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 dont own the rights to the Magnificent Seven and I dont make any money from this work.
"The answer is no!" Chris tightened his grip around the injured mans 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.
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.
Buck arrived, mouth tightening as he saw the knife.
Whats going on, Nathan?
I have to take his leg.
NO! You cant do that!
If I dont, hell die.
You do this he wont 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 Vins spirit.
Its time, Nathan said. Hold him down.
Stop this, Chris, Buck urged.
I cant let him die!
Buck looked into Chriss tormented eyes. Is this his choice or yours?
Nathan picked up the knife.
Chris caught Nathans arm. Stop! This isnt what Vin wants.
He trusted you with the choice.
I was wrong. Chris took a cool cloth, gently wiping Vins burning brow.
Vin turned his head, laudanum-dulled eyes questioning.
Vin, its your decision.
Their eyes locked, Chris understanding Vins dilemma.
This isnt about me, pard, he said gently. You know how I feel, but its your life.
I couldnt live like that, Vin whispered. Id 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?
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.
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.
Im sorry, Chris. Hes so weak; if the fever doesnt break soon
Chris turned away, refusing to accept the unspoken words.
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 friends side instantly, his gaze meeting tired but lucid, fever-free eyes.
Nathan! Chris shouted.
His urgent cry brought Nathan running.
Its all right, pard, Chris said, laying a reassuring hand on Vins shoulder. Youve been real sick, but Nathans taking good care of you.
Chris looked questioningly at Nathan and was rewarded with a nod.
Fevers broken and the infection has reduced.
Nathan smiled. Hes gonna make it!
Two weeks later.
With Vin out of danger, Chriss 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 Id been there
You couldve been killed, Vin interrupted.
So you can risk your life for me, but I cant risk mine for you? Friendship works both ways, Vin.
It was my choice, Vin retorted.
Chris looked at him strangely. Yes, it was.
Whats 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. Legs much better; I aint gonna fall.
You were right, Vin continued, after a pause. Shouldnt have gone alone.
That wasnt 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.
Im sorry, Vin said softly. I shouldve trusted you, I just couldnt if it happened again, what would you do?
Id trust you.
Vin smiled. Me too.