DISCLAIMERS: No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended. This is purely fiction and based on the television series The Magnificent Seven.


AU: Blood Brothers - For a rundown on the guys check out thhis page

SUMMARY: Chris is troubled and Vin lends a sympathetic ear.
Nope.  Stand alone.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to Mitzi and Beth Baker for beta reading this fic.
COMMENTS: Yes, please! 
DATE:  10 March 03


All in the Way You Smile

Blood Brothers, AU

By Yolande


Vin Tanner sat tall on the back of his fine black horse with his slouched hat hung low over his head and shading his face.  This gave the sixteen-year-old a chance to study folks as they passed him on the street without them feeling his scrutiny and without inviting unwanted conversation between himself and them.  He watched for strangers in particular and if he came across any, he would make an effort to find out their business in town.  He needed to keep an eye on all the newcomers – it always paid to keep abreast of things.  And the more he knew ahead of time, the safer he was. 

Ezra said Vin needed to socialise more, but that was the gambler’s way, not his own.  Perhaps if Vin remained in town then he’d eventually take a more active interest in meeting others, but he knew immediately that he wouldn’t.  He became tongue-tied and awkward when talking to strangers, and it shamed him to admit he couldn’t read or write.  It was his secret, but the disadvantage of such a lack in education was obvious at times.  He only had to stand next to Ezra Standish and listen to the gambler ramble on about this and that to know that he would be considered inconsequential beside the other teenager.  He shrugged, it didn’t bother him.  Or so he told himself. 

As Vin guided his mount toward the livery, he noticed Chris walking quickly round the side of the church.  His shoulders were rounded and hunched forward.  “Chris!” Vin called out a greeting, knowing that before he’d left that morning to go on a ride, the seven-year-old had been anxious to go with him.  Even as he called out, Chris continued in his stride and disappeared behind the church, as though he hadn’t heard the youth shouting out his name.  Vin pulled the reins back hard and stopped.  He leaned forward in the saddle and frowned.  He noticed several others turn and stare at him curiously after he’d called out, so he was fairly certain Chris should have heard him.  The teenager tipped his hat up a fraction.  Something was wrong.  He’d put Peso away, and then find Chris. 


It hadn’t taken very long for Vin to track the child down, he’d followed the small footprints and they led directly to Chris.  Young Larabee hadn’t thought to hide his trail.  When Vin found Chris sitting with his knees drawn to his chest, his arms wrapped tightly around his shins and his chin resting on his knees, Tanner was afraid to approach the boy for a minute – there was something terribly wrong.  The expression on his young face was an indication of the boy’s troubles, and it obviously told Vin that something traumatic had upset Chris.  “Hey, Chris!”  Vin smiled tentatively at the small child, who persisted in wearing only black clothing.  His smile thinned when Chris turned his back.  But he’d seen enough in the hurt expression to not be offended by the slight. 

“Go away, Vin!” 

Vin hunkered down to Chris’ level.  “Chris…is something wrong?  Has something happened?” 

Larabee shrugged.  

Tanner gently touched Chris’ shoulder, and was surprised when he flinched away from him.  “I ain’t gonna hurt you,” Vin reassured.  Was that it?  Had someone taken a hand to the boy?  “You hurt, Chris?” 

Chris shook his head vigorously and sniffed. 

“You sick?  ‘Cause if you are, Nathan can take a look at you and have you feeling better in no time.” 

“Ain’t sick,” Chris mumbled. 

Vin shook his head in frustration.  “Chris, you mind turning around so I can see your face…it’s kinda hard talkin’ to yer back.”  He waited thirty seconds, and when Chris didn’t turn around, Vin shuffled in the dirt and attempted to move in front of Chris. 

Chris scowled at the teenager wearing buckskins, and quickly turned his shoulders once more. 

Vin rolled his eyes, he wasn’t used to this.  He didn’t know what to say or how he should respond to Chris’ stubbornness.  Perhaps he wasn’t the right person to try.  He’d thought that he and Chris had developed some measure of trust between them, but it was becoming clear that they had not.  “You want me to go get, Josiah?  Or maybe Ezra?”  Chris seemed very fond of the gambler for some reason; so maybe he’d like to talk to one of the others.  “Would you tell them what the problem is?” 

Chris clamped his lips together in a stern line, and shook his head compellingly.  

“You want to go riding now?”  Chris had been excited about riding his horse every chance he could get, but Josiah and Nathan had been adamant about him riding with one of the older boys until he was more confident on the mount.  Ezra had bought Chris the black gelding and he had taken an instant shine to his mount. 


Vin sighed.  It must be serious if Chris did not want to go riding.  How did he break though the barrier?  Maybe Chris just needed some time alone.  “You want me to leave?”  He watched the child’s head bob up and down and then side to side with indecision.  He couldn’t prevent the smile that slowly spread across his face.  “You want me to stay?” 

Again, the seven-year-old shrugged.  In a very small voice he asked, “Do you think they take me seriously?” 

Vin sat back on his heels.  Where the hell did that question come from?  “Who you talkin’ about?” 

“The others, anyone, everyone…” he finished lamely. 

“Depends…” Vin paused, “do you want them to take you seriously?”  How could they not?  From the first moment Vin had met Chris, he’d been scowling and frowning and deadly serious in everything he did.  Very rarely did the child smile or laugh, or play like a normal child of the same age.  Chris was like an old man in a boy’s body, wise and mature beyond his years.  A great tragedy lost him his mother and brother.  Through no fault of his own, despite what the child thought, the event had devastated him just the same. 

“Yeah, I do.”  He wanted to be taken seriously. 

“Did something happen?” Vin repeated an earlier question. 

“Promise you won’t laugh?” 

“Sure.”  That was easy enough to agree to.  Or so he thought. 

Chris nodded and finally spun around on his backside.  Tears had flown from his eyes and they were still red and puffy, but they were dry at the moment. 

“So what’s this all about?” Vin gently lifted Chris’ chin off his knee and looked directly into green eyes. 

Instead of answering, Chris fished around in his pocket, slowly withdrawing his hand clasped tightly in a fist.  He held it out to Vin and slowly uncurled his fingers. 

Vin watched the concentration on Chris’ face and then moved to watch the small hand unfold.  His mouth twitched and he bit down hard on his lips to stop the smile from forming.  Lord, he’d lose the kid now if he so much as smirked.  He might have to resort to covering his face behind his hand.  Centred in the child’s palm was a small pearl white tooth.  He stared at the tooth for a full minute, letting the implications sink in. “That yours?” he eventually managed to ask. 

Chris nodded, but didn’t open his mouth. 

“Can I see?” 

Larabee sighed and blinked his eyes in frustration.  He grimaced in a wide false smile at Vin.  The middle tooth from on the top was missing and an empty gap was all that remained. 

Vin bit his tongue, and patted Chris on the shoulder sympathetically.  “It ain’t so bad, Chris.  It’s only a baby tooth, so another one will replace it soon.”  If Vin could have a closer look, he would probably find the sharp point of the new tooth already growing, but Chris had already closed his lips down tight.  

Chris snorted.  “Harrumph…”  How was anybody going to listen to him now, when every time he opened his mouth they’d see this great big gaping hole?  They would only laugh at him. 

“Won’t take long… I promise.” 

Chris didn’t believe Vin.  It was going to be an eternity before he could open his mouth again.   And he could see Tanner was having difficulty keeping a straight face.  Damn, it wasn’t funny!  “S’not funny!” 

Vin fell backwards on his rump and grinned.  “I ain’t laughing.”  He tried valiantly to keep the mirth out of his voice. 

Chris balled his fists tightly.  He was not going to cry again.  “You got to promise not to tell anyone?  Please Vin?” 

Tanner nodded.  He saw the pleading look in Chris’ eyes, and felt bad for the child.  This was not going to be the last tooth Chris lost; in fact, it was only the beginning.  And it was something he would not be able to hide from the others.  “Reckon they might cotton on quick…” 

Chris considered not speaking, or opening his mouth until his new tooth emerged; he was generally a quiet child, perhaps nobody would even notice his lack of conversation.  This was a possibility; though he wondered how long this muteness would need to be employed.  It could be weeks or even months, and even Chris couldn’t stand the self-imposed silence for that length of time.  Chris sighed, realising the hopelessness of the situation.  Vin was right; he wouldn’t be able to hide it.  Maybe he could stick his tooth back in place until the new tooth underneath had fully grown.  What could he use to hold it in place?  Maybe some gum would work?  

Vin could see the wheels turning round in Chris’ mind and the glances he’d given the baby tooth in his palm.  “You can’t put it back in. Once it’s out, it’s out for good.” 

Chris quickly glanced up at the teenager.  How did Tanner know what he’d been thinking?  “But…” 

“You can ask Nathan if you like, but that tooth is only good for tossing in the garden now.” 

“There nothin’ I can do?” 


“What if they haven’t come out yet?” 

Vin crossed his legs and sat forward.  “Don’t need to worry none on it.” 

“What about this?”  Chris opened his mouth wide this time and used his tongue to poke behind the back of the tooth that was alongside the gap – it pushed forward at a hideous angle.  And when Chris pulled back his tongue, the tooth fell to its original position. 

Vin screwed up his face and winced.  “Guess’n that one’s about to fall out too.” 


“Nothin’ you can do about it.  ‘Cept letting Nathan help pull it out.” 

Chris’ eyes bulged.  He wasn’t letting anyone pull out his teeth.  It was bad enough having lost the first one, but having a gap twice the size was going to be awful.  “Noooo.” 

Vin figured Chris wouldn’t be agreeable to anyone pulling it out.  Still, it was worth a try.  That tooth could hang like that for a couple of days, before it came out naturally.  Vin should know, he’d never let anyone near his mouth when he’d been losing his teeth.  He grinned a feral grin at the child.  “You do that to Ezra, and I bet he’d lose his dinner.” 

Chris returned the Texan’s grin.  He hadn’t thought of that.  Maybe there was an advantage to losing teeth after all.  He pushed experimentally at the back of the loose tooth and projected it into his gum; it might be good for a few laughs before it came out.  “Do you know where Ezra is?” 

“Nope.”  Tanner climbed to his feet and pulled Chris up off the ground.  “But it won’t take us long to find him.  Come on.”

the end

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Contact me here:- Yolande