I just re-acquainted myself with the TV Series after years of not seeing it. I also deleted the story a short while ago for the simple reason that I'm starting afresh. I'm going to leave the first two chapters alone because I genuinely liked them, but the others felt rushed. So it's better to start afresh I feel - both to research some historical accuracy and to gain some ground on some ideas I have.
I acknowledge in advance this is a weak opening, but it's kind of how I imagine Chris would be if he'd had one child survive the fire, in comparison to both.
The TV series or Magnificent Seven or cast do not belong to me
Chris Larabee was a downright dangerous individual, if you asked most people in Four Corners. His reserved nature disheartened most who entered the small town – although in recent days after the debacle of James's nephew he had begun to make himself strangely comfortable for a man of his reputation. His quiet settling had not gone unnoticed and despite five of his comrades confusion Buck remained cheerful.
"Chris?" he called one morning as he saw Chris walking down the boardwalk. "Have you sent for her?"
"Naw, I can't send for her when I haven't got anyone to look after her," he sighed. "Can't very well dump her in the jail or my rooms?"
"Why not ask Mary Travis?" Buck asked, keeping pace with Chris.
"After the James incident?" he asked. "You gotta be kidding."
"Yeah, but she wants to bring her boy, Billy out here… she should be sympathetic," Buck said, walking ahead. "Her own husband was murdered, that's why Judge Travis is worried about leaving him?"
"She has a son?"
"You know Chris, if you spent less time growling around the place and more time talking to living people you'd know a great deal more about folks," Buck pointed out. "Ask her first and then send for her when she says yes."
Chris groaned. "You just want to see my girl again, don't lie?"
"She's the prettiest girl in the world since Sarah," Buck smiled, patting his chest. "Remember you made me godfather."
"You got me drunk on whiskey celebrating she was born, Sarah near shot you." He chuckled. "Aw damnit."
"Before you ask her, remember to have a bath, you stink!"
He barely avoided Chris hitting him with his hat.
It had been a fairly quiet morning in the Clarion News.
Mary had been busy doing a write up of the Seven's escapades in the Indian village which she knew would sell a lot of papers and was enjoying a quiet lull in the days movements. Being a pillar of the community was exhausting, and not helped by the fact that she was either seen as busybody by the men of the town or a threat by the women. She was always forced to walk a dangerous tightrope and a days rest was always just out of reach. So moments of quiet were held against her chest like a newborn child - to be treasured, cradled and eventually be pulled away. She sighed in relief and reached for her freshly brewed tea, she had just lifted it to her lips when there was a tap on the door.
"Come in?" she called, surprised and mildly annoyed by the intrusion.
"Mrs Travis?" called Chris Larabee's voice.
Mary stared at Chris in utmost surprise, for someone who had been threatening to leave for the last few days, he looked rather steady on his feet and in fact quite handsome. He'd shaved the bristles from his face and was for a change, actually, wearing a white shirt. "Why Mr Larabee, how can I be of service?" she laughed as he whipped off his hat. There was definitely something amiss or he was up to no good.
"I need to ask a favour," the gunslinger said, looking awkward. "Do you have a spare bed?"
"Wait, Mrs Travis, hear him out," called Buck, popping his head in behind the lawman.
"My daughter… I'm sending for my daughter," Chris explained, quickly.
That got her attention. When she'd been reading through the articles of the death of Chris Larabee's family, it mentioned that the oldest – a little girl by the name of Evelyn had managed to escape the fire. She'd been mute for the best part of a year from what she read and her description at the inquest sketchy at the best.
"Sending for your daughter, but you only have that small room?" she said, before realising where his sentence was leading. "You want her to spend the nights with me?"
"No offence Ma'm but it's only temporary." Chris looked nervously at her. "You've always told me it's a great place to raise kids. And I'd like my only child back with me."
"Is she a little hellion?" Chris nodded. "Just like her father then." He smiled a little at that. "Of course she'd be welcome, Chris."
"You mean it?" Chris Larabee rarely gave a proper smile but this one lit up his face. "I know…"
"On one condition," replied the newspaper woman with a small smile. "I want you to tuck her in when possible? Child needs to know her father, she's not seen you for three years?"
"Seems fair odds to me," he said, quietly. "And she sees me every year."
Buck smiled and tipped his hat at her. "You won't regret this Mrs. Travis. And God loves a bit of Christian charity."
Mary smiled as she watched Chris sit on the step of the jail, watching out intently for the dust of the stagecoach coming in. He was as nervous as a cat watching the dust in the distance approach closer and closer. It had been a fortnight since his request for his daughter and the reply had been a positive one.
"PAW!" screeched a little voice and Mary couldn't help but see the pure if brief unadulterated joy on Chris's face when he took a small figure in his arms and hug her tight. From what she could see from this distance the child was dark haired but dressed in boys clothing.
Chris was holding her tight and smiling as she spoke to him. He'd left her in the care of several women that Sarah had been friendly with, and had kept in contact with her via letter. "Did you miss me Paw? Honestly?"
"Don't be silly, I liked seeing you once a year, of course I missed you!" he said, swinging her down. He offered his hands up to the driver of the stage coach. "She behaved?"
"She's a good kid, talked on the way slept when asked… real little lady you got there?" replied the driver as Chris looked proudly down at his daughter taking the bags. "She'll break a few hearts."
"Already has mine," teased Buck, leaving the jail.
"Uncle Buck!" she laughed, hugging him after Chris unloaded the luggage. "You a lawman here too?"
"Of course, what'd you think I'd be?"
Evelyn gave a small smile up at him. "Drunk?"
"You know it's lucky you're a female or I'd tan your hide."
"Pa's a quicker shot, I'm not worried."
The two lawmen shared a laugh before walking with her towards the Clarion offices. From where she was standing Mary could hear Chris filling her in with some of the story from the Seminole village, with a promise of a great bedtime story. They stopped in front of Mary, the girl throwing a confused look up at the two men.
"Mrs Travis," Buck tipped his hat courteously before kissing Evelyn on the head. "See you soon."
"Pa, who's this?" Evelyn asked shyly.
"This is Mrs Travis, you're going to be staying with her in the nights," Chris explained, the mite giving him a glare. "Not permanent, I promise."
"Because you and Buck will be in the jail?" she asked, hands in pockets as she gazed at him with big concerned green eyes.
"Guarding the jail, Evelyn," he said, shaking his head.
"Promise you'll be with me when you can Pa, promise?" she asked, looking at her father with concern. "Don't leave without a byword."
"I promise, but you know I'm going to be busy some times," he said. "You know chasing bad guys out of town?"
"I could help?" she offered. "I'm nearly nine, I can help."
"Well perhaps Mrs Travis would find you something to do?" Chris looked at Mary hopefully who smiled tenderly.
"Oh I'm sorry, I'm Evelyn Larabee," the little girl said, brightly and offering her hand for Mary to shake.
She was very much like Chris, same sharp green eyes and smile. She also hid her emotions well, Mary could see that. While Chris hid his behind a gun and a dark look, his daughter hid it behind chatter.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Mary said, shaking her hand. "The room upstairs to your right is yours, want to run up and settle in?"
"Yes please." The girl ran in ahead before running back. "Can I meet all your new friends, Paw?"
Chris was looking a bit lost when Mary stepped in. "Well I've made you pie, darling… there's enough for everyone?" She smiled. "Dinner tonight at eight?"
"Mary, there's no need," Chris said, quietly. "They're rough around the edges… and we don't want…"
"It's rare we have an honoured guest in town Mr Larabee," teased Mary. "And I think this one might just be it."
"Please Paw?" pleaded Evelyn.
Chris sighed. Women. Always knew how to wrap even the most dangerous of gunslingers around their little fingers.