Main Character(s) Chris, Vin
Summary: A missing scene for The New Law.
Acknowlegements: Thanks to the Vinfeedback group members for their encouraging feedback and to Jen for the necessary beta check.
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.
Chris sat quietly in semi-darkness, idly watching the small flame of the solitary lantern as it flickered in the draft from the open window.
He'd ridden straight out to his cabin after talking with Mary. Sure, he probably should have stayed in town to check that none of the other peacekeepers – make that ex-peacekeepers - did anything stupid. Maybe he should have talked to Bryce, tried to make him understand how things really were in this territory. But his gut had told him that it would be pointless.
So he'd ridden out and taken his anger out on a pile of logs that didn't need chopping because he wouldn't need them. Later he'd thrown together a sparse meal of egg and beans and sat down to watch the sun go down while he waited.
This whole situation was just plain wrong and he feared that the townsfolk would end up paying the price. He sighed, frustration rising again, because there was nothing he could do. Even Judge Travis admitted his hands were tied. Chris wasn't the kind of man to back off from a fight and if he thought for a moment he could accomplish anything, he'd stay and fight until his last breath. But he couldn't fight with words and he couldn't shoot a US Marshall, much as he'd like to.
If he didn't give up his gun by the twenty-four hour deadline, Bryce would throw him in jail. No way was that going to happen.
It was time to move on.
He looked towards the window as he heard the sound of a rider approaching. He smiled smugly – this was around the time he'd expected his visitor to arrive – and poured a shot from the whiskey bottle beside him into the second glass he'd put out ready.
The door opened and a man slouched in. Chris rolled his eyes. Vin never knocked; it didn't seem to occur to him that one of these days Chris might just be taken by surprise and shoot his worthless hide.
Chris nodded a greeting and gestured with the bottle to the opposite chair. Vin removed his hat, sank down into the chair and accepted the glass Chris held out to him with a grin of thanks. He took a long swallow, then lay his head back with a satisfied sigh.
They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes. That was one of the many things Chris liked about Vin. The man didn't feel the need to exercise his jaw all the time, not like some. He spoke when he had something to say and if not, he was content to simply sit and be. Chris appreciated that in him.
“Well,” Vin drawled finally. “That was some day.”
“Didn't get any better, huh?” Chris asked, one side of his mouth lifting in a smirk. There was nothing funny about the situation, but there was something mildly amusing in the absurdity of it all.
Vin grinned. “That Bryce really is something. Wanna to hear his latest great idea?”
Chris listened as Vin filled him in on the “oracle of widsom” Bryce had revealed in the saloon, ticking the items off one by one on his fingers. Chris shook his head bemusedly. Bryce certainly wasn't wasting any time. “What do you reckon, Vin?” he asked. “Is Bryce what this town needs, or is he just plain loco?”
Vin took a healthy swig of his whiskey, and repeated the same words he'd told the Judge. “This ain't Kansas, Chris. We just ain't ready for what he's got in mind, and I reckon it ain't gonna end pretty.”
Chris nodded. Those were his thoughts exactly. “You're right. But there's nothing we can do about it. He wants us gone, he made that pretty plain.”
“Yeah.” Vin stared into his drink for a while, then looked up and said a little hesitantly, “There's somethin' about this place, though. First time in years I've stayed in a town for more than a few weeks. Never felt safe to do it before and now it's kinda grown on me.”
“You thinking of staying?” Chris said in surprise.
Vin shook his head. “Can't, even if I wanted to. That wanted poster's bound to cross Bryce's desk sooner or later. It's time I settled my business anyhow. Reckon I'll head to Tascosa, soon's I've tracked down that wagon.”
“Want company?” Chris asked casually. Truth was, whatever Vin said there was no way was he going to let his friend head into a hornet's nest without Chris there to watch his back.
Vin hesitated. “Chris, I can't ask you to come with me. It's too dangerous and it ain't your problem.”
“It wasn't my problem a year back,” Chris pointed out mildly, “but you were happy enough to have my company then.”
“You know it ain't that I don't want your company.” Vin leaned forward, expression earnest. “I just don't want you gettin' killed for me.”
“Fine. I won't get killed.” Chris leaned forward himself, and held Vin's eyes. “Give it up, Vin. I'm coming with you to Tascosa.”
Vin's eyes narrowed. “If you was plannin' on coming along anyways, why'd ya bother to ask?”
Chris grinned. “Just bein' polite.”
Vin snorted. “That'll be a first.” Then he sobered. “Chris, you sure?”
“Yes,” Chris said firmly, looking him straight in the eye. “I'm sure.” He waited until Vin nodded, then added, “There's one thing I'd like to do before we head out, though.”
Vin raised an interrogative eyebrow.
“While you're tracking down that artillery wagon, I'm gonna head down to Purgatorio, see if I can pick up any new information on Fowler.”
Vin frowned. “Alone?”
“Sure. Easier for just one man to sneak around.”
“Look, hang the wagon. I'll come with you –”
“Forget it, Vin,” Chris interrupted. “You know it's too dangerous for you and it'll blow my low profile if I have to scrape your sorry hide up off the street. How about we meet up in Bitter Creek in, say, five days?”
Vin rolled his eyes, then grinned and raised his glass in a salute. “All right. We have a deal.”
Chris breathed a sigh of relief, downed his whiskey and poured both of them another.
“What about the others? Do they have plans?”
“Josiah and Ezra are heading out. Nathan, Buck and JD are stayin'. The kid's bin running round like a dog chasin' its tail, tryin' to get us all to stay.” He sighed suddenly. “Gonna miss that bunch'a varmints.”
Chris allowed himself to accept that he'd miss them too. Over the past year the seven men had forged a bond of friendship that was never acknowledged, but existed all the same. Damn Bryce.
Vin looked into his glass for a while, then looked up suddenly and grinned. “How long d'you reckon Buck is gonna last before he breaks one of Bryce's new rules? Reminds me of the time…”
Chris sat back, content for now to sit with a good friend and reminisce about the good times.
Tomorrow they would face the future – together.
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