The Magnificent Seven - ATF AU - Prefix Series

Quality Of Light

Disclaimer: Without prejudice, the characters of "The Magnificent Seven" are the property of MGM, Trilogy, etc and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. The ATF AU was created by MOG in her story "A Birthday In The Present".
Universe: ATF
Characters: Chris, Vin
Feedback: To MMW

Quality Of Light

Chris Larabee sat at the end of the bar, staring at the shimmer of light through his whiskey. The bar he now sat at was a long way from the world of sunshine and light that had been his for so long.

The yellow incandescent bulbs colored the swirling smoke a shade of depressing that suited his mood. The torn Naugahyde barstools, sticky floor and scarred bar enhanced the feeling of desolation and hopelessness that had become so entwined with Larabee's soul, he could only find peace within its presence.

This was his sort of place. At least, it was his sort of place now.

It wasn't all that full and everyone was drinking and minding their own business, including the bartender.

About a half an hour before, there had been a fight, which was quickly handled by the bouncer.

A half an hour ago, Chris had been happy to see the men leave.

Now, however, he had reached that stage of inebriation where the gaping wound in his soul howled for ... He didn't even know what it wanted, but he knew he couldn't stand living with it for another minute. It was slowly eroding his grasp of reality, destroying the man he had been, a man who, he was certain, he could never be again.

The desperation he was now feeling, the need for violence, the need to make others suffer as much as he suffered, was not a new feeling. It had dogged his steps every day for the eighteen months since his wife, his son and his soul had been ripped from him. It was a dark desire that had sent him to the shadows and smoky half-light in which he now dwelled. It was the hellish demon that possessed the once honorable man and caused him to chase away the last good thing in his life - his best friend, Buck. It was the fervor that strove to silence the small voice that tried to convince him all he really needed was a reason to go on - a tiny voice he ruthlessly ignored.

Downing the double that rested in front of him, Larabee waited for the burn to calm, before scanning the room for his victim.

In the far corner, sitting in the shadows, he spotted a slender form. Squinting, he was able to make out black boots, torn jeans and a brown leather jacket. The long hair didn't hide the youth of the man.

Just as he was about to seek someone larger, someone who would offer more of a challenge, the long-haired man leaned forward, allowing the dim light to expose the expression in the cerulean eyes.

It was what he read in the manís eyes that ignited Larabee's anger and brought him to his feet.

In those blue eyes he had read understanding and acceptance.

Anger began to roil within Larabee's chest. No one could understand his pain, could understand his darkness, could understand his need. Even he couldn't comprehend it, not completely. That this stranger would dare to show him understanding...

Rising to his feet like a dark warrior, the blond kept his eyes locked on his victim, bloodlust mixing with the alcohol in his veins creating an intoxicating combination that convinced the blond he would be victorious.

When his prey ignored Larabee's approach, the fire of rage burned through him. There was no fear in the younger man, no sign of backing down.

Stopping well within the other man's space, Chris growled, "I don't like you."

Hard as sapphire, blue eyes met burning hazel. "Not my problem," the man replied, his voice cool as he lifted his beer mug to his lips and took a swallow, turning away from the black threat.

A low growl escaped Larabee. Reaching out, he shoved the other man's shoulder with enough force that the chair scraped on the floor, spinning his long-haired victim until Chris was looking into his face. Leaning forward, he stopped his face less than an inch from the younger man's face and hissed, "I'm makin' it your problem."

With a quiet acceptance, the long-haired man nodded his understanding and agreement. With a lithe, cat-like movement, the seated man gained his feet, his fist following his body upward and connecting solidly with the blond's jaw.

It was a blow that laid out most men, but the blond merely stumbled backward, shaking his head and grinning.

Larabee couldn't stop the smile on his face. This whelp was going to offer more of a challenge than he thought, but knew he would emerge victorious. His hands already in solid fists, he stepped forward, arm swinging. When he failed to land his blow due to a quick sidestep by his opponent, Larabee lurched slightly, but quickly recovered, spinning on his toes and lifting his arm to block the blow aimed at his ribs.

Dancing quickly aside, Chris moved toward the more open area of the floor, aware of all eyes focused on him and his opponent, but not worried about them.

Seeing the younger man was waiting for him to make the next move, Larabee, obliged, charging forward with an unexpected speed. He managed to land a solid body blow, but was victim to a hard jab to his nose.

As he danced away once more, the flare of pain in his nose, as well as the feeling of wetness beneath it, was categorized and ignored. The long-haired man would pay for that. Chris had spent years in the Navy, had been a SEAL, had been on the police force. He knew how to fight; it was time to put those skills, those years of training, to use.

His moves were swift, sure, economic and devastating. He drew blood for each wound he received and matched the other blow for blow.

Frustration began to build, however, as the young man countered. Where Larabee was beginning to feel the fatigue of the intense combat, his opponent seemed ready to go on all night. Obviously eighteen months of not caring for himself was catching up to the blond.

Knowing he would have to try something more drastic, Larabee feinted to his left then, quickly shifting his weight, he lashed out at the younger man and was stunned when he found himself pinned against a strong chest, one armed wrapped around his chest, the opposite hand holding a sharp, steel blade against his throat.

"Live or die?" a voice drawled in his ear.

Larabee swallowed hard, the small voice he had ignored for so long suddenly flared into a brilliant, blinding light.

The darkness that had consumed him for so long fled before the sudden brightness in his soul. He now knew without the slightest doubt that he, Chris Larabee, wanted to live - more than anything, he wanted to live. "Live," he finally rasped.

"Good choice," the voice said.

The second after giving his response, the knife, the arm and the body holding him were gone, leaving Chris to fall to the floor. His eyes sliding shut and his long-abused body quickly drawing him into unconsciousness, Larabee felt peace with his decision. As he surrendered to the inescapable draw of unconsciousness, his last thought was that he needed to find a purpose for his newfound life.


Watching the blond man slump back onto the floor and close his eyes, Vin waited and watched, wanting to make sure the man would survive.

"You all right?" a voice asked.

Looking upward, Tanner smiled at his friend. "Fine," he replied, accepting the hand up that was offered. "He going to be all right?" the longhaired man asked, tipping his head toward the unconscious form.

"Yeah. His friend's coming to get him," the bartender replied shaking his head. "He was a good man, a good cop. Fair."

Tanner shrugged. It really didn't concern him; he had just been doing a favor for Joe, the bartender and owner. "He made the right choice," Vin replied, grunting slightly as he bent to return to his boot and holding his breath as he straightened.

His contented face suddenly crinkling with worry, Joe anxiously asked, "You wouldn't have really killed him?"

The corner of Tanner's mouth lifted slightly, but he said nothing as he stepped toward the door.

"See a doc about those cuts and bruises, make sure those ribs are solid!" Joe called as his friend opened the door.

Tanner lifted his hand in acknowledgment as he stepped through the exit.

As the door swung shut behind him, Vin headed toward his motorcycle, brushing past a tall, dark-haired man with a mustache. He grunted slightly as he was jostled and decided to take Joe's advice about seeing a doctor.

But that could wait until the morning, after the darkness passed and the sun rose again.


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