Summery- (Set 1930's) When a drifter stops in a backwoods southern town, he doesn't intend to stick around long, and no one, including himself, could have imagined the effect he has on the lives of everyone involved, including his own. (better than is sounds…heh PLEASE R&R!!!)

Disclaimer- it's original… it's mine…yadda yadda (oh yeah and the song Fire and Rain belongs to James Taylor…)

Tansy Webster is a precocious, wild 9 year old, sometimes too much so for a "young lady". She can't understand for the life of her why she has to be so different from the boys. She likes to play ball and ride bikes and go swimming just as much as they do, and she could prolly whup 'em all at it too.

Marie Webster is a widow, trying as hard as she can to raise her tom-boy daughter properly, keep their farm going when just getting through one more day without her beloved husband by her side seems almost impossible.

Dan Sullivan is a drifter with a mysterious past and the last person you would suppose could help these two, but when fate come knocking, Tansy knows nothing is ever going to be the same again…

Fire and Rain

By: DSC (SJK)

"I've seen fire and I've seen rain,

I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end,

I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,

but I always thought that I'd see you again."

1

Dan

"Been walking my mind to and easy time, my back turned towards the sun,

Lord knows when a cold wind blows it'll turn your head around…"

Tansy sat down on the back steps, dropping her shoes beside her she sighed a little and gazed past the backyard fence to the woods, she could almost hear the river calling to her from just beyond that thicket of trees. Finally after months of nothing but cold and clouds, taunting clouds that promised snow but in the end did nothing but make the seemingly endless days dreary and bland…finally warm weather was here. It couldn't be called spring, though the trees were budding, and the grass was beginning to grow, Tansy didn't believe in a spring that sun burnt the leaves right on the trees and turned the grass brown before it even had a chance. Still it was fine swimming weather whatever else it was, and Ashton River was the only body of water within three counties that wasn't bone dry. Why on this particular day did her mother choose to drag her into town with her? She wasn't at all interested in Tansy's company when the weather was too cold for swimming, or even leaving the fireside for that matter, but now that the sun decided to show it's face, her mother had decided to show her's too, "Tansy? Tansy May…?"

Tansy blinked and glanced over her shoulder at her mother, "Hm?"

"Come on," she pushed open the screen door and passed her daughter on the way to the car, her Grandpa's car actually, which was the only reason they could afford to keep it, in fact Poppi was the only reason they could afford to keep any of their possessions, he lived in Birmingham, and hadn't at all been effected by either the depression or the droughts for some reason. "Get your shoes on Tansy."

"What's the rush?" Tansy asked, even as she slipped on her shoes and followed her to the car, she climbed in the passenger side and slumped down into her seat.

Her mother shrugged, turning the key in the ignition, it puttered slowly to life and they started down their long drive in silence. Their house was about as far out of the way as one could be… nearly ten miles from town there was a road that led off the back highway, and about five miles up this winding wooded lane, passed a few run down houses and small farms was another path, and about two miles up this path it turned into a driveway, their driveway. After Mr. Webster had died, family members, specifically her rather wealthy parents had insisted that it wasn't safe for Mrs. Webster to live so far away from town, and it would be ridiculous to try and raise Tansy out there all by herself but Marie, being as stubborn and proud as her late husband and maybe even more so, wouldn't hear of it, and so, there they remained.

Tansy rolled down her window, letting the wind sweep her auburn brown hair back out of her face, they never talked anymore, she and her mother… what was the point? Eventually one or the other of them would bring up… so they just avoided it altogether. The restless silence was just beginning to make Tansy fidgety when a noise, above the sound of the car engine, made her sit up in her seat. "Did you hear that?"

Her mother glanced at her, "hear what?"

Tansy listened intently, but beyond the hum of the engine and the occasional song of birds…nothing. She slumped back in her seat, "noth--that!" The noise sounded again, louder this time, a rustle in the underbrush, which wouldn't have seemed so strange, if it hadn't been followed immediately with a soft barking noise, like their dog's..

"What?!"

"Didn't you hear it?"

"Hear what?…This isn't some kind of joke is it Tansy?"

Tansy shook her head, "no…turn off the car.."

"Tansy--"

"Just for a second Mama, I know I heard something."

Her mother, sighing, obliged her, switching off the car. The engine puttered out, and for a second there was nothing but birds until… a rustle followed by something that was without a doubt, a dog bark. "There you see, I told you..!"

"Tansy…" A mutt of a dog appeared from out of the woods, barking furiously but it's tail was wagging, it kept bolting a few feet into the woods before coming back up to the car and barking again. Mrs. Webster made to start the car again, "it's just a stray…"

"No, it's got a collar look," and a collar it had indeed.

"It's just a dog Tansy…"

"It looks likes it want us to follow it…"

"Tansy…"But Tansy was off like a shot, opening the car door she bolted into the woods, following the dog, weaving between trees and logs at such a speed that Mrs. Webster almost lost sight of her. "Wait Tansy…!" She called, climbing out of the car and following as fast as she could, not because she was at all intent on discovering what the dog was leading them to but intent on being sure whatever it was couldn't harm her daughter.

When Tansy came into view she was standing, her toes over the edge of "devil's drop", a sharp drop-off where the hillside had eroded away after years of the Wanton River rushing past. (The Wanton was really just a branch of the Ashton River), but now the Wanton had all but dried up, save a little muddy stream that curved up the middle of the riverbed…it was a treacherous spot, undetectable from further than a few yards away and the drop off was so steep that once you'd stepped over the edge, there was nothing for it than to let yourself plunge headfirst into the rocky dry riverbed below.

Mrs. Webster stopped beside Tansy, taking her arm and meaning to pull her back away from the edge, but upon seeing what had made Tansy freeze so suddenly, she gasped. Someone had taken the plunge. "Oh Lord…" she breathed.

Her words seemed to ignite Tansy, she was suddenly dancing about with excited urgency, "we have to help him Mama, hurry… we have to do something!"

"Stop a minute Tansy, let me think…"

"Think?! There's no time to think--" but Mrs. Webster wasn't listening, she was heading back in the direction of their car, "Mama what on earth are you…we have to help him… that man…you can't just--" the dog was now barking so loudly they had to shout

"Be quiet," she said firmly to both the dog and Tansy, "I'm driving over to Mr. Beckley's."

"Mr. Beckley's…but why--?"

"How else to you propose we get him back up out of the ravine? We don't even have a rope with us, and Mr. Beckley and his boys will be able to give him a lot more help than we could hope to alone."

It all made perfect sense of course, and Tansy felt stupid for not at once understanding, but she couldn't bare the thought of just leaving a wounded man alone in the woods, who knows how long he'd been out there like that? And what if he woke up again? "Mama let me stay here."

"What?"

"Let me stay and wait for you here."

Mrs. Webster was tying her pocket handkerchief around a tree branch near the road so they wouldn't miss the spot on their way back. "No Tansy, now come on--"

"Mama please…I'll be fine, besides what if he should wake up?"

"Tansy--"

"I won't do anything stupid I promise."

"I don't--"

"I'm staying, I'll be fine, just hurry back."

Her Mother sighed, knowing it was against her better judgment, "alright Tansy, alright, but you stay away from that drop off you hear me?"

"Yes Mama." She stepped back from the car and watched as it drove away, twice the speed they'd been going in coming to this spot, she waited until it had rounded the turn out of sight, "come on, she said, patting the dogs head before racing back toward the ravine, with no intention of keeping her word. She stopped short a few paces from the cliff edge and glanced around, there had to be a way down… she was the best climber in all of Ashton County and if she couldn't find a way down… no one could.

Taking a deep breath she slid over the edge, and immediately, though she'd supposed her grip had been firm, slid down at least three feet. Digging her feet and hands in hard she slowed to a stop, the dog barked loudly at her from the top of the cliff, "I'm alright," she called to it and slowly, carefully, started downward, one foot at a time. By the time she reached a place where she could let go and hit the ground without injury she was covered in red Alabama clay, but, as she picked herself up and dusted her knees, she decided she didn't care.

Approaching where the man had fallen her heart jumped to her throat, at this close range she could see just how extensive his injuries were… and the sight made her briefly wish she'd just stayed by the road. He was lying on his stomach in a patch of drying blood, his right leg was turned at an odd angle and something white was jutting out sharply from his left arm at the elbow, his face was turned to the side, a good thing too otherwise it might have been completely smashed in… she could see that much of the blood was protruding from the side of his head.

She knelt beside him, afraid to touch him that she might somehow damage him even more so…her had hovered briefly above his right arm, as it looked to be alright, the dog barked loudly and before she could think twice she touched him gently, "hey Mr.…" she said in a "would-be-shout" sort of whisper, "Mr.…"He groaned and started to stir before he groaned again and didn't move, "are you alright?" she paused, "stupid question never mind… are you…can you move?"

His eyes flitted open briefly before he winced and shut them again tight, muttering what sounded like a slurred curse word.

"I'll take that as a no…we found your dog…you're um…you're gonna be alright."

"mmm…" she wasn't sure what that meant but it held a tone of sarcasm.

"No really, my Ma went to get Mr. Beckley…he's got four sons," her nose wrinkled slightly at the thought, "anyway they'll get you out of here…"

He opened one eye slowly in recognition and squinted at her, "who'ryou?" he questioned, making it one word.

"Tansy May Webster… who are you?"

He coughed a little and opened his other eye, "Dan."Pa,

How we got Dan out of that ravine without killing him I ain't go the slightest, Mack and Robby Beckley lifted him onto a wood plank and Tom, Wilber and their father pulled him up using a thing called a pulley which I remember you using when you dug a new well once in a part of the farm that had an underground spring running through it…remember? They laid him in the Beckley truck bed and me and Mack climbed in to hold him still on the ride back to our place, which is closest, Mama went for Doc. Holland. His dog was barking the whole time, turns out it's a she-dog, (Wilber said so.) and she's the most loyal thing I ever seen…She and Benny get along real well …He, I mean Dan, is sleeping "peaceful" now Doc says, but I remember you sleeping like that before you… it scares me is all. Especially since I overheard Doc saying that if he makes it through the night it'll be a wonder… but I ain't never held much to what Doc says, not since after… Anyway, I heard Mr. Beckley say that it would be a real shame because I seem to have taken a liking to Dan, and that's all I need. Whatever that means… I haven't taking "a liking" to no one Pa, I just don't want him to die…he ain't old Pa, not even a little old like you… he ain't young like me but he ain't old either. Mama's coming in to 'check on me' in a minute so I have to go.

Love,

Tansy

P.S. What she thinks I'm doing up here that she needs to check on I don't know…

P.P.S. I miss you…

TBC...

A.N. ok there's chapter 1, tell me what you think!!!