A Magnificent Seven slash novel by JIN, set in the Old West and with lots of hurt-comfort. NOTE! This story has appeared, or is currently available, on-line.
The relationship between Chris and Vin is tenious, and then there's Ella, and when rumors start to fly in Four Corners, all hell breaks loose.
"I'm sorry, Vin, I didn't quite catch that."
"He said," Chris suddenly spoke up from just inside the doorway, "Thank you, Ezra, for shaving my face."
Ezra beamed and said, "You are quite welcome, Vin."
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Vin gave the gambler a slight nod and what hopefully passed for a smile.
Chris was still wearing a shit-eating grin when Ezra awkwardly cleared his throat and stated, "I'll leave you two alone now," as he left the room.
Chris slipped off his coat and hat as he approached the bedside, shaking off the rain before hanging the objects over the back of the chair. He raked his fingers through his hair as he sat down; stray droplets of rain water catching in the low light and turning the blond head silver. Vin couldn't take his eyes off him, couldn't forget the feel of the soft strands between his fingers. He was so weak when it came to this man. He should never had let it get this far.
How will I leave you?
"What's the matter?" Chris asked, his light mood vanishing at the somber expression Vin wore. He leaned forward then to rest his hand on Vin's forehead and grimaced at the warmth he felt there.
The fever was building again, Vin knew it, and he was almost relieved that he could blame his sober mood on that. Might keep Chris from digging further for answers he wasn't ready to give.
"Don'… worry," Vin slurred, seeing the concern in the hazel eyes.
Chris kept his hand on his forehead for several moments, before gently tracing his forefinger across Vin's nose and cheekbone. "Ezra's right, you know," he said softly. "Your nose, your face, you're still…"
His voice trailed off then as he moved his thumb to lightly trace Vin's lips. With a shudder, he continued, "When I first found you, I thought… you were choking, and I wasn't sure I could help you. Your face was so— you were so… broken."
It wasn't fair. Chris had suffered enough. So little Vin could offer or say to erase that memory for his friend, but he had to try. "S'alright now," he soothed, hoping Chris wouldn't catch on that it really wasn't all right at all.
Never be alright again…
But of course he did. Chris' voice remained soft and sad when he challenged," Is it? Because I don't want t' lose you, Vin. And something tells me you might have changed your mind."
Vin closed his eyes and swallowed. How could he tell him? How could he hurt him?
Too weak and too tired and, maybe later, when he felt better, he could do what had to be done.
He told himself that all he wanted was to ease Chris' mind, but the truth was that he had to touch him; had to feel his breath on face, his hands in his hair. Vin ignored the soreness in his arm and reached up to pull Chris to him. Lips brushed lightly – a weak imitation of a kiss, but enough to elicit a groan from Chris, a sigh from Vin.
Tipping his nose to Vin's, Chris breathed, "God, Vin… how did this happen to us?"
100 pages. $10 for PDF version with color cover.
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