M7FFA Entry

 

Wagon Train: Missing Scenes and Epilogue


by Merl Laurence


Ratings: G

Spoilers: Vendetta, Wagon Train I and II

Author's Notes: Once again, I incorporated a lot of the actual lines from WT II, so credit needs to go to the writers of the show as well. Thanks to Judy for beta-ing despite being so busy. And thanks to Zen for putting together such a great page with fabulous resources, and Zen? You're wrong, you ARE creative!

Warnings: Kind of 'shippy'-- as in C&M, sorry but it was kinda hard NOT to notice all the blatant C&M stuff going on. Did I try not to? Heck no!




Missing Scene: Log Limbo



Chris sat on the fallen tree trunk patiently scanning the area around him. There was no sign of Dicky O'Shea yet, but the gunslinger knew that whatever O'Shea had planned, something was going to happen soon. He took one more look around the area and noticed Mary with a cup of what was most likely coffee, heading towards him. He couldn't help but smile.

When she was finally within distance he reached out and took the cup from her. He watched as a small smile spread across her face. "Thank you," he said gratefully as he took a sip.

Mary nodded slightly and the smile disappeared. "Maybe coming on this wagon train wasn't one of my better ideas," Mary confessed.

He realized that she was worried about what was to come. "Well, to tell you the truth, without you, I don't think we would have made it this far," Chris said, trying to calm her. "You're a special lady," he admitted easily.

Mary smiled and looked away from him. She reached up to scratch her brow and seemed to struggle with something. "I've decided to marry Gerard," she announced.

Chris hid his disappointment by slipping behind another mask. "He's a good man," he said neutrally, looking away.

"Yeah," Mary replied. "I think a boy deserves a father growing up," she seemed to reason more for herself than him.

"So do I. Billy seems to get along just fine with him," Chris added, ignoring the sudden pang he felt in his gut. He caught her eye and asked, "What about you?"

Mary couldn't help but feel pleased that he had asked about her own feelings. She blinked slowly and asked back with a smile, "What about me?"

Chris looked directly into her pale blue eyes and asked, "do you love him?" He was curious and though he'd never admit it to anyone including himself, fearful of what her answer would be. He forced a smile.

Mary sighed and began to turn her head, desperate to find anything else but his hazel eyes to look at.

"A little bit?" Chris prodded further. He ducked and turned his head to maintain eye contact with her. Tipping his head from side to side as his smile became a genuine one.

Mary never answered. Instead she sighed again and moved to sit down next to him on the log. Chris chuckled a bit at her defeated smile and moved the shotgun that had been sitting on his lap off to the side of his right leg so that she would have room to sit. He let his smile fade and took another sip from his cup as Mary suddenly found the tips of her shoes enormously interesting.

"You know," Mary finally began some minutes later, breaking the comfortable silence that had fallen between them. "I should really be angry with you for bringing 'love' into this," she said.

Chris didn't turn to look at her right away. "What? Why?" he asked straightening himself on his perch.

"For bringing 'love' into this whole situation with Gerard," she explained. "'Love' doesn't have anything to do with it," Mary said, unable to keep herself from smiling, aware that she was really just teasing him.

Chris continued to study the cup in his hands. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"Just that this is about Billy, and what's best for him," she reasoned. "It doesn't matter if I'm in love with Gerard or not," Mary said.

Chris turned to her and caught her smile. "Oh you're wrong there Mary," he said softly, enjoying the play of light in her golden hair and the conversation between them. "Billy's happiness and need for a father won't matter if you don't feel more for Gerard other than friendship and caring," Chris said. "I don't believe you'd settle for that, especially because of who you are and after all that you've done in Four Corners."

Mary sighed and once again pulled away from his gaze to study her shoes. He had a point. "But I do care for him Chris, that counts for something," she argued gently. "And you yourself mentioned how well Billy gets along with him. This," she said, turning to let her eyes roam the area around them, "would be a good thing."

Chris had to smile again. "Yeah, it would," he agreed softly as he looked at her. "It seems like we covered this before," he added as she nodded back. "So," he said ducking his head so that his that hid his eyes like it did when she first told him of Gerard's proposal. "Do I wish you well again?" he asked.

The blonde widow watched him and didn't reply but pursed her lips instead. "We better get back," she said rising.

Chris looked up and nodded. He picked up his shotgun and handed the cup to her after she had stood. He took her elbow gently and guided her back to the wagons.




Missing Scene: To marry or not to marry?



"Ezra still trying?" Josiah asked as he walked up to Nathan.

"Yeah," replied Nathan. "I think he offered to help Jack's widow with everything, investin' her wealth and all that."

"He gonna stay here and marry her too?" Josiah asked.

"I doubt it," Nathan said laughing. "You know Ezra," he started to explain.

"I do, brother, I do," Josiah said with a grin. "Well I'll go check on the others," he said before moving off.

"Mary?" Josiah asked as he walked up and watched her secure her belongings to her horse. "So you and Billy will be joining us on our journey back to Four Corners?"

Mary looked up to big man and smiled shyly, he'd obviously heard of Gerard's proposal and she had no doubt that the others had heard too. Which was probably why no one seemed so shocked to hear Chris yesterday refer to her as a possible 'new wife.' "Yes," she said. "It's best I think. For Billy and me."

Josiah smiled and nodded understandingly. And Mary realized with some relief that he wasn't going to ask for more of an explanation. Then Nathan stepped in.

"Miz Travis? You're not --" he began.

But Mary cut him off, she'd seen Chris walking up behind the two men and said, "no, I'm not marrying Gerard," for everyone's benefit as well as her own. The two men in front of her smiled a little and turned to look at Chris before nodding and quickly moving off. Mary looked at Chris and waited. When he didn't say anything, she asked, "well?"

"Well what?" he asked, his eyes suddenly twinkling as a small smile began to spread across his handsome face.

Mary grimaced and placed her hands on her hips briefly before wrapping them around her midriff. "You are maddening Chris Larabee," she said, her grimace suddenly turning into a warm smile.

Chris chuckled and shook his head. He appeared to struggle a bit before saying, "Mary, I'm sorry it didn't work out."

"Don't be," she admitted a little sadly. "I'm not. For me anyway," said Mary as she moved away to pack up more of her belongings.

Chris found himself staring after her for a moment before moving off to get his own ride ready.




Nathan watched as the homesteaders began unpacking their belongings and felt relief that their struggle was over. They would have a good life here, he reasoned, thinking briefly of the fiddler. He waited as Ezra came up next to him with his horse and Nathan couldn't help but ask, "so, the lady's hangin' on to her gold, huh?" He hid his smile, having seen the widow slap the gambler in the face.

"That gold --" Ezra grimaced as he mounted his horse, "by the river will barely yield enough reward to see them through a disagreeable winter," he said before spurring his horse away.

Nathan just shook his head.

Gerard stood off to the side and watched Mary tie her things to her saddle with deft, slim fingers and sighed softly before stepping up to her. "You all packed up?" he asked with a small smile.

Mary looked at him, unable to hide the guilt she was feeling for leaving. "Just about," she replied dolefully.

"Mary," Gerard began, getting her attention. "Don't be so sad," he said stepping closer to her. "One of these days I'll show up on your doorstep and sweep you off your feet," he said giving her a bigger, brighter smile.

Mary discovered his smile was infectious. He was such a special man, she wondered briefly if she was making a mistake as she reached out to embrace him. When she let go and Billy raced past her, she knew that she'd made the right decision.

"Chris! Ma said I can ride with you! Can I? Can I, please?" the little boy said excitedly as the gunslinger swept him up in his arms.

"You bet, Billy," Chris said hefting the boy into the saddle. "There you go," he said as he turned to look at Mary who had already mounted up. He noticed Gerard had walked off with his daughter Katie and at Mary's small smile, he found himself nodding back as he too mounted up behind Billy.




The group of them started off in the early dawn light, plodding through the shallow river. Chris looked at his companions and found himself wondering about them. In particular Vin. He maneuvered himself next to Vin and asked worriedly, "you all right, Vin?"

The tracker nodded slightly, but couldn't bring himself to look at Chris. "She belongs here. It's the life she's always wanted," he answered.

Chris nodded back and let Vin be. In the background he heard Buck and JD once again quibbling about something and heard the last bit of Buck's, "I love the taste of your rosy red lips... and sway of your hips," and couldn't help but laugh a little. He looked at Mary and saw a slight disapproving frown and in turn glared at Buck who immediately quieted. He looked down at the young boy in front of him and sighed inwardly, yeah, it was going to be a long ride home.




Epilogue: The Tanner Way



They rode two by two most of the way, the first day. Any of the other men that pared up with Vin had been met only with stony silence. It made most of them wonder why he even waited for them, why he didn't just ride off ahead. Chris even suggested it, but Vin stayed. And Chris couldn't figure out if he was trying to prove something to them, to him or to himself. Ezra was the last to ride next to him in the lead just before they settled down that first night and Buck kept an eye on them because of the tension he'd seen earlier in their trip when Vin rescued Charlotte from O'Shea's camp. He didn't know why, but Ezra had grown on him much in the same way Vin had. And he wanted to make sure they wouldn't kill each other before they reached Four Corners.

Ezra turned his head slightly and glanced back at Buck. The tall drifter sat attentively on his white just watching him and Vin. When Buck finally smiled, Ezra just shook his head and faced forward again. He then spent the next few minutes surreptitiously glancing over at Vin. And he succeeded in doing it several times before the tracker finally cracked.

"You got something to say Ezra?' he snapped.

Ezra couldn't help but smile. "No, Vin, I don't," he replied simply.

His answer got the desired effect.

Vin turned to look directly at him and narrowed his penetrating blue eyes.

"Well all right," Ezra said in mock exasperation. "I believe a truce is in order Vin. I've been insensitive to your plight," he said with a bit of relief in his apology.

"I don't need your pity Ezra," Vin replied curtly.

"And you'll not get any from me," the gambler said fumbling with his coat pocket. He withdrew his flask and took a sip before gesturing as if to hand it off to Vin. The former buffalo hunter declined with a shake of his head.

"I've been there before," Ezra continued, trying to draw Vin out. He fingered the cool metal of the flask in his hand.

Vin smirked sourly. "'There?'" he asked arching a brow under his hat.

"Vin, I would hardly classify you as inept, 'there' refers to being 'in love,'" said Ezra. "You'd be wise to consider that all of us at one time, well, excluding our young companion Billy there, has been through what you've just experienced," he explained. "Even Mary, it seems," Ezra added as he stuffed the flask back into his coat.

Vin looked at him and then turned slightly to look at the group behind him, a little bit of a ways back, as if to give he and Ezra some space. JD and Buck were at it again and even their horses were nipping at each other. He looked back at Ezra who rode to his left. "It ain't any of your business is it?" Vin asked back icily.

Ezra smirked back. "As was so eloquently illustrated for me one day. Anyone, who rides with this 'posse,'" he said distastefully, "is depended upon Tanner. Our 'leader' if you will, relies upon us being there. Now you can well recall that I was once questioned on my, say," Ezra sighed deeply, "'loyalty' to this group and now you believe that same query has befallen you."

"So? You askin' me if you can trust me too now Ezra?" asked Vin back harshly.

Ezra played with the reigns in his hands and smiled a little. "No," he replied almost too softly to hear above the horses trotting. "I know I can Vin. So do the others," he said sincerely as his gaze locked with Vin's. "I wouldn't put it past these gentleman, and lady, to come to you the instant they needed you, having no doubt that you'd provide the necessary assistance," said Ezra.

Vin sighed heavily. "Your point Ezra?" he asked.

"That you're welcome to reciprocate," he explained. "Don't doubt that we are there for you," Ezra intoned. His southern accent stronger than usual, "despite how it may have appeared that we were judging you. We most certainly were not."

Vin turned away to look in the opposite direction. To the hills in the distance that were bathed in a soft orange glow. He faced forward again and looked at Ezra askance. He knew this of course. Chris had made a subtle reference to his support that day the gunslinger said he was 'already gone.' Vin swallowed thickly before answering. "I ain't ready to deal with it yet Ezra," Vin said.

"No, I wouldn't expect you to be," the gambler replied back, seemingly happy that he had gotten through. Then Ezra smiled mischievously. "Yet, anyway," he added as an afterthought.

Vin smirked back, but his brooding eyes lightened somewhat and Ezra found himself chuckling. The tracker gestured to an area in the distance with a grove of trees and said, "best we settle in for the night there."

Ezra nodded back and patted his horse's neck before turning his mount around to go tell the others.




The next morning while Mary and Billy were away taking care of their business, Josiah gently woke the others from their slumber. JD moaned as he rolled over and came face to face with Nathan. The healer smiled a weary smile and JD returned it till he felt a whack on his back, no doubt caused by Buck.

"Morning to you too Buck," JD said sourly.

"Hey kid," Buck said as Nathan shook his head at the two.

They all rose stretching and groaning and amid the mumbles of 'morning' and JD and Buck's grousing, Mary returned, pushing a sleepy Billy back into camp and closer to the campfire.

"Everything okay?" Nathan asked first.

"We're fine," Mary answered for both Billy and her. "He's just not used to traveling without the wagon," she said with a smile. Billy leaned heavily against her leg and Mary gently picked the little boy up.

Across the way, Chris had stood watching the exchange with Nathan and smiled a little. Then a tin cup of coffee appeared before him.

"Coffee, cowboy?" said Vin.

Chris turned to find the tracker smiling crookedly at him. He nodded and took the cup, knowing that Vin was probably up the earliest and so began the coffee.

"I'm figurin' I need to set some things straight," Vin suddenly began. "To apologize," he added.

Chris took a sip of his coffee and looked to Vin who was watching him intently. "For what Vin?" he asked softly. "Fallin' in love?" Chris grinned. "It happens," he said.

Vin allowed himself a small smile and shifted his stance. "You speakin' from experience Larabee?" Vin asked as he watched Mary and Billy with the other boys before turning back to face Chris.

"Yeah," he replied softly. "With Sarah and me, old Hank just didn't see it the way we did. But Hank was just being a father."

"And Richmond was being a husband?" Vin asked incredulously. "The way he was treating her?

"He had something with Charlotte long before you came along," Chris answered soothingly. "You can't blame him for bein' possessive of her anymore than I can't blame you for fallin' in love with her," he said.

Vin was quiet for some time, absorbing what Chris said. "Reckon' so," he finally agreed. "But I ain't felt that in a long time Chris," he admitted.

Chris straightened his hat and tipped his head as he looked at Vin. "Me either," he said softly.

Vin nodded and knitted his brow. "Sides' I let what we had get in the way of doing my job," Vin said.

"Yeah, you did," Chris agreed. "But it happens Vin," he said with a surprisingly understanding smile. "I can't tell you how many times I thought I'd a wound up dead if Buck couldn't pull himself away from another woman to back me up. And," Chris said starting to nod, "cause' of Sarah, times were I couldn't be there for Buck too. But he managed and he let me know that I could count on 'im when I needed him. The same way he could always count on me," he said pointedly. "I know I can do the same with you."

Vin looked at Chris and nodded. "Yeah, you can," he said, letting his gaze convey his sincerity. Chris smiled a little and went back to drinking his coffee. "Chris," Vin said as he began to move off to join the others, "thanks."




by dusk, the group of them finally cleared the rise that overlooked Four Corners and came to a stop to admire the view. Mary gently jostled the sleeping youngster in front of her. "We're almost home Billy," she said gently.

Billy rubbed his eyes and yawned.

JD moved in next to Mary's horse and smiled at the boy. "Hey Billy, you wanna' ride with me now?" JD asked. "You rode with everyone else so far," he added.

Billy giggled. "Can I ma?" he asked turning to look up at Mary. She nodded and couldn't help but smile as she helped JD settle him in his saddle. JD gave her a nod and started off as Vin and Nathan rode next to them.

Chris waited till Mary picked up her reigns again before moving in beside her. "Glad to be home?" he asked.

Mary nodded, sighing. "Yes. You?" she asked, thinking how odd, yet comfortable it was to consider Four Corners as Chris' home as well.

Chris smiled a broad smile and nodded. "We best get going then," he said picking up the pace.

Mary couldn't help but smile back and did the same, bringing her horse into an easy trot beside him.

In the rear were Ezra, Buck and Josiah.

"Say," Buck began, "Josiah, what ever happened to that pretty little widow and her, her 'son,' what was his name again Ezra?" Buck asked.

The gambler chuckled, "I believe it was Eugene. 'Charming' boy," he added and Buck began to laugh.

Josiah looked at the two men, riding on either side of him, Buck to his left and Ezra to his right and had to grin. "'Pumpkin,' has decided to stay and wait for me," he answered waggling his eyebrows.

"Pumpkin?" Ezra asked, his green eyes sparkling with mirth.

"Pumpkin!" exclaimed Buck. He laughed harder. "Come on now Josiah," he said stifling himself. "How did you get out of that one?" he asked, his broad shoulders shaking. "I thought for sure you were a 'cow in quicksand,'" Buck added, still chortling.

"I told her bout' my vow of abstinence and silence," Josiah said with a wink.

"Oh? And for how long was this vow?" asked Buck with a huge smile.

"Six to eight months," Josiah replied matter-of-factly.

Buck laughed harder and Ezra joined in. "Clever Josiah, very clever," said Ezra as he shook his head in disbelief.

"You think maybe I could use that line sometime?" Buck asked with a wink.

Josiah shook his head.

End.




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