I'll Try by LaraMee

Main Characters: Chris, Buck

Warnings: nothing much... y' might wanna keep a tissue handy. My apologies to my Vin-lovin' friends... he's not really in this a'tall! I know... I know... it was hard for me to believe, too! I'll make it up to us all, though!

Notes: The story is based on the song I'll Try by Alan Jackson (1995) WB Music Corp.

Webmaster Note: This story was previously hosted at another website and was moved to blackraptor in June 2012.

Here we are
Talkin' about forever
Both know damn well
It's not easy together

"Chris?" The voice behind the blond was soft, filled with emotions.

Larabee turned to find his oldest friend standing there, an angry look on his face. "Hey Buck," he said sheepishly.

"Thought I might find you here. You know they're about to put out an APB on you. You aren't even supposed to be outta bed yet." He stared pointedly at the blond.

Chris ducked his head, trying not to allow his embarrassment to show. He felt suddenly naked standing there, the hospital gown beneath his black jacket feeling paper-thin. While he had been able to manage his jeans and boots, he hadn't been able to get his shirt on over the bulky bandages around his chest and the cast on his left arm. He had finally pulled his jacket over his shoulders and slipped from the hospital. Rubbing a hand across his aching forehead, he said only, "I'm fine."

"Yeah, right," the bigger man's voice said quite clearly that he wasn't buying it.

With a frustrated sound, the blond said angrily, "well, where the hell else would I be today?"

We've both felt love
We've both felt pain
I'll take the sunshine
Over the rain

Holding his hands up in surrender, the big ladies man said, "don't get pissed off at me, Chris Larabee. If there's any one on this earth who knows that this is where you need to be today, it's me." He paused, a shadow passing over his roguish face before he continued in a near- whisper, "it's where I need to be, too."

With a single nod of his head, the agent turned away, the threat of tears almost overwhelming. He did know, and he appreciated it more than he could say. Chris stood staring toward the horizon, wishing he could remember how to breathe as the knowledge of what it was that had drawn them both here threatened to suffocate him. He felt a big hand gently wrap itself over his shoulder, but didn't acknowledge it.

"Y' know she'd be upset with you for risking your health to come here."

"I know."

And I'll try
To love only you
And I'll try
My best to be true

"I miss her," his voice trembled with the pain of loss. He didn't understand how anyone was supposed to continue living with pain like this. He didn't understand how he was supposed to continue living with pain like this.

"I know you do, stud." Buck rubbed the smaller man's shoulders gently. He could feel his friend's pain, and his own echoed it.

"It's been five years now, Buck."

"I know."

"I miss my baby boy, too."

"I know you do, pard." Buck could almost hear the childish giggle of his godson in the distance. He felt an icy hand grip his heart as he remembered all the plans he and his friend had made for the child during late-night talks a lifetime ago.

"He'd be ten years old now. We were gonna have him riding in the junior rodeo competition this year... remember?" His voice broke at the thought of never seeing his only son doing the things they had once dreamed of.

"Yeah." Buck smiled sadly. "Sarah wasn't too keen on it thought."

Oh darlin' I'll try
So I'm not scared
It's worth a chance to me
Take my hand
Let's face eternity

"I promised her forever... I never expected forever to be so short."

"No one ever does," Wilmington cringed at how weak those words sounded.

"This wasn't the eternity I had in mind." Larabee reached out and stroked the cold marble monument that had three hearts engraved on it. The big one on the left read 'Sarah Anne Connolly Larabee... beloved wife and mother... May 1, 1967 - October 9, 1997". The small one in the center read, "Adam Christopher Larabee... precious son... March 10, 1992 - October 9, 1997". The third one, mournfully blank, awaited only his presence when he rejoined his family.

Well I can't tell you
That I'll ever change
But I will swear
That in every way
I'll try

"I should have been there," his voice was hollow as he repeated the phrase that had been his mantra for weeks after the death of his wife and son.

'No, you shouldn't have,' Buck thought to himself. He felt a far too familiar stab of pain at the thought of losing Chris as well. He didn't say those words, though, he only tightened his hold on the smaller man.

"I promised her so much, Buck. Promised her to be home more... to stop taking so many risks. Promised to put... them... ahead of my job." A single sob escaped the blond. He struggled to regain his composure, finally whispering, "why didn't I get my damn priorities straight when it mattered?"

I'm not perfect
Just another man
But I will give you
All that I can

"Chris, she understood. She knew who what what you were when she married you. Sarah also knew how much you loved her, stud."

"Did she?" Larabee sounded so forlorn. He stared at his oldest friend, tears swimming in his pain-filled green-hazel eyes.

Turning the man gently around to face him, the big man said, "yeah, she did. Damn it Chris, the woman was head-over-heels in love with you from the moment she set eyes on you. Only other person she loved as much was Adam. You know I'm right, pard. I've never seen anyone as contented as she was. Maybe it wasn't perfect, but she had a good life."

"Had," the blond spit the word out, suddenly angry. "Her life shouldn't be past tense. Adam barely had a life at all. My baby boy... died clutching my old baseball glove in his hands. It was too big for him, but he didn't care... still insisted on carrying it to every damn T-Ball game."

Buck felt the tension building, coursing through the other man's body in tremors of emotion. He knew that the tears were coming, the final burst of guilt and grief, loss and loneliness. Unconsciously he pulled the other man closer, his arm wrapping carefully around the quivering shoulders. "He carried it because it was yours, pard. It made it all the more special to Adam because it belonged to his papa."

Wilmington's words caused the walls to crumble, and Chris began to sob brokenheartedly. The blond slumped to the ground, his friend keeping him from collapsing completely and injuring himself further. He sat on his knees before the wide, pale gray monument, weeping for several long minutes as he mourned the loss of his family.

Buck sat beside his old friend, his arm protectively around the mourning widower. His own tears fell softly, rolling down his handsome face as his own pain found its way to the surface.

Several minutes passed as the two men struggled to make peace with the devastating anniversary... October 9, 2001.

I'll try...
to be true to you...
I'll try...
I'll try...
to always love you...
I'll try

Finally, his injuries and the exhausting release of emotions getting the better of him, Chris Larabee slumped into his friend's arms, all but unconscious.

Buck held onto the blond, shifting him slightly to rest against his chest. While one arm carefully supported the weary body, he brushed back the errant blond locks that fell across the handsome forehead and gently rubbed the man's trembling shoulders. He roughly scrubbed a hand across his face, wiping away his own tears. Wilmington's tear washed gaze traced the words of the Larabee monument... "beloved wife and mother... precious son..." he knew that one day "devoted husband and father" would be added to the stone. He would make certain of that.

A far off noise caught the big ladies man's attention and he looked up to see five familiar figures waiting for them nearby. He smiled, recognizing what he knew the other man couldn't quite see as yet. They had found a new family. While it would never take the place of Sarah and Adam in the blond's life, he would never be alone as long as one of them still lived.

"Chris," he whispered to the exhausted man. "It's time to go, stud."

With a sigh that was part sob, the blond nodded. He didn't protest as the big man lifted him to his feet. Leaning heavily on his old friend, he took one final look at the far too familiar resting-place of his wife and son... his heart and soul. His gaze went to the horizon where he could see two pairs of eyes gazing lovingly at him, two smiles telling him that they were waiting for him... two spirits who let him know that they still loved him... would always love him.

Turning with Buck's support, he began moving slowly away from the graveside. He looked up to see five other men waiting for them, not wishing to intrude on their privacy. Just as the two of them reached the group, Chris' strength gave way, his knees buckling. He felt five hands reach out to lift him up, joining the sixth that had never left him. The circle of friendship closed in around him, and Chris Larabee realized that perhaps there was still room for family... for love... for happiness in his life after all.

The End

Feedback to: lara_mee@yahoo.com