by Brate

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Magnificent Seven characters.

Notes: This is an AU, set in a different present…  I read some books, watched some shows, and the rest I made up.

Vin Tanner drifted into awareness and noticed he was in a soft bed. Quite a change from what he had become accustomed to, thus he concluded he was not in the right place. He fought to free himself from the bedclothes, but was stopped in his frantic movements by a large hand on his arm. Vin whipped his head around, and found himself confronted by an older man with greying hair.

A deep voice soothed, "Hold on, hold on. You're safe." Vin saw the older man settle back in a chair next to him. The man was huge. Well, maybe not huge, but definitely larger than the people Vin was used to dealing with. He took in his surroundings quickly. He was in a small bedroom, no windows, and a Vin could make out a small bathroom through the open door. But he had no idea where this cabin or home was located, and, even worse, no idea how he'd arrived there. Okay, first things first.

"Where am I?"

"In a safe place."

"And you are?"


Vin eyed the man, not sure what he should be feeling. He quickly surface-scanned the man, receiving no outward feelings of malevolence. He saw the man tilt his head and smile. "Do I pass?" the older man asked.

This surprised the telepath; apparently this man had some potential. He decided to go along for now, to take a chance, and hopefully later there would be an opportunity to get away. "So how did I get here?"

"We brought you in."


"Otherwise they would've found you."

Vin tried to sit up in the bed, but was hampered by the pain this awakened in his skull and was grateful for the grey-haired man's assistance. "Thanks."

"No problem. Feeling any better?"

Tanner eyed his companion warily. "Better?" he asked.

"Well, you've been out of it for three days."

That threw the young man into a tailspin. "Three days?" he whispered. Vin groaned when the man nodded. He had lost three days! There was no way he could make the ship now; he was stuck in the city, or wherever "here" was. He tried to get up, frustrated when his body defied his wishes and he collapsed back onto the bed. He saw the man, Josiah he remembered, try to contain a smirk. "Guess I wasn't ready for that," Vin admitted ruefully.

"Guess not," Josiah agreed. "You think you can keep something down? Nathan says you need to replenish your fluids."


"My friend… he's a healer."

Vin's head snapped up and his eyes narrowed. "Who are you?"

"Do you always ask this many questions of people who help you?"


This did elicit a chuckle from Josiah. "At least you're honest. Why don't I go get you something to eat and then we can talk some more about what you really need."

"I don't need anything."

Josiah nodded. "I'll be back, rest for now."

Vin watched the man leave the room, and scanned the area. He sensed six other people nearby, all men. There was no one else close enough to sense, which meant the cabin must be fairly isolated. He had to get out of here now. Looking down he noticed he had on nothing but his underwear. Not the best outfit in which to make a successful getaway. He managed to raise himself up, and made his way along the bed toward the closet, praying his clothes were there. Vin fought off a wave of dizziness, opening the closet to see his clothes hanging there. He silently thanked whatever gods were watching out for him, and struggled into his shirt and pants. Slipping into his shoes, Tanner scanned the area once again. No one was near the room, and he decided that this would be the best time to disappear; he might not get another chance.



"He doesn't seem very receptive."


The telepath was halfway through the window in the attached bathroom when he felt someone's presence behind him. He turned to look back and saw a tall, slender, black man with his arms folded across his chest, staring angrily at the man attempting to escape.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" the dark man demanded.

"Leaving?" Vin's voice sounded unsure even to himself.

"Get your ass back here into bed. I didn't fix you so you could go and get injured all over again."

Vin scanned the newcomer and found there was nothing but concern for his "patient." The telepath then read the man and found out he was the healer, Nathan. Sensing that Nathan was harmless at this point, Vin did come back into the room, although he opted to sit on the chair rather than get back in the bed. "So what do you want from me?" he questioned the man warily.

"I ain't trying to kill you, if that's what you're worried about. If I'd wanted you dead, I coulda killed you anytime in the last three days."

Vin was again reminded it'd been too long since he'd had contact. "Can I use your phone?"

"Who do you need to call?"

"My ride."

"The boat?"

Vin started. These men knew too much for his presence here to be thought of as coincidence. "What boat?" he asked, trying for an innocent look -- he failed.

"It's better that you missed it. It was sunk a mile out."

Vin fell forward, clutching his head to hold back the sudden pain. He vaguely heard Nathan shout for Josiah, but was too busy trying to keep his mind from overloading. Tina, Daniel, Rico, Marie, all the others… the faces of innocents swam before his eyes. They'd been on the boat waiting for him. They were surely lost now, one way or the other. With his eyes closed, he mentally took his pain and encircled it with a shield, placing it aside for later when he could deal with it. It was something he'd grown too adept at during the last few years. Unable to deny his need for information any longer, he opened his eyes to see a worried Josiah kneeling over him. "How many gone?" he asked hoarsely.

"All of them," the large man reported sadly. He helped Vin back into the chair and continued to kneel in front of it. "I'm sorry for your pain."

Vin shied away from the comforting hand making circles on his back. "You're empathic," he stated.


Tanner looked back and forth between the two men. "Why am I here?"

"Why don't you come out into the other room and we can explain."

At the telepath's nod, Nathan and Josiah each grasped one of his arms to help him up. Slowly the trio walked into the outer room. Vin watched carefully. He still wasn't ready to let his defenses down, knowing how quickly that could get him killed--or worse. At one end of a kitchen table sat a young man with jet-black hair, laughing at something one of his two companions had said. They all looked up as Vin entered, forgoing their card game. Tanner checked the rest of the room and found his gaze caught by the man in black sitting at the bar. The man raised a glass of liquor toward him in a silent toast. Vin had a hard time breaking away; the man was strangely familiar to him.


Chris watched his friends assist the longhaired man. He was young, and although not as young as JD, by the look in his eyes Chris could tell he'd lived hard. He raised his glass, trying to relay some encouragement.


Vin realized the men supporting him were trying to maneuver him to the couch. He fought them, instead choosing to sit in a chair against the wall. Too many years on the run had taught the telepath not to leave a blind side if he could help it.

Josiah stood and walked over to the card table. "Vin, I'd like you to meet JD, Buck, and Ezra," the grey-haired man said, pointing at the youngest first, followed by the mustached man, and ending with the gentleman in the finest clothes Vin had ever seen. "And over by the bar is Chris." Josiah picked up one of the chairs and sat to Vin's left.

Vin acknowledged each man with a nod. "Now that you've got me here, what do you want?" he asked the room at large.

JD jumped up and scooted a chair next to him, parking himself between Josiah and Vin. The telepath bristled inwardly at the close contact, but maintained a calm outward appearance. The dark-haired youth spoke. "We want you to be a part of our team," he said.

"Why me?"

Chris stood up next to the bar, apparently sizing him up. Vin caught and held the gaze while the blond came over to stand before him. Chris motioned with his head and a chair slid across the room to stop across from Vin. The telepath had purposely not scanned these men deeply, and yet wasn't surprised that the blond with the steely green eyes was telekinetic. His aura of power spoke volumes about the man. Chris sat down and continued to watch him. Vin chose to ignore him for now, concentrating on the mustached man, settling down to Chris' left.

"Baines is getting too close. He almost found us; we need your abilities," Buck said.

Vin would like to help, to be part of a group, but he had his own agenda and couldn't afford to get tied down to these men. "No."

Nathan came closer as well, snagging a chair and sitting down between Chris and Josiah. "You were a hunter, a tracker. The only problem was, you were working for yourself, not for him. And he can't have that.  By our calculations, you've hunted over thirty-five people."


"And, they never showed up at the camps. Can you explain that?"

"No." Vin was wondering where they got their intel from. It was damned accurate.

JD gushed, "You saved them, didn't you? With your help we can do so much more."

"Not interested." Vin shook his head. "I got my own problems."

"Eli Joe," the blond spoke for the first time.

Vin flinched visibly.

Chris watched the reaction, wanting to tread softly, but knowing he had to be truthful. "Who do you think sent Eli after you?" He paused. "Baines did."

Buck added, "It doesn't matter anyway. Baines wants you and he's willing to kill anyone to get to you."

Vin was tired, his shields were fading, and he just wanted answers. "And again I have to ask, Why me?"

"Your gift."

"Yeah, right," Vin snorted. "Some gift."

"It is a gift," Josiah insisted. "All of us have gifts. Unfortunately, evil men have tried to taint them and it's our job to prevent that."

"If it's your job, why did you bring me in? What can I do for you?"

The men around Vin chuckled. Ezra came forward, bringing his own chair and settling down to Vin's right, leaving enough room between them so the telepath felt no discomfort. "Mr. Tanner, haven't you ever noticed how much control you possess? You have probably the most powerful mind in the world. Of course Baines wants to be in command of you."

"Same as you do."

"No, you're wrong, Vin. We don't want to control you, we want you to help stop him," Chris told the blue-eyed telepath.

"You're insane. There's no way to beat him, you just have to get out of the way."

Josiah disagreed. "It's true, son. With your help we can turn the tide of this war and finally gain some ground."

"We need to stop running and start fighting," Buck said.

"I... I can't."

Chris leaned forward, directing his gaze to the young man whose anguish was palatable in the small room. "We need you. Without you, I don't think it can be done."

"Vin, I assure you that you are indeed the key component to this mission," Ezra said.

"Please," JD added.

Vin looked at the men, now in a circle around him. He closed his eyes and opened his mind. He could feel the energy of the six men around him and somehow, with his presence, it was complete: their auras seemed to blend together. He knew from this moment on, his destiny lay with these men. "I'm in."

Sighs of relief punctuated the smiles of the six men.

Chris looked around at his newly completed team. "Let's get started."

continues in Affirmation

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