By: Cin

Notes:  This is a snippet written for the anniversary of Laramee and Muse's fic lists.  Thanks for the friendship ladies.

Special Thanks:  To Heidi who is my 'pard' at the end of the rainbow.  And to Pamela whose artistry created the beautiful graphic for this page.

Sighing deeply, he leaned back against the rock wall as he felt the first rays of the morning sunrise touch his face.  The light breeze that danced with the curling locks of his light brown hair was cool and fresh in its just washed glory.  Opening his eyes, the slight smile came easily to his lips, as he viewed the vista before him.  It was golden.

Many found the stark, almost barren land, ugly and unforgiving.  It could be.  But it was so much more if one chose to look, to marvel at the little things, to respect the circle of life as the Indians taught him.  The storm that raged through the night washed away the heat and the dust the draught built up.  This morning everything was fresh and new again.

Watching an eagle soar lazily over the valley, searching for prey, he thought back over this past week.  He wasn't looking for a place to settle down, but it seemed he found one.  Actually he preferred peace and quiet, most of the time, but had to admit he did not mind something interesting now and then.  He could not say the town he found a place in, was ever dull; it managed to stay lively, especially now that it was growing.   The heat and draught tamped things down for a while, the people as listless as the weather.  Everyone always knew it would not stay slow for long though, it never did.  There was always one or two that needed to kick up their heels and stir up a little mischief.  This time it was the whole town.

For weeks, plans were in the works for the Founder's Day celebration.  All of the citizens in the town and those in the outlaying farms and ranches were looking forward to the weeklong event.  Some even traveled from nearby towns to join in the festivities.  The town was bursting at the seams, but it proved to be a party worth the wait.  The festival included a country fair where the ladies competed to show off their labors in canning, quilting and baking.  The men held their own challenges, with horseshoes, marksmanship, and horse races.  Children were kept busy with their own fun and games to be sure they were tired enough to settle down, so their parents could enjoy a few hours of dancing in the evening.  For those who could not get enough competition during the day, their fun also continued through the night.  The town's two saloons were filled each night when the men took the play to the card tables and worked off any excess energy and liquor with frequent fistfights.

While the whole affair managed to cure everyone of their lethargy, after five days the town's people were ready for their peace and quiet again.  Especially the town's peacekeepers.  It seemed appropriate that the sky darkened upon the last day with the approaching thunderstorm, forcing an abrupt ending to all the festivities.  It was as if the heavens agreed it was time for everyone to regroup and renew.

A few years ago, thought Vin Tanner, he would have steered cleared of such goings on in any town.  Mostly because of the unjust price on his head, but largely because he did not like big crowds of people.  He enjoyed his peace.  It was a fact grown from his solitary life, forced to have no one to rely on but himself.  There was no bitterness about it though, he found the life suited him, and he learned to love the wilderness.  How could he not with a setting such as was before him this morning?

But things changed.  Even the solitary man could find comfort among the confines of the town from time to time.  A lot of that comfort had to do with the friendship of the six friends that were now like brothers to him.  With them, and a few additional members of the town, Vin had the family he never dreamed would be possible, or actually happen.  A family he thought he never needed, but he had been shown time and again how valuable that family was.  They were like a comfortable blanket he'd come to cherish as much as sunrises.  Excepting only when crowds became a little too much, then he would seek peace in the wild open spaces once more. 

His blue eyes tracked the lingering dark clouds in the distance as the last of the storm fled from the rising sun.  The smile grew, as the wash of brilliant colors appeared, a bridge between the dark of the storm and the light of new day.  Now he truly felt his spirit renewed and knew nothing could spoil his day, not even the dark shadow that fell across his body.

"Trouble?"  He asked without shifting his gaze.

The shadow dropped beside him in silence, stretching his long lean legs out in front of him with a sigh.

"Nope, peaceful."

Vin glanced at the blond gunslinger now sharing his ledge.  He knew their natural leader was just as weary as he was from the crowds of the last week.  Maybe more so because as leader, Chris Larabee took most of the responsibility of the town's safety on himself.

This wasn't the first time the man joined him in seeking a little solitude.

"Lit out after you last night," Chris finally explained though he knew there was no need.  "Stayed at my place."

Similarly, Vin nodded, knowing there was really no need to answer.

The two sat in compatible silence.  There was never much need to talk between them; they knew they were there for each other, or any of their friends.  Words sometimes cluttered what was important.

Another eagle joined the first and the two swirled through the sky in peaceful harmony.  The slight breeze picked up a bit, a little warmer as sun began to rise higher in the sky.  Soon their perch would not be as comfortable, as the sun made a fiercer statement.  For a few more minutes though, they both continued to stare in awe at the awakening miracle before them.

"I'll have to head back soon," Chris finally sighed regretfully.  "Check on things.  You gonna be out long?"

There was a long period of silence.  Just when Larabee finally believed the sharpshooter was going to ignore his question, Vin began speaking.

"Met an Irishman once."

Larabee smiled at strange declaration, wondering where the tracker was going to take him, but somehow knew the coming story would be worth the wait.

"Use ta prattle on 'bout leprechauns and rainbows and such."

"Plan on trackin' some leprechauns?" Chris chuckled at the thought.

Tanner quirked his eyebrow at his friend in irritation, but ignored the comment.  "Didn't believe in 'em, but 'nough men took took ta his stories 'bout pots of gold at the end of rainbows."

Both men drew silent again, turning the attention back to the colorful arch in the horizon.  As the day grew and the storm moved further on, the colors were slowly fading.  Their pastel brilliance would soon be a memory for the lucky that witnessed the brief sign of peace.

"Plan to check the end of that one?"

"Might of once."

"Don't believe in rainbows either?"

"Never said that."

Chris sighed, there were times Tanner's limited responses were as exasperating to him and JD's endless supply of jokes.  He knew there was more; he just wasn't picking up on what the quiet man was trying to tell him.  At least he was somewhat assured that the tracker was not looking at taking off for any length of time.

"So you believe in the pot of gold?"

Vin shrugged, "Maybe."

There was silence for a few more minutes as the two watched the final mists of color fade into the daylight.  All hints of the dark gray storm clouds were also gone.  Left behind, was a clear bright blue sky, broken only by a few clean, white clouds.  It looked like everything had been cleaned. The earth had been renewed.

"Lost your chance there, pard," Larabee commented on the faded rainbow.

"Nope," Vin stated as he turned to smile at Chris.  "Found my end of the rainbow right here."

Larabee's bright smile matched Vin's as he caught his meaning.  His hand shot out and they locked arms in their familiar shake.  The end was worth the wait, Chris realized, and the tracker was right.  They all found their own pot of gold at the end of a rainbow friendship.




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