A/N: So sorry for the long delay! This chapter will wrap things up. I guess I just hated to let these two go. Please enjoy.
Chapter 7: Justice
Mary stepped down from the witness stand, a tower of strength and quiet courage, and walked slowly past Ella Gains, eyes forward, without so much as a glance in the wretched woman's direction. Chris stood from his chair, four rows back, a beacon that Mary instinctively flowed toward. He took both of her hands in his and squeezed them reassuringly before stepping back and allowing her to move to the empty chair between he and Vin. Catching her eye before she sat, Vin nodded and offered her a small, tight lipped smile. She had done her job. She had recounted the events of the day in question with honesty and a straight forward air of modest dignity. She had kept her tears at bay, determined not to give that hateful woman an ounce of satisfaction. The verdict was read after a short deliberation by the jury in Gumm Springs. Judge Travis had recused himself from the trial sighting an obvious conflict of interest. Had he not been related to Mary and quite honestly fond of Chris, he would have been grateful for any excuse to recuse himself from this case. The nature of the crimes committed and the simple fact that Ella Gains was indeed a female was bound to wear on anyone involved in the trial. The honorable Judge Wilson Mayer had drawn the duty. Judge Travis had met his fellow judge only twice before, but knew him to be a man if integrity with a hardy respect for the law. He was known to be fair and honest. Orin was certain that justice would be served. He had told Mary and Chris the same on more than one occasion while they made the two day journey to Gumm Springs. Mary and Orin had taken the stage while Chris followed on his black gelding. Judge Travis had taken the added precaution of sending for a federal marshal to escort Ella on the two day trip. He was, of course, accompanied by the six lawmen of Four Corners.
Mary and Orin had stayed in the local hotel while Chris chose to stay with the men in the bunkhouse. It was hard being away from Mary, but under the circumstances thay had both thought it best. Even after receiving the telegram that had lifted his paralyzing fear and informed him that Ezra and Nathan had taken care of the threat and that Mary was indeed okay, all he had wanted was to see her and to touch her, to feel her pressed against him, safe. He recalled seeing her shoot out through the front door of The Clarion News upon their arrival. She had nearly knocked him over diving into his open arms. He had missed the guttural growl that had escaped from Ella's throat as he was oblivious to everything but the woman he loved. He and Mary had spent their second night together that evening. He had kissed her square on the mouth right there in the middle of the street for God and everyone to see. He had taken care of his horse and thanked his fellow lawmen for their help before excusing himself from their company. He had knocked twice before Mary opened the door. His breath had caught in his throat at the sight of her. She was wearing a light blue shift nearly transparent in the moonlight that drifted in through the big windows behind him. Her hair was loose and flowed half down her back and half over her shoulder. She had worried at her bottom lip the way she always did when she was nervous. Wordlessly, he had reached her in one stride and swept a taut, muscular arm around her waist pulling her to him effortlessly. He still wasn't sure how they had made it upstairs to her bed. He had kissed her hungrily at first forcing sweet, melodic sounds from her throat that had driven him nearly mad. He had then kissed her slowly and so thoroughly that they had both panted needing each other desperately. There was no doubt where and with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. He had no idea what he had done to deserve this second chance. Truth be told, he had done nothing. Mary was God's grace in tangible form and he knew it.
He escorted Mary upstairs to her room following supper with Orin and the men that first night of their journey. He followed her through the door under the excuse of wanting to make sure no threats were lurking in any hidden corners. Mary smiled knowingly, watching him peruse the room through squinted eyes. She closed the door behind her and moved slowly toward him, wrapping her arms around his waist. He covered her hands with his and pulled her around to face him. The love he found reflected in her eyes was still a bit overwhelming. What a fool he had been to think he could run from her, from this. Why did he ever want to? He ran his hand through her hair allowing the soft, wheat colored tresses to tickle his fingers until he reached the ends and balled them in his fist. He recalled what those same tresses felt like as they danced across his bare chest as he lay naked underneath her. The physical response that she elicited from him was bound to be his undoing. He kissed her chastely on the forehead trying to calm his need before it overtook them both. Mary squeezed her eyes closed, fighting the same battle. "I better go," he whispered.
"Yeah, I think you better," she teased. Arm in arm they walked the few steps it took to reach the door. Chris brushed his lips against Mary's, lingering a moment longer than he should have making his departure nearly impossible. The click of Judge Travis's boots on the floor just outside Mary's door, however, quickly sobered them both. They waited until they heard the click of his lock across the hall before so much as breathing. Chris stroked Mary's chin and whispered a quick "I love you," before turning quickly to go.
Six days later, they sat quietly in the makeshift courtroom awaiting the jury's decision. The tall man in the first jury chair stood, paper in hand. He was wearing simple clothes made for hard work, perhaps ranching or farming. The knees in his pants had been patched more than once and his boots were well worn and muddy. He could read and write as could nine of the twelve jurors. That had been one of three questions asked by Judge Mayer at the outset of the proceedings. He had also wanted to know each man's occupation and how much alcohol they each consumed in a week. He had explained that the trial would be a difficult one as not only was the accused a female, but one of the victims was a seven year old boy burned to death in a deliberate act of brutality. Juror number one cleared his throat and kept his eyes on the judge never sparing a glance at the written verdict. "We find Ms. Gains guilty, your honor, of trying to have Ms. Travis there murdered. We also decided she's guilty of murdering Mr. Larabee's wife and son."
"This court thanks you for your service, gentlemen. You are excused with my sincere gratitude." He nodded to the jurors and waited for them to exit. "Ms. Gains you have been found guilty of two murders and one attempted murder for hire. In accordance with the law of this great state, you are hereby sentenced to hang. Justice has been served Ms. Gains and I see no reason to delay punishment. You will hang in two days time. May God have mercy on your soul. This court is adjourned." He slammed the gavel hard on the table and just like that, the trial was over. Mary had listened to the verdict with her head bowed and her eyes closed. She wasn't sure how Christian it was to pray for the death of another human being, but God knew her heart already. She hadn't realized how tightly she had been clinging to Chris's hand until she released the breath she had been holding and relaxed her fingers in his grip. The federal marshal lifted a muted Ella from her chair and held her hands firmly behind her back as the Gumm Springs marshal placed the manacles around her wrists. Mary and Chris stood as did the majority of onlookers in the courtroom audience. Chris turned his back to the isle as Ella was escorted out of the courtroom. In doing so, he shielded Mary from the she-devils glare.
Mary rarely thought back to that time in her life, but it had been five years to the day since Ella Gains was held accountable for her sins here on earth. Chris and Mary had headed out of town that afternoon, moments after the verdict had been read and the punishment conferred leaving Ella behind to meet her fate. Chris had asked her quietly, in no more than a whisper, if she would ride with him to his old homestead. He wanted to tell Sarah and Adam that it was finally over. More than that, he wanted to say goodbye and he wanted Mary by his side when he let them go. She couldn't stop the tears that slipped silently down her face as she watched Chris kneel in front of the graves that held his beloved wife and son. She listened as he explained things to Sarah, releasing the burden of guilt and revenge that had pulled him apart from the inside out for so many years. He let her know that he was okay and that she and their son would always live in his heart. He told her too about Mary, about how he had started to live again thanks to her and her determined yet gentle ways, and about the future he had planned for them. Mary watched as the peace she had prayed so long and hard for washed silently over the hard lines of his face. He ran his hand over the weathered markers he had driven into the earth four long years ago. Still kneeling, he lifted his eyes toward heaven and surveyed the big, open sky above him before standing and backing away from his past. When he reached Mary he drew in a deep, shaky breath and offered her a quiet smile before taking her face in his hands. He wiped the tears from her cheek, kissed her forehead and pulled her silently to him. Mary wrapped her arms around his waist, both offering and accepting comfort the way folks can and do when their hearts beat in accordance with one another.
Mary watched Billy and Chris through the kitchen window. Billy was twelve going on twenty five. He and Chris were close, as if Billy had been born to Chris. They were working on a tree swing for Aaron who hopped up and down on his toes waiting for the job to be completed. He would be three in a couple of weeks. Aaron Christian Larabee was the apple of his Daddy's eye. Big brother Billy was pretty proud too. Mary rubbed her swollen belly wondering if they would be welcoming another boy into their family or if the Lord would see fit to send them a daughter. She chuckled at the thought of an overprotective Chris and his baby girl especially as she grew past her teenage years. She pitied the young man who dared to court the daughter of Chris Larabee and could just imagine the scene... Chris silent and steely, cleaning his six shooter, watching the poor boy wilt under the weight of his gunslinger glare. Chris had come into his own in the last five years. He had become the man that Mary knew he could be. He was a rancher and a lawman, kind and gentle yet tough as nails. Four Corners had grown and the seven lawmen were plenty busy. Vin had fallen for the new school teacher the moment she had arrived in town. She too was expecting, due any day now. Nathan and Rain had made things official three weeks after JD proposed to Casey. Buck refused to drink anything but whiskey or sarsaparilla for a year swearing up and down that there must be something in the water for he had never seen so many folks "run plum crazy to get hitched and multiply." In an odd turn of events, Ezra and Inez had recently begun to see each other in a new light. Mary hoped the two of them would figure things out soon. Josiah was content waiting for Maude. She came around every few months under the guise of visiting her son and checking on her investments. It was clear, however, by the way she spent her time while in Four Corners that the former had very little to do with her visits.
The kettle sang bringing Mary back to herself. She poured the hot tea that Nathan had prescribed for her aching back into the dainty pink cup she was holding. It was a part of the tea set the Judge and Mrs. Travis had given her to celebrate her engagement to Chris. I was expensive and pretentious and she and Chris both hated it, but they loved the Travis's and drug it out each time they came to visit. Mary took her cup and headed for the front porch. She leaned against the railing, the very spot where Chris had proposed a scant six weeks upon their return from Gumm Springs, and watched Billy and Aaron playing in the yard while Chris put the finishing touches on the swing. Like always, he felt Mary's presence and turned to grace her with a small and loving smile. "You okay?" he hollered. She nodded and waved, returning his smile. "What do you think?" he asked stepping back from the newly hung swing.
"I think it's perfect," she called back. In every way.
A/N: I so hope you enjoyed my little story. Loved this show and loved this couple. It's a shame the powers that be let it fade away without a proper ending. This story was just my attempt at writing/righting that wrong. Thank you for reading!