An Independent Spirit

by Jan

Author's Note: Special Thanks to the Muse Ladies for reviewing the story for me, and to Wendy for the beta help.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Magnificent Seven characters. They are the property of MGM and Trilogy Entertainment, darn; the original characters are mine. No money is being made from this story; it is purely for enjoyment purposes only. No infringements of these copyrights are intended, and are used here without permission.

Chris couldn't help, but smile as he watched Buck doing his best to help Vin out to the chair on Nettie's porch. Vin had suggested they move to the porch for their coffee and peach pie after the delicious dinner Nettie had prepared for the Seven. She had done it to thank them for spending the day helping her with repairs around her ranch.

The plan had been for Vin and Chris to do the repairs, until an accident caused by a joke Buck was playing on JD, left Vin with a badly twisted ankle. Nathan insisted that Vin stay off his feet and keep the ankle elevated to help with the swelling. Buck felt so guilty, he drafted the boys into helping out at Nettie's, so Vin could kick back and relax knowing the repairs were being taken care of.

A gentle breeze, along with the pale yellow glow of the full moon, made it a beautiful spring night, one too inviting for anyone to be confined inside. Once Vin suggested sitting on the porch, the others eagerly agreed.

Vin was the last out to the porch. Chris knew a big part of that was because Buck's efforts to be helpful, were instead slowing Vin down. Once Vin was in the chair next to Chris, Buck pulled the milking stool over and put a pillow on it.

"I can do it myself," Vin said as Buck reached for his leg to put it on the pillow. Chris knew Vin would cave in as soon as he saw Buck give his friend the hurt look. "If I let you put my leg up, will you leave me alone the rest of the night?"

"I'm just tryin' to help," Buck started to say. Seeing the look of determination on Vin's face, he knew if he didn't back off he might be looking down the wrong end of a gun. "All right, I'll leave you alone the rest of the night. I don't know why you have to be so dang independent."

Vin just laughed as he said, "Can't help it Buck, I get it from my folks."

"Tell us about 'em Vin," JD urged from where he was sitting on the steps.

A soft smile crossed the Texan's face as he thought back to his childhood. Just when Chris decided Vin wasn't going to answer, he started talking.

"My Ma and her folks were having some trouble with one of their neighbors. My Pa was in the area looking for a bounty, and he saw some cowboys giving Ma a hard time so he stopped to help her out. He tried to get her to move behind him and let him handle it, but she wouldn't hear of it, and stood right next to him."

"She passed that stubborn independent spirit on to her son," Josiah said as he took of bite of Nettie's peach pie.

"And he got his protective streak from his Pa," Chris added with a warm smile.

"Your Pa was a bounty hunter, is he the one to teach you?" Nathan asked.

"Quit interrupting, I want to hear the story," JD said with a nod to Vin to continue.

Vin took a sip of his coffee to wash down the bite of pie he had a chance to eat. He trusted these men and Nettie; he knew they wouldn't judge so he continued his story. "Ma was stubborn, but she appreciated his help, so she invited him home for dinner. Once he heard the story about what was going on, he offered to stay and help them out. He ended up spending the winter there, and when he left he promised to come back by when he could."

"He rode out?"

"Ma told me Josh Randall wasn't the settling kind, guess I got that from him too."

"Don't mean he wasn't an honorable man, son," Nettie said, her voice soft and full of wisdom.

"Oh, he was honorable ma'am. When he came back, and found Ma with a four month old son, he wanted to get married right away and be a family." Vin looked around at his friends making sure they understood he was proud of both of his folks.

"Ma told him we were fine just the way we were, she and her boy were Tanners and proud of it. My Pa was proud of his name too, but he never tried to force Ma to change her mind, he used to tell me her spirit was what he first fell in love with."

"Pa changed the territory he was bounty hunting in so he could be closer to us. My grandparent's ranch became his home base. After Ma died, he made sure to be there for me, and to tell me stories about her. He taught me about tracking and how to shoot. He used a Mare's leg, just like the one I use. He taught me to be my own man, not to let other people change me."

Vin paused for a moment before adding softly, "I know he would have loved for me to take his name, be Vin Randall, instead of Vin Tanner. You know, he offered once, but told me he loved me and would always be my Pa no matter what name I used. I think he saw a bit of Ma in me when I told him Tanner was my name."

Vin felt Chris' hand squeeze his shoulder. "You had some good people for folks Vin."

Vin nodded. "I know, now someone else talk so I can finish my pie."

The End