THE CHOICE by Rhiannon

A story told in eight 100-word parts

Summary: When Vin is seriously injured, Chris has to make an agonizing choice.

Notes: This started as one drabble, and became a challenge to tell a whole story through a series of hundred-word parts. It was an interesting writing exercise, if nothing else!

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Chris for producing a wonderful collage to go with the story.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. I don’t own the rights to the Magnificent Seven and I don’t make any money from this work.

Part I
"The answer is no!" Chris tightened his grip around the injured man’s limp hand, eyes fixed on the flushed, pain-lined face framed by tangled, sweat-drenched curls. "Find another way."

"The wound was left untended too long. If I don't do it now, he's gonna die."

Chris looked up and read the truth in Nathan's anguished expression. Turning back to the bed he leaned in close, capturing his friend's fever-brightened eyes.

"Trust me."

Chris held his breath until he felt slender fingers weakly squeeze his own. Swallowing past the lump in his throat, he turned resolute eyes to Nathan.

"Do it."

Part II

Buck arrived, mouth tightening as he saw the knife.

”What’s going on, Nathan?”

“I have to take his leg.”

“NO! You can’t do that!”

“If I don’t, he’ll die.”

“You do this – he won’t want to live,” Buck stated bluntly.

Chris flinched; he knew Buck was right. To lose his independence and be denied the freedom to roam the wide open spaces would crush Vin’s spirit.

“It’s time,” Nathan said. “Hold him down.”

“Stop this, Chris,” Buck urged.

“I can’t let him die!”

Buck looked into Chris’s tormented eyes. “Is this his choice – or yours?”

Nathan picked up the knife.

Part III

Chris caught Nathan’s arm. “Stop! This isn’t what Vin wants.”

“He trusted you with the choice.”

“I was wrong.” Chris took a cool cloth, gently wiping Vin’s burning brow.

Vin turned his head, laudanum-dulled eyes questioning.

“Vin, it’s your decision.”

Their eyes locked, Chris understanding Vin’s dilemma.

“This isn’t about me, pard,” he said gently. “You know how I feel, but it’s your life.”

“I couldn’t live like that,” Vin whispered. “I’d rather take my chances.”

Chris nodded, heart sinking at the inevitable words.

The door opened.

“I come to help my brother,” the newcomer said. “Am I too late?”

Part IV

Chanu approached the bed.

“Show me the wound.”

“The infection is bad, and spreading,” Nathan explained.

Chanu produced a small pouch. “My people have used this herb for generations as a powerful treatment for infection. There is still hope.”

Quickly Chanu and Nathan prepared a poultice.

“Hold him, Chris, Buck - this is going to hurt.”

Although barely conscious Vin cried out, trying to pull away as the hot poultice was applied, but was too weak to loosen his friends’ firm grip.

Finally, Nathan stood back.

”What now?” Chris asked.

Nathan exchanged a worried glance with Chanu. “Now, we wait.”

Part V

Vin lay near death. Nathan replaced the healing poultice regularly, anxiously checking for signs of improvement. There were none.

His friends sat with him in turn, working to cool the fever-heat raging through his body, each silently preparing to say goodbye. Chris barely left his side, racked with fear and self-doubt about the choice he had made.

On the third day Chris watched Nathan examine Vin once more and his heart sank as the healer looked up, eyes sorrowful.

“I’m sorry, Chris. He’s so weak; if the fever doesn’t break soon…”

Chris turned away, refusing to accept the unspoken words.

Part VI

Chris woke from exhaustion-induced slumber, straightening his aching back and rubbing red-rimmed eyes.


His head snapped up on hearing the weak voice.

“Vin!” Chris was at his friend’s side instantly, his gaze meeting tired but lucid, fever-free eyes.

“Nathan!” Chris shouted.

His urgent cry brought Nathan running.

”C… Chris?”

“It’s all right, pard,” Chris said, laying a reassuring hand on Vin’s shoulder. “You’ve been real sick, but Nathan’s taking good care of you.”

Chris looked questioningly at Nathan and was rewarded with a nod.

”Fever’s broken and the infection has reduced.”

“You mean…”

Nathan smiled. “He’s gonna make it!”

Part VII
Two weeks later.

With Vin out of danger, Chris’s fear changed to anger.

“It took us three days to find you! What were you thinking, going after that bounty hunter alone?”

Vin frowned at the harsh tone. “It was my problem.”

“Mine too. If I’d been there…”

“You could’ve been killed,” Vin interrupted.

“So you can risk your life for me, but I can’t risk mine for you? Friendship works both ways, Vin.”

“It was my choice,” Vin retorted.

Chris looked at him strangely. “Yes, it was.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

But he was talking to an empty room.


Vin found Chris outside the clinic.

“What the hell, Vin…”

“Keep yer tail on. Leg’s much better; I ain’t gonna fall.”

“You were right,” Vin continued, after a pause. “Shouldn’t have gone alone.”

“Damn right.”

“That wasn’t what you meant, though, about the choice.”

Chris faced him. “You chose to die! How do you think *I* felt, stopping Nathan, knowing the consequences?”

“You did it anyway; you trusted me.”

Chris sighed. “Always will.”

“I’m sorry,” Vin said softly. “I should’ve trusted you, I just couldn’t… if it happened again, what would you do?”

“I’d trust you.”

Vin smiled. “Me too.”