Title: Incidental Memory
Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven belong to MGM, Trilogy, etc. The ATF AU was created by MOG
Summary: A present-day incident reminds Chris of something that happened ten years before.
Rating: FRT (Fan Rated Suitable For Teens) for violence
Characters: Chris, Vin
Chris stepped out of the seedy bar and looked around him. Heíd been to the bar before. In fact, heíd been there when it was new and one of the hot spots in Denver. Glancing both ways along the street, he could honestly say the neighborhood hadnít improved any. If anything, it seemed to have gotten seedier and even more dangerous. Still, the trip down for information had been worth it. Tomorrow morning he would inform the team of what heíd learned.
Heading down the street toward his car, he stopped in his tracks when four youths stepped out of the shadows each brandishing a knife or a gun and directing it at him. Scanning each face, he could see the evidence of drug usage in the vacant look in each pair of eyes.
"Weíll take your wallet and car keys," one of them ordered.
Chris raised an eyebrow. "I donít think so," he calmly replied. "And if you know whatís good for you, youíd head out right now."
"Iíd do what the man says," came a slow Texas drawl from the alley. Vin Tanner stepped out onto the street and took up a position which would allow him to easily aid his friend.
Chris watched as nervous glances were exchanged among the four boys.
The leader of the small gang shifted his grip on his gun slightly, licked his lips nervously and announced, "This ainít your turf and we ainít your kids. Unless you want a little of what we have in store for your friend, Iíd leave now."
A feral smile appeared on Vinís face, a matching one on Chrisí. "That may be," Vin replied. "But I sure wouldnít want to take him on in a fight," Vin finished, indicating Chris.
Three of the four boys looked nervously around, sure now that theyíd misjudged the blond man, especially if he was under Tannerís protection.
The forth boy sneered at Vin, his fear showing in his eyes, but not in his mannerism. Moving the gun so it pointed directly at Vinís head, he began to pull the trigger.
That was all the impetus Chris needed. In one quick move he had the gun out of the boyís hands. One of the others moved in to help his leader fight Chris while the other two moved half-heartedly toward Vin.
The fight that ensued was short and the four boys went running off when it became apparent they wouldnít be able to defeat the duo.
"You OK, Cowboy?" Vin asked.
Chris grimaced slightly as he flexed his hand. "Good enough," he assured. Then, turning to face Vin, he said, "I want to thank you for showing up. How did you know I was here?"
Vin smiled at his friend. "I overheard you say youíd meet someone at this bar. I know the neighborhood and figured a little backup might not be a bad idea."
Chris smiled and held out his arm. "Nope. Not a bad idea at all."
Vin gripped his friendís arm. His smile suddenly faded. He pulled Chris to one side.
Chris wasnít expecting the move and lost his balance, causing him to pull Vin around in a half-circle. As he was going down, Chris looked to see what had caught Vinís attention. The leader of the group of four had come back and had a gun aimed at where Chris had been. As he hit the concrete of the sidewalk, the echo of a gunshot sounded in the street in time with the crash of a body hitting metal garbage cans.
The boy ran after firing, not waiting to see if he had hit his target.
Turning toward Vin to see if he was ok, Chris gasped when he saw a thin trail of blood flowing down Vinís forehead and pooling on the ground. Getting up, he moved over to Vin and checked him. Fortunately the bullet had missed them both, but Vin had hit the garbage can head-first. The metal had caused a small cut on his forehead and Vin was unconscious and unresponsive.
Pulling his cell out, Chris quickly called for an ambulance, unsure of how badly his friend might be injured.
Two hours later, Chris was standing in the doorway of the room where they had put Vin. They were waiting for him to come to before they finished the tests they had and either gave him the OK to go home or kept him overnight. More and more it looked like they would be there all night.
"You know you can go in," a nurse prompted, as she stepped past Larabee into the room.
Chris looked at her an nodded. Slowly he made his way into the room, still fighting the guilt he felt for having caused his friendís injury. Settling into the chair beside the bed, he looked at the still form resting within it. There was just a small band-aid on Vinís forehead where it was cut. The wound hadnít even needed stitches. What was worrying everyone was the fact that Vin still hadnít recovered consciousness.
"Hey Vin," Chris said softly, clearing his throat before he continued. "Any time you want to wake up would be fine by me. I mean, you go ahead, save my life and I just run you into a stack of garbage cans head first. Iíd like to at least take the chance to say thank you."
There was no response from the bed and Chris settled back in his chair to wait, unaware of his eyes drifting closed.
Twenty-six year old Chris Larabee sat in the bar shaking his head. He and his best friend, Buck Wilmington had gotten out of the Navy a little while ago and had decided to take a crack at becoming police officers. They had taken the required test that morning and figured as a reward, they should check out one of Denverís hot spots that night.
Currently Buck was on his way out of the bar with a shapely brunette who had strung the man along all night. Normally Chris would have already been gone already, having walked out with someone, but that afternoon, while waiting for the test, heíd met the woman of his dreams. Sarah was the woman for him. Now if only he could convince her of that, his life would be perfect. Of course, the fact that her old man was a Captain in the police force who felt that no officer would be good enough for his little girl would be an interesting hurdle to overcome.
Settling back to finish his beer, Chris waited and watched his fellow patrons.
Eventually he finished the beer and, dropping a few bills on the table, headed out of the bar. Standing on the stoop, he looked both ways before heading off to his car.
Reaching in his pocket for the keys, he came to a dead stop as he saw three teens appear before him. Two were holding knives, the third a pipe.
Hearing a noise behind him, Chris glanced over his shoulder and spotted three more youths blocking him in.
A slow smile spread across his face. Six to one wasnít good odds and he knew he could easily be in trouble, but he hadnít been a Navy Seal for nothing and felt pretty confident in his ability to overcome this threat.
"Weíll take your keys and your wallet," one of the youths insisted, motioning with his knife.
Chris replied, "I donít think so."
Reading the challenge in the blondís eyes, the leader lunged at him, brandishing the knife.
Chris managed to avoid the thrust and knock the knife away. The other five took this as their signal to join the fray and soon blows were being exchanged.
Though he was taking quite a few blows of his own, Chris felt a small bit of satisfaction at the sight of the two prone bodies on the ground. That satisfaction was short-lived, however, as one of the remaining thugs hit him in the back, knocking him forward to the ground.
Two of the boys were instantly on him, pinning him to the ground. The third knelt over him, knife held just inches from his throat.
The leader stood behind the one holding the knife, sneering in triumph. He was holding his hand which had gotten cut somehow. "Looks like you lose, mister," he said. Then nodding at the one holding the knife, he instructed, "Cut him."
As Chris tried to prepare himself for what was to come, he was stunned when a blur shot out of the alley, knocking one of the two who held him off balance and taking down the one with the knife.
Seizing the opportunity, Chris quickly broke free and managed to take down one of the three remaining before the other one and the leader ran off. Turning toward the sound of flesh meeting flesh, he watched his rescuer subdue the gang member.
As his rescuer stood and wiped blood from his split lip, Chris couldnít hide his surprise. The boy couldnít be more than fifteen or sixteen years old. He was fairly tall, but terribly thin. His dirty, ragged clothes and long, stringy hair clearly pointed that he was a street kid. Even without much experience, Chris knew that stepping in had been a dangerous move for him.
Seeing the kid weave slightly in place. He stepped up and started reaching for the kidís arm to steady him. He stopped, though, when a pair of amazingly blue eyes met his. The fear in the boyís eyes was evident and Chris stopped his motion. "You alright?" he asked quietly, somehow knowing that any loud sound would startle the kid and send him running. And right now, the last thing the kid needed to be doing was running.
The boy just nodded and began backing away.
Chris knew the kid needed medical help and felt he owed him at least that much. "Do you want me to give you a ride to the hospital?"
"No!" came the hurried reply as the kid looked even more terrified.
"Okay," Chris agreed. "Is there a clinic or someplace I can take you?"
"ĎS OK," the boy denied. "Ainít hurt bad."
Chris was intrigued by the soft Texas drawl he heard. The kid was obviously a long way from home. "Then at least let me take you back to my place and fix you up. I owe you that for saving my life." He was puzzled by the disgusted look on the boyís face.
"I donít do that," he spat back. "You can find someone else." So saying, he began to turn away.
At first Chris was baffled by what the kid meant, then he suddenly understood. "Thatís not what I meant," he explained, his voice more commanding than apologetic. The boy stopped and turned toward him. Looking directly into the blue eyes, he declared, "I donít do that either. I said Iíd take care of your wounds and thatís all I would do. I donít say things I donít mean."
The boy seemed to consider the words of the older man. Chris could tell the minute he came to some sort of decision.
"Thereís an all night drugstore three blocks over. Meet me there and Iíll let you get what you need," the boy offered. His stance and the look in his eyes made it clear that this was the best offer Chris would be receiving.
Nodding his agreement, Chris watched as the boy faded into the shadows. Turning and heading toward his car, he began to wonder if there was maybe something more he could do for his young protector.
A few minutes later found him waiting outside the drugstore. He didnít have long to wait before the kid showed up. Nodding his greeting, the two headed inside. Chris led the boy to the chairs by the prescription counter and told the kid to sit.
Wandering down the aisle, it only took him a few minutes to gather what he needed - bottled water, alcohol, cotton balls and a complete first aid kit. Returning, he found the boy slumped in the chair, eyes almost closed with fatigue. Taking off his jacket and throwing it on one of the chairs, he felt an intense stare on him and looked up to find the two blue eyes focused on his every move.
Figuring the only chance he had to help the boy was to explain everything he was doing before he did it, Chris began. "Before I can tend to the cuts and bruises, I need to clean them. Thatís why I have the water. The rubbing alcohol will help sterilize the area and clean out anything that could cause infection." He continued his explanation and felt the boy begin to relax a little. He had to admit some surprise that there was no reaction - not even a hiss of pain as he used the alcohol to clean a particularly nasty cut.
Before long, he was done. Picking up what he had used, he felt a desire to do something more for this boy, not just out of gratitude, but because he admired the fire in the boyís eyes, the determination to do right despite his current circumstances. "Is there anything else I can get you?" he asked.
The boy looked away, then looked down. "May I have a soda, sir," he asked politely.
Chris smiled. "Sure thing," he agreed. "And you can call me Chris." He saw a shy smile appear on the now clean face, though the boy wouldnít look up at him. Rising and heading over to the soda case, he made it all the way there before realizing he didnít know what kind of soda the boy wanted. Turning and heading back toward the chairs, he cursed softly when he saw they were empty.
Moving rapidly toward the front of the store, he looked for the boy, but couldnít find him. The kid had just disappeared.
Heading back to where heíd left the first aid items and his jacket he picked up his things.
Going to the check-out counter, he placed the items on the counter and reached for his wallet. He felt a moment of panic when he didnít find it in his pants pocket. Quickly checking his coat, he sighed in relief when he felt it there. Pulling it out, he opened it and looked inside where he kept his cash. It was empty.
He was stunned. The kid who had helped him had taken his cash.
Checking the contents of the wallet, he was relieved to find nothing else missing. Pulling out a credit card to pay for the items, he decided forty dollars was the least of his worries. Besides, the kid probably really needed it.
Chris woke with a start. A feeling that he was being watched crawled down the back of his neck. Looking over toward the bed, he found two very familiar blue eyes focused on him. A small smiled curved the lips of his best friend.
Chrisí breath caught as realization set in. Ten years ago Vin Tanner had saved his life outside that same bar.
"Hey, Cowboy," Vin greeted softly. "Reckon next time you could just say thanks rather than ringiní my bell?"
Chris couldnít help but return the smile. "Well, I suppose I could try that. But hopefully you wonít have to save my neck there again." Eyeing the Texan, he added, "I think twice is enough." He watched a slow blush creep over Vinís face and knew he was right. He also knew from the slight squint of his friendís eyes that Vin had a pounding headache and needed a distraction. Deciding his thanks could wait, Chris leaned forward and said, "Of course, there is a little matter of forty dollars..."
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