An Old West Magnificent Seven slash novel by The Neon Gang with lots of hurt-comfort.
Synopsis: When Vin gets sick while out on the trail, it's a race against time to see if they can get him to help before he dies, or before the bounty hunters looking for him catch up to them.
"Open your eyes."
Someone was talking to him.
"Vin, open your eyes."
That sounded so easy, but it proved to be much harder than Tanner had expected. However, he finally managed it and found himself looking up at a very worried Chris Larabee.
"Easy, Vin... Easy, pard. How do you feel?" Chris asked him as he used a damp cloth to gently wipe his face and neck.
Vin wasn't sure how to answer that. He wasn't sure about anything anymore.
"You were making a lot of noise," Chris said and the tracker noted that Ezra was driving the wagon.
Vin concentrated, trying to clear his head. "What was I sayin'?"
"Nothing that made any sense," Chris replied. "Think you were talking Indian of some kind. You were thrashing around quite a bit, though," he added. "You knocked off the cold pack. I need to put it back on."
"D' ya have to?" Vin asked, his tone almost pleading. "I's cold already. Ain't that enough?"
"Unfortunately, that is not the same thing," the gambler called from the wagon seat.
"I know this ain't easy on you, but it's the only way we can keep that infection from gettin' too bad," Chris told him.
Vin nodded. He didn't feel hot any more. He was cold now, really cold, and that was making his side scream with pain. He shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position, but the movement only forced him to grab for the bucket.
A few minutes later, he sagged back onto the mattress, completely worn out. "Gettin' damn tired 'a this," he rasp out.
"Don't blame you," Chris said, holding a cup of water to his lips. "Just take enough to rinse out your mouth."
"Sorry t' be such a bother," Vin said after he spat the water into the bucket. He squeezed his eyes shut as another cramp grabbed him, squeezing his belly in a fist of pure torment. It tore through his side, stabbing along his nerves and making his whole body shriek. He heard someone making an awful whimpering noise that reflected exactly what he was feeling, then realized with horror that he was making the sound himself.
When the pain finally ebbed, he went limp. It didn't feel like there was much left of him; like the pain was slowly eating him alive from the inside out, leaving a hollow, empty shell behind that would collapse in on itself at any moment. He looked up at Chris through a glaze of tears. "There a point t' all this?" he asked the gunman. "Y' think 'm goin' t' live through it, Chris?"
"Yes, I do," Larabee said as he wiped Tanner's face again. When he was done, he caught hold of the tracker's hand and squeezed it gently. "We're making good time. We'll be there tomorrow morning, I promise. I know it's bad, but you have to hold on a little longer."
Another wave of pain drowned out the gunslinger's next words. Vin curled up, knowing that it wouldn't really help. The fearful prospect of death loomed over him, and he knew with perfect certainty that he might die. It was an oddly comforting thought, all in all. Dying would make the pain go away, and he wasn't sure that might not be a price worth paying for some relief. At least he knew he wouldn't die alone.
Then he felt the hands that were touching him, trying to pull him over onto his back, the same hands that had made love to his body, but Vin shoved them away. It was taking all his concentration just to stay on top of the pain - more strength than he actually had left. He couldn't let anything else distract him or he'd slip into the agony, and he might never find his way out again.
He knew Chris was trying to say something to him but, just now, it really didn't matter what it was. He just hoped the man understood how much he cared about him...
86 pages. $10 for PDF version with color cover.
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