This is a companion piece to Into the West but you do not need to have read that to understand this. Like a number of my stories this one was never planned. Into the West was always intended to be Vin’s perspective on certain events but that pesky Chris Larabee started wanting to put in his tuppence worth and, since braver people than I have quailed before the Larabee glare, I had no option but to capitulate and write his perspective on the same events. Any similarities are, therefore, purely intentional.

Disclaimer: Could I just pretend for a while that they’re mine? No? Well, in that case, they’re not mine – and I’m sulking about that.

General: This story is AU ATF and very definitely Vin and Chris – the pattern continues.

Credits: As with Into the West thanks to Sue N for the line from her story Fade to Black (which sparked off this particular train of thought) and Mog for the ATF. Also, I must credit Fran Walsh, Howard Shore and Annie Lennox again and, if you want to know why, go read Into the West.

Warning: More deathfic - you have been warned. I’m sorry, I’m quite a cheerful person in real life; don’t know why I write weepies and reduce myself to a quivering mass of tears.

Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You have come to journey’s end

Sleep now
Dream – of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across a distant shore

Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
All your fears will pass away

Safe in my arms
You’re only sleeping

What can you see
On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?

Across the sea
A pale moon rises
The ships have come
To carry you home

And all will turn to silver glass
A light on the water
All souls pass

“You die on me agin, 'n I'll hunt ya all th' way ta hell, you understand me, Larabee?”

His remembrance of those words of a year ago had torn through him just like the knife had torn through his gut. As he had lain there, his blood oozing onto the filthy ground, he had known that, if it were at all possible, Vin would carry out the threat that they had held. He had felt his soul mate’s anguish even more acutely than his own physical pain and his heart had ached even as it had stopped beating. He had known that Vin had felt every one of his dying moments and known his dying thoughts – his fear and his loneliness - and, dead though he was, he had sensed the young Texan struggling for breath and collapsing.

In the shadowy place between this world and the next he had paced, sensing Vin’s withdrawal from the others; had known that the young man’s heart was weeping blood and had prayed that he might find solace somewhere.

He had stood, unseen, amongst the white serried ranks of gravestones, testimonials to the lost, and watched his own funeral from afar. Josiah’s low voice had rumbled out the service; JD had cried openly, but his thoughts had been with the sharpshooter, knowing that he was out there, somewhere in the cemetery, watching and bleeding – alone.

He had stood and watched as his coffin was lowered into the cold, impersonal ground; finally having to accept the truth. Until that moment he had hoped that it might all be some terrible joke and that he would be restored to life but the sound of earth hitting the casket had brought all hope to an end. He had looked for Vin wanting him to throw in a handful of dirt, to accept that he had gone, but the young man had been nowhere in sight and then, suddenly, he had heard a whispered “No” and had seen him moving hesitantly through the stones.

As the cemetery workers had begun to fill the hole in earnest he had seen Vin break into a run and had heard him scream like a wounded animal. He had seen the young Texan about to throw himself into the void and had stepped forward to stop his headlong flight. Outstretched arms had suddenly dropped as he realised, with something akin to a blow to the gut, that he was non-corporeal and would never again be able to touch his soul mate. His own soul had railed against his fate even as he had sighed with relief when Buck had stepped forward and caught Vin. He had watched as the sharpshooter fought like a wildcat but Wilmington’s strong arms had encased Vin purposefully and lovingly and had drawn him slowly back from the edge of the grave. And, although he had known how much Vin hated to be restrained, he had been glad that someone who cared held him.

“Vin, son, it’s all right. We’re here,” Buck had whispered in Vin’s ear over and over again and then, suddenly, the young man had gone limp, unable to fight any longer.

“Chris!” Vin had whimpered and he had ached to take him in his arms and soothe away the pain.

“I know, son,” Buck had whispered as he lowered himself to the ground, cradling the broken young man in his arms. The rest of the team had made a shield around them to hide them from prying eyes. And then Vin had cried; the hurt, anguish and rage pouring out in burning hot tears against Buck’s chest and he wished they had fallen on his.

That had been six months ago, six long anguished months, and every night he had stood by his headstone and watched Vin return to his grave and curl up at the foot of the bare mound to sleep, whatever the weather. It was that that kept him anchored to the earth. He knew that he was supposed to move on; to take the grey ship into the west, but Vin’s inability to say goodbye kept him tied there as surely as any physical restraint.

As he had done for so many nights before he looked up as Vin lay on the rain drenched soil, draping his body across the mound and digging his fingers into the earth. He watched the tears fall unchecked and listened to the soft calls that Vin made; saw and felt the grief pouring out into the implacable ground before the Texan fell into an exhausted yet clearly tormented sleep. He took all that grief that seeped through the earth into himself hoping, that by so doing, it would soon diminish and that Vin would be able to move on. This night, however, seemed different for, as he watched from the distant depths, he knew with a strange certainty that tonight it was his time to take the ship that was prepared for him but that he had been given some time to break the surly bonds of earth. He shivered at the thought of the great adventure that he was about to embark upon and then sighed as he looked at the sleeping Vin, saddened by the knowledge that this would be his last farewell.

He sighed again, hearing it sough throughout the cemetery, and then froze as he heard Vin call out “Chris?” A red haze had begun to gather around him and through it he saw Vin push himself to his knees. He groaned, knowing that this was not going to be as easy as he had hoped. He couldn’t walk away from this young man who was awake and so lost in despair; not even to take his place in the afterlife. He stood and watched again then suddenly realised that Vin was moving to unholster his sidearm. He hadn’t realised that Vin was so desperate and his gut twisted in horror and fear. With an effort born of his own desperation he forced his hand upwards through the earth and grabbed Vin’s hand just as it touched the metal of the gun. The young Texan pulled back, trying to snatch his hand away, but he tightened his grip in a supernatural attempt to stay any move that Vin might make to end his life.

“Vin, no!” he breathed.

“God, Chris, where are you?” Vin screamed wildly. Even as he heard the anguish in the sharpshooter’s voice, the heavens opened and the rain poured down in earnest through the earth making the soil sticky and muddy, causing him to lose his grasp on Vin’s hand. The ground above his head bucked and heaved, showering clods of earth, stones and worms down on top of him. He flinched instinctively but then gave a sheepish grin as he realised that nothing physical could touch him. He looked up at the mound over him for a brief moment and then turned to make his way down the stairs that he suddenly saw stretching in front of him. He sensed that he was meant to start on his final journey in this life and felt rather than heard a voice calling him; a voice against which he had no defence, although his whole being screamed that he should stay with Vin.

Reluctantly he continued down the stairs, each step inevitable but leaden, leading him towards a warm red glow far below. He felt a warm air rush past and envelop him in a loving caress but it did nothing for the ache he felt inside as he moved further and further away from his soul mate. His shoulders drooped as he sensed himself moving further and further from all that he held dear.


The scream from above startled him from his reverie and he paused mid-step, turning to look back up the stairs. Had his heart still been beating, it would have skipped a beat and his breath would have caught in his throat but, as it was, he felt his gut twist in sorrow. He was too far away to make out the face and the expression thereon but every nerve in his body tingled, telling him that this was Vin following him down the stairs; Vin who was still unable to make the final break and let him go. Silently he screamed at the sharpshooter to go back and live; if not for himself, for him.

“Go back, Vin,” he repeated silently, turning back and continuing his descent into the ruddy depths.

As he reached the bottom he became aware of a commotion behind him and looking back up he saw Vin slipping and sliding down the stairs behind him. With the same agility he had shown in life, he leapt out of the way of the Texan’s unorthodox descent, and winced as the young man landed heavily on the ground with all the breath knocked from him. He stood for a moment, wrestling with his feelings and the silent voice, and then stepped forward to where Vin was fighting to calm his breathing.

“Why are you here, Vin?” he asked quietly, bending down to look at the sharpshooter. He felt tears pricking at the back of his eyes as Vin finally looked up at him.

“Because you left me behind,” the young man wailed, all the anguish of the last six months given voice in the simple statement. He shut his eyes tightly against the pain.

“But I had to, Vin, I’m dead,” he reminded the Texan gently.

“And I told you that if you died on me again I’d hunt you to hell itself – so here I am,” Vin announced stoutly but there was a slight catch in his voice. As the young Texan’s eyes roamed around the cave in which they stood, he found his own eyes sweeping the area as well. “Is this hell?” Vin asked, “‘Cause if it is it don’t seem too bad. Thought it was supposed to be all hell fire and brimstone.”

He smiled gently at Vin before crouching down and looking him straight in the eye.

“No, it’s not hell,” he replied quietly. “It’s a kind of waiting room. I can’t move on because you haven’t let me go. You’re keeping me tied to the earth.”

He tried to keep the sadness from his voice but Vin drew in a shuddering breath none the less before responding.

“I can’t let you go. You’re a part of me and I can no more let you go than cut off an arm or a leg.”

“Vin, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be,” he remonstrated gently with the overwrought Texan. “You mourn and you move on.”

He was aware of Vin glaring at him.

“Can’t move on. Don’t want to move on. The others have but I can’t. Chris, I need you like I never needed no one before. You’re my anchor, my rudder. You know that,” the young man argued.

“Yeah, I know that, Vin, but there comes a time when you have to let go.” He hoped he was being comforting but somehow, looking at Vin’s face, he doubted it.

Vin turned away from him for a moment and he knew that the Texan was trying to compose himself so that he could argue rationally with his erstwhile boss. Then the sharpshooter turned back and tried to smile, but could not.

“Come back with me Chris, please,” Vin pleaded desperately. He felt a faint smile play around the corners of his mouth at the plea.

“And how would we explain that to everyone? No, Vin, there’s only one of us can go back and that’s you. You’re the only one still alive out there.” He stood up and began to move away. Behind him he sensed Vin springing to his feet and felt the young man’s hot glare on his back.

“What the hell were you doing in that alley anyway?” Vin screamed at his back as he continued to walk away.

“Nothing that you wouldn’t have done had you been there,” he replied as calmly as he could, turning to face the young Texan again.

“And that was?”

“Trying to save a young girl from being mugged. But you know that already. You’ll have read the report.”

He saw Vin’s head droop and reached out to rest a hand on his shoulder before he remembered that he couldn’t touch anything solid and snatched it back.

“Yeah, I read the report. You did what you had to do. Hell, you’re right, I’d have done the same thing. But it doesn’t help any.”

He was hit again by the waves of pain emanating from Vin as the young man dropped to his knees. Then he threw all common sense to the winds, walked slowly back and knelt at the Texan’s side. Without thinking he reached out, grasped Vin’s chin firmly and tilted the elfin face so that the other man had no option but to look up at him. Pushing aside his feelings of surprise at the feel of flesh beneath his fingers, he tried again to convince Vin of how wrong his decision was.

“Vin, you have to let me go and move on with your life so that I can rest.”

“Can’t do that, Chris. I’ve got no reason to live now you’re gone.”

“You can’t die, Vin. You have to go on living – for me,” he pleaded, trying to play his trump card; knowing his soul mate could refuse him nothing. He was wrong.

“I’s already dead – inside,” Vin replied quietly, trembling and then, he broke down in tears. Full of sorrow he slipped to the ground beside the young Texan, wrapped his arms round him, trying to offer him the comfort that only he had been able to give in the past and that he hoped to be able to give again.

He sat for a long time with Vin cradled in his arms, crying piteously, while he tried to soothe him. Rubbing circles gently on the young man’s back he watched as the ruddy glow gradually dissipated and was replaced by a soft silvery light. He was aware of the rocky cave floor giving way to a shimmering sandy beach washed by gentle silver waves. Away in the distance a ring of tall cliffs came into view and he saw that he and Vin were seated at the edge of a natural harbour. Through a break in the rocks he saw a glassy moonlit sea. The sparkle of crashing waves against the base of the rocks drew his attention as did the grey ships that were sailing slowly towards the break and he felt his spirit soar. His eyes came to rest on the edge of the surf where a small boat waited; its sails furled and the oars shining in the moonlight that spread across the water. As he met the emotionless eye of the tall hooded man who stood in the prow, he knew that this was his grey ship to carry him along the pathway to the west.

Gradually he became aware that Vin’s tears had finally ceased flowing and that the young man was fighting for breath. Tearing his eyes away from his boat, he continued to rub the young man’s back. Quietly he sat with the young man wrapped in his arms waiting for the summons and dreading the final break with his soul mate. For what seemed to be an eternity he waited and then the skeletal hand resting on the rudder beckoned to him and he knew it was time to go. But Vin had seen it too and he clung even more tightly.

“No,” the young man screamed. “You can’t go. Not now. Not without me.”

“Vin, I can’t ask you to do that.”

“I ain’t asking you to ask, I’m offering.”

“Vin.” As gently as he could he began to untangle himself from the Texan’s grasp. Smoothing the light brown hair he settled him on the sand. “We have to say goodbye now.”

Vin gulped and looked up at him with tears in his eyes..


“Goodbye, Vin. Please say goodbye. Let me know you’ll be all right,” he said, needing to hear but understanding Vin’s reluctance to final sever the link.

“I can’t.”

“Goodbye; please just say it.” He watched as emotions raced across Vin’s face until he finally whispered “Goodbye”; but the word seemed to catch in his throat.

It was not the complete acceptance that he had hoped for but, if he was truly honest, there would never be that so he took what was offered and got to his feet, moving across the sand to the boat. Without a backward glance he climbed into the boat but could go no further without knowing that Vin would be all right so he turned towards him with a smile and a wave, trying to show his soul mate that everything would be fine. And then the ferryman pushed against the shore and the boat slipped out onto the silver water.

“Chris!” Vin wailed as the boat began to move from the shore and, to his horror, the young Texan moved forward into the water, wading purposefully through its wake.

“Vin, no!” he yelled as he watched the sharpshooter first wade and then began to swim towards his boss and the boat. He knew his face showed his horror but could do nothing save watch as Vin pressed on through the waves, regardless.

Suddenly and with certainty he realised that Vin wasn’t going to stop trying to reach him and that very soon he would not be able to turn back either. With sorrow he made his heart wrenching decision and laid a hand on the ferryman’s arm, slowing the boat down until he could reach for the other half of his soul. Reaching out and grabbing the flailing arms he looked down into the young brunet’s face which was lit by a radiant smile.

And his heart broke.

“God, Vin, what have you done?” he whispered with a catch in his voice, even as he pulled Vin into the boat with him.

“Chosen you over life itself,” the Texan replied simply, snuggling up close to him and gently wrapping himself in his arms; hugging them tightly. Tears sprang unbidden to his eyes and spilled down his cheeks as he looked down at the selfless young man; and he wept for his soul mate’s life that had been shortened by his own death.

Knowing that Vin’s choice was now irrevocable, his hold tightened on the young Texan in his arms and he rested a damp cheek on the soft brown hair as the ferryman pulled once again on his oars, skilfully steering the craft through the small opening in the rocks and out on to the glassy sea. Here he raised the silken sails allowing them to be filled with the gently billowing breeze as the grey ship passed into the west.

Hope fades
Into the world of night
Through shadows falling
Out of memory and time

Don’t say
We have come now to the end
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again

And you’ll be here in my arms
Just sleeping

And all will turn to silver glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass
Into the west

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