By Lanna



No one had noticed the hours that had passed since Josiah’s frantic screams for help had split the otherwise calm night.  After discovering what had happened, the rest of the seven regulators had rushed Chris to the clinic, where Nathan had promptly kicked them out, keeping only Josiah to aid him.  The other four had remained on the landing outside, listening for signs that could give them some hint as to how things were going.  But all was silent. 


The sun peeking over the horizon caused JD to stir and look up from where he sat, blinking in surprise.  “It’s morning,” he breathed, causing the others to look up from their various positions around the landing.  Worried looks were exchanged.  So many hours had passed…what was happening?  Surely Nathan had managed to get the bullet out by now, so why had they not heard anything yet? It had been so quiet in the clinic.  Was *still* so quiet…


“I’m gonna find out what’s going on,” Buck said, getting up from where he’d been sitting and approaching the door.  As he reached out for the knob, the door opened and he took a startled step back as an exhausted and blood stained Nathan emerged. 


“Nathan?” Buck questioned as the others hurriedly gathered around.  The ladies man’s heart jumped into his throat and his stomach sank all the way down to his toes as he saw the expression in the healer’s dark eyes.  Sorrow.  Oh no…


“It wasn’t easy,” Nathan spoke quietly, “but I got the bullet out.  But it caused a lot of damage and he lost a lot of blood.  Too much.”  He shook his head.  “I’ve done all I can for him.”


“What are you saying, Nathan,” Buck asked, fear  plain in his voice. 


Nathan closed his eyes and seemed to be trying to gather strength.  After a few seconds, he looked at them all and said, “I’m sorry but I…I don’t think he’s going to make it.”


Silence fell as the group struggled to absorb what they had just been told.  Chris Larabee…their friend…their leader, was going to die.  “If any of you want to have a private moment with him,” Nathan continued softly, grief slipping into his voice, “then you’d best do it soon.   He probably won’t make it through the night.” 


 “The hell!” a low voice hissed and all eyes turned to Vin.  The tracker was standing there, body visibly trembling, eyes wide and wild and filled with denial.  “He ain’t gonna die!” he growled.  “I ain’t gonna fucking let him!”


Pushing past Buck and Nathan, he rushed inside, stopping dead at what he saw.  A shirtless Chris lay on the bed, body as white as the bandage that covered his wound.  Only the slightest rise and fall of his bruised chest provided the proof that he still lingered among them, for however long that might be.  But it was Josiah who really drew Vin’s attention and ire.  The older man sat with his hand on Chris’ head, eyes closed, head bowed and whispering softly. 


Vin’s eyes narrowed.  “That better not be the Last Rites you’re giving him, Josiah,” he growled in a low and threatening voice.  Josiah looked up, surprised by the tone, and Vin’s anger grew at the sorrow in the other man’s eyes.  “Get the hell outta here, Josiah! I ain’t gonna let him die and I sure as hell ain’t gonna let you sit there and tell him that it’s okay to! I ain’t okay!” he shouted.  “You hear me? It ain’t okay!”


He spun around, glaring coldly and threateningly at the men behind him.  “Get out!” he snarled.  “Unless you’re willing to fight to keep him here, then get out! Son of a bitch thinks he’s leaving that easy, he’s got another fucking thing coming!”


Four pairs of eyes stared at Vin in mixtures of shock and sadness.  Then Josiah was moving.  In one fluid movement, he was out of the chair and next to Vin, firmly gripping the younger man’s arm and pulling him out the door.  Before Vin could even think of fighting back, the older man had him pinned firmly to the outside wall, eyes boring into his.  When Vin started to struggle, Josiah tightened his grip and barked, “Settle down! *Now!*” 


Vin stopped his movements and Josiah continued in a softer voice.  “Look, I know you’re scared and hurting.  I am too, but you need to listen to me.  Chris is my friend too, and I don’t want to lose him any more than you do.  But you didn’t see him last night, Vin.  Didn’t see the way he looked when he showed up at the Church, the way he acted, what he said.  I think he knew he was gonna die, and he was seeking reassurance.” 


“Reassurance about what?” Vin hissed back. 


“That he was going to reunite with his family,” Josiah whispered, pain slipping into his voice.  “He was seeing them, Vin.  Seeing Sarah and Adam, I’m sure of it.  And he wanted to know if he was going to get to stay with them.” 


Vin blinked at this revelation, then looked away, struggling with the emotions surging through him.  Josiah changed his old on Vin so that he was lightly gripping the younger man’s shoulders.  “I know it’s hard, Vin, but if it’s his time, then we have to let him go.” 


Vin looked back, eyes shinning with tears he refused to shed.  “*If* Josiah,” he whispered back fiercely.  “*If* it’s his time.  And how do we know it’s really his time if we don’t try to fight for him?”  One of his hands moved up to grip one of Josiah’s and an imploring expression filled his eyes.  “Please, Josiah.  I can’t let him go without trying.  Help me try.  Please.”  


Josiah gazed into Vin’s eyes, heart breaking at the desperate need he saw in their blue depths.  There was no harm in trying, he decided.  Especially if it would help Vin and the others deal with the pain of Chris’ passing, if that’s what happened in the end.  “All right,” he agreed with a nod, gently squeezing Vin’s hand.  “Well try.  But Vin…if he still passes…” 


Vin nodded his understanding and, after taking a moment to compose themselves, went back into the clinic where Josiah announced their intentions. 


“What do you two plan to do?” Nathan asked, breaking the surprised silence.  “Beg him not to die? If I thought that would work, I’d have done it already!” 


“Nathan,” Josiah murmured, moving up to his oldest friend and gently squeezing his shoulder.  “You’ve done all you can medically, right?” 


Nathan nodded.  “You know I have.” 


“Then let us try the spiritual way.  You know as well as I do that it’s been known to work.” 


Nathan glanced at Chris, taking note of Vin sitting next to him, holding the older man’s hand.  “Yeah, I know it,” he whispered in agreement.  He then gave Josiah a hard look as he added, voice still a soft whisper, “But you know it’s never worked on someone this bad off! He’s lost too much blood, Josiah!” 


“True,” Josiah replied.  “But if it helps bring comfort to try, then what can it hurt?”  Nathan looked at Chris, then around at the others before sighing and nodding.


Opting for privacy, the other went outside, leaving Vin alone to make his plea first.  Still holding Chris’ hand, Vin leaned in and started speaking quietly.  “Hey Cowboy.  You listening to me, cause I really need you to right now.  I now you’re thinking real seriously on leaving right now and I guess I can’t really blame you, but…damn Chris, I don’t want you to!  I know that sound selfish, but I don’t care! I ain’t never met anyone like you before and I don’t reckon I ever will again. 

You’re something else, Chris.  That once in a life time friend that most people never even get to find.  You know I’d follow you anywhere and don’t you think for a *second* that I won’t follow you into the Next World.   Our time together ain’t up yet.  I know it ain’t so you just get that notion bout leaving outta that hard head of yours and get your ass back here, you hear me?”


He paused, taking a deep, shaky breath.  “I need you, Chris.  You’re my brother and I need you.  I’d be so lost without you.  Please don’t go.  Please.”  He sniffed and wiped as his cheeks and eyes as he realized he had started crying at some point.  He took a few minutes to get himself back under control, then said, “The rest of the boys wanna have some words with you, too.  I’m gonna let them do that, then I’ll be back.”  He squeezed Chris’ hand, then got up to let whoever was next in. 


One by one, the remaining members of the seven took their turn sitting with Chris and saying whatever they needed to say.  Finally, Josiah took his turn.  Taking the chair, he leaned in close to the deathly still man, resting his hand gently on Chris’ head. 


“Well, Chris,” he said softly.  “You came to me last night in search of guidance, and I reckon you could use a little more right now.  You were seeing Sarah and Adam last night, weren’t you? I figure they’ve come to take you home and you want very much to go with them.  To be with your family again.  And if that’s what happens, then so be it.  But consider this, Chris.  We’re your family, too, and we all have a great deal of love for you, son.  You took six lost men and guided us back to our right paths, just as I told you last night, and in doing so, found yours.  You created this family, Chris, and maybe Sarah and Adam could see fit to grant us just a little more time together.  But, if you and they decide that it’s time for you to move on, then I hope you find the peace that you deserve.” 


Closing his eyes, Josiah whispered a prayer, then stood to let the others back in.  As Vin reclaimed the chair, Josiah looked at Nathan and said, “Now, we wait.” 




The night came and went and Nathan was more than surprised when he found Chris still with them the following morning.  He didn’t dare hope, however, knowing that the man could still easily slip away at any time.  But when two more days passed and Chris still clung to life, Nathan began to allow a little hope to warm his heart that the seven’s leader might just survive. 


Vin refused to leave Chris’ side unless absolutely necessary and Josiah spent the majority of his time with Chris as well, either praying or sharing stories both true and imagined.  The other came by daily as well, sometimes talking to Chris and sometimes just sitting quietly.  


More days went by, and hope grew until, twelve days after the night Chris entered the Church, a breakthrough was made.  Nathan was mixing medicine to force down Chris’ throat, listening to Josiah telling yet another story from his seat next to the bed.  Vin, on the other side, was listening to Josiah with a little smile on his lips, when he looked down at Chris and drew in a quick breath.  Instantly, the other two men stopped and looked at Vin, then down at Chris, eyes widening.  The blonde’s eyes were open and slowly searching the room in a hazy exhaustion.


“Chris!” Vin exclaimed softly, moving closer as Josiah moved to let Nathan in.  Chris’ eyes found Vin as Nathan fussed, and a silent message passed between them.  Vin smiled and squeezed Chris’ hand as Nathan got him to drink a little water.  Chris’ roaming eyes found and locked on Josiah and, after a moment of struggling to find his voice, managed to whisper faintly, “Found…my path.  With…all…yours.”  Then his eyes closed as his body dragged him back into sleep. 


Nathan looked up, smiling broadly.  “This is one for the books, I gotta say.” 


“A miracle if there ever was one,” Josiah agreed with his own large smile. 


Vin jumped up, looking like he was ready to burst from happiness.  “I’m gonna go tell the boys.”  His eyes shone brightly as he added, “When Chris is back on his feet, we’re gonna have the biggest party this town has ever seen!”  Then he was gone, leaving Josiah and Nathan chuckling quietly. 


As Nathan went back to mixing his medicine, Josiah sat back down and gazed at Chris fondly.  ‘Thank you, Sarah…Adam,’ he thought.  ‘Thank you for giving us more time.  We’ll use it wisely.  I promise.’


The End


The Magnificent Seven- OW / Rated G / Word Count: 2160 Main Characters: Josiah and Chris Rating/Warning: Not beta'd


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© Lanna 2010