Epilogue to ‘The Trial’
March 28, 2010
Summary - Response to 1hr fic challenge on Vin F&D list
Nathan stared into his empty coffee cup. He thought about going back into the saloon and getting a refill, but it just seemed too hard. The last few months had been too hard, but he wouldn’t give them up. It had only been two months since he was reunited with his father who was dying of consumption. Two months since he found out why his mother disappeared from his life and two months since his father killed the man responsible for her death.
Two months that weren’t long enough. They hadn’t been enough time for him to get to know his father again, even with Judge Travis’ leniency in sentencing. Ultimately death had taken Obediah, leaving Nathan wishing for more time.
He sighed and watched as a few sunrays began to peek up over the rooftops. The streets were still empty. These town folk didn’t get up with the sun like farmers, ranchers and… slaves.
A well-manicured hand and a cup interrupted his view. Nathan set his empty cup on the boardwalk beside his chair and took Ezra’s offering. He watched as the gambler pulled a chair up even with his and sat down. Ezra stretched his legs out and crossed them at his ankles as he sipped on his own coffee.
Nathan frowned. “You’re up early.”
Ezra hummed noncommittally, taking another drink.
Nathan followed suit. He remembered seeing Ezra last night, or actually early this morning when Mr. Johnson’s oldest had knocked on his door asking for help. Mrs. Johnson was giving birth to her third child and having some difficulty. Ezra had been leaning against one of the porch supports in front of the saloon as Nathan rode out. Nathan nodded to himself. “Late game?”
Ezra shrugged, leaving Nathan unenlightened. A slight scuffing noise had them both turning to look down the boardwalk. Vin nodded as he went through the swinging doors to the saloon. A few moments later he reappeared carrying a steaming cup and a plate piled high with biscuits. He held the plate for Nathan and Ezra to take their share.
Vin set the plate in one of the chairs along the wall, then carefully, so as not to spill the biscuits, scooted the chair up on the other side of Nathan. He picked up the plate and sat down, balancing it on his lap as he took one of the warm buttered biscuits and bit into it with a sigh.
Nathan and Ezra grinned, but didn’t say a word as they too devoured Inez’s biscuits.
After a companionable silence, Vin wiped his mouth on his sleeve and gave a quick look at his friends. “See you made it back okay, Nate.”
The healer nodded, but frowned. He hadn’t seen Vin when he left. He looked at Ezra who simply raised an eyebrow. “Yeah. The Johnsons have another healthy boy. He just didn’t want to come into this world the easy way,” he finished with a weary grin.
Vin chuckled briefly before his features settled into a more concerned expression. He knew how hard it was to lose a parent, even if he had only been five when his ma died. He still remembered how lost he’d felt. How lost he sometimes still felt. Problem was, he didn’t quite know how to approach Nathan on the subject. Vin glanced at Ezra as Nathan leaned down to set his second empty cup on the boardwalk.
Ezra sighed. He really didn’t feel he was the right one to get Nathan to open up, but the others had tried and for some reason thought he might be able to get through to the healer. Ezra supposed he should be flattered by their trust in his abilities, but over all it just made him uncomfortable.
“So, ah, Nathan,” he started roughly, trying to find the right approach. Nathan turned to look at him causing the gambler to close his mouth and regroup. “Mother sent a letter earlier in the week. She inquired as to your father’s health.” He paused to see what Nathan’s response might be.
“Mighty kind of her,” Nathan said.
“He seems to have made quite an impact on her,” Ezra continued, encouraged. “Evidently they had several enlightening conversations during their mutual incarceration.”
Nathan nodded. “He spoke of her a few times, said she was a real nice lady,” he added with a small grin.
“Really?” Ezra asked, ignoring Vin’s snort of amusement.
“Yep. He was surprised that they got on so well, but enjoyed talking with her.”
“Well,” Ezra said, not quite sure what to say. “Well…” he cleared his throat. “I have been trying to word an appropriate correspondence to let her know of your father’s passing. She will be saddened to hear of it.”
Nathan nodded slowly. “Thank you, Ezra. It’s nice to know others will remember him.”
Silence fell over the group of men again. Vin caught Ezra’s eye and motioned his head toward Nathan. Ezra rolled is eyes and tried again.
“You must have been quite young,” he said.
“Pardon?” Nathan asked.
“When you ran,” Ezra clarified.
Nathan blinked in surprise at the change of subject. “Well, yeah. Daddy actually encouraged me to run, helped set it up when I was about fifteen. The Massa was, well, you know about the sword practice,” he said referring to his knowledge of sword play that had come up when Don Paulo came to town. “I was starting to get some growth and Daddy was afraid of what Massa Jackson would do.”
“You must have been scared,” Vin said softly, thinking of himself at that age, just having run from his last orphanage and finding himself in Indian territory. He’d been lucky to be taken in by a tribe who didn’t treat him like a slave.
“I was lucky,” Nathan said, mirroring Vin’s thoughts. “Got hooked up with the underground railroad and got a job cleaning up at a hospital in Kansas City. When the war started, several of the doctors were commissioned and I sort of tagged along.”
Nathan shook his head. “I never got a chance to tell Daddy that,” he said, his voice trembling. “We talked a lot in the last two months, but never got around to that.” He leaned forward, elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands.
Ezra and Vin both lay a comforting had on his shoulders, honored to have been trusted with a portion of Nathan’s past and glad that Nathan was finally able to grieve for his loss.
Feedback is greatly appreciated. JudyL