Rating: M - Not suitable for children or teens below the age of 16 with possible strong but non-explicit adult themes, references to violence, and strong coarse language.   Fiction Ratings.

Warning: Contains material that may not be suitable for sensitive readers. Talks about school shootings. If you don't want to read about that, skip this one. Bad Language.

AU: ATF Thanks Mog! :)

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

Author's Notes: Therapy. I swear I write a lot of these stories for therapy. Please read the warnings for the story. Thanks to Phyllis for the beta.

Feedback is loved.

 

Take What You Can Get

ATF

By: Ruby

Chris Larabee walked into the bar and immediately spotted the sharpshooter. Taking a seat next to his best friend, he glanced over at him, frowning at what he saw.

Looking small, Vin Tanner sat on his barstool, slump shouldered with head down and eyes closed. 

"Hey," Chris greeted him, his voice low.

"Hey," Vin croaked out, glancing over at him and then staring down at his empty shot glass.

"How ya doin'?"

Vin winced, his brow furrowed in pain. He looked away.

"That good, huh?" Chris motioned the bartender over. "Another'n for him and the same for me."

Vin didn't speak.

The drinks came. Chris finished his and got a second. 

Tanner still hadn't spoken. He just stared down at his drink, his face pale, his eyes glazed. 

"Vin?" Chris asked, his voice soft, hesitant.

"Don't." Vin swallowed hard, glancing at Chris and then quickly away.

"Vin." Chris' voice turned sharp. 

Vin ducked his head, hunching his shoulders. "I don't want to hear it."

"Vin, you did the right thi-"

"Shut up, Larabee," Vin hissed out. "Just..." he rubbed a trembling hand down his face. "Don't." He grabbed his shot glass and tossed the contents back, slamming the thick glass back down on the mahogany bar with a thud. For the first time, he looked Chris straight in the eye. "I shot a twelve year old boy today," he challenged. "Ain't nothin' you're gonna say that'll make that all right."

"You shot a twelve year old boy that was shooting other twelve year old boys. If you hadn't taken the shot, more kids would be dead. More than just the two he blew away before you got him. Is that what you want? You want more deaths? You did what you had to do. Yeah, it was a hell of a shitty thing, but you didn't have a choice. You understand that?"

Vin shook his head. "You have no idea. You don't know what it was like, looking down that barrel, that boy in my scope. I didn't go for a kill shot, but when that bullet ripped into him, I knew it was fatal. Knew it that exact second. Knew he was dead." He swallowed hard, looking pale. "I've... done things... things in the Rangers... but nothing's ever been like..." He shrugged, sniffed, looked away.

 They both sat quietly. Vin's breathing, rough and ragged.  

After a moment, Chris reached out and grasped Vin's forearm. He leaned forward. "Dammit, Vin, I don't know what to say. I know you're gonna tear yourself up about this. You wouldn't be the kind of man you are if you didn't. Just know... just know that it wasn't your doin'. I gave the order to fire. It was *my* order-" his voice hitched, and he couldn't finish. He looked down.

Vin glanced over at him. "Oh, fuck, Chris. I didn't even think about that. Jesus Christ." He shook his head, rubbing his hand over his eyes. "What a fucking pair we are." He swallowed hard, a glint of a grin showing as he rolled his eyes at his friend. "Just a hell of a job, we got, huh? Just one hell of a job." He shook his head.

Chris nodded. "Yeah," he croaked out. "Yeah." He looked skyward. "But that today, that isn't the whole sum of our job. Yeah, it'll be on the six o'clock news. 'ATF agent kills twelve-year old child.' But, you know what?" He looked over at him.

Vin stared at him. He shrugged his shoulders. "What?"

"It should be: 'ATF agent saves school full of kids from being murdered by classmate.' But that's not what the reporters are gonna print. We can't stop what they say, but we can sure as hell know what the truth is. And the truth is this, Vin... You stopped someone from killing. That boy killed two kids, murdered them in cold blood. There's nothing we can do to change that. But he would have killed the rest of those boys. You saved them, Vin. You did. They'd be dead if it wasn't for you."

Cocking his head, the corner of Vin's mouth turned up. "I seem to remember something about you giving the order. So there might be something in there 'bout you saving them too."

Chris leaned back, his face sober. "Hell," he shrugged one shoulder and then grinned. "We have to take what we can get." He looked down at his empty glass. "You just remember this when you're watching the news, reading the paper, listening to what people are saying..." He looked over at his friend. "You did not murder a child, Vin. You saved lives. That you had to take one to do that is just the worst fucking kind of shit. But, you saved lives. Don't ever forget that."

"Yeah." Vin nodded, letting out a long breath. "Yeah," he said again, meaning it this time.

"Christ, quite a pair we are," Chris mimicked Vin's earlier words. 

"Yeah," Vin glanced over at him. "The best."

February 10, 2006

 

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