The Magnificent Seven

Showdown
By MMW

Disclaimer: Without Prejudice. The names of all characters contained here-in, save one (as will be explained at the end of the story) are the property of John Watson, MGM, Trilogy, etc No infringements of these copyrights are intended, and are used here without permission.
Authorís note: Itís just been this kind of day.
Rating: D for Donít Ask / FRT (it get a little gory at the end)
Feedback: To MMW


Showdown
By MMW

Chris tipped his chair back so it rested on two legs.

His seat offered him a view of the dusty townís main street. The quiet hush of the early morning spoke a peace to his soul, a peace that had been missing until a pledge to spend thirty days protecting the quiet little berg with six other men had taught him to care again, or at least to care about something other than trying to join his wife and son in death.

He sensed his friend before he heard the familiar creak of the wooden chair beside his. "Vin," he greeted.

"Chris," came the reply.

Much had been said about their ability to communicate with just a look, but anyone could do that in the right situation. What amazed these two men was how well they understood each other without exchanging a look. When they were together, especially when they were together with the others, there was a sense of invincibility, a feeling that nothing could defeat them, could drive them apart. Between the two of them seemed to run an innate understanding, a recognition of pain and the similarity of their souls' wounds. That recognition allowed them to understand the slight change in tone or the nuance of a word that would go unnoticed by most, but held a world of meaning to those attuned to it.

Then there was a world of communication that had just occurred in the simple exchange of names.

"Vin" - Good to see you this morning, Tanner. I trust all is well.

"Chris" - I donít like what you have planned for today. Somethingís off about it. I ainít aiminí ta lose ya and I got a bad feeliní about this.

Nothing more really needed to be said, theyíd said everything they needed to the previous night after leaving the saloon.

A challenger had come to town, someone who couldnít abide Larabeeís fame. It was a part of his life Chris would have been more than happy to leave behind him forever, but it had become a part of him, a part of who he was and it was too late to change it. So when a challenger came, Chris had no choice but to face them; it was part of the code he lived by.

Slowly, the others came out of their rooms to gather around their leader, a silent show of support. Well, a mostly silent show of support. Buck never could resist giving JD a hard time and Ezra just had to comment on it.

The normalcy of those three together caused a smile to appear on Chrisí face and some of the tension to ease from his shoulders. He hadnít been in a showdown in almost a year and never had faced the situation in which he would soon find himself.

Forty-five minutes until 8am. Forty-five minutes to either continued life - or join his wife and son in death.

For years, he had longed for death as the outcome, but not today. The difference now was that he had something to live for.

Time ticked by slowly until his opponent arrived on the street.

The Seven had done their best to keep the knowledge of the challenge to themselves, but in a town like theirs, there could be no hope of secrecy, no reprieve from the inevitable gossip that would flood the place and be the topic of discussion at every street corner and dinner table until something more interesting came along.

Removing his black duster, Chris rested his hand on his gun. He was about to walk into the street when he felt Vinís hand come to rest on his shoulder.

Turning to look into the blue eyes of his friend, he was puzzled by what he read there. The emotions he understood, heíd felt them himself and had been systematically locking them away, but the command in them puzzled him.

Looking down at the Trackerís other hand, his brow furrowed. Why was Vin offering him his knife? Still, the command had been present in the eyes, so Chris nodded and took it, not understanding why Vin felt it necessary.

What puzzled him more, however, was the object Josiah pressed into his hand. They had discussed it the previous night, but Chris still felt uncomfortable about it. He didnít understand itís purpose, though he did understand Josiahís instructions about its use.

Stepping onto the street, he found himself face to face with Mary Travis. Looking into her green eyes, he was touched to see the concern, worry and maybe something more. "Mary," he acknowledged, ready to step by the woman and meet his foe.

"Chris," she breathed, catching his attention. Reaching up, she tied a scarf around his neck.

It was a bit thicker than what he would normally wear and seemed to have some sort of metallic thread running through it, but he just accepted the gift, adjusted the knot and stepped to the middle of the road.

An unnatural silence fell upon the street. People seemed to be holding their breath, the horses werenít making a sound, even the birds and insects had ceased their noises. Something unusual was about to happen in their dusty little town, something that could change the course of all their lives.

Staring into the red-rimmed eyes of his foe, Chris saw nothing redeeming, no spark of humanity, no spark of light. Bloodlust, joy in inflicting pain, death and hatred were all he could read. His opponent had nothing to lose and only a continued reign of darkness should Chris fail.

Narrowing his focus until his whole universe consisted of his opponent, until time slowed and every heartbeat lasted an eternity, he waited for his opponent to make the first move.

At the first flinch from the challenger, Chris drew his gun and fired.

He missed!

Before he could adjust his aim for a second shot, the white rabbit with big, sharp, pointy teeth landed on his chest and tried to sink its fangs into Chrisí throat.

Chris knew that if he didnít act fast, the rabbit would rip out his jugular vein and eat him.

Dropping his gun, he grabbed Vinís knife and stabbed the small creature.

When he felt the rabbitís teeth release his throat, he quickly threw it to the ground as Josiahís words from the previous evening echoed in his mind, "The only thing that will kill it is the Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch. You have to pull the pin and count to three."

Grabbing the hilt of the knife he had embedded in the body of the rabbit, he drove the blade deeper, pinning the unholy creature to the ground. Using one hand to maintain force on the knife, he pulled the grenade with his other. Using his teeth he removed the pin and jammed the object firmly into the rabbitís hissing mouth. Running for cover, he dove behind a water trough as a large explosion sounded behind him. A few seconds later rabbit entrails landed nearby and he knew it was over.

Closing his eyes for a moment, he opened them again when a pair of dusty boots appeared in his line of sight. Standing, he accepted the hand up from Vin with a grateful nod.

Nathan was standing nearby, wanting to check the gunslinger for injuries. "Let me see your neck Chris," he demanded. Still in shock over the way the fight had turned out, Chris didnít protest. Nathan unwound the scarf and checked Chrisí neck carefully. Amazement filled his eyes and voice as he observed, "Not a scratch." Looking at the scarf that still rested in his hands, he saw the weave of the scarf had been disturbed. "Guess the scarf delayed the teeth just long enough to give you a fighting chance."

The others gathered around and all patted Chris on the shoulder.

Mary rushed up to make sure he was okay. After receiving his assurances, she set off to her office, anxious to write an account of the events for the paper.

As Mary walked away, Vin leaned over toward Chris and asked quietly, "Think someone should tell her sheís got rabbit liver in her hair?"

The End

Additional Note/Disclaimer: As I said at the beginning.... Donít ask. *sigh* The rabbit with big pointy teeth and the Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch both are from Monty Pythonís "Monty Python And The Quest For The Holy Grail" which is the property of... er... someone else


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