Rating: PG-13 Bad language, dark thoughts

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish and MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes.

AU: ATF - Thanks, Mog! :)

Author's Notes: Thanks to Phyllis for betaing this story for me. I really appreciate all the thought and effort she puts into her betas. :) I did make some more changes after-beta, so all the mistakes are mine to keep forever and ever (or I might sell them on eBay).

I wrote this story a while back but am just now getting it up on the site. Ack! RL has been busy. It's a dark story. I was just thinking about how stressful a job and how much responsibility a person in Chris' position would have, and this just came out. Feedback is always appreciated... unless the story stinks like a skunk, then... ah...um... <g>

 

Oblivion

By: Ruby

Chris turned the key in the lock and opened his back door. Stepping into the mudroom, he automatically reached over and flipped the light switch. White light filled the room and he narrowed his eyes against the sudden glow.

He toed his dress shoes off as he closed the door behind him. He felt a wet nose in his palm and he automatically stroked the velvet head that filled his hand. "Hey, bud." He smiled down at his black lab as he pulled his long black wool coat off and hung it on a coat hook.

The meeting had been a bitch. Ten hours of non-stop bullshit. Bureaucratic red tape and... bullshit. That was his technical term for the endless wasted hours. And then, to top it off, they had a three hour seminar - 'How to Relieve Stress' - for all the command officers.

How to Relieve Stress?

He shook his head as he walked into the kitchen, the dog following behind. Opening the fridge, he pulled a bottle of beer out and screwed the top off. Tossing the lid into the wastebasket across the room, he tipped the bottle to his lips and took three long drinks before he sat the bottle down on the counter. He felt a pressure against his leg and glanced down. Large black eyes looked up at him.

"Hungry, boy?" he asked. 

Wagging his tail, the dog answered the question with a sharp bark. 

Chris smiled. He walked over to the food bowl. "Ya got food, ya beast. Looks like you could use some water, though." He filled the dog's water bowl and then grinned as he watched the dog lap up the cold liquid. Reaching down, he ran his hand down the lab's dark head. "Bet you don't have any stress, do ya boy?" The smile left his face as he remembered the seminar he'd just sat through.

'Stress Relief in The Workplace.' Followed by 'How to Relieve Stress.' Followed by 'Command Officers Don't Have a Stressful Job - even though they make decisions that could end the life of any one of the agents on their team. Come on, don't let the job get'cha down. Just because you made a call that sent a twenty three-year-old agent to the emergency room and left your best friend in a hospital bed, close to death, for three days.'

He shook his head as he pulled his shoulder holster off, laying it on the table, gun nestled safely within its confines. So JD and Vin were medivacced from the raid site. So Chris had made the call that had ultimately led to their injuries. So the raid had gone down bad. Come on, don't let that stress ya.

"Jesus," he said, as he sat down hard in a kitchen chair. "Jesus Christ," he hissed, leaning forward, feeling slightly sick. Vin had almost died. He'd almost... Chris swallowed hard. Tanner was awake, lucid, feeling better now. But for a while there it had been touch and go. They'd almost lost him. Chris shook his head knowing that he'd made the call that ultimately got Vin shot. Oh, he didn't do anything wrong, or at least, that's what the Investigative Panel had ruled. No, he'd made a good decision. He shrugged, scoffing. A good decision. Shaking his head, he stood suddenly and started to pace.

A good decision?

He'd sacrificed Tanner. Thrown him to the wolves. The raid had gone to hell in a hand basket and there were guns everywhere. They were pinned down, with only one way out, for everyone but Tanner. He could save the whole team, or Vin, and Chris had made the command decision - that had almost cost his best friend his life.

He kept pacing, the whole fiasco running through his head once again. The shots. The yells. The blood. Jesus. Vin's blood - everywhere. 

They'd have lost him. He was as good as dead. Chris had *left* him for dead.

One for six, and Chris took those odds, knowing that sometimes there had to be sacrifices. 

Christ! He swallowed hard again as he felt his knees go weak underneath him. Sacrifices? He caught himself on the counter and held on to the edge, white knuckled as he saw the scene in his mind.

Vin, pinned down, firing shot after shot, screaming at Chris and the others to get out of there. 

Chris, his gaze covering the whole room in a split second, calculating the odds, tallying up the choices - making the sacrifice - meeting Vin's eyes one last time.

Vin nodding at him, telling him that it was okay. Go. Save the others. Save yourself. He didn't speak. Didn't have to. He just nodded and Chris heard everything Vin had to tell him in that look, in that final goodbye.

But it hadn't been final. There was god damned JD Dunne darting out from the pack of them, running toward Vin, firing wildly in the perps' direction, taking a shot, falling hard on Vin, both of them going down. But it was the chance the rest of them needed. The diversion. Regrouping, they came back full force, taking the bastards down, killing them all.

Vin and JD lay in a bloody pile. JD's body half covering Tanner's.

Chris' heart had stopped, looking down at them, knowing they'd lost them both.

JD had blinked then, groaned, tried to roll over, making Vin cough, splutter, gag on the blood filling his mouth. 

Nathan had been there in a second, rolling Vin's head to the side, assessing, stopping the blood flow. Keeping the two young agents alive. 

And Chris had just stood there. Watching. Dying inside. Knowing he'd caused this. 

The rest was almost a blur for him. He came back to his senses sitting in the ICU next to Tanner's bed, holding his best friend's hand, trying to keep him from slipping away.

The next few days had been a couple of the longest in Chris' life. Waiting to see if Vin would pull through, hoping, praying, crying silently.

JD had come out the better of the two. One bullet had hit his vest, the other had slipped between a seam, shattering a bone and causing some damage, but nothing life-threatening. Nothing that would keep him down for long. He was hurting, but alive. The damn brave fool.

And then Vin had pulled through, woken up, smiled, his eyes crinkling at the corner as he laughed at Chris worrying over him.

Chris sniffed, shaking his head, coming back to himself, his grip on the counter edge loosening a bit. Hell, he'd told himself he was going to stop thinking about it. That was weeks ago. It was over. Done. But... He shook his head. It wasn't going away.

Stress? Hell yeah it was stress. And no three hour seminar was going to relieve it. Or teach him to live with it. It just was. With this job came stress. He woke up every morning knowing that any member of his team could die that day. And he could be the cause, just by doing a piss poor job. He sighed.

How To Relieve Stress? He scoffed as he picked up the half empty beer bottle on the counter, downing the contents in just a few gulps. Yeah, he knew how to relieve stress. He threw the now-empty bottle in the trash, opening the cabinet next to the fridge and pulling out the bottle of good ole Jack he kept there.

Hell yeah, he thought as he stared wistfully down at the relief in his hand. He knew how to relieve stress. Had a tried and true solution right there in front of him. He sighed sadly as he shook his head. God bless Jack Daniels.

He took a good long drink, feeling the whiskey burn its way down his throat. Yeah, he knew how to relieve stress. This was his solution, and no damned seminar was going to change his mind. The seminar didn't teach him how to get the visions out of his head. Vin, his face pale, bloodless, lying on the crisp white sheets, maybe dying, maybe living.

Nothing worked like whiskey-induced-oblivion. Nothing but... he glanced over at his holster lying on the kitchen table, Glock tucked in tight, waiting for action. Well, there was always that. He shook his head.

Stress?

Nah, he didn't have stress.

He walked towards his bedroom, whiskey bottle clutched tight in his hand.

Well, at least for a little while.

 

March 2004

 

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