Fulfilling the Legacy (by the Tahoe Ladies)


Summary:  A WHN for ‘The Legacy’
Rated: K    Word Count:  500


Fulfilling the Legacy


from the 5th Season and the episode “The Legacy……..


The sun was burning off the night’s chill as I rode into the yard, my father’s prized rifle in my hand. Pa, Adam, Hoss and the peddler Roy Coffee had told me saved my father’s life came out into the yard to greet me – a cautious, fearful welcoming home. I could read it in their faces – all of them – but most predominantly in Pa’s. I gave him the words I had been practicing on the ride home from the sheriff’s office.

“No one needed killing any more than Billy Chapin but I couldn’t do it. Maybe because of whose gun it was but I couldn’t pull the trigger.” I prayed he would accept the words at face value. They were true but not the complete truth. They did take the fear out of my father’s eyes, his body seeming to sag to one side as he favored his wound. I looked over his shoulder into the eyes of my brothers and saw something else there. As Pa moved away to talk to the peddler, we three Cartwright brothers moved closer.

“Pa was plenty worried about you, little brother,” Hoss murmured as he stared down at the rifle he held in his own hands – hands I saw were trembling slightly.

“Afraid that you wouldn’t follow the lessons he’d taught you . . . us.” The tone Adam used was guarded, soft, yet he held my eye firmly.

For several long heartbeats our eyes met. I could see the fear, the exhaustion and the sheltered secret in theirs. They saw the same in mine. I am sure. “You too?” I whispered.

Pa’s chuckle made us turn as one and watch as the peddler’s wagon moved out of the yard. Thankfully, he stayed where he was, not coming back to us until the wagon had rumbled passed the barn.

That was all the time we three brothers needed. The answer to my cryptic question wasn’t given in words. It didn’t need to be. It was somewhere deeper than sound. It was in our blood.

With sagging shoulders and tired feet, we all turned to go into the house and I moved away from Pa, not wanting his hand to touch me. I couldn’t have kept the blood-bourne secret if he’d touched me.

Yes, all three of us had held to our father’s teachings. There had been no soul-satisfying revenge inflicted upon the men each had thought responsible for his death. We had done as he had taught us – let the law handle it. Yet that had been secondary.

First had come the response we carried in our souls as a family. We were brothers.

And the only reason our prey had gone to the law was that blood-bourne secret held by each of us. We couldn’t kill our man – the man we truly believed responsible for our father’s death- without our other brothers there to watch him die.


The end

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