in by the Kiowa and a few years later the Comanche. They was good years, but hard." Vin’s voice dropped the way it did when he started to think about the hand that the cards of fate had dealt him. "I learned a lot, how t’fight. Learned I was good in a fight – and learned that I could take pain better’n most folks could." He looked up at the stars and to the ground where the starlight had laid a feint trembling glow.

Chris knew it was the alcohol that had loosened Vin’s tongue – releasing the memories that had taken residence within his soul. Quietly and without prejudice he listened as Vin continued. While the battle inside himself to conquer his own demons was great and at times a war that seemed to have neither an end nor a victor, he cast aside his own needs for those of a friend – a brother. When Vin had finished Chris took a ragged breath and placed his hand on Tanner’s left shoulder. "You deserve to be free, Vin and I will keep my promise to you that when we go to Tascosa it will be to clear your name. A man couldn’t ask for a better friend than you and he should count himself lucky to be able to call you that. Even if you do insist on calling me a cowboy." Chris laughed and glanced heavenward. "If I could reach up and hold a star for everytime you've made me smile, the entire evening sky would be in the palm of my hand."

For a few moments both men sat silent. Each thinking about his life and the future.

"So, cowboy, ya reckon my spirit will be free again one day. No more lookin’ over m’shoulder at every stranger lookin’ t’collect on a bounty?"

"Yeah, Vin, I do." Larabee smiled and then added quietly, "for yours is the spirit of the wolf."


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