Pushing and Pulling
Chris Larabee, yawned, stretched,
and prepared to start the day. Big surprise, he could already feel a headache
starting. Rolling over, he looked at the clock and blinked, it was nearly nine
in the morning! He never got to sleep this late. Assuming his alarm didn't wake
him, or worse a phone call in the wee hours, Soot did by this time. In fact, Soot,
his ever loving and loyal Black Lab should be in here begging to be let out and
have his food dish filled. Reaching into the bedside table, he pulled out a bottle
of aspirin and swallowed two of them dry. Maybe he could stop the headache before
it really got started.
Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, he got up.
He had best hustle before the horses decided to tell the entire world how sadly
neglected and unloved they were. Going over to the bedroom window, he looked down
on the main pasture. No wonder the horses were silent and he didn't have to fight
off the `help' of Soot in getting going this morning. Might as well shower before
meeting the day, since there was time, now.
Half an hour later, showered, shaved,
and dressed, Chris was as ready to meet the day as he was going to get. He just
wished that danged headache would go away. Sipping his coffee, he smiled, hadn't
even had to make it, the same elf that had taken care of the animals and seen
to him, as well.
With a practiced eye, he glanced over everything. Soot was
gleefully chased a squirrel, the two horses Chris boarded whose owners wanted
them stabled, were already turned out to enjoy the crisp sunny fall day, and there
was hay in the feeder for the pasture horses, since the summer had been dry and
the grass was having to be supplemented, now. In other words, all of the critters
had been taken care of.
Vin was over by the gate, toolbox out, tightening up
the loose latch. Moses, Josiah's gelding, was watching with great interest, while
Hen Solo perched on his rump. That had to be the most mild mannered horse he had
ever known in his life. The rest of the horses, to judge from the nipping and
kicking and playful romping about they were doing, were enjoying the day as well.
The lean Texan looked up suddenly. Seeing that he was not alone, he checked
the latch, gave the horse a final pat and headed to the porch were Chris was holding
up a second mug. Seeing that his master was up, Soot came bounding over as well.
Vin took the offered coffee and joined his friend, taking the chair opposite
The two men sat in silence, sipping their coffee. It was rare that they
had time to just enjoy one another's company.
"Thanks," Chris broke the silence
Vin shrugged it off. "Everyone ought to be able to sleep in once
in awhile, and it's not like I mind the chores."
Chris nodded, his friend was
never one to fear hard work, and as long as it allowed him to be outside he probably
wouldn't even think of it as work. Vin boarded his black gelding, Peso, here but
didn't pay for it. Instead he was out here most weekends helping in the seemingly
never-ending list of chores and repairs that every ranch seemed to have. Chris
preferred the help to the money; an able and willing second set of hands were
"Sides' figured that if we got the chores done now, we wouldn't
have to be doin' them when the rest of the guys are here," Vin grinned.
sat up straight and stared at the other man. He had not invited the team out to
the ranch. True, they all boarded horses here and tended to come and go as they
pleased, but he had done nothing to indicate that he was going to be entertaining
anyone this weekend. No way no how did he want to be inundated by the rest of
his team dropping in for the day.
"You invite them?" Chris asked in an even
"Nope, think that was Buck."
The blonde sighed. "Figures."
invited everyone out for an all day party and grillin'."
Chris groaned. He
was going to kill the man when he got hold of him.
"Scowlin' like that and
they're going to think you don't like them anymore," Vin teased.
"I like them
just fine, I just don't want everyone around, today. I don't feel good, I've got
a headache that will not go away, and I'm just not up to a full house," Chris
Vin leaned back, "Didn't think you would, but Buck seemed really
"I'm sure he was; well if we're going to be flooded with company,
might as well get done what we can before they arrive," Chris got up and, taking
the empty coffee cup from the other man, he went back in the house.
he had had a feeling from the first that this was going to be a bad idea. At least
he'd been able to get here early enough to warn his friend about what was coming.
Chris hated surprises. This definitely fell under the wrong thing for the right
reason. Well, nothing to do but help Chris as best he could, and hope the whole
thing didn't blow up in Buck's face. If it did, he would try and pick up the pieces.
Chris looked up from the board he
was holding in place while Vin nailed it in, to see Buck's truck parking next
to Vin's jeep. Buck got out; JD followed him, carrying two grocery bags. The younger
man waved a greeting and then headed into the house with the food. Buck headed
toward the two men.
"Hey," Buck greeted them with his usual enthusiasm.
narrowed his eyes at his oldest friend. "Did you really invite everyone out? For
the entire day?"
Buck gulped slightly. "Vin and I got to thinking..."
turned his glare on the other man.
"Oh no, Buck! All I said was that maybe
Chris shouldn't be alone; I never suggested that we have the entire team out for
the whole day," Vin shot back, making his small part in this known. He might have
inadvertently started the ball rolling, but Buck was the one who grabbed it and
ran out of bounds.
Chris sighed, he had a full-blown headache, now, and these
two were not helping.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to butt into your business, I just
thought maybe if you had some company you wouldn't end up in a bottle this year."
"I appreciate that you were concerned, Vin, but like you said it's my business
and I'll handle it," Chris responded in an even tone, glaring once more at Buck.
Vin looked from one of his friends to the other. This was something that the
two of them needed to settle. "I'll see if JD wants to do somethin'."
Buck replied glaring back at Chris.
Vin nodded to both his friends and left.
JD tended to get rattled at those two fighting, not realizing that sometimes it
was simply the way they communicated with one another and when the dust settled
they would be as good of friends as they ever had been. Hopefully, it would not
come to physical blows, although the two had exchanged those a few times in the
past as, well.
Vin got to the porch
as JD came out, the food they had brought put away. Looking at the two men over
by the gate, JD sighed.
"Chris and Buck are hashing something out, lets shoot
some hoops," Vin suggested, steering the younger man away form the obvious conflict
by the pasture gate.
"Told Buck I didn't think that having the whole team arrive
with no warning was going to help," JD responded as he and Vin played a round
of Paper, Scissor, Rock to decide who go the ball first.
"Can't say that it
would be my idea of helpin' either, but Buck's been seeing Chris through this
longer than any of us, so we'll have to trust that he knows what he's doing,"
Vin suggested, bobbing back and forth to block JD's shot.
"What's so hard about
this particular day for him, anyway?" JD asked, faking past Vin and shooting.
"It's Sarah's birthday," Buck answered, joining them, and catching the ball
as it fell through the hoop. "Every year while she was alive they would have a
big huge party out here with everyone they knew. Nowadays, Chris wakes up with
a headache, by noon he's started on a bottle, and by evening you do not want to
"Buck, maybe we'd best head home," JD suggested. "I know you were
wanting to help, but it sound like having people over today won't be a help."
"Where did you two end up?" Vin asked.
"He appreciates that we care but
he really is not feeling up to having guests over. Reminded him how he's always
saying that we're not guests, we're family. He's going to lay down and see if
he can get that headache under control and then maybe join whatever we're doing,"
Buck informed them.
"They serve it is also said who stand and wait," Ezra quoted
to them as he came up with Josiah and Nathan." I take it we're standing and waiting
this fine day?"
"Something like that," Buck admitted. This hadn't gone as well
as he hoped, but Chris hadn't tossed them all out or said no. And most importantly,
it was already noon and he hadn't gone near a bottle. If they could get him through
this year, next year would be easier.
"I'll go in the house and see if I can
help him with that headache," Nathan offered.
"I've got chili to get started
in the crock-pot, then I'll come out and join you if Chris doesn't need anything,"
Josiah told them.
Josiah and Nathan headed into the house while the other four
went back to hoops, there was nothing they could offer their friend except the
knowledge that they were there if he needed them.
Vin came in the house to get the steaks. This hadn't been a great day, but
it also could have been much, much, much worse. Chris hadn't joined them, but
neither had he started drinking. Their presence was at least helping as far as
"You okay, Cowboy?" Vin asked, peeking into the den and seeing Chris
in the easy chair with his eyes closed.
"Head still hurts, but it's a little
better," Chris answered.
Vin sat on the sofa he was next to. "Everything I've
heard about Sarah it sounded like she was a great woman."
Chris gave a soft
laugh. "They didn't come better than Sarah."
"Liked to have fun, too, from
what Buck's said."
"Yeah, she was always one for having a good time. Used to
have huge parties out here all the time," Chris said wistfully.
a woman like that wanting you to celebrate her birthday by sitting in here nursing
a headache," Vin commented.
Chris said nothing.
"Just a thought, I'll toss
a steak on for you when I take out the others," Vin said, getting up and leaving
Chris sighed, looked at the smiling redhead in the picture on the
mantle, and looked at the door his best friend had just carried the steak through.
"Happy Birthday, Sweetheart," he told the picture, and getting up, he followed
Stepping outside, he
winced at the sight that greeted him. Apparently, JD had discovered four man team
barrel racing and had decided to get some of the others to join in and form a
"JD, if you're going to be team barrel racing you have GOT to have the
fastest horses first," Chris informed him, coming up to the corral where the barrels
were set up.
"We're having trouble with that, Buck and I have the fastest horses,
but Peso practically climbs over them on the corners, and Moses is so confused
he doesn't know what to do," JD explained.
"That's a fact," Josiah admitted.
His horse was willing, but just didn't get what it was he was supposed to do.
"I'll give you a hand with it later. Right now, Buck, need you to go down to
the corner market and get Seven good sized pumpkins," Chris instructed.
whooped, five jaws dropped. What on the face of the planet was Chris going to
do with seven pumpkins?
"Might I enquire as to the uses that will made of the
procured gourds?" Ezra asked.
"We're going to carve pumpkins," Chris grinned.
Five sets of eyes blinked at him.
"Can't have party on Sarah's birthday
without it," Buck grinned, and slapped JD on the back. "Come on, kid, you can
help me collect the pumpkins."
The youngest member of the group stared at their
leader for a moment and then grinned like a six year old in a candy store. "Cool!
I haven't carved a pumpkin for years!"
"Can't remember the last time I did
one," Nathan admitted.
"Have ta' admit I'm over due. Loved doin' as a kid,"
"I am proud to say I have never eviscerated a pumpkin and attempted
to deface it," Ezra shuddered.
"It's great, Ezra, you'll love it!" JD was almost
vibrating with excitement at the idea.
"I help the younger kids at the center
out on theirs Ezra, happy to give you a hand if you need it," Josiah grinned.
"I am confident I will raise to the occasion," Ezra assured him, gold tooth
flashing as he smiled.
"Glad to have you back among us, brother," Josiah said,
clasping Chris on the shoulder. He was one of the few that Chris, not a physically
affection man, allowed to do that.
Chris gave his oldest friend and best friend
a half smile. "Headache never had a chance against your pushing," he nodded to
Buck, "And your pulling," he nodded at Vin.
Buck grinned from ear to ear, Vin
gave his smirk. Sometimes you helped a friend best by standing and waiting, and
sometimes by giving him a push and a pull if he was stuck.
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