A Magnificent Seven slash novel by The Neon Gang, set in the ATF Denver AU and with lots of hurt-comfort. NOTE! This story has appeared, or is currently available, on-line.
Their relationship is tested when a madman kidnappsfirst Chris and then Vin.
Josiah sat down across from Chris at Larabee's kitchen table, watching as the blond continued to stare into his empty coffee cup. He could see the man's muscles were corded with tension, trembling beneath his T-shirt.
He stood and moved his chair quietly, shifting it closer to his friend. He sat down again and slipped his arm around Chris' shoulders, feeling him flinch away slightly from the touch. But he didn't move, didn't look away from the empty coffee cup. He just whispered, "Leave me alone, Josiah."
"I can't do that, Chris." Sanchez knew his friend wasn't the demonstrative sort, but right now it was perfectly clear to the profiler that Larabee needed a hug, and by God he was going to give the man one whether he wanted it or not.
They sat like that, Josiah with his arm around Chris' shoulders, neither man speaking for several minutes. Then, finally, Larabee turned tear-filled eyes to the profiler and moaned softly, "I know what he's doing to him, Josiah. I know. Seiler's going to kill him. To get to me, he's going to kill him. He'll see it all as part of his twisted fantasy to bring Sar—" He nearly choked on his wife's name. "He thinks he can bring her back to life." All the pent-up emotions from the past few days, from the time since he had woken in the hospital really, finally overwhelmed him, and once the tears began to fall, he couldn't call them back, or stop them.
Josiah gathered his friend into his arms and held him like he would a child, offering words of encouragement and holding him while he cried himself out.
Later, they went out to the living room where they sat together, Larabee finally talking to the profiler, telling him what he'd endured at Seiler's hands while the others continued their hunt for any signs of Seiler or Vin.
* ~ *
JD drove himself relentlessly, checking and double-checking any computer he had access to, or could find access to, legally or not. Ezra worked the streets, calling in favors from everyone he could think of. Nathan followed up on the drug angle, meeting with DEA, DPD, clinic doctors, community groups and others, trying to find the source of Beauty. Buck split his time between the ranch and Larabee and his own contacts, which were more numerous than anyone had suspected.
But no leads surfaced over the course of the day.
Now that Larabee had started to talk, Josiah had remained with Chris, listening, consoling, and making sure the blond stayed away from both alcohol and firearms as the gruesome story emerged over the course of the day.
Josiah also tried to get the man to eat, but he had little success. What few bites Larabee did manage at breakfast, lunch, and dinner weren't enough to sustain him, but he knew they would have to do until they located Vin.
If they located Vin, Sanchez thought. Having heard the story now, he was afraid Larabee's initial reaction might be correct. Seiler might have already killed Vin because, somehow, he knew by doing so he would kill Chris. And if he couldn't kill Larabee himself, this was the next best thing. But he couldn't tell Chris that. He couldn't allow the man to give up any more than he'd been able to let Vin give up. Not that any of them would be able to stop Chris from doing just that if they found Tanner's body.
He sighed softly, watching Larabee as he napped on one of the sofas. He wished there was something more he could do to help Chris, or to help find Vin, but there wasn't. The others were doing everything possible.
He shivered despite the warmth the heater and fireplace spilled into the room. Robert Seiler was insane, and there was no way to predict what he might do to Vin, what he might have already done.
Josiah suspected that Tanner had survived an abusive childhood, but he couldn't be sure. Vin never talked about past. Well, except for a few comments about his time in the Army, or chasing bounties before he'd joined the Marshal's Service, and even those were generally vague.
He couldn't help but wonder that, if they managed to find Vin, whether they would find the same man who had come to mean so much to all of them, especially Chris. He didn't really understand the relationship between Chris and Vin, but it didn't matter. Vin had become special to all of them, cementing them together as a team, and as a family. Vin was their heart, their spirit, and Josiah wasn't at all sure they could survive losing him. He knew for a fact that Larabee couldn't.
Somehow, Vin had given Chris back his life, his will to fully live again. Not just to exist or survive, day to day, but to really live again – to care, to laugh, to feel again. It was a very special gift, from a very special soul, one both ages older than his years, and yet somehow still touched by a child-like innocence the rest of them had lost, even JD, who was certainly the most innocent of them all.
He'd tried to put the realization into words before, while he'd watched Vin slowly killing himself when he'd thought Chris was dead, but he hadn't been able to manage it. Now he wasn't sure he would ever be able to manage it.
There was just something special about Vin, something that seemed to touch everyone he met in a slightly different way. But it meant the same to all of them.
He has a pure heart, Josiah decided. His spirit's pure. As if it couldn't be touched or tainted by all the bad I know that boy's seen. It's a miracle, our miracle, and by God we'd better get him back…
140 pages. $10 for PDF version with color cover.
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