A Life for a Life:
Chris Epilogue
By: Maggie


Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: Ain't mine.
Author's Notes: Okay gang. I've had a few people ask me if I would write an epilogue in Chris's
point of view on dealing with Vin's death. After rereading Cassie's ep with Buck and JD, I
decided that there was a little unfinished business with my story. So, Ave, I tried to write you
back and thank you for the suggestion, but my email crashed when a thunderstorm hit and ate
your addy. So, I'm doing it now. I hope you all enjoy!
BTW, Cassie gives this a five hanky rating, because once again I bound and gagged her to listen
to my story.


The sun had yet again set on another day in Four Corners. A whole week had passed since the
tragic death of Vin Tanner. Each of the seven protectors seemed to be dealing with the loss fairly
well. As well as could be expected anyway.

Ezra Standish had resumed his card playing in the saloon but had lost more than gained in the
past days.

Nathan Jackson stayed in his clinic the majority of the hours in a day, going through ever one of
his medical journals trying to find some assurance he had truly done all he could.

Josiah Sanchez had put the old church together a little more, but at night would just sit on the
front pew and stare at the cross above the podium. Wondering, yet again in his life, about faith
and God above.

JD Dunne spent the days roaming the streets or sitting behind his desk at the jail. Meticulously
flipping through the wanted posters in hope of seeing the bandit that led the massacre that night.

Buck Wilmington found himself, once again, appointed Chris Larabee's bodyguard. Or rather his
keeper. The gunslinger had stopped eating and speaking. After he had awoke from his exhaustion
induced coma, he rarely left his room.

Buck would bring him food, he would ignore it. Buck would bring him whisky, he would ignore
it. Buck would sit beside his bed and talk until the late hours of nighttime, he ignored him. He
just lay there and stared out the window. At what, Wilmington had not yet figured out.

On the seventh day, he gave up. He finally faced he had truly lost his friend. And that caused a
huge hole inside the ladies' man. After Sara and Adam, Chris stayed alive, if only with the
emotion of anger mixed with revenge, but now. Nothing. No emotion, no life. Larabee's soul had
been ripped out.

Buck had realized the first day he saw Vin and Chris together, there was something in the
gunslinger's eyes Wilmington had never seen. Not even when he had met Sara did he see it
radiated in the other's gaze. No, whatever Tanner brought to Larabee was so extraordinary, it
went beyond life. Spiritual. Thats the only thing Buck could think of to explain it. It was like they
had twin spirits that had been searching the earth for each other.

Their souls had finally found their other half, but now, now it was once again torn. Never to be
joined in the physical world, but waiting for the reunion in the afterlife.

Buck shook his head sadly as he shut the door to Chris's room. He had tried and failed for the
past six days to reach the gunslinger, so he finally gave up and accepted Larabee had lost his will
to live.

"How is he, Buck?" The gunslinger started at the young voice, but smiled gently as JD's face
entered his vision.

"The same, kid."

The teen sighed heavily. He had been hoping today would be different, but yet again he had been

"Come on, JD. Let me buy you a drink." Wilmington pulled the boy into a quick hug before
turning him toward the stairs. "Theres something I need to tell you."


Chris had felt pain before, hell he had caused plenty, but the agony his heart was enduring
couldn't be described in words. He remembered the day he had found his house burned to the
ground and the charred remains of his wife and son. The rage and anger had taken over then,
causing him to want to destroy anyone and everyone who got in his way. But now he couldn't
even muster up being mad.

All he felt from morning to night was the extreme emptiness a quiet, lanky tracker had filled.
Chris didn't know that a simple nod would forge such a bond, but even now he wouldn't change
it. He wouldn't change hearing that damn harmonica being abused, he wouldn't change
watching Vin's deadly accuracy with a rifle once again saving his life. He definitely wouldn't
change the feeling of being whole again. Thats what hurt the worse. He was lost. Flailing like a
fish out of water, flopping wildly around, looking for his life source.

But it was gone. His lifeline died in his arms seven days ago and now Chris Larabee was waiting
to die. He had stared out the window watching the sun come up and then go down, waiting
patiently for it to end. Waiting for blackness to encompass him and carry him into the oblivion
he was yearning for, dying for. But another day and still he could see the light.

Chris sighed, reaching one hand up to rub at his weary eyes. He had known every minute Buck
was in the room, but he couldn't acknowledge him. If he had, it would have broken his
concentration on his task. To be no more. As Larabee's hand dropped once again to his side, a
shadow had fell over him.

*The clouds must be moving.* The gunslinger started to shift away from the sight, but a chill
along his skin stopped him. He focused once more on the shadow and it suddenly began to take
shape. *Dear God, its happening.* Larabee felt sure his consistent prayer had been answered.
*The angel of Death as arrived.* Chris swung his legs over the side of the bed and came to a
sitting position, but halted as the figure became familiar.

*Not Death.* He looked closer and almost choked. "Vin?"

The shadow stepped into the room and was most definately Vin Tanner.

"Hey, cowboy." The tracker walked to the bed and sat down beside the gunslinger.

Larabee was hoping beyond hope he was waking from a horrific nightmare, or he had truly died.
"What-" He couldn't bring himself to say anything as he drank in the sight of the breathing and
very much alive form of his best friend.

"I ain't suppose to be here, but I finally bullied my way into getting them to let me come back to
you." Vin stared into the aquamarine eyes, realizing how much he had missed that look.

"Are you?" Tanner raised a hand to cut off the excited litany of words he was expecting.

"No, just visiting. I wouldn't go with them. I've been here with you the whole time. During the
funeral, at the gravesite, and I've been in this room everyday. I can't leave you like this, cowboy."
The tracker's voice broke as he saw the defeated look enter his best friend's eyes. Vin felt
himself dying all over again as he watched the gunslinger slowly waste away this past week.

"Good." The cold clip tone was one that was a reminder of the old Larabee.

"Chris, you don't understand. Your suppose to be here. I'm not. I've served my purpose and its
time to go. Your still needed here, do you understand me? JD, Buck, Ezra, Josiah, and Nathan
need you." The bounty hunter saw the many emotions pass over Chris's face. "I'm needed
elsewhere, but until I know your gonna be alright, I can't leave." Tanner reached out and grasped
the other man's shoulder.

Larabee gave the younger man a hard, cold look. He didn't care who the hell needed him
anymore. He was tired of death, tired of the unfairness of life. "I'm sorry, cowboy. But right now,
I need you. I don't give a damn about anybody else."

The gunslinger shrugged off the hand and jumped to his feet to go to the window. He peered at
the horizon, watching the many colors play across the land.

"Look, Chris." Vin slowly pulled the other man to face him. "Just because I'm not here in body,
doesn't mean I'm not here." Tanner pointed his finger at the spot over Larabee's heart. "I'll always
be there. Your gonna have to learn to carry on without me, Chris. But I'll never be far away, I
promise you that."

The tracker felt his heart ease as he noticed the acceptance creep into his friend's eyes. Larabee
looked once more into the blue eyes that had grabbed his attention months before and saw the
question being asked. So, once more, he nodded his agreement.

"I miss you, Vin." Chris couldn't keep the quiver out of his words.

"And I miss you, Chris." Tanner reached out and grabbed his friend in a fierce hug. Neither
wanted to break the bond, but they both knew it was ending. The bounty hunter felt himself begin
to fade. He stepped back looking over his shoulder at the white light he knew was for him. He
turned back and saw the sparkling tears in Chris's eyes. "Watch your back."

Larabee couldn't keep the smile from tugging at his lips. "Always do."

Vin gave his friend one last slow grin before fading once more into the shadows to travel his
journey alone, that is until the seven met again.

Chris watched the room become bathed in darkness, realizing he had a purpose again. As Vin
said, he wasn't there in body, but he would never leave the other's heart. For they were a shared


Buck walked onto the boardwalk accompanied by the other four protectors'. They had all decided
to try one more time to bring back their leader before completely succumbing to the inevitable.

They filed out into a line and slowly walked to the boardinghouse as the firelight from the street
played on their features. As they got within a few feet of the entrance, JD let out a gasp of
surprise. Bathed in the lantern light from the lobby door, stood a man dressed from head to toe
in black.

The five stopped and stared dumbfounded at the apparition, not daring to believe their eyes.

"Chris?" Wilmington's soft voice sounded hollow in the night air.

"Boys," Larabee stepped down into the street, facing his men. "We've got work to do." The
gunslinger looked each one in the eye before turning and sauntering toward the saloon.

The five quickly fell in step with Chris and a strange feeling suddenly assualted them. They each
glanced around them, but found nothing. So, they ignored it, as they revelled in the knowledge,
Chris was back. Maybe not whole, but with them.


The End
A Journey's End: LFL: Buck & JD Epilogue