For all disclaimers, please see chapter one.

Greeting my fellow Gunners. My apologies for this late post...by over a year. So much has happened! Last March, I got a job as a Children's Librarian two towns away, so that's kept me really busy. Personal life wise, mehh, the same as before. I got a new computer back in August! Dell Insipron 660, with over 900 GB of memory and 6 GB of RAM; plus a fancy Dell LED HD 26 inch monitor; and a new comfort curve keyboard from Microsoft. Yes, yes I am a nerd. It's so nice to spend time on the computer without the fear of overheating, and be able to just do normal things without tons of lag time. Still got the laptop, but my new Windows 7 desktop is my baby right now.

Plus, I've become a gamer in this last year. I love my Wii (my first gaming system ever in my life) and computer games - specifically Dragon Age II, LotR Online, Prince of Persia, Aragon's Quest, the many Lego games... Why yes, I am a super geek.

Thank you for all the wonderful people who leave reviews! And the people have added this to a watch list / alert list, or a favourite! Pixie sticks of all of you! And Beth! It is LOVELY to see you back up on FF! Yes, her mother is horrible. At the time I wrote this story, ala 2008/09, I was having some major fights with my parents on a daily basis because I was 20/21 years old, and getting quite frustrated living at home (I was ready to leave home for dorm living at university). Of course, student loans haunt me now, so I'm back at home. Luckily, much less fighting.
^_^

When writing this part...oh man! Between listening to "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine" from the Back to Titanic soundtrack and the last two tracks from The Last Samurai soundtrack on repeat... I didn't want to the momentum of sorrow. I hope you feel it too! FYI, I cried like crazy when writing this...so I'm issuing a tissue watch...just in case.

Part 4 of 6. Enjoy!

A Small Measure of Peace

*~-|-~*~-|-~*Chapter Four*~-|-~*~-|-~*

Time went by. It had been over a week since Laisha saw Chavez, and she wondered if she'd ever get over the brief love affair they had had. But from what she heard from Paulita, no one ever got over their first love. Never. So Laisha felt doomed to remain heartsick until she finally moved on. At night, she heard her mother and father discussing her future to marry Eduardo, a local young man in Old Fort Sumner. Maybe it would be a good thing, but not at this moment. Eduardo was nice and polite, but Laisha was still involved with Chavez, emotionally.

One day, in the early afternoon, she heard a little commotion in town, but as she headed to the door to check it out, her mother blocked the way. She said that someone rode in saying they had shot a Mexican dog trying to kill some of his cattle, and warned the other farmers to be aware. Disappointed, Laisha headed back to the garden and worked some more. That evening, her mother had been the one to volunteer to get the water, which confused her greatly. Seconds after her mother left, her father came storming in. "Laisha!"

Laisha stood up from the ground and wiped her hands on the apron on her dress. Heading into the house, her father came out and pulled her inside. He tossed a wet cloth at her.

"Clean yourself up! Is your mother here?"

"No. Is Eduardo here or something?" she asked as she wiped her face and neck, dirt turning to mud from the water.

"No no no! Laisha, it's Chavez. He rode back in this afternoon with Hendry!"

"What!?" she gasped as she quickened her actions. "Mother said the commotion was from some rancher warning against some dogs killing his cattle!"

"Oh Maria Pia what have you done?" He whispered to himself. "No, now quick. He's at Beevers! Billy just rode in a few minutes ago, and I saw Chavez inside."

Why didn't he come to see me? She wondered. Was something wrong? "Thank you papa! I'm going to see him!" She rushed out the door and down the street.

"I'll hold your mother off for you!" Jesus yelled.

She ran at Beever's place, and shoved aside the mangled curtain. "Chavez," she called. What she saw before her confused and frightened her to no avail. Hendry and Billy sat across from each other at a table. They looked up at her, she looked between them hurriedly. "Where's Chavez?"

Billy stood up and walked to the door.

"Where is Chavez?" Her fear began to set in, and panic was eating at her. "Please," she begged in a whispered voice.

Billy stood at the doorway, leaning against the frame. He spun the barrel of his gun. "He's heading to the graveyard."

It was as though lightning had struck her. There was an emptiness in Billy's voice; and she glanced at his eyes, and saw them void of all emotion, almost near the idea of shock. She glanced back at Hendry. Hendry caught her eyes and she saw they were glistening. She turned back to Billy and gulped. Her fear was true. "The graveyard..." she echoed.

"Garrett got him. Got him good." Billy looked away, ashamed.

"He's dying, Miss Laisha," Hendry said softly.

"No..." she whispered out of despair and backed out of Beever's.

"My pal is strong, but not that strong. No one deserves to die alone," Billy said to her while still looking down at the ground.

He didn't need to finish. No one wanted to die alone, no matter what they said. Laisha turned on her heals and ran. Little clouds of dirt upturned from her slick bottom shoes. Within moments she rounded a corner and saw a cloaked figure staggering to the graveyard entrance. "Chavez," she choked out.

The figure stopped and turned to her. There she beheld his face, and his failing eyes. They searched for her. "Laisha?"

Laisha dashed to his side and put his arm around her shoulders. "I'm so sorry! I didn't know you were back. My mother kept me home; I didn't know, I didn't know."

He cracked a half smile. "Leave it to your mother." He nodded to a small outcove ahead of him. "Please, let's go there."

She walked with him, making sure to keep her pace steady with his. She glanced down and saw the wound in his stomach. A large stain of dry, dark amber was surrounded wet red. "Chavez?" she asked quietly.

"It doesn't hurt much anymore." He smiled at her. "Laisha?"

"Yes Chavez?"

"May I lie against you?"

"Of course Chavez." She felt tears forming, so she forced her eyes to stay open, hoping the dry air would soak up the liquid. She helped him to the ground. There she positioned herself so that his face rested on her chest. "Are you comfortable?"

"Yes," he breathed out. Unlike last time when she had been the one to cling to him, this time his hands and arms were wrapped around her. "Feels nice."

Like a mother, she wrapped her arms around him too. "Good, that's good."

"Do you regret this?"

She was confused. "What?"

Chavez looked up at her. "I met you, advanced on you, and left you, but now here I am again, dying."

She looked down on him and smiled sadly. "Oh no Chavez. I don't regret any of this, and I'd never take it back. You have actually helped me make a very important decision in my life."

"What did I do?"

She beamed at him. "I'm going to be a nurse, Chavez. I'm going to help people when they're sick. I want to hold their hand and calm their uneasiness."

"Like this." Chavez reached his hand out for her and she took it gently.

"Chavez, how long have you been wounded?"

He was silent for a moment, "I was shot this morning."

"And you arrived here this afternoon?"

"Late afternoon."

Guilt was building in her stomach. "Could I have saved you?" she bit her lip. If her mother had prevented her from helping Chavez, of there would be hell for her mother to pay.

"No chica. The Spirit Horse calls me home. My mother, my brothers, sisters, and all those I loved slain at Red Sands...they call to me. I think this was my time."

"Have I given you anything, Chavez? You made me realized what I want to do in life. I've never felt this way before about anyone; you've left a mark on me. But did I accomplish something for you."

Chavez took a sharp breath and grimaced. "You have...in my life, you have given me a small measure of peace. You have reawakened in me the hope that there is still good in this hell of life."

She stroked his hair, trying all she could to ease his pain. "I care about you so much. I wish...I wish..."

"I wish I would have stayed, like you suggested." He attempted to laugh, but broke into a cough. Red trickled out of the corner of his mouth.

Her heart froze. "Chavez," she swallowed. She let the gathering tears in her eyes fall.

He tilted his head to look up at her. "Oh please don't cry." He broke his hand away from hers. His hand touched a tear that was rolling down its own path.

"I hate seeing you suffer like this," she choked out. "I wish I could do something."

"You are. You're here. That's...all I need." He sighed weakly.

"I'm so selfish. I want you to stay, but I know you can't." She tried her best to hold in the sobs that wanted to escape her, and it was slowly becoming difficult. She leaned over and kissed Chavez softly. "Jose Chavez y Chavez, I will never, ever forget you."

"Hey," he smiled weakly, "You remembered my full name. No one really does." He closed his eyes, "Can you sing to me Laisha?" He moved his head to face her again. "Please."

Laisha leaned over and planted a kiss on his forehead. "I'll remember it forever Chavez." She gently moved a strand of hair from his face and moved it to the other side of his shoulder.

Come Josephine, in my flying machine.
And it's up she goes, up she goes.
Come Josephine, in my flying machine.
Going up she goes, up she goes.
Balance yourself like a bird on a beam,
In the air she goes; there she goes.
Up, up, a little bit higher.
Oh, my! The moon is on fire.
Come Josephine, in my flying machine.
Going up, all on, "Goodbye."

Laisha felt Chavez's breathing become ragged and breaths slow and sallow. Tears fell freely now. He was starting to leave her.

Oh, say, Let us fly, girl.
Where, dear? To the sky, girl.
Oh, you flying machine.
Jump in Miss Josephine.
Come Josephine, in my flying machine.
Going up, all on, "Goodbye."

When Chavez didn't speak, she was frightened. Only the feel of his breaths told her he was still alive.

"Laisha..."

She could barely get out the words "Yes Chavez?"

"I can hear them. I can hear my family's voices."

"Th-they must be happy to know you're coming," she choked out.

"They are..." His eyes looked up at her. "I'll miss you."

She smiled halfheartedly. "I'll miss you too."

His eyes glanced to the sky. "I can hear it; the Spirit Horse..." Chavez let out a long breath and his weak body let go. His stained hands fell from her, tumbling to the sandy, brown dirt.

"Cha...vez? Chavez?" She gently shook him. "Chavez?" Laisha gathered him up in her arms and rocked him. "No...no! Please, oh please no…" She looked at the same sky he had only seconds ago. It was full of hues of pink, orange, purple, and blue. Wispy clouds in horizontal lines sat in the sky. This was his sky, and it would always be his sky.


Laisha fiddled with a sleeve on her dress. She had already read a dime-cent novel three times and it would have been too predictable if she read it again. She had nothing to ease the boredom on the train rides from Lincoln to Santa Fe to Denver. The thought of the city loomed before her, and her nerves were in panic mode. It had been raining all day, and the windows were streaked and spotted with rain droplets.

"Laisha?"

Laisha threw her eyes over at Hendry. "Yes?"

"Are you all right?"

She smiled slightly, "Just nerves."

Hendry closed his book. "It's going to be okay. You've got the job. He'd be very happy for you."

"I know..." She gazed into the cloudy sky. Would he be? Within moments of Chavez's death, she grew up. No more clinging to her childhood. She was a woman now. She wasn't sure if what she felt was true love for Chavez. It may have been a deep friendship; a devotion. Or maybe one of the seven deadly sins, known as lust. But she had truly cared about him. She had wanted his well being above all else. When Hendry has whispered those words to her, her heart cracked. With every step she ran, with every dust cloud she cause and every object or person she had dodged around, the crack traveled quickly down her heart. When he slipped away in her arms, her heart shattered like a rock through the perfect stained glass window. Every aspect and color of her heart fell to the ground, turning into nothing but a million pieces.


Laisha glanced over at the entrance of the graveyard. Billy hung back, but Hendry slowly walked forward. "Is he...?"

She nodded.

Hendry looked over at Billy and nodded.

She watched Billy walk hesitantly to the graveyard. Hendry ended up pushing him forward slightly. They both bent down and gazed at their fallen friend.

Billy swallowed. "Did he...was he in pain?"

She looked back at Chavez and gently stroked the wisps of hair matted on his forehead. She shook her head, "I don't think so. He was quiet. I sang to him a little. He said he could hear his family...could hear the hooves of the spirit horse." She bit her trembling bottom lip. "Was he happy when he was with you?"

Billy fell back. "No," he whispered. "We lost Doc. Doc and Chavez were the closest of pals, better than I was to either of them. He tried to save Doc, but Doc wanted to finish the game..." Billy gazed off to a memory that had only happened less than a day ago.

"While Chavez was getting away, he was shot by one of Pat's men. Dave wanted to go without him, but I couldn't leave him. If I had known how bad he was hurt, I would have helped him right away. But even though he said was fine, he was hunched over..." Hendry looked at his friend. "He was a good man all the way to the end."

Laisha hugged Chavez to her, "Thank you for making sure he made it back."

Billy snapped back to reality. "How should we...with his body?"